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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Between the Revolutions: What's next for Egypt (بين الثورات: ما هو القادم لمصر)

*Please excuse any mistakes in the Arabic script used in the article's title.

Today, the world watches with bated breath as Russia and Ukraine glare angrily at each other over Crimea.

To the south, however, Egyptians nervously ponder another upcoming round of elections after two different revolutions in 2011 and 2013 threw the ancient country's future into uncertainty.

Today, جمهورية مصر العربية (The Arab Republic of Egypt) is ruled by an interim government. The president, عدلى محمود منصور (Adly Mansour) was installed after the deposing of Muslim Brotherhood representative and former President Mohammed Morsi after only a year in office. 

"The interim government is headed by the former head of the Supreme Constitutional Court. The government enjoys considerable popularity with Christians, people over 40, and Egyptian women, but the Muslim Brotherhood resents its power. Younger Egyptians do not generally have strong feelings for the government at the moment, since many issues are still being fought over. This government has much improved Egyptian security by fighting terrorism, but its attempts to get the economy back on track have been very unsuccessful." 

Ahmed, a student from Cairo living in the United States, agreed to contribute to this article. His contribution is greatly appreciated.

Elections are supposed to take place later this year. There could be more

"So far there are only two candidates: Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, our current defense minister, and Hamdin Sabahi, a neo-Nasserite. (a subscriber to the views of Former President Gamel Abdul Nasser, who held office between 1956 and his death in 1970) Sabahi has a history of being a long-standing opponent of Fmr. President Hosni Moubarak. Both el-Sisi and Sabahi are believers in nationalism and secularism, but Sabahi tends to be more liberal than el-Sisi."

What do the people of Egypt want from these elections? 

"It's simple: stability and a government that is able to combat the economic recession that has been plaguing Egypt since the 2011 Revolution. The younger, revolutionary generation wants democracy, the enforcement of basic human rights, and the persecution of Egyptians that belonged to Hosni Moubarak's National Democratic Party, as well as members of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party for corruption and widespread abuse of human rights while in power."

Do voter demands change from city to city? For example, how different are people in Cairo from people in Alexandria, Luxor, or Aswan?

Egypt's larger cities, like Cairo and Alexandria, tend to be more liberal. Rural cities and villages are more conservative-they are more likely to support a candidate that promises stability above all. Christians in Egypt are an important group to watch as well-and like rural Egyptians, tend to vote based on stability. 

How have Egypt’s relations with other Arab Spring countries changed? Have they changed for the better or the worse?

"Relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait have been strengthened lately because those three countries sent Egypt $12 billion in bailout funds to help Egypt recover from turmoil. Relations with Qatar have become strained since Qatar has voices support for the Muslim Brotherhood." 

How do most Egyptians perceive the United States? What do they think of our response to Egypt’s revolutions? What, if anything, can the United States do to help?

Egyptians are very critical of the American government's longtime support of Hosni Moubarak, and they did not appreciate President Obama's support and lobbying in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. Many were also critical of the United States because of a lack of action regarding the persecution of secular forces during the revolution. 

Egyptians would like the United States to invest and strengthen trade between the two countries, while giving the interim government a hand in calming down the Sinai peninsula and breaking the power of insurgents. 

What would Egyptians like to see happen in regards to Egyptian-Israeli relations?

Egyptians are critical of Israel's policies towards Palestinians, but do not wish to escalate tensions with the Israelis because domestic problems are considered much more important. 

How often are you able to go back to Egypt? How has your daily life changed in Egypt when you do go back?

I am able to return to Egypt in the winter and in the summer. I've noticed that many more people have become politically active and I hear political discussions wherever I go. Tangible hostility definitely still exists between Islamists and those who supported the deposing of Mohammed Morsi. Riots, oil shortages, and electric outages became routine. 

What do you think of the American media’s coverage of events in Egypt? What are they doing right, and what are they doing wrong? What important facts, if anything, are they leaving out? 

"The American media's initial coverage of the revolution was fairly neutral, but as President Obama moved to support the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, many American media outlets like CNN and the Washington Post became more biased towards the president's views. They didn’t give enough time to correctly and fully portray all the different factions in Egyptian politics, nor did they shed enough light on the alliance between the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood. I would also have liked to see greater coverage from a distance-to me, the United States' support of the Muslim Brotherhood seems to be part of a bigger strategy to mobilize support among Islamists in Libya, Tunisia, and Syria against the loose alliance of Russia, China, the Assad regime in Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Hezbollah in Lebanon." 

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