Is Egypt At Risk of Civil War?
A New Government Excluding Islamists Increases Tensions in the Troubled Arab Nation.
By: Imogen Whittaker Cumming, Staff Writer
Egypt is suffering from political and economic tensions that have caused mass protests and deadly riots. Now, the African Union is warning that the most populous country in the Arab world may be at risk of a civil war.
The warning came on Thursday after a newly appointed interim cabinet was installed to take over for the ousted President Mohammed Morsi. Interim head of state Adli Mansour swore in a new government comprised of 33 ministers, three of them women and three Christians. It does not include a single Islamist party member.
Alpha Oumar Konare is African Union chair of a high level panel for Egypt that held its inaugural meeting on Tuesday. He warned of the dangers of not including Islamists in the cabinet at a news conference in Addis Ababa. “The first risk (of excluding Islamists) … is making instability more acute. This instability can lead to a greater … risk of civil war, the risk of deepening violence on a daily basis.”
[pullquote]”The first risk (of excluding Islamists) … is making instability more acute. This instability can lead to a greater … risk of civil war, the risk of deepening violence on a daily basis.”[/pullquote]
The interim government was sworn in on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, seven people were killed in clashes between the military and Morsi supporters. The first of such violence in over a week, it raised the death toll of people killed in clashes since Morsi’s ousting to at least 99.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement has rejected the interim government. “It’s an illegitimate government, an illegitimate prime minister, an illegitimate cabinet,” said Gehad El-Haddad, Brotherhood spokesman.
[pullquote]”It’s an illegitimate government, an illegitimate prime minister, an illegitimate cabinet.”[/pullquote]
However, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Egypt may have avoided a civil war
this month. “I will say this: that what complicates it, obviously, is that you had an extraordinary situation in Egypt of life and death, of the potential of civil war and enormous violence, and you now have a constitutional process proceeding forward very rapidly,” Kerry said to the Arab League Peace Initiative. He maintained that Washington will continue to take its time deciding whether or not Morsi’s July 3rd removal was a coup, which will determine if they will cut off U.S. aid to Egypt.
On Friday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated across cities in Egypt, resulting in three deaths. Protesters consisted both of Morsi supporters, vying for an Islamic state, as well as defenders of the military take-over of the Morsi government. The pro-Morsi coalition has urged its supporters to “adhere to civilized behaviour” and remain peaceful.
Imogen is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker living in Toronto. Her work explores cross-cultural stories of immigration and gender. She is a copywriter for the creative design studios Half Hunter, and has written two short films which successfully screened in Toronto this year.