Military coup d’état unfolding in Egypt

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

After weeks of protest against President Mohamed Morsi, the shit hit the fan today. There is a military coup d'état unfolding in Egypt after Morsi refused to step down and call for early elections. NBC News reports, Egypt coup? Morsi aide says tanks on move:

Forces allied with the president of Egypt said Wednesday that a
military coup was under way and that tanks were on the move outside
Cairo.

Representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, backers of
President Mohammed Morsi, said that some of its leaders have been
rounded up and arrested. A Morsi adviser told NBC News that
communication with the president had been cut off.

A military
deadline for the president of Egypt to give up power came and went with
no sign of a resolution to the standoff and both sides vowing that they
were prepared to fight to the death.

As the military appeared to
take control of state television, thousands of people massed in Tahrir
Square in Cairo, waving flags, singing patriotic songs and demanding the
ouster of Morsi.

They danced and cheered after a local television report that Morsi
was under house arrest, but two presidential advisers told NBC News that
the report was not true.

GameOver

Laser lights spell out a message to President Mohammed Morsi as protesters congregate in Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square on July 2. (Khaled Desouki / AFP – Getty Images)

The military issued a call to arms in a
Facebook post titled “The Final Hours.” It quoted the military leader,
Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as saying that it would be an honor to die
rather than subject the Egyptian people to threats or terror.

“We
swear to God to sacrifice with our blood for Egypt and its people
against any terrorist, extremist or ignoramus,” the statement said.
“Long live Egypt and its proud people.”

In a televised speech overnight, Morsi clung to control and said: “I am
prepared to sacrifice my blood for the sake of the security and
stability of this homeland.”

* * *

The military was believed to have given Morsi until 5 p.m. local
time, or 11 a.m. ET, to meet the demands of the protesters. The precise
time was not clear. The ultimatum, issued Monday, has been denounced by
supporters of Morsi as a military coup.

Hours ahead of the
deadline, civilian political leaders were summoned to meet with the top
generals. Those civilian leaders included Mohamed ElBaradei, the former
head of the U.N. nuclear weapons agency and a critic of Morsi.

The Associated Press reported that a leading Muslim cleric and the head of Egypt’s Coptic Christians were also at the meeting.

Sources
told NBC News that the army had control of state television.
Non-essential staff were told to go home early, and Reuters reported
that the building was being guarded by armored vehicles. The Associated
Press reported that military officers were monitoring broadcasts.

There were other signs that support for Morsi was slipping, even
among sympathizers. A senior member of a hardline Islamist party allied
with the president told Reuters that the party was trying to broker a
peaceful transfer of power to avoid bloodshed.

“We find ourselves
faced with the necessity of convincing the president to accept a
referendum on early presidential elections,” Tarek al-Zumar of Gamaa
Islamiya said in a telephone interview. “This is what we hope will be
reached in the next few hours.”

* * *

While Morsi is still supported by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, furious
protesters are dissatisfied with his performance, frustrated by a
struggling economy and what they see as a presidential power grab. The
Obama administration and the United Nations have encouraged Morsi to
listen to his people.

* * *

The military has said it will impose its own “road map” for the future if Morsi does not meet the protesters’ demands Wednesday.

* * *

The Muslim Brotherhood, backing Morsi, called for
counter-demonstrations, and a pro-Morsi rally in a Cairo suburb appeared
to attract about 100,000 people, journalists for Reuters said.

The U.S. Embassy warned Americans in Egypt to avoid large gatherings and monitor local news.

“Even
demonstrations or events intended to be peaceful can turn
confrontational and possibly escalate into violence,” it said, adding
the embassy was closed.

So What are the protesters' aims?:

Egypt's grassroots Tamarod protest movement claims to have collected
22 million signatures – almost half the country's 50 million eligible
voters – on a petition demanding that President Mohammed Morsi stand
down just 12 months after being elected to a four-year term.

Tamarod, which means “rebel” in Arabic, blames Morsi for the collapse of the country's economy.

The opposition movement's website
says "the average citizen still has the feeling that nothing has been
achieved so far from the revolution goals which were life in dignity,
freedom, social justice and national independence" during Morsi's year
as president.

* * *

While the movement may have its roots in the demonstrations which
toppled Mubarak, Islam AlTayeb, a Middle East analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Tamarod included more of the Egyptian population. 

“It
became a more inclusive grassroots campaigning, rather than an
organized official opposition,” she said. “I think [this] is what made
them connect and resonate quite well on the Egyptian streets. They were
able to connect quite well with the people and collect as many
signatures as they did, over the short period of time."

She added that "simmering with anger" in the country made the formation of movement like Tamarod inevitable.  

Tamarod's
website also criticizes Morsi’s government for "following the footsteps
of the USA" as well as “begging” for loans from the International
Monetary Fund.

But Hegazi played down the anti-American rhetoric,
saying that most of the demonstrators wanted the similar freedoms to
those in the U.S.

“We are pleased that President Obama is taking an interest,” he said. “What he said about democracy not being just about elections is exactly right.” 

Officials
with Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood have cast doubt on the number of
signatures Tamarod has collected. However, the unverified 22-million
name tally would be nearly twice the number of votes Morsi received a
year ago.

Democracy is new to Egypt. The concept that elections are a peaceful revolution or bloodless coup is entirely new to a region with a long history of dictators, kings and pharaos dating back thousands of years. Keep in mind that the United States was born out of a bloody revolution and endured several rebellions and insurrections throughout our short history, including a Civil War. Democracy is not easy, it takes time and effort.

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