As predicted, the Egyptian army was unable to stay away from the fierce confrontation between the supporters of president Morsi and the opposition, demanding him to leave. The military presented Morsi with an ultimatum to leave the Office within 48 hours to execute the will of millions of people in the streets. The president’s office is fading by the hour, as the more people leave. At the same time the official representative of the armed forces Ahmed Ali stated that this ultimatum can’t be regarded as an attempt of coup d’etat. He stressed that “the ideology and culture of the Egyptian armed forces does not allow for the policy of a military coup”.
The rejection to obey came from Mohamed Morsi in no time. It was brought to the public by the representative of his office. The statement proclaims the democratic Egyptian state to be of the highest value. The government has already been taking measures to promote comprehensive national reconciliation, which was presented to the public by the president himself on the occasion of his anniversary in the capacity of the head of the state. The president’s office stated that Morsi had no clue of the ultimatum that the army was going to put forth, before they actually did. The statement, originally transmitted by Al-Jazeera ends as follows: “there could be no retreat since the Egyptian people sacrificed their blood to create a new country”.
It’s symbolic that the Morsi’s reply to the army was broadcasted by the same Qatari channel that tried its best to heaten up the conflict in Egypt in May 2011. Than the things went from bad to worse, Al-Jazeera started defending “Muslim Brotherhood”, blaming the opposition to be the agents of the former Mubarak regime or the spies working for the some dim “foreign forces”.
The situation in Egypt remains fairly complicated, since the opposition insists that Morsi should leave voluntarily or the cases of civil disobedience will mount and the country may go on the all-national strike. The government is already ten ministers and a number of governors short that decided to stand down by their own good will before it’s too late. The current regime is on the brink of collapse but Morsi refuses to yield.
Late in the night on Monday he held a meeting with the heads of Islamic parties and the groups that sympathize with “Muslim Brotherhood”, which means he’s not going to leave without a fight. He’s ready to go on war with the opposition, and even with the army, if they decide to declare martial law.
Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front, which rallies the liberal and the left wing politicians under the same banner, stated that there can be no talks with Morsi since they “don’t see him as legitimate any more”. Dawoud said the front had agreed on July 1 to delegate Mohamed El Baradei a former candidate for Egyptian presidency, to represent it in any talks with the army: «Our demands, which we will put forward to the army, are mainly that President Morsi has to resign and that we will need a strong government and a temporary president, which we suggest should be the head of the constitutional court».
It’s clear that it’s already too late for peace talks, since the both sides have “gone to the mattresses” and the fight can hardly be evaded. Nobody wants to yield, so it’s only a matter of time when the guns will talk. The Islamic coalition is ready to confront the army, say nothing about turning their barrels to the opposition. This means that the Islamists are prepared to go into hiding and wage the guerilla war in every major Egyptian city. They deem the armed resistance possible due to the armed groups created within Muslim Brotherhood structure, along with such groups in the organizations sympathizing with Muslim Brotherhood. These groups are usually composed of jihadists that have no choice but to fiercely fight till death. One thing Muslim Brotherhood understands better that anything – once they have lost the power in Egypt, they will never get it back. There’s hardly any chance for them to beat the regular armed forces of Egypt, but they are still quite capable to take lives of thousands and thousands of people.
If this scenario is bound to happen, we will see a scenario that will remind the war between the Algerian army and the Islamic salvation front which lasted for 12 years in a row, or the one that took place in Libya. The only difference is that the Egyptian army is a by far a more capable force than the Libyan army was, even despite the fact that there’s a handful of Egyptian soldiers and junior officers that sympathize with the Islamic movement. But the tragedy of the situation is that the victim of this confrontation may not all be of the Egyptian origin, there may as well be the victims among the tourists from the different countries. Tourism is the heel of Achilles of the Egyptian economy, which has already been seriously compromised.
Still it’s too early for predictions, the worst case scenario seem to be the most likely one, but not the only one possible. The opponents may be bluffing, trying to scare each other out with ultimatums and menaces, which is a common business for Egypt people. On top of all one cannot forget about the external factors, such as the United States and Saudi Arabia. The latter is clearly against the possible change of power, when the former one is still hesitating. Morsi got on the phone with the White House on July 1, seeking support from president Obama, but nobody knows if he get it.
But Egyptian opposition just like the army have, their own friend in the higher ranks of the American administration and those friends don’t seem to sympathize much with the “Muslim Brotherhood”. But at the first signs of transition to the state of a civil war, the army won’t be awaiting the American approval for actions for a spare second. This is the main reason why one must be prepared for the new protests or attempts of coup d’etat on June 3.
The next couple of days should and will be decisive, since the fate of Egypt is now in hands of the military forces. The whole world has caught its breath awaiting the climax of the conflict. Will the flames of civil war or revolution stretch across the Egyptian soil? Will the army impose the martial law and suppress the armed resistance of the Islamists? If the opposition should prevail, or if the army should take the reins of power, the Islamists will be suppressed, the age of “colour revolution” will come at an end for Egypt, will come for good.
This may be a sign for the Syrian government to put an end to the jihadists which in turn will change the balance of power in the whole region. The possible defeat of the Islamists in Egypt is to horn the victory of those Arab forces that rely on the secular principles, on the modernization of the economy and on the European values as well. The conservative monarchies should give way to the modern Arab countries that will lead the way for the whole region.
The waiting is done, Egypt is at the world’s front stage, the future is about to be born.
Vladimir Simonov is an expert on the Middle East. Exclusively for New Eastern Outlook.