Non-Islamist political parties, such as ElBaradei’s, are weak and divided, with the judiciary serving as the main obstacle to Egyptian Islamists’ advances. For example, judges dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament in June. Islamists see them as a threat to their leverage on the constitution-writing panel.
The non-Islamist parties include both free-market and left-wing politicians. Since Morsi’s announcement, their disparate supporters have united, protested and rioted, and are trying to organize major demonstrations.
So far, the police force has followed Morsi’s orders and contained the anti-Morsi street protests. And the Egyptian army — whose senior generals were recently replaced by Morsi appointees — has not publicly objected to Morsi’s self-promotion.
Morsi’s power grab came one day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton effusively praised him for helping force an end to Israel’s counterattack against rocket assaults launched from the Gaza enclave by Hamas, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“This is a critical moment for the region,” Clinton said. Nov. 21. “Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”
Clinton’s statement reflected the administration’s long-standing decision to support democracy in Egypt, even if it comes with Islamists gaining political dominance. The strategy, outlined by Obama in a 2009 speech in Cairo, is to use democratic politics to help stabilize the region, and to weaken jihadi movements by arguing that Arabs can achieve their goals via the ballot box, rather than with attacks on American targets.
Clinton met with Morsi in July, and warned Egypt’s military against intervention. “The United States supports the full transition to civilian rule with all that entails,” she said.
U.S. officials say they have backed the results of the Egyptian elections — not Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood.
But Obama has repeatedly praised Morsi, and his deputies once announced plans for Morsi to visit White House.
That plan was torpedoed when Libyan jihadis destroyed the U.S Consulate and CIA annex in the Libyan city of Benghazi and killed four Americans on Sept. 11.
However, it is not clear if Morsi and his Islamist allies can, or wish to, distance themselves from jihadi groups like Hamas.
Most Islamists and jihadis share a similar ideology and wish to create Islamic theocracies through elections, by force, or both.
For example, in a May 2012 campaign speech Morsi promised an Islamic theocracy and a constitution built on Shariah Islamic law.
“The Shariah, then the Shariah, and finally, the Shariah,” he declared. “This nation will enjoy blessing and revival only through the Islamic Shariah. I take an oath before Allah and before you all that regardless of the actual text [of the constitution] … this people will not accept a text that does not reflect the true meaning of the Islamic Shariah as a text to be implemented and as a platform.”