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Egypt clashes: What experts say about the bloodshed in Cairo

By CNN Staff
updated 8:59 PM EDT, Wed August 14, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dozens dead, hundreds injured as Egypt security forces break up Morsy camps
  • Elmasry: Building democracy through exclusion of Brotherhood won't work
  • Al-Yafi: Egypt's government is narrowing its options with the Brotherhood
  • Gerges: Brotherhood has blundered but all-inclusive government is a must

(CNN) -- Cairo descended into chaos Wednesday as Egyptian security forces stormed the makeshift camps built by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsy around the capital.

There are conflicting accounts of the number of people who have been killed during the bloody clashes, but what is clear is that Wednesday's events will make a peaceful resolution to Egypt's political crisis even more difficult.

Here's what experts are saying about the bloodshed:

Mohamad Elmasry, Professor at The American University in Cairo

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I was wrong, I didn't think that the security forces were going to commit another mass atrocity -- not because I think they all have great moral fiber, but I thought somebody in the government would say, "This will end up of backfiring on us." What's going to happen now is that the protesters opposed to the military-backed government are going to hit the streets with larger protests.

MORE: CNN reporters on the ground of bloody 'war zone'

I think some of Morsy's decisions were reasonable, but I also think he made a lot mistakes. But I liked what we had in Egypt in terms of potential. We had the right to join or form a political party, the right to own a newspaper. There was a balance of power: the prime minister was about as powerful as the president in the new system. We had term limits and regular elections. What we have now is an exclusionary system. It's not just that Morsy was removed forcibly from power -- we've had channels and networks being shut down, the silencing of voices.

There's this exclusionary discourse -- overnight the Brotherhood went from an incompetent government to a terrorist organization that must be excluded. But building a democracy through exclusion is not the way to go.

If you're the Brotherhood right now, why would you leave the streets? They've won five consecutive votes, so the ballot box in Egypt seems to have no merit. Going home doesn't seem like a reasonable strategy, but on the other hand they're being persecuted in the streets.

Faisal al-Yafi, Chief Columnist of The National in Abu Dhabi

The movement this morning has polarized Egypt. This might carry on for a week, and if the security forces cannot clear the encampment in Nasr City, it is going to look extremely bad.

The army are narrowing their options, and that's a big problem. They're not allowing themselves sufficient (space) to maneuver and bring in various parts of the Brotherhood. What happens now depends largely on whether the Brotherhood can calm everything down on the streets and be given a stake in society.

MORE: International reaction to deadly violence in Cairo

Regionally, by bringing the moderate elements of Islamist parties into the political fold you cut off the radicals. The problem is, if Islamist and Salafist parties look at this situation and say, "We cannot do business with any democratic rule," then they are likely to turn to violent means.

If the army can't get a grip on Egypt, then entire country could implode. This will worry the Gulf and the Americans immensely. And Egyptians will be watching these scenes and thinking, "What is our country coming to?"

Fawaz Gerges, Director of Middle East Centre, London School of Economics

The Brotherhood has blundered a great deal, insisting on the reinstatement of Morsy and refusing to accept any compromise. But the sit-ins have become a major liability for the military-backed government. If you follow the news in Egypt there's been a great deal of criticism of why the government hasn't acted so far.

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What's next for Egypt? What you're going to see in the next few days and weeks is all-out repression of the Brotherhood. Make no doubt about it, what happened today is setting the stage for more repression of the Brotherhood.

The reality is that Morsy is not coming back. You're going to see the new government arresting not just top leaders but mid-level leaders, and you're going to see the Brotherhood go underground as it was in the 1960s.

The next few days are going to be very difficult. It all depends on the road map -- the quality of the elections, the quality of the transitional government, and whether any major attempts will be made for an all-inclusive government as opposed to a crackdown on Egypt's Islamists.

Anna Boyd, Deputy Head of Middle East Analysis, IHS Country Risk

The Muslim Brotherhood is alleging the army has used snipers against peaceful protesters. In the coming days, this means the Brotherhood is very likely to try to mobilize its supporters still further.

The Brotherhood will use the emotive issue of casualties caused by the army, in a strongly religious discourse that emphasizes the need to fight against the army for the sake of Islam. This is most likely to manifest itself in almost-daily protests and marches in central Cairo, probably involving women and children.

Protests will probably reach their peak after Friday prayers each week, where protesters expose themselves to the risk of live fire in the belief that further deaths will simply prove their cause to be right. Disruptive protests are also likely in other cities across the country, especially around government buildings.

CNN's Nick Thompson contributed to this report.

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