Friday, 12 July 2013

Will Egypt Descend into Civil War ?

The potential for civil war in Egypt depends on whether radical Islamists could possibly put up an armed revolt and what access to weapons they have. There are no signs that any junior officers in the army are prepared to defect to the rival Islamist 'revolution' against which the military takeover was directed.

The BBC reports ( Is Egypt heading for holy war? June 9 2013 )
'Security in Egypt has deteriorated dramatically since the overthrow of the dictatorial President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but compared with Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen there are still relatively few firearms in private hands'.
On the streets of Cairo supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood staging rallies are only armed with bamboo sticks. But the cult of martyrdom is being stoked up with the Muslim Brotherhood calling for "an uprising by the great people of Egypt against those trying to steal their revolution with tanks".

The overthrow of Morsi has also stunned Hamas, the Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gaza Strip which had reason to believe that border restrictions in Sinai would be relaxed. According the one retired general, the military takeover was a reaction to the deteriorating security situation there.

Weapons are smuggled in and out of the Gaza Strip into Sinai through networks of underground tunnels. If the security situation deteriorates in Egypt, with a still chaotic Libya awash with weapons on its border after Gaddafi's fall, Hamas could feel even more panicky and hemmed in after being expelled from Syria.

How Hamas would react is difficut to see but it has been severely set back by not only by the military takeover in Egypt. Earlier in 2013 Hamas severed its alliance with Hizbollah for siding with its Shia ally Assad it its battle against Sunni insurgents. Tehran has stopped its $20 million subsidy to Gaza and supply of rockets.

It is interesting to consider what effect Hamas would have on a future Egyptian government as regards Iranian backing because with the Syrian Civil War raging on it is difficult to see how Washington and London would react to any new diplomatic relations between Egypt and Iran.

After all, the US and UK have already stated they are prepared to arm Syrian insurgents against Assad as part of of a strategy to roll back Iranian influence, a major concern of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait which are willing to invest billions of dollars in the new technocratic government that has replaced Morsi.

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