On June 24th, 2012, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Presidential Election Commission announced that Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood had won the run-off presidential election in Egypt. Immediately, there were scenes of jubilation and excitement in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, and the Muslim Brotherhood declared through its social media port “Ikhwanweb” that a new era for Egypt and the Arab world had begun.
On June 29th, 2012, Morsi took the constitutional oath, which every president and minister swears upon appointment, to “respect the constitution and the law, work for the welfare of all Egyptians, and protect the homeland’s security”. He did this on a make-shift stage in Tahrir Square amidst wild cheers, and was considered the crowning moment of Egypt’s revolution.
What a difference a year makes…
On June 30th, 2013, there are mass protests planned to remove Morsi from office at all costs. Protesters are citing a complete incompetence in governance as their reason for wanting to bring down Morsi, and how he has not been able to accomplish any one of his promises within a year of power.
Even worse is the increased killing of protesters, with evidence indicating that Morsi’s Brotherhood thugs are going after protesters in more violent ways than any policeman in Mubarak’s era.
This all begs the question: what’s going to happen on June 30th? Will Egypt revolt to shake itself free of Brotherhood rule?
The Road to Get Here
The past year hasn’t been easy on Egyptians. There have been several incidents that would make anyone cringe at the thought of this level of incompetence in government. Let’s take a look at some of the more horrendous ones:
- Morsi promised to “clean up the country” in a literal and metaphorical sense within 100 days of his presidency. There were virtually no efforts to clean up the streets from garbage within those 100 days, marking the beginning of what many have dubbed “the Brotherhood’s failed Renaissance”.
- In November 2012, a bus filled with school children was hit by a train, killing 50 children on board. Morsi’s government thought that 5,000 EGP (the equivalent of approximately $1,000 Canadian) is sufficient to compensate the families of those killed. In Egypt, people lamented how this wasn’t even enough to buy an iPhone.
- In December 2012, Morsi defied all logic and expectations when he issued a constitutional decree declaring himself above the law, and stood by idly while Muslim Brotherhood thugs fought tens of thousands of protesters that packed Tahrir Square and the Ittihadiya Palace, where Morsi conducts business. In this incident, he disregarded all constitutional limitations of power and crushed civil liberties supposedly gained by the Revolution.
- In April 2013, Morsi stood by idly without interfering on the blatant attack on the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, the residence of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox pope and home to the relics of St. Mark the Apostle.
- A horrendous downturn of Egypt’s economic state, coupled with an unprecedented downturn in Egypt’s tourism industry, has left the country stagnating and unable to break out of a tailspin.
- Widespread shortage of food and gasoline, in addition to regular interruptions in electrical service during summer months.
- In June 2013, it is revealed that Ethiopia (one of the Nile Basin countries) is planning on building a dam on the Blue Nile in its territory to harness its hydroelectric power potential. The dam would result in drastically reduced water levels in Egypt, effectively destroying agriculture and life in Egypt.
- In June 2013, Morsi appoints new governors for Egypt’s governates, as required by law. He appoints Mr. Mohamed Adel El Khayat as Governor of Luxor, one of Egypt’s largest tourism hotspots. It was later revealed that Mr. El Khayat was one of the terrorists who opened fire on foreign tourists in Luxor in 1997. (There’s something sadly ironic about his promise to keep Luxor tourists safe).
So, as you can see, it hasn’t been an easy road. There are many more examples of how bad this has been, but I won’t go into detail about those.
What this will mean on June 30th
Like many other events in history, explosive events like revolution, war, protests, etc is caused by a buildup of widespread frustrations lit by a charging event. In Egypt’s case, both statistical evidence (e.g. polls, economic statistics, etc) as well as anecdotal evidence would indicate that the buildup of frustration against Morsi and the Brotherhood is there, but there doesn’t seem to be a fuse lit up anywhere. There doesn’t seem to be one incident that will drive people to the streets and air their frustrations in the open space of Tahrir Square.
Will there be such a “spark” before June 30th? Perhaps. Will the protests begin anyways on June 30th without any hesitation? Perhaps. But unless there are tangible gains for the protests in its early hours, one might expect that the protests would die down eventually, especially if faced with the ruthless and violent Brotherhood gangs that are often unleashed to quell protests in Egypt these days.
The One Tangible Breakthrough
Protesters aren’t afraid to go out and protest in Egypt. Some of them have seen worse days than what they’ve seen with Morsi. But what stops them might be the needless destruction and death that happens at these protests. There have been too many deaths in Egypt related to protests, and sometimes, it isn’t worth it to make more families suffer for a protest that isn’t going anywhere.
But perhaps that’s what Egypt’s latest revival of its revolution needs. It needs to break that seemingly impenetrable wall of Brotherhood dominance to make the whole system fall on itself within days. The Brotherhood regime in Egypt is not as well-established, organized and entrenched as Mubarak’s regime was, and therefore, could come down much quicker than Mubarak’s regime did. It will take an incredible swing of momentum that reminds Egyptians that the Brotherhood is vulnerable and can be removed from power just as swiftly as Mubarak was. My guess is that they’ll only be able to do that if they stop the thugs from beating and killing senselessly on the streets on June 30th.