Head of Egypt's Armed Forces, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi (photo: Reuters)

Egypt after the Military Coup
Dead End

Egypt's new regime has abandoned any attempts to give itself a fig leaf of legitimization. Armed forces chief Sisi has only widened the gulf between the camps. A commentary by Rainer Hermann

It's certainly what one might call chutzpah. First, Egyptian security forces kill more than seventy people (mainly Islamists) in one night, demonstrators against the removal of the democratically elected President Morsi. Several hundred were also injured, in some cases severely, by shots in the chest and the head.

Then the interior minister of the military-imposed government announces that the pro-Morsi rallies will be broken up – by force if necessary – by the security forces, once Mubarak's most reliable men, so as to put an end to the violence on Egypt's streets at last.

The new regime is no longer even attempting to give itself a fig leaf of legitimization. The only hope is that the furore of the January 2011 revolution will be re-sparked among Egypt's young people, preventing the country from falling back into days thought long gone, three years after Mubarak's fall.

False political tactics

Pro-Morsi protesters in Cairo (photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
Risky military moves: "Either Sisi's gunmen and stick-wielders beat the demonstrating Muslim Brothers into submission, or Sisi's own position is at stake," writes Rainer Hermann

​​Armed forces chief Sisi was wrong to think he could depose Morsi simply by reading a statement, followed by a swift return to business as usual. Two almost equal camps are now facing off in Egypt, and Sisi's clumsy manoeuvring has only widened the gulf between them. He surely cannot believe in earnest that the country will settle down of its own accord in the current situation.

Sisi cannot put Morsi back into power, and the Muslim Brothers are standing firm on Morsi's reinstatement. He was freely elected, after all. Either Sisi's gunmen and stick-wielders beat the demonstrating Muslim Brothers into submission, or Sisi's own position is at stake.

Should resistance come together against Sisi in the army, his successor might make concessions to the Muslim Brothers, for instance offering them a referendum on Morsi.

In the long term, the 3 July coup could trigger what the Turkish army's ultimatum of 28 February 1997 did – a much smaller putsch, with the army dethroning Turkey's first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan. That led to a cleansing process among Turkish Islamists, paving the way to Erdogan's later rise to power.

In the wake of its blood-drenched weekend, however, Egypt is marching in the other direction. The fronts are now rigidly opposed and the country has reached a dead end – into which Sisi has led it.

Rainer Hermann

© Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Qantara.de 2013

Translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire

Editor: Lewis Gropp/Qantara.de

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