Cairo’s Qasr el-Nil Bridge came under fire this week. The path over the Nile to the major hotels turned into the scene of the death of a protestor while youth threw stones at the police. The make-shift battle raged day and night with the police firing tear gun. At the same time, demonstrators in nearby Tahir Square set fire to a police armored personnel carrier. A young man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask swore to return to the struggle endlessly until the “blood of our martyrs” had been revenged.
The bottom line? The chaos in Egypt is far from over!
Shortly after the last American presidential election, I released a blog suggesting that “the word” for this time in history was change. One of the reasons that the Republicans lost was because they had failed to grasp how sweeping changes had been. At this point, I fear we must add another word: confrontation. The relative political calm following the fierce election I believe is about to shift. Usually, these swings aren’t positive.
For example, Iran defiantly announced it would increase the pace of uranium enrichment. While no timetable was mentioned, it would probably take months to receive and install the centrifuges needed to complete the new rate of production. Such reports are not easy to decipher as they may be only a straw in the wind to test the response that they get. With the nomination of Chuck Hagel, a more dovish secretary of state, the Iranians may be pushing the envelope in hopes of getting away with a continued upgrade. What they may seriously miscalculate is the confrontation that Israel is more that willing to make. Confrontation is certainly blowing in the wind.
It is exactly this variety of conflict that is boiling in Egypt. No longer is the problem a strong disagreement of opinion. Rather, the blows are falling thick and fast.
The goal of the rebels is nothing less than the downfall of the new president Mohammed Morsi and the political control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Th current instabilities and the weight of the turmoil in Egypt could ultimately bring down the entire government system.
General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi released a strongly worded statement warning such a crisis of control is now erupting and he feared a collapse of the government. His first statement since the conflict began was aimed at pushing both sides toward a resolution of the clash between pro and anti-government forces. While not stated in the warning, one could well read between the lines and guess that the military might have to take control of the country once more.
The force of the el-Sissi statement fell heaviest on President Morsi because of his inability to halt conflict. However, the general’s statement indicated that the military would not stop protestors. To make matters worse, the government was forced to apologize after the police were caught in a televised beating of a protestor. Egypt’s prime minister, Hesham Qandil, not only apologized but recognized the perception that the government was losing all control.
The most painful issue is that the country’s future is in peril. Stay tuned. There’s surely much more to come.