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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 28-Jul-2013
28-Jul-13 World View -- Generational Dynamics analysis of the crisis in Egypt

Web Log - July, 2013

28-Jul-13 World View -- Generational Dynamics analysis of the crisis in Egypt

Dozens of Egyptian pro-Morsi protesters killed by security forces

This morning's key headlines from

Dozens of Egyptian pro-Morsi protesters killed by security forces

Pro-Morsi supporters carry an injured man to a field hospital on Saturday (AP)
Pro-Morsi supporters carry an injured man to a field hospital on Saturday (AP)

Dozens of pro-Morsi protesters were killed on Saturday by live fire from government security forces. Army spokesmen are claiming that the pro-Morsi protesters started shooting first, and there is some evidence that one or two snipers fired at security forces in order to cause a confrontation. But there's no doubt that most of the firepower came from the security forces, and most of the targets were pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Egypt's health ministry reported 38 deaths on Saturday, while the Muslim Brotherhood claimed a much higher number -- 120 people killed, 4,500 people injured. Al-Ahram (Cairo)

Generational Dynamics analysis of the crisis in Egypt

When the Egyptian Revolution began in January, 2011, I began writing frequent generational analyses of what was going on. Much of what I wrote was widely disputed in comments by many people, but now, 2-1/2 years later, those analyses and predictions have turned out to be correct. As I've been saying since 2005, there is no web site, analyst, journalist, politician or pundit with anything close to the consistent predictive success of my web site and Generational Dynamics, and my challenge to anyone to point one out is still open.

There was a negative story line that I saw repeatedly from analysts and journalists across the political spectrum. Those on the right tended to adopt the entire story line, but even pundits on the left adopted various parts of it. The outline is as follows:

Some parts of these mainstream predictions turned out to be true. The ones who predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood would come to power were right, and the ones who predicted that the Army would come to power were right, although they each came to power at different times. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the outcomes of elections and political decisions are chaotic events (in the sense of Chaos Theory), so I didn't make any predictions about who would be governing.

However, it was pretty clear, from generational considerations, that most of the rest of the above scenario was wrong. The following is a summary of what I wrote in "4-Feb-11 News -- The lull before the storm in Egypt as 'Friday of Departure' approaches" and "3-Feb-11 News -- Violence between protester factions kills three in Egypt" and "31-Jan-11 News -- Millions riot in Egypt as the West fears a Muslim Brotherhood victory.".

The Muslim Brotherhood

The most important generational consideration regarding the Muslim Brotherhood involves the following two facts:

Thus, the vast majority of Egyptians have never known violence from the Muslim Brotherhood. That would include members of the Brotherhood itself. Of course, there are some old geezer politicians in the MB who dream of the old days when they could blow somebody up, but those are a tiny minority by this time.

As I've written dozens of times, it's a basic principle of Generational Dynamics that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians. What politicians say or do is irrelevant, except insofar as their actions reflect the attitudes of the people that they represent, and so politicians can neither cause nor prevent the great events of history. It's a consequence of this principle that it's extremely unlikely that the Brotherhood is going to return to its violence of the late 1940s. And now, 2-1/2 years into the Egyptian Revolution, we can see that's true.

The same generational reasoning applies to the prediction that the Brotherhood would abrogate Egypt's peace agreement with Israel. Any such major decision would have to come from the masses of people, and if so, then it would have happened while Mubarak was still in power. The fact that the peace agreement was in place for over 30 years indicates that the people of Egypt really want to have peace with Israel, and nothing about that is particularly surprising. Nor is it surprising that, even when the Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi came to power, no attempt was made to abrograte the peace treaty.

As for violent attacks on Jews and Coptic Christians, there have been some isolated incidents, but after 2-1/2 years, it's clear that there's going to be no widespread attacks. Pro-Morsi and anti-Morsi demonstrators have been targeting each other, not Jews and Christians.

Here's what I wrote about the protesters in 2011:

The political objectives have changed (depose Morsi or reinstate Morsi), but there's absolutely no sign that the masses of Egyptian people want a relationship with Hamas or that they want to kill Jews or Christians.

What I've said repeatedly since then was that I'd be willing to change my mind, but before I do, I'd have to see crowds of Egyptians in Tahrir Square burning Israeli flags and chanting "Death to Israel!" Until that happens, it's almost completely impossible that any substantial action will be taken against Jews or Israel.

Now let me briefly return to the question of Iran. There was a widespread mainstream belief that Egypt's revolution would be a repeat of Iran's 1979 revolution, with the Muslim Brotherhood taking power and installing Sharia law.

As I wrote in 2011, this was never going to happen because of significant differences between the two situations: Iran has a historic fault line between the monarchy and the clerics, and there's no similar fault line in Egypt; and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was a very charismatic leader, and was greatly loved by Iran's population. There has been no similar figure in Egypt today, certainly not Mohamed Morsi, who is not particularly loved, even by his supporters.

Egypt's future

I wrote in 2011 that there were no major fault line among Egyptians in Cairo, and so there would be no civil war. In the last few weeks, it appears that a fault line is developing between pro- and anti-Morsi people.

However, I don't look at it that way. Despite the clashes between the Army and Muslim Brotherhood supporters, I've seen little more than political differences between the masses of people supporting Morsi, and the masses of people opposing. According to a number of news stories, the two groups have gone out of their way to avoid confronting each other violently. If there were real animus between the two groups, there would be a hell of a lot more blood in the streets.

What's really remarkable about the past year was how it proves the basic Generational Dynamics principle that it's generations of people, not politicians, that decide great events. In this case, Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood came to power last year. They took control, gave themselves dictatorial powers, rewrote the constitution, and imposed Sharia law, just as many people had predicted that they would. But look what happened! Morsi's actions were unacceptable to tens of millions of Egyptians, and now Morsi is gone, and there's no Sharia law. In the end, it was the masses of people who decided, not a politician.

So my prediction is that there will NOT be a civil war between pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators. This political conflict will be resolved somehow -- I would not predict how -- and life will go on, with no more than isolated instances of violence. I don't want to belittle these isolated instances, but my point is that there won't be all out civil war.

Finally, as I pointed out in 2011, there is one major fault line in Egypt that has to be considered -- the Egyptians in Cairo versus the Bedouins in Sinai. (See "12-Feb-11 News -- As Egypt's president Mubarak resigns, tension grows in the Sinai".) This is a true, genuine fault line, headed for a major confrontation, quite likely toward war. And it won't be war between Israel and Egypt. It will be war with Israel and Egypt as allies versus the Bedouins, the al-Qaeda jihadists, and probably even some of the Gazans.

The long-run Generational Dynamics prediction for the Mideast is a new genocidal war between Jews and Arabs, refighting the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine in 1948, and the creation of the state of Israel. Two years ago, I wrote that there's no clear trend that would allow me to predict whose side Egypt would be on, and that's still true today.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jul-13 World View -- Generational Dynamics analysis of the crisis in Egypt thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jul-2013) Permanent Link
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