Saturday, 6 July 2013

On the Crisis in Egypt 2013

The problem Egypt faces after the army's removal of Morsi and arrest of leading Muslim Brotherhood figures is that Adly Mansour, the interim president, lacks a widely accepted legitimacy. It was only in the 1990s that the Muslim Brotherhood committed itself to working through the ballot box rather than armed insurrection.

The army's decapitation of the Muslim Brotherhood, after it won an election in 2012 that gave it 51% of the vote, is potentially a very dangerous intervention. It will convince the more radical Islamists that Morsi's fate is a sign that no matter what they do the Godly will always be oppressed by an illegitimate usurper state.

Given that the Muslim Brotherhood has thrived on a sense of martyrdom after years of struggle underground, the fact that Morsi has been removed following only a year in office is only going to stoke up the outrage as it will be claimed by his supporters he was never given enough time to put things right in Egypt.

Set against the background of rising food and fuel prices, along with protracted economic volatility, the army's action comes at a time when no matter who gains power during or after the interim period of rule there will be anger on the streets and a problem of ensuring support and legitimacy for any new government.
 Levels of food insecurity in Egypt have risen significantly over the past three years, according to a report by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Egypt's official statistical agency, Capmas. In 2011, about 13.7 million Egyptians – 17% of the population – experienced food insecurity, compared with 14% in 2009.
 In political terms, the crisis in Egypt reflects a growing longer term polarisation of Egyptian society that has gathered momentum since the 1973 after defeat in the Fourth Arab-Israeli War. This confirmed the failure of Colonel Nasser's more secular pan-Arabic nationalist vision and led to a reapprochement with the USA.

The policy pursued under Sadat from 1974-the infitah or open door policy-involved the acceptance of Egyptian economic weakness that had led to successive military failures. The policy was to rebuild the nation through receiving large amounts of financial and military aid from the US in return for maintaining peace with Israel.

Many Muslim Brotherhood supporters have persistently resented the combination of dependence upon the US, the important role of the army in Egyptian economic life ( to the point where it controls 40% of the economy ) and the fact that the infitah has not benefited a whole stata of the poorer members of Egyptian society.

With large population growth in Egypt, the burgeoning size of Cairo as a super city of 20 million inhabitants has led to a 'ruralisation' of whole parts of the city where migrants from the villages have tended to look towards the Muslim Brotherhood for common purpose, strength and direction in a society from which they are shut out.

In Egypt, wealth and power is held by those with connections to the bureaucracy and government. The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood was unable to effect any change in that, and instead spent more time on trying to push sharia law, has only annoyed those who value economic stability over Islamist identity politics.

Evidently, as the Muslim Brotherhood were not given long enough to disappoint their mass support base by preaching Islamist ideas of social justice, the rule of the Godly elect and then failing to deliver anything beneficial for most Egyptians, many who elected Morsi could get even angrier if economic stagnation continues.

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