Tahrir Square (Liberation square), also known as ‘Martyr Square ‘ is in down town of Cairo. As the Arab Spring blew its first puff of revolution at this square, it came into prominence in the international media. In 2011, it was the people’s protest at this square that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Now, the area is all agog with slogans demanding the exit of President Abdel Fatah El Sisi. “Go Sisi", and “Down with the military rule” are the slogans that echoin the city of Cairo; skirmishes between the security forces and the demonstrators present a state of horror. Egyptians express their rejection of Sisi’s continuation in the government and send an explicit message to the whole world revealing their enormous opposition to the President.
Demonstrations began on 20th of September, Friday evening . It erupted spontaneously as a long awaited response from the people, following a football match between Al-Ahly and Zamalek clubs. The demonstrators seem to have pre- planned their move in response to the calls launched on social media for the exclusion of Abdel Fatah El Sisi from the government. Demonstrations took place in Alexandria, Mohalla al Kubra, Suez, Demetria and so on. According to Political Science Professor Hassan Nafa from the University of Cairo, the protest was an outburst of the pent-up feelings in the minds of the people who have been suffering since 2013 when Sisi took the reins of power in his hand. The restlessness is attributed to different reasons.
Since Abdel Fatah El Sisi began his rule, he has been introducing tough security measures to contain the free expression of the people. Thousands of people- opposition leaders and activists- are behind bars. And the economic mishandling has made Egypt a debtor country with $ 106 billion in debt. The constitutional amendment made by Sisi has extended his term until 2030. People have been groaning due to the strict austerity measures introduced since 2016. The islands of Tiran and Sanafir were conveyed to to Saudi Arabia with a maritime maritime demarcation agreement ratified in June 2017. A state of emergency has been declared since 2017 and is still prevailing.
Egypt is really in the tight grip of the army!
The protesters were influenced by the videos exposing the rampant corruption and extravagance of Sisi on the social media, posted by Mohammed Ali, the contractor business man, from his office in Spain. As a contractor, he had worked at least for ten years with the armed forces in the execution of several engineering projects. He shows the extravagance of the government against the backdrop of the austerity measures and the poverty of the people which according to the government reports exceeds 30 percent.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachellet warned the Egyptian authorities against the human rights violations. Thousands of freedom defenders, including lawyers, youth, journalists and activists were arrested following the September 20th-21st uprising. Bachellet reminded the Egyptian government that the people have the right to protest against authorities under international law. It was wrong to charge the defenders of democracy and human rights with serious crimes and keep them imprisoned. The UN rights office voiced alarm at not allowing them legal representation when produced before the public prosecutor.
More worried about the demonstrations in Egypt is Netanyahu who always describes Sisi as his best friend. There was a secret meeting between them in Cairo in last May . It was pivotal in launching a deal between Israel and Palestinian authorities to stabilise Gaza and control Hamas. Netanyahu has been influencing Sisi in order to ensnare the Arab leaders. Donald Trump and Netanyahu think that they can make use of Abdel Fatah El Sisi as an ambassador to introduce their ‘Deal of the Century’ and achieve the goals of Israel.
The international media is now downplaying the protests being held in Cairo and other cities in Egypt. Western media is not bothered about the tight grip of the military, the rampant corruption and extravagance of the government, the strict austerity measures that stifle the people,and the human rights violations. For them, Iran and the Gulf countries are the glaring topics forthe media. They consider Abdel Fatah El Sisi as the corner stone of the Middle East for preserving their interests. Relationship between Washington and Cairo was tense under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. He was serious about the accusations made by human rights groups about the repressive measures of Abdel Fatah El Sisi against the dissenters. Sisi amended the constitution and has grabbed greater powers for the military. It also enables him to rule up until 2030. Before the amendment , Sisi visited the Oval Office to get the endorsement from Trump. Hence, Trump administration set aside the human rights’ concerns in order to build military and diplomatic ties with Cairo. It is rather to appease Netanyahu who wants to use Sisi as a tool for playing the role of a mediator between Israel and Palestine. So America and Israel want Sisi to continue . Butanyway, it is believed that Sisi’s days are numbered .
The situation now in Egypt is like that of a volcano ready toerupt at anytime. Over three thousand civilians have been detained during anti- government protests. Some parents ban their children from attending the mosques on Fridays, fearing that they may join the protests and get arrested. National Security Agency (NSA) has escalated the intimidation and violence against political opponents . This repression is framed by the state media under the guise of “combating terrorism”. Authorities prosecute them before the military courts. Yet, Sisi is the ‘favourite dictator’ of Donald Trump. And Britain remains the single largest investor in Egypt. Only the future history can record how long these corporate adjustments against the common people can withstand their emotional outbreak!