Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi warned opponents Sunday that he would act against the Muslim Brotherhood's opponents if rioting continues.
Morsi's threat followed violent demonstrations Friday at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters that left 160 people injured.
"If investigations prove that certain political figures are implicated, the necessary measures will be taken against them, whatever their status," Morsi said on his Twitter account on Sunday, also carried on state television. "If I have to do what it takes to protect this country, I will do it."
He accused Egypt's media of being used by the opposition to stoke violence.
"I urge all political forces not to provide any political cover for acts of violence and rioting. I will not be happy if investigations prove the guilt of some politicians," Morsi said.
Widespread rioting and demonstrations between opponents and the Brotherhood have been a regular part of Egyptian life since Morsi announced he was assuming emergency powers last November.
Exactly what Morsi intends to do remains to be seen. He declared states of emergency in three cities near the Suez Canal in January to combat violence there, but Yasser El-Shimy, an Egypt analyst for the International Crisis Group, told Lebanon's Daily Star that a broader state of emergency is unlikely.
"My impression is that Mursi and the Brotherhood in general have had it with violence that is taking place and they are running out of patience," El-Shimy said. "This definitely is the strictest he has spoken regarding the rioting. Now Mursi feels there is enough public opinion on his side to justify taking stricter measures."
Opponents see Morsi's words as a not-so-veiled threat to use more repressive measures against dissenters.
"We can expect the worst. Morsi's threat signals the death of the state of law. They show that he is president only of the Muslim Brotherhood," Khaled Daud, spokesman of the National Salvation Front opposition coalition, told Agence France Presse.
Michael Meunier, a Coptic Christian who heads Egypt's Al-Haya Party and is a member of the National Salvation Front, tells the Investigative Project on Terrorism that Morsi will have to make good on his threat to keep his credibility.
However, he has proven erratic in the past when it has come to carrying out his threats, which Meunier said makes it difficult when it comes to predicting what he will do.
Morsi's condemnation of violence by opponents amid his simultaneous refusal to condemn violence on the part of his supporters against dissenters likely will lead to civil war, Meunier said.
Western Passports Aiding Hizballah Terror Plotsby IPT News • Mar 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm
Two stories this week show Hizballah's global reach as a terrorist organization.
First, Hizballah is recruiting people with Canadian passports "because of its value, because it facilitates travel so easily and so smoothly," Canadian Security Intelligence Service Assistant Director of Intelligence Michael Peirce told a parliament committee Thursday.
The testimony came during a hearing on legislation that would allow Canada to strip people of their Canadian citizenship if they commit acts of war against the country. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney wants to broaden that to include treason and terrorism.
A dual citizen of Canada and Lebanon is suspected of organizing a bombing attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last summer, Stewart Bell of Canada's National Post reports. The suspect used his Canadian passport when he went to Bulgaria. A Bulgarian investigation blamed Hizballah.
"If the allegations are true," Kenney said, "these terrorists clearly have no sense of loyalty or commitment to this country. Rather, they are violently committed to extremist ideas, and willing to kill innocent civilians and allies of Canada."
Also Thursday, a criminal court in Cyprus found an acknowledged Hizballah member guilty of five charges relating to his work scouting Israeli tourists.
Hossam Taleb Yaacoub told the court he gathered information on Israeli flights to Cyprus and scouted which hotels attracted Israeli tourists.
Yaacoub's travels were aided by his Swedish passport, the New York Times reported, drawing little attention as he crossed borders within the European Union. Magnus Norell, a witness in the case and a former Swedish Secret Service analyst, called the case "a rare opening, a rare lifting of the veil" on Hizballah operations and on preparing for a terrorist attack.
Those disclosures, in addition to the Bulgaria attack, should be all the argument needed for the EU to follow the United States and Canada and designate Hizballah a terrorist organization, Norell told the Times. "It's long overdue."