There is a more positive possibility if Egypt takes the right steps, experts say.
"Various political parties will need to learn to compromise," Lee says, and the Muslim Brotherhood needs to be engaged, not marginalized.
Mohamed Kamel Amr, Egypt's acting foreign minister, told Amanpour that he has reached out to the Brotherhood to keep them in the political process.
That may not be enough to quell the fury of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsy supporters, who say that "nothing will satisfy them short of having Morsy reinstated as president," Sayah says.
But building a constitution in a way that shows a commitment to representing the will of the people could have a big impact, says Isobel Coleman, senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, in a CNN column.
"If Egyptians approve, through a fair and open referendum, a new constitution that reduces Islam's role, it will take the wind out of the sails not only of the Muslim Brotherhood, but of political Islam across the region."
Bread riots, water wars
Many who follow the region closely say the central question of Egypt's future is summed up by the famous Clintonian adage: "It's the economy, stupid."
In a country grappling with poverty and unemployment, any new government that wants to maintain power needs to work quickly.
If the situation worsens, "people may rise up because the price of bread is too high and they just can't feed their families," Wedeman says.
"If that happens, it's utter chaos -- back to 1977 and the bread riots in Cairo. ... That's the gut worry of everyone."
Meanwhile, Egypt's quickly growing population and limited water supply "could lead to the likelihood of water wars in the future if Nile basin countries like Ethiopia divert the flow of the Nile," Lee says.
The country needs to restore order to the streets immediately, increasing the presence of police despite their lack of popularity, Lee says.
"It really is all about the economy and security."
Washington exerts pressure
Suspending U.S. aid "would plunge an already bankrupt country into deeper chaos," Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," writes in a column.
"But Washington should announce that it will continue its aid for a limited period, say two months, while it determines whether the new government is in fact moving to restore genuine democracy in Egypt."
The United States should call for an end to arbitrary arrests; a constitutional process that includes "all major voices in Egyptian life"; and elections open to all, "including and especially the Muslim Brotherhood," Zakaria says.
But don't expect any proactive steps from Washington, says Whiton, the former State Department adviser.
The will for America and its allies to help the secularists organize, "and the tools to do that with, both appear to be in mothballs," he writes, adding, "Washington will again leave crucial matters to chance."