What others say: Tenuous times could overshadow Mohammed Morsi's move to office
Middle East News Agency, HO, Associated Press
The following editorial appeared recently in the Dallas Morning News:
After working overtime to subvert democracy and preserve their grip on power, Egypt's military leaders had a change of heart Sunday and agreed to let President-elect Mohammed Morsi assume office. The decision is noteworthy not just because Morsi represents the once-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood but also because, for the first time, the military has permitted a transition to elected civilian rule.
Now it is up to Morsi to prove that Egypt's gamble on democratic governance was the right one. Egyptians did not spend the past 18 months fighting for an Islamic revolution but rather one that upholds the nation's secular traditions. If he uses his power to instill harsher forms of Islamic rule, Morsi can only justify a return to military meddling.
Morsi must know the world is watching, and every pronouncement carries enormous weight as he represents the aspirations of all Arabs who yearn to govern themselves free of autocratic rule. It's up to him to prove democracy can work; there is no shortage of cynics eager to prove him wrong.
Troublesome reports emerged Monday that Morsi had stated in an interview with Iran's Fars news agency that he planned to restore relations with Tehran, severed in 1980. Egypt's official news agency later denied any such interview had occurred. The incident had the effect of immediately calling into question Morsi's true intentions. He should reiterate Egypt's commitment to the continued diplomatic and economic isolation of Iran until Tehran curbs its nuclear ambitions. Egypt's solidarity with Arab states and the West must not waver on this score.
Morsi reiterated Sunday that he will honor his country's existing treaties, presumably including the 1979 Camp David accord with Israel. Better still, he should strive for a restoration of dialogue and end the diplomatic freeze with Israel by calling for immediate talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
No one says the meeting has to be warm and cozy. Morsi can stand firm on Palestinian rights and push for progress toward creating an independent Palestinian state. But no one's cause is advanced by perpetuating the current freeze in relations.
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas is no doubt salivating over the prospect of an Islamist ally governing in Cairo, especially if it means lifting the Gaza border restrictions on Hamas' imports of weapons, food and construction materials. Morsi must insist on maintaining those restrictions until Hamas offers some quid pro quo, including a renunciation of violence.
Yes, these are lofty goals. But Morsi occupies an extraordinary place in history. His mandate is for bold leadership — albeit tempered by the reality that Egypt's military is looking for any excuse to return to power.
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