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July 8th, 2013, by Abdallah Schleifer

Abdallah Schleifer

Why Cairo is not burning…yet


It’s midnight in Cairo. Literally. President Mursi is droning on and on while I have been trying to sort out some of my thoughts on the computer keyboard before me. Egypt’s President is asserting his legitimacy over, and over, and over again – sort of makes illegitimacy attractive by comparison. And it’s Near Midnight for the hour of decision. Not for Mursi – he has decided and as the speech winds up now, well past midnight, has made it quite clear, that he will not comply with the ultimatum issued by the armed forces on Monday: That unless the President can reconcile and power- share with the Opposition within 48 hours – which BBC says means today, at 4:30pm Cairo time – the armed forces will intervene and” impose their own road map.”

This was a defiant speech, and while the President alluded in general terms to so-called prior understandings which if even true never materialized, he offered no concrete concessions that could have been theoretically the basis for final -hour reconciliation. Not that the official voices of the Opposition have expressed for one moment their own readiness to go where Mursi wont go – and that is to meet each other halfway. Spokesmen for the opposition have been as intransigent as Mursi, saying it was too late any compromise that involved Mursi staying on as President in any manner or form.

So it all seems even more hopeless and dangerous, very early this Wednesday morning, than it did in the late hours of Sunday night ( June 30th) when vast rival rallies had gathered in Cairo through the afternoon and evening while deadly street fighting was already going on in different parts of the country. In several cases the street fighting was set off by gangs – over-enthusiastic protestors or paid thugs? — or most likely as is the case in life, a murky combination of both, attacking and burning out lightly defended MB or FJP headquarters.

Here in Cairo — which many of the foreign community as well as Egyptians of means have abandoned for shelter anywhere from the distant Sinai resorts of Sharm al Sheikh and Gouna to London — there was one major violent incident in Cairo last Sunday: Protestors attacked MB central HQs with Molotov cocktails and the defenders inside the imposing villa fired bird shot back. By early morning the defenders had slipped away, several people were dead and the HQs trashed. No police appeared during the several hours long fight, as the Ministry of Interior was making apparent what would soon become a public declaration – they would not protect MB/FJP headquarters anywhere in the country. But the MB’s central HQs are ,or rather were, in a relatively isolated part of Cairo, far from the major rallies so the danger of a spill-over that would engulf the entire city was lessoned by geography, and one also sensed that both sides were still hesitant to commit without the certainty of how the president, the cabinet, the judiciary and above all else, the armed forces would react.


Read Abdallah Schleifer’s full article on Al Arabiya 

View Abdallah Schleifer’s Global Experts profile 



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One Response to “Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks: Not Dead, but Certainly on Hold”
  1. LED Sign Hire says:

    Thanks for an original article. It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn everyday. Keep on blogging.

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