by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi*
What to make of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi’s election as president of Egypt? What seems to be the most likely outcome is something analogous to the “constitutional settlements” of the early Roman Empire. That is, the military, like the Emperor Augustus in antiquity, will entrust to itself management of foreign policy, while granting Morsi (and a parliament, if new elections are allowed) – akin to the Senate in Rome – considerable autonomy with regards to the direction of domestic affairs, even as the military has assumed control over the drafting of the constitution.
Indeed, such a settlement would work well for the military, because, despite its extensive control of the economy, the burden of resolving the economic crisis would ultimately rest in Morsi’s hands. Currently, as Reuters reports, the country’s depleted foreign reserves can only cover “three months of import coverage,” while the local currency debt has increased to 600 billion Egyptian pounds ($99 billion), up from 500 billion before the unrest began in January 2011.