What Now in Egypt? Informed Speculations
Below, some roughly translated quotes from the Army ultimatum:
-- "Based on its history and national responsibilities, the Egyptian Army will be a major factor in any future when it comes to protecting the security of the nation."
-- "The [Egyptian Army] will not be an agent of political bodies/organizations or branches of government, it will only answer to the genuine democratic will of the people."
-- "The events taking place are an extreme threat to national security due to all of the events going on."
-- "The Army ... presented a week-long deadline ... However, the last week's events proved otherwise ... The actions have aroused domestic and international admiration and attention ... Waiting longer will only bring more divisions."
-- "If the will of the people is not answered, the Army will announce a new map for the future to fulfill their demands. [We] will put in place/oversee the involvement of all factions, including sincere youth [activists]."
Note: The statement "the will of the people" implies that this means bad news for the regime.
A second translation:
Key excerpt (paragraphs 9 and 10—i.e., two succeeding paragraphs near the end, each beginning with a dash, which follow a paragraph preceded by an asterisk), translated by Raymond Stock :
--The Armed Forces repeat and reiterate the call to comply with the demand of the people and give everyone 48 hours to bear the burden of the historic situation through which the nation is still passing, and which will not tolerate or forgive any power for falling short in shouldering its responsibility.
--"The Armed Forces warn everyone that if the demand of the people is not met by the prescribed deadline, then they will be obliged, based upon their patriotic and historic responsibility and respecting the demand of the great people of Egypt, to proclaim a road map for the future and measures to implement it, with the participation of all sincere patriotic factions and trends, including the youth that are still erupting for the glorious revolution, without drawing toward or pulling away from anyone."
In contrast to what various media are saying, it is important to remember that not many people in Egypt may have changed their minds -- the regime supporters voted for the regime, and the opposition voted against it.
The following are speculations I'm thinking through and wish to share. Forgive me if I'm wrong:
1. The opposition has no incentive to get off the street, because they want a coup. Remember, it looks like the army is coming to their rescue -- the statement was friendlier to them than the regime.
2. The statement came from the army, and not the government.
3. Is the army going to become permanently unpopular by shooting down protesters, which it refused to do for Mubarak two years ago?
4. What will the government be if Morsi falls? Probably either military, or a cabinet of experts under an appointed technician.
5. It is hard to believe that even some Islamists will take up arms and there could be a civil war -- knowing this, the army will be cautious. It could be quite bloody even if the Brotherhood surrenders.
6. Remember this does not end in utopia -- the same old corrupt dictatorship will be in power, but probably will allow more freedom.
7. This doesn’t solve the country’s economic problems.
8. The army would hope that the U.S. will give support; U.S. statements will probably say that America would like the return of democracy as soon as possible.
9. The army regime would not want international friction. It would be reasonable toward Israel, would not help Hamas, and would be tougher in fighting Syria and Iran.
10. The only alternative to the army taking power -- directly or behind the scenes -- is to force some changes on Mursi and make him broaden his coalition. This is hard to believe, but it might be possible. Remember the army does not want to take power, and is still unhappy from the last time it did so.
11. A good way out for the army is to work with the anti-regime courts and get elections voided. The courts are already scheduled to rule on the validity of the parliamentary election.