While images projected on every media channel show lasers, fireworks, and celebrations, there are tensions rising still. As Al Jazeera reports, police are arresting crews of local TV stations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and as BBC Arabic notes, there are stores being ransacked in Qena and gun shots and clashes in Alexandria. As Stratfor notes, pro-government and opposition demonstrators have gathered in several places across Cairo (as indicated in the image below) and while no military force has been used to disperse the crowds yet – the military seems content to pre-position forces in a standby role and maintain order through a show of potential force – the skirmishes that are being reported hint at the potential for future instability.
Pro-government and opposition demonstrators have gathered in several places across Cairo. Given the highly charged atmosphere surrounding the ongoing political turmoil in the country, the Egyptian military is concerned that these demonstrations could quickly escalate out of control. In anticipation of the Egyptian army’s recent announcement that President Mohammed Morsi has been removed from power, the military reportedly deployed troops and armored vehicles toward these concentrations in an effort to control potential unrest. As of now, no military force has been used to disperse any crowds anywhere in the city. The military seems content to pre-position forces in a standby role and maintain order through a show of potential force.
Military Coup Bodes Ill for Future Stability
Egyptian military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced July 3 that the country’s president, Mohammed Morsi, had been removed from office in the wake of popular unrest. In a short media statement, al-Sisi, who was flanked by the three armed services chiefs, opposition leaders, the sheikh of al-Azhar Mosque and the pope of the Coptic Church, announced that Adly Mansour, chief justice of the Constitutional Court, has replaced Morsi as interim president. He also announced that the constitution has been suspended. Mansour’s appointment is notable in that one of the key demands of the Tamarod protest movement was that he become president. The provisional government will be holding fresh parliamentary and presidential elections.
The arrangement was made without the involvement of Morsi, whose whereabouts remain unknown, or of anyone representing the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has effectively been thrown out of power, must now figure out how to respond. The group probably will not respond violently, but it will engage in civil unrest that will lead to violence. Though the Brotherhood is unlikely to abandon the path of democratic politics, Morsi’s ouster will lead elements from more ultraconservative Salafist groups to abandon mainstream politics in favor of armed conflict.
The overthrow of Egypt’s moderate Islamist government undermines the international efforts to bring radical Islamists into the political mainstream in the wider Arab and Muslim world. Ultimately, within the context of Egypt, Morsi’s ouster sets a precedent where future presidents can expect to be removed from office by the military in the event of pressure from the masses. In a way, this was set in motion by the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, and it does not bode well for the future stability of Egypt.