Tahrir Protests: Egypt's Crisis Won't End, No Matter What Happens to Morsi
Two years, after the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is once again in the grips of revolution. President Mohamed Morsi, who was democratically elected one year ago with 51% of the vote, now, faces the biggest crisis of his presidency. On Sunday, millions took to the streets to demand his resignation; Egyptian military sources told Reuters that 14 million people were protesting. The unrest has seen the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood burned to the ground; five ministers in Morsi's government have resigned. The Egyptian military has intervened, saying, that all political factions have "48 hours" to "meet the demands" of the protesters. However, it seems that whatever the outcome, Egypt has become and will remain ungovernable for the foreseeable future.
It is hard to pin down just how many Egyptians want Morsi to resign, but the "biggest demonstration in Egyptian history" has seen a broad coalition of liberals, socialists, secularists, nationalists, Mubarak supporters, Islamists, and people with no political alignments combine to demand his removal from office. Different groups have different contentions, but the main unifying factor has been the economy. President Morsi has been following a policy of neo-liberal reforms which have brought misery to millions of Egyptians. His economic policies have included extensive austerity measures. On Morsi's watch, the government has failed to revive tourism and foreign currency reserves have been cut in half, which has led a dramatic fall in the value of Egypt's currency. Factories are closing down and the price of importing fuel and food has doubled;the economy is on the verge of imploding.
However, while there are many opposition groups in Egypt, there is no single uniform opposition front. At current, many Egyptians want Morsi gone, but there is no one group or person that can take his place. There is constant fracturing within Egypt's diverse range of oppositional forces, and toppling his presidency may lead to even more direct military control. The parliament may be suspended, and Egyptians are bitterly divided over what to do next. Tensions have been high in the country ever since Mubarak left power; sharp class, political, and geographical divisions continue to exist. Many rural towns and villages were opposed to the toppling of the last regime and it is not clear where many of them stand on this latest revolution.
Crime has shot up since Mubarak's fall from grace. There has been a 50% increase in sexual harassment of women following the 2011 revolution. The numbers of police on the streets was reduced after 2011, and as many Egyptians were taking to the streets, criminal gangs increased their operations in places near where the protest were taking place. The last few weeks have even seen a rise in "sectarian killings," as Shi'a Muslims in Egypt come under increasing attack. The rise in anti-Shi'a attacks follows President Morsi hosting an Islamist conference on 15 June, during which a number of Islamist preachers declared Shi'as to be "heretics" and that Sunnis should fight "Jihad" in Syria against them. It is unclear, if removing Morsi will reverse these worrying trends. However, with no clear replacementin sight for the president, Egypt is in a state of crisis and for the time being, ungovernable. Only time will tell how this situation resolves itself.