Egypt’s military-backed interim leadership proclaimed that crackdown against the two protest sites is inevitable, saying that nearly two weeks of foreign diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve its standoff with the Muslim Brotherhood have failed.
The statements strongly suggested that Egypt’s sharp polarization may spiral into even more bloodshed as thousands of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood member, camp out at two main Cairo intersections and hold daily protests outside security buildings.
Already more than 250 people have been killed in violence since the military ousted Morsi more than a month ago, including at least 130 Brotherhood supporters in two major clashes between security forces and backers of the deposed president.
“The decision agreed on by all to clear the sit-ins is final and irreversible,” Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said on state television, reading a statement issued by the Egyptian Cabinet.
In response, top Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohammed el-Beltagy said the protesters are not concerned with talk of clearing the sit-ins. “What we care about is for there to be clear talks about our position against the military coup and the importance of returning legitimacy.
“Mohammed el-Beltagy told The Press at the main protest site in the capital’s Nasr City neighborhood.
He said the Cabinet’s statement makes “clear that they lack vision with regard to the political scene.” It was unclear what the crackdown would entail or when it would begin, but it appeared unlikely to start until next week. The Cabinet statement said the government was keen not to take action during Ramadan.
A separate statement by the interim president described the four official days of Eid celebrations that follow the Muslim holy month as “tolerant” and “harmonious.”
The prime minister said the Cabinet “had hoped to solve this crisis during this period without the intervention of security forces,” but that the sit-ins have not been peaceful and that the protesters have frightened citizens, blocked roads, attacked government buildings and threatened security. “The use of weapons against the police or citizens will be dealt with utmost firmness and strength,” the prime minister added.