August 28, 2012
"They said the constitution is their Quran; I say the Quran is our constitution." — Egyptian President Mohamed MorsiEgypt's new president, Mohamed Morsi, using an alleged terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula as a pretext, has been able to fire senior army generals, increase extensively his presidential power and send troops into the Sinai Peninsula in direct contravention of what the peace treaty with Israel permits.
Egypt's state-run TV reported that Islamic fundamentalists from the Sinai and the Gaza Strip were suspected of carrying out the attack, but why would Islamists do that? Logically, Islamist fundamentalists would be supportive of the Islamist president Morsi, who made his pro-Islamist agenda clear during his campaign: he wants Sharia law for Egypt .
At the same time, when the Muslim Brotherhood official website blamed the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, for the attack, Morsi never dismissed the Brotherhood's allegations, thereby allowing the terrorist act to be used to spread more anti-Semitism and radical views against Israel.
Shortly after the attack, Egyptian troops started pouring into the Sinai peninsula in the name of cracking down on terrorists -- a move that compromised the demilitarization of Sinai, a cornerstone of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. Further, nothing Morsi said then or since suggests these troops are there only temporarily.
Ironically, it was Israeli troops who killed the terrorists and prevented them from doing any more damage. After the attack, Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, initially expressed Israel's willingness to provide assistance to Egypt in countering terrorism, although since then there has been increasing Israeli nervousness about the Egyptian redeployment, in which the US also helped.
Barely a week after the attack, Morsi fired Egypt's Defense Minister and Chief of Staff, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who had served as Mubarak's Defense Minister for two decades. Morsi also cancelled the constitutional amendments that gave the generals extra powers and also issued a new constitutional declaration giving himself extensive presidential powers that are both executive and legislative. He also gave himself the right to form a constructional assembly to write the constitution, if the current constitutional assembly fails to do so.
Morsi made clear his view of the Egyptian constitution when he stated during the campaign: "They said the constitution is their Quran, as if the constitution is so great…and I say the Quran is our constitution".
In short, in one strike after the alleged terrorist attack in Sinai, which has been said never even to have taken place, Morsi was able to strip the military commanders of their powers, grant himself extensive presidential authorities and insert troops into Sinai far above the limit the peace agreement with Israel allows, with no outward sign of ever intending to remove them should the crisis inside Egypt subside.
It is important to keep in mind, that, although not necessarily part of the terrorist attack, Sinai's other neighbor, Hamas, is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood to which Morsi belongs; as the Council of Foreign Relations notes: "Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, a religious and political organization founded in Egypt with branches throughout the Arab world."
Whether or not it is eventually revealed who exactly was responsible for the Sinai attack, the Muslim Brotherhood has achieved one of its decades-long goals: controlling Egypt -- and is now a step closer to its ultimate goal: creating a Muslim Empire.