The actions of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are taking the country dangerously close to sustained civil disruption. Over the past month, the Islamists’ willingness to resort to violence and their readiness to maintain permanent protest camps in support of former president Mohammad Mursi has been a deliberate and unnecessary challenge to the authority of the interim government. It is important that the Brotherhood steps back from this dangerous path, and it should prepare to help return Egypt to normal political activity, as the interim government works to prepare a new constitution and hold parliamentary and presidential elections within six months.
The country is still absorbing the shock of this weekend, when more than 500 people were killed on Thursday when the military-backed interim government finally ran out of patience with the Brotherhood and closed their protest camps. Egypt’s Interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi expressed regret for the deaths, but he vigorously defended the operation against the camps, saying the authorities had to restore security. It is true that many ordinary Egyptians are unhappy about the Brotherhood’s actions.
The UAE has been right to express its support for the government’s crackdown and has reaffirmed its “understanding of the sovereign measures taken by the Egyptian government after having exercised maximum self-control”. The UAE regretted that “extremist groups have insisted on the rhetoric of violence, incitement, disruption of public interest”.
The UAE has been working hard with other Gulf states to broker a peaceful reconciliation between the Brotherhood and the authorities, and it continued to urge the need to avoid violence and the need to start a proper national reconciliation. This spirit of being willing to engage and find a mutual way forward will become essential for a return to normalcy in Egypt as it enters a new phase of its raucous revolution. Right now its many forces have an important moment of choice as they can choose to escalate the bad option of confrontation or the much better one of restarting the national political dialogue.