An army officer escorts an Islamist man from Cairo's Fateh mosque on Saturday. Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi holed up in the mosque on Friday, instigating a standoff with security forces surrounding the building.
For two years, the conversation on Egypt centered on how to build a democracy. Suddenly the discussion has turned much darker, with some wondering aloud whether the largest Arab nation is hurtling toward civil war.
The bloody crackdown by Egypt's security forces has raised the specter of a protracted conflict pitting the military against the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's most powerful political force.
Egypt's escalating crisis is far too volatile for any declarative statements, analysts say. But here are three possible scenarios that could play out:
1. Reconciliation. The military has been the dominant institution in Egypt for six decades while the Muslim Brotherhood has survived bans, crackdowns and restrictions throughout its history, which stretches back to 1928.
Neither can destroy the other, and there's a broad consensus that both have to have a significant role if the country is to regain its stability. However, the current political timetable, which calls for new elections early next year, seems highly implausible right now.