The conflicts taking place in Egypt are causing excessive strife for the country and its neighbors. Protesters and the military clash daily, and many people get caught up in the crossfire. This has led to the deaths of innocent people as well as those who were fighting against oppression and those who were attempting to protect their country in an official capacity. As of August 15, 2013, there were more than 600 people dead in the protests throughout Egypt (Lynch, 2013). A6 That number was expected to continue to rise, and the White House was looking at the situation daily to decide whether aid was needed. At the present time, the White House disputes all reports that it has decided to withhold the majority of forms of military aid in the country, stating that the situation is still developing and no final decisions regarding any type of aid have been made regarding Egypt (Lynch & Jackson, 2013). To understand the conflict, though, and the desire of the protesters to keep fighting for their cause, it is important to be aware of the history of the country and the issues that led up to the current problems. Without A7 an understanding of how Egypt got to the point of such heavy conflict, it becomes nearly impossible to understand the current nature of that conflict, what the protesters hope to accomplish, and where Egypt is headed in the future.
The History of Egypt
Egypt has a rich history going back to the 10th millennium BC, when fishers and hunter-gatherers scattered through the region began to be replaced by a culture focused on cultivating grains (Jankowski, 2000). The Sahara Desert was formed around 8,000 BC, due to overgrazing and possible climate change (Jankowski, 2000). A8 Additionally, the richness and fertility brought to the region by the Nile River created an area for people to live and work, growing crops and raising animals. In 3,150 BC a unified kingdom was founded, which led to a long series of dynasties which ruled for the next 3,000 years (Jankowski, 2000). The Arab and Ottoman empires were particularly notable, and then the British ruled Egypt beginning in 1882 (Jankowski, 2000). That lasted until 1952 (Jankowski, 2000). The Egyptian revolution in that year removed British advisers and made Egypt a republic. The United Arab Republic was formed as a sovereign union between Egypt and Syria in 1958, but it only lasted until 1961, when Syria seceded (Jankowski, 2000). Most of the wars and fighting after that point were between Egypt and Israel, until a peace treaty was signed in 1979 (Jankowski, 2000). That treaty was signed by then-president of the country, Anwar Sadat (Jankowski, 2000). In 1981, Sadat was assassinated (Jankowski, 2000). His successor was Hosni Mubarak (Jankowski 177). A9 The 1980s and 1990s also brought waves of terrorist attacks and increased problems to Egypt (Jankowski, 2000). C1
Mubarak was not a popular president, although it took some time before anyone rallied against him in a significant way. He was the fourth president of Egypt, and served until 2011 (Khalil, 2013). He decided to step down during a revolution, after there had been 18 straight days of protests (Khalil, 2013). When he did this, power was transferred to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Khalil, 2013). Then he and his sons were detained for 15 days so they could be investigated for issues like corruption and abusing power (Khalil, 2013). He stood trial, because he was charged with not stopping the killing of peaceful protesters while the revolution was taking place (Khalil, 2013). Mubarak was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012, but was up for release in 2013 (Georgy & Nasralla 2013). An Egyptian court said that there were not any grounds for detaining him (Georgy & Nasralla, 2013). C2 In 2012, Mohammed Morsi became president of Egypt (Khalil, 2013). Almost immediately, clashes started between Morsi and the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt. Violent battles began in December of 2012 (Khalil, 2013). In June C3 of 2013, literally millions of protestors took to the streets and demanded that Morsi resign. The head of the Egyptian Armed Forces removed Morsi from power on July 3, 2013. Adly Mansour was sworn in as president the following day. The constitution was also suspended.
Protests began in December of 2012, but really ramped up in June of 2013. Removing Morsi from power quelled some of that, but was not enough to stop all of it. Supporters of Mubarak rallied around the idea that he would be released, while those who were happy to see him jailed were deeply upset that he might be back on the streets. Even at such an advanced age, they believed Mubarak to still be dangerous. As of Thursday, August 22, 2013, Mubarak was released (Noueihed & Fick, 2013). His successor, Morsi, was still imprisoned (Noueihed & Fick, 2013). During the seven weeks that led up to Mubarak's release, many of his supporters rallied in the streets. A number of them were gunned down, and the leaders of the protest movement were jailed (Noueihed & Fick, 2013). They are clashing with supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, because the Brotherhood believes that Morsi is still president and should be restored to power (Noueihed & Fick, 2013).
In the last eight days, it has been reported that there have been more than 900 people killed in the protests (Noueihed & Fick, 2013). One hundred of them were police and soldiers, and the Muslim Brotherhood states that the actual number of dead is much higher than the media is reporting (Noueihed & Fick, 2013). The protests have weakened somewhat in recent days, with fewer people appearing at the rallies for the Muslim Brotherhood (Noueihed & Fick, 2013). Still, the protests that will be staged on Friday, August 22, 2013 will be a test of the resilience of the movement. The Brotherhood is arguing that the release of Mubarak indicates that the military is looking to bring back the old order (Noueihed & Fick, 2013). While Mubarak is not going to be any kind of political player at his age and was flown by helicopter to a hospital directly upon his release, having him freed from prison is symbolic. There were many freedoms won in the revolts that took place during the time Mubarak left office, and the concern is that those freedoms will be lost if the old order returns (Noueihed & Fick, 2013). Releasing Mubarak could be the first step in a changing political climate that could doom much of the progress Egypt has made since Mubarak's resignation.
Future Predictions C4
What will happen in the future is difficult to determine. The military has declared a plan to return to democracy, but that has not calmed the nation enough to stop the protests. There is a nightly curfew imposed, as military members look for protesters and those who belong to the Brotherhood. The European Union and the United States are reviewing their aid to Cairo, as both are concerned about the bloodshed taking place (Noueihed & Fick, 2013). If aid from the US and the EU is pulled, Saudi Arabia has already offered to make up the difference (Noueihed & Fick, 2013). That country is an enemy of the Brotherhood and, coupled with other countries, there has been $12 billion pledged since Morsi was removed from power. How much other aid may be offered, and from where, remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that Egypt is going through some serious changes. The democracy the country has worked to build is on shaky ground.
It appears that the key to Egypt's future lies with Morsi, who was deposed as president. While he is no longer in power, many of the people who live in the country still consider him to be their ruler. The main, driving force behind that is the Muslim Brotherhood, as that group is leading the protesters. The political instability this is creating is significant, as is the damage to the economy. While politics certainly matters to the overall health of a country, the economy is something that is more significant. If Egypt's economy continues to sustain damage, it may take months or even years to recover from the protests. Additionally, there is no end in sight for those protests, so there is no way to determine how damaged the economy and other infrastructures will sustain before rebuilding can begin. There is one way to end all the fighting and bloodshed, though, and that is for Morsi to resign.
Even though he was removed from office, the Muslim Brotherhood still sees Morsi as the leader of Egypt. Because the Brotherhood is the most organized political force in the country, it has a lot of clout with the citizens. The more it pushes for Morsi to be reinstated, the more strife and turmoil will likely continue to ensue. Because it backs Morsi, though, it will not waver from the cause. If Morsi resigns from the office he no longer, technically, holds, the Muslim Brotherhood will not have a reason to continue to rally and protest his removal. It will be seen as more voluntary, and the Brotherhood can focus on moving forward as a collective unit, instead of spending all their energy on demanding that Morsi be reinstated. This is very important, because every time there are Brotherhood members and other protesters killed, they are seen as martyrs and it only makes the cause appear stronger. Morsi could end all of that by a simple resignation.
Another benefit of Morsi's resignation is that it would indicate he has the best interests of Egypt and its people in mind. The loss of life would be diminished, and civility would return to the country. That would allow the Muslim Brotherhood to focus on the political process and elections for a new leader, instead of protests. The disunity that is currently seen in the county would very likely come to an end, as well, which would be very important to stabilizing not only the political climate but the economy, as well. Morsi would be strengthening the Muslim Brotherhood by resigning. So far, there has been no indication that he will do so, however. He has not made a public statement, despite the continued protests and loss of life. The future of Egypt is mostly in his hands at this time, and it remains to be seen what he will do with it.
Egypt's current issues are very serious. While they are political in nature, they have far-reaching consequences that also have to be considered. Politics is not a closed system, and any political move made by a country can be expected to have consequences. Most of these consequences will be seen in areas like the economy, because that is one system that can be disrupted quite easily. With the Muslim Brotherhood's deep and intense focus on Morsi, there is little attention being paid to legitimate elections that could address the problems the country faces. Until and unless Morsi resigns, the Brotherhood will not back down. That means the protests in Egypt could go on for months. If Morsi is willing to resign the presidency, the Brotherhood will be able to stop backing him without feeling as though it is giving up on one of their own who has been wronged.
In that case, the Brotherhood and other political parties in Egypt can move forward and focus on legitimate elections that will allow for a restoration of civility and democracy in the country. The current level of bloodshed is detrimental to the entire country, even for those who are not getting involved in the protests themselves. Many people in Egypt are just trying to live their lives and are staying away from the protests, but innocent people do get caught up in the violence at times. Naturally, that leads to a very unstable country that can be hard to live and work in. Those who understand the way the Muslim Brotherhood works are waiting on Morsi to resign and correct the situation. They may wait for a long time.
Georgy, M. & Nasralla, S. (2013). Divided Egypt prepares to release Mubarak from jail. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/21/us-egypt-protests-idUSBRE97C09A2 0130821
Jankowski, J. (2000). Egypt: A short history. NY: Oneworld.
Khalil, S. (2013). Ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's retrial starts. BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22491510
Lynch, S. (2013). Death toll rises to 638 in Egypt; condemnation widens. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/08/15/egypt-violence/2658671/
Lynch, S., & Jackson, D. (2013). White House: Aid to Egypt evaluated on a daily basis. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/08/20/egypt-us-military-aid/2675499/
Noueihed, L & Fick, M. (2013). Fear of new showdown on Egypt streets in 'Friday of martyrs.' Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/22/us-egypt-protests-idUSBRE97C09A2 0130822