An Al Jazeera Journalist Was Arrested in Egypt While Everyone Was Watching Syria
It has been over two years since civilian riots in Egypt sent shockwaves around the world, igniting revolution during the dawn of the Arab Spring. Since then, the country has seen two regime changes: the historic fall of 29-year President Hosni Mubarak and last month's military coup against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president. With a military junta currently governing the country, it appears the prospect of peace and political stability remains as uncertain as ever before.
Since assuming power, Army Chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has returned Egypt to an authoritarian police state, blanketing the country in heavily armed security forces. The close proximity between frustrated Islamist protesters and armed military personnel caused tensions to boil over. Since the overthrow, around 1,000 civilians have been killed at the hands of government troops.
Aside from turning city streets into impromptu mass graves, the interim government has also taken hostile action against foreign journalists, most recently the arrests of Al Jazeera correspondent Wayne Hay, cameraman Adil Bradlow, and producer Russ Finn. The trio join two of their colleagues, Abdullah al-Shami and Mohamed Badr, who have been imprisoned for the better part of a month.
Some experts are demanding justice, arguing that Egypt's current governing body is guilty of crimes against humanity. While there is certainly plenty of evidence to support this theory, it appears unlikely that United States will take drastic action against General Sisi.
Although President Barack Obama did cancel next month's Operation Bright Star, the biennial joint military exercises normally conducted with Egypt, he made no mention of the nearly $2 billion in aid the U.S. contributes every year, the majority of which goes directly to funding the Egyptian military.
"We appreciate the complexity of the situation," Obama said during a public address in Cape Cod. "The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt's interim government and security forces. We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest."
The president's non-committal stance comes as no surprise, especially when considering the looming conflict with Syria as well as the notorious complexity of navigating Middle Eastern politics.
As time goes on, it appears that the situation will only become more complicated, as talk of collusion between the military junta and key members of the former Mubarak administration are beginning to take a very real shape.
"It's quite shocking," said International Correspondent Arwa Damon in an interview with CNN. "If you look at it alongside a number of other factors — that the interim government elected and put into place 19 governors who are all ex-generals, 17 of them from the army, 2 of them from the police; the military declaring the country once again in a state of emergency …"
The recent release of Mubarak from prison has only served to further speculation of a government conspiracy. While the future of Egyptian politics is still anyone's guess, it appears that without disruption things may be cycling right back to where they started.