Montana World Affairs Council on Military Coup in Egypt – How it May Affect Missoula [AUDIO]
After a military coup in Egypt, former President Mohammad Morsi is under house arrest, and tens of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets to celebrate the overthrow of the fundamentalist Muslim leader.
Former ambassador Mark Johnson with the Montana World Affairs Council based in Missoula said on Wednesday that the entire world has been watching the turmoil in Egypt.
"I think its a stunning event that we've seen unfold since Sunday," Johnson said. "The military council has announced in the last few hours that the sitting president, Mohammad Morsi is out, and a caretaker has been appointed, the chief justice of the Egyptian Supreme Court, a man named Monsour. There will be an interim ruling group, then there will be a new constitution drafted, plus elections for a new parliament and a new president."
Johnson said the people of Egypt and the military have spoken when it comes to the Islamic Brotherhood, and its stronghold on the government.
"The key point here is that if the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt, its country of origin, is rebuked by the people, that does not bode well for other Islamist organizations, such as Hamas and others around the Middle East," Johnson said, "My first impression is that this is a sharp setback for the Islamist parties, as far as getting into the body politic of these various Arab countries."
Johnson said the consequences to Montanans will primarily be economic in nature.
"The price of oil has spiked to over $100 a barrel in the last few days, and it will continue, although I think that will be a temporary phenomenon," Johnson said, "Hopefully, if Egypt can put a little stability in its system, it can begin to deal better with some of its own internal economic problems. Plus, a stable Egypt will bode much better for Israel, which is already nervous being surrounded by countries like Syria and Iran."
Johnson said a peaceful Egypt is vital to the overall stability of the Middle East.
"The strategic importance of Egypt can't be overstressed," Johnson said. "They control the Suez Canal where you have over 18,000 ships a year, and four million barrels of oil a day. The Sinai, which is the source of weapons and terrorist activity right now, and trade. Egypt is a major buyer of wheat in the world, and Montana produces a lot of wheat. So, if we're interested in the stability of the Middle East, let's hope its a step in the right direction. I think if some enlightened leadership comes forward, then Egypt has a chance."