This Week in Egypt

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

A violent military crackdown against supporters of deposed President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood shook Egypt this week—by Thursday night, 638 were dead and 4000 were injured. Dozens more were killed today. The interim military government, led by General el-Sisi, declared a monthlong state of emergencyThe New York Times has declared it "the worst mass killing in Egypt's modern history."

What's happening, exactly? And why? And what's next?

Before the bloodshed began, research fellow Barak Barfi wrote a piece for Project Syndicate, wherein he argued that the issue wasn't aid, but that it's almost entirely directed to the military, and not to the institutions that let build democracy. Future Tense Fellow Romesh Ratnesar, for his part, wrote twice for Bloomberg Businessweek as violence broke out—first, to condemn the US administration for the killings, arguing that we should consider them a result of President Obama's policy, and then later, after Obama's statement censuring the Egyptian government, to concede that the White House may be coming closer to "acknowledging reality in Egypt." Daniel Levy, of New America's Middle East Task Force, took to The Telegraph to urge the secularists in Egypt to say enough. In CNN Opinion, Peter Bergen, director of our National Security Studies Program, reminded western watchers that al Qaeda is taking this opportunity to try to turn Egyptian Islamists against democracy. And Open Zion's Ali Gharib argued that, Obama's protestations aside, the United States has very much picked a side.

These articles won't—and can't—fully answer all of the above. Their authors may not even fully agree with one another. But, taken together, they can help us better understand what it is we're asking.