Tag Archives: Mubarak

EGYPT TEETERING ON THE EDGE

            Early in June, I reported on the deepening crisis in Egypt and reported President Morsi was facing serious issues. With Ethiopia proposing to build a hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, Egypt could end up with a water crisis. Morsi warned that Egypt would not tolerate having their water supply threatened, but the alternative might be a war. In June, I pointed out that the Morsi government had been a serious disappoint for many Egyptians. Now that situation has exploded in the streets.

            Three days of protests against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have turned violent with five Brotherhood members killed by gunfire. Unfortunately, gunfire has become more common on both sides of the conflict. The Brotherhood lines up to support Morsi while the opposition refuses to back down. The country is again in an uproar. American student Andrew Pochter was killed by stabbing. The reverberations from his death have only begun.

The first election in the entire history of Egypt stretching back to pre-historic times is now a year old, but the promises and hopes in the balloting process have not paid off. In the past two years of postrevolutionary crisis, the streets have never been so tense as they are today. It now appears that any sense of unity has disappeared.

The tension has risen to the point where even the United States government is expressing concern about the safety of the embassy. While the Obama administration refuses to express opinions about the leadership of Egypt, it is preparing for the worst.

Adding to the fragility of the political process, the police are fundamentally in a revolt among themselves. The Murbarak’s feared security forces still exist within the Interior Ministry, but are angry over the reversal they have witnessed following the collapse of the Murbarak regime. However, the police have agreed among themselves that no protection will be provided for the Brotherhood headquarters.

In the streets, the populace is divided between those who supported the aristocratic policies of the past and extreme right-wing views of the Brotherhood. Unfortunately, the vast Egyptian masses have lost all confidence in the leadership of the Brotherhood.

The wild card remains the military. Playing their cards close to the vest, they have not openly supported Morse. Fundamentally, they have issued statements saying they will intervene if matters get out of hand. As of July 2, the military has given Morsi 24 hours to get matters under control. Even the leftist opposition have left their own hints suggesting a military coup would be the  only way to solve the Morsi crisis.

Apparently, the fundamental issue on the streets is over who will run the country and set the rules. The Muslim Brotherhood haven’t given up, but are not trusted to do more than create a theocracy like Iran. On the other side, the old Mubark leaders are feared as a return to the past. In turn, the people are circumventing the ballot box and flooding the streets in a riot mode.

Where is it going? No one knows. But you can bet it will be a hot summer in Egypt.

1 Comment

Filed under Egypt, middle east, Muslims

SURVEYING THE REGION

            A quick sweep across the Middle East can give some information that will help us understand where the pieces are during this moment of relative quiet in the chess game of international diplomacy. A number of items are worth noting.

            Iran just reported they have found new Uranium deposits in the northern and southern coastal areas that may have tripled the amount reported in previous estimates. However, there has been no independent confirmation of these claims. Previously, western experts had thought their uranium mines were close to exhaustion of raw uranium. If they actually made these discoveries, Iran would be in a position to forge ahead in weapon building if that is their ultimate intent.

However, the timing of the announcement could indicate a desire to strengthen their negotiating position when they meet in Kazakhstan this week with the United States, Russia, China, Britain , France, and Germany. The West continues to believe that enrichment up to 20 percent demonstrates intent to build nuclear weaponry. Iran could only be positioning itself for a more signification status at the negotiating table.

Iran has also sounded a warning that it will stand behind the Assad government in Syria. However, conditions continue to deteriorate in that country. Lebanon has been pushed to the wall with overflowing refugees escaping into their country. As a result sectarian tensions continue to rise. In some areas fugitive rebels from Syria has clashed with Lebanese soldiers. Moreover refugees live amid mud and sewage in some area like the village of Mejdel Anja. The number of people fleeing Syria has strained Lebanonese provisions nearly to the breaking point.

Lebanon has always maintained a delicate balance between various ethnic groups. Many Lebanonese now worry that the influx of 400,000 Syrians can disrupt the mixture because most refugees are Sunnis. From l975 to 1990, Lebanon fought its own civil war over sectarian issues. No one wants to return to this status.

My son Dr. Robert Todd Wise taught at Balamand University in Tripoli when these eruptions began. Even at night, his family could hear shooting in the streets. This condition has not improved.

In Egypt, the turmoil also continues. This past week opposition leader Mohamed El-Baradei called for a boycott of the approaching parliamentary elections. Baradei will be remembered for the role he played in the United Nations nuclear control efforts and for being a Nobel laureate. Immediately critics within his own movement disagreed with him. This dispute demonstrated the fragility of the new opposition to the leadership of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Many feared that a no-show response would only strengthen the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A frequently heard sentiment across Egypt is that Morsi is acting like Mubarak and the country is going nowhere but backward. Mubarak held rigged elections and his party stayed in a dominating position in parliament.

While there has been somewhat of a lull in reporting chaos in the Middle East, it is only momentary. Watch these trends I have been discussing. They are a prelude to the next song to be sung. Hard to tell whether it will be a fugue, but probably it won’t be a symphony.

Leave a comment

Filed under Egypt, middle east, Muslims