A year ago, Ahmed Shafiq was laying low. Military rulers had sacked him from his post as prime minister when massive crowds in Tahrir Square, energized by their overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, demanded that those associated with the Mubarak regime must also go.
Today, Mr. Shafiq is in a runoff race to be president of Egypt.
Supporters see Shafiq as someone who can restore stability after a chaotic 18 months.
Egypt’s unfinished revolution is still largely led by idealistic youth who seek fairly elected secular government as well as a constitution that upholds basic rights. If that goal can be achieved in Egypt – long a model for the Middle East – it would help cement political freedoms for the region.
For now, however, the intellectual battle over civil liberties is being played out on Egypt’s streets, with control over Cairo’s Tahrir Square as the symbol of which side has the upper hand in this national debate.
Egypt lifted a 4-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, greatly easing travel restrictions on the 1.5 million residents of the Palestinian territory in a move that bolstered the Hamas government while dealing a setback to Israel's attempts to isolate the militant group.
The sense of relief was palpable as buses piled high with luggage crossed the Rafah border terminal and hundreds of people traveled abroad for overdue medical appointments, business dealings and family affairs. In Israel, fears were heightened that militants and weapons will soon pour into the territory.
Egypt does have some oil: it produces about 600,000 barrels a day, with a retail value of about $18 billion annually. Still, because of Egypt’s large population, this would translate to only about $220 per capita. And most of Egypt’s oil stays in its domestic market: it exports only 89,000 barrels a day, which would produce $2.6 billion a year at a price of $80 per barrel, or just $32 per person. This is much less than the aggregate figure for the Middle East, which is $1,605 per person.
The first competitive presidential election in the Arab world began in Egypt on May 23, 2012. The election commission confirmed on May 28 that Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood will face Ahmed Shafik, the former prime minister, in the runoff scheduled for June 16 and 17 to choose Egypt’s first freely elected president.
The Egyptian army has more on its hands than running armoured cars over people in Tahrir Square. It also runs about 10% of the economy. Military-backed companies produce cement, olive oil and household appliances as well as arms. They also provide pest control, catering and even child care. The army owns large chunks of Egypt’s most precious commodity, land, particularly on the Red Sea coast.
Long known for its pyramids and ancient civilisation, Egypt is the largest Arab country and has played a central role in Middle Eastern politics in modern times.
In the 1950s President Gamal Abdul Nasser pioneered Arab nationalism and the non-aligned movement, while his successor Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel and turned back to the West.
Egypt's state of emergency, that gave security forces sweeping powers to detain suspects and try them in special courts, has ended after 31 years.
It has been in place without interruption since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981.
Lifting the law was a key demand of activists in last year's uprising against President Hosni Mubarak.
After days of protest, Egypt's civil unrest came to a head today, with protestors defying curfews as the nation's military entered the streets. If you're new to the story, here's what's going on.
Protests started on Tuesday, January 25, when -- inspired by the successful revolution in Tunisia -- thousands of people began taking to the streets to protest poverty, rampant unemployment, government corruption and autocratic governance of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for thirty years. These were the first protests on such a large scale to be seen in Egypt since the 1970s.
ON JANUARY 25th 2011, a day that would enter Egypt’s very long annals, the streets of downtown Cairo were filled with ragged groups of protesters hiding from swirls of tear gas. Truncheons bounced off limbs and bullets zipped into puddles like lumps of sugar into coffee cups. This was the start of the 18-day protest that felled Hosni Mubarak, the country’s strongman.