DEBKAfile Special ReporT July 3, 2013, 12:10 AM (IDT)
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Tuesday night rejected Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ‘s demand that he quit to avert a bloodbath. He said he stood by his “constitutional dignity and demanded the army’s withdrawal of its ultimatum.
DEBKAfile: The general acted after Interior Minister Gen. Muhammad Ibrahim offered to place all police, internal security and intelligence forces at the disposal of the army because they no longer defer to the authority of the president or the Muslim Brotherhood government. This virtual “coup” enabled the army to jump the gun by 24 hours on its ultimatum to Morsi.
This military’s action was not quite a “coup,” but it snatched away the Muslim Brotherhood government’s buttress of organized security forces, leaving only loyal adherents as a last prop.
The army thus jumped the gun by 24 hours on its ultimatum to the president to “heed the will of the people” — or else. This move played out as huge rival demonstrations gathered in Cairo at separate locations with no police in evidence to hold back the sporadic bouts of violence, which are expected to spread. Already, sixteen people were killed in three separate violent clashes between supporters and opponents of the Islamist president. Another huge anti-government took place in Alexandria as well as other Egyptian cities.
Military circles indicated that to defuse the crisis the army would force the regime to transfer ruling authority to an interim council made up of citizens and technocrats and entrusted with drafting a new constitution and preparing early elections for president.
Those sources did not disclose what would happen to Morsi and whether he would stay on in the meantime as a figurehead president without executive powers.
President Morsi and the Muslim Brothers are hardly likely to lie down for this roadmap out of the crisis, because it would mean relinquishing power after just one year, at the end of decades of being pushed to the fringes of Egypt’s political scene.
But there is not much they can do. Their call to turn out and demonstrate for the Islamic flag Tuesday brought out their own followers and no one else, whereas the opposition is not only backed by millions of assorted groups but has now gained the support of the army, the police, the security service and the intelligence agency.
Read the earlier DEBKAfile report from Tuesday morning.
US President Barack Obama and Chief of US General Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey intervened in the Egyptian crisis early Tuesday, July 2, in an attempt to save the besieged President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. Obama called the Egyptian president and Gen. Dempsey phoned Chief of staff Gen. Sedki Sobhi, hoping to defuse the three-way crisis between the regime, the army and the protest movement before it gets out of hand.
The crash of Morsi’s presidency would seriously undermine the objectives of the Arab Revolt pursued by the Obama administration as the arch-stone of his Middle East policy.