Two massacres committed by the Egyptian army in one week. At least 130 people killed in the streets of Cairo for protesting against the military coup.
It is worse than a crime (as the French diplomat Talleyrand remarked when Napoleon ordered a particularly counter-productive execution). It is a mistake.
It is also a crime, of course. The killing has been deliberate and precise: only trained snipers could produce so many victims who have been shot in the head or the heart. General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Adly Mansour, the tame president he has installed, tell the kind of lies that generals and politicians always tell when this sort of thing is going on, but the reports of the journalists on the scene leave no room for doubt: this is murder.
But it is, above all, a mistake. When the army fulfilled the demands of the anti-government demonstrators in Tahrir Square on July 3 by overthrowing the elected president, Mohammed Morsi, after only a year in office, it must have known that his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood would protest in the streets. And it must have had a plan for dealing with those protests. Soldiers always have plans.
The simplest plan would be just to wait the protesters out. The Muslim Brotherhood could put large numbers of people on the streets, but at least in Cairo even larger number of people would go to Tahrir Square and support the coup. Use minimum force, contain the demonstrations by both sides, and wait for people to get bored and go home.
In the meanwhile, push on with the process of rewriting the constitution to remove the Islamic bits inserted last year by Morsi’s party and hold a new referendum to ratify it. By the time fresh presidential and parliamentary elections are held early next year, the Muslim Brotherhood will presumably have found more modern and moderate leaders to replace Morsi—and, in any case, the secular parties will win the election. This is murder. But it is, above all, a mistake....