Egypt has stumbled from the so-called Arab Spring's great inspiration to its lingering disappointment. The euphoric 18 days that led to Mubarak's downfall have been clouded by divisions between secularists and Islamists and by the military, which has repeatedly delayed transition to civilian rule. The generals are reviled by activists but their wide support in the provinces allows them a tight grip on the nation.
The most recent violence was sparked by an attempt by the military to consolidate its power by enshrining a larger role for itself in a new constitution. Late Saturday, amid the rising protests, the generals amended the proposals in an effort to calm activists and the Muslim Brotherhood. That kind of appeasement worked in the past, but did little to contain the outrage of the last two days.
The nation is unlikely to find respite soon. The military announced that it would not postpone elections. The voting could trigger more bloodshed and is certain to exacerbate differences between liberals and the Muslim Brotherhood, which could win at least 30% of the seats in parliament. Secularists and the military fear the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups are determined to press for a government deeply rooted in sharia, or Islamic law.