A dangerous stand-off in Egypt

The biggest danger Egypt faces is an escalation of present hostilities into all-out civil war

Editorial
Friday 26 July 2013 18:56
Comments

Having gone to such trouble to reinvent itself as a democracy, Egypt has tired of the idea with unwarranted haste. Indeed, the country seems to have embarked on a headlong rush back to the future. Yesterday, the Tahrir Square revolutionaries were being asked by the army high command to come out into the streets once more to give them a mandate to confront what it calls “terrorists”.

The call is a dangerous one and this is a dangerous moment, the more so because the Muslim Brotherhood, from which President Morsi emerged, was also asking its supporters to protest yesterday. Thankfully, at least some anti‑Morsi protesters appeared reluctant to do General al Sisi’s bidding, growing sceptical of their de facto partnership with the army. “Friday’s protests are only asking us to turn a blind eye to whatever [the army] may do next,” one remarked.

Such scepticism must be good news. The biggest danger Egypt faces is an escalation of present hostilities into all-out civil war. The risk is lessened by the apparent absence of a significant militia contingent among the pro-Morsi forces. Similarly, although the former President’s supporters have staged daily protests, their numbers are small compared to their adversaries.

On Friday, a judge claimed legal justification for Mr Morsi’s detention, on the basis that his escape from jail in 2011 was aided by foreign Hamas and Hezbollah militants. Given that Mr Morsi is already in prison – “kidnapped”, says his family – the timing of the charges was provocative. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood shows little inclination to take part in the transitional arrangements backed by the army.

The international community is in a difficult position. Mr Morsi was far from perfect as a leader. But he was democratically elected and had, for all his faults, not yet committed the egregious constitutional abuses that might justify his arbitrary removal. The events of his removal were, therefore, a coup. Yet the US refused to designate it as such, in order to hold on to the leverage afforded by its massive aid to the Egyptian army. So far, however, there is little sign of any achievement. And all the while, the cracks in Egyptian society are yawning ever wider.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in