Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, Egypt’s new deputy prime minister and de facto strongman, has called on Egyptians to take to the streets Friday to give the armed forces and police a “mandate” to crack down on violence and terrorism. With that call, the July 3 deposition of elected President Mohamed Morsi looks increasingly like a Nasser-style military takeover rather than the popular revolution Morsi’s secular opponents claim.
There was, of course, much opposition to Morsi and much support for his overthrow. Evidence is growing, however, that the campaign to collect signatures against him was not waged entirely by idealistic young Egyptians but instead had received ample support from state security forces. And now that the military is firmly in control, it is seeking to mobilize popular support to legitimize its political role.