It's hard to know what to think about what's going on in Egypt right now. As I'm writing this, a military coup seems certain.
Morsi, political leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, is the democratically elected President of Egypt. And he has screwed up, royally. Seemingly less interested in improving the nation's high unemployment and crime rates than in solidifying his own position, he has been taken by surprise. The NY Times reports:
Since I'm no fan of Morsi, it's easy to see the demonstrations as a good thing. And I do. But there are a lot of things to be worried about. Do we really want a military coup? What does that say about our committment to democracy?The Egypt that Mr. Morsi and the Brotherhood inherited was in a state of political and economic chaos that would have challenged any established government, yet they have sometimes seemed their own worst enemies. Even as the clock ticked on an ultimatum from the top generals — to meet the demands of the protesters or face military intervention, they remained deeply reluctant to acknowledge errors in governing or the depth of popular discontent. They saw only a conspiracy to topple the Islamists in the face of a new conflict with the generals.“There were so many streams, and the bulk of them may be legitimate, but behind it is still the same old forces of the old regime trying to come back up,” said Gehad el-Haddad, a senior Brotherhood official close to the group’s most influential leader, Khairat el-Shater. [My emphasis.] Mr. Morsi echoed that accusation in a speech late Tuesday night.
Luckily, neither Morsi nor the the Egyptian opposition have called me to ask what they should do.
Watch it all live here.
The NY Times quote above is from an article titled Depth of Discontent Threatens Muslim Brotherhood and Its Leader.
A good companion article is Morsi and Military Prepare for Collision in Egypt.
If you are tempted, even for a second, to think this is all a good thing, better read the corrective Report: Sexual Assaults Rampant in Egypt Protests. From Sunday to Tuesday, there were "86 reports of sexual assault at the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square". Quite a place, Egypt.
McClatchy, which always has something worth reading, asks Will military intervention end hopes for a democratic Egypt?
Fasten your seat belt.
Addendum: Be sure to read How Did the U.S. Lose the Egyptian People? It's a complicated mess, isn't it?
Second Addendum: The NYTimes has a new story up: Egypt's Military Moves Tanks Near Palace; Morsi Aide Sees Coup. A quote:
By 6:30 p.m. military forces began moving around Cairo. Tanks and troops headed for the presidential palace — although it was unclear whether Mr. Morsi was inside — while other soldiers ringed the nearby square where tens of thousands of the president’s supporters were rallying.
Many of the Islamists had armed themselves with makeshift clubs, shields made of potcovers or metal scraps and plastic hard hats, and there were small scuffles with the better-armed soldiers. Some soldiers fired their weapons in the air. But the military forces held back.
Mr. Morsi’s senior foreign policy adviser, Essam el-Haddad, issued an open letter Wednesday afternoon on his official Web page lamenting what he called the imminent takeover of Egypt’s first freely elected government.
I'm sitting here in my home office, safely watching a revolution in Egypt. In real time. We live in amazing times.“As I write these lines I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page,” he wrote. “For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup.”