Egypt: On the Brink of Civil War?

Egypt is sitting atop a most violent volcano ready to blow.

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s call for a demonstration on Friday to give him an open mandate to face terrorism is an invitation to a bloody civil war.

The Egyptian army wants to “correct” or “complete” the most important phase in its military coup. After ousting former leader Mohammed Morsi, it seems the army now wants to annihilate the Muslim Brotherhood group completely from the political scene.

By using its military legitimacy, paired with what its supporters call “the popular revolution legitimacy” of free and fair elections and the power of ballot boxes, this may just happen.

It is clear that the army sided with liberals and secularists, using them as a strong card to make its coup popular. It realised the urgent need to topple Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group by taking advantage of their major mistakes during their first year in power.

Several internal and external parties are supporting the Egyptian army to achieve this goal.With Tony Blair, a leading member of the neo-conservative refusing to describe the military coup as a coup, rather a popular revolution, and with Arab countries, who were against the Egyptian revolution that ousted Mubarak’s regime, offering USD 12 billion in financial aid to support General al-Sisi, signifies that there is a deep support for the army both on an Arab and international scale.

There is a great similarity between the Algerian army’s move to cancel the parliamentary elections, won by Islamists in 1991, and the Egyptian army’s move to topple an elected president and his party, under the title of fighting terrorism and violence.

We do not yet know if the Egyptian army has built a detention camp to include thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members, as the Algerian army once did.

I do not rule out, nor will I be surprised if millions of Egyptians support al-Sisi’s call to give him a mandate. Muslim Brotherhood’s call to take to the streets on Thursday evening to avoid clashes and confrontation was a wise move to avoid bloodshed.

But the question now is what will be the outcome post-protests – and this is the scenario the Egyptian army must prepare for.

There is no clear answer as of yet, but one thing is for certain – when the army refers to facing terrorism, it is not talking about the activities in Sinai, but rather “terrorism” at Rabaa el-Adaweya Square where Islamists are protesting.

Will I be surprised if the army uses tanks to break through the Square to end this sit-in, even if it will lead to the killing and wounding of hundreds, if not thousands? Not at all.

There is no doubt that Egypt is living in an unprecedented state of division. The army may have the support of millions for its demonstration, but one must remember that they do not have the support of everyone.

The absence of Al-Azhar sheikhs, Coptic popes and a number of leading political party members, such as founder of El Ghad party Ayman Nour and activist Amr Hamzawy, from the reconciliation process needs to be taken into consideration.

General al-Sisi, despite our respect for him, cannot compare his coup with the revolution of late president Gamal Abdel Nasser (second president of Egypt.)

Abdel Nasser, although we admit he made some mistakes, had an Egyptian, as well as Arab and international project behind him – one that aimed to liberate the whole region suffering from West colonialism, to face Israel and to strengthen relations with Africa and third world countries.

These main points behind his revolution were clear. But al-Sisi has neither an Arab nor Islamic project. His last speech included only facing terrorism, which makes it mysterious.
If he has other goals, he must announce them. He did not mention Israel at all, nor the closing of tunnels which are considered the lifeline for more than two million Palestinians, nor the imposed visas for Syrian refugees – but yet we are supposed to support him against Morsi.

I sincerely hope that the Egyptian army does not go as far as facing the Rabaa el-Adaweya sit-in; we must remember that despite different ideologies and beliefs, the pro-Morsi supporters are still Egyptians. Thus if we want to end bloodshed and aim for security and stability in Egypt, then it is vital the Islamists are included in the political scene.

All that we can now do is wait for the army’s next move.

The June 30 protest resulted in the ousting of president Morsi, his arrest and detainment to an undisclosed destination and the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood members – how many Morsi supporters will now be arrested next Saturday or Sunday, following Friday’s protests.

Yes, we are with the Egyptian army to protect the country’s national security as it is the pillar of Egypt and its unity.

But we are against its bias of one party against another in the political life, the ousting of an elected president who came into power supported by a popular will.
I pray for Egypt, its national unity and its people. The coming two days will be important to determine the future of Egypt.