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What others say: Trouble in Egypt again

By Dale McFeatters

Scripps Howard Service

Published: Tuesday, June 25 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Egyptian riot policemen march past a mural on the wall of the presidential palace depicting president Mohammed Morsi, left, former military council ruler Hussain Tantawi, center and ousted president Mubarak with Arabic anti-Morsi graffiti, in Cairo, Egypt.

Nasser Nasser, File, Associated Press

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The Egyptian military was the power behind the throne for the nearly 30 years of Hosni Mubarak's dictatorship, and ruled the country from February 2011, when Mubarak was forced to resign, until a freely elected successor, Mohammed Morsi, was inaugurated June 30, 2012.

Some think the military handed over power only reluctantly and that there may still be some in the officer corps who think the power shouldn't have been handed over at all, because of Morsi's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, a frequently outlawed organization often suspected of having the hidden agenda of creating a radical Islamic state.

Those suspicions were given some substance Sunday when a court ruled that a 2011 prison break that freed Morsi and 33 other members of the Brotherhood had been engineered by the Brotherhood in cooperation with the radical groups Hezbollah and Hamas.

Morsi's inner circle thought the new president had effectively defanged the military when he forced its two top officers into retirement and installed his own man, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, as defense minister and military chief. Moreover, Morsi named himself supreme commander.

But news accounts out of Egypt say el-Sissi has become increasingly disenchanted with Morsi, as has a good bit of the Egyptian public.

Massive demonstrations, both pro- and anti-regime, are planned for June 30, the anniversary of Morsi's assumption of power. The demonstrations have great potential for violence. There are fears that the demonstrators will attack the Brotherhood's office and government buildings with the idea of forcing Morsi to step down and call new elections.

Morsi's hard-line supporters have pledged to "smash" the protests and, according to The Associated Press, declared the protesters "infidels who deserve to be killed." El-Sissi ended his reticence and said the military would intervene to squelch any sectarian violence, any threats to government institutions and any threats to the integrity of the state.

One analyst with close ties to the military told the AP, "It is the most powerful public and direct message from the military to the president ... I see this as a warning of a coup if Morsi does not find a solution."

Morsi might not like the idea, but he may need el-Sissi and the military to restore order on June 30 and thereafter. But Morsi's biggest problem is that he has shown little energy in attacking Egypt's worsening problems: rising prices, unemployment, fuel and electric power shortages and a Sinai that is growing close to ungovernable.

The military has now served notice that he should address these problems or the military will do it for him — not that the military has shown much in the way of success either.

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