Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi just nicked his wrist and blood flowed. By making a concession – by rescinding the extraordinary personal powers he claimed only days earlier – he was hoping to stem the furious followers who had marshaled against him.
Don’t hold your breath, Mr. President. History shows that any concession made at a moment such as this one is the rough equivalent of spilling blood in shark-infested waters. Put directly, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that this will quiet the opposition. Quite the contrary: Morsi’s concession will have exactly the opposite effect. It will embolden his opponents.
The referendum on the draft constitution, which was rammed through the parliament by Morsi and his allies, is still slated to take place on December 15. However it now seems unlikely that this can happen without military intervention – without the imposition of martial law to preclude widespread violence. How far Egypt’s furious followers are prepared ultimately to go, and how willing the military will be to force them into submission, remains obviously to be determined. All we know now is that Morsi’s shot at good governance grievously and even tragically misfired.