Throughout the month of June the media onslaught on Morsi's government not only continued to blame it for all the ills afflicting Egyptian society, but also intensified as three particular problems were highlighted: the deterioration in security, frequent power outages that lasted hours and affected not only residential but also industrial areas, and shortages of fuel, causing hours long lines at gas stations.
Egypt has 2,480 gas stations, with about 400 stations run by the government. The other 2,000 stations are owned privately by business tycoons who were given these licenses during the Mubarak era because they were close to the regime and considered very loyal. Morsi's government asserted that each station received its share and that there was no reason for the shortages. In fact, a few days before he was deposed, Morsi warned gas station owners he'd revoke their licences if they refused to provide their customers with fuel. Khalid Al-Shami, a youth activist who was with the opposition until the military coup, exposed the plot when he announced in public that the handful of owners of the privately-run gas stations conspired to create the manufactured fuel shortage crisis in order to build public discontent against Morsi. The best evidence that the problem of fuel shortage was manufactured is that it evaporated overnight. Since the moment Morsi was deposed there has been no fuel shortage.
As for the security detrioration and electricity cuts, the conspiracy was deeper. The police which refused to protect entire neighborhoods during Morsi's rule has returned back in full force. Criminals and thugs who terrorized people in the streets are back under control by the same Mubarak-era security apparatus, except for the areas where Morsi's supporters demonstrate. Electricity outages that lasted for hours every day in almost every neighborhood have disappeared overnight. The mystery of solving these two intractable problems were uncovered this week. Out of the thirty-five member cabinet chosen by the military, eight were retained including the Interior Minister in charge of the police and the Minister of Electricity. One would assume that the first ministers to be sacked by the post-coup government would be those whom the public complained about their incompetence. The opposition who called for dismissing these ministers were now hailing them and cheering their retention. In short, many public officials who professed loyalty to the hapless president were actually undermining his rule all along, while the opposition accused him of packing the government with MB loyalists.
Numbers Game: If you tell a lie loud and long enough, people will eventually believe it
By the second week of June, Tamarrud announced that it had collected more than 10 million signatures within six weeks. Just 10 days later, that number had risen to 22 million signatures. Shortly thereafter, Tamarrud's spokesman Mahmoud Badr announced that the goal of the June 30 demonstration had shifted. It was no longer calling for early presidential elections, but now demanded the overthrow of Morsi, replacing him with the head of the SCC, the annulment of the constitution, the banning of the MB and the arrest and trials of its leaders. For the next few days the media kept up the drumbeat until the fateful day arrived.
By June 30, every actor knew his part. By mid-afternoon Tamarrud announced that the number on the streets were over 10 million. Soon the number became 14 then 17 then 22 million. Eventually the media claimed that the June 30 demonstrations across Egypt were the biggest in the history of mankind with as many as 33 million people in the streets. Military planes flew in formations entertaining the crowds in the skies above Tahrir Square throwing Egyptian flags and bottled water, and drawing hearts as a show of love and affection to the demonstrators. The army even provided a military helicopter to Khalid Yousef, a famous movie director known for his support of the opposition and hostility to the MB. Yousef recorded the crowd and produced a film that was immediately shown not only in every anti-Morsi TV network across Egypt but also on state television. Within hours, every media outlet claimed that the numbers were in the tens of millions with people in Tahrir Square alone reaching between 5 and 8 million. On the day of the coup, fireworks, laser shows, and festivities were on full display.
As I have argued before there is no doubt that there was a huge public outcry and anger against Morsi and the MB. But were the numbers as high as claimed? In October 1995, hundreds of thousands descended on the National Mall in Washington D.C. for what was promoted as the Million Man March that filled the entire area. The organizers claimed to have reached one million while the DC Park Police estimated the crowd to be four hundred thousand. The area of the national mall is about 146 acres. Thus, there were between 2,750 people (police estimate) to 6,750 people per acre (organizers' estimate). In other words, there were 0.7-1.7 people per square meter.
In contrast, the area of Tahrir Square is 12.3 acres. As Amjad Almonzer, a communication engineer and a Google Earth Expert, conclusively proves: even if all side streets to Tahrir Square were included, the area would not exceed 25 acres. Even if four people were counted per square meter and dozens of surrounding buildings were removed, there would be no more than 400,000 people on that day. If the 5-6 million number promoted by the proponents of the military coup were to be believed, it means that there were 50-60 people per square meter (5-6 per sq. ft.), clearly a physical impossibility. Even if one million were at every inch in Tahrir Square and all the surrounding streets, there would have to be 10 people per square meter, another impossibility. Even BBC eventually questioned these inflated numbers.
So at best there were less than half a million people in Tahrir Square at the peak of the demonstration and there were probably an equal number across Egypt. Therefore, the will of the Egyptian electorate was sacrificed when one or two million people protested for a day or two.
Can You Keep A Secret? The Anti-Morsi Media spells it out
Even before a single demonstrator went to Tahrir, Okaz, a Saudi daily newspaper preemptively published the details of the scenario that unfolded three days later when the military took over. The following day, Al-Ahram, an official newspaper and Egypt's largest circulated publication, had the headline "Either Resign or Be Overthrown." This report foretold in frightening details how the events would unfold, including the military ultimatum, the overthrow of Morsi, the arrest of the MB leaders, and the suspension of the constitution. By July 3 nightfall, Gen. Sisi announced the overthrow of Morsi, the suspension of the constitution, and the beginning of a political roadmap. It was exactly the same roadmap President Morsi announced earlier, and the opposition rejected. The only difference was his ouster.
The Americans Fold their Hands
Throughout the crisis, U.S. Ambassador Patterson played the role of defending the democratic process and the rule of law. When Gen. Sisi issued his ultimatum to the president on July 1, the U.S. adminstration showed its true colors as National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Morsi's foreign policy advisor, Essam al-Haddad, that it was over: either Morsi should resign or he would be overthrown. She advised that he should resign which Morsi summarily rejected. Once told by Rice of the impending coup, Morsi videotaped a 22-minute speech on a smart phone vowing not to resign or submit to the impending coup. His aid quickly emailed the impromtu speech to his supporters. Within the hour he was taken into custody not to be seen or heard from again.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke to the coup leader Gen. Sisi at least five times during the crisis. He advised that they announce the elections would be held as soon as possible. In addition, he assured Sisi that the administration would maintain its military aid. Within days, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns went to Egypt and met with the coup leaders and their civilian enablers. While in Cairo he ignored all the facts surrounding the overthrow of an elected president. In essence, his message was to support the coup and its aftermath, as he stated, "The United States is firmly committed to helping Egypt succeed in this second chance to realize the promise of the revolution."
As far back as March 2012, Burns met with MB General Guide Mohammad Badie and his deputy Khayrat Al-Shater. He offered that if the MB maintains the peace treaty with Israel the U.S. would help secure $20 Billion from the GCC countries to help Egypt's economy. But Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait declined to offer any real help when Morsi was in power. However, within two days of the military coup, Burns's promise was fulfilled, but to the coup leaders. The leaders of the three countries congratulated Gen. Sisi (not the puppet president installed by the military) for deposing Morsi and pledged to send a $12 Billion aid package as a gift to help stabilize the economy.
Furthermore, Burns promised the coup leader that the US military aid will continue and that the stalled IMF loan that has been languishing for over two years would be promptly approved. In rejecting to call the overthrow of a freely elected president by the military a coup, the U.S. administration demonstrated, yet again, that lofty ideals and rhetoric are sacrificed at the alter of misplaced short term national interests.