Anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir square in Cai
Anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir square in CaiReuters

In a statement Monday afternoon, Egypt's top general, Abd al-Fatah a-Sisi, warned President Mohammed Morsi that he had 48 hours to resolve the crisis in Egypt. If he did not, the army would “intervene.” The army would expect Morsi to lay out a road map of steps he plans to take to “satisfy the will of the people,” and restore calm; otherwise, he said, the army would take control of the country.

At a press conference, a-Sisi said that the Egyptian people “had made their will very clear.” He stressed that the army's sole interest was in restoring calm and ensuring that daily life did not descend into chaos, and that the army was not taking sides.

Analysts said that with the statement, a-Sisi had basically sealed Morsi's fate. It was unlikely that protesters would be satisfied with anything less than his resignation, and if he did not resign, the army would make him do so.

The announcement by a-Sisi followed the resignation of four of Morsi's ministers – those of the tourism, parliamentary affairs, communications and environmental ministries – on Monday afternoon. The resignations are expected to increase the pressure on Morsi to step down himself, or at least call new elections, a move he has absolutely refused to consider so far.

A report Monday said that a-Sisi had held several consultations and strategy sessions without Morsi's attendance, a sign that the army was willing to dump him. A separate report said that hundreds of police officers in Alexandria had publicly declared their support for the anti-government groups.

Meanwhile, dozens of Egyptian tanks gathered in Sinai, along the border with Gaza, in order to ensure that Hamas members did not storm the border and attempt to join up with Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Hamas is closely affiliated with the Islamist group, but Egypt feared a spreading of riots and anti-government protests to Sinai if Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood members conducted pro-government protests there. Sinai has been relatively calm in the wake of the mass rioting and fighting between pro- and anti-government groups in the rest of Egypt.

Israeli officials were also keeping a close eye on the situation in Egypt. There have been spontaneous rallies supporting Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Gaza, and Israel was concerned that Gaza protesters could, in a frenzy of terrorism, make a “contribution” to the Islamist struggle in Egypt by firing rockets at Israel, or rioting near the border with Israel. IDF patrols along the Israel-Gaza border have been increased as well.