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More Struggles Predicted in Egypt’s Forecast for Year Ahead

  • Elizabeth Arrott

Egyptian authorities are struggling to bring stability to their nation after nearly three years of uprisings and upheaval. But popular discontent with the latest set of rulers appears to be growing; 2014 offers no guarantee the tumult is over.

2013 saw Egyptians take to the streets to depose their leader, the second mass uprising in two years.

They had generous help from the military, which imprisoned the country's first freely elected president, Islamist Mohamed Morsi, and cracked down on his supporters.

The military-backed interim government has offered a “roadmap” to stability: a new constitution, to be put to a referendum, followed by presidential and parliamentary votes.

At first, many Egyptians supported the new leadership, with its promise to keep Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood out of the picture.

But activist and prominent blogger Wael Khalil said that's beginning to change. "Getting Morsi back in power is not an outcome - is not a probable outcome - so that we are now looking with more scrutiny at those in power," he said.

Anti-government protesters now include more than Morsi's supporters, with secular and other activists opposing the heavy-handed tactics they thought they'd banished in 2011.

"More and more people are starting to see, first of all, the return of the police state and how the police is really coming back with a vengeance," Khalil explained.

There is also economic discontent. Unemployment, lack of tourism and investment, plus inflation, especially in the sector of food and other basic commodities, are taking their toll.

The slogan of the 2011 Revolution was "bread, freedom, dignity," something political analyst Hisham Kassem said remains as relevant as ever. "This is a nation that has been pushed to the brink and as long as these issues are not addressed, there will be a third and fourth and a fifth uprising. It's not going to stop, and whether it is the military or the Islamists, whoever is now on the seat needs to deliver," he said.

But as the government attempts to move forward, not everyone is gloomy. Saad Eddin Ibrahim is the founding chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. "There is always a decade or so around in the revolutionary explosion before the volcano settles down and the ashes settle,” he stated.

Egypt, he said, won't take nearly that long, maybe just another year or so. He believes "revolution fatigue" is bound to set in - though the streets of Egypt show no sign of it yet.
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