Energy crisis drives taxi and bus operators to cease work; police officers’ strike prompts debate about ‘private security committees’.
Egypt’s descent into anarchy due to its government’s inability to establish order and a continuing energy shortage lead all major Arab newspapers.
“Egyptian interior minister: Army cannot secure the country alone” reads the main headline of the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al-Awsat, a paper known for its staunch hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood. In response to the violent protests against the Egyptian government that have taken place in cities along Suez Canal and north of Cairo, thousands of low-ranking police officers have gone on strike to express their disapproval of the Islamist politicization of the police force.
The result has been a complete breakdown in government control of major Egyptian population centers. Fearing a seizure of power by the Egyptian Armed Forces and fighting immense criticism for his handling of the police officers’ strike, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim says “the army cannot secure the country alone.”
The London-based Al-Hayat reports that Ibrahim has expressed “willingness to resign on the spot if that will resolve the crisis.” However, he insists that all that must be done to restore order is to “keep rioters away from sensitive security areas and order will be restored within one month.”
In light of the security breakdown, the widespread vandalism of public property, and the thousands of people who have been wounded in the rioting, a group of Muslim Brotherhood legislators have proposed a law calling for the establishment of “popular security committees” by private Egyptian citizens to defend their neighborhoods and restore order, according to the London-based Al Quds Al-Arabi.
Justifying the creation of these “committees,” the legislators released a statement saying “the nation is exposed to vigorous attempts to abort the Egyptian revolution and sabotage Egypt from the inside.”
The National Salvation Front, the leading political opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government, categorically rejected the proposal, warning it would be the precursor to the forming of armed militias that would plunge the country into a real civil war.
However, Hassan Yassin, an adviser to Egypt’s attorney general, expressed support for the formation of security committees.
“It would give citizens the right to stop perpetrators of criminal offenses as long as they caught them in flagrant violation and handed them over to the nearest policeman,” he said.