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The coup set fire to Egypt but who will put it out?

The coup leaders’ decision to take the bloody option in their confrontation against constitutional legitimacy will not defeat the Muslim Brotherhood; it will drag Egypt into a civil war. The consequences of that decision will be far-reaching and devastating.


The first chapter of the civil war was Wednesday’s massacre; hundreds have been killed and thousands more have been wounded, so the death toll is going to rise. The killing is ongoing as I write.

The coup leaders clearly thought that the battle against legitimacy would be won once the protesters in Rabaa Al-Adawiyya and Al-Nahda Squares were evacuated. They are wrong; the squares are not Egypt. There is now talk of going out on the streets across the country; the security forces’ bloody violence is pushing Egypt towards chaos, something that was entirely predictable from the moment that the coup took place. Dialogue based on common sense and reason has been superseded by bloodshed.

The army and the Ministry of the Interior have succeeded in setting fire to Egypt but who will put that fire out? The security forces can’t do it; indeed, its flames may well consume those who believed that their military might and support from the Gulf made them invincible.

What is happening now in Egypt will have consequences for the whole region. The international community’s complicity in the assassination of democracy on the streets of the Egyptian capital is unforgiveable. The liberals and leftists who sided with Al-Sisi and his murderous thugs will rue the day that they opted for brutality over the ballot box. They underestimate the desire of the people of Egypt and the rest of the Arab world for change; the old ways cannot be allowed to return.

As it seeks to maintain its hegemony over the region, America seems to have erred in its calculations. The disgust at the massacre will overwhelm American interests and Washington seems to be incapable of showing true statesmanship as it struggles to fight Israel’s corner regardless of the cost to its own credibility.

The power at the moment lies with the generals and their troops. They have it within their grasp to restore normality and resume the political process in peace. Failure to do so will affect every Egyptian; economic woes and curfews don’t only affect Muslim Brotherhood supporters. The only people to benefit from what the coup leaders are promoting are the Israelis, who will see their own control over politics in the Middle East strengthened. Is that what the supporters of the coup against legitimacy want?

The author is a Palestinian writer. This article appeared in Al Resalah Newspaper on 15 August, 2013

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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