With more than 300 dead yesterday August 14th 2013 alone and the resignation of Prime Minister Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt is now getting ungovernable as supporters of deposed president and Islamist Muslim brotherhood continue to protest against the military backed government. More demonstrations are planned for today and an uneasy calm pervades Cairo, the capital.
Ange Ngu Thomas looks at what is at stake in the most populated and powerful middle east country, close ally of the USA.
Despite the 1.2 billion dollars in military aid it gives to Egypt annually, the United State again failed to stop yesterday’s crackdown on supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi, which led to the death of more than 500 people. The muslim Brotherhood is promising to bring more protesters on the streets today and the military backed government is equally determined to stop any further upheavals
US Secretary of state John Kerry, UN secretary general, Banki- Moon and the EU have all condemned the bloodshed. The military junta last night imposed a state of emergency which has brought relative calm across the country but this is not expected to last for long.
Local reports in Egypt say the clampdown by the police , bolstered by armored bulldozers, helicopters and support from the country’s army was striking in its brutality and marked one of the bloodiest episodes in Egypt’s history for decades.
Most of the deaths occurred when the military swooped in on two demonstrations in Cairo where thousands of supporters of deposed President Morsi had been camped out for the past six weeks asking that the military re-instate the detained leader immediately.
Egypt is now a deeply divided country as supporters of the military backed regime try to fight off the influence and political rhetoric from the very organized Muslim brotherhood that was created in 1928 and has waited to get to power for more than 80 years only to get and lose it after only one year. The brotherhood is angry and will go to any lengths to cause trouble.
A statement by Egypt’s interim President Adli Mansour said that it mandated the armed forces and the police to do what they could to “restore order while protecting lives as well as public and private property”. It has also mandated the army to assist the police in restoring security and order.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the events were “deplorable” and “a real blow to reconciliation efforts”. He said the unrest “ran counter to Egyptians’ aspirations to peace and democracy.”
However, in an interview with the Global post newspaper, former US diplomat extraordinaire, Nicholas Burns insinuated that the US no longer has a strong influence in Egypt, though it remained a strong ally in the region.
“The US retains significant influence in Egypt more than any other country…but, American influence is not what it once was and does not compare to what we had when I served at the Cairo Embassy in the mid-1980s”
He added that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have just given “Egypt $12 billion with no restrictions”.
“This amount” the former diplomat said, “far exceeds total US aid annually… In this sense, Washington is no longer the only game in town.” He however, added that the US will want to “safeguard the influence it does have with the military due to our vital interests in Egypt itself.”
Reaction to the Egyptian crisis has been swift on twitter. According to Timeout, “what a joke, Obama and Hillary are the reason we have violence in Egypt”
Patrick Kingsley tweeted “This is the third and worst massacre since Morsi’s fall; when will this end?”
David noted: “Describing John Kerry’s statement as condemnation is grotesque”. The “EU claims Brotherhood movement had accepted negotiated plan to defuse crisis but Egypt military violently broke up sit-in anyway” tweeted Kenneth Roth
The military government in Egypt might have dislodged the Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo, but the move seems to have deepened the crisis and when the next episode will happen is everyone’s guess.
For now, people power is just not working in Egypt. More than two thousand people have now died since Hosni Mubarak was toppled more than two years ago.
Somehow, the civil society and muslim brotherhood in Egypt have been unable to reduce the power of the military, the power brokers in the largely Muslim country. The USA is unfortunately not helping matters by continuing to provide logistical and financial support to the bloodthirsty Egyptian military.
Until the military is sent back to barracks where it belongs, Egypt will remain the “sick man of the middle east”.