Speculation is intense about whether the protests planned for the June 30 anniversary of President Mohamed Morsi’s inauguration will fizzle in the blistering summer heat, blow up into Revolution 2.0, or descend into widespread violence. The narrative of polarization between Islamists and non-Islamists—a struggle for the soul and future of Egypt—is compelling, and even Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (not a man given to analytical pronouncements) expressed concern about it in his June 23 remarks about the military’s possible role in responding to protests.

But what makes the current political situation in Egypt devilishly difficult to understand, let alone to resolve, is that this is not a simple binary struggle between Islamists and secularists. Rather, there are at least three principal political forces at work: Islamists, secularists, and the old state (some of whom are secularists, some of whom are observant Muslims, but none of whom are liberals). And to make it worse there are also divisions within each of the three forces (Brotherhood versus Salafis, liberals versus leftists, military versus judiciary, etc). These are the very same forces that have struggled for control of Egypt for decades. What changed with the 2011 revolution was that the old state was damaged, though by no means removed, and the allegiance of various state elements became uncertain. And with the election of Morsi, the Islamists are on top for the first time.

The political game in Egypt since the 2011 revolution has been for each of the principal forces to try to band with one of the others against the third. Hence, from the February 2011 overthrow of Mubarak until the June 2012 election of Morsi the military (the most powerful element within the old state) worked with Islamists to overpower the secularists who drove the revolution. And since the fateful November 2012 constitutional declaration that ended the brief honeymoon with Morsi, significant non-military elements of the old state (the judiciary and much of the vast bureaucracy, including much of the interior ministry and state media) have banded with secularists in various ways against Islamists.

The Muslim Brothers courted the support of secularists during the revolution and the presidential election, but pivoted sharply after Morsi’s June 2012 election, adopting a position that the secularists were so puny as to not merit their notice, let alone any political accommodation. Rather, the Brothers saw it as their task to attain the cooperation of key elements of the old state through a variety of means: appointing loyalists to key positions, finding some cooperative bureaucrats, giving wage increases and public praise.

Morsi’s early victory in mastering the old state—getting the military out of politics and replacing its leadership in August 2012—has not, however, been replicated in his efforts toward other state elements such as the judiciary, police, and state media. What has been puzzling and unfortunate has been his absolute refusal to try to enlist secularists in efforts to reform corrupt aspects of those institutions. Rather, he and the Brotherhood have pursued doggedly the strategy of appointing as many Brothers or other sympathizers as possible and trying to force through controversial legal measures through the rump parliament they control. They have turned increasingly for help to the far right of the Islamist camp, with disastrous results: the recent vigilante slaying of Shi’a, public rejection of Morsi’s appointed governor of Luxor.

Morsi’s presidency is now in deep trouble and will be difficult—but not yet impossible—to salvage, even if June 30 demonstrations are not enormous. He has made the critical mistake of losing, perhaps irretrievably, the ability to work with the secularists against the old state, while at the same time alienating much of the old state and driving parts of it into an unlikely alliance with the secularists. He and the Brotherhood have also underestimated the ability of some secularist groups—in this case, the imaginative Tamarod campaign—to channel the inevitable public anger after two years of economic hardships, continuing rights abuses, and political turmoil. Perhaps any Egyptian president would have faced that now, given the challenges of governance and the deterioration of state institutions over the past decade, but it happens to be Morsi in the hot seat.

Morsi indicated in his June 26 marathon speech that he realized that he is now facing another turn of the tables, with the old state and secularists aligned against him and the Brotherhood. His calling out of names from the old regime (among the press boss Makram Mohammed Ahmed, presidential advisor Zakaria Azmi, parliamentary speaker Safwat Sharif), asking “are these revolutionaries?” was meant to discredit secularists who might work with the old regime, as well as to point out—correctly—that the old regime is trying to reemerge. His real fear is that his deal with the military leadership, which has stood by him until now, might give way if old regime elements from the intelligence and police apply themselves to making sure that next week’s demonstrations are large, persistent, and violent enough to justify military intervention.

There are only a few scenarios for what will happen in Egypt next week. The most optimistic and least likely is that large, peaceful demonstrations convince the Brotherhood that Morsi must make real compromises (a consensus prime minister and cabinet, replacement of the public prosecutor, a roundtable process to agree on a new electoral law and constitutional amendments) and that the secular opposition backs off from the demand for Morsi to step down. Large and violent demonstrations that lead to a military takeover seem quite possible; this is a dark outcome for Egypt, as there is little reason to believe that the military would turn over power to civilians promptly and every reason to believe that retribution by Islamists would be terrible, potentially reigniting the awful situation of Islamist opposition insurgency against the state that Egypt lived through before and emerged from only after years of severe state repression. A third possibility is that the demonstrations will not be significant enough to force any real change, and Egypt simply continues down the path of political paralysis and economic and social disintegration. This is what happened after the last bout of widespread dissent in early February. What happens June 30 might take Egypt upward toward resolution of its problems or downward toward greater breakdown of order; there is no plateau.

Michele Dunne is an Atlantic Council vice president and director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.