Egypt’s presidential situation has been pretty volatile for the past few months. From the uprisings of the Arab Spring that saw the ousting of Hosni Mubarak to the elections of the new president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt has been a hotbed for conflict over a year now. The problem arises with the fact that Egypt is the largest country in the Arab world and is a vital US ally in the region. This means that it is important to America’s interests about what happens in Egypt.
Before being thrown from power, Hosni Mubarak ran a military dictatorship in the country. The strongest opponent to Mubarak throughout Egypt was the Muslim Brotherhood. Whenever the Arab Spring began in Egypt, the Brotherhood joined the protestors in opposing Mubarak and vowed to ensure that the power would be placed back in the hands of the people. They vowed not to field a candidate in the presidential race that happened in May. Going back on their word, they placed Mohamed Morsi in the field, who advanced past the first rounds of elections and onto the runoff with a candidate that was supported by the military, as he was the Prime Minister under Mubarak, Ahmed Shafik. Shafik was a retired Air Force general and it was believed that with his ties to Mubarak, it would introduce a similar military dictatorship. Morsi went on to win the election in June to become the president of Egypt.
After taking office, Morsi has begun to slowly purge the government of the military leaders that were in place. He forced the Field Marshall, Army chief-of-staff, and several other leading officials in the military to retire. He penned this move on the idea of ousting all of the remnants of the Mubarak regime from power, but in reality he’s eliminating the only check on his power. With the military leadership gone, the Brotherhood has no one to check their powers. Rather than creating a system that is more democratic, the Brotherhood could be creating a return to a dictatorial style government that they helped overthrow. Of course there’s no way to know exactly what will happen because as most of you know, nothing in the Middle East is as it seems. However, with the Muslim Brotherhood gaining more and more power in the country, and a president that has close ties to Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, the relations between Israel and Egypt is certainly one that should be watched closely. With the growing threat of an Israeli attack on Iran, it’s important to know how Egypt will react. The US will protect Israel if it happens and will depend on Egypt for support as well. The question now becomes will Morsi be obliged to help.