“Inflation has exhausted people. Prices of food, fuel, electricity, sugar are rising. The rich get richer and the poor poorer,” said a Cairo taxi-driver, declining to be named. “God knows what will happen today. After Tunisia anything is possible.”
The Egyptian capital Cairo was the scene of violent chaos Friday, when tens of thousands of anti-government protesters stoned and confronted police, who fired back with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. It was a major escalation in what was already the biggest challenge to authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year-rule.
At the upscale Mohandiseen district, at least 10,000 of people were marching toward the city centre chanting “down, down with Mubarak.” The crowd later swelled to about 20,000 as they made their way through residential areas. Source: globe and mail (1)
Who will fill the gap?
So if Egypt manages to do what Tunisia did, and topple their administration, who would fill the gap? Obviously the group who is the best organized, with the best resources and the most motivated. That probably brings us down to either the Muslim Brotherhood, the National Association for Change led by Mohamed El Baradei, or the fact that the US is secretly backing rebel groups. The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police. On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.
The Muslim Brotherhood started in Egypt and has since moved beyond to become the main opposition in many states in the region. They are generally described as being highly organized, very serious about their role, and having a great deal of support from the general population. In Egypt they have generally been supportive of democracy within the scope of Islam.
Mohamed ElBaradei is using this moment to gain support for change. He is an active political reformer and has a strong personality. If we were to take a guess, we would say that especially in light of his work with the IAEA, he is the one that will likely garner the most support from the international community
Whichever steps in to take charge, you can bet that there will have been some sort of deals made between the three. We are fairly certain that Egypt is not going to become a radical, fundamentalist state after the dust there settles. Even if the Muslim Brotherhood does take charge, it will have moderating influences put on it, and the Egyptian branch is not very radical to begin with. But it is really impossible to predict for sure what will happen in these situations.
There is no guarantee that the current administration will give up or be taken down. If they manage to retain control, we guarantee there will be a huge witch-hunt for the Brotherhood, who are already banned, and have been subject to this before.
Why is this really happening?
Quantitative easing. Rising commodity prices cause the price of food to rise. Poor people can no longer afford to eat. So they riot, but the underlying cause is inflation caused by central banking. Indeed, In countries with relatively high standards of living and deflating housing and credit bubbles, that has led to heated but controlled social strife and political rhetoric. However, for those living in places without social safety nets, without political freedoms, and who are more exposed to the rise in price of energy and basic foodstuffs, the situation grows less and less tolerable. Thus we are seeing the effects in places like Egypt, Tunisia, China. All places where we’re seeing riots.
Caught in the middle are countries like Tunisia and Egypt, and perhaps others in North Africa and Middle East. They have caught the revolution bug after decades of autocratic rule, the persistence of high unemployment, and inflation now, and increasingly, a population of young techies who are sick of their lives and are using social networks to organize demonstrations and riots.