Egypt has always been a hotspot that breeds trouble. Whether it’s the ousting of presidents or the riots that alternate between horrifying and liberating, it’s a wonder, to me at least, that Egypt is still standing.
Then again, the Egyptian people have always been builders and fighters – and we know from history about their past, which will ultimately show their future. It all started in 3150BC, when the unified kingdom of Egypt formed and the dynasty was introduced to this hot and dry climate. Pyramid plans were drawn up, and pharaohs ruled with an iron fist across their lands.
But with power comes (not responsibility) competition and jealousy. As the once small and insignificant country grew in influence, other countries saw this as a threat.
This is, of course, more a brief overview than a full history lesson. There are many fighters and many pharaohs who fought against the occupiers with a vengeance. And although it seems the people were subdued as a Persian, Ptolemaic, and then Roman culture swept their shores and forced adaptation to the highest degree – rebellions sprung up left and right during every regime. Whether it be Cleopatra or a military general attempting to exercise control, the native Egyptians wanted their land back, and in some cases, would do anything they could to retrieve it.
Ultimately it was Sultan Selim I who took Egypt as the Ottoman’s prize jewel, and ushered in a new age for the state in the late 1700s. But Egypt seems to draw dictators, and so it was next Napoleon who tried his hand at taking the desert state. A coalition of forces, Ottoman, Mamluk and British, repelled them. But after the root of their coalition no longer needed defending, they found anarchy upon them.
1805 came around. Anarchy was over, and Muhammed Ali, an Albanian, had emerged victorious, and proclaimed by the Sultan as the defacto dynasty leader of Egypt. Muhammed Ali was an asset and a liability for the people in more ways than one. As a result of his work, the military was beefed up, and society modernized to the point where the international world began to notice that Egypt existed. But he also made his seat a hereditary one, throwing democracy out of the mix and lending the future to corruption and discord.
This led to the 1882 invasion of the British, where they lasted until their expulsion in 1952. Perhaps they hadn’t read about the breeding nationalist movements that pretty consistently rise up in a country when it is being subjugated. And maybe they didn’t realize that acting on draconian measures is what leads to anger and resentment among a people who had not been ruled by one of their own in too many years.
Whatever the British did and did not know, what they acted on stirred the Egyptian people from a too-long held slumber. In 1922, it quickly and inefficiently declared independence for the victorious state. But then the real problems started.
Dictators that took Egypt’s victory for themselves, and secular conflicts between Muslims and Christians, Sunnis and Shiites. The country has always been one for conflicts. I blame it on the hot climate.
I’ll save you the trouble of reading up on history though, and tell you that Egypt’s most recent disaster is by no means the first one it has had involving a military coup. General Nasser, the second President of Egypt who took power through a coup. Or President Sadat, assassinated by military officers in office? Although President Mubarak is by no means the best of the few, he may lay claim to being one of the few that was removed by the military, directly at least.
President Morsi, then, is not the first President of Egypt removed by the all powerful military. Though perhaps he is the first that was democratically elected, and subsequently removed.
Egypt is a study in history, and there is nothing more problematic in our past than militaries that take control and lead the country with an iron fist. I do not doubt that Egypt’s new regime will end with civil war, as such things are apt to end. With blood and a lack of rights and a new revolutionary force that takes optimism as a policy. As it did with the British, and the Ottomans, and how it will eventually will be with the military.
Expect war. Because with one foot planted firmly on the optimism side, I certainly do.