As blood continues to soak the land of the Pharaohs, a path towards long term peace and stability appears to be getting narrower by the day. The situation has become abysmal that some are suggesting life would be better with Mubarak still in power. What many are forgetting is the notion that the current crisis in Egypt is a result of having an oppressive regime hold onto power for decades. The forces that are clashing in the streets today were always on an inevitable collision course. It might not have happened suddenly if there was no Arab spring but was eventually going to happen in 20, 30 or 100 years. Mubarak’s iron fist leadership simply provided a quick fix for the tribal, religious, social and economic forces that were boiling and fragmenting the population behind the scenes. Once a power vacuum emerged, the beast was unleashed and the laws of nature immediately took effect.
Idealistic Egyptians that demand secularism, civil liberties, social justice, women’s emancipation and inclusive democracy are trapped in a conundrum of an inventor who emerges ahead of their time. They are attempting to convince the establishment that the earth is round but the status quo is adamant that it’s still flat. As a result, democracy which was earned through the first revolution did not produce the expected results. Morsi the new shepherd decided to hold onto the same crook that Mubarak used for three decades. Though democratically elected, his failure to create an inclusive government left many feeling the revolution and bloodshed in Tahrir square was in vain. Inevitably a second revolution was initiated calling for yet another shepherd. The military marched in with gusto claiming to be the guardians of democracy but instead we are witnessing the actions of a pack of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Egypt has a complex dynamic between the executive branch and the military unlike the stranglehold we are accustomed to in other African nations. The military ties to the United States a result of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel provides a shield and too big to fail lifeline for the brass in Egypt. America’s national interests and need for regional stability demanded by Israel has historically led to overlooking human rights violations by autocrats like Mubarak. As a result, it was convenient for the Egyptian military to stay out of the fray and cut off the head of the snake whenever disgruntled voices grew louder in Tahrir square. Now that the military has assumed the role of guardianship, the fear of civil conflict and burning desire for stability has led them to drink from the same cup of oppression that led to the demise of Mubarak and Morsi.
The people of Egypt are trapped in a vicious cycle of violence and extreme polarization with no end game. A supposedly well intentioned revolution has been sabotaged by internal and external interest groups looking for a quick fix to a complex political standoff. The notion that an organic movement fighting for inclusive governance is overshadowed by voices with intentions to exclude, disband and eliminate the Muslim brotherhood from the political process is mindboggling. There is a danger that alienating a faction that pursued political influence playing by the rules via the ballot could transform them into radicalized Islamists. The burning of churches and targeting of Christians by fringe elements suggests that the conditions are already ripe for such a radical transformation. As events continue to unravel, it is difficult to fathom a scenario in which both sides can eat from the same plate let alone sit on the same table to iron out their differences. The situation in Egypt is certainly going to get worse before it gets worse!