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The New Egypt

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Deadline Looms: Army and Morsi Supporters Vow Fight to Death

July 3rd 2013


In what has all the earmarks of the start of another Arab-Spring civil war, the most densely populated Sunni Arab country is fracturing along political and sectarian lines, just ahead of the Egyptian Army's deadline for President Mohammed Morsi to accommodate the demands of millions of protesting Egyptians. Emotions in the huge crowds of protesting citizens have run the gamut--from despair to elation and back--after a series of ultimata hurled back and forth amongst the Army, Morsi, the protesters, and Morsi's supporters in the penumbra of the Muslim Brotherhood. Overnight a group of pro-Morsi  demonstrators outside Cairo University was fired upon by snipers on nearby rooftops, killing at least 16 and wounding over 200. "There is only one thing we can do: we will stand in between the tanks and the president," said Gehad El-Haddad, official spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Morsi appeared on television last night at midnight, addressing the Army's threat directly in a rambling speech during which he repeated himself and pounded the podium. In his 45-minute address to the nation, Morsi acknowledged some mistakes and offered that he was still willing to form a national unity government ahead of parliamentary elections and let a new parliament amend the constitution. However, he offered no new initiatives while rejecting outright, as illegitimate, calls from many elements in Egypt that he step aside, saying it was his sacred duty to uphold legitimacy--a word he echoed dozens of times.

After asserting that he will die to protect the "legitimacy" of the Brotherhood's electoral victory in June 2012, Morsi suggested creating a "reconciliation committee," as well as an ethical code for the media, and said he was prepared to meet all groups and individuals as part of a national dialogue process. Nevertheless, Mohammed Abdelaziz, a leader of the Tamarod (Rebel) opposition campaign, told AFP: "This is a president threatening his own people. We don't consider him the president of Egypt."

Accusing remnants of Mubarak's former regime, and decrying the corruption of "big money" families seeking to restore their privileges and lead the country into a dark tunnel, Morsi rambled on as the Tahrir Square protesters feted the Army and waved their shoes--a symbol of utter contempt in the Arab world--whilst shouting "Leave. Leave. Leave!" Liberal opposition leaders, who have vowed not to negotiate with Morsi since the ultimatum was issued, immediately denounced his refusal to go as a declaration of civil war. "We ask the army to protect the souls of Egyptians after Morsi lost his mind and incited bloodshed of Egyptians," the Dustour Party said in a statement.

Russell Grayson is a former attorney and faculty member at Rutgers University Graduate School of Management, and serves as a correspondent and editor with The Cutting Edge.

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