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Egypt President Wrestles with Army



Flag of Egypt. What happened in Egypt is a metaphor for American policy failures in the Middle East.

President Muhammad Morsi of Egypt recalled the parliament today. Earlier this year, the Supreme Constitutional Court said that the parliament was illegitimate. The Army dissolved the parliament on June 15. So in recalling it, Morsi has defied the court and also started a fight with the Army. In the next few days, Morsi will either take control of the Army, or not. If not, he will have no power to speak of.

Egypt Court Rules

On June 14, the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt ruled that the choices for one-third of the seats in the People’s Assembly were unlawful. (The reason in all those cases: vote fraud.) The next day, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces dissolved parliament. The generals would thus run the country until the people could vote again for another parliament.

The Muslim Brotherhood had more than half the seats in that Assembly. Naturally, they howled in outrage. So did a lot of secular activists. Most of the Justices on the Supreme Court got their jobs from Hosni Mubarak, whom the Army whisked out of his palace by helicopter 17 months ago. So the Army has its critics. All say that the Army had pulled off a coup d’état to keep its power.

The court also said that an Army favorite could still run for President of Egypt. That candidate did not win. Mohammed Morsi did. Of course, that Morsi was even on the ballot, broke another promise: the Muslim Brotherhood first said that they wouldn’t even field a Presidential candidate.

The Army only grudgingly accepted the choice of Morsi as President. But the Supreme Council also said three things:

  1. The generals would still decide financial matters.
  2. The Army would reject any change in the Constitution it did not like.
  3. The generals would not go to war merely because the President said so.

That second thing is key. Morsi has said, so that no one can mistake what he means, that the Muslim Caliphate would rise again. And his friend Safwat Higazi said:

The capital of the caliphate – the capital of the United States of the Arabs – will be Jerusalem, God willing. Our capital shall not be in Cairo, Mecca or Medina. Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem!

Any such march means war.

Showdown in Egypt

Flag of Egypt

Flag of Egypt

Today the President, the People’s Assembly, and the Supreme Court had a showdown. But the Army is surely watching. And on that showdown hangs the future of Egypt and whether it will go to war again.

Morsi recalled the People’s Assembly, thus openly defying the Court. The Assembly sat for five minutes. But it also said it would get other legal opinions on whether the Supreme Court acted properly last June.

The Supreme Court swiftly answered the President and Assembly. They ruled that Morsi had no legal right to recall the Assembly. Several people gathered in Liberation Square in Cairo to protest the ruling.

So now, as the Los Angeles Times said (even before the Court ruled today), the President and the Army are fighting for power. The Times seems to think that the Army must be careful not to rile the people, or Egypt’s treaty partners. The editors also said that this is only the beginning.

Barack H. Obama, putative President of the US, doesn’t seem to want to say out loud whom he wants to win this fight. Yesterday he said he would meet Morsi at the White House this September, when the UN General Assembly meets. Now (according to UPI) he says he’ll see Morsi at the UN.


Morsi has gone all-out, and is fighting to win. If he blinks before the Army now, no one in the Middle East will take him seriously. The world will know that he can threaten to break treaties and go to war all he wants, but if the Army does not want to march, it will not march.

To win, Morsi will have to replace the commanding field marshal and maybe every general with any real authority. The only questions then will be:

  1. How fast will Egypt break its treaty with Israel? And:
  2. Can Morsi find a general who can succeed where Nasser’s and Sadat’s generals failed so miserably in 1967 and 1973?


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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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