Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood have made their peace with a military elite that hounded them for decades.
Yesterday, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi raised taxes on a host of goods and services, among them alcohol, tobacco, advertising, and construction rebar. Then at around 2 a.m. today, he suspended the tax increases with a short update to his public Facebook account.
The image of President Morsi in his pajamas padding to his computer to change legislation with a few keystrokes is, in essence, what's filling Egyptian human rights activists and secular politicians with so much dread. Morsi can legislate at whim. And he's demonstrated an appetite for doing so.
Now, he and the Muslim Brotherhood that propelled him to power appear to be accommodating themselves to the authoritarian institutions that worked so well during the country's nearly 60 years of military-backed dictatorship. Concessions have been made to protect the military's autonomy and business interests, and in return Morsi appears to have secured the cooperation of the military.
One law he passed yesterday and did not rescind in a late-night bout of leader's remorse will put that cooperation to the test. The law empowers the Egyptian military to arrest civilians as deemed necessary to maintain "public order" until a referendum on a new Egyptian constitution, scheduled for Dec. 15, is finished. "Public order" offenses were a favorite method of Mubarak's police state for controlling and punishing political dissent.
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