The strife in Egypt claimed a few more lives today. Although the army has denied it, it appears soldiers have shot and killed three pro-Morsi protesters as they approached his alleged location in the hundreds. The Muslim Brotherhood has apparently told pro-Morsi protesters not to confront the army.
Among the anti-Morsi crowd of the internet, a soft line has formed between perceiving the recent events as either a coup or a continuation of the revolution (or "democratic coup"); the reaction has varied between enthusiastic support and consternation. Most jump to one side of the fence or the other while leaving a few fingers on the wood. If the blood continues to flow as it has today, though, that could change. It seems increasingly clear that whatever emerges from the chaos, it will not be good for Egypt's future.
Morsi was a consummately terrible leader, and his list of offenses is long indeed. He wrung a deeply flawed, illegitimate constitution out of a population that was still embattled and not ready to produce one. He and his party resumed censorship of the media. He stoked ethnic tensions among Christians and Shi'ites. He and his party filled the government with a disproportionate number of Brotherhood people, seeming to form a regime rather than a government. And Egypt's people under Morsi have only grown more impoverished. In short, Morsi began to resemble any other Arab autocrat beholden to American and Gulf money.
So, in the opinion of many, Morsi did not deserve to be president. But it is foolish to think that the Egyptian army is driven purely by altruism. The above reasons cannot be, specifically, why Morsi was removed. After all, the army gave no time for a coherent dialogue to form between the government and its detractors, no time for public discontent to coalesce into articulated points about policy, and no time to form a credible mandate for its own actions. And it is perplexing how quickly the army made their ultimatum after last week's manifestations became so large. As As'ad Abu-Khalil puts it: "If it could not put up with the non-democracy of Morsi for one year, why did it put up with the dictatorship of Sadat and Mubarak for decades?" Instead of demanding that the government respond to the protesters, they essentially demanded an end to the government.
So have the people won, or has the Egyptian army won? How much violence — there will be violence — and chaos will there be? Will any better ideas emerge regarding how to govern Egypt, and if they do, will army accept them? That seems impossible in this environment. The week's events seem attractive at first, but this jarring intervention into due process will not enrich Egypt, nor its prospects for improvement.