As I’m writing this, the live protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square shows no sign of relenting or disbanding. What appears to be millions of Egyptians in the streets of Cairo want an end to the government of Mohamed Morsi — and according to one newspaper in the capital, the Muslim Brotherhood may have decided to throw some of their members under the bus in an attempt to head off a military coup (via Jeff Dunetz):
The Muslim Brotherhood had asked Prime Minister Hesham Qandil and ministers belonging to the Islamist group to quit in order to give President Mohamed Morsy a chance to negotiate with opposition groups demanding his removal, sources close to the Brotherhood have revealed.
Sources said the Brotherhood made the request in order for the president to agree with the opposition on a new premier before the Wednesday evening deadline set by the armed forces to accomplish political consensus between the regime and the opposition.
Ministers of foreign affairs, telecommunications, tourism, legal affairs and environment had announced their resignations on Monday and Tuesday. Two presidential spokespersons also quit on Tuesday. Their resignations come amid massive protests across Egypt demanding early presidential elections.
The sources noted that the Brotherhood is not ready to make any concessions other than a cabinet reshuffle or the replacement of Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah. The sources explained that the idea of early presidential elections has not even been discussed within the group which, they say, still believes that Morsy has not been afforded the full opportunity to rule.
I doubt that will satisfy the madding crowds that have paralyzed Cairo, but the fact that the MB sees the need to sacrifice its Cabinet positions shows that they see the writing on the wall. They want to hold onto their seats in Parliament, where they control the government, and keep Morsi in the presidential palace. However, the ire over the incompetence and arrogance of this government isn’t directed (mainly) at Qandil, but at Morsi himself. The next –and last — intermediate positions for the Islamists are capitulation of Parliament and junking the MB-driven constitution.
That, by the way, is exactly what the Egyptian Army has in mind — and new elections all the way around, but only on an extended timetable:
Egypt’s armed forces would suspend the constitution and dissolve an Islamist-dominated parliament under a draft political roadmap to be pursued if Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and his opponents fail to reach a power-sharing agreement by Wednesday, military sources said.
The sources told Reuters the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was still discussing details of the plan, intended to resolve a political crisis that has brought millions of protesters into the streets. The roadmap could be changed based on political developments and consultations. …
The sources said the military intended to install an interim council, composed mainly of civilians from different political groups and experienced technocrats, to run the country until an amended constitution was drafted within months.
That would be followed by a new presidential election, but parliamentary polls would be delayed until strict conditions for selecting candidates were in force, they said.
This is what Egypt’s army should have insisted on doing the first time around. Instead, driven by Western demands for immediate elections, the nation lurched forward without allowing other political factions to organize effectively, which left the minority Islamists in charge of the entire process. The outcome this week is the inevitable result.