Monday, July 1, 2013

Egypt Is A Tinder Box

Egypt is a tinder box and millions upon millions of protesters stand ready to light the fuse. Several reasons exist for why the country of over 82 million is about to blow. Egyptians are frustrated with the mounting economic pressures the country has faced over the past three years, and they are now also worried that President Mohammed Morsi and the powerful Muslim Brotherhood organization he once led are moving to install their people in all state institutions. Some protesters have expressed concern that Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters have overreached and are aiming to “Islamize” an Egyptian culture known for its relatively moderate and Mediterranean outlook. This is not the result many Egyptians wanted when they drove Mr. Mubarak from office.

Today the military gave Mohammed Morsi a 48 hour ultimatum to "resolve the crisis" before they intervene setting the stage for a possible military coup. Despite the protests against them, Mr. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood enjoys huge support from among Egypt’s moderate and conservative Muslims. A group of young people known as “Tamarod,” or “Rebel” is a key player in this conflict, members of this grass-root group participated in the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak and are now tapping into the declining popularity of Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Artists, activists and poor Egyptians fed up with the economic crisis are also turning out in mass, this is pitting Egyptian against Egyptian.

The mood remained largely festive as protesters at giant anti-Morsi rallies in Cairo's central Tahrir Square and outside the Ittihadiya Palace spilled into side streets and across boulevards. They waving flags, blowing whistles and chanting as fireworks went off overhead. Men and women, some with small children on their shoulders, beat drums, danced and sang, "By hook or by crook, we will bring Morsi down." Still the widespread fear is that the collisions between the two sides will grow violent in coming days. Morsi made clear through a spokesman that he would not step down and his Islamist supporters vowed not to allow protesters to remove one of their own. During the day Sunday, thousands of Islamists massed not far from the presidential palace in support of Morsi, some of them gearing up for a fight with makeshift armor and sticks.

It seems that the "State," what many view as the institutions and the bureaucrats that work throughout the country have had enough, both worry and fear that Egypt is fast becoming dysfunctional has driven the money and gut of Egypt to call on the army to return to politics. This is a testament to how polarized Egypt is just a year after the election. Morsi has failed to show much interest in compromise and is blamed for the dreadful economic condition that Egypt now finds itself in, "buyers remorse" is rampant and voters want a do over. It appears that the protesters aim to show by sheer numbers that the country has irrevocably turned against Morsi. The time may be coming to a close where Morsi can peacefully negotiate a compromise to settle unrest. Note, a bigger fear is if this goes badly, Egypt being a large and very poor country, turmoil there could spread and destabilize the region.

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