A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, July 1, 2013

Egypt's Strange Slow-Motion Creeping Coup

After the Egyptian Army's earlier ultimatum warning of intervention if political forces do not find a solution within 48 hours, the Army has issued another statement insisting that it is not threatening a coup, but merely pressuring political leaders, comparing it to the role played by the military in 1977, 1986, and 2011. (Link is in Arabic.) The food riots of 1977 and the police conscription riots of 1986 were cases of brief military operations domestically because internal security forces were outnumbered, but in 2011 SCAF took over and ran the country for more than a year, which to many would seem like a coup. But not to worry: we're told that a military coup would be against Egyptian Army doctrine.

Also today, it looked more and more as if the Army was openly siding with the demonstrators. After the initial announcement of the ultimatum, Army helicopters flew over Tahrir Square with giant flags. Internal Security Forces clashed with the personal bodyguard of Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Guide Khairat al-Shater, and the state media suddenly showed a tilt towards the protesters. In the provinces, the Army took over the governorate headquarters in Fayyoum, ousting the Morsi-appointed Governor.

In an even stranger development, the Egyptian Presidency announced that Morsi and Prime Minister Qandil had met with Defense Minister General Sisi, and posted this photo to the Presidency's Facebook page:
I was wondering what Sisi had in that briefcase, but then came reports citing a military spokesman as denying that Sisi met with Morsi at all today.

Morsi, meanwhile, has bumped a scheduled statement until tomorrow. The tone of the pro-Morsi rally has been defiant, but there is also speculation that he might agree to a referendum on new elections. We'll see.

Meanwhile, the countdown continues towards a possible military Definitely-Not-a-Coup-Just-an-Intervention.

8 comments:

David Mack said...

Opposition should be careful what it wishes for.

Anonymous said...

Which brings us to the fact that there is no one "opposition" in terms of political or economic philosophy. One hopes that whoever runs the country in the short term realizes that trying again to implement IMF-mandated austerity measures will do nothing but prolong the instability that discourages investment and some level of recovery.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

No reason to think the Army will try to fix the economy. They had a year and a half and pretty much ignored it.

Al Moxtar said...

Army generals are no economists, so hopefully they will get specialists to do that job for them. But in the short term, security and logistics, which is supposed to be their craft and trade so hopefully they will not screw things, will be enough to occupy them.

I am assuming they will be in charge soon, one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

By "short term" is meant not the military, but whatever president is elected within the year [in shs allah] as well as the intermim civilian government. It is unlikely that the military wish to relive their most recent experience in ruling the country.

The larger point is what lessons, if any, the "civil" opposition learned and how their very diverse economic ideas can be resolved enough to have a coherent "policy." You know, just like the US!

David Mack said...

No government will be able to solve Egypt's long term structural economic problems without a very great deal of short term political pain. On the other hand, if they try to alleviate the short term political pain by generous economic measures, it will deepen the hole into which Egypt is sinking.

Al Moxtar said...

The army are not stupid, they will have learned their lesson by now. If you're going to grab power, dressing it up in a civilian "national unity government" for example, which will come handy in pushing for your own man in the new elections. If they're subtle, they might very well pull it off. The thing is to find, or impose, a deal on the brotherhood, probably including the guidance bureau dangling Morsi for the lynch mob.It will not be easy.

Anonymous said...

thanks for share........