- Posted October 9, 2013 by
Egypt: No End in Sight
The way the world is at this moment in time, especially the situation in the Middle East and Africa, specifically Egypt and Syria, is a melting pot waiting to explode. Egypt has gone from revolution and the overthrowing of Mubarak to a period of economic uncertainty, gas shortages and poverty. On a recent visit to Egypt, only two weeks before the protests against the Muslim Brotherhood government led by President Muhammad Morsi became more widespread and violent, there was a tension in the air and you could sense unease and nervousness in Cairo.
Travelling through central Cairo and along the outskirts of the city it was evident why people were not happy with their government. Every gas station that we passed by either had run out of fuel or the queue of cars waiting to get into the station stretched back miles. A local guide for our time in Cairo informed us that people would spend the majority of their day waiting in line to get into the station even though gas would realistically run out before they got there. The streets and the waterless river beds were filled with trash and waste, even near the Pyramids of Giza, one of the main tourist attractions in Egypt, which was not something, we expected. The roads were unmarked, traffic lights were nowhere to be seen and police enforcement was non-existent. For pedestrians to cross the traffic-laden streets they were taking their life in their hands and hoping for the best. Poverty is plain for all to see around every corner in Cairo and the atmosphere is uncomfortable at times. The Egyptian people were very hospitable and friendly but as we were tourists, of which there were not many, this was to be expected. The tourist attractions in Cairo and the surrounding areas were near-deserted, as was the hotel we stayed in, there could not have been more than a handful of guests.
While travelling around you gain an insight into Egypt, its culture and its significant current difficulties that the country and its people face. What was startling was that, locals informed us that, the situation had actually deteriorated since the ousting of Mubarak. There were both pro-government marches and a larger anti-government protest planned in the days ahead and our guide was apprehensive and worried as to what might result, hoping all would be conducted peacefully. These protests that happened just after we left proved the start of a larger uprising which subsequently led to the military toppling, the democratically elected, Muslim Brotherhood government. The scene of the main protests was Tahrir Square in central Cairo, pictured above, which only weeks before lay empty and peaceful, as we had travelled through it.
The violent situation has no end in sight at this time and has allowed terrorist groups to flourish in the country, in particular the ungoverned Sinai region. Opinion is divided on the situation in Egypt with some demanding the reinstating of the elected government and others wanting the military to remain in control and have fresh elections without the involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood. The United States is expected to suspend a significant portion of its military aid to the interim Egyptian government until it takes ‘positive steps to restoring democracy’. What will happen remains to be seen but until some progress is made we will continue to see the violent images on our screens and the death toll will continue to rise.