Real leadership is needed to guide Egypt away from the edge of a terrible abyss


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The Independent Online

One of the main drivers for the Egyptian military to intervene recently was the increasing closeness of the Morsi regime to terror groups such as Hamas, the Gammat Islamiyya, and the like. Significant weapons caches were found in the properties of some of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

Morsi's escape from prison in 2011 seems to have been aided by Hamas and other extremist groups. There was a meeting recently where there was a call for young Egyptian men to be part of the "jihad" in Syria against the Assad regime. Some Shia were killed in a small town near Cairo. This sort of sectarian violence simply never happened in Egypt.

Another main driver was the economy. It was driven into the ground by a clearly incompetent leadership under the Morsi regime. This regime's inability and unwillingness to make the important compromises with the opposition made the situation even worse.

Poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, underemployment, inflation, government deficits and national foreign debt all got much worse under Morsi's regime. the reserves of the country were evaporating. if not for the bailouts in the billions by Qatar, Turkey, Libya and others the Egyptian government would have been bankrupt months ago.

The people of Egypt are suffering, fed up, and afraid. Today's events could drive the country even closer to serious internal violent conflict than ever before. There is a very good chance this could spiral out of control. If it does the economy will get far worse, the extremists will have more recruiting opportunities and the willingness of the various parties to compromise will evaporate.

Real leadership is needed. Real compromises and give-and-take across groups will be needed. Real efforts to finding a peaceful solution to all of this will be needed. What would be best is that all sides drop their weapons and get to the tables before it is too late. Sadly, I do not see this happening soon. Poor Egypt is now on the edge of an abyss toward potential horrors that most people do not even want to consider. However, it is not too late. It may be too late sooner than most might think.

Dr Paul Sullivan is an adjunct professor in security studies at the University of Georgetown. The opinions expressed here are Dr Sullivan’s alone