Egypt’s Mursi defies army as it plots future without him

  • View the full imageMursi vowed to stay in power and defend constitutional legitimacy yesterday as generals worked on plans to push him aside.

    Mursi vowed to stay in power and defend constitutional legitimacy yesterday  as generals worked on plans to push him  aside.

CAIRO (July 3): Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi vowed to stay in power and  defend constitutional legitimacy yesterday as generals worked on plans to push  the Islamist aside within the day and suspend the constitution.
In a defiant midnight television address responding to military demands  that he share power with his opponents or see the army impose its own solution,  Mursi warned that any deviation from the democratic order approved in a series  of votes last year would lead Egypt down a dangerous path.
He was speaking as vast crowds of protesters rallied in central Cairo and  across the nation to demand the Muslim Brotherhood politician’s resignation in a  third night of mass demonstrations. His supporters also turned out and some were  involved in clashes with security forces at Cairo University.
“The price of preserving legitimacy is my life,” Mursi said in an  impassioned, repetitive, 45-minute ramble. “Legitimacy is the only guarantee to  preserve the country”.
In a warning aimed as much at his own militant supporters as at the army,  he said: “We do not declare jihad (holy war) against each other. We  only wage jihad on our enemies.”
Urging Egyptians not to heed the siren calls of what he called remnants of  the former authoritarian regime, “the deep state” and the corrupt, he said:  “Don’t be fooled. Don’t fall into the trap. Don’t let them steal your  revolution.”
An opposition spokesman called Mursi’s defiance “an open call for civil  war”. Peaceful protests would go on, he said.
On Monday, army commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave Mursi 48 hours  to reach an accommodation with his opponents. Otherwise, he said, the military  would step in and implement its own roadmap for the country’s future.
A military spokesman said the armed forces would not comment on the  president’s statement until Wednesday afternoon. The deadline is set to expire  at 5pm (1500 GMT).
Condemning a coup against their first freely elected leader, tens of  thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets, clashing with  opponents in several towns. But they were dwarfed by anti-government protesters  who turned out in their hundreds of thousands across the nation.
Security sources said dozens of people were wounded in the clashes at Cairo  University involving Mursi supporters. Witnesses heard gunfire and teargas was  used by the authorities.
Troops on alert
Troops were on alert amid warnings of a potential civil war. Seven people  died in a demonstration crush and sporadic fighting in Cairo and hundreds more  were wounded in the provinces.
“Mursi – Game Over – Out”, proclaimed a laser display beamed over the  capital’s jam-packed Tahrir Square, where Egyptians danced with joy, recalling  the euphoria and the slogans that greeted the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak two  years ago. The light show counted the hours to the army deadline.
Despite his fighting talk, time appears to have all but run out for Mursi,  as liberal leaders refuse to talk to him, while ministers have resigned and  aides abandoned his sinking ship.
Military sources told Reuters that, assuming the politicians fail  to end a year of deadlock before the deadline, the generals have their own draft  programme ready to implement – though it could be fine-tuned in consultation  with willing political parties.
Under the roadmap, the military would install an interim council, composed  mainly of civilians from different political groups and experienced technocrats,  to run the country until an amended constitution was drafted within  months.
That would be followed by a new presidential election, but parliamentary  polls would be delayed until strict conditions for selecting candidates were in  force, the sources said.
They would not say how the military intended to deal with Mursi if he  refused to go quietly. Some of his Islamist supporters have vowed to defend what  they see as the legitimate, democratic order, even if it means dying as martyrs.  And some have a history of armed struggle against the state.
The confrontation has pushed the most populous Arab nation closer to the  brink of chaos amid a deepening economic crisis two years after the overthrow of  Mubarak, raising concern in Washington, Europe and neighbouring Israel.
Troops intervened to break up clashes in the Mediterranean city of  Alexandria. They were also out on the streets of Suez and Port Said, at either  end of the Suez Canal. The waterway is vital to world trade and to Egypt’s  struggling economy.
Egypt’s Coptic Pope, spiritual leader of the country’s 10% Christian  minority, expressed open support for the anti-Mursi “Tamarud – Rebel!” movement  in a tweet, voicing support for the national trio of people, army and  youth.
The leading Muslim religious authority, Al-Azhar, called for the will of  the people to prevail peacefully.
Mursi met Sisi for a second day, his office said, along with Prime Minister  Hisham Kandil but there was no sign of any meeting of minds.
Though Mursi has held out repeated offers of dialogue, liberal opponents  accuse him and the Brotherhood of bad faith and have ruled out starting talks  with him before the deadline.
After that, former UN nuclear agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei will deal  directly with the military on behalf of the main coalition of liberal parties.  Also planning to take part are leaders of the Tamarud youth movement, which  initiated mass rallies on Sunday that the army says prompted it to act.
Among figures being considered as an interim head of state was the new  president of the constitutional court, Adli Mansour.
The new transition arrangements would be entirely different from the  military rule that followed Mubarak’s fall and more politically inclusive, the  sources said.
Then, the ruling armed forces’ council was criticised by liberal and  left-wing politicians for failing to enact economic and political reforms – and  for siding with the Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood’s political wing called for mass counter- demonstrations to  “defend constitutional legitimacy and express their refusal of any coup”,  raising fears of violence. But the biggest pro-Mursi rally in the a Cairo suburb  appeared to attract around 100,000 supporters, Reuters journalists  said.
The Brotherhood long avoided direct confrontation with the security forces  despite suffering oppression under Mubarak.
The United States, which has previously defended Mursi’s legitimacy as a  democratically elected leader, stepped up pressure on him to heed the mass  protests but stopped short of saying he should step down.
President Barack Obama told Mursi in a phone call late on Monday that the  political crisis could only be solved by talks with his opponents, the White  House said. Secretary of state John Kerry hammered home the message in a call to  his outgoing Egyptian colleague on Tuesday.
That prompted Mursi to say in a tweet that he would not be “dictated to  internally or internationally”.
At least six ministers who are not Brotherhood members have tendered their  resignations since Sunday, including Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr. The  president’s two spokesmen and the cabinet spokesman also quit on Tuesday and  nearly 150 Egyptian diplomats signed a petition urging Mursi to go.
Senior Brotherhood politician Mohamed El-Beltagy denounced what he called a  creeping coup. He said he expected the High Committee for Elections to meet  within hours to consider annulling the 2012 presidential election.
The US has long funded the Egyptian army as a key component in the security  of Washington’s ally Israel.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to  his Egyptian counterpart on Monday. It is unclear how far the military has  informed, or coordinated with, its US sponsors but an Egyptian official said a  coup could not succeed without US approval.
A senior European diplomat said that if the army were to remove the elected  president, the international community would have no alternative but to condemn  it.
Yasser El-Shimy, Egypt analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the  army ultimatum had hardened positions, making it very difficult to find a  constitutional way out of the crisis.
“Things could deteriorate very rapidly from there, either through  confrontations on the street, or international sanctions,” he said.
“Mursi is calling their bluff, saying to them, ‘if you are going to do  this, you will have to do it over my dead body’.”
For many Egyptians, fixing the economy is key. Unrest since Mubarak fell  has decimated tourism and investment and state finances are in poor shape,  drained by extensive subsidies for food and fuel and struggling to provide  regular supplies.
The Cairo bourse, reopening after a holiday, shot up nearly 5% after the  army’s move.

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2 thoughts on “Egypt’s Mursi defies army as it plots future without him

  1. We reject you,” Tamarod petitions signed by millions declared emphatically before each phrase, “…Because Security has not been established; …Because the deprived have still no place to fit; …Because we are still begging loans from the outside; …Because no justice has been brought to the martyrs; …Because no dignity was left neither for me nor for my country; …Because the economy has collapsed and depends only on begging and,…Because Egypt is still following the footsteps of the United States.”

    Ultimately, as June 30 protests approached, credible news agencies reported 22 million
    people actually signed the Rebel petitions, another unprecedented milestone in a country of 84 million.

    By contrast, Morsi was elected with 12 million votes on June 30 last year and that was only by the narrow margin of 51 percent. Many indicated they voted for Morsi in the second and final election round because there were only two choices left – Morsi and deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak’s cohort, Ahmed Shafik. Others indicated they voted for Morsi because they believed his religious values enhanced his promises to address the country’s grave social problems.

    But, from the very first days of the new government, there were a series of missteps, including an incendiary presidential declaration by Morsi that his decisions would be immune from court review. This arrogant usurpation of power inflamed and outraged the population.

    In addition, opposition grew ever more steadily once it became clear that neither were Morsi’s religious values leading to needed economic and social reforms. Instead, his religion was a thin veneer to conceal sectarian and divisive intentions to entrench the Muslim Brotherhood and even more conservative, traditional Islamists into leading government positions.

    It is absolutely essential to remind ourselves that the conflict embroiling Egypt should not be posed in secular versus Islamic terms. As one young woman told me during a Tahrir protest last February: “Most of us protesting are also Muslim so it has nothing to do with Morsi being Muslim. It has everything to do with what he is doing to our country.”

    The western press often describes the conflict in religious terms to avoid confronting real economic and social problems that is the horrible heritage of U.S. and European investment and aid policies that stress military strength and imports over the country’s domestic economic development.

    In any case, religion is being used once again, as in so many historical precedents, as the mask to cover economic and political policies that have largely remain unchanged since the toppling of Mubarak.

    “Morsi is selling the same merchandise that Mubarak sold, only…there’s an Islamic label on it,” said lawyer Abdel-Aziz, a leader of the Tamorad Campaign, as quoted in the May 29, 2013 He added that, were Morsi to shave his beard and look into a mirror, he would “see Mubarak staring back at him.”

    With this background of seething discontent, the country’s press universally conceded that the Tamarod education campaign easily achieved its June 30 target of mobilizing several million people nationwide.

  2. Four reasons why Israel may miss Morsi after all
    Egypt’s president is no Zionist, but will Israel truly benefit from his ouster?
    By Anshel Pfeffer | 20:47 03.07.13 | 18

    As Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi remains effectively powerless after the ultimatum set by Egypt’s army expired on Wednesday, it was hard not to sense the levels of satisfaction in Israel. Though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the cabinet to keep quiet about the crisis in Cairo, there is little doubt that the ministers are delighted with the latest twist in the Egyptian saga.

    But should they be?

    Morsi, of course, is no Zionist. The word “Israel” has never passed his lips in public and his spokesman denies he ever sent President Shimon Peres a letter of thanks after the latter congratulated him on his election last year. However, his year of presidency has not harmed Israeli-Egyptian relations. Quite the contrary.

    Here are four reasons why Israel could still end up missing Morsi:

    1. Under Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood did the unthinkable when it affirmed the Camp David peace accords with Israel. Its leaders did talk of amending the treaty but they continued to uphold it, just as Hosni Mubarak’s regime did before. Muslim Brotherhood members and government ministers may not have not with Israeli officials, but on the most crucial level for Israel – the security channels – cooperation was maintained and even improved, Israeli defense sources said, after a rocky period following Mubarak’s fall.

    Morsi’s tenure was the first in which a large and popular Egyptian party that was elected in a democratic process supported, even if begrudgingly, the peace treaty with Israel, and justified it to the Egyptian people.

    2. Israel feared that when in power, the Muslim Brotherhood – the ideological forebear of Hamas – would back the Palestinian Islamist movement and encourage it to launch missiles against Israel, while threatening Israel not to retaliate. Though, for a time, Hamas thought it was immuned, the Morsi administration actually did not try to stop Israel from launching Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza last year, in which Hamas’ military leadership and infrastructure was severely damaged. Morsi was also successful in achieving a swift ceasefire that has engendered for the past eight months – an unprecedented period of calm in southern Israel – which is now being adroitly observed and enforced by Hamas. The Muslim Brotherhood has reined in Hamas in a degree that never existed during Mubarak’s time.

    3. In Mubarak’s day, the Egyptian army failed to act decisively against smuggling operations in Sinai, and from there through underground tunnels, into Gaza. For the Egyptians, this was an opportunity to create regional balance between Israel and the Palestinians, while keeping the Bedouin tribes who control the smuggling satisfied.

    Since Mubarak’s fall, chaos has reigned in Sinai. But over the past year, under Morsi’s rule, the army has been sent on more focused and forceful operations against Al-Qaida elements that have taken over parts of the peninsula, and more importantly for Israel, it has demolished large numbers of smuggling tunnels. The closeness between Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas has made Egypt more determined to fight extreme Islamists in Sinai and Gaza, as well as smuggling of arms.

    4. Despite fears of a rapprochement between Iran and Egypt following the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral victories, the differences between Sunni Egypt and Shia Iran have widened under Morsi, and any chance of cooperation now seems very remote. Instinctively, the Brotherhood identifies with the Sunni rebels fighting the Bashar Assad regime. Hezbollah’s deepening involvement in Syria on Assad’s side has made the government in Cairo an implacable foe of the Lebanese militia.

    Morsi’s Egypt is firmly in the anti-Iran camp. Prolonged political chaos in Cairo will attract the West’s attention away from the civil war in Syria and help Iran and its allies to continue propping up the Assad regime.

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