Thursday, July 4, 2013

The not-coup coup

Yesterday was zero hour. The military had given the president 48 hours to fix, I'm not sure what to fix but basically everything, or they would introduce a "road map" to move the country forward. People gathered around 4:30pm to watch the expected military announcement. In true Egyptian form, the announcement was late. I went over to a friends house to watch the coverage. Walking over there, the streets were deserted. It was creepy.

Despite the official silence, slowly snippets of information leaked. The president had been told at 7pm he was no longer president. He and senior ikhwanis were placed under house arrest. The military moved its APCs, tanks, and personnel around major gathering sites on both sides and secured important  places.

Late at night, the head of the military, General Sisi, came on TV and announced what we all knew. The president had been removed from office, the head of the constitutional court would succeed him, liberal darling Mohamed El Baradei would be the country's prime minister, and the constitution--much maligned by the liberals and opposition--had been suspended.

Much of Cairo erupted in cheers. People ran around the city, honking horns, bleeping those damn vuvuzelas, shouting, "Masr!" and celebrating the power of successful political organizing and people power to realize change. 

Misr 25, the Ikhwan's TV station, and other Islamist-affiliated stations went black. Al Jazeera's offices in Cairo were raided. Understandably, the mood in the pro-Morsi rallies was reported to be despondent. 

When I woke up this morning, life returned largely to normal. There are still a lot of flags around, still a lot of honking--celebratory, not the normal Cairo honking. I met up with friends for lunch and am making plans for a pool day tomorrow. Here at the restaurant, people are talking about normal things. Twitter and Facebook may be alight with politics, but people are happy and want to enjoy themselves.

The police, absent for months, are now back in the streets. It's a miracle. 

There are a few signs, though, that we are living in a post-not coup coup. I walked by APCs en route to the gym. There are a lot of them on some of the bridges around here. Helicopters continue to fly overhead. 

Many Americans are leaving this weekend, partly because of summer vacation--foreigners flee during Ramadan and the summer months--and partly because of the situation here. I don't quite understand leaving now, though. Leaving before the removal of the president makes more sense. There is the possibility of the ikhwan lashing out.  If they are pushed underground, they will lash out violently. That threat will never go away, but foreigners and Egyptians alike cannot leave Egypt forever. These kind of threats are everywhere, in the US, in Europe--unfortunately today no one can escape them.

People are really pissed at America. Their anger deserves a blog posting on it's own, but I got into a fight with someone on Facebook who threatened Obama. Disagree with his policies, I don't care. But if you threaten my president I will kill you. 

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