Tensions heightened considerably in Egypt today (Monday) as the trial for ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammed Morsi began, and was promptly adjourned. Morsi and 14 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood are in court on charges of incitement to murder and violence in the December 2012 presidential palace clashes, which pitched Morsi opponents against his supporters.
In light of the seriousness of the situation, and the potential ramifications for Egyptian leadership and regional security, Arutz Sheva interviewed the former Israeli consul in Egypt, Meir Mishan, to evaluate whether or not scenes of protests and violence in Egypt's streets will erupt once again, as they did during the Egyptian revolution some year and a half ago.
Mishan believes that the Muslim Brotherhood will end up accepting the court's decision in any case, mostly on the precedent that they accepted the release of former Egyptian president and Muslim Brotherhood opponent Hosni Mubarak. This is likely to be the case even despite allegations by Morsi supporters that Morsi's elections were conducted legitimately, Mishan says.
The Egyptian Army has essentially gained the power to "turn back the clock" regarding decisions made about the direction of Egyptian leadership, and Mishan holds that this means that the Brotherhood will be reluctant enough to give up this power to leave the decision at the mercy of the court.
Mishan also speculated that Morsi's trial will extend for at least as long as Mubarak's, and that many appeals can be expected in the foreseeable future. The Egyptian Army's control of the embattled country will last for as long as the trial lasts, meaning that the court may have inherent interests in dragging the trial out for as long as legally possible.
As for violence like the Tahrir Square protests, Mishan claims that it all depends on how the sentencing proceeds. If the trial runs smoothly, he claims, then so will the will of the Egyptian people.
"If there are problems like we saw with Tahrir square, and protests like Tahrir all over Egypt," it will be because of legal problems with the sentencing. "If the sentencing goes as planned, we should not be seeing sights like this," Mishan says. If the outcome aligns with Army expectations - namely, a conviction - Mishan predicts that martial law will hold until the Army can arrange the next elections.
While Mishan points out the convenience for the Egyptian Army to continue ruling over Egypt, Army leaders know that for the nation to continue, they will need international support from the US and other countries, which have stopped providing aid for the time being. The aid would remain permanently frozen if the current situation - a military regime - remains unchanged.