Egyptian standoff is fraught with civil war - parliamentarian

August 15, 2013 RBTH, Interfax
Egypt is facing a civil war with unpredictable consequences, Federation Council International Affairs Committee member, expert on the Middle East Igor Morozov said.

Egypt is facing a civil war with unpredictable consequences, Federation Council International Affairs Committee member, expert on the Middle East Igor Morozov said.

"The situation in that country is fraught with the possibility of a real civil war and its consequences will be unpredictable both for the country itself and the region as a whole because Egypt is the most important country of the Middle East," Morozov stressed.

Egypt is in an impasse and there is no public consensus, which is a vital condition for making progress, he said.

A possible refusal of the military, who have actually taken power, to negotiate with the other party may lead to the breakdown of the Egyptian economy, the parliamentarian said.

"It seems the military do not wish to have a dialogue with Muslim Brotherhood. They think that any compromise with the Islamists represented by Muslim Brotherhood will bring the country back to the times of Muhammad Morsi's presidency. The military and their followers are not ready to share one iota of power with Muslim Brotherhood," Morozov said.

In turn, the Islamists think they have nothing to lose, he added. "They came to power in a legal way and the military took away their power illegally. Neither side is ready for compromise, of which the failure of the roadmap suggested by the Western intermediaries is an illustrative example," he said.

International isolation of Egypt and a new "Syrian scenario" are possible in the case that the army gets involved in the extensive domestic conflict and a military dictatorship is established in the country.

In the opinion of Morozov, the army is trying to slow down the Egyptian breakdown.

"The army has always been playing an important and even crucial role in every political crisis in Egypt. The army is a very serious institution in Egypt and top-ranking military commanders are its most significant owners. Sizable assets belong to them and they are a powerful economic force," Morozov said.

In spite of the arrests of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, the Islamists remain a force to be reckoned with because of rather extensive public backing, mostly in remote areas and in the countryside, the expert said.

"The problem is that Egypt does not have a leader capable of uniting the people. The opposition is amorphous and its program lacks constructivism. So, the toppling of Mursi is not a purely military coup. Alongside the military, Egypt has diverse political forces extremely unhappy with the Muslim Brotherhood government and its policy of Islamization," Morozov said.

Economic problems, which will be difficult to deal with for any party irrespective of its political preferences, add to the complicated situation. "No matter what party comes to power, these problems cannot be solved without external financial support," Morozov said.

He blamed the West and the European Union who had supported ousted President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood for the present-day situation. "The United States and the European Union rendered full support to the Muslim Brotherhood even after the toppling of Muhammad Morsi. They do not understand what negative consequences this unilateral support of the Islamists has for Egypt," he stressed.

He thinks the Egyptian settlement should be achieved through a dialogue and consultations. Furthermore, the immediate involvement of the UN Security Council and the League of Arab States is vital. "Otherwise, the confrontation in Egypt will be spreading into new territories and the country will plunge into chaos that may last for a long time," Morozov said.

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