Skip to main content

Egypt clashes: What experts say about the bloodshed in Cairo

By CNN Staff
August 15, 2013 -- Updated 0059 GMT (0859 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dozens dead, hundreds injured as Egypt security forces break up Morsy camps
  • Elmasry: Building democracy through exclusion of Brotherhood won't work
  • Al-Yafi: Egypt's government is narrowing its options with the Brotherhood
  • Gerges: Brotherhood has blundered but all-inclusive government is a must

(CNN) -- Cairo descended into chaos Wednesday as Egyptian security forces stormed the makeshift camps built by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsy around the capital.

There are conflicting accounts of the number of people who have been killed during the bloody clashes, but what is clear is that Wednesday's events will make a peaceful resolution to Egypt's political crisis even more difficult.

Here's what experts are saying about the bloodshed:

Mohamad Elmasry, Professor at The American University in Cairo

Clashes continue in Egypt
Egyptian ambassador to the U.S.
Crowley: It's time to call it a coup
CNN crew ducks gunfire on air

I was wrong, I didn't think that the security forces were going to commit another mass atrocity -- not because I think they all have great moral fiber, but I thought somebody in the government would say, "This will end up of backfiring on us." What's going to happen now is that the protesters opposed to the military-backed government are going to hit the streets with larger protests.

MORE: CNN reporters on the ground of bloody 'war zone'

I think some of Morsy's decisions were reasonable, but I also think he made a lot mistakes. But I liked what we had in Egypt in terms of potential. We had the right to join or form a political party, the right to own a newspaper. There was a balance of power: the prime minister was about as powerful as the president in the new system. We had term limits and regular elections. What we have now is an exclusionary system. It's not just that Morsy was removed forcibly from power -- we've had channels and networks being shut down, the silencing of voices.

There's this exclusionary discourse -- overnight the Brotherhood went from an incompetent government to a terrorist organization that must be excluded. But building a democracy through exclusion is not the way to go.

If you're the Brotherhood right now, why would you leave the streets? They've won five consecutive votes, so the ballot box in Egypt seems to have no merit. Going home doesn't seem like a reasonable strategy, but on the other hand they're being persecuted in the streets.

Faisal al-Yafi, Chief Columnist of The National in Abu Dhabi

The movement this morning has polarized Egypt. This might carry on for a week, and if the security forces cannot clear the encampment in Nasr City, it is going to look extremely bad.

The army are narrowing their options, and that's a big problem. They're not allowing themselves sufficient (space) to maneuver and bring in various parts of the Brotherhood. What happens now depends largely on whether the Brotherhood can calm everything down on the streets and be given a stake in society.

MORE: International reaction to deadly violence in Cairo

Regionally, by bringing the moderate elements of Islamist parties into the political fold you cut off the radicals. The problem is, if Islamist and Salafist parties look at this situation and say, "We cannot do business with any democratic rule," then they are likely to turn to violent means.

If the army can't get a grip on Egypt, then entire country could implode. This will worry the Gulf and the Americans immensely. And Egyptians will be watching these scenes and thinking, "What is our country coming to?"

Fawaz Gerges, Director of Middle East Centre, London School of Economics

The Brotherhood has blundered a great deal, insisting on the reinstatement of Morsy and refusing to accept any compromise. But the sit-ins have become a major liability for the military-backed government. If you follow the news in Egypt there's been a great deal of criticism of why the government hasn't acted so far.

Egyptian forces move on Cairo protesters
Protester: Egypt is a ticking time bomb
Egypt: What happens after the raids?
Egyptian blogger on 'media crackdown'

MORE: Six question questions on Egypt

What's next for Egypt? What you're going to see in the next few days and weeks is all-out repression of the Brotherhood. Make no doubt about it, what happened today is setting the stage for more repression of the Brotherhood.

The reality is that Morsy is not coming back. You're going to see the new government arresting not just top leaders but mid-level leaders, and you're going to see the Brotherhood go underground as it was in the 1960s.

The next few days are going to be very difficult. It all depends on the road map -- the quality of the elections, the quality of the transitional government, and whether any major attempts will be made for an all-inclusive government as opposed to a crackdown on Egypt's Islamists.

Anna Boyd, Deputy Head of Middle East Analysis, IHS Country Risk

The Muslim Brotherhood is alleging the army has used snipers against peaceful protesters. In the coming days, this means the Brotherhood is very likely to try to mobilize its supporters still further.

The Brotherhood will use the emotive issue of casualties caused by the army, in a strongly religious discourse that emphasizes the need to fight against the army for the sake of Islam. This is most likely to manifest itself in almost-daily protests and marches in central Cairo, probably involving women and children.

Protests will probably reach their peak after Friday prayers each week, where protesters expose themselves to the risk of live fire in the belief that further deaths will simply prove their cause to be right. Disruptive protests are also likely in other cities across the country, especially around government buildings.

CNN's Nick Thompson contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0250 GMT (1050 HKT)
The comparisons are inevitable: A student-led campaign challenges Beijing authorities for greater freedom. Could Hong Kong protests lead to another Tiananmen?
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0354 GMT (1154 HKT)
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0752 GMT (1552 HKT)
In a country with not enough toilets, scavengers are paid just $5 a day to scoop human waste.
September 28, 2014 -- Updated 2332 GMT (0732 HKT)
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1249 GMT (2049 HKT)
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0928 GMT (1728 HKT)
It's a frightening prospect for South Koreans: secret North Korean tunnels under Seoul
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 0613 GMT (1413 HKT)
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0115 GMT (0915 HKT)
If you're lucky, your train might be delayed.
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT