Unrest in Egypt Demonstrates Potential for Another Political Collapse

President Morsi warns against opposing him, but it’s possible his rule will soon be over

By Viviane Fairbank, Staff Writer

Image Courtesy of: guardian.co.uk

A warning from Egypt’s president against political opposition highlights the recent turmoil that is  speculated could push the state to collapse once again. President Mohamed Morsi declared on March 24 that the country would take “necessary measures” against any politician involved in what he labeled as violence and rioting.

Said riots have begun as protests against Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood and have escalated as supporters of the brotherhood clash with protestors. One took place outside the Islamist group’s Cairo headquarters the week before Morsi’s statements, leaving dozens injured. Reuters quotes Morsi’s statement: “If I am forced to do what is required to protect this nation, then I will do it. And I fear that I might be on the verge of doing it.”

This vague but stern announcement comes soon after initial public opinion that Morsi’s rule may soon be over. In January, the Guardian reported that Egypt’s chief of armed forces, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, posted on the army’s Facebook page that this continued struggle between political groups over Egypt’s affairs “could lead to the collapse of state.” Sisi added that the army would continue to be a “solid and cohesive block” for the Egyptian state, on which its citizens can rely on.[pullquote]If I am forced to do what is required to protect this nation, then I will do it. And I fear that I might be on the verge of doing it.[/pullquote]

In early 2011, closely following the ejection of former president Hosni Mubarak, protest as a form of opposition was still novel in Egypt. Early April was host to the Friday of Warning, a demonstration in Tahrir Square involving tens of thousands of citizens who were “fed up and angry with Egypt’s military rulers“, as was reported by the New York Times. It was the biggest protest since Mubarak had stepped down and was met with violence from the military, who had assumed direct control after the president was forced out.

Now two years later, with a democratically elected, moderate Islamist president, protesting has taken yet another violent turn. The Guardian counts that 52 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured over the five days of rioting that resulted when protests against the current president, the Muslim Brotherhood and police brutality turned violent this January.

With a national army that is confident in its superiority to the government, and citizens that are completely distrustful of any current state authority, Sisi may be unavoidably right. Economically, Egypt’s industry is quickly waning amid oil shortages and a diminishing tourism trade, while pressure from the International Monetary Fund to sign their loan agreement strengthens. Democratically, the elections promised for 2013 don’t seem to be on their way. Politically, Egypt’s compass is in shambles, and its pieces have been scattered across the country.

With Morsi stuck in a political corner, it remains unclear whether Egypt will be able to resolve its issues without another violent insurgency.

Viviane Fairbank is a writer, photographer, and willing university student, desperately waiting to travel around the world. 

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