Egypt remains in chaos as the third anniversary of the uprising is marked. It was January 25th 2011 when the original revolt began that resulted in the removal of longtime Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak himself predicted some of what would follow over the course of the past three years. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour in February 2011, he noted that chaos would follow his removal and that the Muslim Brotherhood represented the most organized political force in the country besides himself. The pictures from the streets of Cairo today would seem to validate Mubarak’s predictions.
Much of the current violence in Egypt has been directed against supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi, who was elected to replace Mubarak. His government was short-lived however as Morsi attempted to grant himself the power to bypass the Egyptian courts and unilaterally implement executive decrees. This led to a renewed uprising that, with the assistance of Egypt’s military, overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government and led to yet another interim administration.
Recently the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a “terrorist organization” by the interim government and public gatherings of Brotherhood supporters have become a target for government forces. At least 49 Egyptians have been killed in this past weekend’s protests. Pro-Morsi demonstrators have staged rallies all across Egypt and clashed violently with both government forces and civilian supporters of the interim government. Egypt remains in chaos as they mark the third anniversary of the original uprising.
The interim government in Egypt is attempting to move the political process forward despite the continued violence. A new constitution, supported by Egypt’s military, was overwhelmingly approved in a voter referendum earlier this month. Interim President Adly Mansour announced today that in accordance with that new constitution, a new presidential election will be held before a new parliament is seated. This is a slight change to the original transition plan outlined last summer, but Mansour stated that presidential elections were more crucial in order to stabilize the government.
Political observers within Egypt predict that General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi is likely to be Egypt’s next president if this new schedule is followed. He is a very popular figure in Egypt and his status as a high-ranking military officer is likely to intimidate voters opposed to a military leader, according to Mustapha Al Sayyid, a Cairo University professor. This would lead to reduced voter turnout for potential opposition candidates, leading to an easy election for Al Sisi.
The Egyptian military has long played a key role in politics within the country. The military withdrew its support from Mubarak after the original uprising in 2011, leading to his eventual resignation. They also were pivotal in the downfall of Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government. The popularity of Al Sisi is an indication of the status that the military enjoys in Egypt.
The violence this weekend is an indication that chaos still exists in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood has many supporters within the country and not all Egyptian citizens are comfortable with the concept of a military official as president. As Egypt marks the third anniversary of the removal of Hosni Mubarak, the chaos continues.
By Christopher V. Spencer