When all the analysts were dealing with newly-elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's dramatic decision to dismiss senior military commanders, only a few addressed his second "presidential declaration" of the day, which saw him seize control of the country's corridors of power. Morsi took advantage of the incident in Sinai to justify the ousting of senior officers, thus expanding his presidential authority to the point where it is absolute.
Morsi is now the head of the executive branch, he appoints and dissolves governments in Egypt, and he is also the legislative branch in the absence of a parliament and due to his ability to enact any law he wants. He is also in charge of foreign policy, domestic policy, security, economy and more. He finalizes international agreements, interprets the constitution, and has the power to appoint a taskforce that will draft a new constitution. And so, after a year and a half of semi-anarchy, Egypt is once again a country ruled by one person – a dictatorship. But the current dictatorship is even harsher than Mubarak's, whose decisions were reached together with parliament, political parties and the courts. Here we are talking about one man who controls everything.
Even the young revolutionaries, who spoke of democracy and freedom of expression, failed to notice Morsi's takeover due to their enthusiasm over the sacking of the senior military officials. There is no correlation between the current autocracy and what Egypt wanted to project to the world.
It is amazing that all this has taken place a mere month and a half after Morsi took office. During this time he has tamed the military, the political parties, the courts and mainly the press. The new president and the Muslim Brotherhood movement that backs him are currently replacing the chief editors and senior journalists with government mouthpieces. Dozens of journalists are being replaced by Islamist representatives, and according to the new instructions it is prohibited to criticize the Brotherhood or the president. Publishing caricatures of the president is also forbidden, and journalists may not refer to him or his aides directly.
The private press, which has begun to take root in Egypt, is being muzzled. The private al-Dustour newspaper ("The Constitution" – how ironic) dares to criticize the president? The newspaper is removed from the stores. Such measures were not taken even under Mubarak's rule. A private television channel was shut down after its owner, Tawfiq Okasha, dared to express pro-Israel views, and anyone who displays an 'exaggerated' amount of independence is put on trial – all in the name of "completing the revolution."
Israel has a long history of disappointment from Egypt. Over the past few decades, every attempt to strengthen relations and boost economic cooperation has been rejected by Egypt because "normalization of ties" with Israel is forbidden, as though the countries had never signed a peace treaty. The result of this rejection is that Egypt's GDP per capita is $3,000, compared with Israel's $30,000.
Now, as Egypt enters the next phase in its history, with an autocratic regime, Israel has no expectations, apart from minimal stability along the border. That's it. No one in Israel has any illusions regarding economic cooperation, which would have benefited both sides. Israel can only wish Egypt success in the path it has chosen and in its continued search for identity.