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Aftershocks from Egypt

Machla Abramovitz

What does Egypt’s turmoil mean for the rest of us?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

egyptJust a year ago, the world was examining Mohammed Morsi’s election as Egyptian president for clues as to whether one of the world’s oldest nations was taking its first baby steps toward democracy.

Upon his victory, commentators the world over opined that the economically backwardEgyptmight finally see a brighter future. Others promised that even an Islamic movement such as Morsi’s Islamic Brotherhood could be tamed to work within a democratic system.

Today, Morsi sits incommunicado in an army compound while his supporters battle the ruling army in the streets. The same masses that voted him into power have staged a massive overthrow, unseating the man they’d elected just a year before.

For Zvi Mazel, Israeli ambassador toEgyptfrom 1996 to 2001 and currently a fellow with theJerusalemCenterfor Public Affairs, there is no question that the dire state of the economy was the key factor behind this overthrow. “There is no petrol, no gas for cooking, not enough electricity.Tourism,Egypt’s greatest source of revenue, is down. Had Egyptians seen that the Muslim Brotherhood was heading down the path of economic development, they might have given it time to continue.”

Instead, the Egyptian street suffered from the new government’s utter incompetence and neglect of the economy, and was repulsed by the top priority given to drafting an Islamic constitution too extreme even for most religious Muslims and designed mainly to entrench Morsi in power.

Egypt’s interim president Hazem el-Beblawi has promised elections within six months, but the country’s future seems more fragile than at any other time in recent memory.

 

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