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 US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid