Brotherhood vs military
MORE than the number of casualties, it is the resurgence of Islamist militancy against Egypt's army-backed regime that is the striking feature of the violence that has roiled the country over the past days. There are no winners and losers in this relentless war of attrition, though for now the Islamists headed by the Muslim Brotherhood appear to have gained the upper hand. Three months after their ouster, they have been able to launch surgical strikes, notably with a car bomb explosion that ripped through the main security headquarters at El Tor, killing six soldiers and three policemen. No less damaging was the militant attack on the government satellite station in Cairo, the capital city that has thus far been free of extremist strikes. On Monday, it witnessed a brazen assault by the extremists—a sinister progress in the upheaval that was renewed in Tahrir Square.
From the people against the establishment in February 2011, Egypt now bears witness to a confrontation between the fundamentalists and the fauji. Substantial, therefore, is the risk of Islamic militancy—which has so far been contained to the country's north-east desert frontier—spreading to the mainland. It would be premature to speculate whether the militants are intent on the revival of political Islam so soon after their ouster; but that essay would seem to have been initiated with the backlash against the military coup in July that led to the removal of Mohamed Morsi. There is little doubt that the latest wave of violence is the reaction of the Islamists to their removal from power by the military.
The polity as much as Egypt's civil society gets ever more fractured with the storm-troopers of the Muslim Brotherhood now confronting the soldier-backed establishment. Stability is as elusive as it was in 2011; the Arab Spring has done but little to address the country's fundamental disconnect. Close to three years after the upsurge in Tahrir Square, Egypt is still floundering in search of its moorings. The political transition, including the drafting of a new constitution and the holding of elections again, has been hobbled in the absence of dialogue between the interim government and their antagonists in the Islamist camp. The pro-Morsi constituency remains potent enough; it has been able to court the support of the thousands who rallied in the streets on Sunday. For both sides, the relentless killings are untenable; a military solution against the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be feasible.
© The Statesman (India). All rights reserved. Reprinted by arrangement with Asia News Network.