Why Egypt Crisis Worries Neighbors

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Rana Jawad is the BBC's North African correspondent. She's normally based in Tripoli, in Libya, but is currently in Cairo, and has been there for the past week. Rana, there was a saying we heard during the Arab spring in 2011, that as Egypt goes so goes the Arab world. You came from Tripoli about a week ago to Cairo, what are Libyans saying about these events in Egypt?

Rana Jawad: Since I have been here I've been in touch with contacts and sources in Libya, people from civil society groups and revolutionaries even who stood on the streets of Benghazi back in 2011 protesting against colonel Gaddafi, and they're all quite worried. They understand what happened and they're quite happy, if you will, that president Morsi has been toppled because in Libya over the past year what we've seen is this growing suspicion of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in their own country as well. This is an organization that's not just limited to Egypt obviously. So really everyone is watching it closely.
Talking to Libyans and Tunisians they are worried that, you know, if Egypt destabilizes it will further destabilize their own country. Their still struggling, especially Libya, which borders Egypt. Their still struggling to maintain their own security. And one prominent lawyer there, an activist, told me, you know, yes the protestors probably had every right, in her view, to demand dignity and to demand democracy because it doesn't stop at the ballot box. At the same time, legally speaking, now that the military has become involved and they were the ones that stepped in and ousted him physicallyââ?¬ ¦

Werman: You've got, yeah.

Jawad: They are no longer a neutral party based again at the part of the conflict. And, you know, if Egypt destabilizes Libya may well destabilize even further because they don't have an army to speak of at the moment.

Werman: So it's a different narrative arc in Libya, but I mean, would you say that Libya is close or not at all close to what Egypt's currently going through.

Jawad: It's close I think in the sense that they are rejecting the Islamization of politics. They have held protests against the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya for several months now, and they're now blaming them for everything. So it's a bit of a complex picture, but at the end of the day the bottom line is that in Libya they're quite aware and they've made that clear to all the parties involved that they will not stand for the Islamization of politics and that's not something they're, that's not a road they're willing to travel on basically.

Werman: On the other hand protesting the Islamization of politics, I mean, that seems kind of risky because wasn't it the outlawing of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 50s in Egypt that helped spawn the militancy that led to Al Qaeda?

Jawad: Well, yes in a sense, and that's where the fear lies really. That if these groups, the ones who are seen as more moderates, because the Muslim Brotherhood is seen as a more moderate Islamist group, are repressed again it will increase their sense of victimhood, it will drive them underground, they could turn to militancy, not necessarily all of them and not necessarily with the agreement of their spiritual leader. But we're likely to see splits within their ranks, people who feel strongly that, well we did the democratic thing, we did the ballot box, it didn't work, and you know, we have no other choice but to fight this, and they will fight this in however way they see fit, and that could include militancy.

Werman: The BBC's North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad there, speaking with us from Cairo.