Egypt has seen drastic changes of regime since ex-leader Hosni Mubarak was overthrown after a reign of 29 years. This change also mirrored what was happening in other Middle Eastern countries during the time which was called “the Arab Spring”. After the Arab Spring, Mohamed Morsi won the election in Egypt, which was the first election with a lot of the population turning out. This regime didn’t last for long, as only a year later Morsi was overthrown by the Military. This was a result of big political tension in Egypt as well as uprisings by people going against Morsi and people who were against the rapid forced departure of Morsi. In the End, the military came to power and Morsi was no longer in the picture. Egypt is now under the rule of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who conveniently was the leader of the military at the time when Morsi was overthrown. When President Sissi came into power he made it a law that states that there shall be no unauthorized gatherings of more than 10 people(act 107), to prevent the chaos and violence that was happening in the streets before every regime change. Today we are seeing that people are no longer paying respect to act 107, as hundreds of demonstrations have been held in Egypt against the current regime. Most recently there have been demonstrations in “Cairo, Alexandria, and several other cities” on Friday, September 20th, 2019.
These demonstrations which have been popping up across Egypt are only the most recent news which has come up on the political tension in Egypt. There have been demonstrations for several years now since President Abdel-Fattah el Sissi has come into power, but never of this magnitude as seen this past weekend. Reportedly there have been 1,400 arrests made, with other prominent figures of opposition groups being taken down. Reports have said that there has been the spread of “false information” about the regime and to congregate people for these demonstrations. This is eerily similar to the events that happened during the time of the Arab Spring, where opposition groups went to social media in order to gain a bigger following and to influence others about the opposing ideas. Now we see the El-Sissi has restricted use of social media, in fear opposition expanding. Will we see the events reccuring in Egypt? Are these protests the start of a bigger revolution? What is fueling these opposition groups?
Military Corruption seems to be the big reason as to why these protests have been happening. Although President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is no longer seen as a military leader but as a political figure, the presence of the military in intervening in politics has been evident. For many years after the overthrow of Morsi, by the egyptian military led by el-Sissi, they were seen by the people with a lot of love and respect. The people of Egypt, well the majority of people were happy with the military for overthrowing the previous leader and making egypt a better country. Today that is not the case, as many people are enraged with the military for being corrupt with the politics and economy of Egypt. Mohamed Ali, who is a self exiled Egyptain, has been credited with sparking these recent protests which have been occurring as recently as last Friday. The basis of his ideas and the opposition is that the military has been corrupt with dues which are owed. He feared that if he didnt “pay-up” then his life would be in serious danger. The biggest reason for his opposition is that President el-Sissi is allocated state funds for his own personal use, and with Ali’s familiarity to building projects, he states that some companies are building structures as “favors” to people within el-Sissi’s close circle.
With allegations of fund reallocation, there has been an increase in poverty rates across Egypt in the years since El-Sissi has come into office. 32% of people are now living in poverty in Egypt compared to 27.8 in 2015, which is a drastic change of 5%. El- Sissi has also been publicly accused by military officials to have given up some of Egypt’s territory. With problems with the economy and territory, there has also been a rise of human rights issues as of late in Egypt. There laws preventing people from having demonstrations that are unauthorized as well as recent shutdown of social media sources. This has caused for a lack of social and freedom rights in Egypt which a lot of people are not happy with.
There are a lot of problems that are pressing Egypt currently. If Egypt wants to keep its values of being a democracy, then a lot of changes will have to be made. First, the strength of Egypts state has been diminishing as of late because the leader has publicly just given away territory, as well as having rapid protest spiral up in the main cities. There have been military leaders that have spoken out against him, which shows lack of military support. There have been signs of corruption as well as tons of infrastructure being built, but poverty rates have been going up. The rights of the people have been getting more and more suppressed as more opposition has been showing up. This situation in Egypt will likely end with more protests arising now as there is more media coverage about the uprisings. These past events and demonstrations will allow for opposition groups to gain a bigger following as more people realize how corrupt the government is. The last straw will be military support for President El-Sissi. If the military decies to overthrow than we will see a recurrence of events, and a Military regime will be back in place in Egypt. President el Sisi stated that “stability is more important than freedom”, but none of that is happening in Egypt right now. People’s freedoms are being stripped away from them as they cannot speak out and share their ideas publicly to bring change, and the stability is going down as of result of this.
Malsin, Jared. “Egyptian Forces Arrest 1,300 People After Anti-Sisi Protests.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 25 Sept. 2019, www.wsj.com/articles/egyptian-forces-arrest-1-300-people-after-anti-sisi-protests-11569428342.
“One Protester’s Story: Paying the Price for Seeking Freedom in Egypt.” BBC News, BBC, 25 Jan. 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38730565.
“Egypt’s Military Wields an Enormous Economic and Political Power.” D+C, www.dandc.eu/en/article/egypts-military-wields-enormous-economic-and-political-power.
Saba, Joana. “Mohamed Ali: The Self-Exiled Egyptian Sparking Protests at Home.” BBC News, BBC, 24 Sept. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49800212.