Egypt Military-Backed Gov’t Takes Decisions that Would Sustain its Own Role – Expert [Interview with Z.T.]

Egypt has lifted its three-month state of emergency on Tuesday. The measure would mean an end to night-time curfews that choked economic life in the country. The court decision comes amid continued protests across the country. Meanwhile, the government edges a step closer to passing a law on demonstrations that the opposition says could be a new way to curb protests. Zenonas Tziarras, Teaching Assistant at the University of Warwick and Junior Research Scholar at the think-tank “Strategy International”, Greece, shared his insight in the situation in Egypt in an interview with the VoR.

VoR: How will the lifting of the state of emergency in Egypt affect life in Egypt?

Z.T: I think 2 scenarios are most possible here. Egypt will either gradually return to normal or enter another period of instability and violence. But this will largely depend on how the military will deal with possible new demonstrations, especially considering that Morsi is currently on trial.

VoR: Is it going to have a profound effect on the country’s economy?

Z.T: I would expect that it will have at least some positive effect given that the state of emergency had in itself a negative impact on businesses. Yet, Egypt’s economic problems are much deeper; they have to do with massive unemployment, inflation, budget deficit, liquidity shortage of foreign currencies and so on. Therefore, unless a more holistic approach is adopted to deal with the economy, the lifting of the state of emergency will not achieve much, I think.

VoR: Do you think this measure will help reduce tensions in the society?

Z.T: I definitely think it is a step in the right direction, a step that could initiate a process of stabilization and democratization, perhaps. But again, as I said before, this depends to a great extent on the handlings of the military as well as the procedure and outcome of Morsi’s trial. So, it is definitely a positive step but there is still a lot to be seen.

VoR: We saw some media reports that say the Egyptian government is to pass a law on demonstrations shortly. The opposition says the law could be a new way to curb protests. Your comment, please?

Z.T: Generally, as much as I would like to be optimistic about that, I do think that the military-backed government is taking decisions that would sustain its own role. If the only thing that this legislation entails is for the organizers to notify the police in advance of any meeting of more than 10 people, as it has been reported, then there might not be a problem. But if this means that the police will be prepared to crack down on the protesters or that it will justify the arrests of groups of more than 10 people on political grounds, then this will be definitely problematic.

VoR: How is it now with demonstrations? Does this order has to be changed? Should you not notify the authorities of the rally now?

Z.T: At this point I don’t think the legislation has passed, so I wouldn’t expect that they would have to do that. I think it is really a kind of grey area right now and probably that would give them the option of doing whatever they want. So, for the protesters it might not be a good idea right now.

VoR: If you were to decide that, you would not try to have some new legislation on that and leave things as they are, correct?

Yes, I don’t think that legislation is the best thing for the people mostly, not for the military. As a citizen personally I wouldn’t want that.

By Evgeny Sukhoi

This is a transcribed radio interview of Zenonas Tziarras to the Voice of Russia radio.

First published on the Voice of Russia, November 13, 2013.

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