Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Civil war in Egypt?

Is Egypt on the way to becoming Syria II? The first acts in a potential civil war in Egypt occurred Sunday night. After about 36 people were killed on both sides of the conflict the previous day in clashes in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, last night the forces of the Muslim Brotherhood tried unsuccessfully to attack the Republican Guard's barracks in Cairo where it is rumored that ex-Pres. Morsi is being held by the Army and were repulsed by armed guards. The MB supporters used stones, Molotov cocktails and guns. Video of flashes of gunfire from the MB side were shown on TV. An officer and several soldiers were killed and the army fired back and killed about 40 civilians, bringing the total to ca. 50. Each side denies starting the shooting, the Army claims its action was purely defensive and the MB denies that its supporters used guns at all. The spokeman for the MB claimed their actions were purely peaceful, but the reality seems different.

Meanwhile the Army is having trouble organizing a new government. They have appointed Adli Mansour who was President of the Constitutional Court, who is a moderate, as President and secular liberal Mohammed el Baradei, who was formerly head of the IAEA and a Nobel Prize winner, has been appointed VIce President, but they had difficulty agreeing on a candidate for PM although eventually an economist Hazem el-Biblawi was appointed. One problem is that the Salafist (extreme Sunni) party, that have in the past supported the MB, have been supporting the removal of Morsi, but won't agree to a liberal candidate for President or PM. With these distinct pressure groups, with no compormise in sight, it is difficult to believe that this situation can end peacefully.

The Army has emphasized that they have not carried out a coup d'etat, but rather have remoived a President that the people's will has found wanting and incompetent. They claim that they are not seeking power for themselves and will not appoint a general as President, but they will ensure a peaceful transfer of power to a transitional government, that will not be controlled by a religious party, and then allow free elections. Sounds good, but can they ever get there? In an economically devastated country with extreme Islamist political parties and the Army involved, it does not augur well for a peaceful solution. The usual response to political problems in the Arab world is an endemic resort to violence and to destruction of the opposition. It seems that Egypt is entering that familiar downward spiral.


Post a Comment

<< Home