Sunday, December 01, 2013

Egypt in crisis

Egypt is sinking deeper into crisis. The military government of Army Chief of Staff Gen al-Sisi has been fighting violent demonstrations by Muslim Brotherhood supporters protesting the removal of elected MB President Morsi and his subsequent trial, ironically for the deaths of demonstrators, the same charge that was brought against Pres. Mubarak before him. In order to bring some control and end the continuing demonstrations the al-Sisi government has passed a law that demonstrations require prior government approval. Although this is a common requirement in democratic countries, in Egypt it has fueled even more violent protests.

Now the MB have been joined by the liberals and democrats who originally helped overthrow Mubarak, and for whom a military government that prevents demonstrations is anathema. In these new illegal demonstratsion that are continuing, people have been killed again, adn the whole situation is spiralling out of control (to use a cliche often applied to Israel). Today it was reported that a leader of the so-called April 6 movement, Ahmed Maher, that overthrew Mubarak in the original "Arab Spring" protests, has given himself up to the government forces.

While the Army has sufficient power to quell the riots, the question is at what price? Many deaths would simply cause another cycle of violence to recur. The MB has armed elements in Sinai and in Suez, where Egyptian soldiers and officals have been murdered. But, so far extensive anti-regime armed violence has not been extended to Egypt proper. If it does in wake of this new law and the subsequent deaths, then the Egyptian crisis might become a civil war between the Army and the Islamists, represented mainly by the MB.

It will clearly be in Israel's interest if the Army wins, because the Army has shown itself to be pragmatic and westernized, rather than the Islamists, who are virulently anti-Western and anti-Israel. Meanwhile the Army has proposed a new draft constitution to replace the one passed by the pro-Morsi MB-dominated parliament, and this new constitution allows the Army involvement in politics. So now we'll see whether the Egyptian populace will acccept it or not. For many it seems like back to square one.


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