by Shaimaa Behery
CAIRO, July 2 (Xinhua) -- As the countdown of the 48-hour ultimatum given by the army to solve the current political conflict in Egypt is ticking, observers speculate different scenarios in the turmoil-stricken state's political arena, " excluding" any possibility that the military would take over.
The two-day grace was included in a statement of the military on Monday, a day after overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of Islamist-oriented President Mohamed Morsi killed at least 16 and injured nearly 800 across the country.
"Wasting more time will lead to more division and conflict," Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi warned, giving Morsi two days to respond to people's demands, after which the military would impose a roadmap to be followed by all political forces.
Precluding any possibility that the Supreme Military Council assumes the role of leading the state until electing a new president, political science professor with the American University in Cairo, Noha Bakr, expects three scenarios.
"The first scenario is that the president would suggest conducting a national referendum, whereby people would vote whether he stays in office or steps down," Bakr said, expecting that such move "is the most probable" to be taken by the embattled president.
Another scenario is that Morsi would be toppled, following the deadly clashes between his supporters and opponents, a development that would lead to a dead end of the army's roadmap, said Bakr.
"The last scenario is that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group ( from which Morsi hails) limits their losses by persuading Morsi to step down and then apply the relevant procedures of the 1971 constitution, whereby the head of the constitutional court is to assume the responsibility of the state until parliamentary and presidential elections are held," Bakr said.
Advising the MB to take the third way, Bakr said "If the Islamist group convinces Morsi to step down, they will gain respect from all parties, since they will appear as prioritizing the country's interest."
"At this point, they can continue their role in the political life normally. But if they act 'stubbornly' and prefer not to offer concessions, they will lose a huge part of their popularity and their political existence will be undesirable," said Bakr.
One the other hand, Wahid Abdel Maguid, a political expert with al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said "No speculations can be foreseen," due to the "accelerated and successive" incidents on the ground.
Meanwhile, another expert on politics, Mamdouh Atteiah, who is also a retired military general, expects the one and only scenario he describes as "inevitable."
"The crisis will end by a roadmap suggested by the military and followed by all disputing parties. This is because President Morsi and the MB's maximum compromise will not exceed a proposed referendum on whether keeping the president in post, but the opposition will reject this instance," said Atteiah.
Excluding the military's intention to temporarily handle the state's affairs, the veteran said "I think the army's roadmap will include an interim presidential council, comprising of representatives from all political spectra, suspending the work of the new constitution, writing a new one, holding parliamentary elections, and finally the presidential election in 2014."
About the future should Morsi leave, Bakr believed that the first year after the Islamist rule would bear "economic and political hard missions," whether the coming administration would be the "military council" or a presidential council, or even the head of the constitutional court.
"On the economic side, I think the situation will be worse than now, because the absence of an elected president will lead investments to further escape, unless the Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait render financial aids to Egypt."
Speaking of foreign relations, the expert pointed out that Egypt would secure the same balanced relationship with the United States and seek much better ties with the Gulf states, noting that Egypt's ties with these countries were "disturbed" during Morsi's administration due to the desire of "normalizing ties with Iran," which, he said, would go back to be "frozen" like during the ex- regime under Hosni Mubarak.
"The ties with China will be also 'balanced' if Morsi's regime anchors, with expectations for China to play a vital role in refreshing Egypt's economy by boosting investments," said Bakr.