News / Middle East

Is Egypt Heading Down Algeria's Path?

Black smoke billows from a burning car moments after a bomb attack targeted the convoy of Egypt's Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, in Nasr City, Egypt,  Sept. 5, 2013 (AP Photo File)Black smoke billows from a burning car moments after a bomb attack targeted the convoy of Egypt's Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, in Nasr City, Egypt, Sept. 5, 2013 (AP Photo File)
x
Black smoke billows from a burning car moments after a bomb attack targeted the convoy of Egypt's Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, in Nasr City, Egypt,  Sept. 5, 2013 (AP Photo File)
Black smoke billows from a burning car moments after a bomb attack targeted the convoy of Egypt's Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, in Nasr City, Egypt, Sept. 5, 2013 (AP Photo File)
Mohamed Elshinnawi
Increasing violence in Egypt is raising fears the country could descend into the type of civil war that wracked Algeria in the 1990s, when a military-backed government cancelled elections won by the Islamist Salvation Front (FIS). The ensuing conflict left an estimated 200,000 people dead and the country politically paralyzed. 
 
In Egypt, even as the military-backed government is pushing ahead with a political roadmap, starting with a constitutional referendum this week, (Jan.14,15) it has cracked down hard on the Muslim Brotherhood, banning the group, designating it as a terrorist organization and jailing thousands of its supporters. While the Brotherhood says it remains committed to non-violence, analysts like Michelle Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace say violence is worsening.
 
“An Algerian scenario is now a possibility with a very broad campaign of repression against the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, thousands of its members in prisons, more than a thousand killed and suicide bombings are becoming at least a weekly reality in Egypt.”
 
Anwar Haddam, a former spokesperson for the FIS draws similarities between Egypt in 2013 and Algeria in 1992.
 
“In both cases the army was the arbiter and unfortunately resolved the political dispute in its favor against democracy.” Haddam said that crackdown against (FIS) led to violence in Algeria and the ongoing repression against MB could lead to escalating violence in Egypt.
 
“Such a path might attract some of the more radically inclined members of the Brotherhood, who might view it as their best option in the face of the Egyptian military’s evidently superior capacity for force.” Haddam said.
 
Khalil al-Anani, a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington agrees.

 “We might witness another insurgency, an Algeria scenario. You might see the emergence of a violent faction in the Brotherhood,” Anani said.
 
Some observers say what has happened in Egypt since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 that forced Hosni Mubarak from power supports the emergence of this violent scenario. That includes the weakening of the Egyptian police, the presence of thousands of Islamist militants’ in Sinai and the spread of weapons smuggled across the Libyan border following that country’s uprising.
 
Haddam argues that the international community in general and the U.S. in particular should learn from the lessons of the Algerian scenario that military intervention in politics never results in a return to democracy. 
 
“In the weeks after the 1991 elections, official Algerian rhetoric was stuffed with promises of a swift and total return to democracy, promises that, two decades on, have yet to be fulfilled.”
 
Haddam says the U.S. has a crucial role to push Egypt away from the path that Algeria took in the 1990’s.
 
“The U.S. has enough leverage to influence the military in Egypt to start a serious dialogue to reach a political solution that could lead to stability instead of ongoing crackdown that escalates violence,” Haddam said.
 
But Dunne doubts that Egypt’s military-backed government will agree to calls from the U.S. and others aimed at political reconciliation.   The U.S. she says has limited options, but it should do all it can to ensure Egypt avoids an Algeria scenario.  
 
“The U.S. has got to try to send a strong signal that it wants to be the ally of Egypt, the Egyptian people but it is not approving the direction in which the Egyptian military is taking down the road that promises not only no democracy and a bad human rights situation but also increased instability.”

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid