Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Morsi Refuses to Budge

The 48-hour deadline announced by the Egyptian military has come and gone, and Morsi is still defiant:

Military chiefs, vowing to restore order in a country racked by protests over Mursi's Islamist policies, issued a call to battle in a statement headlined "The Final Hours". They said they were willing to shed blood against "terrorists and fools" after Mursi refused to give up his elected office.

Armored vehicles took up position outside the state broadcasting headquarters on the Nile River bank, where soldiers patrolled the corridors and non-essential staff were sent home. But there was no other immediate sign of military action to remove the Muslim Brotherhood president.

In a last-ditch statement a few minutes before the 5 p.m. (11:00 a.m. EDT) deadline, Mursi's office said a coalition government could be part of an initiative to overcome a political crisis. But opposition parties refused to negotiate with him and met instead with the commander of the armed forces.

As the ultimatum expired, hundreds of thousands of anti-Mursi protesters in Tahrir Square in central Cairo let off fireworks, cheered and waved Egyptian flags in celebration.

There was no immediate word from the armed forces, and a spokesman said no fixed time had been set for a statement. Egyptian blogger Su Zee tweeted: "And in typical Egyptian fashion, #egypt is late for its own coup."
 Some of his defiance is, no doubt, due to Obama's continued support.

This leaves the Obama administration in a bind. Obama and his appointees backed the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt from the beginning, and as late as last week urged moderation and dialogue on the opposition, which means supporting the status quo. This was not only inimical to American interests but downright stupid. Even Islamists have to eat, and the Muslim Brotherhood had no hope forestalling economic collapse.
Obama is all talk and no money, though: the administration cannot squeeze meaningful sums out of Congress for Egyptian aid. The only prospective rescuer with deep enough pockets to keep Egypt from disintegrating is Saudi Arabia, and Saudis almost certainly would make the suppression of the Brotherhood a condition for aid. Whether the Saudis will do so remains a matter of pure speculation. Unlike Turkey, whose huge foreign trade deficit the Saudis have helped cover with tens of billions of dollars of short-term loans, Egypt is no help against Iran, the Saudis’ major strategic worry. But the math says that this is the only scenario that would avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the short term. If the Obama administration cared about the condition of the Egyptian people, it would throw the Muslim Brotherhood under the bus and try its best to broker such a deal.
 Odds of Obama admitting he was wrong about something? Zero.

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