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January 29, 2015 / 9 Shevat, 5775
 
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Egypt’s Systemic Collapse

The crisis in Port Said has exposed deep problems in Egypt's political system.
The Egyptian flag

The Egyptian flag

There have been street riots in the city of Suez as well, in which four of the five police stations in the city were set on fire by the raging masses. And in Ismailia, 18 people were wounded in the riots.

In an attempt to calm the mood, Morsi declared a state of emergency upon three areas of the canal – Port Said, Ismailia and Suez – and imposed a curfew from 9:00 in the evening until 6:00 in the morning, for the duration of one month.

But the problem with this state of emergency is that the Egyptian public associates it with the Mubarak regime, which regularly imposed a state of emergency. Therefore the man in the street asks: What is the difference between Mubarak and Morsi? As a result of public pressure and the danger that the situation may deteriorate further, Morsi announced that he is willing to reassess the need for the state of emergency, which indicates a lack of decisiveness on the part of the president. But in Egypt’s current situation, they must have a decisive president in order to rescue the state from the multi-system mess that it has deteriorated into.

Evidence of the weakening of the Egyptian public system is apparent in the new phenomenon that began appearing in the streets recently, which is called in English a “black bloc,” where groups of youth wrap their faces in black, with some of them intensifying the effect by drawing frightening images on their face coverings. These groups of youth damage police vehicles, police stations and buildings of governmental institutions, with the intention of bringing down the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Various strange rumors are circulating about the political agenda of these groups, including, for instance, that they represent the remnants of the Mubarak regime, or that they are criminal gangs that are taking advantage of the confusion. There are even those who spread the rumor that they are agents of the Israeli Mossad, whose goal is to bring the Arab world to a state of total chaos.

In the political sphere, the “National Salvation Front” has been operating against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. This group is composed of a number of opposition parties and is led by Muhammad el Baradei and Hamdeen Sabahi . Because of the deterioration in recent days, President Morsi has been attempting to speak with them in order to establish a generally accepted national position, but the heads of the opposition parties refuse to meet with him. Their refusal is seen as an expression of “no confidence” in him and in the process that resulted in his election. Their demands are to establish a government that will include all of the public sectors, even the seculars, to change the Islamist-leaning constitution which grants too much authority to the president and to dismiss the attorney general.

They demand that “Morsi will take responsibility for the Egyptian blood that is spilled in the streets, that he will rein in the Muslim Brotherhood and make them subject to the laws of the land.”

LAST WEEK, in the extremely embarrassing condition that it currently finds itself, Egypt marked the two-year anniversary of the start of the revolution. During Mubarak’s time, the Egyptian people suffered from oppression and corruption, many lived wretched lives, but people were not killed in the streets in great numbers. There were some cases of police abuse which resulted in deaths, but this was rare.

Today, after the “democratic” revolution brought down Mubarak and his gang, the life of the Egyptian is far more miserable. Millions who, in the days of Mubarak, made a living from tourism are unemployed today, and foreign investments, which enabled many in the past to work and earn a living, have disappeared, resulting in even more people who today are unemployed.

The International Bank has conditioned its loans on subsidy cuts, principally for bread, but Morsi is afraid to raise the price of bread because of the street riots that will break out and because the people will accuse him of not being able to bring to their children even the most basic of foods. On the other hand, if he doesn’t cancel or at least decrease the subsidies, Egypt will go bankrupt; it will not be able to underwrite the subsidies, the price of food will rise and people will riot in the streets.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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