Culture / Foreign Policy

What’s Next for Egypt?

By: Quinn Daly

The “New Egypt”, formed after the fall of long time dictator Hosni Mubarak, looks very different than many people imagined. During the demonstrations on Tahrir Square, protestors called for a united Egypt against the autocratic rule that defined the Mubarak regime. The Egypt of February 11, 2011 is drastically different from that of October 9, 2011. Unity has transformed itself into violence. Recent violence left 25 dead and 300 injured Coptic Christians in the country. The post-Mubarak Egypt is beginning to look eerily similar the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

These episodes of violence are the worst since the fall of Mubarak. This demonstrates the sectarian rifts that still exist within Egyptian society. The extreme Muslims population wishes to rid the country of its Coptic Christian population. This stance forces the Christian communities to fight for their survival. This tension has come to the fore because the country lacks any tangible leadership. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egypt’s current ruling body, holds executive power, yet they fail to use it effectively. In many cases the military will hold positions for its own self-interest rather than the interests of the nation.  This leads to a myriad of befuddled policies and ineffective action to prevent violence. Consequently, the lack of a firm political stance leads citizens to take action to protect themselves for their self-interest.

Like Iraq under Saddam, Mubarak was able to avoid violence because he was able to understand the interests of Egypt’s diverse communities in order to avoid a showdown between Christians and Muslims. As Steven A. Cook, a prominent Egyptian scholar, describes, “ The former President perniciously manipulated Egyptian society, slicing and dicing it through three decades of power all in the service of perpetuating Mubarakism.” Mubarak’s exit has created a political vacuum for both sides. Without Mubarak in power, the various factions within the country are beginning to take the country’s future into their own hands. This is a very dangerous proposition for the citizens of Egypt and their collective political future.

The major difference between Egypt and Iraq is that the former is yet to plunge into a sectarian war. In order to avoid such a situation, it is essential for Egyptians to decide the future of their nation through peaceful means. In order to experience true freedom, Egyptians will need to establish the rule of law and a functioning government. The rule of law and peaceful resolutions of conflict need to become the new norm in the post-Arab Spring world. The opposite reaction would only destabilize the already sensitive region. A peaceful, democratic state is paramount to the interests of the Egyptian people and world leaders.

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