Egypt on the brink of a new dark age, as the generals close in for the kill

World View: Compromise is no longer feasible, and the army controls the levers of power. But can its victory be conclusive?

All parties in Egypt have overplayed their hands in the two and a half years since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. In the first months it was the army high command deceiving itself into believing it could marginalise those demanding radical democratic change. Then it was President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood interpreting a narrow electoral victory as a mandate to rule alone. With the overthrow of Morsi by the army on 3 July and the massacre of Muslim Brotherhood followers on 14 August, the Egyptian army is gambling that it can win an outright victory and crush the Brotherhood, eliminating it permanently from Egyptian political life.

Too much blood has flowed for compromise to be feasible. Plausible suggestions made in early August about how the crisis might be brought under control now look out of date. Perhaps such hopes were always delusory: the army was never going to cede power back to Muslim Brotherhood leaders whom it had just put in jail, and those leaders were not going to legitimise a military coup against a legally elected government. Continue reading