Beyond these bubbles of Brotherhood solidarity, Egypt’s new rulers are getting on with the business of running the country. An interim government dominated by liberals and technocrats was sworn in Tuesday. No members of the Islamist parties that won a majority in Egypt’s first democratically elected parliament were included.
Residents who live along the streets now sealed off by the Brotherhood’s protest say they have little sympathy for the intruders who have upended their lives. “What’s gone is gone, and Morsi is definitely not coming back,” said Rufayda Abdullah, whose family pharmacy has seen sales plunge by more than half since the protesters arrived and who wishes they would go away.
“We want the army,” she said when asked who she would vote for if fresh elections are held. “Hopefully, they will come and clear them out.”
Whether the Brotherhood recognizes the predicament it is in is unclear, analysts say. Ibrahim Houdaiby, a political analyst and former Brotherhood member, believes it does. “They must recognize Morsi can’t rule the country. The question now is one of ego more than anything else,” he said.
The goal may be to try to pressure the military into negotiations that will allow the Brotherhood to participate in elections free from persecution. The group’s demands would probably include the release of Morsi and the dozens of other Brotherhood leaders detained in a widespread crackdown since he was overthrown, analysts say.
Mohammed Beltagi, one of the most senior Brotherhood leaders to have taken refuge at the camp, said that the army sent mediators with just such a proposal and that the Brotherhood rebuffed them. “We will not negotiate with them except on the basis of overturning this coup and restoring the elected president,” he said.
The military is just as much to blame for a standoff that risks undermining Egypt’s stability indefinitely, said Yasser el-Shimy, an Egypt analyst for the International Crisis Group.
“The problem for the Brotherhood is that they are cornered and they don’t see a way out,” he said. “The arrests and the crackdown only cause them to cement their position.”
Abigail Hauslohner, Sharaf al-Hourani and Amer Shakhatreh contributed to this report.