World View: Thirty-Six Deaths in Cairo on Sunday

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • A relatively quiet day in Cairo - only 36 deaths
  • More on the Generational Dynamics analysis of Egypt's crisis

A relatively quiet day in Cairo - only 36 deaths

Downtown Cairo on Friday (AFP)
Downtown Cairo on Friday (AFP)

Sunday was a relatively quiet day in Egypt, after a week of clashes between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supporters that resulted in almost 1,000 deaths. The Muslim Brotherhood called off several planned protest marches on Sunday, rather than risk additional clashes with the police. The major event of the day occurred when at least 36 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed by security forces in a gunfight when they tried to escape from a prison convoy as they were being transported to jail. Al-Jazeera

More on the Generational Dynamics analysis of Egypt's crisis

I received a couple of inquiries about the statement I wrote yesterday that "A full-scale crisis civil war is a real possibility in Egypt." I was unclear in writing this sentence. I was not attempting to predict a civil war between Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supporters and their opponents. I was only attempting to contrast Egypt, where a crisis civil war is a possibility, with Syria, where a crisis civil war at this time is definitely not.

The reason for the inquiries is that the statement appeared to contradict my recent article, "28-Jul-13 World View -- Generational Dynamics analysis of the crisis in Egypt" in which I wrote, "So my prediction is that there will NOT be a civil war between pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators."

This is still my prediction, though it's worth pointing out that I make this kind of prediction with "only" 80-90% probability. My record on making predictions in the last ten years has been the best in the world, and I still challenge anyone to find a journalist, analyst, web site or politician with anything close to the predictive success of Generational Dynamics. (For more on the mathematics behind Generational Dynamics forecasting, see my 2009 paper: "International business forecasting using System Dynamics with generational flows." (PDF))

So let's look more closely at the situation in Egypt, and see if it's reasonable to expect a crisis civil war between the members of the Muslim Brotherhood, versus their opponents.

In order to have a crisis civil war, the country has to be in a generational Crisis era (which Egypt is, and Syria is not). And there has to be a hard fault line that separates the two groups that will be fighting each other.

What do I mean by a "hard fault line"? The major criterion is that your membership in each of the conflicting groups is decided at birth, and there's no way, in most cases, to "switch sides."

So, for example, the American Civil War was found along a geographic fault line that separated the North from the South, and in those days it was rare for Northerners and Southerners to mingle.

The 1994 Rwanda civil was fought between two ethnic groups -- the Hutus and Tutsis. In that war, a man might get up in the morning, grab a machete, go to his neighbor's house next door, kill and dismember the men and children, rape the wife, and then kill and dismember her. That's the kind of thing that happens in a crisis civil war.

In the Bosnian civil war of the early 1990s, there were both ethnic and religious differences between the Christian Serbs and the Muslim Croats. In her book, World on Fire, here's how author Amy Chua describes the Bosnian war:

"In the Serbian concentration camps of the early 1990s, the women prisoners were raped over and over, many times a day, often with broken bottles, often together with their daughters. The men, if they were lucky, were beaten to death as their Serbian guards sang national anthems; if they were not so fortunate, they were castrated or, at gunpoint, forced to castrate their fellow prisoners, sometimes with their own teeth. In all, thousands were tortured and executed."

In Burma (Myanmar) today, you can easily see a full-scale crisis civil war building between the Buddhists and the Muslims. (See "5-Apr-13 World View -- Meiktila, Burma, violence has echoes of Kristallnacht".) That's going to explode into a major bloodbath before too much longer.

Now, I just don't see anything like that building between the pro- and anti-MB Egyptians. Except for isolated incidents, I don't expect to see masses of pro-MB Egyptians raping and mutilating and dismembering masses of anti-MB Egyptians, or vice-versa. The fighting and massacres so far has still been mainly between civilians and security forces, not between civilians and civilians.

A web site reader sent me a link to a Feb 2012 article that talks about a supposed American-Zionist plot to partition Egypt into four separate countries. I read through the article, hoping to find some evidence that there were significant hard fault lines within Egypt that might lead to such a partitioning, but it turned out that the accusations were just fatuous nonsense, as far as I could tell.

One might argue that there are hard fault lines between Egyptians on the one hand and Jews and Coptic Christians on the other hand, but except for isolated incidents we've seen little animosity between these groups. The one hard fault line that I've seen is with Bedouins in Egypt's Sinai.

And that's why I predict, with 90% probability, that there will not be a full-scale crisis civil war between pro- and anti-MB Egyptians. I'm willing to change my mind, but only when I see something significant, such as what's going on in Burma.

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