The Middle East Channel

Egypt’s new president challenges the military by reconvening parliament

Security forces allowed members of parliament (MPs) to enter Egypt's parliament building on Monday after they had been blocked for nearly a month. MPs are set to convene for a general session on Tuesday after newly elected President Mohamed Morsi called for parliament to be reinstated. This move directly challenges a ruling made just before presidential elections by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Parliament, deeming it unconstitutional. Morsi's provocation of the ruling military council was surprising. He said, "The military wants to create a state within a state, keep legislative power and include articles in the future constitution that protects it. That won't do: either we confront it now or we've failed." However, it is unclear if Morsi has the power to overturn the SCAF ruling. The Supreme Constitutional Court called for an emergency meeting and the military council met immediately after Sunday's announcement.

Syria

International envoy Kofi Annan has met in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in efforts to restart his unsuccessful peace process. Annan said the talks with Assad were "very candid and constructive." Annan told reporters the two had agreed on an approach that he plans to discuss with the armed opposition. Syria's foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi "reassured Annan of Syria's commitment to implement the 6-point peace plan." About the plan, Assad said, "The main obstacle (is) that many countries don't want (it) to succeed. So they offer political support and they still send armaments and send money to terrorists in Syria." In an interview on German television, Assad said he would remain in office insisting he maintained public support. He continued, claiming deaths of government supporters and the military exceeds that of civilians. Conversely, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon estimated the death toll to have reached 17,000 in a report released last week.

Headlines  

  • Former National Transitional Council head Mahmoud Jibril called for a grand coalition government after his National Forces Alliance took an early lead in Libya's elections.  
  • South Sudan marks its first anniversary of independence, but the young country continues to face serious challenges as the conflict with Sudan persists.
  • Gamal and Alaa Mubarak, sons of overthrown leader Hosni Mubarak, face new graft charges after previous corruption charges were thrown out by an Egyptian court.
  • Saudi Arabian security forces shot and killed at least two protesters in the country's largest demonstration in months.

Arguments & Analysis

'Islamists in a Changing Middle East' (Marc Lynch, Project on Middle East Political Science and Foreign Policy)

"The election of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as president of Egypt has sharpened the focus on the role of Islamist movements in a rapidly changing Arab world. Social and political movements based on a political reading of Islam have for decades been among the largest, best organized and most effective forces in many Arab countries. Since the Arab uprisings, they have faced new opportunities and challenges -- from elections in Tunisia and Egypt to fighting in Syria and Libya. Who are these Islamists? What do they want? How do they fit within the political arenas in which they operate?"

Creating lasting security in Sudan' (Moez Ali, OpenDemocracy)

"Some sceptics have claimed that it is necessary for the current regime to be in power because of the security situation on the ground. They claim that if the regime falls there would be no guarantee that the rebels from the aforementioned areas wouldn't march into Khartoum and claim the throne. Another security issue is the proliferation of arms around the country. However rather than guaranteeing security, the current regime has long been the cause of the country's insecurity."

Top Ten Surprises on Libya's Election Day' (Juan Cole, Informed Comment)

"Most Western reporting on Libya is colored by what is in my view a combination of extreme pessimism and sensationalism. It has been suggested that because most reporters don't stay there for that long, many don't have a sense of proportion. It is frustrating to have faction-fighting in distant Kufra in the far south color our image of the whole country. Tripoli, a major city of over 2.2 million (think Houston), is not like little distant Kufra, population 60,000 (think Broken Arrow, OK)!In the run-up to the elections held on Saturday, a lot of the headlines read ‘Libya votes, on the brink' or had ‘Chaos' in the title. But actually, as the Libya Herald reports, the election went very, very well (which did not surprise me after my visit to three major cities there in May-June). The NYT post-election headline of ‘Libyans risk violence to vote' is frankly ridiculous; in most of the country that simply was not true, though it was true in parts of Benghazi...In Tripoli, the election was described as a big family wedding, with lots of loud celebration and tears of joy."

--By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

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