After days of delay, the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) announced the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi as the winner of the county’s presidential runoff.
On Sunday, head of the SPEC Farouq Sultan said that Morsi has received nearly 52 percent of the votes, with over 13 million ballots.
This is while, former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq won over 12 million votes. The voter turnout was 51.85 percent.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Kamel Wazni, a Beirut-based political analyst, to further talk about the issue. Below is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Mohamed Morsi proclaimed the winner but there are a lot of concerns about how much power he is actually going to have. What are your thoughts?
I think we have to give congratulations to the Egyptian people for a victorious day. Eventually, they got a president in their own domain, in their own power and they succeeded in challenging the military. Challenging the military is not something easy and it is a long process.
The military has been in control for a very long time. It is longer than the term of Mubarak and we have to remember since [Gamal] Abdel Nasser up today, the military has had the upper hand in Egypt and I think this point is the beginning of the struggle to make entrench for the real power to the civilian sectors and I think it is going to be a very long and difficult process.
Obviously, the military took preemptive action before they actually confirmed Mr. Morsi as the new president of Egypt. They actually put a lot of limitation on his power not when it comes only to political power, it is actually extended to economic powers because they limit even the economic initiative and they put a veto on any military action.
Despite all of that, I think the confirmation will resonate throughout the Middle East because it has a foreign implication for the whole region. We have to look at the relationship that will exist between Egypt and the rest of the world, especially the Arab world, the Saudis, the Qataris. Probably Egypt has been the sideline for a very long time.
Now it should take its leadership position. It has to look also at the cozy relationship that existed under Mubarak between Egypt, Hosni Mubarak and Israel. I think now it is a huge responsibility on the Islamic Brotherhood and its head and its followers and now the president is one of them to deal effectively with the issue of Israel and the issue of Palestine as a legitimate cause for every freeman around the world.
I think now it is a huge responsibility today and a huge test for them. But I think the difficulty will be very difficult ahead because there are a lot of things to be done in Egypt. He has to tackle the political process, the economic difficulties, the unemployment, the poverty, actually the process how to deal and deal with the army and everything that is in Egypt because only Morsi won this election but you have to look at the judiciary. They are all the appointees of the old system, the military, the security apparatus; everything for a long time has been appointed by the military and the follower of the military and I think this is the biggest challenge for Mr. Morsi and the leadership that will come with him.
Despite all that, it is a victorious day for the Egyptians because it is the beginning of trying to shape a new Egypt that fits the role and the leadership of a country that is major for the Arab and Muslim world if it took the right initiative, especially with the issue of Palestine because Palestine is the issue and will be the issue and the relationship with Israel will be looked at carefully by Mr. Morsi.
Israel has and will be the enemy of the Arabs and the Muslims because it occupied Palestine.
As you said, a lot is expected from the Egyptian president. Will Egypt to be able to regain that role of a leader as the most popular state? We know in the region will be able to play a significant in the world of politics, with foreign policy and also in the region and its regional policy.
But a lot of people even ahead of the announcement were saying that either Ahmed Shafiq or Mohamed Morsi coming for power because this is a transition period for political situation in Egypt. There is for instance no parliament; the Military Council has a lot of power and as you say, this is just the beginning of the struggle by Mohamed Morsi for instance or other groups to get power back from them that it is only going to be a short term period for Mohamed Morsi, this presidency and he will not be able to use this short period because of the political crisis that Egypt is facing as well as the economic crisis which you rightly referred to. This is going to be a short period and we might even see Mohamed Morsi losing that position even sooner than expected. Is that how you are looking at it?
Obviously it is going to be a short honeymoon for him. He has to get to work today before tomorrow; he has to look at the agenda that is really important for the country; he has to look for the internal issues, the economy, the economy and the economy.
Unemployment is very high in Egypt. They have dwindling reserves; it is close to 16 billion dollars. It is probably facing difficulty before the end of the year if they do not support their currency. I think they have to tackle the poverty level in Egypt; they have to look very carefully at their relationship with the Persian Gulf countries which have a deep pocket and up to now, they are refusing to give any assistance to any country that see the revolution because they think a successful revolution in Egypt will actually be a major blow for them and probably will escalate the tension within their boundaries and they fear this revolution will manifest itself in their own countries.
There is a lot of fear on the Saudis, on the Qataris, on the Arab Emirate. They said we will help you in one condition; do not export your revolution to our territories. I heard it so many times from high officials from these countries and I heard it from officials within the UN.
When they had close meetings with the Saudis, they mentioned that they had a lot of fears that the revolution will hit their own country and I think they tried for a very long time not to have a successful revolution in Egypt because this will change maybe the mapping for the region.
But I think the Egyptians have to understand and give some time to the new transition leadership to take place and start working on the process of building a country that deserves to be as it is in Egypt. It is not going to be smooth; it is going to be hard; there is going to be a lot of hiccup in the process. But I think when you have people, you deal with them in an honest, open and transparent way, I think they will give you the time because they know that revolution will take time and nothing will happen overnight.
This is probably going to get reform as it is supposed to be. This [takes] a long time to be worked at but I think the priority, as I said, is how to work around the economy and how it affects your house and clean it and this is not going to be easy because of the limitations imposed by the army.
But I think Morsi today is backed by the majority of the people of Egypt and would be a counter to the military. I think, at this point, we will have Morsi as a president and we have co-president that is called the military and it is going to be a tough road ahead.
You say co-president when you are speaking about the military. Let’s just look at how much power the military has right now with the president as well. We know of course after the dissolution of the parliament and the restoration of the emergency law, that the military now has the powers that the parliament should have.
It also has amended the constitutional declaration and that amended constitutional declaration effectively, observers are saying, is putting the president under the control of the military. It has control already, the military over the state budget; it has the authority, according to that constitutional declaration, to appoint most senior cabinet posts and it is also reappointing, we are hearing, the-100-member constituent assembly that is going to write the constitution. It has also, we are hearing, revived a body called the National Defense Council; it has the right to appoint a general even as the president’s chief of staff.
So basically a lot of people were saying with all this power, if Mohamed Morsi is going to challenge that power and retain some power for himself as president, there is going to be a showdown. Do you think that we are going to see a confrontational approach now between Mohamed Morsi from one side and the Military Council from the other? And is Mohamed Morsi going to be able to do anything if he does not get the support for instance of other political powers and political figures?
Obviously, I think the Islamic Brotherhood and the new president have to understand this is a marriage of convenience not a true love. For that, I think they can have a very delicate process and they have to work with the military in the beginning and they have to establish a new parliament.
We know the parliament that has a majority of the Islamic Brotherhood has dissolved. We have to see how the president will actually build his own government and whether it will be inclusive that all of the parties from the other ex-parties that did not win the elections will be part of the process. We know there is all kind of color in Egypt’s streets and those should be, in my estimate, cater to them and accommodate them to be part of the process.
The youths of Egypt who started the revolution should not be ignored and be part of the process because I think as long as he has to strengthen his ideology by including more people in the process, he will be able to put a persuasive challenge to the military. But at this point, I would say the co-president has more power at this point but we do have to underestimate the machine of the Islamic Brotherhood and the president of Egypt.
I think in the long run, they will be able to weaken to a certain point the deep government that existed for over 50 years and this is going to be a daunting job.
Speaking about how the Muslim Brotherhood is going to form a government and what that government is going to look like, Mohamed Morsi himslef had been saying clearly that he is for an inclusive, the government, as you said there Mr. Wazni, but the question is are we going to see that inclusive government?
A lot of observers, a lot of the mainstream media, were saying that when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood, that the Muslim Brotherhood is about a domination of the Islamic parties, that this is going to mean that they are not going to allow for an inclusive government to take shape and that they were even saying that the Egyptian people are situated in a very polarized situation and they do not know which one to vote for because Ahmed Shafiq is a symbol of the old regime and the Muslim Brotherhood, they said, was a symbol of domination of a single force and even the restrictions, they said, when it comes to the Islamic code of conduct and the Islamic law. Would you agree with this kind of analysis?
I think, for the Islamic Brotherhood, this is test that they have to show that they are inclusive; they have to be able to accommodate other parts of the revolution who started the revolution.
We have to remember a lot of people blame the Islamic Brotherhood that they hijacked the revolution and they want mostly sit at the parliament level and at the president. We have to remember those youths who started this revolution and who were actually in the front facing in the military and brought down Mubarak before the Islamic Brotherhood actually came to the scene and started taking actions.
They capitalized on the revolution and I think they made their own mistakes. In my estimate, they learned from their mistakes and if they have to protect their achievements that they were able to achieve up to this point, they have to be inclusive; otherwise, they will lose their legitimate power and that legitimate power will be needed to face the military and weaken the military on the long run.
Earlier in your remarks Mr. Wazni, you referred to the role of countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States and of course again the cozy relationship that existed between Egypt and Israel.
First of all, do you think that the US and its regional allies are going to be happy about the appointment of Mohamed Morsi? What do you think they are concerned about now?
I think we start with Saudi Arabia, America and Israel. I think with the Saudis, they were very nervous about having the Islamic Brotherhood taking power because they have their own struggle with the Islamic Brotherhood. I think the late Crown Prince Nayef had a lot of confrontations with them and in my understanding; they have actually, at one point, we know the tension that exists between the Saudis and the Egyptian.
Actually the Saudis threatened to kick out all the Egyptian workers out of Saudi Arabia and a lot of people took it with a grain of salt in Egypt because they felt they do not want to be hostage to the jobs offered by Saudi Arabia to its workers. I think they have maybe a shaky relationship. We know we had the withdrawal of the ambassador from Saudi Arabia and they have some tensions.
When it comes to Israel, I think Israelis are very nervous about having Islamic Brotherhood because we know that Hamas and Islamic Jihad, at least, Hamas is a branch of the Islamic Brotherhood and I think if they have to, they have to take at least the line of Hamas in its confrontation with Israel and I think that is how will be judged, according to the Palestinian goals.
I do not know how long they will honor the Camp David agreement, maybe that would probably be in the first period of time but in the long run, if they continue to honor that, they will lose their credibility as real Islamic Brotherhood. This is the test for them when it comes to Israel, Camp David and the relationship with Israel because most of the Egyptians are against any relationship with Israel and they think Israel is an occupation and the Egyptian people have their own pride and dignity and they want the Palestinians to have their legitimate right to have their land and I think the Islamic Brotherhood, if they want to be legitimate, have to honor the wish of the Egyptian people.
With the Americans, I think the American have actually felt they lost Egypt; they lost Hosni Mubarak, their best friend for 30 years. That is why you see they have that split between the military because the military is still supported and backed by the United States and that is why they kind of established a president and co-president in sharing power.
But I think the voice of people will prevail in the long run and the people who came to the streets actually abandoned their fear for a dignified life; they will protect this revolution on the process that will lead to a new Egypt if the Islamic Brotherhood plays it right.