Escalating violence in Egypt following the army's ouster of President Mohammed Morsi brings about the question of whether the country is being dragged into a civil war. Experts on the issue agree that the violence would further increase if the army continued to keep the Muslim Brotherhood outside the political sphere.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, British think-tank Chatham House’s Middle East and Northern Africa expert David Butter said Monday's assault during the morning prayer caused the violence to escalate. Stating that those who support Morsi also took part in acts of violence, Butter added that army and security officials were the ones to be ashamed the most.
Prof. Dr. Augustus Richard Norton from the Boston University International Relations Department defined the military coup as a historical mistake, and added thar unless a transition goverment including all sides is founded, the polarization would reach dangerous levels.
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Stating that the choices of the Egyptian military and the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in the aftermath of violence would directly shape Egypt's trajectory in this transitional period, Assoc. Prof. Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl from the Virginia University Woodrow Wilson Politics Department said, "However, it is clear that although the Muslim Brotherhood may reject a role in the transition now underway in Egypt, providing the possiblity of such a role is the surest way for the transitional government and the Egyptian military to defuse the situation."
Schulhofer-Wohl predicted that should the leadership of the Brotherhood decide that no avenues of participation remain available to it in Egypt's current political process, it would likely pursue one of three strategies: waiting for an opportunity to participate and continuing to organize politically; non-violent mass protest; or violent opposition to the military.
"The second and third strategies increase the possibility that violence will escalate between supporters of the Brotherhood on the one hand, and backers of the military's ouster of President Morsi and the military itself on the other," said Schulhofer-Wohl. He added, "If, however, the Brotherhood concludes that it can still participate actively in Egyptian politics, then there will be less risk of conflict."
Schulhofer-Wohl also pointed out that army's choice of whether to give the Muslim Brotherhood some kind of role in the transitional government or not, as well as its choice of whether to react to expressions of opposition by the Brotherhood in a nonviolent or violent way, would be determinative.
Prof. Dr. Raymond Hinnebusch from Britain's St Andrew University International Relations Department said, "I would not expect Egypt to unravel as Syria has done since it is a more homogeneous society; especially since there is the possibility of holding relatively free elections; but unrest and tension are likely to rise, especially in the Sinai."
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