Political upheaval persists following the removal of President Mohammed Morsi.
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As hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—of Egyptians amassed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for the third time in as many years, news watchers turned once again to the churning crowd, the waving flags, and the deafening roar—waiting to see what would happen.
After months of protests and growing worry that President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were monopolizing power in the government, the nation’s military issued an ultimatum: share power with the political opposition or be forced out.
The president was deposed a little more than 48 hours later on July 3.
The violence that followed across the nation led to the deaths and injuries of hundreds.
The continued clashes underline the deep divide in the country between Islamists, secularists and the military.
Each of the three major events tied to these celebratory gatherings seemed monumental: The February 2011 ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak gave a sense of renewal to the nation. The June 2012 peaceful election of President Morsi built faith in the democratic process, despite the victor’s conservative-Islamic leanings. And now, the July 2013 removal of Mr. Morsi has made the nation feel it can quash a potentially oppressive regime before it takes hold.
Yet this third time was different. An Egyptian writer who was in Tahrir Square for all three events described the subtle difference in Al Monitor: “The floods of people in the streets around Cairo appeared to me bigger than before, people seemed to genuinely believe they ‘took back their country,’ and that the military was a hero doing all the right things. But perhaps what characterized this time in Tahrir for me was my sense of worry, deeper than ever before.”
Between political polarization and waves of violence, a dark cloud hangs over Egypt, in many cases in the eyes of international observers.
Soon after his removal, Mr. Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was held “incommunicado” at an undisclosed location, according to Reuters. The Muslim Brotherhood refused to recognize the transitional government that ousted Morsi and vowed “instead to press on with protests until the Islamist politician is released from military custody,” Bloomberg reported.
Violence is a daily occurrence for many Egyptians. Video footage of incidents between opponents and supporters of Mr. Morsi has flooded social media outlets. One such video is of young men being thrown head first off a rooftop only to be beaten by angry protesters on the pavement below.
Also, there has been a drastic increase in sexual assaults against women, which has prompted an advisory that women travel in groups. According to the Guardian, more than 100 women were attacked in July.
“The military and police are also struggling to end militant attacks in Sinai, which have intensified since [Morsi’s] removal,” Bloomberg stated. “Clashes in Sinai killed three soldiers, two policemen and one civilian, [Egypt’s] state-run news agency reported, while a further five policemen and one civilian were wounded in an attack on a central security camp in Rafah in north Sinai [July 22].”
With unrest at every turn, what will emerge out of Egypt?
The sense of worry over Egypt’s situation spans the globe.
International community: United Nations “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay have spoken out several times on the need for all parties in Egypt—which has been undergoing a democratic transition since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago—to exercise restraint, protect human rights and resort to dialogue to peacefully resolve differences” (UN News Centre).
United States: A White House statement issued in early July stated that President Barack Obama “condemned the ongoing violence across Egypt and expressed concern over the continued political polarization. He reiterated that the United States is not aligned with, and does not support, any particular Egyptian political party or group.”
African Union: The African Union’s Peace and Security Council suspended Egypt’s membership immediately after the military removed Mr. Morsi from office. The organization warned that “Egypt risks being engulfed in a civil war unless its newly installed interim government includes Islamists,” Reuters stated.
Israel: “Israeli officials have maintained a diplomatic silence since Mr. Morsi’s overthrow, refusing to comment publicly on what they say is an internal Egyptian affair,” The New York Times reported. But one official speaking on condition of anonymity told the paper: “We are observing very closely. This is a matter of highest importance for us. We really hope the Egyptians manage to put together a functioning democracy, slowly but surely, but there is still a very high level of uncertainty.”
After deposing Mr. Morsi, the armed forces placed the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as interim president and called for another round of elections. Little is known about the 67-year-old Mr. Mansour, which adds to the country’s unease.
One of Mr. Mansour’s first acts was to name former finance minister Hazem el-Bablawi as prime minister and liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei as interim vice president. He then “outlined a path to quick elections and a return to democracy,” The Washington Post stated.
“The plan presented by Mansour drew immediate condemnation from Morsi’s supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood, but it also elicited a lukewarm response from key players in the loose alliance of politicians and activists who had lobbied for Morsi’s ouster” (ibid.).
Reuters reported that the liberal activist group, Tamarod, which helped topple Mr. Morsi, voiced its disappointment on its website that it had “not been consulted ahead of Mansour’s constitutional declaration.”
Mr. Mansour’s next step was to swear in a new cabinet, which is dominated by liberal and leftist politicians, according to The New York Times: “Not one of the 34 cabinet members belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood…or any other Islamist party. The cabinet does include three women and three Coptic Christians, making it slightly more diverse, in some respects, than Mr. Morsi’s cabinet.”
Egypt’s interim president has been described as a mystery man by local and international media outlets. Oddly, Mr. Morsi had appointed him to his role as head of the Supreme Constitutional Court just weeks prior to his ousting. As one of Egypt’s longest-serving judges, Mr. Mansour has been politically quiet and has kept a low-profile. It is because of this that some analysts have suggested the interim president may really be a puppet for the military.
Egypt’s military chief General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, however, claimed his interests were apolitical during the July 3 televised address that placed Mr. Mansour in power: “The armed forces couldn’t plug its ears or close its eyes as the movement and demands of the masses calling for them to play a national role, not a political role as the armed forces themselves will be the first to proclaim that they will stay away from politics.”
Despite such assurances, General el-Sisi has taken on the title of deputy to the prime minister. What exactly his powers are remains to be seen.
While the armed forces’ move to overthrow Egypt’s elected government was sudden, continued political turmoil in the nation comes with little surprise. The country has been split down the middle since Mr. Mubarak’s departure in 2011.
Though Mr. Morsi did win the 2012 presidential election, it was only with 51.7 percent of the vote. His opponent, Ahmed Shafiq—who served as prime minister under Mr. Mubarak—garnered 48.3 percent. Almost one in two Egyptians was ready to hand power to a main player in the former regime.
Since Mr. Morsi’s inauguration, the military did everything it could to limit his power, while the Muslim Brotherhood worked tirelessly to cut the armed forces out of the political process.
Over a year ago, U.S. News and World Report provided this summary: “‘The odds are overwhelming that the current military and Muslim Brotherhood leadership will not be around in five years time unless there is a military coup,’ says Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Anthony Cordesman. ‘Several political transitions likely will play out over the next decade until a regime experienced enough and capable enough comes in.’”
Egypt seems unsure of what it wants. Will it embrace a theocracy based on the tenants of Islam? A free-market democracy? Or something else entirely?
Most cannot see where Egypt is ultimately headed, yet clues to the nation’s future—and what is coming for the entire region—began to emerge in 2011 on the night of Mr. Mubarak’s resignation. At that time, Real Truth Editor-in-Chief David C. Pack wrote: “To look closely at Egypt is in some ways to look closely at the entire Middle East.
“The biggest and most populous, and most geographically central nation in the Mid-East, Egypt—and its historical role—is referenced many times in the Bible. Egypt was the world’s first recorded great empire. And it is still the 16th most populous country in the world. History records that Noah escaped to Egypt when persecutors sought his death before the Flood. The ancient patriarch Joseph was sold into slavery there, which led to his father, Jacob, then named Israel, settling there. Certain historians believe that the patriarch Job—Joseph’s nephew—built some of the pyramids. Moses was largely trained in Egypt. An infant Jesus was taken there for protection. Before the Exodus, it took many miracles to break the will of the stout-hearted Egyptians before God could deliver His people from enslavement. Egyptian arrogance caused Pharaoh to ignore all of this and lose his army in the Red Sea as God’s people fled under His protection. History records Egypt never recovered.
“Ancient Israel often went to war with Egypt. The Bible records many accounts involving this country as God’s servants and people came into contact with it.
“Of course, many dismiss such Bible accounts as Hebrew fables. They do not believe the miracles of Egypt—or any other miracles of the Bible—actually occurred. It can be proven with unmistakable clarity…Even the close-minded will be surprised at the stubbornness—and the power—of the facts. The authority of the Bible can be proven.”
The World to Come broadcast You Can Prove the Bible’s Authority presented by Mr. Pack addresses this topic in detail. Yet the Bible—which provides a road map to Egypt’s future—reveals much more. It outlines the role the nation will play in a foretold entity called “the king of the south,” which is a lead player in a long prophecy found in chapter 11 of the Old Testament book of Daniel.