The Egyptian Army Turns On Morsi

 

A few hours ago, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Chief of Staff of the Egyptian armed forces, gave President Mohammed Morsi an ultimatum on national television, to wit: If Morsi does not resolve the massive popular protests within two days, the army will step in.

Things are going from bad to worse for Morsi. Earlier today, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo HQ was burned, stormed and looted. Also today, five of Morsi’s ministers handed in their resignations (tourism, communication and IT, legal and parliamentary affairs, water, and the environment). People are dying in numbers that in Gaza would be called massacres (sixteen were killed in Cairo today, all of them young; the youngest was 14).

Morsi’s options, in the wake of the army’s ultimatum, are: 1) resign, 2) call early elections, 3) rule jointly with the opposition, or 4) fight back. The last is by no means out of the question.

It is now evening. Al Jazeera reports that helicopters have buzzed Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 2011 revolution, trailing Egyptian flags while loudspeakers blare, “the army and the people are one hand.” As stirring as that sentiment is to the throngs of protesters below, the army is not, as Haaretz reminds us, eager to take a political role. It will not stand by indefinitely, however, if it perceives that national security is at stake.

The New York Times notes that “the generals took pains [in their statement] to emphasize their reluctance to take over and the inclusion of civilians in any next steps.” The relevant passage in the army’s statement read, “The armed forces will not be party to the circle of politics or ruling, and the military refuses to deviate from its assigned role in the original democratic vision that flows from the will of the people.”

Al Jazeera English excerpted the army’s statement as follows:

“The army gives an ultimatum of 48 hours as a last ditch chance, as the homeland and the nation cannot tolerate any party failing to live up to its responsibilities.” …

“The national security of the state is in severe danger”, it said, adding that if there was no resolution, “We are compelled by our national responsibility… to issue a road map for the future and certain measures… for the participation of all [political] factions.”

It described the mass protests on Sunday that brought out millions of Egyptians demanding President Morsi’s resignation as “glorious”.

It said protesters expressed their opinion “in peaceful and civilised manner”, and that “it is necessary that the people get a reply … to their calls”.

(Haaretz translates the critical sentence as follows: “If the demands of the people are not realized within the defined period, it will be incumbent upon (the armed forces) … to announce a road map for the future.”)

“For the army to give the president 48 hours warning, the army are saying who is the boss,” said Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s chief political analyst. “Morsi is no longer the same president as this morning in the eyes of those on the streets.” Bishara is in no doubt that the army will indeed intervene if Morsi does not satisfy the protesters by the deadline. “That could be taking over the streets or taking over the government,” he said.

It remains unclear just what, other than Morsi’s resignation, would constitute “resolving” the protests. The Times explains the people’s grievances thus:

Demonstrators said they were angry about the lack of public security, the desperate state of the Egyptian economy and an increase in sectarian tensions. But the common denominator across the country was the conviction that Mr. Morsi had failed to transcend his roots in the Brotherhood, an insular Islamist group officially outlawed under Mr. Mubarak that is now considered Egypt’s most formidable political force.

The scale of the protests across the country delivered a sharp rebuke to the group’s claim that its victories in Egypt’s newly open parliamentary and presidential elections gave it a mandate to speak for most Egyptians.

“Enough is enough,” said Alaa al-Aswany, a prominent Egyptian writer who was among the many at the protests who had supported the president just a year ago. “It has been decided for Mr. Morsi. Now, we are waiting for him to understand.”

Shadi Hamid, a researcher at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar who studies the Muslim Brotherhood closely, said: “The Brotherhood underestimated its opposition.” He added, “This is going to be a real moment of truth for the Brotherhood.”

There are 20 comments.

  1. KC Mulville Inactive

    Next?!

    • #1
    • July 1, 2013, at 11:58 AM PDT
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  2. Mendel Member

    How does this reflect on the concept of bringing democracy to the Middle East?

    After all, Morsi was popularly elected, was he not? Sure, the election was close, but no closer than most American presidential elections.

    • #2
    • July 2, 2013, at 1:04 AM PDT
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  3. Scott Abel Member

    I chatted with Michael Totten about this when the violence began to get ramped up about 2 months ago (by the way, he was awesome on a Ricochet podcast a few weeks ago, and should be called back into service by someone very soon).

    I think that the Morsi administration has been an unalloyed good for the future of secular democracy in Egypt. Now that that they’ve had a year of the Muslim Brotherhood’s whip-hand (and the collapsing economy, the plummeting of tourism, etc.), they have a real chance to get their house in order.

    I was pessimistic about Egypt during the “Arab Spring”, but I’m starting to think this time it might be different.

    • #3
    • July 2, 2013, at 2:45 AM PDT
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  4. Larry3435 Member

    Churchill said that Democracy was the worst form of government, except for all the others. Churchill had not had the opportunity to observe the Islamic version of “democracy.” In the Islamic world, and especially in Egypt and Turkey, I’m starting to think that a military dictatorship is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

    • #4
    • July 2, 2013, at 3:25 AM PDT
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  5. mikesixes Inactive

    The Egyptian army doesn’t turn me on at all, but hey, to each his own.

    • #5
    • July 2, 2013, at 3:46 AM PDT
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  6. ST Inactive
    ST

    King Obama takes and gets the credit no matter how this turns out. As Mel Brooks always says, “It’s good to be the king.”

    • #6
    • July 2, 2013, at 3:47 AM PDT
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  7. Zafar Member

    Source?

    R. Craigen: What nobody is mentioning here is the extremely high public support in Egypt for an open military assault on Israel, and the number of well-placed army officials who are of the same view. 

    Honestly I find it hard to believe that the Egyptian military is willing to do anything against Israel that actually results in warfare. 

    • #7
    • July 2, 2013, at 4:07 AM PDT
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  8. Zafar Member

    I hope you’re right. If Egypt finds its centre of gravity it’ll have a really positive effect across the Arab world.

    EstoniaKat:

    I think that the Morsi administration has been an unalloyed good for the future of secular democracy in Egypt. Now that that they’ve had a year of the Muslim Brotherhood’s whip-hand (and the collapsing economy, the plummeting of tourism, etc.), they have a real chance to get their house in order.

    I was pessimistic about Egypt during the “Arab Spring”, but I’m starting to think this time it might be different.

    I also think that the Egyptian Army saw what had gone down in Turkey with the AKP, and they didn’t feel like sitting around for something similar from Morsi. So perhaps patriots, but also with a healthy sense of self preservation.

    • #8
    • July 2, 2013, at 5:52 AM PDT
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  9. Matthew Gilley Inactive

    When the IT guy walks out, you know you are well and truly screwed.

    • #9
    • July 2, 2013, at 6:18 AM PDT
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  10. Midwestview Inactive

    I just finished reading “Crucified Again” by Raymond Ibrahim so my comments are acute. As Mr. Ibrahim states, we had a reprieve from roughly 1850 to 1950 because of Western successes, but as soon as they see weakness they move. I don’t want to come off exactly like Pope Urban II and start a crusade, but make no mistake Islam means to take over. Our “dear leader” is with them. Let’s hope our Republic survives him.

    • #10
    • July 2, 2013, at 7:28 AM PDT
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  11. Adam Koslin Member

    A descent back into repression is not what Egypt needs, assuming the end goal is the modernization and secularization of Egyptian society, and the installation of social harmony, order, and ultimately, freedom. As the Mubarak years showed, when a repressive state forcibly monopolizes all the functions normally carried out by civil society or the marketplace, individual self-sufficiency is stunted and ethnic, religious, tribal, or regional conflicts aren’t resolved, but rather tamped down under threat of force and left to simmer in their own juices. The blood-letting that’s going on across the Middle East right now is horrific, but, to paraphrase the strategist and historian Edward Luttwak:

    …although [civil strife] is a great evil, it does have a great virtue: it can resolve [social] conflicts and bring peace. This usually happens when all belligerents become exhausted or when one wins decisively.

    It took the two world wars to convince europeans that slaughtering each other wasn’t a particularly effective way of solving disputes. It took the Civil War to make “these united states,” “The United States.” It’s not a particularly elegant or humane method of teaching, and is often downright evil. But it appears to work.

    • #11
    • July 2, 2013, at 9:00 AM PDT
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  12. Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    A country boy can survive. It is the city dwellers that will take the beating.

    • #12
    • July 2, 2013, at 9:44 AM PDT
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  13. Scott Abel Member

    Michael Totten’s latest take.

    • #13
    • July 2, 2013, at 10:19 AM PDT
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  14. Valiuth Member
    Mendel: How does this reflect on the concept of bringing democracy to the Middle East?

    After all, Morsi was popularly elected, was he not? Sure, the election was close, but no closer than most American presidential elections. · 8 hours ago

    Edited 8 hours ago

    It is good to see if your elected leaders can be removed. To Americans this might seem nutty, but Africa and the Middle East have a tradition that election results can become permanent. Plus they had many complaints about the writing of the constitution, and since their take over of power the Muslim Brotherhood has been trying to consolidate power. We see that free election in Turkey can create terrible autocracies. 

    • #14
    • July 2, 2013, at 11:09 AM PDT
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  15. R. Craigen Inactive

    What nobody is mentioning here is the extremely high public support in Egypt for an open military assault on Israel, and the number of well-placed army officials who are of the same view. This could be a poisoned pawn. Is the Obama admin paying attention? NATO? The UN? Didn’t think so.

    • #15
    • July 2, 2013, at 11:32 AM PDT
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  16. Brad B. Inactive

    Welcome news for a change. Morsi is a brutal dictator who has bludgeoned the Copts and secular Egyptians. His departure and ideally death would be welcome news to people who care about religious and political freedom.

    • #16
    • July 2, 2013, at 12:05 PM PDT
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  17. Israel P. Inactive

    Interesting about the army. I thought he had replaced much of the professional military leadership with personal or ideological loyalists.

    Maybe he thought so too.

    • #17
    • July 2, 2013, at 12:09 PM PDT
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  18. Percival Thatcher
    Israel P.: Interesting about the army. I thought he had replaced much of the professional military leadership with personal or ideological loyalists.

    Maybe he thought so too. · 0 minutes ago

    He didn’t have enough time. Morsi was too busy giving in to all the worst impulses of the Muslim Brotherhood to do what Gül did in Turkey right away.

    Any replacements Morsi has had time to make have got to be wondering right now who their subordinates have been talking to lately.

    • #18
    • July 2, 2013, at 12:20 PM PDT
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  19. Spin Inactive

    See what happens when you place all your trust in a single, central figure? We should totally try that here in the U.S. Oh, wait….

    • #19
    • July 2, 2013, at 12:43 PM PDT
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