Brotherhood leader said when he heard the news on television, a colleague
recounted on condition of anonymity. Morsi, though, feared that he would appear
weak if he backed down, his advisers said. "The president is headstrong,"
lamented another Brotherhood leader.
Morsi never believed the generals would turn on him as long as he respected their autonomy and privileges, his advisers said. He had been the Muslim Brotherhood's designated envoy for talks with the ruling military council after the ouster of Mubarak. His counterpart on the council was Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
The Brotherhood was naturally suspicious of the military, its historical opponent, but Sissi cultivated Morsi and other leaders, one of them said, including going out of his way to show that he was a pious Muslim. "That is how the relationship between the two of them started," said a senior Brotherhood official close to Morsi. "He trusted him."
The two grew so close that Morsi caught his advisers by surprise when he promoted Sissi to defense minister last summer as part of a deal that persuaded the military for the first time to let the elected president take full control of his government. Morsi kept relations with the military as his "personal file," and worked out the deal without consulting his aides, one adviser said.
But the generals' exit, however, only redoubled the criticism from Morsi's opponents that the Islamists were monopolizing power.
Morsi failed to broaden his appeal among the sectarian opposition amid complaints that he and the Brotherhood were monopolizing power. And when the protests took off last fall, Sissi signaled that his departure from politics might not be so permanent. Without consulting Morsi, the general publicly invited all the country's fractious political factions - from social democrats to ultraconservative sheiks - to a meeting to try to come to a compromise on a more inclusive government. Morsi quashed the idea, advisers said, to avoid drawing the generals back into politics.
Sissi said publicly last week that he continued after that to try to broker some compromise with the opposition and to ease the political polarization. It was at that point, Morsi's advisers said, that they first suspected Sissi of intrigue.
Morsi, they said, often pressed Sissi to stop unnamed military officials from making threatening or disparaging statements toward the president in the news media. Sissi merely that said "newspapers and media exaggerate," and that he was "trying to control the tensions toward the president inside the military," one adviser said.
Yet Morsi insisted to his aides that he remained fully confident that Sissi would not interfere, almost until the end of his presidency. He was the last one in the inner circle to acknowledge last week that Sissi was ousting them.
U.S. officials had repeatedly urged Morsi to compromise with the opposition and include it in government. In December, President Barack Obama met with Haddad, Morsi's foreign policy adviser, in the Oval Office to deliver that message, Morsi's advisers said. At one point, they said, Obama offered to intervene with the opposition leaders, either Mohamed ElBaradei, the former United Nations diplomat, or Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister under Mubarak. But Morsi declined.
Embassy officials tried to act as intermediaries. Morsi advisers said. They said
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