Tag Archives: morsi

Egypt and the Iranian Diaspora

7 Jul

Democracy should apply to all potential future leaders of Iran.

Recent events in Egypt should make some members of the Iranian diaspora ask themselves what kind of democracy they want for Iran.

Based on the positive and in some cases ecstatic reaction of some members of the Iranian diaspora community to the toppling of Morsi in Egypt, I am not sure that they really understand what real democracy is. Or perhaps they do but they want it applied as long as it serves the interests of the political party which they support.

Here is a scenario – How would you react if:

After a free and fair elections in Iran, Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah is elected. After a year in power, instead of developing the economy he ruins it through corruption, inexperience and mismanagement. He also introduces some secular laws which anger religious Iranians.

Would you support his overthrow by the army after massive demonstrations headed by religious figures and politicians?

Would you find it within the rules and concept of democracy for the Iranian army to give him a 48 hour ultimatum?

Would you think it would be democratic for the army then to overthrow and arrest him and then replace him with a religious candidate?

If yes, then the Iran which you want is not going to be a democratic Iran.

In fact under such a scenario why waste money on democratic elections?

Why not just see which political side can draw the biggest crowds into its demonstrations plus the support of the army and then just let them rule the country until such times that another political party gets the army and a bigger crowd into the streets?

Democracy means a democratically elected leader, however repulsive (which Morsi was) who is brought to office by vote can only be removed by vote.

And for those of us who want democracy in Iran, we should get used to the idea that this will mean that sometime, or somewhere along the line, there could be rulers elected by the people of Iran who will not be to our taste.

The fact that we and the armed forces don’t like him does not give the right for us to topple him with force.

No crisis should be wasted. The current crisis in Egypt should be used by some members of the Iranian diaspora to ask themselves whether they want real democracy for Iran.

Egypt: The Mistake of Toppling Morsi

3 Jul

If the Egyptian military topples President Mohamed Morsi, it could be one of the biggest mistakes made in Egypt’s post 2011 revolution history.  

There is no doubt Morsi made many mistakes as president. His government mismanaged the economy. Most ominously, Morsi betrayed the foundations of Egypt’s newly formed democracy when he undemocratically granted himself additional power. 

We saw a clear example of this last year. According to an article on the 22nd of November in the New York Times:

With a constitutional assembly on the brink of collapse and protesters battling the police in the streets over the slow pace of change, President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree on Thursday granting himself broad powers above any court as the guardian of Egypt’s revolution, and used his new authority to order the retrial of Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi sounds pretty bad. So why would the Egyptian army toppling him be a mistake?

Professor Daniel Brumberg, my friend and colleague, has impressive academic credentials. He succinctly explained why toppling Morsi would be a mistake on his Facebook page:

If you want to once and for all discredit Authoritarian Islamism, then defeat it at the polls. A military intervention, even one backed by the street, will never achieve the lasting impact of an electoral defeat, and will always leave the impression that those backing the intervention fear that they cannot win an election. Beware the boomerang!

I agree with Dan. Morsi is bad, but toppling him by force—especially with a military coup d’état—could have serious repercussions in Egypt and perhaps the region for decades to come.

Lets not forget that Morsi is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. If they are driven from power through the barrel of the gun instead of through votes at the ballot box, then they could turn to the gun to try to reclaim their lost position. They could adopt the slogan “What was taken away from us by force can only be returned to us by force.”

A surge of political violence in Egypt—the largest state in the Arab World—could have a ripple effect across the region, driving Islamists away from the democratic political process. The result could create increased Islamic radicalization in the Middle East.

Also, we all want democracy for Egypt, don’t we? So since when toppling democratically elected leaders by force is democratic?

We must also ask the question: would toppling Morsi by force turn Egypt of 2013 into Algeria of 1992 ?

I am not an Egypt expert. There are people such as Brian Whitaker and my colleague Nervana Mahmoud who know Egypt far better than me.  But all I can say is that in my opinion you can’t fix what is a democratic issue through the barrel of the gun. Morsi was elected. He was brought to power through the ballot box, and he must be removed the same way, if stable democracy is what we want.

Dear Israeli politician: what is your Egypt policy?

20 Nov

In my opinion, after the recent events in Gaza, an additional question which the Israeli voter should ask each political party standing for the upcoming January 22 elections is: what is your Egypt policy? 

In these elections, perhaps more than any since the signing of the Camp David peace agreement in 1978, the issue of Egypt – Israel relations will need to be addressed by the different Israeli political parties. We the Israeli voter need to know what each party’s stance on Egypt is.

The reason is simple: after the Arab Spring and after the crucial role which Egypt has been playing with regards to the recent conflict in Gaza, having good relations with Egypt will be important.

We in Israel need politicians who are going to maintain and strengthen our relations with Egypt. This is important for the national interests of Israel in crucial areas such as the country’s immediate security concerns in the Sinai as well as our relations with Hamas.

Although this may sound like a given, nevertheless, there is valid reason for concern. Politicians such as Avigdor Lieberman could try to attack Morsi in order to gain popularity among right-wing Israeli voters. In 2008 Lieberman attacked Israel’s ally Hosni Mubarak when he was in power by saying that “he could go to hell”. Based on that incident, it is entirely possible that sooner or later he could attack Mubarak’s less Israel friendly successor, Mohammad Morsi.

Nobody is saying that improving relations with Morsi will be easy. Nevertheless we need clear plans by Israeli politicians on how they will try to improve relations, if possible, in order to enhance Israel’s national interests. What we don’t need are politicians who could and would make things worst.

Gaza Ground Invasion Will End Badly

16 Nov

I would not like to be in Benjamin Netanyahu’s shoes tonight.

By attacking Tel Aviv with its missiles, Hamas has crossed a major red line. No Israeli leader can ignore such an attack. The fact we have elections coming up in Israel makes it more difficult for the government to ignore today’s attack.

Tel Aviv is my city. I live here. Its my home.

As much as I detest and condemn Hamas’s attack today, I am not sure how a massive ground invasion is going to solve the problem.

Why? because our officials are saying that “Israel won’t halt Gaza operation until Hamas begs for truce”. In terms of domestic politics, Hamas would loath to be seen as “begging” for peace. It would lose all legitimacy at home. That would mean holding our troops as well as fate of our citizens hostage to Hamas’s domestic concerns. This must not be our exit strategy. If it is, then we are heading for an ending disaster as Hamas may prefer to engage Israel in a long drawn out guerrilla war in Gaza. This could sap the morale of our country while straining our relations with the international community.

Worst still, as my colleague Hossein Ibish points out in his interesting article, it could push Hamas and Morsi together. Lets not forget that when it comes to destroying Hamas tunnels, Morsi has done more than Mubarak did. Yes you read that right. Despite both belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood organization, Morsi has actually made life for Hamas quite difficult.

“So what do you suggest we do?”, I hear my compatriots and friends ask.

I think more time should be given for the air attacks to pound Hamas targets with maximum care that ordinary people are not hurt.

Meanwhile we should also engage the Egyptians. Instead of invading Gaza and pushing Morsi into Hamas’s corner, lets continue to make Hamas his problem. An invasion will not be in Morsi’s interests either. He has enough economic problems on his plate. With a major economic problem on his hands, he would prefer not to anger the Americans, and the EU by being seen to back Hamas.

So lets get the Egyptians to start a massive shuttle diplomacy to rein in Hamas attacks. If they manage to do this we in Israel would have averted a war and all its costs while Morsi could say that he is now the biggest power broker in the region.

The biggest loser would be Hamas. Not only it would be confronted by a Muslim brotherhood diplomatic onslaught, it would come out of this conflict losing its most senior military official Ahmad Jabari, and its credibility. And if it decides to break the truce, it would have Morsi to answer to. He is a lot more difficult to avoid than Netanyahu. 

Morsi needs to take a tough stance

14 Sep

Many countries including Israel are worried about the long-term repercussions of the current wave of demonstrations taking place in numerous Arab and Muslim countries. What triggered these demonstrations is the anti-Islam movie “Innocence of Muslims” which “portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser”.

We should be concerned about the current wave of violence and to condemn it. I also condemn the film’s maker who not only libeled Islam, he also libeled Judaism by pretending to be Jewish.

What worries me most of all is what is happening in Egypt. Perhaps I am being selfish because we share a border with them. Also because its one of the Arab world’s biggest and most important players.

I don’t mean to be facetious  or sarcastic by asking: has President Morsi realized the full extent of the damage which the attack against the US embassy in his capital  has caused to his government’s standing abroad, especially in the US?

When Barack Obama, the man who backed the Egyptian people’s call for democracy questions the quality of the U.S.-Egypt alliance, then Morsi should worry. This is not a joke. How does he expect the US to continue helping him? and who is going to replace the US? China? Russia?

Where is the outrage from Morsi against the attackers?

Top Egypt expert Steven Cook currently at Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) writes:

“This is not an excuse, but Americans must understand the context in which their embassies and diplomats are being attacked.  Yes, Washington has helped Egypt through infrastructure development, agricultural reform, public health, and myriad other areas; but the United States has, according to Egyptians, weakened their country through an alliance that subordinates Cairo’s interests to those of Washington (and by association those of Jerusalem).”

The question remains: for how much longer are the Egyptian people going to hold Israel directly or indirectly responsible for their woes? For how long is US relations with Israel going to be an excuse for their hostility against the US?

I am sure many Egyptians have a sense of solidarity with the Palestinians.

But America is doing much to help Egypt financially, despite the toppling of its previous ally Hosni Mubarak.

Lets not forget Muhammad Morsi’s own government closing its border with Gaza last month. Before Mubarak could be blamed for being pro – US. What is Morsi’s excuse for hurting the livelihood of Gazans by punishing them en masse?

The suffering of the Palestinians must be recognized. So should the intention and efforts of those who want to use and abuse it as a cheap excuse to serve their own interests.