Egyptian army stands guard near Morsi supporters370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – The Muslim Brotherhood said it would launch an intifada in response to violence on Monday that led to the deaths of 51 of its loyalists.
The Islamist party continues to reel from president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster last week by the Egyptian military.
The use of the term “intifada” is “very significant,” said Eric Trager, an expert on Egypt with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as it “carries the implication of the use of arms.
“What is clear, from their spokesman, is that they plan to continue escalating each day until their demands are met,” Trager said.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters are calling for Morsi to be reinstated by the military, which removed him from power last Wednesday in the wake of mass demonstrations against his rule in Cairo and Alexandria.
Morsi was democratically elected but slowly lost control over government agencies since declaring unchecked executive authority in November.
Protests followed the controversial move, and on December 4, Morsi’s cabinet ordered Brotherhood cadres to use force against activists, leading moderates to stray from the Islamist leader.
Many officials present in the cabinet meeting have been arrested or questioned by the military since Wednesday’s events.
“There’s no evidence yet that the Brotherhood will be using suicide bombings,” as were seen frequently throughout the first and second intifadas against Israel, Trager added.
But if they choose to do so, they risk “alienating any support they have beyond their own base.”
The Brotherhood is understood to be seeking refuge from the military in the Sinai Peninsula and is expected to launch any retaliation from there; calls for independence from Egypt proper are already spreading through the lawless region.
On Sunday, the Salafi Jihadi organization, one of the biggest Sinai-based Islamist groups, issued a statement on a jihadist website saying that “current events ravaging the country” were affecting Sinai.
It threatened attacks over the “repressive practices” of the police and military forces on people in the peninsula.
“The state of the Sinai had already broken down, and there’s some indication that the Brotherhood used an attack in the Sinai as its first push against the military,” said Trager.
The group has issued statements in the past threatening attacks on Israel, but this was the first known direct threat it issued against Egyptian security forces.