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Russia's President Vladimir Putin, has warned that the violence and the impasse between supporters and opponents of the ousted Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi, could lead to a civil war in Egypt.

vladamir putin

During a visit to Kazakhstan on Sunday, President Putin voiced his concern about the present situation in the North African country and his concern about the risk that the situation could develop into a civil war. Putin said, that he would like to see the Egyptian people avoid this fate. During clashes today, more than 50 people have been reported killed.

Mohammed Morsi was ousted after one year in office, when disputes between his administration and the opposition, over Morsi´s suspension of the Constitutional Court and Parliement, as well as subsequent changes to the constitution and election laws, made it almost impossible for other than Islamist parties, including Morsi´s own Freedom and Justice Party, and the coalition party, the Salafist al-Nour Party, to register for elections.

Although Morsi, earlier this year, had offered the opposition to discuss changes to the election law, he called demands for discussing the constitution a “waste time”.

The months long dispute culminated in a record breaking demonstration with 14 million Egyptians who demanded that Morsi should either begin negotiating in earnest or step down.

The ousted President, who had illegally suspended the Constitutional Court and Parliament, and who subsequently and illegally had changed the country´s Constitution and Election Laws, defied the millions of protesters, insisting on the fact that he had been democratically elected, and that he only would step down if he was defeated in another democratic election.

The protesters countered by warning, that they would begin a nation wide, open ended, peaceful civil disobedience campaign and strikes, which effectively would have brought the entire nation to a stand – still and threatened the country´s economy and national security.

On 1 July,Egypt´s military leadership issued a 48-hours ultimatumto both sides, warning that the military would step in unless President Morsi and the opposition had begun negotiations to solve the stand-down politically. The situation began growing out of hand due to escalating violence between supporters of Morsi and protesters.

Mohammed Morsi dismissed the army´s ultimatum and described it as an attempt to deepen the division and to threaten the social peace in Egypt.

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On 3 July, Egypt´s Chief of Staff, general Abdel Fatah al-Sisi ousted Mohammed Morsiand dissolved the country´s constitution in a bloodless, people-powered coup that was endorsed by the protesting masses, although it raised concerns, also among supporters of the opposition.

On 4 July Adly Mansour, the Supreme Justice and Chairman of Egypt´s Constitutional Court, which had been suspended during the Morsi Presidency, was sworn in as interim-President.The interim-President has since sworn in Mohamed el-Baradai as interim Prime Minister.

Clashes between supporters of the opposition and supporters of Mohammed Morsi, the Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood have since continued. After the appointment of Mohamed el-Baradai for the post of interim-Prime Minister, the Salafist al-Nour Party threatened to withdraw from the political scene, implicitly threatening that it would organize other than political resistance.

The Salafist al-Nour Party supported the Morsi / Freedom and Justice Party (Muslim Brotherhood) government as coalition partner, but withdrew its support and endorsed the ousting of Morsi when the military stepped in.

One of the greatest concerns is, that small and medium caliber weapons are readily available from Libya. Northern Africa as well as Central and Western Africa and Syria have been flooded with weapons after a Qatar, Saudi-Arabia and NATO backed war against Libya. Libya has since been governed by a weak central government in Tripoli. Regional, tribal as well as sectarian militia, as well as the central government are involved in the proliferation of weapons throughout the region.

Islamist protesters, including supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist al-Nour Party are increasingly using small arms against the Egyptian military and against supporters of the coup, initiating an escalating spiral of violence. During clashes today more than 50 protesters have been killed. Morsi supporters blame the military, while the military and civilian eyewitnesses report that “terrorists” eventually agent provocateurs, opened fire on the pro Morsi protesters.

christof lehmann

A destabilization of Egypt and a descend into a civil war would have devastating consequences for the country´s already ailing economy and for its population. With Egypt being one of the most populous countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East, and considering its geo-political significance, the development of a civil-war like situation in Egypt could also have most serious regional consequences.

Christof Lehmann
NSNBC International

Republished with permission from NSNBC International.

Monday, 8 July 2013