History won’t be kind to Mohamed Morsi – Washington Examiner

The courtroom death of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Monday is a stain on his nation’s justice system. But history won’t regard Morsi kindly. He wasted an opportunity to lead.

That doesn’t make his death less concerning, of course. Morsi’s family suggest he was given inadequate medical support in prison and had been suffering from illnesses including diabetes and high blood pressure. The senior Muslim Brotherhood leader was also denied regular access to independent observers. Morsi’s supporters will react furiously to his demise and deserve an explanation for his death.

This concerns the United States in our vested interest to buffer the more moderate faction of the Muslim Brotherhood against the encroachment of Salafi-Jihadist sentiments. Those sentiments have fueled an aggressive jihadist uprising and a transnational terrorist threat from the Egyptian syndicate of the Islamic State.

That said, Morsi was not a very clever leader.

After winning the presidency in elections which followed the 2011 overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak, Morsi began his rule with sensible efforts to win international investor favor. He also engaged in outreach to other Egyptian political blocs. For a short time, it appeared that Egypt might replicate the Tunisian model and successfully transition to a stable democracy.

But then Morsi resorted to what came naturally: executive authoritarianism under an overtly Islamist banner. Morsi’s efforts to centralize power and his Islamist biases isolated the secular middle class and sparked growing international concern. Rather than recognize the warning signs and increasingly overt military protests, Morsi doubled down. With increasing antidemocratic behavior and a dismantling of the independent judiciary, he opened himself up to a perfect storm of civic protest and military reprisal.

In 2013, the time was ripe for Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to strike. The former army commander did so with ruthless efficiency, and he had widespread support when he did it.

While it is in our interest to build closer relations with Sisi, the U.S. should push him to grant everyone, including the Muslim Brotherhood, more political freedom. Failing that, Salafi-Jihadists will be empowered in the swamp of disenchanted youth.

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