Former Egypt general: No obvious leader in the wings

(CBS News) Today the eyes of the world remain fixed on Egypt, where the largest of Arab countries remains in flux after a week of turmoil. Our Clarissa Ward was there through it all, and has filed this Sunday Journal:


They came out in the millions, choking the streets and squares of cities across the country, and filling the air with one simple chant: "Irhaal." Leave.

The message was directed at Egypt's first democratically-elected president, Mohammed Morsi. Protestors like Fahd al-Tarzi accused him of pushing the Islamist agenda of his Muslim Brotherhood backers too far.

"It's a theocratic government," Tarzi said. "Instead of being ruled by a political dictatorship, we are now being ruled by a Islamic dictatorship, which is a lot worse."

One year after Morsi became president, Egypt's economy is in tatters. The rebellion of the country's police force against him resulted in a breakdown of law and order.

Retired Egyptian General Sameh Seif Alyazal told us that the country's all-powerful military had no choice but to step in.

When asked if Morsi -- winner of a fair election -- had a right to finish his term, Gen. Alyazal replied, "Yes, you are right, he is right. But you want me to wait until we see our country completely collapse?"

This past Monday the army issued Morsi an ultimatum: Meet the needs of the Egyptian people within 48 hours, or the military will intervene. Two days later they made good on their promise.

Morsi was out.

But while the protestors called it a triumph of the will of the people, Morsi's supporters called it a coup.

"That's my president, that's my president," one man shouted, pointing at a poster of Morsi.

Egypt's new president asserts authority
U.S. touts democracy as Egyptian military takes over
Clashes erupt between Egyptian military, supporters of deposed president; At least 30 dead

The military began a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. The group's spokesman, Gihad al Heddad, warned us that Morsi's supporters would not back down.

"Do you feel like you're under attack?" Ward asked.

"Of course, we're under attack," said Heddad. "They're trying to dismantle the Brotherhood machine and the Brotherhood organization, apparently for fear that the presidential election we may show up and win again."

On Friday, the group called for a "Day of Rejection" of the military's takeover. Protests turned to clashes, which spread throughout the city and the country. By the end of the night, dozens were dead.

"The only thing that we have is the will of the people and nothing more," said Heddad. "The only thing that they have is the power of the tanks. It will fail."

Whether or not this next chapter is successful depends in large part on how quickly the country's interim president, Adly Mansour, can appoint a prime minister, organize a government, and organize for a new presidential election to be held.

But General Alyazal conceded that there is no obvious leader waiting in the wings.

"None of them, I think, are qualified, from my point of view," he told Ward. "I don't want to see any of these leaders for the time being to be my president."

A frightening reality, for a country that is now deeply divided -- and bracing itself for more violence.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

On Twitter