- By David KennerDavid Kenner is the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and has been with FP since 2009 (a long time, he knows). He worked for FP previously in Cairo, where he covered the early days of the Arab Spring, and before that in Washington. He has attended Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut and has reported from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
CAIRO — The political fallout from Wednesday’s bloodshed in Egypt is gathering pace — and it’s providing a revealing glimpse into the true convictions of the major figures on the non-Islamist side of the country’s ideological spectrum.
Mohamed ElBaradei resigned as vice president today in protest of the government’s decision to violently disperse sit-ins by backers of ousted President Mohamed Morsy. ElBaradei had previously threatened to resign if the security forces initiated such a wide-ranging crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and had reportedly feuded with army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over the issue.
In a resignation letter sent to President Adly Mansour, ElBaradei lamented that the beneficiaries of the crackdown would be "the advocates of violence and terrorism and the most extreme groups." He argued that there were peaceful ways to end the confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood, but that reconciliation efforts were abandoned too quickly. "It has become difficult for me to continue to bear the responsibility for decisions I do not agree with and whose consequences I fear," he wrote. "I cannot bear the responsibility for a single drop of blood in front of God."
Meanwhile, a statement released Wednesday by the National Salvation Front — an umbrella group of anti-Brotherhood parties that ElBaradei used to lead — could not be more different. "Today, Egypt lifted her head high," it began, declaring the clearing of the sit-in "not only a victory against all political forces trafficking in the name of religion in Egypt and the region, but also on the conspiracies of some countries that tried hard to support the rule of the Office of the [Muslim Brotherhood] Supreme Guide."
In what may be a broadside directed at ElBaradei, the statement went on to attack a "conspiracy" to offer the Brotherhood a compromise after Morsy’s removal, which would have "return[ed] the organization’s money and [let] it continue its activity." However, those efforts were dashed by the "firm leadership of the armed forces and the collective will of the people," which insisted on breaking up the sit-ins.
Before the military takeover on July 3, these forces were all united in their opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood. But with the Islamist movement forcibly removed from political life, their very real disagreements are about to come to the fore once again.