By William Tucker
Chief Correspondent for In Homeland Security
Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi said that “Today was a difficult day.” Quite frankly, this has to be the most profound understatement of the day. Though the Egyptian military and police did state that the clearing of the protests sites would happen, the loss of life today is rather high. At present, the numbers are unreliable, but available evidence suggests that the government’s number of 235 is at the low end of casualty estimates. The Muslim Brotherhood pegged the number of dead at 2000 or 5000 depending on who was conducting the interview. Either way, the Brotherhood’s figures are much too high; however we should know more about the carnage in the coming days.
What we are certain of is the level of violence was higher than the military and police anticipated. The Egyptian Interior Ministry stated that 43 police officers has been killed as a result of the operations today suggesting that the estimates of protester resistance was higher than anticipated. Had the security forces conducted a better assessment of fortifications and armaments in the protesters possession a different approach likely would have been taken. As a result of the poor planning the bloodshed witnessed today, while unfortunate, was inevitable. It is no surprise that government officials, including interim VP Mohammed ElBaradei, resigned their respective posts today. They may have agreed to the operation at the planning phase, but the lackluster implementation left them no choice but to resign to preserve their political futures.
This instability is far from over. Muslim Brotherhood members have come too far to see their political gains rolled back in such short order. Instead, they will continue to protest and find ways to instigate the security forces into violent confrontations. Doing this only gains the movement coverage, and occasional sympathy, in the international press. For all sides there is a lot at stake in this confrontation, it may not lead to a civil war, but it will continue to be a violent affair in the short term.
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