US caught in dilemma over Egypt

By He Wenping
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, September 3, 2013
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On Sunday, ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was reported to face trial in a criminal court for "incitement to murder", but the interim government did not give a specific date for the trial. The move may escalate the tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military.

Since the ouster of Morsi, violence has rocked Cairo and other major Egyptian cities. Continuing clashes between Morsi's supporters, on the one hand, and his opponents and security forces, on the other, have left hundreds of people dead.

To seek a peaceful end to the Egyptian crisis and avert further violence, the United States, the European Union and other countries and organizations recently organized a weeklong international mediation, which unfortunately failed to yield any result. The interim government in Egypt has announced the failure of diplomatic attempts to iron out the differences between the authorities and the outraged Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi's party.

With international mediators leaving Egypt in disappointment, the country is inching dangerously toward a civil war. The Egyptian interim government has blamed the Brotherhood for the failure of the mediation efforts and urged pro-Morsi protestors to leave the streets and squares and return home, warning that the government's patience was running out. But Morsi's supporters have vowed to defy the interim government and its security forces.

Bloody clashes erupted when Egyptian security forces moved in to disperse two pro-Morsi protestors' camps from Cairo's streets. Although the crackdown on Morsi's supporters was opposed and/or criticized by a majority of countries, the Egyptian interim government and the military seem determined to subdue the Brotherhood at all costs.

The interim government has declared a state of emergency across Egypt for a month. Police have detained Mohamed Badie, the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, while jailed former president Hosni Mubarak was released on Aug 22. The coincidental "arrest" and "release" suggest a "shellacking" of Morsi's and the Brotherhood's political future, although it is too early to pass a judgment on the outcome of Mubarak's possible release.

By clearing squatting protestors, arresting high-level Brotherhood leaders and "releasing" Mubarak, the Egyptian authority's "combination blow" has, instead of subjugating the Brotherhood, caused further unrest in the divided country. With deepening secular and religious antagonism and sectarian divide, it has become more difficult for different Egyptian forces to embark on the road to reconciliation and democracy.

The military's crackdown on the Brotherhood and the court ruling to release Mubarak could prove "risky" as far as subduing Morsi's supporters is concerned. In the final analysis, it may not help the interim government consolidate its hold on the Egyptian people, because the Brotherhood with its support base and experience of carrying out underground activities will not take things lying down.

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