Egypt is marching quickly and certainly towards dictatorship. Freedoms are tossed aside and control and leadership are becoming centralized in the hands of the new president. Every day, Morsi seems to bring more and more power under his control. This first free election in the history of Egypt is looking like the last free election the country will see for a very long time.
Last week an Egyptian court charged two people, both prominent independent journalists, for publicly berating the current president of Egypt. The two are Tawfiq Okasha, a very popular TV news personality in Egypt, and Islam Afifi, the editor-in-chief of Al-Dustour, an independent newspaper.
Both men have been extremely critical of President Morsi.
On air, Okasha told Morsi not to attend the funeral of the sixteen soldiers killed by terrorists. He continued by saying that the Muslim Brotherhood, the party Morsi represents, had a role in the attack and spilling his blood would be permissible because of this. Afifi's paper was calling the new administration a dictatorship.
Add that to the new status Morsi is assigning himself, and there can be no other conclusion. Morsi's Egypt is very similar to Mubarak's Egypt. Morsi can enact laws without the legislature, he is in control of the police, in control of the army and in control of foreign affairs and he signs all treaties. There are no checks and balances in the new Egypt -- all power is centralized in the office of the president.
Morsi has effectively suspended democracy and reactivated a dictatorial regime.
Israeli and other intelligence is reporting that Egypt has brought tanks to the Sinai and to their border with Israel, they have also stationed missile batteries in the Sinai facing Israel. These appear to be clear violations of the Egyptian/Israeli peace treaty known as the Camp David Accords. And they are certainly not acts that engender faith, bolster confidence or clamp down on the terror that is rampant in Sinai and that cost the lives of sixteen Egyptian soldiers. For her part, Israel has positioned an Iron Dome Anti-Missile battery in the port city of Eilat, the Israeli city closest to the Sinai border.
Egypt is testing the waters of diplomacy and reconfiguring traditional alliances in the Middle East.
And now, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has decided to accept the invitation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and visit Tehran.
The visit will take place on August 30. It is the first time in thirty-three years that a visit of this level is taking place. Not since the 1979 Iranian Revolution that unseated the ruling party and established the Islamic Republic of Iran has the president of Egypt visited Iran. In Tehran, Morsi will participate in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting that Iran is hosting.
Iran is the international chair of NAM. The Movement was created during the cold war in order to give voice to the many countries aligned neither with the United States nor with the Soviets. Now, well after the fall of the USSR, the Non-Aligned Movement continues to lend a voice, but that voice has shifted and today it serves as a counter to the West and to the United States.
Attending the NAM conference means dancing with Iran. This is not a gesture, it is a significant statement about which diplomatic side Egypt (and the Palestinian Authority, because PA President Mahmoud Abbas also agreed to participate) is on.
The United States is losing Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to Iran. I am not certain that the U.S. even realizes what it is happening. If the United States does have a counter move, now is the time to use it. Now, or never -- there is no time to waste.