President Obama Monday rejected any effort by the Egyptian military to interfere in the confrontation between Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and the millions of demonstrators opposing him, effectively bucking up the embattled Morsi by telling him the situation should be resolved “through a political process.”
In a phone call with Morsi Monday, Obama effectively threw the United States behind an option that would exclude the Egyptian military, seeking instead to give Morsi time to try to buff up his credentials as a democrat.
From a statement released by the White House early Tuesday morning describing the call:
The President told President Morsy that the United States is committed to the democratic process in Egypt and does not support any single party or group. He stressed that democracy is about more than elections; it is also about ensuring that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government, including the many Egyptians demonstrating throughout the country.
President Obama encouraged President Morsy to take steps to show that he is responsive to their concerns, and underscored that the current crisis can only be resolved through a political process.
Obama also asked Morsi to rein in supporters committed violent acts and said protesting Egyptians should also “express themselves peacefully.”
In a statement Monday widely interpreted as presaging a coup, the commander of Egypt’s armed forces, Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, declared he was giving Morsi until Wednesday to meet “the demands of the people” or the military would step in to provide its own “road map for the future.”
Obama Monday rebuffed suggestions that he should press Morsi to leave power, as he did former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, arguing that Morsi was democratically elected. Critics of Obama’s stance argue that Morsi has hardly operated as a democrat in the year since he assumed power.