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Friday, 22 March 2019

Book Review: The Last Hours of Morsi's Rule

Abdel-Qader Shuheib's latest book reveals the details marking the final hours of deposed president Mohamed Morsi's rule from inside Egypt's decision-making circles

Mahmoud El-Wardani, Sunday 5 Jan 2014
Morsi
Deposed President Mohamed Morsi
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Al-Sa'at Al-Akheera fi Hokm Morsi (The Last Hours of Morsi's Rule) by Abdel-Qader Shuheib, Dar Al-Hilal, Al-Hilal Book Series, Cairo, 2013. pp.196

When a Presidential Guard officer informed Mohamed Morsi on the evening of Wednesday 3 July that he was no longer president as Egypt had replaced him with the Supreme Court judge as interim leader, the deposed ruler was overcome by a furious fit of rage. He threatened with these words spoken to the officer:

"The Muslim Brotherhood and the Americans won't let you get away; they will retaliate and once again reinstitute my rule…"

As this excerpt reveals, Abdel-Qader Shuheib's book The Last Hours of Morsi's Rule unveils the details of what occurred just before Morsi's ouster.
Two astonishing facts regarding this book cannot be ignored: first, the same writer published a book in April 2011 – a few weeks after the 25 January revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak – titled The Last Hours of Mubarak's Rule. His was the scoop of publishing the exclusive information detailing how Mubarak was forced to step down. 

Due to his work as a journalist in close contact with decision-making circles, the writer enjoyed access to information and news directly from their original sources – especially that he also headed a press establishment for a number of years.

The author mentions this strange irony in the opening lines of his book on Morsi, for he could have never imagined while writing about Mubarak's final hours that only two years from that momentous event he would be writing another book about the final hours of his successor. 

The second astonishing matter is that he began writing the first chapter of his latest book two days before the popular avalanche against Morsi's rule which swept Egypt on 30 June and five days prior to the downfall of the latter's regime. He opened the chapter with the following lines:
"The decision to terminate Morsi's rule was issued by the widespread popular support for the call by Tamarod [Rebel campaign] to hold early presidential elections." He added that for this reason he can now talk about "the last hours of Morsi's rule, even if those hours extend for days or weeks or months … for Morsi may continue to head to the presidential palace and sit in his office, but he won't be able to rule amid an increasingly widespread popular refusal for him to do so."

What Shuheib predicted, and published in a newspaper at the time, indeed came true, for three days later an official declaration of the end of his rule was announced along with the roadmap for the future. According to political calculations, the president's rule ended with the people overthrowing him, before he was deposed. He was at odds with various institutions including the military, the judiciary, the media, and even the security apparatus which sought to coordinate with the military. This was revealed in statements made by the interior minister, before 30 June, asserting that the police will not confront protestors but offer them protection instead.

Shuheib devotes a chapter on the relationship between Morsi and Army Chief General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. As matter of fact, it is rather a chapter about the general relationship between the Brotherhood and the military, whereby the latter invariably exerted pressure using different means to acquire political gains. For instance, when post-1952 military commander Gamal Abdel-Nasser opposed the Brotherhood, the latter attempted to assassinate him. A quarter of a century later, Anwar El-Sadat -- also commander of the military -- was indeed assassinated by one among the new generation of Brotherhood-affiliated groups.

After Mubarak was forced to step down on 11 February 2011, the Brotherhood engaged in a dialogue with the military leaders to reach an understanding regarding the transitional phase while simultaneously inciting against the Armed Forces. For instance, they propagated the "Down with Military Rule" motto. In this section, the author overlooks, however, the fatal mistakes committed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which had driven large sectors of the masses and political forces to adopt this very motto.

Despite the fact that Morsi had appointed the new leadership of the Armed Forces himself, he and his organisation continued to harbour doubts about the military. It is noteworthy that General El-Sisi was the one assigned by the SCAF to liaise with the Brotherhood before Morsi was elected president, while Morsi was assigned by the Brotherhood's guidance bureau to liaise with the SCAF.

Nevertheless, a few weeks after El-Sisi's appointment, the military began to sense Morsi's circumvention regarding the pursuit of the Sinai terrorists who killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, as well as his refusal to obligate Hamas to hand over a number of suspects in this operation. The Brotherhood's infuriation of the military reached its peak when the presidency invited to the 6 October victory celebrations terrorists involved in Sadat's assassination – which taken place on the same occasion in 1981.

Finally, the dynamics which tainted the relationship between the deposed president, his organisation and his guidance bureau on the one hand, and the military on the other, were repeated with the judiciary, the media, civil forces, political parties and popular movements. All such practices were terminated with the millions of the Tamarod campaign signatories who took to the streets on 30 June in an internationally unprecedented scene to overthrow the president.

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