Friday, June 28, 2013

Watching Egypt and Waiting for the World's Largest Gang Fight

Over in Egypt things are taking a decidedly ugly turn. In fact authorities and the population there are bracing for mass demonstrations scheduled for Sunday that could well turn into the largest gang fight in the history of the world.

It has gotten serious enough that the Al Azhar Institute, a Sunni clerical group, issued a statement saying, "Vigilance is required to ensure we don't slide into civil war." The Egyptian army is currently deploying armor and troops in order to protect government buildings, the central bank, and even the Suez Canal.

So, how did it come to all of this? Current Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi was elected a year ago on Sunday and immediately things began to go downhill. Opposition groups quickly claimed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood were putting in the fix so that they could keep their hands on power permanently. In addition, they claimed the Brotherhood and its more radical allies were moving to establish Egypt as a strict Islamic state.

They might well have an valid argument in both those cases. There are reports of more than just a few Morsi supporters claiming that the opposition is in fact, "waging a war on Islam." We've heard that line a few times before across the region and usually the people who say it can't be classified as entirely tolerant. In the last couple of days Morsi has begun investigations into a number of judges who he says were involved in election rigging before he came to power. He has also slapped a travel ban on satellite TV channel owner, Mohammed Amin claiming he is guilty of tax evasion. Amin's channel has been critical of the Morsi administration ever since it took power. NBC News quoted Morsi as saying, "He (Amin)is a tax evader--let him pay. He unleashes his channel against us."

The New York Times is saying that Morsi also kicked three representatives of satellite channels off a board known as the Free Media Zone. It helps regulate what goes on the air in the country. Another station owner, Ahmed Bahgat was accused of owing a bank $400,000.

Morsi supporters say his investigation into the judicial branch and the purging of TV station owners is overdue because all those guys were in the pocket of former president, Hosni Murbark. He was run out of office during the "Arab Spring" uprising of 2011.

It does appear Morsi and the brotherhood are continuing to cultivate relationships with radical Islamist groups. NBC quoted Eric Trager of the Washington Institute Think Tank as saying, what you have is "an enraged opposition and an utterly incapable, confrontational ruling party that now counts some of Egypt's most violent political elements as it's core supporters."

Reports are the demonstrations are being engineered by an opposition umbrella group known as Tamarod which translates into "rebel." They claim to have secured over 15 million signatures on a petition demanding early presidential elections. Their cause has been aided by rising food prices, extended waits for fuel, and mass electrical outages that have been occurring multiple times a day, every day. Yes, once you start screwing with the daily life of the average working person you have just guaranteed yourself chronic and severe problems that will not go away.

The deciding factor in this chaos will be the Egyptian Army. While reinforcing security at government institutions in advance of Sunday, it has remained carefully above the fray so far. However, they are indisputably the pharaoh makers in Egypt. Indeed, no matter what any constitution says, the military will decide the issue either by action, or inaction. Presidents come and go, as do demonstrators, but tanks and automatic weapons remain the ultimate authority.

It is estimated that as many as 50 million Egyptians could take to the streets Sunday. None of them will be happy and many of them will not like what the people on the other side are saying. There is no wrath quite like that expressed between people who share the same nationality.  

You see one person's freedom is another's oppression. Unfortunately, despite all our supposed intelligence, never shall the twain meet. It is a uniquely human conundrum.

In the end, I suppose, it is just another thing that separates us from the beasts in the fields.

Sometimes though, it is easy to wonder who came out on the best end of that whole evolution deal.


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