It turns out the Egyptian military wasn’t kidding about the deadline President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood decided to ignore. Things happened fast throughout the day, as military forces broke up street battles and asserted control over the Egyptian media.
“For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup,” said Morsi’s national security adviser on his Facebook page. Everybody involved in the drama has a Facebook page. The Morsi government just got about 17 million “unlikes.”
The military didn’t waste much time disputing the “coup” designation, issuing a colorful vow to defend the Egyptian people against any “terrorist, radical, or fool,” and acting swiftly to depose the government when its deadline for a resolution to the crisis was reached.
For the record, the opposition Free Egyptians Party insists this is “not by any means a military coup. This is a revolution. The people have decided that Mr. Morsi was no longer the legitimate leader of Egypt.”
There have been disputed reports that Morsi was under house arrest, but all doubt about his official status was dispelled on Wednesday night (Wednesday afternoon in the United States) when military leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced that a new interim President had been installed, and the national constitution suspended. Fireworks erupted in celebration over Tahrir Square in response.
CNN reports an eleventh-hour bid from Morsi to form a coalition government, but it clearly didn’t find any traction:
At the final hour, Morsy offered to form an interim 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,” he said in a posting on his Facebook page. He noted that hundreds of thousands of supporters and protesters had packed plazas around the country, and he urged that his countrymen be allowed to express their opinions through the ballot box.
“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,” the statement read.
There have been reports throughout the day of talks between opposition leaders and the military command, but it doesn’t seem as if anyone from the Morsi government was invited, so the handwriting was on the wall. Despite some blood-curdling threats from Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, there doesn’t seem to have been any violent resistance so far, although there have been sporadic reports of gunfire, and last night’s street battles between demonstrators and the Brotherhood brought two dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries.
The revolutionaries still have not forgotten Barack Obama’s role in installing the hated Morsi regime, per CNN:
Egypt’s military met Wednesday with religious, national, political and youth leaders to address the crisis, Egyptian military spokesman Ahmed Ali said through his Facebook page.
Hours earlier, an opposition spokesman accused the United States of propping up Morsy out of concern for neighboring Israel.
“The hour of victory is coming,” said Mahmoud Badr of the Tamarod opposition group. He predicted that the “illegitimate president” would be gone by the end of the day.
“Not America, not Morsy, not anyone can impose their will on the Egyptian people,” Badr said.
The Obama Administration seems to have decided Morsi was a goner after his last-ditch speech to the Egyptian people. From a report at Politico:
State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. “felt there was an absence of significant, specific steps” in Morsi’s Tuesday night speech. “Unfortunately, that was not a part of what he talked about in his speech…..There’s more that he needs to do,” she added during a daily briefing for reporters.
The comments expressed a greater degree of U.S. dissatisfaction with Morsi than previously acknowledged by U.S. officials. However, Psaki insisted that the criticism did not reflect a U.S. decision to back the opposition or the military.
We haven’t taken sides and don’t plan to take sides,” Psaki said. She acknowledged that she had no criticism to offer of the Egyptian military, despite a warning from military leaders that they would step in if Morsi’s government and protesters did not come to an accomodation.
Psaki declined to outline specific steps the U.S. would like Morsi to take, beyond avoiding violence. However, she disputed claims by many protesters that U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson had sided with the government over the opposition.
The Egyptian demonstrators don’t seem to see it that way:
They didn’t even bother spelling Anne Patterson’s last name correctly. Two “T”s, fellas. Some of them didn’t bother getting Obama’s name right, either:
The BBC brings us the bad news that Egyptian unrest has helped push the price of oil to a 14-month high, topping out at over $100 per barrel.
Update: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), author of a defeated amendment to halt weapons shipments to Egypt, wrote an op-ed for CNN this morning advising America to “stop using taxpayer money to aid Egypt’s Morsi.” (CNN spells it “Morsy,” but with an eye towards the “Opama Supporte Dictator Morsi” banner above, I’m not going to budge on my preferred spelling.) Paul might be about to get his wish, because we have a law forbidding American military aid to nations undergoing a coup. On the other hand, the Obama Administration is noted for ignoring laws it finds inconvenient.
Update: It has been almost exactly one year since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton journeyed to Egypt to endorse Mohammed Morsi. Things aren’t going too well for the Syrian dictator she endorsed as a “reformer,” either. Libya is a terrorist hotbed where militias are actually occupying the Interior Ministry at the moment. Europe is furious over Obama’s surveillance activities. Bolivia is accusing the United States of attempting to “kidnap” its President, Evo Morales, because Edward Snowden might have been on board his plane. More dazzling foreign policy from the smartest Administration in history!
Update: Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Budget Committee for the State Department and Foreign Assistance, in a statement released Wednesday afternoon: “Egypt’s military leaders say they have no intent or desire to govern, and I hope they make good on their promise. In the meantime, our law is clear: U.S. aid is cut off when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree. As we work on the new budget, my committee also will review future aid to the Egyptian government as we wait for a clearer picture.”