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Posted on on July 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Was indeed Mustafa Kemal Ataturk the best one can expect for the Muslim World for the time being?

Mr. Morsi and the military’s top officer, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, entered a delicate negotiation on Monday, one fraught with risks for both men, and for the nation. Racked with fuel shortages, dwindling hard currency reserves and worries about its wheat supplies, Egypt urgently needs a government stable and credible enough to manage difficult and disruptive economic reforms. A move by the military to force the Brotherhood from power, despite its electoral victories, could set off an Islamist backlash in the streets that would make stability and economic growth even more elusive.


The Obama administration, has urged President Morsi of Egypt to be responsive to protesters’ concerns. The White House said Obama spoke with Morsi by phone on Monday and “stressed that democracy is about more than elections; it is also about ensuring that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government, including the many Egyptians demonstrating throughout the country.”

President Obama called Mr. Morsi late Monday night, Mr. Morsi’s aides said. They described Mr. Obama’s message as a confirmation that the White House was continuing to deal with Mr. Morsi as Egypt’s elected president and to support the country’s transition to civilian democracy.

Obama administration officials could not immediately be reached for comment about the call. Earlier Monday in Tanzania, Mr. Obama expressed concern about the protests in Egypt but said the situation was different from the earlier protests that had prompted the United States to call for the departure of Mr. Mubarak. “When I took a position that it was time for Egypt to transition, it was based on the fact that Egypt had not had democratic government for decades, if ever,” he said

Now that Egypt has such a government, he said, “there’s more work to be done to create the condition where everybody believes their voices are heard.” He urged both sides to refrain from violence, and specifically mentioned reports of assaults on women in Egypt, saying that “assaulting women does not qualify as peaceful protests.”

Many of the demonstrators now calling for Mr. Morsi’s ouster had spent months last year marching to demand that the military give up its hold on power.

But when the military’s announcement was broadcast over the radio on Monday, cheers erupted.

Hassan Ismail, a local organizer, rejected any compromise that left Mr. Morsi in office and at the same time sought to distance his movement from its new military allies. “We don’t want to be against the army,” Mr. Ismail said. “And we don’t want the army to be against us.”

Some liberals say they saw hope in what they characterized as the public’s consistent rejection of any return to authoritarianism, from the generals or the Brotherhood. “The people have imposed a balance of weakness between the military and authoritarian Islamists,” argued Hossam Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, “and this could be good in the long run, provided the fight for democracy continues.”

“From my point of view, as soon as that military statement came out yesterday with the 48-hour timeline, it was over,” said Michele Dunne, director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

“Setting such a short fuse was just telling the demonstrators: Look, this isn’t going to take 18 days,” Dunne said, in a reference to the 2011 uprising that brought down former president Hosni Mubarak. “This will take two days.”

Opposition activists angrily dismissed Morsi’s speech Tuesday night as intransigent and delusional. Many of the protesters who remained camped in Tahrir Square said they felt confident that their battle was largely won.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said the number of protesters on the streets of Cairo during Sunday’s mass demonstrations, against the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi, dwarfs those seen during the “January 25th” revolution that led to his resignation, Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Tuesday.

Mubarak is currently serving a life sentence for his role in the deaths of protesters during that country’s 2011 uprising. He is awaiting a retrial.

According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, “well-informed sources” said that Mubarak told his sons Gamal and Alaa that he left office in response to the demands of the people of Egypt and to save lives.

The sources added that Mubarak appeared happy, especially so since the beginning of the demonstrations against Morsi which have led people to reevaluate Egypt’s current political climate versus that of the Mubarak-era, often siding with the latter.
Mubarak stepped down in February 2011, after 18 days of protests demanding an end to his 30-year reign overtook the country.

“The military’s statement was clear,” said Ali Rabia, a building painter, who sat with friends in the square, drinking tea. “Just as they forced Mubarak to resign, they will force Morsi to resign as well.”

Thousands of the president’s supporters stood their ground in demonstrations across the country Tuesday, chanting their slogan, “Legitimacy” — a word that Morsi repeated at least two dozen times in his late-night speech — to counter their opponents’ mantra, “Leave.” Some Brotherhood members said that if a coup did happen, they would await orders from Brotherhood leaders.

But many said they remain convinced that the military would soon change its mind to avoid making a dangerous mistake. And Morsi appeared to signal Tuesday night that he was banking on that too. Bloodshed and violence are “a trap,” he warned. But “if we fall, it will be into an endless pit.”

“The military is afraid of a Syrian situation,” said Mahmoud Mehdat, a university student, who manned the periphery of the Brotherhood’s demonstration in eastern Cairo, armed with a white hard-hat and a plastic pipe. “They know the Islamists will not keep quiet if there is a coup.?They know we will not accept a return to military rule.”

At least 20 people have died in less than a week since the protests began. Gun battles, rock-throwing and fistfights broke out across the country Tuesday between opposition protesters and Morsi supporters. Fighting raged sporadically overnight near a pro-Morsi rally outside Cairo University. Egyptian radio reported that hospital employees in the nation’s south went at each other in a brawl on the hospital floor.

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