Egyptian crisis (2011–14)

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"Egyptian crisis" redirects here. For the crisis of 1840, see Oriental crisis.

The Egyptian crisis began with the Egyptian revolution of 2011, when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in an ideologically and socially diverse mass protest movement that ultimately forced longtime president Hosni Mubarak from office.[1][2] A protracted political crisis ensued, with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces taking control of the country until a series of popular elections brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power.[3] However, disputes between elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and secularists continued until the anti-government protests in June 2013 that lead to the overthrow of Morsi in 2013, in what has been variably described as a coup d'état or as an ending to the second revolution, or both.[4] Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who announced the overthrow of Morsi, then became the leader of Egypt the following year, winning election to the presidency in a landslide victory described by EU observers as free but not necessarily fair.[5] Nonetheless, Sisi's election was widely recognized, and the political situation has largely stabilized since he officially took power; however, some protests have continued despite a government crackdown. The crisis has also spawned an ongoing insurgency led by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis in the Sinai peninsula, which became increasingly intertwined with the regional conflict against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant later in 2014.[6]

Background[edit]

Before Mubarak took command of the Egyptian government, the third President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, had been in office since 1970. President Sadat had significantly changed the course of Egypt, reinstating a multi-party system and allowing for an increase in foreign investment, among other measures. Also, during Sadat's presidency Egypt both fought in the Yom Kippur War against Israel and, five years later, successfully negotiated the Camp David Accords; this allowed the country to regain sovereignty over the Sinai Peninsula that Israel had been in control of since 1967. Because of these negotiations and their outcome, both him and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978, which made Sadat the first Muslim Nobel laureate. On 6 October 1981, President Sadat was assassinated in Cairo during the annual celebrations of Operation Badr by members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, an Islamist terrorist group. About a week after Sadat's assassination, then Vice-President Hosni Mubarak took office as President, an action that was approved through a referendum of the People's Assembly.

During his presidency, Mubarak pursued policies similar to those of his predecessor, including a commitment to the Camp David Accords; these negotiations are thought to be one of the reasons Egyptian Islamic Jihad members decided to assassinate President Sadat.[7][8] Another cause for discontent among Egyptian citizens was Mubarak's administration's disputed human rights record.[9] In this context, and after nearly 30 years of Mubarak's rule, the President was ousted following 18 days of demonstrations in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian revolution of 2011.

Events[edit]

2011 revolution[edit]

Top: Tahrir Square protestsers on February 9; Bottom: The main headquarters of the National Democratic Party on fire.

Unhappiness among many Egyptians with the autocratic rule of 30-year President Hosni Mubarak boiled over in late January 2011 amid the Arab Spring, a series of popular protests and uprisings across the region. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians occupied several public places across Egypt, including Cairo's Tahrir Square, holding out despite efforts by Mubarak loyalists and police to dislodge them, most notably during the infamous "Battle of the Camel". In the beginning, tensions were high between the police and protesters with violence breaking out in Suez and Alexandria.[10][11] The government took a hard line, using riot-control tactics, and shutting down the internet and telecom networks. But by the 28th the protests were continuing and the police had retreated.[12] Mubarak offered some concessions, among them was appointing Omar Suleiman to the long-vacant office of vice president. He also announced that he would not seek re-election. None of this satisfied protesters, and under international pressure and lacking the support of Egypt's powerful military, Mubarak handed over power to Suleiman on 10 February 2011 and resigned as president the following day. The 18-day uprising left at least 846 civilians killed and more than 6,400 injured, according to a government fact-finding mission's report.[13]

The Muslim Brotherhood declared it would throw its support behind the protests two days after they began.[14] Authorities ordered an overnight crackdown on the group, and the following day, January 28, they rounded up several senior Brotherhood figures, among them was Mohamed Morsi who would later become the country's president in 2012.[15] Amid growing instability that day (the "Friday of Anger") as well as on January 29, a number of police officers and other security personnel were killed, mainly as part of the systematic torching of police stations and orchestrated attacks on prisons across the country, during which Morsi among other Muslim Brotherhood leaders were able to escape.[16][17][18]

The number of protesters overwhelmed the police. They were forced to retreat from several parts of Cairo, eventually losing their grip on the country. This was mostly due to the panic among police officers during the jailbreaks and the riots. Police brutality and the excessive use of force against demonstrators also contributed to the Interior Ministry's withdrawal.[16][19] Simultaneously, the government deployed the army in response to increasing lawlessness that day. The military, however, decided to remain neutral during the uprising despite a heavy presence of troops on the streets, especially in Cairo and Suez.[20]

2011–12 transition[edit]

After Hosni Mubarak's resignation on the night of 11 February 2011, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) under Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi assumed control of the country. This period was marked by major protests calling for the end of military rule and multiple tragedies, the worst being the Port Said stadium disaster. Despite the turbulence of the transitional period in Egypt, polls have shown that the SCAF has enjoyed wide legitimacy from the Egyptian people and general confidence in their ability to provide free elections. A poll in October 2011 showed that 91.7% of Egyptians have confidence in the SCAF to provide the conditions for free elections. The SCAF at that time had a general approval rating of 40.6%.[21] The parliamentary elections were held in the end of 2011 and was accepted widely as 1 of the very rare free and fair elections in modern Egyptian history. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) took 44% of the seats and the "salafist" Al-Noor Party took 25% of the seats, thus providing an "islamist" domination of more than 69% of the parliament.

Election of Mohamed Morsi[edit]

In June 2012, elections were held and Mohamed Morsi won 51.7% of the vote versus 48.3% for Ahmed Shafik. President Morsi, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), resigned from both organizations and took office on 30 June 2012.[citation needed] This marked the end of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces transition period. Of note is that on the 14th of June 2012, just a 2 days before the second round of the presidential elections, the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, who was not changed since appointment by the Mubarak regime, issued a judgement to the dissolve the parliament that was elected after the revolution and ruled that the army-backed candidate could stay in the race, in what was widely seen as a double blow for the Muslim Brotherhood. The SCAF implemented this decision on the 16th of June 2012 and forbid members by force from entering the parliamentary building. The SCAF also produced a "constitutional declaration" that gave the army officials, who were also not changed since the Mubarak regime exclusive political powers.

These actions were denounced as a coup by opposition leaders of all kinds and many within the Brotherhood, who feared that they will lose much of the political ground they have gained since Hosni Mubarak was ousted 16 months before.

2012–13 presidency of Mohamed Morsi[edit]

On 22 November 2012, after granting himself the powers to "protect" the constitution-writing committee from dissolution by the court, and the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts until a new parliament is elected.[22] Mohamed Morsi followed his decrees by making an effort to push through a referendum on an Islamist-supported draft constitution, that was drafted by the constitution-writing committee that was elected by the post-revolution parliament.[23]

The move had been criticized by Mohamed ElBaradei who stated "Morsi today usurped all state powers & appointed himself Egypt's new pharaoh" on his Twitter feed. The move led to massive protests and violent action throughout the country.[24]

2013 mass protests and coup d'état[edit]

A youth group known as Tamarod, Arabic for "Rebel", collected 22 million signatures calling for Morsi to step down.[25] By 30 June, on the first anniversary of the election of Morsi, millions of Egyptians flooded the streets of Cairo with thousands of protesters surrounding the presidential palace in the Heliopolis suburb demanding the resignation of Morsi. A military source claimed that the number of protestors reached as many as 33 million[26] making it the largest in Egypt's history.The events escalated forcing the military to announce that it would intervene on behalf of the protesters.

On 3 July, the Egyptian Armed Forces, headed by Abdul Fatah al-Sisi acted on its 48 hours ultimatum to intervene "on behalf of the people", ousting President Mohamed Morsi,[27] suspending the constitution, appoints head of constitutional court as interim leader and calls for early elections.[27]

2013–14 transition[edit]

Left: Rabaa al-Adaweya Square packed with Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Violent clashes erupted in the aftermath of the overthrow (referred to by some media outlets as the Egyptian crisis[28][29]) following the 3 July 2013 removal of President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt by the Egyptian Armed Forces amid popular demonstrations against Morsi's rule. Prior to the anti-government protests, many pro-Morsi protesters amassed near the Rabia Al-Adawiya Mosque, originally to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Morsi's inauguration, but in the wake of the overthrow, their message then changed to call for Morsi's return to power and condemn the military, while others demonstrated in support of the military and interim government. Deadly clashes erupted on several days, with two particularly bloody incidents being described by Muslim Brotherhood officials as "massacres perpetrated by security forces."[30][31]
In mid-August, the sit-ins at Rabaa and Nahda were about to end, as security forces raided them on August 14th, which led to 638 deaths,[32][33][34] and the government declaring a month-long nighttime curfew.[35] The curfew has since ended.

On 24 March 2014, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death in the wake of an attack on a police station.[36] By May 2014, approximately 16,000 people (and as high as more than 40,000 by one independent count),[37] mostly Brotherhood members or supporters, have been imprisoned since the coup.[38]

Until 2015, attacks and bombings against police by unidentified armed groups and members of Muslim Brotherhood continued, as well as police operations, with more than 300 victims.

Election of Abdul Fatah al-Sisi[edit]

General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi emerged as a massively popular figure in post-coup Egypt,[39] and he eventually declared his candidacy for president in the 2014 elections. According to results from the Egyptian elections authority, he won 96.9% of the vote, rivaling numbers reported for Hosni Mubarak in periodic elections and referendums during his reign as president. Nonetheless, al-Sisi's election was widely recognized internationally.

Impact[edit]

Sinai insurgency[edit]

Main article: Sinai insurgency

An increase in militant activity by Islamists initiating as a fallout of the 2011 Egyptian revolution drew a harsh response from interim Egyptian government in mid-2011 known as Operation Eagle. However, attacks against government and foreign facilities in the area have continued by mid-2012, resulting in a massive crackdown by the new Egyptian government nicknamed Operation Sinai.

Insurgency in Egypt (2013–present)[edit]

There is a new wave of terrorism since the 2013 transition.

Deaths[edit]

At least 5,540 people have died during the crisis.

Economy[edit]

Egyptian economy is still suffering from a severe downturn following the 2011 revolution and the government faces numerous challenges as to how to restore growth, market and investor confidence. Political and institutional uncertainty, a perception of rising insecurity and sporadic unrest continue to negatively affect economic growth.[43]

Real GDP growth slowed to just 2.2 percent year on year in October–December 2012/13 and investments declined to 13 percent of GDP in July–December 2012. The economic slowdown contributed to a rise in unemployment, which stood at 13 percent at end-December 2012, with 3.5 million people out of work.[43]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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