UPDATE: Morsi removed by Egyptian military, with head of the Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mansour placed as interim President and tasked with forming ruling council and setting up new elections for new Parliament and President.
As if there were not enough explosive conflicts and standoffs around the world with a cluster centered within the ever troubled Middle East with Iraq sliding back into Sunni-Shiite violence with multiple bombings each week, Afghanistan is slowly being subsumed by the resurgent Taliban which is refusing to even talk with representatives of the United States vowing instead to simply wait for the last of the troops to depart so they can retake power; Turkey is facing ongoing Shiite demonstrations and riots; Libya still has residual tribal conflicts preventing any effective unified governance to unite the nation; Yemen has dual civil wars with Sunni-Shiite violence in the north and al-Qaeda terrorism in the south; Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq are being overrun by refugees from Syria; and civil war continues unabated in Syria with much of the country virtually destroyed and the death toll well over a thousand innocent civilians just one part of the toll. Now Egypt has entered into a stare-down between the Muslim Brotherhood standing behind President Morsi against the Military each demanding they take control of the escalating situation addressing how to resolve the massive demonstrations threatening to devolve into a civil war. So, let us continue our coverage and attempts to make sense of the threats developing in Egypt and try to identify the probability of a peaceable resolution versus the outbreak of another Middle East civil war.
On Monday, the Supreme Council which leads the Armed Forces gave President Morsi until Wednesday to reach a solution ending the strife from the demonstrations and riots between the pro-Morsi and the anti-Morsi factions. Responding to the military’s ultimatum, President Morsi released a statement decrying the military’s declaration explaining it had no authority as it had not been cleared by the Presidency which could only cause confusion and not settle the serious problems. Taking the confrontation into the virtual world, President Morsi released another statement via the Egyptian Presidential Twitter account where he posted, “President Mohammed Morsi asserts his grasp on constitutional legitimacy and rejects any attempt to deviate from it, and calls on the armed forces to withdraw their warning and refuses to be dictated to internally or externally.” I am not exactly sure what the use by Morsi of electronic social media to get his message out is supposed to imply unless his aim was to make a statement that the social media was not solely the domain of those opposing his Presidency. This defines the situation within Egypt’s borders where at some point on Wednesday either one side will blink and allow the other to prevail or Egypt may fly beyond the cusp and into the fiery chasm of civil war.
Meanwhile, the situation had claimed between one and two dozen lives and injured hundreds and possibly over a thousand people sufficiently injured as to require some degree of medical treatment. In the city of Minya, in front Al-Rahman Mosque, Al-Ahram newspaper reported that number of pro-Morsi people gathered and marched to Palace Square in order to confront where hundreds of anti-Morsi protesters were staging a sit-in against the recently appointed Islamist pro-Morsi Governor. Upon their arrival the confrontation took a horrific turn when they fired at the anti-Morsi protesters. There report did not include if there were or the numbers of casualties whether injured or killed. Either way, this was the initial use of firearms which very well could be but a precursor of much worse events escalating at some point on Wednesday.
Reports on Tuesday claimed the Egyptian military had drafted a political plan which suspends the Egyptian constitution, dissolves the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist dominated Parliament, and replaces the President and Parliament with an interim council with the Chief Justice taking the lead position staffing the council with civilians from different political backgrounds and experiences making up the body of the council. President Morsi has completely rejected this idea or any other proposal which includes removing him from office or calling for early elections. Morsi is demanding that the current elected government must be allowed to settle the differences finding a resolution to end the demonstrations. He has warned the military to rescind their ultimatum and sworn to resist by whatever means are necessitated should the military continue on their current trajectory. As we stated yesterday, this will be a test which will reveal the truth that the Muslim Brotherhood does indeed possess military arm with which to enforce and support President Morsi and the Parliament remaining in power and resisting the demands for early elections. Thus far the numbers of demonstrators have slightly favored those opposing President Morsi which should be expected as more often than not those demanding changes in governance turn out in greater numbers than those who have no demands or complaints about those in power and their actions. Should violence explode on Wednesday, then we can expect the numbers supporting President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to appear in far greater numbers. Add to this that any organized forces which the Muslim Brotherhood probably can call up to utilize as a form of shock troops and you have the makings for the start of another Syria style civil war in Egypt by the end of the week. I guess the Arab Spring has firmly advanced through the Summer and Fall and now we have definitely entered the Arab Winter, a cold long Arab Winter.
Beyond the Cusp