Morsi’s Moment

Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi: Peacemaker, savior, tyrant?

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Nadav Kander for TIME
Nadav Kander for TIME

Still, the worst fears of Egyptian liberals and some American observers seemed to have come to pass: an Islamist now had practically absolute legislative power in the most populous Arab nation. There was a chorus of “told you so”s when an American-made anti-Islam video on YouTube led to an angry mob bursting into the grounds of the U.S. embassy in Cairo—and Morsi took two days to condemn the attack. His first few foreign trips, to China and Iran, were quickly interpreted as an effort to pull Egypt out of the American orbit.

But Morsi has shown restraint. He has so far declined to adopt the harshest interpretations of Shari‘a law, has not imposed dress codes on women and tourists, and whatever his rhetoric has not torn up Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel or flung open the border with Gaza to take pressure off Hamas. His trip to China was not, it turned out, about finding an alternative patron to the U.S., and the Obama Administration was delighted when Morsi gave a speech in Tehran condemning Iran’s ally, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. (The Iranians struggled to control their embarrassment.) Although Morsi failed in his effort, with Turkey and Qatar, to broker an end to the Assad regime’s slaughter of civilians, the attempt showed that Egypt’s goal in Syria was complementary, not contradictory, to that of other nations. Then came Gaza.

Peace—and Then Protests
Maybe it was inevitable that Morsi’s presidential credentials would be tested in the tiny enclave on the Egyptian border that is home to 1.6 million Palestinians. The Muslim Brotherhood has deep ties to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, and Morsi has a history of anti-Israel rhetoric. Although he had preserved the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, he was never going to look the other way, as Mubarak was wont to do, when Israel battled Hamas.

(MORE: How the Gaza Truce Makes Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood a Peace Player)

When Israel launched its military campaign against Hamas on Nov. 14, Morsi condemned the attack in robust terms, but didn’t go nearly as far as Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who described Israel as a “terrorist state.” He withdrew Egypt’s ambassador to Israel but kept open channels of communication between Egyptian and Israeli intelligence agencies. To show solidarity with Hamas, he sent his Prime Minister to Gaza during the thick of the bombardment but didn’t unseal the border to allow the militants an escape route—or an open resupply line.

Meanwhile, Morsi spoke six times over several days with President Obama. Events in Gaza moved the two men closer: when they had spoken on the phone in the wake of the attack on the U.S. embassy in October, Obama had been reproachful of Morsi’s inaction. Now their conversations grew more personal: Morsi called Obama at 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 20, apologizing for the lateness of the hour. Obama responded by encouraging Morsi to call whenever he needed, regardless of the time. A few hours later, when Morsi called again, Obama offered his condolences to Morsi, whose sister had died the day before, after a long battle with cancer. Obama told Morsi he knew firsthand the difficulty of dealing with personal setbacks under the public glare. “Obama,” Morsi says, “has been very helpful, very helpful.”

Although the cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas were moderated by Egyptian intelligence officials, Morsi was the whip hand. He spent 75 minutes with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton going over the terms of the proposed cease-fire, reading it out loud in English and offering his opinion on each issue, where he agreed and where he felt edits were needed, a U.S. official reported. His national security adviser took notes as Morsi and Clinton worked out the details. “Our intelligence people were talking to Israel and Hamas during the Mubarak years, but that didn’t help,” says Amr Darrag, who heads the Freedom and Justice Party’s foreign-relations committee. “What was different this time is that you had Morsi, who has genuine legitimacy as an elected leader and real credibility with Hamas.” If there was some grumbling from Islamists at home that Morsi hadn’t helped Hamas enough—by opening the border, for one—it was silenced when Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal declared, “Egypt did not sell out the resistance.”

The applause hadn’t died down when Egypt announced another big win: a preliminary deal with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan, a crucial shot in the arm for an economy that was already slowing when Mubarak was ousted and has only gone downhill since. Analysts said the IMF deal, predicated on Egypt’s commitment to reduce its budget deficit, would reassure private interests that the nation was a safe bet for investors. That, in turn, would help to start paring down unemployment, the root of so much of the discontent displayed in Tahrir Square over the past two years.

MORE: After the Power Play in Egypt: Morsi and the Islamists vs. Everyone Else

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59 comments
abodooma
abodooma

A tyrant wouldn't invite the opposition leaders 7 times to get their opinion in political events and 7 times they refuse his invites... A tyrant wouldn't take back 3 official decrees to please the opposition...

As a matter of fact I think he is a little weak when it comes to internal politics.. I think he shouldn't pay so much attention to them as they're minorities and Egyptians always vote against him.. They will never be satisfied no matter how he tries

سليمان
سليمان

قوله تعالى {إِنْ يَنْصُرْكُمُ اللَّهُ فَلَا غَالِبَ لَكُمْ وَإِنْ يَخْذُلْكُمْ فَمَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَنْصُرُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ} [آل عمران: 160] رئيس مصر رجل مؤمن لا يخاف الا الله و لن يكون تانبع لاحد سواء امريكا او غيرها

ybe123
ybe123

Give the egyptian chance? The main guy of terrorist organization which is mother of Hamas become a president! What kind of chance?He just waiting to receive the money from UN and USA. It will take some time to see him as sheep.So the voters who “actually don’t care about politics” have excuse and could choose him as man of the year. Please do not pretend to be blind like Europeans. 

heshoh64
heshoh64

Dears all egyptians first i am not a Muslim brother or anything else i amjust egyptianjust i wanna say give president morsi chance to cross thecrisis in egypt and if not we will go together to tahrer squair to tel him youhave to go. But right now he didn't get any real chance.

WilliamBalaz
WilliamBalaz

anyone who oppresses the process of government that suppress the checks and balances of a democracy would be considered a dictator sounds like morris

Brown
Brown

Morsi is a front man to a very dangerous fanatic organization based on flawed religious ideologies of the 7th century. 

It leaves me a very happy camper into 2013 he is not selected to be Time man of the year.

It would have been depressing.

adbasi9
adbasi9

Morsi is the optimal solution for Arab countries regardless the people who are supported by Jewish such as Albaradee and Omro Mosa. Morsi is the best leader among Arab presidents. 

Adel
Adel

For ages Egypt used to enjoy a tolerant, peaceful and moderate society.

There is no place for extremism, we will fight to live liberal, equal and friendly.

Adel Mostafa Ibrahim

adelonleave@gmail.com

ya3amo
ya3amo

Oh God, people here says he is a layer, been thing what would layer mean here :D 

AlHooLy
AlHooLy

Morsi♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ MorsiRead more: http://world.time.com/2012/11/28/morsis-moment/#ixzz2E60NkL9h

hassan_ismail
hassan_ismail

ارحــــــــــــــــــــــــل

hassan_ismail
hassan_ismail

الشعب يريد اسقاط النظام يسقط يسقط حكم المرشد

Tewkmanvin
Tewkmanvin

Mr. Morsi is intent upon becoming a theocratic dictator. It is interesting that neither the US nor Israesl is expressing very much concern.Should we continue to give Egypt $1 billon in aid each year? This is money that we do not have.

إنجيمحمد
إنجيمحمد

Morsi♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi

mghoneim2004
mghoneim2004

Most of Egyptians are supporting you Morsi. Go ahead and clean the remnants of the old regime

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Why is his head so small in that photo?

khagaraj
khagaraj

In Obama's language Morsi could be defined as a " bump-on-the-road " democrat.

MhmdAli
MhmdAli

Morsi is a big layer , I am one of the youth who participated in the 25th January revolution from the 1st day . I am in Tahrir square now protesting against this new dictator , who rule with the name of Islam , really a big layer . We dream with a new modern liberalized developed country ,this is our dream not a new Iran in the middle east , go to the hill Morsi .

M_Shehata1
M_Shehata1

نعم كل المصريين العاقلين يصطفون خلف رئيسهم الذى لا اشك فى نزاهته قيد انمله حتى يثبت عكس ذلك

AmrmohyEldin
AmrmohyEldin

I vote for Morsi to transfer Egypt to real democratic ,achieving our dreams & I sure he do now .People who are anti are just jealous for his success.The Egyptians trust in Morsi

zacoto
zacoto

Who are those people in Tahrir square.. Morse did what people wants him to do, Morse achieved some of the revolution goals ..I tell you who is there..the same  paid thugs that killed and beat the protesters in  2011, The thieves from the former party  that roped Egypt and gave its resources away.. the hungry power like Baradei and Sabahi ..and I promos you there are millions and millions of humbled  Morse supporters that will out number those people by far, that love and respect their president ..and are  not from the muslim brotherhood .. just like 

Anwar
Anwar

GO AHEAD MORSI, WE'RE ALL BEHIND YOU...

WaheedZakaria
WaheedZakaria

As an Egyptian, I feel like Mr. Bobby Ghosh has insulted my intelligence! Sir you are promoting the Muslim Brotherhood lies! The judges that Morsi are trying to get rid of are not part of the old regime, they are the ones who put Mubarak behind bars for God sake! how did you buy the brotherhood lies? Do you also know that article 220 of the draft constitution they are trying to pass basically implement the "rulings" and not the "principals" of the Islamic Sharia? which means that the testimony of a non-Muslim in court is void if it is challenged by a Muslim's testimony. It means the death penalty to anyone suspected of blaspheming against Islam.. it means a Taliban Egypt.. so please ask around , get your facts straight before jumping into conclusions!

NabilHanna
NabilHanna

I scorned Morsi in  dealing with true marchers ,demonstrators and protesters

mabaza
mabaza

Keep going Murci. We are all behind.

KompasCom
KompasCom

BreakNews KOMPAS.Com from Broken indonesia:

the indonesian stupid rulers must be fallen first to be the 7 new countries before solving the media's regulation. 

Demoncrats.

hsknyc
hsknyc

Morsi was able to accomplish more in his first half year as Egyptian president than all of US Presidents for the past forty years.  I say we give this guy a chance.  And if the people of Egypt want an Islamic state, let them have it.  Don't come calling to us when the building start exploding and bombs starts falling...

سليمان
سليمان

@ybe123 Of 100 million Indians were killed in North America?Do the Muslims kill them

سليمان
سليمان

@ybe123 من قتل 100 مليون هندي في امريكا الشماليه ؟ هل المسلمون فعلو ذلك

AhmedIbrahimKormod
AhmedIbrahimKormod

@MhmdAli dont speak on behalf of all egyptians, you can speak only with ppl around you, who said that i'm with what you are doing ? if 2 million in the street ( which i doubt ) out of 52 million have the right to vote, so with small math, you guys represent 3.7% thats if 2 million really on the street, so in which bases you speak on behalf of all of us, if you dont like him , so go make him go by democracy way, not by burning and killing and forcing your opinion to the rest of 97%, same talks for the ppl with him , learn the democracy man

nilefax
nilefax

@MhmdAli انا مواطن مصرى مسلم انتخبت دكتور محمد مرسى ايمانا بالفكرة الاسلامية لأن مصر دولة اسلامية ولاتناقض بين الاسلام والحداثة ومن يلوم الدول الاسلامية على تخلفها ياليته قبله يلوم على الاحتلال الغربى الصليبى لتلك الدول ويلوم ايضا على الحكام العملاء امثال حستى حمارك وشفيق

سليمان
سليمان

@akram.nabil و الشعب قال كلمته ومرسي عمل اللي هو عاوزه ليك شوق في حاجه ؟

nilefax
nilefax

@akram.nabil d'nt care mr pres morsy about felol and criminals we all support you

zacoto
zacoto

 I promise you there are  much more support Morse than you can dream of....The thugs in Tahrir do not mean the majority of people.they are being pushed by the former party thieves ..the once that do not want the country to move on, the once that roped the country..so don't be a hater...Say the truth what do you really know?!!!, and why are you there...?!!!