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Who’s Who In The Egyptian Crisis

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
July 2, 2013

In Egypt’s 2011 revolution, the story line was simple. A broad cross-section of Egyptians took to the streets to demand the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the president who had been in power for three decades.

In the latest protests, the plot is much more complicated. President Mohammed Morsi, who is from the Muslim Brotherhood, is an Islamist who was democratically elected. The military, which was in confrontation with the protesters two years ago, has come out in support of the demonstrators and against Morsi.

Mohammed Morsi: The U.S.-educated engineer became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in June 2012. But he ran into trouble almost immediately afterward. His opponents accuse him of authoritarianism and demand that he step down. Morsi, through a spokesman, has acknowledged mistakes, but insists he will stay.

Morsi’s supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood have rallied strongly behind Morsi, and have clashed in the streets with his opponents. The military says it is giving Morsi until Wednesday to compromise with protesters. It was unclear what the president’s next step would be.

Protesters: United under the name Tamarod – Arabic for rebellion – the protesters began their campaign two months ago as a signature petition to demand Morsi’s ouster. The group, which said it gathered 22 million signatures, rallied in Cairo and across the country last Sunday, the first anniversary of Morsi’s ascension to the presidency.

Protesters are calling for new presidential elections. The New York Times says the five friends who began the signature campaign all “worked in opposition news media, but have distanced themselves from political parties. They were all Muslims and personally devout, but deeply distrustful of the political Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The military: The military’s warning to Morsi on Monday thrust the armed forces back into the center of Egyptian politics. The military effectively ran Egypt for 16 months after Mubarak’s ouster, but retreated after Morsi was elected.

The military says it not looking to take power. And it is “still licking its wounds from the year and a half in which the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces directed Egypt’s transition to democracy,” writes RAND Middle East analyst Jeffrey Martini in Foreign Affairs. But he notes, “June 2013 is not January 2011 … Having intervened once and gotten burned in the process, the generals are likely to be a lot more circumspect this time around.”

U.S.: The White House says publicly that it’s committed to democracy in Egypt, and has urged Morsi to ensure “that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government.” But CNN, citing senior administration officials, has reported that the Obama administration is urging Morsi to call early elections, and is warning the military against staging a coup. The U.S. recently released $1.3 billion in military aid to the country that is dependant on the Egyptian government meeting certain democracy standards. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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