9000 Years of Turmoil
Here's how you know a country has been around for a while. When BBC.com's "Timeline" starts at 7000 BC with "Settlement of Nile Valley begins."
For the next 9,000 years, it's mostly downhill from there:
-- 669 BC - Assyrians from Mesopotamia conquer and rule Egypt.
-- 525 BC - Persian conquest.
-- 332 BC - Alexander the Great conquers Egypt.
-- 31 BC - Egypt comes under Roman rule.
-- 642 AD - Arab conquest of Egypt.
-- 1517 - Egypt absorbed into the Turkish Ottoman empire.
-- 1798 - Napoleon Bonaparte's forces invade but are repelled by the British and the Turks in 1801.
-- 1882 - British troops take control of Egypt.
-- 1922 - Fuad I becomes King of Egypt and Egypt gains its independence.
-- 1953 - [Military] Coup leader Muhammad Najib becomes president as Egypt is declared a republic.
-- 1956 July - Gamal Abdul Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal.
-- 1956 October - Tripartite Invasion of Egypt by Britain, France and Israel due to the nationalization of the Suez Canal.
-- 1967 June - Six-Day War in which Israel defeats forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Israel takes control of Sinai, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
-- 1973 October - Egypt and Syria go to war with Israel during Israel's celebration of Yom Kippur to reclaim the land they lost in 1967.
-- 1978 September - Camp David Accords for peace with Israel are signed.
-- 2011 February - President Mubarak steps down and hands power to the army council.
And, like that.
Egypt's major mistake was being located along the Nile (which flows north to the Mediterranean, but you knew that) and the Red Sea. If it weren't for that no one would have ever bothered with it.
Except, maybe for that whole Cleopatra-Julius Caesar-Marc Antony thing.
More recently Egypt has been the focal point of the "Arab Spring" that began two years ago on December 18, 2010 in Tunisia. Since that time there has been unrest ranging from demonstrations, to riots, to revolutions to at least one civil war in (according to Wikipedia's count):
Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara and, of course Syria.
We know from recent events how stable Libya is and, according to the Washington Post, some 64,700 Syrians have died since the demonstrations began in November 2011.
Egypt is the cultural and population center of Arabs - not, necessarily, Islam. Egypt's 83.7 million people is the largest Arab population of any country on the planet.
You know that we, meaning you and I, are huge monetary supporters of Egypt. We pay them upwards of $1.3 billion a year largely to keep their military in the latest arms, and their hands off Israel.
After long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak was thrown out of office in November 2011, there was a period of interim rule by a military junta which, following an election, was replaced by an Islamist regime run by a guy named Mohammed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Morsi, decided the democratic process was taking just a little longer than he wanted, so on November 22 he issued a decree granting himself virtually unlimited powers out of reach of judicial review.
The group writing a new constitution for Egypt has drafted a document very closely aligned with shira law which, according to a website named sharia-law.info, is basically a way of arriving at decisions on how to live life by studying religious texts to determine divine will. Sharia law is also not just a legal system…it's also a moral system, a structure for living life as a devout Muslim.
The draft constitution which is at the center of the current unrest in Egypt was hailed by a man described by the Associated Press as an "ultraconservative Muslim cleric" who said, "This constitution has more complete restraints on rights than ever existed before in any Egyptian constitution," Sheik Yasser Borhami [said]. "This will not be a democracy that can allow what God forbids, or forbid what God allows."
In their AP piece, reporters Lee Keath and Maggie Michael wrote, that of the 85 members who voted, all but 17 were "members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ultraconservative movement known as Salafis, or their allies."
So, you see where the secularists in Egypt might have some cause for concern.
It appears that Egypt's long history of turmoil and chaos is in no danger of being supplanted by peace and harmony.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Good links today to that BBC timeline, to a history of Cleopatra, and to the AP analysis of the Egyptian constitution. Also a very pretty, and final, Mullfoto from Thanksgiving.