Juan Cole notes that at “at 2 am Tuesday, President Morsi came on t.v. and rejected the military communique, saying that the president had not been consulted before it was issued and implying that it was an officers’ rebellion against the authority of the elected president”:
Morsi also quoted a conversation he had Monday with President Obama, saying the president assured him that he was committed to the elected, legitimate government (i.e. Morsi). But Obama appears instead to have said that he is committed to the democratic process in Egypt but not siding with any particular party or group. That is, Morsi misrepresented Obama’s call as support for himself. In defying the military ultimatum, the Muslim Brotherhood appears convinced that the US would not permit the officers to make a coup, and that the officers would not dare do so without a US green light. US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey called Brig. Gen. al-Sisi on Monday, but we do not know the substance of the call.
Morsi’s misrepresentation of Obama will inflame anti-American opinion further in Egypt, where the opposition generally believes that the US is imposing the Muslim Brotherhood on Egypt for its own nefarious reasons.
Laura Rozen provides the White House’s version of Obama’s call with Morsi. I find the prospect of a democratically elected government in Egypt being prematurely overthrown by a popular military coup as deeply ominous for Egypt’s democratic future. There is no opposition movement capable of replacing Morsi, or producing any better results for Egyptians. But even if there were, they should organize for the next election, not side with the forces of SCAF. Reza Aslan puts it best:
Egypt may soon return to its pre-Arab Spring status quo: an oppressive police state that knows how to keep the streets calm. The only difference, of course, is that it will presumably be General Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi maintaining order, rather than Hosni Mubarak, the country’s erstwhile strongman.
So a few years from now, when President-for-Life Al-Sisi is sworn into office, and the Muslim Brotherhood, radicalized by the belief that they were unlawfully thrown out of power, decide to reject politics and return to violence, we may see history repeating itself with equally devastating consequences.
(Photo: Egyptian protesters walk past graffiti against President Mohamed Morsi on the wall of the presidential palace in Cairo on July 1, 2013. By Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images)