Morsi says no to army … Military coup likey …

Mohamed Morsi - Caricature

Mohamed Morsi – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

After protests that make those I witnessed in 2011 look like a warm up, the Egyptian army offered President Morsi a 48hr get out of jail card. He has however decided not to take it. As such, the ruling Muslim brotherhood and the Army are now at a stand off.

This comes just as I have written about the importance of the army for successful revolutions for the Academy of Social Sciences. My argument is that the success and failure of the revolutions throughout the region has depended in large part on who controls the military and how it sits within state structures. Egypt is a clear case of separation between government and military (unlike Libya and Syria). As such, Morsi doesn’t stand a chance of not being overturned. The military has the people behind them, and the will and means to carry out a coup. Indeed, with the US saying that its military and economic aid is dependent on stability and peace, it is in the interest of the military to act now! Moreover, with the 48hr ultimatum in place the military will be discredited if it does not act – this is a clear political crisis.

The prospects of this coup have already sent the Egyptian markets soaring by 5pts. It has also empowered the courts – with the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest appeal court, ruling that the president must reinstate Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, the country’s top prosecutor whom he fired last year.

The US is also adding pressure, presumably relieved that the uncertain quantity of the Muslim Brotherhood will be removed. President Obama said on Tuesday that Morsi needed to respond to the demonstrators. The same demonstrators demanding his removal. This is a tacit green light for the military to act. The US is far more comfortable dealing with a military imposed “road map” as it allows some influence in the debate – influence that has been waiting these last two years. The US official position is that it is committed to a democratic process and will not take sides.

What’s clear, is that Morsi is unprepared for this, issuing the statement that:

“The president of the republic was not consulted about the statement issued by the armed forces,” … “The presidency sees that some of the statements in it carry meanings that could cause confusion in the complex national environment.”

What little exists of Morsi’s power base is also crumbling. The Nour party has abandoned him, calling for elections and the instalment of a “neutral, technocratic government”. Similarly, his ministers are abandoning him, with Mohamed Kamel Amr, the foreign minister, asking to step down, and five resignations handed in.

This crisis, of course, does not come without its own problems. It has the potential to destroy any democratic prospects Egypt may have if there is a return to military rule. In a meeting with senior EU officials after the first revolution, they argued that they wanted Egypt to be more like Turkey and adopt the Turkish model. It would appear that they may get what they wished for … and a divided nation as a result.

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