The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

What's a possible way out of Egypt's crisis?

Egypt’s Morsi: Back Down or Crackdown? | Atlantic Council

Tarek Radwan writes:

Given such a charged climate, Morsi is left with a choice: either back down or crackdown. If the president decides to rescind his declaration, he risks appearing weak to his Islamist supporters in the face of a largely secular popular opposition (though some moderate Islamists, such as those from Abdel Moneim Abul Futouh’s Strong Party have joined in the protests). If he decides to crack down on popular protests and political opposition figures, he risks a severe escalation in popular anger. A crackdown could also hurt the already ailing economy and threaten the country’s stability even further in the face of an impending IMF loan that Morsi hopes will open the floodgates of other international loans and foreign investment. 

With neither choice offering a good 'out' to the current crisis, one should expect something that lies somewhere between either extreme. In true Muslim Brotherhood pragmatism, Morsi will first try to calm the situation – as evidenced by initial attempts from Prime Minister Hisham Qandil in his public statement asking protesters to accept the president’s decision and “move on.”. If that fails, and if the judiciary finds momentum in its calls to strike, Morsi will likely turn to negotiating with prominent judges and opposition leaders. In the end, a settlement that neither rescinds the decree but works on a solution that negates absolute control seems the most logical endpoint based on previous patterns of behavior when faced with enormous public backlash. 

The problem is that neither Morsi's camp nor the opposition is yet articulating a position whereby a compromise could be reached: yes to the more positive parts of the decree about securing justice for police victims and extending the deadline for a new constitution, no to absolute power for Morsi against judicial overview, and perhaps a compromise on the matter of the dissolution of the Shura Council and Constituent Assembly.