Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Egypt's Morsi and protesters on collision course

 Charged unrest rippled through Egypt's streets overnight as thousands of protesters against President Mohamed Morsi reveled in a 48-hour army ultimatum and Islamists stepped up rallies in support of president.
The armed forces said on Monday that political forces have 48 hours to meet the people's demands or it will implement a "road map" for the nation's future.
But given intense polarization between opposing political camps, the deadlock is unlikely to break in the allotted time, leading the Egyptian military to possibly adopt a power position in the days ahead, analysts said.
"There are two main scenarios, two more likely scenarios," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center. "One is a full-on military coup where the army forces Morsi to leave 
…and oversees a political process that does not include Morsi."
The second scenario, Hamid said, is that the military mediates.
"Essentially the military would sponsor political dialogue between various political forces including president Morsi and force them to at least sit down with each other and hash out their differences," he said. "And Morsi, as a part of that, would have to make major concessions."
Political deadlock paralyzed Egypt on Monday after protesters took to the streets to demand early presidential elections. Morsi has made it clear that he is not willing to give up his post one year after he won the nation's first democratic election.
"Stepping down for Morsi and his supporters is unimaginable,"said Khalil Al-Anani, an expert on Islamist movements and Egyptian politics. Al-Anani added that he doesn't think either political camp will make concessions.
Underscoring the depth of agitation over the nation's leader, who comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, angry demonstrators attacked the Brotherhood headquarters in the capital late Sunday night, leading to several deaths when people inside opened fire. At least another five were killed in clashes that erupted in cities across Upper Egypt.
Now protesters are gearing up for more demonstrations that are expected to crescendo Tuesday, as the deadline for Morsi to step down approaches.
EGYPT: 'I want my country back'
"The best-case scenario out of this crisis is that both camps, both pro and anti-Morsi camps, realize it's impossible for any of them to totally defeat the other," said Mazen Hassan, a political analyst in Cairo, "and hence they need to sit and come up with a power-sharing formula by which they can govern the country in the months to come."
The deadlock follows weeks of growing tension between opposing political camps in the lead up to June 30, the one year anniversary of Morsi's inauguration.
The Tamarod, or rebel, campaign — which planned the June 30 demonstrations — has been gathering signatures on petitions for months to show no-confidence votes against the president. Critics complain of a deteriorating economic and political situation, fuel shortages, power outages and lack of an effective security network.
They also say Morsi is only putting new faces on an old system of governing, replacing the dictatorship of the previous regime of Hosni Mubarak with his own cohorts rather than truly changing the system.
But Morsi still has a strong set of loyal backers who staged their own rally Sunday in support of the president. Morsi's camp claims the president retains legitimacy since he was democratically elected.


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