It’s been 8 months since Arab Spring revolution swept Egypt and led to the end of Mubarak’s regime.
The uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February has hammered the economy and sparked a wave of sectarian and other violence that the ruling army and its interim cabinet has struggled to control.
Fearing the radical Islamic movement of the Muslim Brotherhood will dominate the elections, the ruling army has been delaying elections date again and again. While the vote for a new parliament is now set for November 28 Presidential elections are not in sight.
Presidential candidate Amr Moussa says his biggest fear is of anarchy. “A long transitional period is not in the interest of Egyptians nor Egypt,” he said, adding it would slow action to support the economy “and also will create an opportunity for all those who want to play havoc with the Egyptian society.”
One fifth of Egypt’s 80 million people live in poverty, according to official figures, and the Egyptian revolution made their live even harder. Investors and tourists disappeared along with Mubarak, creating a massive grey economy in which millions are trying to make ends meet.
Two weeks ago, in what is now known as “Bloody Sunday” protests, at least 27 civilians were killed and 300 wounded. This bloody violence has left Egypt on the brink of a potential disaster. The military, the only stable institution left from the Mubarak era, lost its credibility after unleashing a deadly attack against civilian protesters. While many concluded the violence was rooted in a sectarian conflict between the army and Egyptian Copts, it still impacts the authority of the military council in the eyes of people of all religions in Egypt.
While the Arab Spring is fuelled by dreams of democracy, the events have also demonstrated the importance of responsible change. In a society that is not trained in democracy, radical changes can lead to radical results. In the current economic and civil anarchy in Egypt, the only beneficial is radical Islam as represented by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Military council keeps delaying elections knowing that if the Muslim Brotherhood gains control of Parliament it will be the end of the democratic dream in Egypt.
These are troubled waters and the Military council needs to tread carefully. If Egypt falls for radical Islam the revolution will have been for nothing and a new realm of a Middle East at war will loom. Bold steps must be taken to ensure this does not happen.
In the end it’s a matter of finding balance. The revolution disrupted the previous balance and now a new one must be found. Egypt’s recent involvement in the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1027 Palestinian prisoners is a positive sign of its commitment to peace in the Middle East. Let’s hope it stays that way.