A glitch in Egyptian protocol or a purposeful humiliation? Marzouki’s trip to Egypt

Proper protocol: Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba being greeted by U.S. President John F Kennedy in New York in 1961. Photo courtesy of JFK Library.

Tunisian social networks have been abuzz today over President Moncef Marzouki’s visit to Egypt and the apparent lack of protocol provided for the Tunisia head of state. While newly elected Egyptian president Morsi held a joint press conference with Marzouki today and met with him privately, many commenters have been outraged that Marzouki was greeted not by Morsi, or the Egyptian prime minister (as had been expected), but by the relatively low level minister of electricity.

More abuzz came this afternoon as photos came out of Marzouki’s meeting with Morsi, in which contrary to usual protocol, only the Egyptian flag was on display (see photo below).Embedded image permalink

Of course, none of these events are happening in a vacuum. Marzouki has had a difficult few weeks with his presidential powers coming into question over the government’s apparent non-consultation with him over the extradition of the former Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi. Marzouki then proceeded to try to fire the Central Bank governor, a decision that backfired after the prime minister, Ennahda member Hamadi Jebali, reversed his position on the firing and refused to support Marzouki’s move.

Against these troubles for Marzouki, came the reports that Ennahda is pushing strongly in the Constituent Assembly for an unelected, figurehead presidency in the new constitution. This adds further fuel to the fire for those who think that the Islamist party is trying to diminish the role of the presidency for their own policy gains – this time through their counterparts in Egypt.

1 thought on “A glitch in Egyptian protocol or a purposeful humiliation? Marzouki’s trip to Egypt

  1. The US has always had more respect for Tunisia than did Egypt. The best example is the welcome reserved by Jefferson and Madison to Sidi Soliman the Tunisian envoy, see here (http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/tunisian-envoy).
    “A salute from the guns of the frigate USS Congress announced the arrival of the Tunisian Envoy. Sidi Soliman Mellimelli and his attendants were greeted at the Washington Navy Yard on the morning of November 30, 1805, by full military honors and a crowd of curious onlookers. ”

    The humiliation of the Tunisian president might be an attempt by the Egyptians to assert their superiority and re-affirm that their the Alpha dog in the middle east and North Africa region. There is a concern that some of the 3 billion aid that was reserved to Egypt might be diverted to Tunisia. Some in the state department have started to realize that Tunisia might have more pull in the region than Egypt does in view of its stronger links to Africa (which is mostly francophone), Turkey, and even Israel (the deputy PM is born in Tunisia), etc. Tunisia (based on some congressional reports) has been more cooperative, no incidents so far like the one with the arrest of members of american civil society activists in Egypt.

    Being welcomed by the minister of electricity might be a glitch, but being welcomed and given farewell by the minister of electricity is definitely not.

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