It's not just Morsi, it's also the opposition

Both Egypt's President and His Opposition Adopt Extreme Positions -

My latest for Latitude — an excerpt:

If Morsi’s critics rightly oppose the decree, however, they also leave little room for compromise. They won’t address some of the underlying problems that the president’s admittedly extreme step sought to address. And they refuse to begin any dialogue with Morsi until the decree is rescinded.

Morsi is unlikely to cancel the measure outright. And the Egyptian judiciary, which is deeply divided about it, has given him leeway to implement at least parts of it as acts of sovereignty. That’s a somewhat mystifying legal doctrine, and it leaves plenty of room for interpretation. But will the opposition negotiate over what must go and what can stay? Also, can it hammer out a deal — of the kind Morsi should have sought in the first place — to ensure that the drafting of the constitution can continue without interruption?

Now that the opposition has an opportunity to humiliate the president, it is in no mood to compromise.

But this is wrong-headed. Over time, Morsi’s critics run the risk of appearing intransigent to the general public, especially if he starts making concessions. ElBaradei and others in the opposition need to make concrete counterproposals, notably about the future of the constitution-writing process.

Finding a consensus that everyone can live with should be the end goal both for Morsi and his opponents, some of who are guilty of the lazy hope that the intervention of third parties — judges, generals — will solve their problems. Just as it needs a president who listens, Egypt needs a loyal and constructive opposition.


Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,