After helping end the fighting in Gaza, impressing President Barack Obama and negotiating a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi has fallen victim to what Bill Clinton calls “brass.”
Mursi’s hubristic post-Gaza power grab on Thursday was politically tone deaf, strategic folly and classic over-reach. It will deepen Egypt’s political polarization, scare off desperately needed foreign investment and squander Egypt’s rising credibility in the region and the world.
Television images of renewed clashes in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and Suez will play into stereotypes that the Middle East is not ready for democracy. They will bolster suspicions inside and outside Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be trusted.
I disagree with the skeptics and believe democracy can still be established in Egypt. But Mursi’s moves won’t help Egypt make the difficult transition.
“There was a disease but this is not the remedy,” Hassan Nafaa, a liberal political science professor and activist at Cairo University, told Reuters Friday. “We are going towards more polarization between the Islamist front on one hand and all the others on the other. This is a dangerous situation.”