Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
One year later, the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi is threatened into collapse as a result of his massive power grab and broad neglect for a large share of Egyptian citizens. Mass protests in Egypt against President Morsi have now gained the support of the military.
On national television, the chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Colonel General Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi demanded that Morsi respond to protest demands and offer some sort of power-sharing arrangement.
President Barack Obama has also made a call to Morsi in hopes to settle the issue politically, that he negotiate with the protestors.
Power-sharing has been something that Morsi’s moderate Islamist Freedom and Justice Party (effectively the Muslim Brotherhood) and coalition of extreme fundamentalist Islamic parties have ignored: hijacking the Egyptian constitution, bypassing the courts, censoring the people’s free speech. There is a long list of broken promises to fix the economy, power outages, and deteriorating civil liberties, assumption of presidential and legislative powers, etc.
For a while, it appeared as though President Morsi had been given authority over the military, which was a long contested issue of debate from analysts. On many occasions Morsi defied the SCAF and the people, which further led many experts to question the extent of the new regime’s authority status. He also appointed a younger chairman to SCAF, but still one selected from within the power circle.
Now we know that the military remains the real power broker in Egypt to make such demands. It is also the largest military in Africa or among Arab states. The armed forces control and oversee critical national industries as well (over 30 percent of the economy). They had been cautious to relinquish power other than in appearances. They largely remain man a neutral “national” military that has been consistently concerned with the stability, prosperity and protection of Egypt.
This is not to say that there is no corruption or that the military is not abusive but that there is less of a narrow political faction than that Morsi’s party. Monday evening the military gave President Morsi 48 hours to come up with a resolution to the crisis, and if not, they would intervene and present a “road map” for political party compromise under military supervision.
The millions of protestors have been reported to exceed in numbers the 2011 protests that led the military to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and to the summer election of President Morsi.
Some sort of power-sharing is demanded. A number of Egyptians trust the military much more than their President. The demonstrators, many of them resorting to rioting, demand the immediate ousting of Morsi. Many Muslim Brotherhood Offices around the country were vandalized, including the headquarters, which was burned down.
Morsi has recently rebuked the 48 hour SCAF ultimatum saying that they will do so over his dead body. Will SCAF carry out its threat? Will there be another Egyptian coup? The state of affairs is extremely tense. Casualties for now are reportedly low: 16 dead; 780 injured (according to the Health Ministry, as of yesterday).