The Egyptian people are up in arms again, this time not against a dictator, but against their own democratically elected president.
Barely two years after thousands of revolutionaries gathered in Tahrir Square to protest against the regime of former leader Hosni Mubarak, they have taken to the streets again, angry with President Mohamed Morsi, whose policies have furthered Egypt's economic woe. Acting on these protests, the military, backed by popular opinion, has removed President Morsi from office and temporarily taken over the country.
A Brewing Storm
In 2011, Egypt’s government transitioned from a dictatorship into a democracy. The first elections in the country’s entire history were held the following year, with Mohamed Morsi emerging the victor. There was cause for celebration, but also caution, as many of Egypt’s previous presidents had abused their power.
As time went on, however, hopes faded. Morsi made several attempts to grab more power for himself, announcing several decrees that among others, disallowed anybody from cancelling or appealing laws while the current Parliament is still in office, and authorized the president to take any measures he sees fit in order to preserve and safeguard the revolution.
Morsi’s abuse of power, which was the main reason behind the recent revolution, was accompanied with serious economic troubles for Egypt. Unemployment has soared to a record 13.2%, and 82% of young people between the ages of 15-29 are yet to find work. Nearly 17% of people are below the poverty line, and debt has increased by 10 billion dollars. The tourism and the food industry, Egypt’s main assets, have plummeted significantly in the past two years.
As they had done on those fateful weeks in 2011 that transformed Egypt, protesters in the thousands gathered in Tahrir Square and all over the country to protest against Morsi’s power grabs and economic policies. They clashed with Morsi supporters as political turmoil reached its zenith.
Last Monday, the military got involved on the behalf of the protesters, issuing a 48-hour ultimatum to Morsi, telling him to either resolve the political situation in Egypt or be removed from power. Morsi rejected the ultimatum, accusing the military of fighting against democracy and progress, and refusing to take immediate action.
The military made good on its threat, ousting Morsi from the presidency and taking over for the second time, as clashes between pro-Morsi and anti-Morsi factions turned deadly. It was almost a mirror scene of the 2011 revolts.
The current situation in Egypt is one of great uncertainty, and nobody really knows when and how it will be resolved. It remains to be seen whether it will continue to persist with a democracy, or turn into a dictatorship. Currently, we must wait and watch, and see what comes of this turmoil.