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Inevitability of more Egypt violence

What we have seen in Suez over the last few days can only be described as a breakdown of law and order.
Last modified: 29 Jan 2013 15:38

What we have seen in Suez over the last few days can only be described as a breakdown of law and order.

During the revolution it also felt a lot like this, but in a more temporary way.

As the police moved out and army moved in, Suez has seen widespread looting violent riots and general chaos.

Ten people have been shot dead in the past week and most of the security infrastructure in the city burned down by rioters.

This is not random criminal behaviour. There are deep socio-economic issues behind what is happening and why - a genuine frustration with the state of the country.

But there usually are such issues behind any riots.

The police force in turn is completely demoralised and under equipped to do their job.

Increasingly they are turning against authority for putting them in situations which not only get them killed but also make them look like the bad guys.

The result is that they can't be trusted to do their job, which is why we saw the army deployed in the strategic Canal cities.

Long-held animosity

For the past year, protests in Egypt have been accompanied by a degree of this kind of violence, mainly by young men venting their long-held animosity with a police force that has abused and humiliated them.

But increasingly the protests are losing their political steam and turning more chaotically violent. One indication of that is that the possibility of a political solution - through dialogue, ministerial reshuffles etc - has become irrelevant when it comes to stopping what's happening on the ground.

A political solution will only do its job if the problem is purely or even mainly political.

This time it is more about the effects of a declining economy on everyday life and disappointment with lack of change that is fuelling the anger.

The failure of either the "opposition" or the government to recognise let alone do anything about the root cause of the problem is to blame for the dozens of lives lost so far.

In a few days' or a week's time, this round of violence will end, the media will give it a name - maybe Port Said 2 - and everyone will go back to normal. But the effects of what is happening, the anger building, will only give way to another round soon.

The inevitability of more violence and more people being killed is a depressing reality here.

The poor foundation of the state laid down after the revolution means every few weeks there is a partial collapse, nothing is fixed just plastered over.

Unless there is a major change in attitude and policy by those in charge, at some point it will all have to come crumbling down before they can build it back up again.