The deaths of at least 51 people in clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Army outside the Republican Guard Headquarters in Nasr City, combined with Brotherhood calls for an uprising, raise ominous prospects. The Salafi Nour Party,which had supported the military intervention, has withdrawn its cooperation, while the Sheikh al-Azhar has announced he is going into seclusion. Many liberal political figures are denouncing the violence.
The competing narratives are reminiscent of other clashes in other places. Each side says the other attacked; there are competing videos on YouTube. The delicate balance of the past five days, when the Brotherhood urged nonviolent protest, may be transformed by the call for an uprising. An Algerian-style civil war is still not necessarily likely, but the possibilities were increased by today's bloodshed.
It's time for the new interim government to be finally agreed upon and to start talks with as many elements as possible on a way forward. Further delays and shifting signals will leave the field to the Army and the Brotherhood, and perhaps many repeats of today's battle.