Egyptian Army Mobilizes, Government Cries ‘Coup’

July 3, 2013 12:55 pm Last Updated: July 3, 2013 3:55 pm

More than two years after the Arab Spring, Egypt is again on the verge of a revolution. After an ultimatum passed July 3, 2013, the army took control of the state-run TV station and mobilized tanks in what appears to be a military coup.

Egyptians had high hopes after former President Hosni Mubarak was removed from office in 2011 after the Arab Spring revolution. He had ruled the country with an iron fist and the country was happy to hold democratic elections for the first time in 30 years, resulting in current president’s Mohamed Morsi’s victory in June of 2012.

Those hopes were quashed for many Egyptians. Morsi had suspended judicial oversight in late 2012 only to backtrack after massive protests. In the meantime, the economy of the country deteriorated heavily and a liberal opposition rose to challenge Morsi and his Islamist backers. Early afternoon July 3, 2013, the tensions escalated and the army started to mobilize tanks and moved to occupy the state-run TV station.

Claire Read, a BBC reporter in Cairo said via Twitter: “Armed vehicles just went past the BBC Arabic studio, then over the 6th October bridge.”

Samer Shehata from the University of Oklahoma explains the reason for the tensions in the New York Times: “Egypt has a dilemma: its politics are dominated by democrats who are not liberals and liberals who are not democrats. The Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Morsi’s Islamist movement, accepts— indeed excels at—electoral competition … Many in the opposition, on the other hand, believe fiercely in minority rights, personal freedoms, civil liberties and electoral coalition-building—as long as the elections keep Islamists out of power.”

Since protests erupted on June 30, 2013, more than 50 people have died. The protesters are calling for Morsi’s resignation, which he has staunchly refused. A spokesman told the BBC that Mr. Morsi would rather die for democracy than resign.

Dr. Imad el-Anis, Middle East expert at Nottingham Trent University told the BBC: “A tipping point for the opposition to Mohammed Morsi may have come on June 15 when Morsi attended a rally held in Cairo by hardline Islamists and Salafists calling for a holy war against the Assad regime in Syria. He openly called for foreign intervention in Syria to topple the government. The opposition and the military are equally unhappy with this level of attention on regional politics and disregard for getting Egypt itself back to business.”

From the very beginning, the army and the police force have voiced their support for the opposition, spearheaded by the National Salvation Front coalition. Mohamed El Baradei, the United Nation’s former top nuclear inspector leads the coalition and met with army officials July 3 to find a solution for the crisis.  

The army has proposed to suspend the constitution, dissolve the parliament and installing a new administration headed by the chief justice. The army had previously issued an ultimatum to Morsi to come up with a plan which expired at 11 a.m. July 3.

After the ultimatum passed without president Morsi yielding to the army’s demands, Agence France Press reports that Egypt’s security forces placed a travel ban on him and other senior ruling party officials. Essam al-Hadded, a senior Morsi aide was speaking about a military coup early afternoon July 3, 2013 as the army also had moved to occupy the state-run television.

“As I write these lines I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page,” Mr. Hadded wrote on Facebook. “For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: military coup.”

Gehad al-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood confirms in a tweet that a “full military coup” is under way in Egypt. “Tanks have started moving through the streets,” he writes early afternoon July 3, 2013.

Morsi on the other hand relayed through an aide that the president would like Egyptians to peacefully resist a military coup and not use any violence. He had earlier suggested building a national coalition government ahead of new parliamentary elections, according to his Facebook page. His concessions were too little too late to stop the army from making a move.

Epoch Times will update the story as events progress.