Why Egypt matters

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There may only be a few thousand Filipinos living and working in Egypt, but that does not mean what is transpiring there does not affect us.

For the longest time, Egypt has been a bastion of stability in the Middle East. The country was the first to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. It was considered as first among equals in the Arab world.

The calming influence of Egypt throughout the region was a factor in millions of Filipinos finding their way to the Middle East to work. That part of the world seemed less volatile with Egypt serving as powerful Big Brother to the surrounding Arab countries.

The one thing that Egypt did not have was a democratic foundation. Despite the aspirations of its people, democratic institutions never took root in modern-day Egypt. It was always a top official of its Armed Forces who assumed the mantle of leadership for the last many decades.


Last year, in what analysts considered a culmination of the Arab Spring, where country after country in the Arab world rid themselves of their dictators, and replaced them with popular leaders.

Sadly for the Egyptian people, Mohamed Morsi did not deliver. He may have been a popularly elected president, but barely after a year as their chief executive, an Army-led coup removed Morsi and installed a top judge as interim head of the government.

Filipinos may look at what happened in Egypt this week and note some similarities with the two Edsa Revolts that toppled two presidents.

After the original Edsa People Power Revolt that installed Cory Aquino to the presidency, the followers of Ferdinand Marcos tried to mount a counter-putsch by taking over the Manila Hotel and declaring Arturo Tolentino as acting president, at least until Marcos returned from exile.

And when Joseph Estrada was likewise forcibly removed as president by virtue of Edsa II, his followers attempted to mount an Edsa Tres. Both counter-coups ended badly for their leaders.

With Egypt, the new leader was evicted with little resistance because the people themselves had enough of Morsi.

It was, as some Egyptians say, not a coup but a “popular impeachment.”

Whatever it’s called, the Egyptian people are facing another brand new day. We wish them well in their struggle to establish a true democracy in their ancient land.

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