Tag Archives: Egypt

Video of the Week – The Arab Spring 3 Years On

On Friday May 16th, retired general Khalifa Haftar stormed the Libyan parliament and declared it dissolved. Libya was among the Arab countries where just three years ago, the people had risen up against the government to embrace democracy and overthrow their dictators who had ruled over their countries for several decades. Three years later, both in Libya and across the rest of the Middle East, dictators have fallen and the political landscape has greatly changed. However, none of the Arab countries have been able to peacefully and properly install a democratic government.

The story in Libya revolves around the fact that the country has had a very strong tribal culture that traces its origins way before the toppling of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Although Gaddafi was a brutal dictator, he had centralized power and had been able to keep the tribes in check during his reign. Following his ouster during the Libyan Civil War of 2011, a massive power vacuum appeared. Even though the opposition has attempted to form a legitimate and democratically elected government, fighting among the tribes, which had been kept under control during the Gaddafi era, have so far made the democratization process a failure. The transitional government currently has no control over a majority of the country, a constitution remains to be approved by a referendum and the country awaits the election of its fourth prime minister following the kidnapping and ouster of the country’s previous prime minister. Regarding the instance earlier this week, General Haftar has claimed that the current government, which is led by the Islamist Justice and Construction party, is too religious and has transformed the country into a breeding ground of Islamist terrorists. The central government dispatched its own loyal tribal militias to counter the retired General.

arabspring3

Just like in Libya, internal turmoil rages in the remaining countries that had been part of the Arab Spring. A military coup overthrew the democratically elected government in Egypt, a bloody civil war still rages on in Syria and the uprising has been crushed in Bahrain. The video of this week takes a look in detail at how each country has fared in the past three years. The video is 4 months old, but not much has changed since then. It is saddening to see that much of the euphoric feelings at the start of the Arab Spring have now turned into disillusionment and outright tragedy. It goes to show that despite what some Western leaders have claimed in the past (George Bush, Tony Blair, etc) democracy is not something that can be installed overnight, especially in a region with such a chaotic history and a complicated political climate as the Middle East. For the sake of the Arab people, lets hope that I’m wrong and that peace and prosperity can return to these lands as soon as possible.

The following link also contains a timeline of significant events regarding the Arab Spring since the start of the movement all the way up till today.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2013/12/timeline-arab-spring-20131217114018534352.html

“I think this is really a defining moment for the Arab world. The problem is, it is all going to be about blood, sweat and tears. In certain countries it may be just sweat, and in some countries sweat and tears, and in some countries, as you can see, a lot of blood. I think initial instability is something that we are all extremely nervous of.”
– King Abdalah II of Jordan

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Video of the Week – Mohamed Morsi Placed on Trial

The video for this week comes to us all the way from Egypt and discusses the impending trial of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. As always, some background information to bring unaware readers to the loop.

At the peak of the Arab Spring in 2011, Egyptians overthrew their dictator, Hosni Mubarak, who had been ruling Egypt for 30 years. As per the demand of the people to gain more democratic rights, elections were held across Egypt in the early months of 2012. In that election, Mohamed Morsi emerged victorious.  He ran as the candidate from the party of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist social and political organization who had utilized acts of violence to promote their cause in the early years of the 20th century. After continuous battling with successive governments in Egypt, in the 1970s, they pledged to give up their violent ways and to participate in Egyptian politics. Even though they entered elections and tried to participate in the Egyptian political forum, they were continuously scrutinized and persecuted by the Mubarak regime.

After the fall of Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood was able to reenter Egyptian politics with force and won the subsequent elections. Morsi assumed power and Egyptians were hopeful of the future. However, within just one year, many Egyptians had become disillusioned. Morsi had been completely inept in managing the country’s economy. What’s worse was that Morsi had started to centralize government power and had started to remind many of Mubarak. For example, in order to speed the writing of the constitution, Morsi announced that the constitutional amendments passed by the Supreme Council restricting the president’s powers would be annulled. In July of 2013, the Egyptian people had enough of Morsi and took to the streets once again in the largest protest ever seen by man.

Egypt-protest-in-Tahir-Square

 After several days of protests, the military lead by General Sisi stepped in and overthrew Morsi. He was jailed in an undisclosed location and arrest warrants were issued for several Muslim Brotherhood members. Morsi called on his supporters to take to the streets and challenge the military’s coup. Unfortunately, in the ensuing days, clashes between pro-Morsi supporters and protesters against Morsi as well as against the military, led to the death of hundreds of Egyptians.

Since then, Egypt had remained relatively calm. That was until today when Morsi was placed on trial by the military. As the video points out, critics of Morsi demand justice for his inept policies and political crimes whereas Morsi’s supporters believe that this trial will be unjust and that he still remains the legitimately elected leader of Egypt.

Morsi is currently charged with inciting murder and could possibly face lifetime imprisonment or even the death penalty. Today, it was announced that the trial would be adjourned until January so that both sides could review the evidence.

If Morsi is found guilty, this could ignite a further round of protests by his supporters. We will have to wait till January to find out the result. Until then, the only thing we can do is hope that Egypt solves its internal problems so that the bloodshed comes to an end and that Egyptians finally get the democratic and just government that they deserve. It is truly tragic to see a country with a history so grand as Egypt suffer. It is very normal for someone to support either Morsi or the military. However, we can all agree that we wish for peace and democracy to return to Egypt once again.

We pray for this beloved country, Egypt, for God to protect her safety, security, stability; to protect her unity and more so, her image.
-Pope Theodoros II