Egyptian spiral

The images are as stark as they are revealing of the intense conflict that is threatening to consume Egypt, a land of such promise, history and significance.

The declaration of a State of emergency accompanying the violent crackdown by the Army will inevitably harden feelings and attitudes of the Egyptian people on both sides. The polarizations will grow deeper and any semblances of national unity will degenerate to narrow disparate interests.

On one hand the revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood is unlikely to assuage in the near future. If anything everything will be done to regain the losses that may have been suffered.

Similarly the anti-Morsi faction is unlikely to allow the Muslim Brotherhood back into power considering the deep felt un-ease and outright rejection of the highly conservative and religious oriented policies introduced by the new Government.

Finally the army, flexing its newly found muscle and authority will not return to the barracks where they would be easy victims of a reprisal by the Morsi regime if reinstated in office.

The stage is then set for many more days of conflict, violence and loss of life as each side seeks to secure advantage of the other.

But like in all political conflicts the biggest losers will be the ordinary people whose social, economic and even religious lives will be seriously interrupted as the situation works itself to comatose state from the attrition and damage that will be done to infrastructure and life style.

This scenario is long term. In the short term the situation in Egypt is precarious as the various parties are unlikely to cede territory let alone power.

What is even more worrying is the hardening of the fringe Muslim radical movements that are now targeting Christian and especially Orthodox Church for retribution. Many churches have been torched and believers have been targeted for reprisal.

What should have been a quick and precise strike to remove demonstrators from  Cairo streets is very quickly degenerating into a civil war engulfing the entire country.  The promise of a quick return to civilian Government is fast eluding this vast democracy.

Our hope  for Egypt is for the powers that be to engage in immediate talks with the interim Government to press for national dialogue in a forum that should take account of the differing ideologies, beliefs and religious orientation.

Even at this very last hour the  31 January Azhar Memorandum which promised to eschew violence must form the basic building block of any movement towards creating lasting peace and subsequent political settlement.

The moral however for Zambia, is that we should not allow hot heads and extremist political ideologies to derail our search for an accommodating democratic dispensation in which diversity of opinion will be the norm- a democracy in which diversity will be embraced and not punished.