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Who Rules Egypt? Is Mursi Truly In Charge In Post-revolutionary Egypt?

08 January 2013

By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed

Neither imams nor members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist movements will be able to protect the Egyptian presidency from the anger of the people when the banks decrease Egypt's currency exchange rate compared to the dollar. Every single citizen will pay a dear price for this, not just the protesters in Tahrir Square, the Nasserites or the Copts. At this point, neither the International Monetary Fund [IMF] loan nor aid from Saudi Arabia and Qatar would be of any use. The only solution is for the regime to restore relations with its opposition and try to reach a broad-ranging reconciliation that includes all factions. Following this, they will be able to confront future crises together.

However before this can be achieved we must recognize that the Egyptian political scene has become extremely puzzling. President Mursi slams the opposition in every possible manner then appears on CNN to say that he believes in democracy. Following this, Egyptian Defense Minister, General Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi, headed to Sinai to meet with the Bedouins there wearing a traditional cloak over his khaki uniform.

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil received an IMF official, attempting to talk him into approving a five-billion-dollar loan to Egypt after imposing a set of socialist laws that ban Egyptians from travelling abroad with more than $10,000 and tourists from entering the country with the same amount.

The Egyptian intelligence chief visited the UAE in an attempt to resolve the problems that have arisen following the arrest of an "Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cell", with fears growing that the Brotherhood want to export its movement into the Gulf region in precisely the same manner that Iran sought to export its Islamic revolution.

As for Essam el-Erian, the Muslim Brotherhood's most famous media figure, he dropped a bomb that distracted the people from both the constitution and the referendum, calling for the return of Egypt's Jewish community "who were unjustly expelled by late President Gamal Abdel Nasser." Whilst at the same time that he is calling for the return of 250,000 Jews to Egypt, the Egyptian armed forces arrested a single Israeli who had sneaked across the border!

Who is ruling Egypt? In the past, they said that Mubarak's wife and son were interfering in the presidency's decisions. Now, they are saying that the Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide and his deputy decide what happens and even have the power to cancel the president's decrees. This was reportedly demonstrated when Mursi's statement greeting Egypt's Coptic community was withdrawn from the official news agency just one hour following its publication.

Rumours claim that Egypt is ruled by a triumvirate, namely the President, the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide and "the investor". The Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, is similar to his Iranian counterpart in the sense that he has the final say and issues weekly statements that are no different than those issued in Tehran, namely putting forward his view and attacking those who oppose the government. As for the second member of this partnership, it is claimed that this is none other than well-known Egyptian businessman and deputy Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Khairat el-Shater. Many people believe that el-Shater is the real ruler, and that he was responsible for selecting both Egypt's cabinets. Whilst we all know that he was the Muslim Brotherhood's original presidential candidate but the courts banned him from taking part in the elections due to his criminal record. Some have even accused him of running the Brotherhood's cells abroad including those in the Gulf. Since the Brotherhood, the ruling party and indeed the presidency are working in secret it is difficult to tell truth from fiction.

The long silence of the Egyptian Armed Forces have given the impression that they have either been hibernating or been hampered by the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the recent public dispute that took place between the military and the Supreme Guide a few weeks ago, not to mention the Defense Minister's visit to the Sinai Peninsula, have given the impression that the army is like a tiger that sleeps with one eye open.

It is clear that Egypt is now witnessing a fierce battle between different powers, both within and outside of government. This is what happened after the 1952 revolution in addition to when Sadat came to power following Nasser's death. However the situation is very different now because this power struggle is no longer confined to the presidential palace. Some argue that diversity in the country's centers of power represents one of the key features of democracy. This is true, however the problem is that many of these struggles are now taking place outside a democratic framework, whether we are talking about the presidency, the legislature, the judiciary or even the media.

Members of the elite are not the only ones who are worried, and this anxiety has extended to average Egyptians who can see the impact of a weakening currency and a crippled economy on their daily lives. The average citizen is an influential power in Egypt, whilst money sent back to the country by Egyptians abroad constitutes one third of the country's revenue, exceeding the revenues generated by industry, agriculture, and the Suez Canal. When these Egyptians who left their families to work day and night in foreign countries see their earnings losing value, they will either stop transferring money back to Egypt or stop dealing in the Egyptian pound. At this point, attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to reassure the people would be completely futile, as would their attempts at following the Iranian example and excluding their opponents. There may come a difficult time when the Brotherhood find themselves being pursued by the Egyptian general public.

Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.



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