Two years after toppling dictator Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s economic problems and political corruption persist. As Egyptians prepare to mark the first anniversary since Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi was elected president, political and social divisions are deeper than ever. Dueling demonstrations against Morsi and supporting him are expected throughout the country.
Morsi generated anger with several dictatorial power grabs, attempting to cement Muslim Brotherhood influence over the government and the powerful military. Opponents claim to have gathered 15 million signatures calling for Morsi’s ouster.
The Brotherhood is anticipating widespread discontent and is preparing for violent confrontation. That’s what happened in December when it dispatched its henchmen to brutally attack an opposition protest outside the President’s palace.
Despite the opposition, Morsi continues to enhance the Brotherhood’s power. He recently appointed seven more Brotherhood members as key governors throughout Egypt. Morsi even appointed Adel el-Khayat, a member of the radical al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, a U.S. designated terrorist organization, as governor of the tourist-district of Luxor. Al-Gamaa took credit for a 1997 terrorist attack that claimed 58 tourists at a temple in Luxor. The ensuing protests and severe backlash prompted el-Khayat’s resignation and could be a foreshadowing of what is to be expected on June 30. Al-Gamaa leader Assem Abdel Maged declared that “the Islamists will face violence with violence on June 30.”
General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi warned that that the military is prepared to prevent Egypt from descending into chaos. That’s significant since Morsi appointed Sisi last August after following a purge of Mubarak-era senior generals. Egypt’s military takes pride in representing a unifying force acting in the national interest; however, growing Brotherhood influence within the military may make its current role more ambiguous should the upcoming demonstrations spin out of control.
Morsi blames “enemies of Egypt” for the turmoil. In a speech on Wednesday he offered nothing that would entice the opposition to call off the protests. Two people were killed and dozens wounded in the latest clashes.
It appears as if the internal tensions between the ruling Islamist and disaffected opposition groups have reached a boiling point that may result in unprecedented clashes, posing immense ramifications for Egypt’s future and possibly civil war.