Things in Egypt are going to get a whole lot worse before they get any better. Presdient Mohamed Morsi is considering enacting martial law until the parliamentary elections in the spring, state-owned Al-Ahram reported Saturday.
The decision to enact martial law would give the military authority to arrest people and use force as they deemed necessary to ensure the security of the egyptian people. Protests continued Saturday over Morsi's decree giving himself executive power over the courts until a constitution and a new parliament are elected. The order for martial law was approved by the sitting parliament in their last meeting, Al-Ahram reported, but it has not taken effect yet.
A military spokesman delivered a statement on state TV Saturday urging a "serious dialogue" to try and end the conflict between the Egyptian Islamists and their secular opponents. "Dialogue is the best and sole way to reach consensus that achieves the interests of the nation and the citizens," the spokesman said. "Anything other than that puts us in a dark tunnel with drastic consequences, which is something that we will not allow." Which, when paired with the martial law report, does not sound encouraging.
Morsi attended a meeting with national figures Saturday to discuss the controversial and rushed draft constitution to be voted on next week. Unfortunately, the meeting yielded few results because it was sparsely attended by the opposition and Morsi left shortly after it started.
The protests in Egypt have taken an ugly turn recently, with the first deaths from clashes with palace security officials being reported a few days ago. Egyptians have gathered in front of Morsi's Presidential palace and in Tahrir Square for the last few weeks.
To put the news of Morsi possibly declaring martial law in context, The New York Times' David Kirkpatrick absolutely nailed it:
An elected president who spent decades opposing Mr. Mubarak’s use of martial law to detain Islamists — a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who himself spent months in jail under the “emergency law” — is poised to resort to similar tactics to control unrest and violence from secular groups. After six decades during which military-backed secular autocrats used the threat of an Islamist takeover to justify authoritarian rule, the order would bring the military into the streets to protect an elected Islamist, dashing the whispered hopes of some more secular Egyptians that the military might step in to remove Mr. Morsi.
It's the last step of his transformation into everything he promised he wouldn't be.