Will Egypt burst again? Egypt awaits its national leader
The relative quiet that seemed to set in for Egyptians as the month of fasting went into its third week has been shattered by a big bang. Sixteen soldiers were massacred on Egypt’s eastern borders as they started to break their fast at sunset last week.
The days before had not been that calm either, with two different incidents in which severe bottled-up anger erupted in the capital a few days earlier. The first was an attack on a famous five-star hotel within a high-end residential and commercial complex north of Cairo and the other was a disagreement that escalated into yet another religious strife issue in a less-affluent southern town in Giza. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the border attack: This was a national security issue.
Official and popular reactions to these three major indications that things are going out of control varied, and reignited a polarization of Egyptians that had surfaced during the presidential election process. Ironically, all three required a unified stance against violence, yet more fear, resentment and a flood of accusations were elicited by each and every one.
Remembering that things never get better before they get worse may be Egypt’s one hope for reaching a level of stability adequate to begin its rebuilding stage. The problem is that Egyptians can no longer agree on what distiguishes wrong from right or better from worse. Over 18 months of a continuously threatening and shaky environment has taken its toll on most Egyptians. Major electricity shortages, which have lately also begun to affect the subway lines and create havoc among tens of thousands of passengers, water shortages, and violent attacks on a handful of emergency wards in hospitals around the country are but a few of the more common breakdowns Egyptians are trying hard to survive.
Outwardly, most Egyptians are going about their normal lives, most hoping for the best, some fearing the worst. One thing is certain: So far the political system has failed neither to gain the support of enough Egyptians nor to produce an environment of trust and hope.
The president’s association with the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party may have raised him to power, but it is the same reason he is unable to attract the support he needs from experienced Egyptians in order to move on and build a prosperous Egypt. So far he has been seen to rest his powers mainly on his supporters, a political choice that might win an election but cannot create a national following. To mobilize the strength of the nation and to ignite the will of the people, the leadership must rise above party politics. It must trust the people of Egypt and demonstrate non-partisan national interest. Egypt is a country at war against poverty, misery, humiliation, and social injustice. No amount of petty political, partisan or score-settling arrangements is going to make Egypt win. Egyptians were patient and resilient for decades before their first outburst. It is going to be difficult to sedate them once again.
Egypt awaits the leader of the nation.