News / Middle East

Military's Dispersal of Egypt Protests Complicates Transition Process

Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in camp set up by supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in Nasr City district, Cairo, Aug. 14, 2013.
Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in camp set up by supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in Nasr City district, Cairo, Aug. 14, 2013.
VOA News
The Egyptian military's dispersal of two Islamist-led protests supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsi has dramatically escalated the country's political crisis.

Security forces moved in early Wednesday to forcibly dispel thousands of protesters from the two sit-ins in Cairo, and both sides reported deaths and injuries in the fighting that ensued.

The military vowed weeks ago to clear the protests outside the Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque and Nahda square. It had said the sit-ins were not peaceful and represented a threat to stability.

But soon after security forces moved to clear the sit-ins, violence erupted elsewhere. Within hours, there were reports of clashes across the country, including attacks on at least three churches in central Egypt.

There were also attempts to establish new sit-ins elsewhere in Cairo. "Of course we expect other sit-ins to be set up after this is dispersed," said anti-coup alliance activist Layla Moustafa, whose group called for street protests in solidarity with those killed.

"We expect this to inflame the situation even more and to increase the protests in all states in Egypt because Rabaa al-Adawiya Square is not just a sit-in, it is a symbol for the revolution and the uprising against the coup regime," she said.

The mainly Islamist protesters had camped out since July 3, when the military removed Morsi following weeks of protests against him. The pro-Morsi protesters had refused to leave the camp sites until the elected president was restored to power.

Egypt's interim government repeatedly called on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood to join the transition government and participate in a process for new elections. But the group refused, saying to do so would be to legitimize a military coup against Egypt's first democratically elected leader.

Some analysts said the dispersal meant the Muslim Brotherhood may now lose leverage in dealing with the interim government. But there is also a chance it could be used to the group's advantage.

"They lose a bargaining chip, of course, but they have videos [of the crackdown] and they are already talking about women and children dying," said Adel Abdel-Ghafar, a visiting fellow at the American University in Cairo. "They'll try to maintain the moral high ground."

Ghafar said the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood would now be able to further claim its followers were being martyred, much like the previous generation of Islamist activists who were jailed by the government in past decades.

But he said the hardliners within Egypt's government have also won a victory over more moderate voices, such as reformist leader Mohammad ElBaradei, who were calling for dialogue rather than force to deal with the protests.

Now, Ghafar said, there was little chance of a short-term solution. And he said there was a possibility the situation could get worse.

"I think [the Muslim Brothers] will escalate, and I think the state will respond even more violently," he said. "Expect a low-level insurgency type thing to happen in Egypt for the next couple of years."

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs