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Will Egypt Survive The Civil War? - Facts & Infographic

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The 2011 Revolution

Since 1981, Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak had been the unopposed authoritarian president of Egypt– an uninterrupted thirty year-long reign.Duringthis period Egypt experienced unprecedented political stability but at the same time saw high levels of unemployment, food inflation, corruption, and police brutality. Inspired by the success of the Tunisian Revolution, andspurred on by the support garnered on social media groups, Egyptians staged their own protests in January 2011.

 

The revolution gathered momentum on January 25, 2011 with strikes, and demonstrations being staged all over Egypt. Millions of Egyptians united in their agenda to oust President Hosni Mubarak. Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Mansoura, Sinai, Siwa, Suez, and Tanta became centers of political upheaval and civil disobedience. Tahrir Square was the scene of many violent demonstrations that led to clashes between the protesting Egyptians and the military. Thousands were arrested, many killed or injured, and the administration shut down Internet and mobile links.

 

With an escalation of violence, the president’s commitment to enact reforms was rejected by the revolutionists. The president transferred some of his authority to the General Intelligence Directorate of Egypt, Omar Suleiman. He also announced his intention of withdrawing from all forthcoming elections. The people of Egypt had, however,decided that nothing short of a complete ouster of President Mubarak would appease them.The crowd at Tahrir Square swelled to over 2 million on February 2, 2011. About 750,000 demonstrated in Alexandria and about a million in Mansoura. President Mubarak was forced to resign on February 11, 2011.

 

The Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, took over as the de facto head of state and suspended the constitution on February 13, 2011. The parliament was dissolved. A constitutional referendum was held on March 19, 2011 and 77 % of the people supported the changes.

 

The protests of 2011took a toll of over 845 lives in Egypt. About 6,467 people were injured and 12,000 arrested in the protests. The loss to public property was immeasurable. With the stability and security of Egypt severely compromised many countries issued travel advisories asking citizens to steer clear of Egypt.

 

The Polls

The presidential elections in Egypt were held in two rounds - on 23 and 24 May, 2012 and the on 16 and 17 June, 2012. The Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, won the elections to become the first Islamist head of state in the Arab world.In the first round, about 46% of the electorate turned out to vote and the leading candidates were - Mohamed Morsi (25%), Ahmed Shafik (24%), Hamdeen Sabahi (21%), Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh (18%), and Amr Moussa (11%). The elections deeply divided the Egyptian political parties along Islamist and secular lines.In the second round, about 51% of the electorate turned out to vote and the clear winner was the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi who was sworn in on June 30, 2012.Morsi’s victory margin, however, over his closest competitor, Ahmed Shafik (Prime Minister during the Mubarak regime), was a narrow one.

 

The polls were considered historic since it was only the second time that Egyptian elections saw over two candidates running for presidency. It was also deemed a free and fair poll by independent observers. The Egyptian presidential elections of 2012 were deemed a success for champions of democracy but the victory of the Islamist party was not happily accepted by secular forces.

 

The Morsi Code

Mohamed Morsi Isa El-Ayyat, the leading figure representing the Muslim Brotherhood in the revolution, became Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) as it was founded with an intent to contest the 2011 presidential elections. He assumed office as the fifth President of Egypt on June 30, 2012. Soon, however, Morsi started to lose the popular support he had gained at the helm of the revolution, as he initiated a move to free his office from judicial overview and to weaken the courts of Cairo. Severely criticized both at home and by the international community, Morsi unrelentingly passed a decree on November 22, 2012, seizing more power and undisputed authority. Clashes erupted across Egypt protesting the president's decree. In December 2012, Morsi approved and enforced a new controversial constitution which many feared would egg Egypt closer to being an Islamist state. The constitutional referendum of Egypt was passed with 56.6% majority.

 

An opinion poll conducted by the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) about 10 months into the Morsi presidency showed that about 47% Egyptians were dissatisfied with the administration. This was a major dip from 78% support gained after his first 100 days in office. By June-July 2013, the dissatisfaction boiled over and Egypt once more broke out into protests.

 

Interim Government And Instability

The protests that had rocked Egypt by end June culminated in the ouster of President Morsi in a military coup. President Morsi was deposed on July 3, 2013 and on July 4, 2013, interim President Adly Mansour took charge of the office. The collision between Egypt’s military forces and the Islamist group, Muslim Brotherhood, had long been seen as inevitable. The Egyptian populace has, however, not been very happy about the new administration either. A late July poll conducted by the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) shows that over half of Egyptians know the name of Interim President. Also according to the poll, 66% Egyptians did not know Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi whose cabinet was sworn in mid-July 2013. Even within a month of taking office the new administration started to initiate anti- Muslim Brotherhood actions. On August 20, 2013, the Mohamed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader was arrested at his residence in the capital city. The constitutional changes initiated by the military administration shall make it impossible for Muslim Brotherhood to exist.The Army Commander General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is also criticized as a rash decision maker. El-Sisi headed the coup that ousted president Morsi.

 

Muslim Brotherhood And Religion

The Society of the Muslim Brothers, commonly called the Muslim Brotherhood, is a transnational Islamic political organization founded in Egypt in 1928 and headquartered in the country. While the Muslim Brotherhood became immensely popular during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and amassed the support of the people, the group steadily lost popularity in the days following the revolution. This, however, should not be regarded as a move towards secularism. Polls show that Egyptians still prefer Islamic law and a move towards the Shari’a.

 

According to an early 2013 poll by Pew Research, favorability of the Muslim Brotherhood fell from 75% in 2011 to 63% in early 2013. Unfavorable responses rose from 20% in 2011 to 36% in 2013.According to the same poll, about 58% Egyptians believe that the laws should strictly follow Quran, Islam’s holy book. About 28% believe that the laws should follow the values and principles of Islam but not adhere strictly to the Quran and 11% think that there should not be any influence of Quran on the national laws.

 

With Mohamed Badie's arrest, the Egyptian military has initiated a strong crackdown on the group and by mid-August over 37 imprisoned members of the group were reportedly killed in what authorities reported to be an attempted jailbreak.

 

Muslim Brotherhood Future

The Egyptian Prime Minister's proposal to legally dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood may force the organization to go underground and take to armed resistance, it is feared. “They are the illegal people, we have won at every single democratic process and they have lost, and the only way for them to be back in the political arena is through the power of the bullets and tanks”, said Mona al-Qazzaz, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson.

 

As They See It

According to the results of a Pew Research Global Attitudes poll published in May 2013, the outlook of Egyptians towards their future seemed increasingly negative despite the passage of about two years since the country staged its epic revolution to oust erstwhile president Hosni Mubarak. When asked if they were satisfied with the way things are going in the country, about 28% agreed in 2010, 69% were dissatisfied, and 3% were unsure. In 2011, following Mubarak's ouster about 65% reported satisfaction, 34% dissatisfaction, and 2% were unsure. In 2012, there were 53% satisfied respondents, 41% dissatisfied respondents, and 6% were unsure. In 2013, there were only about 30% satisfied respondents while 62% were dissatisfied, and 7% were unsure.

 

The greatest insights, however, come from a Gallup poll of voluntary respondents in Egypt two weeks before former President Mohamed Morsi was deposed in July 2013. When asked if they thought Egypt is better off or worse than it was before President Mubarak's resignation, 80% respondents thought that the country is worse, 14% thought it was better off and only 5% thought that things were about the same.

 

Following the ouster, an opinion poll conducted by the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research about the sympathy garnered by the protesters who support ousted President Mohamed Morsi reveals that 71% Egyptians do not sympathize with the protesters; 20% sympathize with them and 9% did not have a specific position.

 

A Look At The Economy

Prior to the revolution, tourism provided direct employment to nearly three million Egyptians and was the backbone of more than 70 industries; about 20% of the foreign currency inflow came from tourism. The plummeting numbers of tourists in the country have affected the livelihoods of millions across the state.

 

About 15 million people visited Egypt in 2010, most of them tourists. In 2011 after Egypt's revolution, only about a third visited the country, say official statistics. Those employed by the tourism industry, however, say that most of the key tourist destinations such as Luxor and Aswan remain deserted due to the unrest in Cairo.

 

The Gallup poll conducted between June 12 and 19, 2013 reports that 71% Egyptians think that employment opportunities have declined in the private sector and 68% think there has been a decline in the government sector employment opportunities following the 2011 revolution.

 

According to Pew Research Global Attitudes poll of May 2013, Egyptians have steadily been apprehensive about the country's economic conditions. In 2010, 80% poll respondents thought that the economic conditions were bad; in 2011 about 64% concurred; in 2012 and 2013, 71% and 76% thought that the economic conditions were bad. In 2013, only 29% poll respondents said that they believe that economic conditions in Egypt will improve in the next 12 months. This is a major dip from 2011 when 56% respondents were certain of economic improvements in the year to come. Only 32% respondents believed that economic conditions in Egypt would be better 5 years from now; 50% believed that things would get worse.

 

US Aid

The stand of the Egyptians regarding the United States is “overwhelmingly” negative, says Pew Research. Despite President Barack Obama’s concentrated efforts for America to remain in good standing in the Arab world, much damage has been done to the nation's image and popularity in Egypt. Obama's own ratings with the Egyptians have slipped steadily and the US is now lower in favor that it was during the Bush administration. A few Egyptians, however, still hold the relationship with the US to be significant.

 

Currently, the US provides a substantial military aid to Egypt. In 2013, the aid was of the amount of $1.3 billion and President Obama had applied for $1.55 billion (2014) before President Morsi was deposed. The Obama administration is currently (late August 2013) withholding some military aid to Egypt and White House is reviewing any future help in the midst of deadly political violence in Egypt and domestic calls for strict action against Egypt's army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (currently Minister for Defence and Deputy Prime Minister). It is still unclear if a withdrawal of US aid shall hurt sentiments in Cairo. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, about 82% Egyptians rejected/opposed US aid while only 15% favored it.A United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll also reveals that the majority of adult Americans believe that the US should have nothing to do with Egyptian politics following President Morsi's ouster.

 

Cultural Legacy

Egypt is a significant tourist destination primarily because it showcases the cultural brilliance of the ancient civilization that existed on the banks of the Nile. The cultural legacy of Egypt has faced untold damage since the revolution of 2011.

 

In January 2011, as Tahrir Square burgeoned with millions protesting the regime of President Mubarak, looters entered and destroyed valuable relics in the Egyptian Museum, including 2 mummies which were over 2,000 years old. The destruction was only a start of what could be deemed one of the most important historic cultural legacies of the world.

 

In December 2011, over 2000 ancient texts and manuscripts at the famous Egyptian Institute were set ablaze. The supporters of fundamentalist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood have been blamed for the destruction of these invaluable relics. The Muslim Brotherhood is rumored to have threatened to destroy the Egyptian sphinx, pyramids, and other historic monuments.

 

Apart from ancient churches and mosques, culturally significant centers such as Malawi National Museum in the southern city of Minya have been destroyed in the wake of the 2013 revolutions and counter-protests by Morsi supporters.

 

"Egypt's exceptional cultural heritage is not only an inheritance of the past, reflecting its rich and diverse history, it is also a legacy for future generations and its destruction seriously weakens the foundations of Egyptian society" - UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova

 

A Thorny Path Called Democracy

Among the key issues leading up to the 2011 protests and revolution was the lack of a number of democratic freedoms in Egypt. Two years down the line, true democracy is still uncertain. But according to a May 2013 poll results, a majority of Egyptians still believe democracy is the preferred form of government for their nation. Support for democracy as a form of government went from 60% in 2010, to 71% in 2011, to 67% in 2012, to 66% in 2013. In 2013 about 21% thought that other forms of government were suitable in some circumstances, 11% believed it did not matter to them and 2% were unsure. While 51% Egyptians preferred an unstable democracy, 46% Egyptians choose a stable non-democratic government before the coup of 2013. But when the choice is between a strong economy and democracy, 51% respondents chose a stable economy and about 45% chose democracy over economy.

 

Political analysts also believe that circumstances in Egypt are not quite ready for a democracy to be successful, despite the heightened political consciousness of the people. The political parties in the country are unstable and given to conspire rather than inspire confidence in the people. The powerful military and the Islamist group, Muslim Brotherhood, are unlikely to co-exist, it is believed.

 

Timeline Of Egyptian Revolution

2011

Jan 25 - Feb 11– Millions of Egyptians stage nationwide protests against President Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of protesters are arrested, injured, or killed as Mubarak attempts to suppress the revolution.

Feb 11 – Friday of Departure; Mubarak resigns and military takes over. The parliament is dissolved and constitution suspended.

Mar 19 – Constitutional amendments sponsored by the military are overwhelmingly approved by a popular referendum.

Nov 28, 2011 – Feb 15, 2012 – Parliamentary elections held in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood wins about half the seats of the lower house of parliament. Islamists bag over 90% in the upper house of parliament.

2012

May 23 – 24 – The first round of presidential elections held across Egypt. Of the 13 candidates, Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, lead the race.

Jun 14 –The lower house of parliament of Egypt is dissolved by the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Jun 16-17 – Second round of presidential polls. In the run-off between Morsi and Shafiq, Morsi wins with 51.7% of the vote.

Jun 30 – Morsi takes the oath of office.

Aug 12 – Morsi orders the retirement of the top military leaders who served under Mubarak.

Nov 19 – Representatives from liberal parties and the nation’s churches withdraw from the 100-member constitutional assembly charged with drafting the new constitution. Islamists groups attempt to impose their will.

Nov 22 – Morsi unilaterally sanction’s greater powers for his office providing him immunity from judicial review. He disempowers the Egyptian courts from dissolving the constituent assembly and the upper house of parliament. Mass protests ensue.

Dec 4 – Hundreds of thousands of protestors demand the cancellation of the referendum and the ask for a new constitution to be drafted..

Dec 15, Dec 22 – Constitutional referendum is held but many boycott it; Constitution is approved with a 63.8 % vote in favor.

2013

Jan 25 – Rising dissatisfaction against Morsi; thousands stage protests against the president to mark the 2-year anniversary of the revolution; clashes erupt in many Egyptian cities.

Feb – Mar – More protests and demonstrations are staged in many parts of Egypt. Hundreds die in the anti-Morsi demonstrations.

Apr – Religious violence breaks out in many cities. Pope Tawadros II blames Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood.

May 7 – Morsi reshuffles the Cabinet, perhaps with intent to push through a $4.8 billion loan negotiation with the International Monetary Fund.

Jun 30 – Millions of Egyptians protest against Morsi demanding a resignation.

Jul 1 – Egypt's military steps in to resolve situation. Gives protestors and Morsi administration 48 hours to come to an acceptable solution, failing whichit will impose its own solution.

Jul 2 – Military discloses its solution – to oust Morsi and replace him with an interim government, to suspend the Islamist constitution, and hold elections within a year’s time.

Jul 3 – Military ousts Morsi, suspends constitution, and installs interim government in Cairo.

Jul 4 – Interim President Adly Mansour takes oath.

Jul 5 – President Mansour dissolves the upper house of parliament. Morsi supporters organize mass protests in Cairo, Alexandria and other parts of the country. Clashes lead to much violence.

Jul 8 – Over 50 pro-Morsi protestors killed in Cairo by the military. Military recommends constitutional amendment and presidential and parliamentary elections. Muslim Brotherhood disagrees with timeline and suggestions.

Jul 9 – Hazem al-Beblawi sworn in as Prime Minister and Mohamed ElBaradei as Vice President.

Jul 26 – Millions demonstrate in pro and anti- Morsi protests. Morsi is declared to be under investigation for murder and conspiracy with the Palestinian group, Hamas.

Jul – More clashes and violence across Egypt. International community attempts an intervention.

Aug 7 – President’s office declares failure to peacefully resolve the standoff between the administration and the Muslim Brotherhood. Crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood initiated.

Aug 11 – Plans initiated to lay seige on the two pro-Morsi sit-ins.

Aug 12 – Siege postponed to avoid violence; thousands of Morsi supporters join the sit-ins.

Aug 14 – Authorities move to break up the sit-ins and protests. Mass clashes across the country kill hundreds. President’s office declares a month-long state of emergency across Egypt.

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Will Egypt Survive The Civil War.


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