News / Middle East

Could Egypt be Headed for Civil Conflict?

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi hold up signs during a protest demanding that Mursi resign at Tahrir Square in Cairo, July 2, 2013.
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi hold up signs during a protest demanding that Mursi resign at Tahrir Square in Cairo, July 2, 2013.
Cecily Hilleary
Egypt is poised for a major confrontation as the president and his supporters hunker down in the face of hundreds of thousands jamming city squares and streets demanding the government step down and as the military waits in the wings, ready to step in and impose its own solution to the ongoing dispute.

President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters have rejected an army ultimatum giving him two days to come to an agreement with the opposition demonstrators.

Mohamed Al-Beltagy, the general secretary for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, is urging supporters into the streets to prevent what they are saying amounts to a military coup, adding, “We’re ready to give our lives for the country and the people.”

And the Brotherhood’s media spokesman, Gehad El-Haddad, sent this message to the opposition via the social media site Twitter:  “We can't keep running elections until #MB [Muslim Brotherhood] loses. Come up with a better strategy or accept democratic outcomes.”

The Army issued its ultimatum on Monday, saying it was designed to push the politicians into reaching a consensus and that the military was responding to the “pulse of the Egyptian street.”    

Michael Collins Dunn, editor of the Middle East Journal of the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., says there is merit to the claim.
“I think that it’s a clear case that a lot of people have been suggesting that military intervention might be the only solution, including some of the same people who, a little over a year ago, wanted to get rid of SCAF [the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces], and now they seem to be getting their wish,” Dunn said.
But Dunn conceded that the opposition drive to get Morsi out of office only a year after he won the presidency in a democratic election may seem unfair to many.
“On the other hand, I think Morsi’s done very little to reach out to the opposition,” he said. “He’s done very little to bring various elements of society together.  He’s virtually ignored the Copts, to the point that mistreatment of Copts has increased. 

“He has clearly done very little for the economy,” Dunn continued.  “He has sort of said, ‘Look I won by 51 percent so now I get to do whatever I want to.’”
Egyptian journalist, and activist Wael Abbas figured prominently in Egypt’s 2011 uprising and says Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood brought most of the troubles on themselves.
“The Muslim Brotherhood’s stupidity is what led us here,” said Abbas.  “Morsi tried to take all powers for himself and he did not allow any factions of the opposition to participate and he didn’t take our advice. 
“And instead of cleaning up the old corrupt system in Egypt, he infiltrated it with elements of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Abbas said. “He put them as ministers, as governors, even in lower positions in all the governmental institutions.”
Abbas points back to the original demands of the revolution:  The overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak, an end to emergency laws, a representative constitution, transparent elections, term limits, economic improvements and justice for those killed by police and military in the revolution. 

“Nobody, not the Army, not the Muslim Brotherhood, has fulfilled the demands of the revolution yet,” Abbas said. “We are seeing trials that are charades.  Police officers who killed protesters are being freed on claims of self-defense.  Nobody has avenged the martyrs of the revolution, and now people are welcoming the army again, despite the fact that the army has put tens of thousands of citizens on trial before illegal military tribunals and put them in jail.”

So what happens next in Egypt? As of Tuesday, the choice seemed to be either Morsi and the opposition work out an agreement whereby he institutes the reforms the Army and demonstrators are demanding—or the army, with the support of the people on the ground, intervenes to bring him down. 

That, says Dunn, could lead to a “nightmare scenario,” similar to what happened in Algeria during the 1990s: “Where the Islamists say, ‘All right, we can’t win democratically, because you are going to take away our victory, so we’re going to win by military action.’

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 03, 2013 12:36 PM
Egypt is not an inch near a civil war. Egypt just wants to correct the error made in 2012 when Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood was mistakenly handed the fate of Egypt. The army made that mistake; the army wants to correct it. The platform is provided by the good people of Egypt themselves fed up with the falsehood that Muslim Brotherhood means to the country. The most grievous mistake is that Egypt has been forced to operate not a national constitution but the constitution of the Muslim Brotherhood.

This eliminated positions of the liberals, moderates, secular, Christians and other minorities, and instituted the hateful conservative barbarism and vendetta of extremist Islam. It gets to the point and the people of Egypt rose to demand to be ruled in proper manners. So if the army takes over, it is because it wants to continue from where it stopped until it provides a proper constitution for Egypt that embodies the tenets of democratic practices worldwide, since there is no democracy in Islam. Simply put, Egypt is on the road to reversing and correcting history, but it does not lead to a civil war even though there be an initial civil unrest because of extremists in the country.

by: P Smith from: Chicago
July 02, 2013 5:28 PM
Morsi won the election. He is president. Egypt can replace him in the next election. Let this be a lesson to them for electing a jerk.

by: john s. from: usa
July 02, 2013 5:16 PM
Egypt is not "Headed" for civil conflict. Egypt has been in a civil conflict since they deposed Mubarak. Morsi's election was the nail in the coffin and we see now further turmoil. Unfortunately Egypt could become another Iraq or Syria. Religious sects, Islamists and the unwillingness to accept civilized dissension is coming very close to a full civil war... Let us hope that this will not happen. In the meantime, America should stay out of the conflict as it is proven that no matter who gets the upper hand, both, winners and losers will always blame the USA for their mess. So much for Obama's naive ideas that we can become friends with the Middle East masses.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs