US President Barack Obama and Chief of US General Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey intervened in the Egyptian crisis early Tuesday, July 2, in an attempt to save the besieged President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. Obama called the Egyptian president and Gen. Dempsey phoned Chief of staff Gen. Sedki Sobhi, hoping to defuse the three-way crisis between the regime, the army and the protest movement before it gets out of hand.
The crash of Morsi’s presidency would seriously undermine the objectives of the Arab Revolt pursued by the Obama administration as the arch-stone of his Middle East policy.
The administration had earlier sought unsuccessfully to persuade the heads of the Egyptian army not to issue its 48-hour ultimatum to Egypt’s rulers “heed the will of the people” by Wednesday afternoon – or else the army would intervene. The Americans proposed instead to leave Morsi in place after stripping him of presidential authority and installing a transitional government to prepare the country for new elections to the presidency and parliament.
DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that the army chiefs led by Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi rejected the American proposal.
Obama promised to back steps taken by President Morsi to show he is “responsive to the opposition’s concerns,” while Gen. Dempsey asked Egyptian generals to moderate their stand against the Muslim Brotherhood. The underlying message was that if they failed to do so, Washington might reconsider its $1.3 billion annual military assistance package which is the main source of income for the armed forces.