In search of compromise

Published on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Dina Ezzat, Feb 6, 2013.

President Mohamed Morsi’s meeting on Monday evening with army chiefs brought back to the surface questions over the role of the army should political instability continue.
Informed sources deny rumours that the president asked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to help quell demonstrations against him. In the words of one source “the request was not made in the first place and therefore it was not declined.”  

The meeting, according to sources, reviewed the current political situation.

“The president stressed the need for all state bodies to work to keep the state intact and listened to SCAF members’ assessment of the situation.” The source added that “among the things that were brought up was a reference to a previous attempt by SCAF to call for national dialogue.”

Last November political forces, including some Islamist quarters, expressed outrage at a presidential declaration concentrating all authority in the hands of the president. The army offered to mediate. The offer, which was made with the consent of the president, was later rebuffed at the request of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, say government, military and political sources.

It is not clear whether the army is now repeating the offer or simply reminding people that it had earlier attempted to contain the growing political polarisation between the Muslim Brotherhood and its direct political allies — some are now disassociating themselves from the group — and the National Salvation Front, a loose umbrella grouping of the non-Islamist political opposition.

It was not only the army’s initiative that was rebuffed by Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Several other initiatives were shrugged off, sparking a wave of resignations by presidential appointees, including the vice president, assistant to the president and a host of advisers.
The focus of most initiatives was to reverse the constitutional declaration and allow more time for the constitution to be drafted. Eventually the president agreed to a partial elimination of his constitutional declaration but insisted on pushing through a referendum in which the constitution was adopted with the support of less than two thirds of a 30 per cent turnout … //

… Political analyst Mohamed Agati argues that what is required now is not a new initiative but political will — “essentially on the side of the regime” — to agree to a compromise. “Unfortunately, the fact is the regime is not convinced that it needs to compromise.”

For Agati it is “the presidency” that needs to come up with an initiative, coupled with clear guarantees.

“It is not enough for the presidency to propose non-binding national dialogue without a clear agenda. The presidency needs to offer an agenda and assurances for the implementation of what is agreed upon.”

This week the presidency decided to delay the next session of national dialogue. Initiated last week, it was attended only by the Brotherhood’s Islamist allies and even they, say sources, are loath to return following the showdown between security and protesters in recent days.
(full text).

Links:

The World from Berlin: It Is Good that Benedict Is Gone, on Spiegel Online International, February 12, 2013 (Photo-Gallery with 32 photos): Pope Benedict XVI is nothing if not conservative. He spent the last eight years battling against relativism and individualism — before breaking with tradition and taking a step that no pope has made for over 700 years. German commentators say his papacy failed to introduce much-needed reforms …;

Die umstrittene Macht des Papstes, auf SRF, 12. Februar 2013: Laut dem Wirtschaftsmagazin «Forbes» galt der Papst 2012 als der fünftmächtigste Mensch der Welt. Als wichtigstes Kriterium für die alljährlich erstellte Liste gilt der Einfluss auf das aktuelle Weltgeschehen. Wie gross ist die politische Macht des katholischen Kirchenoberhauptes tatsächlich? … (mehr).

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