My Hope for a New Egypt
It’s official: Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, is the new president of Egypt. His victory comes after 16 months of protests and strict military rule, the disqualification of many contested yet popular candidates, and the disbandment of Egypt’s lower parliament by the Armed Forces. President Morsi is the first Islamist elected as the head of an Arab state and Egypt’s first president from outside the military.
The fact that the army has deferred to some elements of democracy by finally declaring a president gives us some hope. However, it seems clear that this gesture will do little to actually transfer power to Morsi. Just two weeks ago, the armed forces dispersed the lower parliament (which is responsible for making laws and setting budgets), and military leaders had a clear hand in handpicking the presidential candidates from whom Egyptians could select. As William Dobson of Slate explains, the election might have been fair on the day of the vote, but it was anything but fair in the days leading up to it.
While the exact fate of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty under a non-Mubarak government is unclear, Morsi’s remarks in his victory speech were reassuring: “We will honor international treaties and agreements, and will create balanced international relations based on mutual interests and respect,” he said.
As President Morsi assumes power, my thoughts turn to the Egyptians who have spent the last 16 months publicly demanding democracy and freedom from almost a century of military rule. I truly hope President Morsi can live up to what the Egyptian people deserve, and that the Armed Forces provides him with the power to do so. I hope he will respect freedom of expression and that he will make rational foreign policy decisions with Egypt’s historic allies (including, of course, the U.S. and Israel).
With all of this said, I don’t pretend to be naïve to the serious challenges ahead. There is currently no lawmaking body in Egypt, and who knows how long (if at all) the army will allow Morsi to use his executive power. But for now, I echo the sentiments of the hundreds of thousands who have gathered in Tahrir Square, this time celebrating their ability to come together as one people, encouraging positive change for their country.