42 bodies in Rabaa field hospital morgue pic.twitter.com/SAIhjchMwn
— Alastair Beach (@Alastair_Beach) August 14, 2013
I counted 124 bodies in Rabaa. Most in field morgue (hall 1) rest in Rabaa hospital proper, bottom floor and 3rd floor
— Samer Al-Atrush (@SameralAtrush) August 14, 2013
Egyptian press has been reporting for a couple of weeks that there were sharp divisions within the interim government regarding how to deal with the large Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins, which were demanding the reinstatement of deposed president Muhammad Morsi. The Interior Ministry, Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim Mustafa and the Defense Minister Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi wanted to use force to disperse the pro-Morsi demonstrators. Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Baha Eldin and Vice President for foreign affairs Mohamed Elbaradei are said to have called for a gradual approach, of simply not allowing anyone who left the square to return and counting on attrition to thin out the crowds over weeks. Others in the government wanted to disperse the crowds by force immediately. They argued that anything that looked like a massacre of Brotherhood members would weaken Egypt’s standing in Europe and the US. While last weekend it seemed that Elbaradei had prevailed, by Wednesday morning the hard liners had won out.
Cole’s bottom line:
The military had appeared to wish to treat the Brotherhood members as members of a conspiratorial and manipulative covert organization. They may now have a green light to proceed in that way.
Shiraz Maher worries that the Muslim Brotherhood will turn violent:
Following the Baathist takeover of Syria in 1963, existing tensions within the Muslim Brotherhood caused the group to schism between, broadly speaking, its Damascene intellectuals who favoured engaging with the regime and its more radical rural members led by conservative leaders in Aleppo. By the mid-1970s the intellectuals had fled (mostly to Europe) while the radical faction was effectively at war with Hafez al-Assad before being crushed several years later in Hama.
The Egyptian Brotherhood could fracture along similar lines. While the official language of their leadership continues to counsel against violent opposition, they are finding it increasingly difficult to exert complete control over the movement. ‘We will burn everything,’ a Brotherhood supporter told CNN this morning. ‘We will turn into bombers.’