A decree this week by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi essentially makes him a dictator, critics say. They call for US action. But the Obama administration might give him some leeway.
Mr. Morsi, who has links to Islamist groups looked upon with suspicion by the West, was never Washington's first choice to lead a post-Arab Spring Egypt. But President Obama made a clear choice to allow the Egyptian people to chart their own course, thinking that interference would only undermine the goal of a truly democratic Egypt.
Now, it seems, that choice could potentially blow up in Mr. Obama's face. A day after brokering a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, Morsi took a step that could make him as much of an autocrat as his US-friendly successor, Hosni Mubarak. The implication for US and the West seemed clear: peace with Israel, but at the price of Egyptian democracy.
The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin summed up the worst American fears in her Right Turn blog: "The Arab Spring in Egypt looks a whole lot like the Hosni Mubarak tin-pot dictatorship, minus the secularism, good relationship with Israel and reliable partnership with the West. In other words, Egypt now may have Mubarak-style oppression plus Islamist rule."
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