Friday, July 12, 2013

Egypt: calling the bluff?

A Google search of at one time gave a hit to one of my previous posts. The top 2 for this search now are worth reading, a couple of accounts of events leading up to the coup: The Wall Street Journal's ("U.S.'s Stance Was Product of Yearlong Shift") and the one from the Associated Press, carried in The Guardian.  

Key points from the WSJ's: the US Department of Defense, with its contacts to the Egyptian military, urged them not to carry out a coup, while the president and State Department tried to persuade Mr. Morsi to make his government more inclusive. "In December, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson started making detailed suggestions to Mr. Morsi and his advisers about cabinet changes ...  In their final calls to Mr. Morsi and his aides, the U.S. again made specific suggestions, including appointing a new prime minister."

From the Associated Press: the MB believed the military had already taken its decision long before 30 Jun, when the protests began.
A [Muslim] Brotherhood spokesman, Murad Ali, said the military had already decided that Morsi had to go, and Sisi would not entertain any of the concessions that the president was prepared to make. "We were naive ... We didn't imagine betrayal would go this far," Ali said. "It was like, 'either we put you in jail, or you come out and announce you are resigning,'" Ali added. Brotherhood officials said they saw the end coming. "We knew it was over on 23 June. Western ambassadors told us that," said another Brotherhood spokesman. US ambassador Anne Patterson was one of the envoys, he added.
Jeff Weintraub, Adam Garfinkle ponders some continuities and disco... :
Once Morsi called the military's bluff by rejecting their ultimatum, they had to call Morsi's bluff or back down in a way that would have looked like a humiliating defeat.
Again, refer to the accounts from The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press / Guardian

Even in Garfinkle's account Morsi did "offer a dollop of conciliation", even if it was "too little too late". He did not definitively reject an ultimatum (*). All he did was make a "rambling fulmination" the previous evening before the coup. Or according to the WSJ, '[State Department spokeswoman] Jen Psaki said Mr. Morsi's defiant Tuesday night speech vowing to stay in power was at the heart of the problem. "He had the opportunity to lay out certain steps," she said about Mr. Morsi's address. "And he didn't take the opportunity to do that." '
 I assumed that the military would invite the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party, into its planned transitional government arrangement. It did. But the MB, led in this case, I assume, by a decision taken together by Mohammed Morsi, Khaitar al-Shatar and Mohammed Badie, vehemently rejected that invitation and engaged instead in what one organizer of the Tamarod movement has termed “incitement to civil war.”
I presume this relates to events after the coup. With their president overthrown and their leaders facing arrest, it is hardly surprising that the MB turned down this offer.
 an effort to control and reshape Egyptian society
Don't all political parties try to do this? As for the MB’s authoritarian schemes, the evidence that they were worse than, or even as bad as, the post-coup regime has been is pretty thin.
 JW:  This would have amounted to what is sometimes called a "soft coup".
So it would have provided a cloak of legitimacy for the coup if Morsi had accepted to stay as a figurehead president temporarily during a transition (not that there is any evidence that any such offer was made to him).
MB’s mistake was to rush much too fast to consolidate its authoritarian, if not totalitarian, schemes - See more at: http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/garfinkle/2013/07/04/egypt-continued-or-interrupted-depending-on-your-point-of-view/#sthash.KIqMf132.dpuf
MB’s mistake was to rush much too fast to consolidate its authoritarian, if not totalitarian, schemes. - See more at: http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/garfinkle/2013/07/04/egypt-continued-or-interrupted-depending-on-your-point-of-view/#sthash.KIqMf132.dpuf
It is unfortunate, first, because it forces Congress’ and the Administration’s hand to suspend aid to Egypt, and doing that right now, either to the military ($3.1 billion) or the paltry sum we give to the rest of the Egyptian government ($250 million), is a bad idea.
The WSJ:  Former U.S. officials and Arab diplomats say American influence was blunted by Washington's failure to deliver economic aid to the civilian government in Cairo. Assistance was held up by congressional concerns and legal problems tracing back to Mr. Mubarak's 2011 overthrow. As a result, while the Egyptian military was receiving the $1.3 billion aid package the U.S. promised, only $190 million in economic aid went to Mr. Morsi's civilian government. Qatar, by contrast, gave around $5 billion to Mr. Morsi's administration over the past year.

It now looks as if Qatar's aid will be replaced by aid from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 
what General al-Sisi has set in motion could in time be seen as a “corrective movement”, a very popular locution in Arab politics
There are even less encouraging precedents than Turkey and Pakistan: the coup that brought the Ba'ath party to power in Syria in 1963 was described in similar terms. 

* From an earlier post, Egypt on the edge? :
Foreign Policy's "Morning Brief" sums up where things stand right now: Egypt's President Rejects Military Ultimatum
Egypt's military delivered an ultimatum to Islamist President Mohamed Morsy on Monday, saying he had 48 hours satisfy the public's demands or else it would impose its own "road map." The communiqué, which was interpreted by some members of the Muslim Brotherhood as a military coup, comes on the heels of massive anti-government protests over the weekend that brought the country to a standstill. But with the streets relatively quiet on Tuesday, it seems Egyptians have largely left the fate of the country in the military's hands.

Morsy rejected the military's timeframe in a statement on Monday, saying he had not been consulted and that the ultimatum could "cause confusion in the complex national environment." The statement read further: "The presidency confirms that it is going forward on its previously plotted path to promote comprehensive national reconciliation ... regardless of any statements that deepen divisions between citizens."
It's important to read past the headline.

The WSJ again:
 "The military looked at the crowd in the streets. They said, 'We will not have crowds in the street.' We just can't have that. What does the crowd want? We're going to give it to them," a former official said.
So they ended up with a different crowd in the street, that was just as angry.

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