Who Rules Egypt?
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Neither imams nor members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist movements would be able to protect the Egyptian presidency from the wrath of the people when they pay more pounds for one dollar. Every single citizen will pay a dear price, not just the protesters in Tahrir Square, the Nasserists or the Copts. At this point, neither the International Monetary Fund’s loan nor aid from Saudi Arabia and Qatar would be of any use. The only solution for the regime is to restore relations with its opposition and to reach a broad-ranging reconciliation that includes all factions. Following this, they will be able to confront future crises together.
The Egyptian political scene has become a big riddle. President Muhammad Mursi slams the opposition in every possible way then comes out on CNN and says he believes in democracy. Then the minister of defense heads to Sinai to meet with the Bedouin wearing a traditional cloak over his khaki uniform.
The prime minister receives an official at the International Monetary Fund to talk him into approving a five-billion-dollar loan to Egypt then imposes a set of socialist laws that ban Egyptians from traveling abroad with more than $10,000 and tourists from entering the country with the same amount.
The chief of intelligence visits the UAE following the arrest of the Egyptian members of a Muslim Brotherhood cell in the country while fears are growing that the Brotherhood is attempting to export its ideologies to the Gulf like what Iran did with the Islamic revolution.
A leading Muslim Brotherhood figure drops a bomb that distracts people from the constitution and the referendum when he asks for the return of Egyptian Jews “unjustly expelled by late president Gamal Abdel Nasser.” And while he welcomes the return of 25,000 Jews, Egyptian forces arrest one Israeli that sneaked across the border.
Who exactly is ruling Egypt? In the past, they said that Mubarak’s wife and son interfere in the presidency’s decisions. Now, they say 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 This was shown when a Mursi’s greeting to Copts was withdrawn from the official news agency one hour after it was aired.
Rumors claim that Egypt is ruled by a troika: The president, the supreme guide, and investors. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide 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. It is said that his partner is (deputy supreme guide) Khayrat Al-Shater is the real ruler, for he chose the Cabinet the first time around as well as the second. We all know that he was to become president had it not refused legally for his criminal record. Some even accuse him of running the Brotherhood’s cells abroad including those in the Gulf. And because the group’s activities are mostly underground, it is hard to tell truth from lies.
The long silence of the armed forces gave the impression that they have either been hibernating or been hampered by the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the recent dispute that took place between them and the Supreme Guide a few weeks ago and the visit of the minister of defense to the Sinai Peninsula given an impression that the army is like a tiger that sleeps with one eye open.
It is obvious that Egypt is now witnessing a fierce battle between different powers inside and outside the government. This is what happened after the 1952 revolution as well as when Sadat came to power following Nasser’s death. The situation is, however, very different now because this power struggle is no longer confined to the presidential palace. Some argue that the diversity of political powers is one of the features of a democracy and this is true, but the problem is that many of those struggles take place outside the democratic frame whether on the presidential, legislative, or judicial levels and even as far as the media is concerned.
Members of the elite are no longer the only ones who worry, for this anxiety has extended to average Egyptians who can see the impact of a deteriorating currency and a crippled economy on their lives. Those average citizens are an influential power in Egypt for the remittances they send constitute one third of the country’s revenue and exceed the revenues of industry, agriculture, and the Suez Canal. When those Egyptians who left their families to work night and day in another country see their earnings losing their value, they will either stop making transfers or will abstain from dealing with the Egyptian pound. At that point, attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to reassure the people would be absolutely futile and so would their attempts at following the Iranian example and alienating their adversaries. There may come a difficult time when they will be chased by the people.