After the massive protests against his government, Islamist Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is clinging to power largely because the United States has not called for him to step down or call early elections.
The head of Egypt’s army, General Abdel Fattah Sisi, called for the army to intervene within 48 hours “if the demands of the people are not realized.” Sisi’s call for intervention was taken to mean either Morsi should resign or call for new elections.
An aide to Morsi said, “Obviously we feel this is a military coup. But the conviction within the presidency is that [the coup] won’t be able to move forward without American approval.” The implication was that the Egyptian army would not intervene without the support of the United States, since it depends on American largesse.
The military has been awash with support from Egyptians who dislike the Islamist government and its opposition. Crowds cheered the appearance of military helicopters, with accompanying chants of “the army and the people are one hand,” as well as cheering the army’s threat to become involved and setting off fireworks.
Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt has been fruitlessly attempting to convince opposition figures to negotiate with Morsi rather than support the protests.