PAUL STAINTON: Now for the latest on the uprising in Egypt. President Mohamed Morsi insists he remains Egypt’s legitimate leader, despite continued protests from the public. On Monday the army said if the people’s demands weren’t met by that evening, it would intervene. Now Morsi becoming the country’s first Islamist President a year ago, after winning an election considered to be free and fair by most, so what is going on? What has happened? Well let’s speak to Middle East expert Hazhir Teimourian. He’s with us now. Morning Hazhir.
HAZHIR TEIMOURIAN: A very good morning to you.
PAUL STAINTON: What has happened? What has gone wrong? I know it’s a country of many factions, obviously, but he was voted for by the popular vote. Why are people on the streets?
HAZHIR TEIMOURIAN: That’s right. In fact even before he was elected I wrote in The Times of London that anyone who wanted to be President of Egypt would be quite a foolish man, because he would inherit a poisoned chalice. This is a country whose native resources cannot support its own population. On top of that, 60% of the population are under the age of 30, with unrealistically high expectations of democracy suddenly transforming their lives, giving them jobs, increasing their standard of living. Then on top of that unfortunately Mr Morsi proved really incompetent, made many mistakes, and his creeping Islamisation programme has frightened not only the middle classes and the liberals, but also foreign tourists. And Egypt depends on tourism to a large extent for its foreign currency.
PAUL STAINTON: Is that the bigger issue here, the fear that Egypt is creeping towards another Iran, if you like?
HAZHIR TEIMOURIAN: That’s right. The liberals and the middle classes are fearful that like Ayatollah Khomeini did in Iran in 1979, by first using mild language, would bide time, and eventually turn the country into an Islamic state. Don’t forget that the Muslim Brotherhood always had one slogan, Islam is the solution to all of the Muslim world’s problems. So it’s a frightening combination. I’m still hoping for a compromise, a coalition government, before three thirty this afternoon.
PAUL STAINTON: Sixteen people dead already in clashes overnight. If the army do step in this afternoon, won’t that just enrage things, inflame things?
HAZHIR TEIMOURIAN: More likely to drive the Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, underground again, as under the years of General Mubarak. And 800 people died when Mubarak was overthrown, the economy went on its knees. It’s still on its knees today. So we must hope for a last minute compromise .
PAUL STAINTON: Can anybody sort out Egypt’s woes? Because they are many. The level of poverty is frightening, isn’t it?
HAZHIR TEIMOURIAN: Exactly. I’m very pessimistic about the prospects of all such countries, whose native resources are not equal to their population, and their population growths go on and on and on. The Economist magazine for example is predicting that Uganda, little Uganda, will have a population bigger than Russia’s by the middle of this century. Of course this cannot happen, but that’s the trend at the moment.
PAUL STAINTON: It’s going to be an interesting day, isn’t it? Hazhir thank you for coming on this morning. Hazhir Teimourian, who’s a Middle East expert. Three thirty this afternoon, the army have set that deadline. It could be interesting. We’ll keep our eyes and ears on what happens in Egypt. It’s a beautiful country with some great people, but it’s going through a lot of turmoil at the moment.