Tue, Dec 18, 2012 - Page 9 News List

Egypt’s monster in the making

Egyptians’ dream of democracy may be dashed if Morsi and the Brotherhood’s draft constitution expanding state authority over public liberties is approved in a referendum

By Fiorello Provera

Outside the Middle East, the US has scaled back its relations with Egypt since the government’s weak response to the attack on the US embassy in September, which signaled a rapid deterioration in bilateral relations. The US’ main priority now is to ensure that the peace treaty with Israel is maintained.

The EU cannot afford to engage in wishful thinking when it comes to Morsi’s ambitions and the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda.

The EU’s “more for more” policy has made human rights a cornerstone of its foreign policy toward states in the union’s neighborhood.

And, though Morsi’s recent role in mediating discussions between Hamas and the Israeli government was invaluable in preventing a serious regional conflict, his government’s actions are undermining prospects for further cooperation with Europe.

No matter how Morsi attempts to sideline his domestic opponents, Egypt is in no shape to ignore the rest of the world. It lacks a stable economy, relying heavily on tourism and imports to feed the country’s more than 80 million people. Power cuts and public-service strikes are a regular feature of daily life.

Egypt’s government needs to secure consistent foreign financing to keep the country afloat, providing leverage for international opposition to Morsi’s efforts to impose an agenda that runs contrary to Egyptians’ fundamental rights. Egypt can thrive only on the basis of honest adherence to a democratic process.

The current constitutional crisis has caused many to wonder how Egypt will face future political tests. The referendum’s outcome will prove an important guide regarding the direction the country is likely to take. Will it embrace a new Islamic authoritarianism, or build the democracy that Egyptians have risked their lives to secure?

Fiorello Provera is vice chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

Copyright: Project Syndicate

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