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Terrorism & Security

Tanks deploy to Egypt's presidential palace amid lull in deadly protests

The deployment of Egyptian tanks marks the first time since Mohamed Morsi's power grab that the military has gotten involved.

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If any comparisons are made with the uprising that brought down Mubarak last year, it is with the infamous “Camel Day,” when Mubarak supporters and police attacked the peaceful pro-democracy protestors in Tahrir Square.

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Europe Editor

Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor.  He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog.  He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.

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The Monitor noted that Essam al-Arian, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, last night on Al Jazeera called the protests “the last battle of the revolution against the counterrevolution.”

A presidential aide told AFP that Morsi would address the current crisis in a speech later today, though no time was given. But as the Monitor's Dan Murphy wrote last night, there have been no indications from Morsi or the Brotherhood that they are backing down from plans to hold a referendum on the rushed, Islamist constitution on Dec. 15.

Egypt's sputtering transition from a military-backed, secular dictatorship to, well, something else, has now hit its rockiest point in the nearly two years since it began. Morsi's spokesman and backers have not offered any specific compromise. His Vice President Mahmoud Makki today addressed the nation, saying a referendum scheduled for Dec. 15 will move forward. Gehad el-Haddad, a senior adviser for the Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood's political wing, summarized Mr. Makki's remarks as "No moving of Referendum date, no cancellation of Constitutional Declaration. Crowds do not dictate course of country, elected bodies do." ...

Michael Hanna at The Century Foundation is worried, and fears that Morsi has been emboldened by his successful role in brokering a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel last month. 

"If approved in a hastily called referendum, that slipshod [constitution] will bound Egypt's political future and institutionalize its crisis. With a significant portion of the country's judges declaring a strike in response to Morsy's declaration and dueling protesters mobilizing on opposing sides, Egypt's flawed transition now risks tipping into outright civil strife and prolonged instability," he writes. "Rather than using his burnished reputation as a regional leader to forge a more consensual and stable transition back home, Morsy capitalized on the favorable international political climate by making an untenable and unjustifiable power grab that has plunged Egypt into crisis."

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