Inside Story

Is Egypt on the brink of further divide?

As the influential al-Nour party suspends its participation in the transition, we examine its role in Egyptian politics.

Last Modified: 10 Jul 2013 14:47
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More than 40 people have been killed, and as many as 500 injured, in gunfire at Cairo's Republican Guard headquarters, where former President Mohamed Morsi is thought to be held.

People at the scene have told Al Jazeera many of the dead were shot as they prayed. But the military blamed the shooting on what it called an armed terrorist group that had tried to storm the barracks - saying at least two of its own soldiers had also been killed.

This attack, has now made the already sensitive political situation even worse.

Egypt's Salfist al-Nour Party had a lot of inlfuence in events following President Morsi's removal. Many believe that this deeply religious party gave the military added legitimacy in carrying out last week's seizure of power, and the party's influence continues to grow.

We are hoping that the al-Nour party will play a role in building the new Egypt, the new democracy that we are trying to build, but unfortunately the performance so far has been a bit on the questionable side.

Tamer al Meehy, National Salvation Front

Al-Nour threatened to withdraw its support for the military's transition plans if the secular Mohamed ElBaradaei was made prime minister, and as a result it appears an invitation for him to take the post was hastily rescinded - this happened despite the fact many within the anti-Morsi faction were keen that he head an interim government

But after Monday's shooting in Cairo, al-Nour says it is suspending its involvement in talks to choose an interim prime minister and government, but has not yet withdrawn completely

The al-Nour party's decision is just the latest example of how fluid and fractious Egyptian politics has become.

Some of these political alliances can be traced back to the the 2011 parliamentary elections, when religious parties were able to form a government after winning 70 percent of the vote.

They included the two big players - the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist al-Nour party.

Then in the presidential elections that were held just over a year ago, and with the support garnered during the previous election, Mohamed Morsi won but with a slim majority while Ahmad Shafik, a former senior commander in the Egyptian air force, took the remainder of the votes.

And last Wednesday, Mohamed Morsi was deposed in a military coup, which crucially had the backing of his former allies the al-Nour party. So currently Egypt is divided between those who support and those who oppose the military coup.

On the one side, there are a number of groups that include the Tamarrod movement, while on the other, the Muslim Brotherhood's supporters are staging nation wide protests, and somewhere in the middle is the al-Nour party, which has suspended its negotiations with the military.

Military crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood has been seen many times before during  the Hosni Mubarak years so some within the Muslim Brotherhood are not just questioning what happened to the revolution, but whether there was a revolution at all.

So, what does it really mean? And is Egypt on the brink of further divide?

Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses with guests: Tamer al-Meehy, a leading figure in the National Salvation Front and head of the political bureau of the Egyptian social democratic party, an opposition party; Rachel Shabi, an independent journalist specialising in the Middle East.

"Let's be clear about the army in Egypt, it has its own interest at heart all the time, the opposition knows this, the Muslim Brotherhood knows this. The army is a significant player in Egypt, it has key strategic interests, it's responsible for foreign policy, it has managed to keep its interests intact through the constitution that President Morsi rushed through parliament, and of course it has huge economic assets in Egypt which it's very keen to protect."

- Rachel Shabi, an independent journalist


Al Jazeera
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