Crisis in Egypt: At least 40 people killed in protests, clashes

It is the worst bloodshed since President Morsi was ousted. Clashes went on for three hours, with protesters hurling stones and molotov cocktails from rooftops and gunshots ringing out. Nearby clinics run by Brotherhood supporters were swamped by wounded protesters -- some with gaping, bleeding wounds. More than 400 were wounded in the mayhem, officials said.

There are conflicting accounts on how the violence began. Pro-Morsi protestors claim the military attacked them.

“We were praying at dawn when the army came in and started shooting and throwing tear gas bombs," a man said in Arabic.

However, the military said gunmen tried to storm the building, and that was what prompted the clash. Egypt now appears to be on the brink of a civil war.

There is no Plan B,” says Gehad El-Haddad of the Muslim Brotherhood. “Again, we still stick by our principles. We either return the president back to his rightful place, or we're going to have shooting in the streets.”

There is chaos even in the media. At a news conference held by the military on Monday, Al-Jazeera reporters were ejected as the crowd chanted, “Out! Out!” Al-Jazeera is based in Qatar, a country that strongly supports President Morsi. Meantime, the Obama administration is taking a wait-and-see approach with a nation so critical to the entire Middle East.

Egypt is an anchor for the region as a whole,” explains Tamara Cofman Wittes of the Brookings Institution. “It's the largest Arab country. One out of every four Arabs lives in Egypt. This is how our naval forces get in and out of the Persian Gulf. This is how the world's oil gets to global markets, so it's a tremendously important place.”

Ironically, Tuesday is the start of Ramadan in the Muslim world – a holy month of fasting, charity, and good deeds.