What Friday, April 19, 2013 Tells Us About Egypt and the World
Salafist groups have called for a massive demonstration at noon in front of the High Court building on Ramses Street in Cairo to protest the acquittal of several officials from the Mubarak regime and at Mubarak's release on bail pending a retrial. The retrial was required by the withdrawal of the judge. That retrial was necessitated by the overturn on appeal of a previous life imprisonment verdict against Mubarak.
The Muslim Brotherhood has told members they can participate in the demonstration on a personal basis if they wish. The demonstration's main demand is that the judiciary be restructured. The court system has stood as the last remaining institutional barrier to the Brotherhood's total control of the country. While over time it would inevitably name new judges, many are impatient for the Islamist revolution to roll forward.
Also today, though, anti-Islamist movements are gathering at 1 pm at Tahrir Square, a nearby suburb, and Elqaed Ibrahim Square in Alexandria to demand that the Brotherhood be forced out of power.
At the Alexandria location, however, other Salafist groups have called for a 2 PM progrest against the anti-Islamists. Violence is quite possible.
Meanwhile, the economy is continuing to decline steeply and a plan for a massive IMF bail-out is stalled due to wrangling on the Egyptian government side.
This is the chaos into which Egypt is descending. In real terms, a revolution hailed by virtually everyone in the West has turned into a disaster. The choices seem to be either a Sharia state or a civil war, each accompanied by suffering and explosive instability.
Might the West learn something from this story? Lessons could include the idea that another supposed great solution--a revolution in Syria--is about to bring another disaster, while the utopian vision of an instant peace process imposed on Israel would bring a parallel disaster. The Syrian story will happen; the "peace process" one won't and Israel will be blamed for avoiding suicide.