Reconciliation in real need
Updated: 2013-08-16 08:54
The deadly violence on Wednesday in Egypt sounded the solemnest alarm yet about the situation in the world's most populous Arab country. Unless the different political forces, the Egyptian military included, show the utmost restraint, there is a growing risk that the country will slide into chronic unrest.
In what is perceived to be Egypt's bloodiest clash in 40 years, hundreds of people were killed on Wednesday across the country, as Egyptian security forces dispersed supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi from two camps they had set up in Cairo.
Wednesday's violence has drawn a strong response from the rest of the world, and China has joined other members of the international community in calling for calm and restraint.
Yet, whether the country can emerge from what has become a vicious circle of violence and start a process that leads to national reconciliation depends on whether the different political forces in the country have the will to engage in dialogue and consultation to resolve their differences.
But Wednesday's violence has made the chances of that desirable scenario happening even slimmer. Egypt's interim government has declared a nationwide state of emergency for one month, a curfew in Cairo and 10 provinces, as well as allowing security forces to arrest and detain civilians indefinitely without charge. Egypt seems to be drifting even further away from the path to national reconciliation.
Such violence has fueled worries that the divide between pro and anti-Morsi forces will only deepen, which will in turn add more uncertainty to the country's future.
Outside of Egypt, the tragic episode could also trigger foreign policy changes to the country's disadvantage. Since the ousting of Morsi, Washington, for one, has been under constant pressure to review its aid to Cairo. The bloodshed adds an emotional catalyst to that possibility.
Egypt's gloomy economic outlook is making things even worse.
To avoid the situation deteriorating even further, it is crucial that order be restored as soon as possible. The different forces in Egypt should treat the interests of the nation and the Egyptians as a top priority. The interim government should engage all political forces in the national reconciliation process.