For Egypt’s military chiefs, the final spur to rebellion came on June 26. That day top generals met Mohamed Mursi, the country’s first democratically elected president, and spoke bluntly, telling the Islamist leader what he should say in a major speech he planned as protests against him intensified around the country.
“We told him it has to be short, respond to opposition demands to form a coalition government, amend the constitution and set a timeframe for the two actions,” an officer present in the room told Reuters. “Yet he came out with a very long speech that said nothing. That is when we knew he had no intention of fixing the situation, and we had to prepare for Plan B.”
The officer added: “We had prepared for all scenarios, from street violence to mass clashes, and had troops ready to handle both situations.” Like other serving officers interviewed for this report, the person requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
As tensions rose over the following days, Mursi remained defiant. In a final telephone conversation with armed forces commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday, the president laughed and made light of mass demonstrations against him, a military source said.