Egypt's president, Mohamed Morsi, vowed to protect his presidency with his life on Tuesday night, hours before an ultimatum from the leader of Egypt's armed forces is due to expire.It's easy to lump Egypt in with the rest of the Arab world, but it's a mistake to do so. The Egyptian military has a lot of weaponry at its disposal, thanks to well over 30 years of bipartisan largesse from the United States. There are almost 83 million people who live there, which makes Egypt the largest country in the Arab world by a significant margin. By contrast, Saudi Arabia has perhaps 25 million. Egyptians are dealing with the reality that many countries in that part of the world have encountered: you can't eat jihad.
In a defiant late-night speech, Morsi raised the stakes in the standoff between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military – the two most powerful groups in the land – as supporters and opponents of the president clashed in deadly gun fights across the country.
It leaves Egypt braced for its most decisive day since the revolution, with its military preparing to suspend the country's constitution and potentially cripple the authority of its first democratically elected leader.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) made clear that it would stick to an ultimatum it gave Morsi on Monday that urged the embattled president to respond to a wave of mass protests within 48 hours or face an intervention which would in effect subsume his government. Scaf has given no indication it will waive its ultimatum, which expires at 5pm on Wednesday.
Morsi can argue he is a legitimate ruler, but he'll only remain in power if the military abides it. This could get really ugly.