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Chaos in Egypt is a lesson for Thailand
Publication Date : 18-08-2013
Thousands of Egyptians, mainly supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been taking to the streets, defying an order by the military, to demand the return of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. But the security forces have given no indication that they will budge.
The country has descended further into chaos as the authorities battle to gain control of the streets, while protesters held their ground in Cairo's Ramses Square and other areas.
There is a real concern that the bloody crackdown that took place last Wednesday would repeat itself again. Nearly 600 were killed and more than 4,000 wounded - the bloodiest day for decades, and one that will leave a scars on Egypt for a very long time.
The military-backed government says it's trying to restore law and order but they have been using live bullets fired from shotguns, machine guns and snipers against a protest that is mainly peaceful demanding the return of a democratically elected president.
In fact, when the military ousted Morsi, they were saying the same thing. But instead of law and order, Egypt has drifted into a perilous state with running battle breaking out in various cities throughout the country and Coptic Christian churches coming under attack and being ransacked.
The dream of a democratic Egypt, and hope that the 'Arab Spring' generated is quickly evaporating as the country's people come to terms with these losses and contemplate their future.
Before the bloody crackdown on Wednesday, there were some signs that cooler heads may prevail, but it was not to be. There was the release of Muslim Brotherhood leaders who had been detained earlier on trumped up charges. The next and natural course of action, an exit for all sides perhaps, could have been the announcement of a national unity government until a new parliament and presidential elections.
But the prospect of reconciliation between the two sides has now virtually evaporated. Morsi is not likely to backdown from his earlier demand that the clock be turn back to the eve of the coup that ousted him.
Initially welcomed by a wider population - from Islamist party opposing the Muslim Brotherhood, to the Coptic Christians to liberals - the Egyptian military tried hard to present itself as liberators after the coup to oust Morsi, who led an incompetent government that was unable to unite and move this politically diverse country forward.
But it didn't take long for the military to reveal its true colours. More arrests are expected in the near future, as well as ongoing protests.
There have been calls for the US to cut off its US$1.3 billion in aid to the Egyptian military. It's an option worth taking as it is becoming clearer that American support has strengthened the hands of the generals.
Initial hope that the military would live up to their vow of a swift return of civilian rule, but given the intense crackdown, nobody is putting a timeframe on this, much less taking the military seriously.
This crisis should be a lesson to the Thai people, some of whom are calling for a military coup to oust the current government. But no matter how daft and morally bankrupt it may be, a military coup is not the answer and it should not be welcome, even if they claim to be doing it for the sake of democracy.