With long-time strongman Hosni Mubarak out of power, Egypt appears to be descending into a fresh brand of totalitarianism led by its newly elected president, the radical Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi. Analysts say that on paper, at least, Morsi is now more powerful than even Mubarak: The new Islamist head of state has assumed legislative powers, attacked the media, installed his own supporters to lead the nation’s powerful military after firing its previous leaders, and even seized more control over the process to draft a new constitution.
Before and during the elections, experts warned that Egypt was moving toward a military dictatorship — a regime similar to Mubarak’s, with many of the same people in power, just without the dictator in charge. Indeed, after the fall of Mubarak precipitated by a wave of Western-backed protests, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ruled the nation for over a year as preparations were made for elections. The military regime came under fierce criticism for its iron-fisted rule during that period, especially after soldiers slaughtered Coptic Christians who were protesting Islamist attacks on their churches.
During that time, observers feared that the military, which was seeking to preserve vast powers for itself under the new emerging system, might try to scuttle supposed plans to impose the Western-style “democracy” that U.S. and European government leaders said they hoped to see. Those concerns, however, appear to have waned in the wake of Morsi’s controversial decision to dismiss much of Egypt’s senior military leadership. Now there are new fears.
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Photo of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi: AP Images