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 "last-chance" ultimatum the military issued to Mohammed Morsi, gi
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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid