How bad has the situation become for Egypt’s first Pharaoh in a couple of millenia? Bad enough that his office announced today that he has snuck back into his palace, which Mohamed Morsi fled yesterday as an avalanche of protesters arrived to demand that he rescind his emergency decrees granting himself dictatorial powers. After fleeing through the back gate, Morsi returned under cover of darkness:
An Egyptian official said the country’s president returned to his Cairo palace Wednesday, after he left it through a back gate the previous evening as tens of thousands of angry protesters besieged the complex demanding he rescind decrees granting himself sweeping powers.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said President Mohammed Morsi was back at work at the Ithadiya palace.
Hopefully, he’s keeping the back gate open. CBS reports that opposition protesters plan to return to the palace again today, likely emboldened by Morsi’s departure yesterday:
Al-Arabiya reported that opposition leaders had also called on supporters to flock to the area around the presidential palace again Wednesday morning.
With that in mind, the Muslim Brotherhood is calling for counterprotesters at the palace to arrive in force today, and one opposition group called for even more opposition protesters in response:
An Egyptian leftist opposition group urged its supporters to head to the presidential palace on Wednesday in response to the Muslim Brotherhood’s call for a protest there in support of President Mohamed Mursi, a spokeswoman said.
The Popular Current, led by ex-presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy, said its members would back other protesters who remained outside the palace overnight to demand that Mursi cancel a decree giving him sweeping powers and halt plans for a constitutional referendum on December 15.
Yesterday’s protests were peaceful, but still a clear message to Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies that they have seriously miscalculated their power grab. CBS has this brief video interview with two protesters outside the palace:
So what is the White House saying about this popular uprising on behalf of true democracy in Egypt, after cheerleading for Morsi for more than a year? Nothing:
The White House released a short note on Tuesday downplaying rising concerns about the growing power of Islamist theocrats in Egypt.
The White House note instead played up the relatively minor issue of economic trade, even as a pro-democracy riot broke out at Egypt’s presidential palace. …
“National Security Advisor Tom Donilon met today with Assistant to the President of Egypt for Foreign Relations and International Cooperation Dr. Essam el-Haddad,” began the press statement, which was released 7.32 p.m. EST, after the evening TV news shows had aired.
“They discussed a broad range of issues, including our bilateral economic cooperation, joint efforts to promote regional security and build on the cease-fire in Gaza, and Egypt’s democratic transition and the need to move forward with a peaceful and inclusive transition that respects the rights of all Egyptians,” the statement said.
Since Nov. 22, when Egypt’s president declared himself exempt from judicial rulings, White House spokesman Jay Carney has said little about the coup and turmoil.
When protests began in early 2011 against Mubarak, it took Obama eight days to demand that the longtime US ally remove himself from office. It’s been 13 days for Morsi, and Obama can’t even bring himself to openly criticize Morsi’s decrees on a sustained basis, nor the White House to specifically mention them.