You've been seeing a lot of the word "Egypt" repeatedly popping up in your Twitter feeds or displayed on CNN's homepage ticker, and if you haven't been closely following the country's developments until now, that's okay — but that changes right now. The current violence in the northeastern African country has been claiming over 600 lives and reflects an extensive conflict that spans over decades. It's an extremely layered, complicated affair that is difficult to comprehend even for those closely following it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't understand the basics. MC has laid out exactly what you need to know to once again confidently navigate the evening news.
Why is there violence in Egypt? In 2011, over a million Egyptian civilians protested in Cairo for Egypt's president of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, to step down, which he did in February of that year. However, the country has been in a constant state of tumult since as both citizens and the interim government fight — literally — to determine what the nation will look like. Democracy, anyone?
Who is responsible for the killing? Most of the currently occurring violent confrontations have taken place in Cairo's streets. Egyptian security forces are thus attempting to control and quell the protestors, while civilians fight back. This includes recent attacks by these violent groups on churches and government buildings.
What are protestors asking for? Besides rallying for a complete Egyptian democracy, protestors have been supporting former president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader who served from June 2012 through July 2013. Last month, Morsi was overthrown in a military coup, and the military remains in charge.
What did Obama state in his remarks on the situation? Last week while on a working vacation in Martha's Vineyard, President Obama delivered a statement in response to this conflict, in which he criticized Egypt's interim government. "The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt's interim government and security forces," he said. "We deplore violence against civilians." In response, Egypt's government said that Obama's statements were not based on "facts," and will only encourage violence against protestors.
What does the U.S. plan to do to address this conflict? Secretary of State John Kerry has called for a "peaceful and inclusive democratic transition." However, we are choosing not to intervene militarily to avoid losing influence in the region.