In Washington, which provides Egypt’s military and civilian government with billions of dollars in aid, officials said they were “deeply concerned” about the military’s moves. While officials said that all aspects of U.S.-Egyptian relations could be affected if the generals prolonged their grip on power, and amid calls by some in Congress to review U.S. military aid to Egypt, there were no signs that the Obama administration was considering cutting the contributions.
“I think every conversation we’ve had (with the military council) has been very clear about their willingness to see a smooth transition . . . their willingness to work themselves out of a job," said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.
Al Assar, the council spokesman, said repeatedly at the news conference that the military was disappointed in the constitutional court’s ruling that made it the de facto parliament, because it undid a major accomplishment of the post-Mubarak era, a free legislative election. He argued that the council had no choice but to create a system of checks and balances. However, under the amended constitution, the checks only go one way, with the council controlling decisions over major matters while the new president wouldn’t have decision-making power over the military leadership or budget.
As if trying to defuse the charges that are being leveled against the council all over Egypt, al Assar said, “We need more trust. There are a lot of claims against (the council). Let’s stop saying we are state within a state. That is not true.”
That argument did not resonate on the street or with the Muslim Brotherhood, which held 47 percent of the parliamentary seats. The court’s ruling “could be applied without dissolving the rest of Parliament,” the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party said in a statement.
In Tahrir Square, where thousands gathered either to celebrate Morsi’s apparent victory or to express outrage, the language used to describe the generals was vitriolic.
“I am staying here every day until we see the military going back to their barracks and leaving the job to someone who will represent us, not represent Mubarak and his government,” said Ashraf Ali, 45, a chemistry teacher and Morsi supporter. The generals “should be ashamed of themselves. Don’t they read the papers to see what people say about them?”
Matthew Schofield in Washington and McClatchy special correspondents Mohannad Sabry and Amina Ismail in Cairo contributed.