EGYPT TURMOIL: IS ARAB SPRING 2 IN PROGRESS?

Barcelona protests
Photo via wikimedia.org

Egypt is again facing turmoil as hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters started demonstrations against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The protesters are demanding the resignation of the President. President Sisi is facing corruption allegations. President Sisi denied any involvement in corruption.  Media sources claim that about 74 protesters have been arrested by security forces. 

Various human rights groups called for the immediate release of detained protesters. A statement was issued by the Human Rights Watch (HRW). The statement urges Egyptian authorities to respect the people’s right to peaceful protest. Experts are terming these protests as Arab Spring 2. 

Protests erupted in major cities of Egypt on Friday. People demand the resignation of President Sisi and the end of the regime. 

HRW claims that President Sisi’s security forces are using brutal tactics to suppress the masses. HRW urges Egypt to stop the repetition of brutalities of the past. Currently, Egyptian President Sisi is in the USA to attend the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. He did not issue any statement regarding the protests. 

After the clashes with protesters, Egyptian security forces gained control of Tahrir Square. The Tahrir Square was the epicenter of the Arab Spring of 2011 which resulted in the removal of the then President Husni Mobarak. In 2013, Egypt imposed emergency in the country and all types of protests were banned. 

Political experts believe that economic trouble and misgovernance are causing unrest in Egyptian youth. The current protests have no political backing. So the current wave of protests is completely organic. Many journalists are under arrest in Egypt for reporting against the dictatorial policies of the Sisi regime. Experts believe that a $12bn IMF loan caused unrest in the country. The official figures claim that about 33 percent of Egyptians live below the poverty line. 

The current protests started when an exiled businessman accused President Sisi of corruption and demanded his resignation. He also shared various video evidence of Sisi and military corruption. 

Authorities have launched many crackdowns under President Sisi. Journalists, political opponents, and bloggers are the main targets of crackdown. President el Sisi took over the control of the country after removing the democratically elected President Morsi. After taking the control, President Sisi managed to win the elections while no one dared to contest against him. President Morsi died in June this year while facing a trial in court. He was the country’s first and last democratically elected president. Experts believe that the current wave of protests is not as large as that of 2011. However, if protests continue, it will cause trouble for the government. The country’s only organized political forces “Muslim Brotherhood” was declared outlawed by Egyptian authorities in 2013. Currently, Egypt is short of mature political leadership. Many political leaders are have been imprisoned by the regime. Some of them are on death row. 

Here international community should also play a role to normalize the situation in the country. UN and other strong institutions like African Union (AU) should urge President Sisi to stop using force against peaceful protesters. As a political vacuum exists in the country, AU can suggest a framework for peaceful removal of the dictatorial Sisi regime. 

If turmoil continues, there are possibilities that the wave of protests can spread to the other countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Egyptian authorities should carefully deal with the protesters. The use of force can endanger the security of the entire region. We are hopeful that the international community will play its role to stop President Sisi from exercising the dictatorial practices to suppress the dissidents. 

Related: Amnesty International On Egypt

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