Egypt’s security forces, acting on the instructions of the military-backed interim administration, yesterday stormed and disbanded the two sit-ins in Cairo’s Nahda Square and near Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters set up the two protests camps six weeks ago to demand the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Scores of civilians and security forces were killed or wounded in the crackdown on the two camps.
A month-long state of emergency was declared and curfews imposed in Egyptian cities.
Looking ahead, leading Egyptian media figure Emad Adeeb, writing for the Cairo daily el-Watan, wonders:
1. Does clearing the protest camps put an end to the crisis?
2. Does disbanding protesters in Nahda and Rabaa foreclose new Brotherhood sit-ins elsewhere in Cairo or in the provinces?
3. More importantly, in my opinion, what effect will clearing the two camps have on prospects of a negotiated political settlement between the old and new regimes?
Usually, whenever a crisis reaches violence level and political deadlock, chances are:
(a) The two sides realize there can be no winner or loser in the circumstances, so better to negotiate. This would see the authorities ditching the security option and the Brothers forsaking terrorist behavior.
(b) The situation remains unchanged, meaning the two sides continue playing the cat-and-mouse game of sit-ins and clear-outs.
(c) The more dangerous and costlier option is greater bloodletting resulting from violent tit-for-tat by the government and the Muslim Brotherhood.
This raises the question: How will the Muslim Brotherhood leadership be reading what took place in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda?
Foresight, a responsible attitude and the fear of God are attributes liable to put pressure on the Brotherhood leadership to try and pick up the pieces of the flare-up and urge their supporters to remain calm and give time and space for political dialogue and rationalization to prevail so that the country can be spared the risks of civil war.
Though most Brotherhood leaders have been summoned to appear before the public prosecutor for questioning, it would be nonsensical if they thought in terms of, “Why fear getting wet when drowning?”
The crisis of the sit-ins is over. But is Egypt’s?