CAIRO -- A top adviser to President Mohamed Morsi issued an open letter Wednesday afternoon lamenting what he called the imminent takeover of Egypt's first freely elected government.
"As I write these lines I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page," the adviser, Essam el-Haddad, wrote on his Facebook page. "For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let's call what is happening by its real name: Military coup."
Mr. Haddad and his family went to the streets two years ago to help oust former President Hosni Mubarak, he wrote. "We stood, and we still stand, for a very simple idea: given freedom, we Egyptians can build institutions that allow us to promote and choose among all the different visions for the country. We quickly discovered that almost none of the other actors were willing to extend that idea to include us," he wrote, charging that the opposition and bureaucracy had refused to collaborate with elected leaders from the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Today only one thing matters," he wrote. "In this day and age no military coup can succeed in the face of sizable popular force without considerable bloodshed. Who among you is ready to shoulder that blame?"
And he warned with new force that the president's Islamist supporters would not go quietly. "Hundreds of thousands of them have gathered in support of democracy and the Presidency," he wrote. "And they will not leave in the face of this attack. To move them, there will have to be violence. It will either come from the army, the police, or the hired mercenaries. Either way there will be considerable bloodshed."
The consequences, he argued, would be felt far beyond Egypt. "The message will resonate throughout the Muslim World loud and clear: democracy is not for Muslims."
Writing in English, he appeared to appeal specifically to Americans. "The audience that reads this page understands the price that the world continues to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," he wrote. "Egypt is neither Afghanistan nor Iraq. Its symbolic weight and resulting impact is far more significant."
"There are people in Egypt and around the world that continue to try to justify the calls for early presidential elections because of the large numbers of demonstrators and the validity of their grievances," he acknowledged. "Let me be very clear. The protesters represent a wide spectrum of Egyptians and many of them have genuine, valid grievances. President Morsi's approval rating is down."
But he insisted that the president had continued to reach out to the opposition, who refused to come to the table.
"Increasingly, the so-called liberals of Egypt escalated a rhetoric inviting the military to become the custodians of government in Egypt. The opposition has steadfastly declined every option that entails a return to the ballot box."
As recently as Tuesday the president, prime minister and top military officer had agreed on what Mr. Haddad called "an excellent path for Egypt out of its current impasse," he wrote, including "a full change of cabinet, a prime minister acceptable to all, changing the public prosecutor, agreement on constitutional amendments, and a reconciliation commission."
Mr. Haddad also lashed out as Western governments that he said had "castigated" Egypt for lagging in its progress toward a modern democracy.
"The silence of all of those voices with an impending military coup is hypocritical and that hypocrisy will not be lost on a large swathe of Egyptians, Arabs and Muslims," he wrote. "Many have seen fit in these last months to lecture us on how democracy is more than just the ballot box. That may indeed be true. But what is definitely true is that there is no democracy without the ballot box."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.