Will Egypt Collapse?
Egyptian unrest did not end with the fall of Mubarak two years ago. What does the current violence mean for the future of this militarily powerful nation?
“The continuation of the struggle of the different political forces … over the management of state affairs could lead to the collapse of state,” warned Defense Minister General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on the Egyptian army’s Facebook page.
The Guardian reported, “Parts of Egypt are in turmoil following five days of rioting in which 52 people have been killed and more than 1,000 injured after protests against President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and police brutality turned violent. The unrest comes two years after the start of the 2011 revolution that toppled the former dictator Hosni Mubarak” (“Egypt’s Armed Forces Chief Warns Unrest Could Cause Collapse of State”).
According to a BBC news report: “The latest violence, now in its sixth day, has been focused in Port Said. It was sparked by death sentences handed down by a court on 21 local football fans involved in riots that left 74 people dead at a football match in the city almost a year ago.
“Supporters accuse the authorities of making them into scapegoats, and say security officials at last year’s game between the local club, al-Masry, and the Cairo club, al-Ahly, should be held accountable for the deaths.
“Protesters elsewhere have been marching in opposition to Mr. Morsi’s authority in the wake of the Egyptian revolution’s second anniversary. In Cairo on Tuesday police again fired tear gas at protesters near Tahrir Square, and the lobby of a major hotel close to the square was attacked, apparently by looters.
“The clashes also prompted Egypt’s public prosecutor to call for the arrests of a newly-formed anarchist group known as the Black Bloc. Its black-clad members have been at the vanguard of the latest protests in Cairo. According to its Facebook page, the group is opposed only to the Muslim Brotherhood—the powerful Islamist group of which President Morsi is a member.”
In the wake of the violence, President Morsi canceled his planned trip to the African Union summit in Ethiopia and declared a 30-day state of emergency and curfew in the vital Suez Canal area that has been the scene of some of the deadliest clashes.
But President Morsi did not cancel his trip to Germany today, though he canceled a planned Paris leg of his trip. He apparently felt secure enough in his control of the military and the country, in spite of the demonstrations.
Morsi’s trip to Germany
During President Morsi’s trip to Germany Jan. 30 he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She told him: “One thing that is important for us is that the line for dialogue is always open to all political forces in Egypt, that the different political forces can make their contribution, that human rights are adhered to in Egypt and that of course religious freedom can be experienced” (Reuters).
The trip was designed to help drum up much-needed business to help the beleaguered Egyptian economy. “The Egyptian Business Development Association (EBDA), created by a number of Muslim Brotherhood businessmen after the revolution, said a delegation of 100 businessmen travelled on Tuesday to Germany to attend the Egyptian German Economic Forum” (AhramOnline).
But will the goal of drumming up business be overshadowed by the continuing unrest and the violent crackdown?
And will the Egyptian military continue to be a “solid and cohesive block” on which Morsi can rely, or will it use the instability to reassert its control of the country?
Africa’s biggest army
“Egypt has far and away the largest army in Africa,” said Egypt analyst Robert Springborg (quoted in the Washington Times).
Military aid has long been America’s key leverage in Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations. Egypt has ordered $14 billion in U.S. military equipment since 2003.
“The billions of dollars in U.S. military aid—in annual $1.3 billion stipends—have made the Egyptian air force the fourth-largest F-16 operator among 25 countries. Egypt’s 4,000 tanks, including the 1,000 or so M1A1s, make it the world’s seventh-largest tank army” (Washington Times).
The United States is not the only country fueling the Middle Eastern arms race. Germany is also a major supplier of weapons throughout the Middle East. And, as all arms exporters find, business concerns can conflict with foreign policy concerns.
“Two options remain for the German arms industry, with its 80,000 jobs: Either it shrinks with declining demand, or it develops new markets. But those markets happen to be regions of the world where dictators are at war with one another, religious regimes are funding terrorists or autocrats use violence to suppress their own people. The biggest growth markets are in the Middle East and in the emerging economies of Southeast Asia and South America” (Spiegel).
Egypt is a major case in point. Will all these tanks and weapons be turned against the Egyptian people? Will they be used against Israel? Will the Americans and Europeans regret having supplied this powerful army?
Other flashpoints around the Muslim world
Egypt is far from being the only trouble spot in the Muslim world. World news is filled with wars and threats of wars throughout the region:
- French and other European troops are helping battle Islamists in Mali.
- Islamist terrorists were killed after taking international hostages in Algeria, reportedly using some of the weapons that disappeared during the revolution in Libya.
- Syria’s civil war has driven hundreds of thousands of refugees across its borders, with the conflict threatening to spread. Will Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons be used or fall into the hands of terrorists?
- Iran’s nuclear program continues to alarm its neighbors. Will Israel bomb Iran before the window closes?
Tensions are at a flash point in many other places. Which will be next to explode?
King of the South
The Bible warns of end-time troubles in the Middle East. Daniel 11 records a long prophecy tracing Middle East conflict from the time of the Persian Empire through the battles between leaders north and south of the Holy Land—all the way to the end time.
“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.
“He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape” (Daniel 11:40-42).
Who will this end-time king of the South be? How will he attack the king of the North—now centered in Europe? Read more in the article “Middle East Conflict” and keep watching events in Egypt and throughout the region.