Large Masses Gather in Egypt – Is More Violence Imminent?
With 84 year old former leader Hosni Mubarak suffering from a stroke late on Tuesday, tens of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of the increasingly politically tumultuous country of Egypt. Mubarak, ruled from 1981 up until the revolution of 2011 which forced his resignation, was sentenced to life in prison early in June; however, persistent health issues have left him outside of bars.
Currently, Mubarak’s rapidly declining health is not the only issue which has caused the Egyptian people to take to the streets. On June 16-17, a runoff between the Muslim Brotherhood‘s Mohammed Morsi and ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq has led to both camps claiming victory. With a winner of this hotly contested election due to be announced Sunday, the country eagerly waits for a winner to be decided, with either result potentially ending in an uprising from the other half.
Both sides have their detractors, with many siding with Morsi due to his opposition to Mubarak and the idea of stabilization to this revolution torn country. While Morsi would attempt to bring said stabilization, the past 18 months of revolution have hardly been peaceful, with constant uprisings, as well as spikes in both poverty and crime. The other faction, siding with Shafiq, also believes that the United States is somehow influencing this election in favor of Morsi.
On top of all of this political turmoil, a third group has inserted itself in these proceedings, the military. Originally, the military had pledged to cede control by July 1st; however, on June 15, they reneged on that pledge, and the generals issued a declaration of their own which permitted them to draft their own constitution. With this mess of a political climate, and a tired and war torn populace eager to find some source of stability, that may not come of any outcome of this runoff, as no matter who wins, nearly half the country will be upset.
The United States finds itself in a precarious situation as well, with officials expressing their concern that a Shafiq victory could have dangerous fallout, with protests and ensuing instability that could lead the military to take even stronger measures; however, those same issues could arise even with a Morsi victory. Only time will tell the true outcome of what happens with this runoff and the political fallout that will ensue.