'War consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known'-Thomas Hobbes.
It is possible that the military responded to the Muslim Brotherhood protesters outside the Cairo barracks, killing 51 people, because some in the
crowd were armed and wanted to provoke or panic the army into shooting.
Or else some were determined to give the Muslim Brothers a 'whiff of
The military takeover was bound to be resisted by the
supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and these killings can only intensify the the
sense of martyrdom that has been used to mobilise them; it has put a
seal of blood on the cause and will commit the Muslim Brotherhood to
continue advocating their people to 'rise up'.
competing power blocs in Egypt now trying to pose as the legitimate
heirs to the 2011 'revolution'-both the Muslim Brotherhood and those who
supported its removal-have deep antagonistic roots that go back to the
divisions caused by Sadat's 'open door' reforms of the economy in the
After 1973 and Israel's victory in another Arab-Israeli
War, Sadat had moved towards making Egypt more closely dependent on the
US instead of the USSR in order to fund its military and economy. The
IMF became involved and its deficit reduction conditions for aid led to
food prices being raised.
The economic conditions were created,
along with rapid urbanisation and growing populations, for the growth of
the Muslim Brotherhood to represent the poorer Egyptians who migrated
to Cairo and the struggling traders shut out of mainstream economic life
by the control exercised by Westernised elites.
Set against that
the way the Muslim Brotherhood had been repressed by Nasser after he
came to power the 1952 with their help, the theme of the betrayal of the
umma by illegitimate usurpers and fake Muslims has been a consistent
one that has now been given added edge.
The irony is that
President Morsi had accepted the close relationship with the US
especially on foreign policy and he was never in a position to challenge
the army's position. Neither were the army not anti-Islamist Egyptians
prepared to give him time to preside over more economic uncertainty and
For decades the economic model proscribed by the the US
and the IMF has not made for social stability nor an economy not
dependent upon an entrenched elite and bureaucracy from using aid to
bolster their own interests. Infant industries have failed to compete
against allowing Western technological imports.
Now in 2013 there
seems to prospect of Egypt being able to move away from a failing
economy at the very time when its political chaos is deterring
investment and the IMF is imposing condition on aid that involve
austerity measures such as the cutting of fuel subsidies and raising
sales tax on goods.
Despite the fact Morsi backed these measures
to get IMF aid, the collapsing economy is interpreted through 'culture
wars' as Muslim Brotherhood supporters see the entire problem in Egypt
as being the fact that evil corrupt pagans have monopolised the system
The Muslim Brotherhood for a long time has preached that by Islamising society more it can create the conditions
upon which true virtue will flourish and corruption in the way aid is
administered banished and the spread to real wealth to believers assured.
his supporters Morsi's removal is an attack on those hopes and his
restoration a precondition for any alleviation of their poverty and
economic deprivation. For those who supported his removal it was seen as
a precondition of any chance to revive tourism, push for open democracy
and restore the economy.
The factors driving civil conflict are
based on deep rooted intractable divisions. Both sides are claiming that
the revolution has been perverted or stolen from them and both regard
the other as counter-revolutionaries prepared to use force and terrorise
the other. So now, perhaps, only power and force can decide the outcome.
question is really whether radical Islamists could possibly put up an
armed revolt and what access to weapons they have. There are no signs
that any in the army are prepared to defect to the rival 'revolution'
against which the coup was directed-both in the name of preserving the
gains of 2011 against dictatorship.