What’s Next for Egypt

As bloody tensions mount in Cairo, protesters are hoping international outrage will bolster their cause — but security forces are losing patience

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Manu Brabo / AP

A wounded supporter of the ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi sits on the floor of a field hospital in Nasr City, a district in Cairo, on July 27, 2013

To a large extent, the writing was on the wall for the Muslim Brotherhood’s sit-in protest from the moment earlier this week when Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sissi called for mass public rallies to support the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi — and to provide a public mandate to “authorize the armed forces to confront violence and terrorism.”

Those rallies on July 26 were robust and raucous, as expected, packing downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the area around the presidential palace — about a 15-minute walk from the Nasr City district, where thousands of supporters from Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood have gathered for nearly a month, demanding the reversal of what they call a blatant coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected civilian President.

Al-Sissi had received his authorization. And within a matter of hours, the blood of Morsi supporters was flowing through the streets of Nasr City, and the Brotherhood field hospital was overflowing with the dead and dying. A set of chaotic predawn July 27 clashes with police left at least 60 Morsi supporters dead. (The actual death count is still somewhat in dispute: the Health Ministry confirms 65 deaths and the Brotherhood claims the true number is nearly twice as high.)

(PHOTOS: Scores Killed in Latest Cairo Protests)

According to both Brotherhood and official sources, the violence began around 2 a.m. on Saturday, when the Brotherhood members attempted to expand the size of their sit-in area. The Brotherhood claims this was a natural move to accommodate the thousands of fresh supporters flocking to their cause, while the government claims the protesters were moving to block traffic on a major nearby bridge. Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif said the violence started with clashes between the Brotherhood supporters and neighborhood residents who have come to resent their presence.

“The police moved to stop the clashes between the two groups and opened the road again,” he said.

Many of the deaths seem to have taken place on a stretch of asphalt directly in front of the viewing stand where late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was killed by an Islamist cell inside his own military during a parade on October 6, 1981. Sadat is buried in a massive shrine across the street from the viewing stand.

The aftermath of the killings has been complicated by a set of statements and denials from the government that border on surreal. According to multiple eyewitness accounts, the bulk of the casualties came from gunshot wounds — possibly from snipers. “Most were killed by bullet wounds — especially right here,” one volunteer doctor at the Brotherhood field hospital told reporters, pointing to the center of his forehead.

(MORE: Egyptian Court Accuses Morsi of Espionage and Paves the Way for Further Trouble)

But Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, in a Saturday press conference, flatly claimed that his forces had used nothing more dangerous than tear gas. The police “have never fired at a protester using live ammunition,” said Ibrahim, adding that the Brotherhood was exploiting the issue in order to “purposefully fabricate a crisis.”

By Saturday afternoon the area around the Rabaa Adaweya mosque had been fortified to an extent that recalled the heights of the 2011 revolution in Tahrir Square. Brotherhood volunteers worked to pull up hexagonal paving stones from a nearby sidewalk and assemble them in a series of staggered barriers that extended more than a half-mile from the heart of their protest site. The men chanted prayers as they worked while other volunteers dutifully sprayed them with water to combat the July heat and prevent dehydration while everyone was forgoing food and liquid until sunset.

Now begins a toxic and inherently unstable waiting game.

The security forces are hoping that the Brotherhood cadres will eventually be demoralized by the stalemate, the punishing summer heat in the middle of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and the fact that the majority of the country’s population genuinely seem to have turned against them. They hope to convince Morsi supporters to return home, tend their physical and political wounds and eventually join the post-Morsi future. However, maneuvers like al-Sissi’s call for public support to legitimize a crackdown indicate that the military and police are losing patience, as the Brotherhood sit-in shows few signs of losing momentum.

(MORE: Egypt’s Crisis: Ramadan Cools Tensions in Cairo, for Now)

“God willing, it will be broken up in a way that does not cause losses,” said Ibrahim, the Minister of Interior. “But … it must end. We hope that they come to their senses … and join their political process.”

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood supporters are hoping that international attention and outrage will save them, and that the rising death toll will draw undecided or conflicted Egyptians to their side and split the transitional government’s fragile coalition from within. Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref openly laughed off the Interior Minister’s claim that no live ammunition had been used as a classic example of the sort of government tactics that will draw thousands more to their cause.

“Every time they speak they scandalize themselves,” he said. “We don’t have to do anything.”

Now the venerable Islamist organization is essentially daring the police and military to come root them out by force — a process that simply can’t happen without a massive bloodletting on live television.

“We’re not giving in. Go ahead and shoot us — 10,000, 20,000, we’re ready for that,” said Wafaa al-Hefny, a protester and professor of English literature. “The only way they can get the legitimacy they need is if we give up. Well, we’re not budging. They’ll just have to kill us — and that won’t bring them legitimacy.”

Khalil is a Cairo-based journalist and author of Liberation Square: Inside the Egyptian Revolution and the Rebirth of a Nation.

48 comments
S_I
S_I

A Nation run by any fanatical Religious Order will always be doomed to failure. Secular Government is the only way for safeguarding all belief systems for all people without persecution.


RudyHaugeneder
RudyHaugeneder

A televised bloodbath in the making, the story suggests, without taking the next step of predicting this Egyptian situation actually spells the end of what many had hoped the Arab Spring would bring: Peace and stability throughout the Middle East and anywhere Islam is strong.  The largely US-trained and equipped military has seen to this end -- the end of Islamic democracy which might and probably will lead to a nuclear-equipped (Pakistan and others) Muslim Empire that will result in what journalist and author Robert Fisk, called "THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILIZATION THE CONQUEST OF THE MIDDLE EAST."

Nato and America should have left well enough alone after the birth of Arab Spring, even if it meant an incredibly savage Sectarian war within Islam.  


FidaAhmedAdvocate
FidaAhmedAdvocate

My question to all those who were not happy with Morsi's govt. What next for Egypt, more deaths and destruction? Why couldn't you stand a democratic system, despite its imperfection? Do you have any regrets for your fatal intolerance and impatience?

sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

Recent events in Egypt have caused anguish in the West. Clearly, these deaths must be stopped, but how and by who? If MB expects the World to step in and restore Morsi to power, the secular forces in Egypt will feel let down. Despite the tragedy of Egypt,Iraq,Tunisia,Syria ..., the World must allow the people in these Countries to settle the matter of 'Church Vs State' on their own terms. No question, the important agenda must be the living standards of the people, security and freedom of expression. Religion must be a personal choice for individuals to make and not the business of the State

DinaWagdy
DinaWagdy

@TIME @TIMEWorld that is what wishes 4 but we r moving on with the road map & our war agains terrorism, terror ur government support

Medo__Almasry
Medo__Almasry

I just wanted to clarify a couple of things for all the westerners in here:-
1- I live 3 minutes away from the Muslim brotherhood sit-in in Rabaa Al Adweya, Nasr City.
2- https://maps.google.com.eg/maps?q=%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%A9+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A9&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=30.065138,31.321442&spn=0.010381,0.021136&sll=26.69425,30.25435&sspn=10.960833,21.643066&hnear=Rabaa+Al+Adaweyah,+Nasr+City,+Cairo+Governorate&t=m&z=16
As you can see in the map, there sit in is an intersection, they could have extended it in any of the other 3 directions but they decided to extend it 2-3 kilometers towards the "October 6th" bridge which isn't just a MAJOR BRIDGE it connects the entire eastern district of Cairo to downtown Cairo directly... blocking it would mean the overflow of all Cairo's streets from the east and up till downtown... Most Westerners don't know what Egyptian traffic is all about so I recommend you just go to Youtube and look for "Cairo's Traffic"...
3- The sit in is wall in wall with  an Armed Forces building "Armed Forces Services Complex" which facilitates paper work for the various official and non official government documents. I wanna know what officials in the white house asking for U.N. intervention would do if some geeks had a sit in wall in wall for an entire 25 days with a building that possesses information on half of the Armed Forces officers in the country...
4- Last but not least, the Egyptian people are quite violent by nature, but rest assured we can handle our selves... so please... keep your prayers for us and let us find our own way to democracy :) 

btt1943
btt1943

In the final analysis, the US foreign policy is no policy. It has not just always failed, but failed miserably and terribly. If Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood could not return to power, chances are it will rebel once weapons can be readily available one way or another. A new Syria in the making.        (ttm1943)

FrankNolo
FrankNolo

Israel does not worry about losing large numbers of its citizens as long as they can use such an event to expand upon its borders.  Israel is merely seeking to provoke a war where in intends to release a surprise attack against all muslims using advance technology developed in conjunction with US/Britain/France/Israel.  This is how WWII was won by US and its allies, when we allowed Japan to attack us (despite having prior knowledge that the attack was imminent) so we could eventually surprise them with nuclear technology.  These strategies are as old as time, but apparently there are people around the world that like to commit war and violence and to use technology to brutally suppress/control people, because they are inherently sadistic in their core and racist against Muslims and all other humans that take g-d as their leader rather than any specific human, and they seek to find some justification to harm muslims simply because the popularity of Islam is steadily increasing through non-violent peaceful propogation and if this trend continues Islam will naturally become the religion of the majority of the world, and because racist people do not want this they are seeking unatural methods to try and prevent it such as creating conflicts just like the one you see in Egypt

cryptomedia-dot-com

FrankNolo
FrankNolo

So Egypt is being destroyed by Israel and Arab Monarchies in the Middle East just to keep the shift off any resolution of the Palestinian issue.  This is a strategy likely to backfire against Israel directly because the manipulation is so obvious that many countries are taking notice and the tide is shifting against Israel.  The events in Egypt will eventually even force the Monarchies to submit and turn on Israel or risk being toppled in their own countries.  Israel already sees this coming which is why they jumpstarted fake 'peace talks' as cover for their imminent attempt to bomb Iran in an effort to provoke a war that they could use as pretext to brutally subjugate the entire Middle East.  It is also a certainty that Israel will attack its own citizens with WMD to attempt to frame the 'Islamists,' even though they have advanced notice that the Islamists are going to shift their focus strictly upon Israel, but the Israeli government is refusing to recieve this information because they want to claim that they were not aware how these matters could affect them, which they cannot do because the Islamists have already sent emmisaries to Israel to attempt to prevent the coming conflict, and Israel refused to recieve them because they want to be attack (and in fact, they are begging for Islamists to kill their own citizens so that they don't have to attack their own people to create a false context that they need to wage war against muslims).

FrankNolo
FrankNolo

So the coup was essentially completed because Morsi was doing everything possible in the interests of Egypt, and this was causing Israel concern because Israel does not want Egypt on its doorstep demanding freedom for the Palestinians so Israel/US sought to prevent this by bringing back Mubarak, who already has an agreement with Israel to allow them to annex West Bank and Gaza Strip.  So the entire coup was for purposes of preventing resolution in the West Bank, Gaza Strip as this is the untold policy of US/Britain/France/Israel although they don't publically admit it (and it is time they should start admitting it).  The coup was not committed in any way for the benifit of Egypt, because it would be impossible for Egypt to benefit from it due to the fact that Egyptian military can never contain the Brotherhood protests without eventually turning the entire Egyptain people against the military once again.  So despite the injection of Billions from pro-Israel countries like Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian economy cannot sustain a complete loss in the tourism sector and other economic industries, which is why the military now has no choice but to conduct a massacre of Brotherhood just to stay alive because any economic stability will again vanish in short time and this will automatically cause the Egyptian people to once again turn on the military, and all this bloodshed only benefited Israel and all the pro-Israel monarchies in the Middle East, and no one else.

FrankNolo
FrankNolo

The untold story behind the coup:

Even before the coup, Morsi and the brotherhood were expecting that they were going to be sabotaged in some way by Mubarak old regime, so they started taking steps to consolidate their power.  One of those steps was an attempt to increase their base by doing something that was considered important to all Islamists all accross the region.  Morsi sought to gain the return of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (an Egyptian citizen who is in jail in America), and he hoped that America would provide him this gesture (as is common between nations) in an effort to keep the Mubarak regime from attempting this criminal comeback.  So even before Morsi asked, the US (CIA) specifically informed him not to request the return of Sheikh Rahman.  This was also the litmus test for the CIA to see if they could accept Morsi as president, and once he defied CIA and made the decision to request the return of Sheikh Rahman, the CIA then gave Mubarak their authorization to attempt the coup with US support (and the proof of this is US refusing to label this a coup).

orangeplasticfish
orangeplasticfish

Muslims could learn something from western governments: separate government from religion...It is the nature of religious people with government support to impose their religious values on others and persecute dissenters. It took several hundred years of religious wars in west to learn to keep government and religion separate...PLEASE learn from our experience and save your people from unnecessary grief and suffering.

FaroukAlwyni
FaroukAlwyni

This military-backed government is creating lies and lies everyday. But, the main culprit of the violence is al-Sisi. He should face justice, he has played his politics. He is not a military professional. Otherwise, how could a professional military call for mass mobilization to justify his acts. He has created deeper division in Egyptian society, and his coup is ILLEGAL. He is killing the biggest Arab democracy. Military regime has brought nothing good for Egypt but backwardness, under-development, and dependence on the foreign aid. And now, with al-Sisi on the top, they have started killing their own people. The world should speak out against these violent military terrorists !

TutAnkhAmon
TutAnkhAmon

The reporter doesn't indicate that one of the MB prominent leader (Safwat Hegazy), have asked the crowd in Friday for martyrs

The reporter doesn't indicate that the MB have clearly provoked this incident to obscure the +20 Million Egyptians who took the streets to support their army.


CondonKen
CondonKen

@TIME @TIMEWorld they will have a civil war next seems only if you are a dictator you can rule hope they can resolve there diffrences

rivers
rivers

Egypt is an very nice county. why the political party cant sit down to talk before the negotiation table. since the anti and pro morsi have show the ability to march  the street , they should be partners not enemy , they should make constructive cooperation to develop Egypt economy, improve the people living standard. 

GhulamMujtaba56
GhulamMujtaba56

@ashrafkhalil State sponsored demos are not benchmark it is yet questionable a lot. Ballots are reversed thru ballots only.

FreedTV
FreedTV

@TIME @TIMEWorld Where is the U.N., writing another REPORT? Preparing more statistics? They need to get off their PAMPERED OVERPAID Butts!

طارقرشاد
طارقرشاد

الاحداث التي تمر بة مصر الان ماهي الانتاج طبيعي لدعوة وزير الدفاع لقئة من الشعب مختلط علية الافكار مثلما حادث معة من التباس في الافكار وتوجس كم حكم الرئيس محمد مرسي..وهو مخطأ تماما في هذا التوجس والرئيس محمد مرسي احرص منة علي الامن القومي المصري بصفتة اولا الرئيس وثانيل لكونة القائد الاعلي للقوات المسلحو ..دهونة تفويض من قبل تلك الفئة كي تكون لدية حصانة عندما يقتل بفضة جموع المعتصمين بميدان رابعة العدوية وقتل وقنص وحصد الالرياء من الشهداء ..أنما ابدا لن يفلت احد من المحاكمة ...لن يفلت .

sahar_awd
sahar_awd

@ashrafkhalil Egyptian army if he wanted to end the sit-in by force would do ...On the air or in secret, it does not matter

meddevguy
meddevguy

@sridhar.sid Hear, hear! For the sake of the religion and its followers, yes it is an individual choice. But religious leaders must be kept out of government -- why exactly do you think they gave the head of the Catholic church the Vatican City to rule?

FidaAhmedAdvocate
FidaAhmedAdvocate

@Medo__Almasry Only the sane would listen to this natural request. The so called liberals have triggered a very sad series of events causing loss of hundreds of innocent lives. Is this all liberalism is about?

AmandaBadawy
AmandaBadawy

@amberseethru and what will be accomplished apart from death and sorrow? A battle cannot be won by suicide

boucherhayes
boucherhayes

@ashrafkhalil Don't know why I'm promoting your piece. 10 or 11 years ago I lost a lot of money to you at poker.

Farasa7
Farasa7

@orangeplasticfish there are plenty of Muslims who are wanting politics to be separated from religion...don't forget the majority of the non Muslim Brotherhood supporters are also Muslims.

Marawyza
Marawyza

@FaroukAlwyni And exactly which democracy you are talking about ? Morsi's ?  Seems to me he wanted to change the Constitution in order to get absolute power and give himself total immunity, Not to mention adding Shari'a laws within that constitution which would have greatly restricted everyone's freedom, especially women.  So until Egypt can find its way to real democracy, I am choosing the lesser evil

boucherhayes
boucherhayes

@ashrafkhalil We did a radio 2 way recently. I didn't listen to a single word because I was trying to place your voice. Got it 5 mins later