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Former Ambassador: Egypt Unrest Won't Ease Anytime Soon

Israel’s former ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel, predicts that riots in Egypt will continues in the foreseeable future.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/11/2013, 6:44 AM

Anti-Morsi protesters during clashes with police in front of the presidential palace in Cairo
Anti-Morsi protesters during clashes with police in front of the presidential palace in Cairo
Reuters

The unrest in Egypt is not going to ease up anytime soon, Israel’s former ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel, predicted on Sunday.

In recent days and weeks, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohammed Morsi, who was elected to power last June, has faced growing unrest and calls by the opposition to remove him from power.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Mazel said that Egypt’s main problem is implementing a real democracy after years of dictatorship.

“You cannot have a true democracy all at once,” he said. “Egypt has been under a dictatorship for 5,000 years, starting with the pharaohs and going all the way to Mubarak.”

The leading motive for the latest riots in Egypt, according to Mazel, is the opposition’s view that Morsi’s regime has failed to deal with the long-awaited economic and social issues. Instead, he said, Morsi has solely focused on strengthening his rule and grip on Egypt.

He said he believes the conflict between the liberals and the Islamists, including the extremist Salafis, will not come to an end anytime soon, because the opposition is strong and united and also because the Muslim Brotherhood has shown no willingness to give up power.

"They will do anything to stay in power," said Mazel, adding he believes that the riots and casualties will continue for the foreseeable future.

Commenting on the Israeli angle of the latest uproar in Egypt, Mazel predicted that while anti-Semitism is part of the main principles of the Muslim Brotherhood as stated by the founders of the movement, he believes that the attempts and efforts to address internal Egyptian issues will take the attention away from Israel in the next few years.

He mentioned Morsi’s remarks a year and a half ago in which he referred to Jews as sons of pigs and apes. The remarks were exposed in a translated TV clip released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Morsi later insisted that he had nothing against Judaism and that the comments attributed to him before he was elected had been "taken out of their context".

Morsi’s statements are taken from the Koran, noted Mazel, who said these statements are evidence of what Morsi really thinks about Israel. Mazel added that the Koran has also verses that say that the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel, but the Muslim Brotherhood prefers to ignore those verses.

As for the peace treaty with Israel, which has not yet officially been canceled despite calls by Muslim Brotherhood officials to do so, Mazel predicted that this move will not be taken because the Egyptians fear that the U.S. and Europe would react angrily and stop the economic aid to Egypt. He also noted that the Egyptian people themselves are not eager to wage a war with Israel, but rather are interested in solving their day-to-day problems.