The new, military installed government of Egypt stumbled a bit yesterday. After the new President Adly Mansour's office announced the appointment of former UN atomic agency chairman Mohammed ElBaradei as prime minister, they had to backtrack on that announcement when the ultra-Islamists in the Nour party objected.
Mansour, 67, the former chief justice of the country's Supreme Constitutional Court who was installed by the military as an interim leader, is little-known in international circles and the choice of ElBaradei would have given his administration a prominent global face to make its case to Washington and other Western allies trying to reassess policies.
But news of ElBaradei's appointment, which was reported by the state news agency MENA and others, proved divisive.
The 71-year-old Nobel laureate was an inspiring figure to the youth groups behind the 2011 revolution that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak as well as the uprising against Morsi. His appointment as prime minister would cement Mansour's support among the young anti-Morsi protesters.
But a senior opposition official close to ElBaradei, Munir Fakhry Abdelnur, told The Associated Press that the last minute reversal was because the ultraconservative Salafi el-Nour party was opposed.
Mansour's spokesman Ahmed el-Musalamani denied that the appointment of the former U.N. nuclear negotiator was ever certain. However, reporters gathered at the presidential palace ahead of his news conference were told earlier that the president would arrive shortly to announce it.
The dispute over ElBaradei underlines the fragmentation of Egypt's politics as the country continues to be roiled by bout after bout of unrest and violence since Mubarak's ouster.
The 2011 uprising opened the way for the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was long suppressed by Mubarak's Western-backed regime, and Morsi was elected last year by a narrow margin. The fundamentalist movement swiftly rejected ElBaradei's appointment.
The Brotherhood has vowed to boycott the political process, saying the military maneuver was a coup that overturned a democratically elected government.
While the Muslim Brotherhood wanted to establish religious law gradually, over a period of years, the Nour party wanted an immediate transition to hard-line Sharia. But there's basically no other difference between the two parties, and Mansour is juggling dynamite if he thinks he can control them.
Know this: The Brotherhood didn't suffer oppression for 30 years and then win power, only to give it up without a fight. I don't think we've seen nearly the worst as far as street violence in Egypt is concerned. That's because in addition to fighting to regain power in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood's entire strategy across the board in Jordan, Syria, and the Gulf states is at risk if they lose Egypt.
It is going to be a long, hot summer in Cairo.