News / Middle East

What Comes Next in Egypt

Supporters hold posters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi during a rally near Cairo University Square in Giza, Egypt, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Egypt was on edge Tuesday following a
Supporters hold posters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi during a rally near Cairo University Square in Giza, Egypt, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Egypt was on edge Tuesday following a "last-chance" ultimatum the military issued to Mohammed Morsi, gi
Mohamed Elshinnawi
Middle East experts are pessimistic about the outcome of a showdown between Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a growing opposition movement clamoring for his resignation and the powerful military that has demanded a solution to the crisis by today.

And according to the experts, a solution to the crisis may be difficult because none of the players in the Egypt drama have indicated what they expect to come next if Morsi is, in the end, forced to step down.

“Unfortunately, I don’t see any positive scenarios unfolding that quickly return Egypt to a political equilibrium and stability,” said Amy Hawthorne, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

“The military and the opposition forces have already given up on Morsi and would like him to step down,” Hawthorne added. “Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups are digging in very deeply, refusing to be pushed out from power.”

Hawthorne predicted Egypt’s Islamist groups would react harshly if Morsi, who was elected in the nation’s first democratic elections a year ago, is forced from office.

Egypt’s opposition groups have been demonstrating for months again Morsi and his Islamic Brotherhood, claiming they are ignoring other political parties and trying to impose strict Islamic practices on the nation. The showdown reached a boiling point on Sunday when millions demonstrated against Morsi in cities throughout Egypt.
 
Monday’s ultimatum
 
Then on Monday, the powerful Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued an ultimatum: Morsi would have to cut a deal with the opposition within 48 hours or the Army would step in with its own solution.

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi stand on top of an electric tram column and wave Egyptian flags during a protest in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, July 1, 2013.Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi stand on top of an electric tram column and wave Egyptian flags during a protest in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, July 1, 2013.
x
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi stand on top of an electric tram column and wave Egyptian flags during a protest in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, July 1, 2013.
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi stand on top of an electric tram column and wave Egyptian flags during a protest in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, July 1, 2013.
On Tuesday evening, Morsi went on national television and again rejected the military’s ultimatum, saying his government was elected democratically and would not give up power.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood followers said the Army ultimatum amounted to a military coup and that they would resist it in the streets. At least seven people were reported killed in in street clashes in Cairo by Tuesday evening.

“Whatever the outcome, be it a full intervention or a military-mediated settlement, it will be unlikely to bring any semblance of stability to the country,” said Mohamed El-Shewy, a researcher at the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Mohamed El-Menshawy, a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, says another problem is that neither the opposition nor the Army have adequately spelled out what kind of solution they are seeking to the crisis.
 
“None of the major political players in Egypt appear to have a practical answer to the burning question: What is next?” El-Menshawy said. “For instance, no one has produced a politically sound ‘exit strategy’ beyond the loud demand to remove Morsi, and to hold a new presidential elections.”
 
Amy Hawthorne fears that increasing violence between opposing factions in the streets could at some point make a military solution the only option.
 
“It seems that the military is the actor that has the decisive power and the force behind them,” Hawthorne said. “That leaves the U.S. in a huge dilemma because it wants to maintain good relations with the military, which it had for decades, and wants to support the legitimacy of an elected leader, no matter who that leader is.”
 
Hawthorne says the two U.S. goals may be becoming contradictory.
 
Different interpretations of US position
 
In a phone call with Morsi late on Monday night, President Barack Obama reportedly confirmed that the United States would continue to deal with Egypt's elected president and to support the country's ongoing transition to democracy. Obama also reportedly encouraged Morsi to demonstrate that he is responsive to public concerns.

Morsi reportedly interpreted Obama’s statement as U.S. backing of his legitimacy. But Wahid Abdel Magid of the opposition National Salvation Front pointed out that President Obama stressed that democracy is about more than elections; it is also about ensuring that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government.

Hawthorne argues that the U.S. position as expressed by President Obama is very clear: “The current situation in Egypt must be resolved through a political process and that President Morsi needs to take serious steps to respond to the demands and concerns of the opposition.”

But Hawthorne also says she says the situation in Egypt is dynamic and changing rapidly. She says the military’s actions could result in a variety of scenarios over the coming days.

“We have seen in other countries around the world, military stepping in to influence or force a certain political outcome without taking control, without directly assuming power.” Hawthorne said. “It is often difficult to interpret that as a military coup, but the U.S. does not want the military to impose a solution or to return to a military rule of Egypt.”

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More