In nearly three years, Egypt has transitioned from a large-scale uprising against one of the region's longest-standing rulers to an even more massive revolt that led to the military ousting the country's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. Between the two popular uprisings, new pacts and unlikely alliances emerged, deepened, and, in some cases, then disappeared. For its part, the army evolved from being an accomplice of the old regime, to then being an uneasy partner of the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood and, most recently, on to rebranding itself as an ally of non-Islamists and a protector of the popular will. Loosely aligned liberals, leftists, and nationalists, meanwhile, shifted from offering support for democratic elections to backing a “democratic” coup out of fear that the elected Islamists might monopolize and never relinquish power in a conservative new regime. That fear came in response to the Brotherhood's own shifting position, which moved from a commitment to “participation not domination” to a strategy of controlling the legislature and the presidency, although they were ultimately forced back into hiding before they could neutralize the judiciary and the army. And finally, the other Islamist movement, the ultraconservative Salafists, initially displayed no interest in the political process, but then mobilized and ultimately enjoyed striking success in the elections of 2011–12. Surprisingly, however, despite their presumed ideological proximity to the Brotherhood, many Salafists went on to back the military's removal of Morsi in July 2013, but then did not lend support to the interim government that was constructed in wake of Morsi's fall. In this multilayered, fast-paced political environment, mass protests, arrests, and violence have become routine.
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