At the same time, Salafis have criticized and protested against the draft for not immediately imposing sharia law. "The tensions between the Salafis and the brotherhood have important implications for the referendum on the draft constitution and the parliamentary elections that will follow," writes Mara Revkin for Foreign Policy. Revkin adds, "It will take more than the brotherhood's core constituency to pass the new draft constitution. Salafis and liberals will need to vote in significant numbers."
Law professor Sahar Aziz of the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law says that despite the flawed process, the drafting of the constitution has been revolutionary for Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood is being forced to moderate. The current head of the brotherhood, Mahmoud Hussein, told Turkey's Today's Zaman in September 2012 that the organization was not seeking a secular state like Turkey or a religious state like Iran. "We want a state like Egypt," said Hussein.
Implications for the United States
Since the Muslim Brotherhood's electoral wins, considerable discussion has been given to how to manage U.S. policy toward a brotherhood-led government. Egypt remains an important strategic ally in the region on issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as it showed after Morsi helped broker a cease-fire for the November 2012 Gaza conflict. TIME's Tony Karon says this could make the Brotherhood a possible "peace player" in the future.
Middle East expert Robert Malley told CFR in an interview that the brotherhood's interests are "very much to maintain a working relationship with the United States, to show the United States that it can be a reliable partner when it comes to America's strategic interests, while at the same time ensuring that they can consolidate their power at home without undue interference from the outside world." Yet other observers say that Morsi's recent domestic actions, which were criticized by the U.S. State Department, have presented the Obama administration with a difficult but familiar dilemma (AP) of how much to separate Egypt's domestic politics from its regional diplomatic role.
Foreign aid to Egypt (ProPublica) has become a contentious issue, especially following an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo (WSJ) on September 11, 2012. Some Republican leaders in the U.S. House have threatened to block $450 million in aid, the first installment of $1 billion pledged by the Obama administration to prevent a fiscal crisis.
Lawrence Haas, a senior fellow for the American Foreign Policy Council, says the United States should make clear that foreign aid to Egypt is not free, and that it seeks "a government that will promote the promise of Tahrir Square, one that allows for a strong civil society, opposition parties, independent media, and free elections that let Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parties compete for power—but does not guarantee their victory." A November 2012 paper from the Washington Institute recommends "engagement without illusions." Authors Vin Weber and Gregory B. Craig argue that Obama should "certify to Congress that Egypt must fulfill two well-defined sets of commitments—on regional peace and on bilateral strategic cooperation—as a condition of continued U.S. aid and political backing for international loans."
TIME magazine's interview with President Morsi in November 2012.
The BBC looks at where power lies in Egypt amongst the presidency, the judiciary, and parliament.
Read the full text of Egypt's draft constitution here.
Jayshree Bajoria contributed to this report.
This Backgrounder originally appeared on the Council on Foreign Relations' website, a National Journal partner site.