Sunday, 25 August 2013

Why is Egypt so important?

Egypt has been dominating our news lately, putting even the chemical attacks in Syria in the shadow. Within two years, the Egyptian have created two revolutions. This is a summary of an analysis I wrote for BBC Vietnamese on WHY Egypt is important. The four main reasons are:

(1) Egypt is the trend-setter and a powerful element in the Middle Eastern landscape of culture, religion, and politics, mainly because of its 5000 year old civilization, its Azhar university as a center of religious authority, and a big population of more than 80 million. Egypt is one of the very few countries in the Middle East where the concept of "nation" is not foreign and is more powerful than the concept of "tribal loyalty". The changes in Egypt therefore predict or indicate the changes in the wider population of the Middle East.

(2) Egypt is the cradle of Islamism: A very important figure in Islamism from Egypt is Al-Afghani who promoted the idea that Arab dignity can be regained through the revival of Islam. The glory of Islamic civilization can be restored if Islam is seen as a source of instruction for personal life and state affairs. Islamism's essential message is also to oppose Western colonization and to envision an Islamic state (both national and International scope) where Quran is considered constitution and the rule of God is ultimate. Islamism is understood as political Islam. From Egypt, this movement spread to the rest of the world, strong and powerful. Islamist organizations range from conservative to liberal, from violent to non-violent.

With Muslim Brotherhood winning and losing in Egypt, the events are essential in giving indications of Islamist movement around the world. Violent Islamist organizations such as Al-Qeada have stated that Islamism can only achieve its goal by global (armed) jihad. Watching Muslim Brotherhood being dethroned by force un-democratically will re-enforce the notion of violent jihad in the mainstream Islamism, that violence, not democracy is the way to achieve Islamic state.

(3) Egypt is the center of Arab-nationalism/ Pan-Arabism: As Nasser split from Muslim Brotherhood and followed a different path of gaining Arab dignity through secularism, the hatred and conflict between two ideologies widened. At the heart of the clash in Egypt today is the volatile relationship between these two streams, sometimes stronger than the desire for democracy. This clash is also to be seen in many other Middle Eastern countries where dictatorship was built on the bedrock of secularism and nationalism. Even in Turkey where there is no dictator, this element is also present in the recent protests.

(4) The last reason is because Egypt plays a decisive role as a deal-broker in the region. Egypt has been vital in the power balance with Iran and a peace keeper for Israel. In order to guard against the Islamist, to protect Israel , and to secure the political, economic and geo-strategic interests in Middle East, the West has chosen to cooperate with dictators, knowing very well that this goes against their rhetoric of human rights and democracy. The coup in Egypt was denied as a coup so billion dollar aid will not be suspended.

The conflict between their interests and their principles continues, and this makes sure the West will shake hand with either dictators or military, as long as their pieces of pie aren't getting smaller or disappearing into the thin air.


  1. Fantastic blog.......I want just say that Egypt is particularly significant in the Arab world by weight of its populace, its history, the part it played in modernizing the Arab world, and the impact it had in the second a large portion of the twentieth century in encouraging Arab nationalism. It made itself then all that much the epicenter of the Arab world. Thanks all!!
    Africa News-streamafrica

  2. I agree with the above subject matter.Besides,there are a lot more different from Egypt and other countries.Agriculture is possible in Egypt only because of the 4,000-mile-long river Nile


For COMMENT AS and selecting profile, please choose:
1. NAME/URL and fill your name or email in.
2. Ignore URL if you don't have a website.

Để lựa chọn PROFILE cho COMMENT AS, xin click:
1. NAME/URL. Bạn điền tên hoặc email vào NAME
2. Bỏ qua URL nếu bạn không có trang web cá nhân