Say, this has a familiar ring to it. Protesters fill Tahrir Square to demonstrate against the head of state who uses an “emergency” to claim dictatorial powers, police deploy teargas, and rocks get thrown at the US Embassy. The last time this happened, Barack Obama demanded the resignation of the Egyptian head of state.
What are the odds for diplomatic consistency in this case? The Magic 8-Ball says … long:
Thousands flocked to Cairo’s central Tahrir square on Tuesday for a protest against Egypt’s president in a significant test of whether the opposition can rally the street behind it in a confrontation aimed at forcing the Islamist leader to rescind decrees that granted him near absolute powers.
Waving Egypt’s red, white and black flags and chanting slogans against President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, the protesters joined several hundreds who have been camping out at the square since Friday demanding the decrees be revoked.
Even as the crowds swelled, clashes erupted nearby between several hundred young protesters throwing stones and police firing tear gas on a street off Tahrir leading to the U.S. Embassy. Clashes have been taking place at the site for several days fueled by anger over police abuses, separately from the crisis over Morsi.
The Associated Press has a brief video of the protest at the US Embassy:
No word on whether this was prompted by an obscure and badly-produced YouTube video yet.
Will this situation reach a tipping point soon? It might, but don’t expect the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi to follow Mubarak’s example in a peaceful exit. If they can’t contain the protests, the police and the army will get used to roll into the streets to put down the insurrection, and then the turmoil will really start. Morsi might end up reversing his decrees of effective dictatorship as a way to calm the situation, but don’t expect that to change his situation materially. The Muslim Brotherhood used democracy to gain power, but they’re not going to allow anyone to use it to take power away from them.