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Egypt on tenterhooks ahead of mass protests

Reluctance to hold the army accountable, and failures by the Muslim Brotherhood, could culminate in further violence.
Last modified: 25 Jul 2013 11:58
"Never have Egyptians been so passionately and aggressively divided," says Sherine Tadros [AFP]

For the second time in a month, 90 million people in Egypt are holding their breaths.

Within a few days, the country could enter into a terrifying new stage.

Army chief Abdel Fattah El Sissi called on Wednesday for people to take to the streets on Friday to support his effort to deal with "terrorism". 

In short, Sissi is asking Egyptians for a license to kill.

There has been a lot of debate over whether or not what happened a few weeks ago was a coup. 

'Coup' debate

Events of the past 24 hours leave nobody in doubt that the army is running this show.

The reluctance to call it a coup (as if the name takes away from the millions that rallied to remove Morsi) unfortunately led to a period of army-loving euphoria reminiscent of the time after former president Hosni Mubarak's ousting.

Perhaps had all Egyptians called this a coup, they would have held the army to account these past few weeks, and there would have been an attempt to keep them in check.

Sissi's latest move has once again escalated the situation - in truth the status quo couldn't remain.

He says he is acting to defend the country. 

His failure to describe who the "terrorists" that need defeating are, and what they are planning to do, is further indication that this is less a pre-emptive strike and more an act of aggression.

Muslim Brotherhood failures

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood have played every wrong move in the book.

They have escalated their rhetoric, incited followers against the security establishment and the US, and they have tried to win the media war by glamourising Morsi's time in power as if it were a glorious march towards democracy that was suddenly, without reason, thwarted by the army.

The fight over who is "legitimate", "democratic" and best for Egypt, is tearing the country apart.

Never have Egyptians been so passionately and aggressively divided.

For the Brotherhood, this is now an existential battle. For the army, it's an opportunity to eliminate them.

In the end, it's hard to see either winning, but while they battle it out, more people will die - each one of them convinced they're fighting for Egypt's future.