From Sisi to Suez, defining moments that rocked Egypt in 2014
From the resignation of the Egyptian government to the election of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, 2014 has been a tumultuous year for Egypt
From the resignation of the Egyptian government to the election of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the historic decision to build a second Suez Canal, 2014 has been a tumultuous year for Egypt.
As the year draws to a close, Al Arabiya News takes a look at this year’s most memorable moments in the most populous Arab country.
1. The election of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Considered as a savior by many men and adored by many women, Egypt’s latest president has been one of the most prominent figures in the country this year.
Last June, Sisi was appointed Egypt’s new president in a country struggling with political turmoil and a battered economy.
He became the latest in a line of Egyptian rulers drawn from the military that was only briefly broken during Islamist President Mohammad Mursi's year in office.
Since his designation, Sisi was praised for his achievements, including his changes to the economic sector.
However, the former army chief has been heavily criticized for his apparent violation of human rights.
“Human rights as well as freedom of expression seem to be on a steady decline,” Rasha A. Abdulla, Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo (AUC), told Al Arabiya News.
“It is a big mistake to sacrifice freedoms for the sake of stability because freedom is the underlying foundation for any stability,” Abdulla added.
2. The creation of a second Suez Canal
Known for being one of the most important thoroughfares for trade, the Suez Canal is a crucial source of foreign currency for Egypt.
In August, Sisi unveiled his plan to add an extra lane to the existing Canal, which allows ships to travel from Europe to Asia without passing southern Africa.
Sisi said the project will not receive any financing from abroad but will only rely on independent contributions from individual Egyptians.
The construction of the new canal, which is due to cost $4 billion and last approximately five years, would allow ships to travel in both directions from Europe to Asia unlike the existing lane which only allows for one-way traffic.
3. The surprise resignation of the Egyptian government
The resignation of the Egyptian government in February paved the way for Sisi to announce his presidency bid and was seen as one of the most talked-about moves of 2014 in Egypt.
The surprise resignation was announced by the prime minister-designate at the time Hazem el-Beblawi who did not give any specific reason for the decision.
The cabinet's decision to submit its resignation to interim-President Adly Mansour was made after a 30-minute meeting.
Beblawi’s military-backed cabinet was sworn in on July 16, less than two weeks after Sisi, the defense minister at the time, ousted Islamist President Mohammed Mursi, the nation’s first freely elected leader.
4. The acquittal of Hosni Mubarak in the ‘trial of century’
In November, an Egyptian court dismissed charges linking ousted President Hosni Mubarak to the deaths of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 revolt after an almost three-year trial.
His former interior minister, Habib el-Adly, and six aides were also cleared of charges related to the killing of protesters.
The verdict sparked debate in Egypt where devastated protesters were seen in front of the court shouting in anger at the verdict while others praised the judgment and kissed Mubarak photo.
Commenting on the verdict, Osama Saraya, former editor-in-chief of the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram, told Al Arabiya News that “the judgment was not surprising.”
Saraya also said that having President Mubarak tried in an Egyptian court is the “biggest proof that Egypt has a fair and accurate judiciary system.”
5. The creation of a Gaza buffer zone
In October, the Egyptian government announced it would set up a buffer zone along its border with Gaza after deadly attacks in the Sinai Peninsula killed 33 Egyptian soldiers.
As part of the plan to create the 13-kilometer long and 500-meter wide buffer zone, the Egyptian army destroyed more than 800 homes causing the displacment of about 1,100 residents.
“The creation of a buffer zone on the border is a must to help control the influx of extremist militants into the country,” Saraya said.
“It is of absolute necessity to preserve Egyptian national security,” he said, adding that a buffer zone will guarantee stability in the area.
However, Amnesty International condemned the move saying the government has “proceeded with the evictions completely ignoring key safeguards required under international law including consultation with residents, adequate prior notice and sufficient compensation for losses,” on a released statement.
Responding to the condemnations, Saraya said: “The Egyptian government is working on providing enough housing to displaced families.”
Sisi vowed that all the departing residents would be compensated for their lost homes.