Strategic regional alliances in disarray after Mohamed Morsi’s precipitous eviction
Changes a severe setback to Islamists, while UAE, Saudis and Israelis relieved
Also considering its options will be Hamas. Deciding to reorient its regional alliances when its parent organisation came to power in Egypt, Hamas abandoned its offices in Damascus to set up in brotherhood-friendly Qatar.
Morsi earned praise from then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton last November after he worked with her to mediate a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. “Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace,” Clinton said at the time.
Israeli officials, so far guarded in their statements on the removal of Morsi, will welcome the rupturing of the strong ties between Cairo and Hamas, though a possible rise in jihadist activity in Egypt’s Sinai, which borders Israel, will be cause for concern.
Turkey, which has promoted its blend of Islam and democracy as a model for countries transitioning from dictatorship in north Africa, had been nurturing closer links with Morsi’s government.
Officials have reacted with alarm to his eviction. “The toppling of a government that came into office through democratic elections, through methods that are not legal – and what is worse, through a military coup – is unacceptable, no matter what the reasons,” Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.
Regime loyalists in Syria have crowed over Morsi’s fate. Morsi was a committed and vocal supporter of the Syrian opposition. Shortly before his ousting he appeared at a rally in Cairo which heard calls for jihad against Bashar al-Assad, whose late father snuffed out a 1980s Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Syria.
In an interview with the official Thawra newspaper last week, Assad declared: “What is happening in Egypt is the fall of what is called political Islam” – ironic, given that his allies in Iran and Hizbullah are also advocates of political Islam, albeit of the Shia variety.
Muslim Brotherhood affiliates and offshoots across the region, including the ruling Ennahda party in Tunisia, have denounced what they call a “flagrant coup”. Morsi’s unseating represents a severe setback to Islamists in the Arab world and beyond. The manner of his departure sends a dangerous message about democracy to more radical forces within that milieu who were already sceptical about or downright hostile to the democratic process.