Some criticism of ICG's take on the Morsi crisis, and a rejoinder

A Way Out of Egypt’s Transitional Quicksand - International Crisis Group

This alert put out by ICG has some decent suggestions about breaking the impasse that Morsi's decree has put Egyptian politics in, and rightly states that the opposition needs to act more maturely in defusing the crisis (I make a similar argument in a forthcoming piece). But this part is plain wrong:

Morsi’s decision arguably enjoys broad support from a citizenry yearning for stability. Opposition calls to rally in Tahrir Square belong more to the realm of nostalgia than to that of effective politics: the revolutionary zeal of 2011 has long exhausted itself, and any violence likely would rally a majority to the president’s side. Without meaningful grassroots popular backing, the non-Islamist opposition typically has resorted to obstructionist politics rather than formulate a positive agenda. Its demand for a complete rescinding of the declaration is unrealistic, as Morsi has staked much of his political capital on this move.

There is no reliable information on what the general public thinks of Morsi's decree, but anecdotal evidence suggests there is quite a bit of opposition to it. Likewise, the rallies in Tahrir Square appear to be more than nostalgia, since they are getting quite large numbers, and therefore there does seem to be some grassroots backing. The point about obstructionist politics remains, though — the opposition has yet to articulate how to solve the larger problems that Morsi tried to tackle with his decree.

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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, www.arabist.net.