Yesterday, the suddenly-embattled president of Egypt tried telling his nation that despite grabbing more power than his immediate predecessor Hosni Mubarak ever had, he couldn’t possibly oppress anyone. Today, Egyptians responded to Mohamed Morsi’s insistent humility with even more protests than before, protests that have now washed up all the way to the gates of the US Embassy. As our embassy closes for business today, Morsi’s allies in the Muslim Brotherhood announced plans to produce a “million-man” counterprotest that will almost certainly put pressure on the Egyptian military to make a decision about their immediate and long-term future:
A wave of fresh clashes erupted in Egypt on Sunday as resentment over the president’s new powers and support for him continue to divide the country.
The latest clashes broke out between protesters and security forces on the outskirts of Tahrir Square, in Cairo, Egypt’s state-run Nile TV reported.
The unrest may be a prelude to dueling demonstrations scheduled for later this week. …
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement Morsy once led, has said it will stage nationwide demonstrations starting Sunday to back the president’s plans. It also announced a “Million Man” demonstration Tuesday at Abdeen Square in Cairo to support Morsy.
That should end well, no? After all, the Muslim Brotherhood has been all about power sharing and multilateral democracy, right? Putting thousands of Morsi supporters in the streets against the thousands of protesters against his power grab is a recipe for either a violent revolution, or a violent suppression of one.
The difference in that equation is the Egyptian military, which three months ago was an independent player in this drama. Over the summer, though, Morsi moved to consolidate his power in the military, which apparently gave him the confidence to declare himself a “temporary” dictator — and so far, the army hasn’t signaled an objection to it. This could get very ugly if they change sides … or if they don’t.
The business community in Egypt apparently thinks so, too:
Sunday also marked the first day trading resumed on the Egyptian stock market since Morsy’s power consolidation.
By midday local time, stocks had plunged by about 10%.
Even that may be too optimistic.