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 One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs