Anger over the perception that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party are trying to monopolize power is said to have compounded the government’s inability to revive the economy and reduce unemployment in the country.
The poor state of the economy, coupled with new political unrest, comes amid growing fears expressed by commentators and politicians that a “revolution by the hungry” may be inching closer, given rising unemployment, the drying up of tourism – a major source of income for Egyptians – and foreign investment.
Senior reporter Mohamed Elshinnawi spoke about Egypt’s predicament with Dr. Bessma Momani, associate professor, University of Waterloo School of International Affairs, a senior fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation, and a Non-Resident fellow at Brookings Institution in Washington.
Among the questions we asked were:
- What are the roots of the growing political polarization between ruling Islamists in and the liberal and non-Islamist opposition?
- Is the blame game between Islamists and the opposition leading to deeper political deadlock?
- Did President Morsi repeat the same mistake the army generals committed in the transitional period when they ignored the need to apply transitional justice mechanisms, especially police reform?
- Is there a role for the Egyptian army in ending the political crisis in Egypt?
- Would external pressure, combined with the dire economic situation, move Islamists and the opposition closer?
- Would upcoming parliamentary elections provide an opportunity to create the needed balance between the legislative and executive branches of the government?
- Is there a specific model that Egypt can follow even with some modifications pertinent to its specific situation?
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Egyptian-American Mohamed Elshinnawi is a senior reporter at VOA. He covered the Middle East peace process from Camp David in 1978 through the 1993 Oslo Agreements to Syrian-Israeli talks in 2000. He interviewed Arab heads of state, prime ministers, foreign ministers and as well as ranking U.S. officials, including members of Congress. He hosted "Dialogue with the West," a live TV show which, broadcast via satellite from Washington, reached 35 million Arabs. He is fluent in Arabic and English.