President Morsy of Egypt (right) is trying to hold on to the presidency amidst mass protests an alleged military coup. PHOTO: Cybaaudi, CC License
According to Essam El Haddad, an aide to Egypt's President Mohammed Morsy, a military coup is underway in Egypt.
"For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let's call what is happening by its real name: military coup," said El Haddad, in a facebook posting.
"Today, only one thing matters. In this day and age, no military coup can succeed in the face of sizable popular force without considerable bloodshed. Who among you is ready to shoulder that blame?"
Meanwhile, President Morsy has offered to form a coalition government. Wednesday morning passed marked the passage of the 48 hour deadline set by the military for Morsy to acquiesce to the protestors who were calling for his resignation. He did not, and it seems that the military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is making good on its word and moving in.
Protests continue across Egypt. Twenty-three people have been reported killed at a clash at Cairo University, but most of the other protests have been peaceful.
Morsy has attempted to find a compromise in offering a coalition government, which he announced on his facebook page (making this one of the most momentous announcements to happen via facebook). The statement was both conciliatory and vindictive:
"The presidency's vision includes the formation of a coalition government that would manage the upcoming parliamentary electoral process, and the formation of an independent committee for constitutional amendments to submit to the upcoming parliament."
"The presidency blames for the most part a number of political parties that boycotted all calls for dialogue."
It added, "To protect the blood of Egyptians, the presidency calls on all political and national forces to prioritize national interest above all other interests."
Morsy followed up those somewhat vague statements with a fair point. Not all Egyptians want to see him go:
"One of the mistakes I cannot accept -- as the president of all Egyptians -- is to side with one party over another, or to present the scene from one side only. To be fair, we need to listen to the voice of people in all squares."
So Morsy wants to restructure the government with an eye toward making it more democratic, at least on paper. He claims that he wanted dialogue, but others wanted a coup. There may be a grain of truth to that, given that the military essentially claimed a mandate to give an ultimatum to depose Morsy. Morsy also calls for things to settle down, and hopefully this can happen soon. Too many people have died the protests in Egypt already, and there will be more deaths for as long as the protests persist.
Morsy is Egypt’s first democratically elected president. This moment is a crucial one for Egypt and for democracy in the region, and Egypt’s region includes both Northern Africa and the Middle East. It would be a real shame if an organically developed democracy in that exact spot was quashed after just a year.