Hours before Cairo’s latest bloody explosion this week, one of Egypt’s most prominent and influential businessmen warned in a private message to friends abroad that the Arab Spring was dead and next month’s elections could trigger “a major conflict with blood in the streets.”
The latest explosion was triggered by a clash between the police and Christian Copts (10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people) protesting an attack that had torched a church. The Copts are also opposed to the army’s boot-dragging in turning politics over to civilians.
One of Al Jazeera’s cameras caught an armored personnel carrier running over some demonstrators, crushing six, including one whose skull exploded. Thousands soon appeared with knives, machetes and clubs. Christian crosses were held aloft as the crowd scattered. Several jumped over the parapet into the Nile. The bloody clashes seesawed along the Nile corniche on both sides of the state TV building.
Muslims who joined the demonstration seemed to split between those who sided with the military and those who tried to shield the Christians. The bloodiest clashes since former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February left 26 dead and about 200 wounded.
The confidential message that reached Western contacts earlier the same day said the upcoming elections, scheduled for next month, will produce a near majority for the Muslim Brotherhood or, if canceled or postponed, will trigger a bloody conflict in the streets of Cairo and other cities. Conditions will then be ripe for a sectarian or civil war. Many Egyptians already have packed and gone elsewhere. The stock exchange has lost half its value.
To transition in good order to an elected government, Egypt must have a prolonged period of stability. No one sees that coming.
Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP), which controlled the last national assembly, was dissolved, but its members regrouped and divided their numbers among newly formed parties - e.g., Renaissance Egypt, Egyptian Citizen Party and Freedom Party - with the aim of regrouping in a runoff to block religious extremists.
Their common objective is to short-circuit a religious state coupled with Islamist forces that blend religion and political action. Violence-prone Salafists stoked the latest violence in Cairo.
It was the late President Anwar Sadat who laid the foundations for NDP in 1978. And it was Sadat’s nephew Talaat Sadat who was chairman of the party before it was dissolved by the military on April 16.
The Modern Egypt Party (MEP) is led by a prominent businessman and also includes NDP veterans. Senior Brotherhood officials told the senior army generals now in charge they expect former NDP members of parliament to be banned from participating in the forthcoming elections.
Either way, for or against the inclusion of former NDP stalwarts now scattered among half a dozen new parties, the ruling military’s decision is bound to provoke fresh demonstrations - and bloodshed.
Youth movements that spearheaded the “January 25 Revolution” have also weighed in for a five-year ban on former members of the old parliament in the next elections.
Opponents of the old Mubarak regime say NDP “remnants” are “as dangerous as Islamist forces and must be banned from participating in the political life of Egypt.” The path toward elections at the end of November is strewn with booby traps, each one with the potential to trigger clashes in the capital.
The confidential message from one of Egypt’s major players said, “Common sense and rationality have disappeared and the military, while trying to keep some keel to the process, have daily fires to deal with, e.g., disruptions in hospitals, educational sector in disarray, court rulings revoking privatizations that happened over 10 years ago, cancellation of licenses for plants built and that employ thousands of workers, a now dysfunctional banking sector and heightened risk of sudden court rulings, strikes in public transport, riots and demonstrations, populist mania by aspiring politicians, a totally frantic and irresponsible media, major weapons smuggling from Libya and Gaza, and an economy looking into the abyss with the stock exchange falling off the cliff, not to mention ‘no new investments.’ “
Salafist extremists seem to believe the time is ripe to take on Christian Copts. This could easily explode into the kind of sectarian violence Pakistan has suffered as Shia and Sunni Muslims torch each other’s mosques.
Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Their history covers more than 19 centuries. Their women do not wear a veil or otherwise cover their faces. Christianity was introduced in the first century A.D. during the Roman period. Egypt is in the Bible as the refuge the Holy Family sought in its flight from Judea.
The Christian School of Alexandria was founded by St. Mark and is the oldest such establishment in the world.
The Arab Muslim invasion of Egypt did not take place till A.D. 639. Gradual conversions to Islam over the centuries changed Egypt from a Christian to a mainly Muslim country by the end of the 12th century.
Since Gamal Abdel Nasser’s 1952 revolution, the army has been the most powerful player as the guardian of stability. It owns at least one-third of the economy. And many businessmen who did well through their army connections are faithful guardians of the status quo. The army is divided over whether it should stand pat or give up some of its privileges.
Egypt also remains of enormous strategic value to the United States. It is guardian of the Suez Canal, grants automatic authorization for U.S. military overflights and is an ally in the confrontation with Iran (though this has weakened since Mr. Mubarak’s overthrow). In return, Egypt gets $2 billion a year in U.S. military aid.
As of now, the Egyptian military has no interest in undermining its strategic interests with the U.S. and Israel. Depending on who emerges victorious from a messy - and most probably bloody - election campaign, the geostrategic comfort zone may shrink perceptibly....
Indeed, as I have been warning of for some time; the Muslim Brotherhood desires the return of their Caliphate. And the first step is dominance of Egypt along with Tunisia and Libya, no thanks to Mr. Obama for the latter; then the blood will flow for rivers and oceans against any and all who do not tow the line of Radical Islam.
After that, will be warfare with Israel....LOL
There can be no transition to democracy as long as the countries are ruled by Shariah Law. Shariah Law does not account for separation of religion and state. Shariah Law is the state. Therefore how can Obama or Clinton push for democracy without a framework? Hillary was promoting a Eastern European, former Soviet satellite model which was absolutely ludicrous because it did not include Islam. How do we get these morons in government and worse yet, how do they gain credibility? Talk to Mitchell, he saw that when Mubarak was ousted by Obama, there was nothing between the largest military power in the Middle East and Israel and that power would soon be controlled by radical Islam. It is the silly season in D.C. and the world recognizes it. You can bet global plans are being adjusted while the U.S. is trying to figure out how to deal with its internal "create a crisis to mask a crisis" which is derived from "Never let a crisis go to waste"....The Zioconned USA and its infamous white House Murder INC, still believes in a bond with the Muslim Brotherhood, [ A La Erdogan...] in order to rule MENA and the greater Middle east with such cowardly alliances in order to block Iranian legitimate ambitions in the area....