Egypt: A Brief Account of Mursi’s First Year

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An Egyptian man crosses a railway track as a giant poster against President Mohamed Morsi hangs from electrical cables near the presidential palace in Cairo on 29 June 2013. (Photo: AFP - Gianluigi Guercia)

By: Saif Daana

Published Saturday, June 29, 2013

After a year of Mohamed Mursi occupying Egypt’s highest office, a chorus of criticism directed toward his presidency is rising from all quarters, ahead of mass protests against him on June 30.

One of Egypt’s leading journalists, Mohammed Hassanein Heikal, put it recently in a television interview, “Mursi committed three disasters in the past three weeks, each one capable of leading to the downfall of the regime.”

In this regard, Heikal specifies the president’s handling of opposition plans to hold protests against his regime, the way he has dealt with Ethiopia’s bid to build a major dam on the Nile, and his recent rally appearance in which he cut off diplomatic relations with Syria.

Heikal’s sentiments were echoed by Hassan Nafaa, a prominent professor of politics, noting that the president has “lost his political sense,” particularly in his irresponsible appearance at an Islamist rally in support of the Syrian opposition, in which he declared cutting off diplomatic ties with Damascus.

The problem is not only with the strategic disaster such a decision represents, but with Mursi giving official cover to dangerous sectarian slogans that were repeated in the presence of the leader of the largest Arab country.

It is worth noting here that both Heikal and Nafaa argued for giving Mursi a chance when he was first elected and have written as much on more than one occasion. Today, both have come to the conclusion that the president had failed completely to anticipate crises and take measures to diffuse or resolve them before they explode.

For example, Mursi’s response to Ethiopia’s Nile dam plan was to call for a national dialogue in which politicians were caught on live television advocating sabotage and using racist language. Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s problem is not only a matter of a lack of experience, as some have suggested, it is rather their stubborn insistence on ignoring Egypt’s geography and history.

Their record so far is but a caricature of the Sadat and Mubarak eras that sought to shed Egypt’s leading role in the region and all traces of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s legacy. This time, however, the counter-revolution comes in an Islamist guise, with the aim of suffocating Egypt’s second, January 25, revolution.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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