Events in Egypt spiraled out of control Wednesday as security forces of the military-controlled interim regime tried to disperse with force Islamic Brotherhood and other supporters of President Mohammed Morsi.
Mr. Morsi's supporters were concentrated in two sites, Nahda Square and the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo, the capital, but disorder, including the burning of three Coptic Christian churches, was reported across Egypt, including in Alexandria, Suez and Aswan, up the Nile River.
Casualties mounted throughout the day as scores of protesters were killed and hundreds wounded by security forces using armored vehicles, bulldozers, tear gas and live ammunition.
Two years of political upheaval formed the backdrop to the latest violence. It all began in 2011 when former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown. Democratic elections were held in 2012 and Mr. Morsi, the candidate of the Islamic Brotherhood, won the presidency in what was considered a free and fair contest. Subsequent discontent with his rule by former Mubarak supporters and other advocates of more secular government served as the pretext for the Egyptian military to seize power on July 3.
The military, which had ruled Egypt from 1952 to Mr. Morsi's election, named a civilian, Adly Mansour, as interim president, but has held real power since the July coup d'etat under the leadership of Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a bemedalled general in sunglasses. The military has declared a timetable for eventual elections and a return to civilian rule, while Mr. Morsi remains under military detention.
The United States remains reluctant to call the Egyptian military's overthrow of President Morsi a coup, even though the interim government has now named generals to 19 of the country's 25 provincial governor positions. Calling the quacking bird the duck that it is would mean that $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid would have to be cut off. That's not likely to happen since the money is used to pay U.S. companies that manufacture tanks and planes for Egypt.
U.S. efforts to put itself forward as a mediator between competing Egyptian elements have come to nothing so far and a threat to cut off the aid is probably insufficient to achieve movement since neither side -- the pro-Morsi Islamists nor the Egyptian military -- is eager to be seen yielding to U.S. or other international pressure.
In the meantime, the interim government has declared a monthlong state of emergency, and damage to the Egyptian economy, particularly tourism, continues apace. The rest of the world can only wait for the Egyptians to see reason after six weeks of demonstrations and stop fighting each other.