Following the failure of President Morsi to reach a political settlement by the deadline of July 3 set by the army he was deposed and is believed to be under house arrest with a significant number of key members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
This morning, the head of Egypt’s Constitutional Court – Adli Mansour – was sworn in as Interim President.
Exhorting the continuation of the revolution, saluting the armed forces as the conscience of the nation and the guarantor of its security, and the “brave, free and independent judiciary which has put up with all attempts to attack its independence”, Mansour promised a more just and democratic future through parliamentary and presidential elections and a more inclusive constitution. Dates for these were not confirmed, but observers cite a planned “road map” of six to nine months.
The army and President Mansour will now turn to the maintenance of public order, the construction of an interim government, maintenance of a creaking administration and the stabilization of an economy in dire straits.
Internationally, the government and army will seek to assure the international community of its intentions to speed the progress of the democratic elections on which Morsi had been perceived to have been deliberately stalling whilst fleecing the judiciary of their constitutional power. The future of the international loans on which Egypt currently relies will depend on this.
Saudi Arabia has expressed immediate support for the intervention and may decide to bank roll part of the transitional plan. Regionally, in many quarters, the deposition of Morsi will be resented as a challenge to political Islam and may attract the support of more extreme supporters.
Developments in the situation are likely to be swift and may include substantial protests on the streets of major towns by supporters of Morsi, Salafist activists or moderate but fundamentally conservative rural farmers concerned at the possibility of a further degradation in subsidies.
A challenge to public order will be Friday prayers, at which time clerics may exploit opportunities to inflame Islamist fervour which may spill out on to the streets provoking reaction from ebullient members of the ‘Tamarod’ (Rebellion) movement or a military forced to assert its authority.
Such a time of uncertainty may also present Islamic extremists an opportunity to commit acts of terror over and above what has been seen to date. The military will have warned all parties of the consequences of protest but this is no guarantee of order and it may, in places, be prepared to impose gradations of martial law. The geography of protest may shift to include rural areas where security forces are more dispersed.