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A return to military dictatorship in Egypt seems all but certain. But two things could undermine the generals. First, as the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood recedes, it will become difficult for them to hold together a governing coalition of leftists, liberals, and Salafists that is built solely on its members’ shared antipathy for the Islamist group. Second, the new regime might overreach in its suppression of the opposition, inviting a backlash.
The Egyptian military, still bruised from its last stint in power, is likely to proceed with caution this time around. If it does intervene, it will likely seek some acquiescence from the Islamists and will want to quickly form an inclusive caretaker government.
In the wake of the SCAF's power grabs, the Muslim Brotherhood faces a choice between seating Mursi and legitimating the brass' meddling, or refusing to seat him and taking to the streets. Neither option is a good one.
The disqualification of ten candidates from Egypt's presidential election has not fundamentally changed the nature of the race. As before, voters are facing a decision about the scope and nature of Egypt's coming transformation. And there are still candidates representing almost every position.
Despite its vows to speed Egypt toward elections, the country's military leadership is actually ambivalent about democracy. Above all, Egypt's generals want to preserve stability and protect their privileges. But having unleashed democracy, the military may not be able to control it -- especially if Washington keeps up the pressure to move forward.