Friday, July 5, 2013

What's happening in Egypt?

On the 3rd of July the Egyptian Army led a coup d'État against Mohammed Morsi, the legitimate president elected by the citizens in June 2012. The head of the Army, General Abdul Fattah Al Sisi, justified the coup  because the president didn't listen to the people's demands. After several weeks of protests, led by an opposition movement called Tamarod (Rebel), focused again on Tahrir Square, the Army gave a 48-hour ultimatum to the president to resign. When the deadline finished, the Army took the control of the TV stations, suspended the Constitution and appointed an interim president, Adli Mahmoud Mansour, head of the Supreme Constitutional Court. General Al Sisi, surrounded by the members of the opposition parties, announced that the Army doesn't have the intention of keeping power and they will step down after elections take place.

This has been the end of the first democratic experience in the history of Egypt, apparently as a result of people's will. But another feature of the history of modern Egypt has repeated: the intervention of the Army. Since 1952, when another coup d'État deposed the monarchy in Egypt, the Army has played a central role in the country. All the former presidents of Egypt (Muhammad Naguib, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak) came from and were supported by the Army. The military also had an important role in the February 2011 revolution, when the people's protests forced Mubarak's resignation. Mubarak was succeeded by Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, who ruled as interim president until the presidential elections in June 2012, when Mohammed Morsi was elected.

Morsi has been the first civilian president in the history of Egypt. He belongs to a party called Freedom and Justice, the political branch of an Islamist organization called Muslim Brotherhood. This Broterhood was created by Hassan al Banna in 1928 with the purpose of building a system based on the Sharia (Islamic Law). The influence of the Muslim Brotherhood extended to other Muslim countries due to their fight against colonialism and their charity work. The Muslim Brotherhood was forbidden in Egypt during the monarchy and also during most of the military rule period. Many of its members were imprisonned and played an opposition role against the regime. In the first free elections after the Arab spring revolution (parliamentary elections from November 2011 to January 2012) Freedom and Justice won around half of the seats in the Parliament and Mohammed Morsi, their candidate, won the presidential election with 51% of the ballots in June 2012. 


Here you have a detailed timeline with the most important facts of Morsi's year in office:

The main protests against Morsi's decisions have been related to his attempt of accumulating power (although he later backed out), his inability to solve ordinary problems of the population (inflation, electricity power outages) and the increasing Islamization of the State. But one thing is clear: Morsi was elected in clean elections and subverting the opinion of the majority of the population is a dangerous move which may have unexpected consequences. Something similar happened in Algeria in 1992, when the Army led a coup d'État to cancel the elections won by another Islamist party, the FIS (Islamic Salvation Front). This action was supported by the main Western countries, but led to a 10 year civil war that caused more than 200,000 dead. As in Algeria, the main Western countries have greeted the intervention of the Army in Egypt and refuse to consider it a coup d'État. Egypt is an important element for the stability of the Middle East region and the main guarantor of Israel's survival and the main powers (especially the USA) may prefer a country controlled by the Army than accepting the people's decisions. Also the Syrian regime, Saudi Arabia  and the United Arab Emirates have celebrated the coup. 

The situation at the moment appears to be very complicated. The protest day in support of deposed president Morsi has ended with several protesters killed by the military police. Tension is growing and it's very difficult to foresee what the evolution of the situation will be. 

Here you have some articles in Spanish I've read that can help you understand these events in a better way:

This is a summary of the situation of the countries where the Arab spring developed:

And these are some websites where you can find a lot of information about what's happening in Egypt: 



- Al Jazeera