There has been a lot of depressing news out of Egypt lately, but one of the especially worrisome developments has been the military junta's use of typically authoritarian language. It is never a good sign when officers start denying civilian casualties, for example.
David Kirkpatrick's story in Monday's New York Times has another disturbing tidbit. The military is itching to disperse pro-Mohamed Morsi protesters, who have staged sit-ins and continue to oppose the impriosnment of the former president. The west, along with the "liberals" who supported the coup, have been urging restraint. The leader of this faction has been the interim vice president, Mohamed ElBaradei, who is also a Nobel Prize winner and Egypt's most famous secular politician. As Kirkpatrick reports:
General Sisi, the central power behind the government, appears to have been persuaded by the arguments for a measured response to the sit-ins, the rights advocates and diplomats said. Among other things, they said, General Sisi may have worried about a possible resignation by Mr. ElBaradei, who has used his international reputation to try to convince the West that Mr. Morsi’s ouster can be a step toward a more inclusive democracy.
Other factions of the government, including the powerful general and military intelligence services, advocated swift and forceful action, the diplomats and rights advocates said. And the tensions within the government had increasingly spilled out into reports by the state-run news organizations and private outlets close to the security services. Mr. ElBaradei is "dangerous to the people and the state," a headline in a state-run newspaper recently declared. He is working for the Islamists to "thwart the revolution," encouraging their “sabotaging” and destructive inclusion in politics, charged a columnist in the state-run newspaper Al Akhbar, laying out an attack still echoing through the privately owned news media as well.
The fact that this is occurring in state-run news organizations is, to say the last, not encouraging. If things keep declining in Egypt, look for ElBaradei's existence to be completely denied after the brave General Sisi declares war on Eastasia.
Isaac Chotiner is a senior editor at The New Republic. Follow him @IChotiner.
Correction: A previous version of this post misspelled David Kirkpatrick's name.