In the breast of the Western media, hopes of Arab Spring spring eternal. First we were told the Muslim Brotherhood would contest only a third of the seats in the Egyptian parliament, just to ensure they had some representation in the legislature among all those students, women, and Copts. Then we were told it would be half the seats, but don’t worry, they had no plans to contest the presidency. Next we were told they were taking a run at the presidency, but most unlikely to win compared with all those far more appealing time-serving hacks from transnationalist bureaucracies like the Arab League and the International Atomic Energy Agency who were itching to jump in the race. And finally, after the Brothers took the presidency and swept the parliament, we were assured that they could govern only in a finely calibrated balance of power with the secularist military.
Inevitably, within a few weeks of taking the oath of office, President Morsi fired the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, purged the top brass, including the chief of staff and the heads of the air force and navy, and reversed such restraints on his power as they’d imposed. Equally inevitably, the view from Washington was that this was no more than “a generational change in military leadership.” It is true that General Sisi is a younger man than Field Marshal Tantawi. However, the fact remains that, in his first month in office, Mohamed Morsi has accomplished what it’s taken the post-Kemalist regime in Turkey its first decade to pull off: the end of the army’s role as constitutional guardian.