A protester, opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, holds a book titled President Morsi Building a New Egypt in front of the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo’s Moqattam district July 1, 2013. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
UPDATE 2:40 pm: According to the Guardian, President Morsi plans to defy the military ultimatum. His office has declared that he will face down what they call a “military coup.” Morsi, leader of the secretive Muslim Brotherhood, reportedly believes that President Obama will not allow the Egyptian military to seize power if the Brotherhood defies the generals. Reports the Guardian:
"Obviously we feel this is a military coup," a presidential aide said. "But the conviction within the presidency is that [the coup] won't be able to move forward without American approval."
That’s a huge problem for Obama. Already, the protesters believe that the United States is backing the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Cairo. The truth is, the United States has leverage over the military, since it supplies aid to the armed forces, but Washington hardly controls either the military or the Muslim Brotherhood. During the fall of the Mubarak government in 2011, the United States was virtually on the sidelines, unable either to prop up Mubarak, control the generals, or connect with the Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition.
So, if Morsi believe that Obama can rescue him (or wants to), he may have a big surprise coming.
UPDATE 2:25 pm: Egypt’s military has started a coup d’etat of sorts, delivering an ultimatum to President Morsi to make a deal with protesters – or else. [See below for my earlier post, which discusses how the police and the military are backing the street rebellion.] As Reuters reports:
Egypt's armed forces handed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi a virtual ultimatum to share power on Monday, giving feuding politicians 48 hours to compromise or have the army impose its own roadmap for the country.
A dramatic military statement broadcast on state television declared the nation was in danger after millions of Egyptians took to the streets on Sunday to demand that Morsi quit and the headquarters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood were ransacked.
ORIGINAL POST: Readers of this blog know what I think about the Muslim Brotherhood and its ilk: the Brotherhood is a secretive, reactionary cult. It is a conspiracy-minded, cell-based clique of right-wing Islamists, many of whose members are violence-prone.
So my readers won’t be surprised that I’m lining up with the protesters in Egypt. President Mohamed Morsi has to go.
He won’t go easy. As they did at several moments of its past—the 1930s and the 1950s, for instance—the Brothers are mobilizing a paramilitary force to defend its grasp on power. But they’re losing their grip, not least because the Egyptian national police has essentially thrown its lot in with the millions of people who’ve taken to the streets of Cairo and other cities, and the military is slyly suggesting that it’s neutral in the political battle unfolding in Tahrir Square and elsewhere.