‘Do or die’: Egyptian people sidelined in power struggle

The Army and the Muslim Brotherhood are both so dead-set on victory in Egypt, the Egyptian people are losing in the process, award-winning journalist Ethar El-Katatney told RT.

RT:How many people have to die in Egypt for the international community to go further than simply words of condemnation as a reaction to this?

Ethar El-Katatney: A lot of people have been talking that Washington is in a very difficult position with the military and the contract with the military being the only reason we have a safe guard with Israel. No one was expecting the blood that was spilled yesterday. The last count was 500 hundred had been killed and these are official statistics.

The international community is very uncertain of what to do, because what happens in Egypt; it doesn’t only affect Egypt. It will affect the entire Arab region and other countries in this area. We live in an age where autocrats can no longer [evoke] the notion of national sovereignty and avoid the interference of the international community and…repress their citizens at will. That is not going to happen anymore. Countries will start cutting aid. No one knows if the international community will interfere or if it is a green light for the military to continue on in what it’s been doing so far.

Bystanders, firefighters and workers stand by the Giza Governorate headquarters after it was -according to Egyptian State TV- torched by Islamists on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt (AFP Photo / Gianluigi Guercia)

RT:The scale of disaster is nearing the blood bath of the 2011 revolution. Mubarak was put behind bars. What about the current leaders that have given orders to shoot?

EEK: The scary thing now for a lot of people is that you really have no idea where do we go from here. We had Mubarak, we had a revolution. Then the army came in, we said ‘we don’t want the army’ and told the army to leave. The army left, we got a new president. We didn’t like the president so we made him leave and the army came back again. So where exactly do we go from here? Everyone in the opposition even if you discuss it, the narrative or the rhetoric that reunites them all is that they are anti-Muslim Brotherhood. We have no political party; we have no one who we can say that is qualified at this position to lead the country.

Things are very hazy; everyone is very confused of what is actually happening. Is it the army? Is it the ministry of interior? Is it the police cooperating with the army? Did it really star up as something not violent? The reaction of the Muslim Brotherhood has deteriorated. Ten minutes ago we had a notice that a government building in Giza has been burnt down. The reaction of the Muslim Brotherhood is kind of a do or die [attitude], all the calls are that you are fighting for Islam, this is the final battle. The sectarian are attacking churches, which will lead us further to [sectarianism].They are attacking police stations (releasing prisoners ), government buildings, and military installations. It is just a snowball in escalation. Everyone is at fault, both sides are suffering tremendous losses, this is the tragedy. We have all lost today. Not in the entire two years have we seen a worse day than yesterday.

Egyptian scrap metal collectors collect items from the remains of the destroyed camp of ousted Mohammed Morsi supporters outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt (AFP Photo / Khaled Desouki)

RT:The latest news from the capital is that the Islamists are attacking the headquarters of the regional government. What does that say about the tactics the Muslim Brotherhood will now adopt?

EEK: The Muslim Brotherhood for the last 25 years, they have been in conflict with the state. We have been going through this ideological roller-coaster for the last two years. Is it military vs. the Mubarak-era leaders? Is it nationalism vs. Islamists? Is it seculars vs. Islamists? Now we have reached the point where the Muslim Brotherhood [has its] last chance to shine. They have been oppressed for decades and when they finally got their chance, they blew it. If they lose now that will reflect on any Islamist party in the entire region. For them it is ‘if we lose this we might lose the entire region, and if we lose this chance, who knows if we are going to get it back again’. Their reaction has been out of proportion. 

It also has contributed a lot to the death toll, the attack of churches in particular. Forty five churches have been attacked. So we are thinking ‘you attack the military or the ministry of the interior that attack the Muslim Brotherhood so you go and attack a minority’. That only leads to a civil war. What is the point of that? How is that going to lead to anything? Someone was talking about how in Sharm el-Sheikh, they removed the curfew. What kind of tourists are going to come with the images of Egypt now? I was driving through the streets; no one is on the streets now. Everyone is terrified in their homes. To come to the interview I had to drive through the airport and had a gun at me. You really have to think what strategy does either side have? Either is it the side of the government or the side of the Muslim brotherhood. Where do we go from here? There is nowhere to go. How are we going to fix this? Both sides seem to be so focused on their own winning in Egypt and the Egyptians are the ones losing in the middle.