CAIRO — Egypt's powerful military is showing signs of growing impatience with the country's Islamist leaders, indirectly criticizing their policies and issuing thinly veiled threats that it might seize power again.
The tension is raising the specter of another military intervention much like the one in 2011, when generals replaced longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak after they sided with antiregime protesters in their 18-day popular uprising.
The strain comes at a time when many Egyptians are despairing of an imminent end to the crippling political impasse between President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group on one side, and the mostly secular and liberal opposition on the other.
The tug of war between the two camps is being waged against a grim backdrop of spreading unrest, rising crime and a worsening economy.
"In essence, the military will not allow national stability or its own institutional privileges to come under threat from a breakdown in Egypt's social fabric or a broad-based civil strife," said Michael W. Hanna, an Egypt expert with the Century Foundation in New York. "This is not an ideological army or one that seeks to destabilize civilian governance. … But it is also not an army that will sit by while the country reaches the tipping point on the path to civil strife."