On July 9, 2013, the Atlantic Council’s President and CEO Fred Kempe  hosted a members’ conference call with Dr. Michele Dunne, an Atlantic Council vice president and director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, to discuss the July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and prospects for violence and political turmoil in Egypt.

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After only a year in power, President Morsi was removed by the Egyptian military when tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets in waves of popular protests starting on June 30. The military has installed an interim prime minister and announced a roadmap for parliamentary elections, presidential elections, and a constitutional referendum process. However, the military has also clamped down on the Muslim Brotherhood by arresting key Brotherhood leaders and shuttering pro-Islamist media outlets. Clashes have broken out between Egyptian security forces and Muslim Brotherhood supporters, with dozens dead and over a thousand wounded.

Dr. Dunne discussed what she termed “the military coup with significant public backing” in Egypt and noted that unrest and violence going forward is inevitable. Dunne also emphasized that the current polarization in Egypt is not simply between Islamists and secularists; rather, she argued, there is a key third party: the previous institutions formed under former president Hosni Mubarak. In some ways, the ouster of Morsi is a revenge of the old state against the Muslim Brotherhood, Dunne noted. Going forward, Dunne cautioned that the Muslim Brotherhood will likely be marginalized, despite inclusive language used by the military and the newly appointed leaders, and the US will face tough choices about whether to continue providing the Egyptian military with significant aid. Dunne also highlighted a disturbing possible repercussion of Morsi’s ouster: other Islamist parties in the region may argue that Islamists must resort to alternative means of gaining power since a fair election victory did not protect Morsi from being deposed by the military.

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