In a dramatic development, the Obama administration now appears to be urging Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi to call for early elections. Speaking to CNN’s Elise Labott, a senior administration official explains, “We are saying to him, ‘Figure out a way to go for new elections…That may be the only way that this confrontation can be resolved.”
Unrest has gripped Egypt for days, swelling Sunday in what the BBC reported was the largest political rally ever held, with over three million Egyptians taking to the streets in rejection of Morsi’s rule.
Critics cite Morsi’s rapid and sweeping consolidation of state power, calling him the “New Pharaoh.” Some Egyptians are publicly lamenting Mubarak’s departure.
Egypt’s economy is on the verge of collapse, security has broken down across the country. The Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi’s approval rating has plummeted to 28% according to a recent Zogby poll, while the Egyptian military’s approval ratings hover near 80 percent.
Opposition groups, now known in Arabic as “Tamarod” for “Rebel,” have set a deadline of Tuesday midnight in Cairo (5pm EDT) for Morsi to step down. In a nationwide televised statement, the Army chief has made clear that Egypt’s armed forces will not allow the country to slide into chaos, and if the situation is not calmed within 48 hours, would step in and provide a “road map” for the country.
Tensions between the military and Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood allies have been on the rise in recent months as increasing evidence has emerged that the Brotherhood worked with Hamas and other terrorist groups to break prisoners out of jail during the 2011 Arab Spring and foment the violence that led to Hosni Mubarak’s departure and Morsi’s rise to power.
Initially the Muslim Brotherhood said it would not attempt to attain a majority in the parliament or run a candidate for president. Not only did the group reverse those announcements, but once Morsi was in power, he moved quickly to rush through controversial “constitutional reforms,” and put himself above the law, and not subject to the judiciary.
Sources tell TheTower.org that the White House is unhappy that details of its messages to Morsi have leaked and is likely to publicly deny “urging” Morsi to head for elections, fearing that Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters will refuse, leaving the administration looking vulnerable.
It is unclear if Morsi will voluntarily resign as the Tamarod movement has demanded, if he will call for early elections, or if he will dig in deeper and grow more defiant in the face of overwhelming calls for the end of his tenure.