A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Morsi's Speech and Tomorrow's Deadline

Egyptian President Morsi is not a charismatic speaker. But anyone who expected tonight's speech, in the middle of the night in Egypt, to provide any concessions were disabused quickly by his defiant defense of his legitimacy. In fact, he may have set some kind of record for the number of times he said "legitimacy" (شرعية) in a single speech.  That emphasizes his strongest argument: he was elected in a free election and removing him extra-constitutionally is undemocratic.

But, except for a claim that he had accepted an opposition initiative to resolve the standoff but that the demonstrators had rejected it, he made no gestures towards the opposition, instead insisting he would defend his position as the legitimately elected president. He claimed he is prepared to lose his life in the defense of that legitimacy. The statement that he had accepted an opposition initiative just might provide a slender opening for a compromise in which Morsi remains as President but there is a national unity government and plans for new elections, but it was far too vague to reassure. That, and the fact that the opposition is simply running out the clock on the Army ultimatum rather than seeking a real compromise, means that scenarios for tomorrow include some rather violent ones. Let's hope the Army really does have a plan that won't bring the Brotherhood militias out in an Algerian-style war.

No comments: