For more information, read the full article here.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Global Voices: Armed Egyptian Group Hilwan Brigades Blasts State Violence and Muslim Brotherhood's ‘Pacifism’ in YouTube Debut
For more information, read the full article here.
Monday, July 14, 2014
At the moment, nothing shouts "Policy Change!" like the way the current Egyptian government has been handling the Gaza crisis. During the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip in 2012, Morsi managed to broker a ceasefire within one week from the start the Israeli offensive. Today marks day 7 in the current Israeli offensive, and there has been no news of any mediation that has arrived to anything substantial.
During the 2012 Israeli offensive, the Rafah crossing, a vital lifeline for Gaza to the outside world, was open around the clock, and all holidays for Egyptian employees at the crossing were cancelled. During the current Israeli operation, the crossing has been closed, opened, and closed again.
Morsi had made public statements denouncing the Israeli assault against the Palestinians. Sisi, on the other hand, has taken a more neutral approach. Statements by presidential spokesmen and government officials relay to the public Sisi's 'concern' regarding possible escalations that may occur in the crisis.
The two foreign policies also contrast on the issue of Syria. In mid-June, 2013, just weeks before Sisi overthrew Morsi, the latter had announced that Egypt would cut all ties with Assad's regime. He announced that decision during a pro-Syrian-revolution conference that was broadcast on live television. Sisi, so far, has called for a peaceful solution to the conflict and has stated that Syria is becoming an "attractive spot for terrorism."
It is clear and evident that Sisi is taking Egypt on a different foreign policy that contrasts greatly with his predecessor. The current Israeli offensive against Gaza will definitely test how successful his policy will be.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Sunday, September 1, 2013
In my previous post (The Death of Middle East Conspiracy Theories – Egypt), I discussed how the political confusion in Egypt can be explained by identifying the interests and ideological principles of each faction and how these 2 factors shape the decisions of each actor on the political stage. The same concept can be applied to the events unfolding in the Syrian Revolution (or Civil War, depending on your perspective on what’s occurring there).
To start off: The simplest of facts is that in Syria, we currently have 2 alliances fighting for survival and the destruction and annihilation of the other. The first of these alliances is the Free Syrian Army-Nusra Front alliance. The second of these is the Assad regime-Hezbollah alliance.
Of course, to get a clearer understanding, we need to briefly go over a simple fact: Peaceful protests, fueled by the successes of Tunisia and Egypt in toppling their corrupt leaders, filled the streets of Syria; demanding, of course, the removal of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Assad first relied on security personnel and state-sponsored thugs to deal with the situation. Their failure at ending the peaceful revolution lead Assad to decide to use military brute force. Military personnel who rejected the idea of killing their own people began to split off and formed the Free Syrian Army (FSA for short). They were originally formed to defend protesters, yet as Assad’s violence against the protesters escalated, and as more military forces joined the FSA, a full-scale war eventually formed.
At this stage, Assad is merely interested in surviving and crushing the revolution. The revolutionaries (or rebels, however you see them) at this stage are also interested in surviving, crushing Assad’s regime, and establishing the foundations of a new country.
At this point, 2 new factions step into the scene: The Sunni Nusra Front (جبهة النصرة Gabhat Al-Nusra) and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. Both of these factions have one thing in common: Both have an Islamist ideology. Yet the one thing that differentiates them is the reason they ally themselves to opposing camps: One is Sunni, while the other is Shiite.
Hezbollah has had a historic alliance with the Assad regime. The Assad regime also has had a historic alliance with Iran, which has enormous influence of Hezbollah.
Despite Assad’s Baathist (a form of pan-Arabism that existed in Iraq and Syria) ideology, he eventually found himself isolated from Arab nations as their relations with the United States grew through the years. This lead him to search for support in the Shiite nation. (Assad himself is an Alawite, an offshoot of Shiism which mainstream Shiites themselves consider to be a false sect.) Iran welcomed Syria as a close ally with open arms. This relationship grew as both countries began to be isolated internationally, with the exception, of course, of Russia and China. (Iran became isolated due to its nuclear project, and Syria became isolated by the West due to his hostile language toward Israel, and the fact that he never signed a peace treaty with the occupier of the Golan Heights.)
Hezbollah supplied the Assad regime with some of its own brigades from Lebanon. Numerous battles between the revolutionary alliance in Syria and Hezbollah alone have taken place.
Assad has been a major sponsor for Hezbollah, supplying it with military equipment (and probably training). Losing an ally in Syria would force Hezbollah to rely only on Iranian cargo ships that would sail from the Gulf of Arabia, through the Red Sea, and onto Lebanese shores; a much longer timespan that would prove to be inefficient in times of war, in comparison to immediate delivery of weapons from across the border.
The Nusra Front is similar to what we had in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Muslims from around the world travelling to fight against an oppressive regime they consider to be oppressing a Muslim population. Under the banner of jihad, Arab (including, of course, local Syrians), South Asian, East Asian, European, and American Muslims travelled to Syria and formed a various multiethnic Sunni-Islamic armed groups. The Nusra Front became one of those armed groups. (The group has alleged ties to Al-Qaeda.) (The group has managed to prove its major role in the war against the Assad regime. One Washington Post article published in August of last year described its growing “prominence in [the] war to topple Assad.” Another opinion article in the Washington Post published in the end of November last year described it as “the most aggressive and successful arm” of the anti-Assad alliance.)
(Another Islamist coalition of military brigades, the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front [SILF] has also managed to become a major participant in the war against Assad’s regime. According to a New York Times article published in April, 2013, this coaliition has distanced itself from the Nusra Front due to the latter’s allegiance to Al Qaeda.)
The two factions have reached somewhat of a stalemate so far, both constantly gaining and losing land.
Then comes the 21st of August, 2013. That day, the Assad regime launched chemical weapons at the farming region of Ghouta in the Rif Dimashq governorate. This event (though probably not the first use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime) sent a shock throughout the international community. The massacre that occurred then by the use of chemical weapons has lead the United States, along with some European nations, to declare that it may very well use force to punish the Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons.
(And this is where I decide to delay the discussion of foreign intervention in Syria for another post.)
Friday, August 30, 2013
And then, depending on your ideological background, the US either supports the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists groups (including Al-Qaeda) or the liberal-socialist-secularist alliance (including the armies that always jump to their rescue).
There are no conspiracy theories. Things are more simple than that.
But, of course, to understand what is going on in the Middle East, we need to break it down to simple terms. First, we list the countries that play a role in the Middle East (not just the countries in it, and not the countries in it that don’t play a role).
- Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Countries (not including Qatar)
- The United States and the EU
- Sunni Islam: Present throughout the Middle East
- Shiite Islam: Heavy presence in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and some Gulf Countries
- Coptic Orthodox Christianity: Only present in Egypt
- Maronite Catholic Christianity: Present in Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria
- The Muslim Brotherhood: Originated in Egypt, Present throughout the Middle East
- Mainstream Salafism: Present throughout the Middle East.
- Jihadist Salafism: Varying presence in the Middle East
- Shiite Islamists: Heavy presence in Lebanon and Iraq. The ruling ideology in Iran
- Nasserism: Originated in Egypt (during the reign of Gamal Abdel Nasser). Varying presence throughout the Middle East
- Socialism: Present throughout the Middle East
- Liberalism and Secularism: Present throughout the Middle East
- Nationalist Militarism: Currently the ruling ideology in Egypt. (Usually a mixture of some elements of 2 and 3)
That statement alone should already begin to simplify things.
We’ll discuss the current major hotspots in the region; the major players in those hotspots, and why each of those players took/takes the decisions it has taken/will take.
In this post, I’ll focus on Egypt. (Hopefully I don’t get bored and forget to do the rest later.)
EgyptIf you speak to a liberal, secularist, Nasserist, or a supporter of the current junta, he/she will speak about how the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists are puppets of the United States. If you speak to an Islamist, he/she will speak about how the junta, Nasserists, secularists, and liberals are puppets of the United States.
Simply put: The faction whose interests coincided with the interests of the United States changed rather quickly and dramatically over the past few months.
To start off: In no way do the ideological principles of Islamists coincide with those of the United States. Afghanistan would not have been attacked in 2011 if that was the case.And Israel would have probably had a harder time selling the idea of bombing Gaza to the international community if the US sided with Islamists. So my expectations are that America reluctantly tolerated the idea of the Muslim Brotherhood ruling Egypt due to the fact that it coincided with the principles of democracy (which the US has been trying to market to the world for the past couple of centuries) given its rise to power through free and fair elections.
The increasing warmth of relations, then, between Egypt and Hamas probably irked Israel and the US, despite proving useful to diplomacy in November, 2012, when Morsi managed quickly to broker a ceasefire in record time (within a week!) between Israel and Hamas.
The reality of politics and ruling Egypt forced Morsi to place interests above theological principles during his time in power. The age-old Islamist hopes of cancelling the Camp David Treaty was deemed harmful to the interests and security of Egypt.
Yet, even with the compromises and Morsi’s diplomatic approach to attempting to resolve the crises facing a revolution-era Egypt, the Nasserist liberal, secular, and militarist elite and socialists considered Morsi’s rule to be a threat. Allying with remnants of the old Mubarak regime, they fought perhaps the fiercest political offensive against the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi. To them, a successful Islamist president would mean the end of their political career.
Morsi’s political mistakes became fuel for his opposition, and, eventually, his popularity began to take a sharp drop after the first 5 months.
As the end of Morsi’s first year approached, and as electricity cuts, gas lines, and absence of security increased (and, of course, as attacks from the old media celebrities increased), Morsi’s popularity reached dangerously low levels. Having been distanced from the mainstream revolutionary factions, in a revolutionary Egypt, Morsi’s presidential term was under threat of being shortened by another revolutionary wave. In an effort to save the first democratic experience in Egypt from failing, he gave a speech to the nation a few days before the anniversary of his inauguration. He attempted to win over the revolutionary youth once again, and announced that he would take actions to bring about revolutionary change to the country.
Perhaps seeing Morsi’s presidency’s imminent doom, it seems that the US eventually supported the military coup that ousted Morsi on the 3rd of July, 2013. This perfectly matches the interests (though not necessarily the ideological principles) of the US administration; getting rid of an Islamist ruling entity, ending a flow of support to Hamas, and (hoping) Israel’s western neighbor still remains relatively stable.
The junta took dramatic steps to deal a heavy blow to the pro-Morsi (and, later, the anti-coup) camp. Islamist satellite channels were immediately taken off air and their personnel arrested. Morsi was taken to an undisclosed location. Khairat El Shater and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, 2 Islamist political heavyweights in Egypt, were arrested 2 days later. An anti-coup sit-in, that was already underway, received threatening leaflets that were dropped from military helicopters. Numerous massacres were committed by military and security personnel against peaceful protesters. A demonization campaign was broadcasted by every Egyptian satellite channel, radio station, and non-Islamist publication against anyone who opposed the junta. Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members found their bank assets frozen.
Footages of the bloody massacres and arrest-sprees against opponents of the junta began to fill international and American airwaves. Here, the American ideological principles of democracy and free-will were being questioned. The US administration began to find itself obliged to speak against the crimes committed by the junta. The administration announced that it would begin to ‘review’ the aid it gives to the Egyptian army, and cancelled joint military training it annually had since the Camp David Accords were signed.
Yet the interests of the US administration still force it to keep a certain level of relations with whoever is in charge of Egypt. A stable Egypt is important to it for the security of its closest ally (obviously I’m referring to Israel here), and the safety of naval transportation through the Suez Canal (both an economic and strategic interest). It also doesn’t want to burn all its cards now, so that in the event that the anti-coup movement fails completely, the US administration doesn’t find a complete deterioration of relations with Egypt.
Hamas was originally an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that broke off administratively, but not ideologically, when it took to armed resistance against the Israeli occupation. The Muslim Brotherhood, naturally, has always supported and sympathized with Hamas. Morsi worked to improve official Egyptian relations with the group. During Mubarak’s reign, when the rulers of Gaza met with Egyptian officials during negotiations or meetings, Mubarak employed intelligence officials to meet with them, avoiding meeting with them himself. Morsi ended that with the first visit of Hamas leaders to Egypt during his reign, meeting them himself in the presidential palace. This relationship proved to be useful during the November, 2013 Israeli offensive against Gaza, when Egypt managed to broker a fair ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel within one week since the start of hostilities.
Israel, an old enemy of Hamas and, naturally, of Islamist groups and allies of Hamas, was not very fond of the rise of Islamists to the seats of power in Egypt. When Morsi signed a typical administrative decree to appoint a new Egyptian ambassador to Israel, it leaked the document to the Israeli press in, what seemed to be, an effort to embarrass the Islamist president. Israeli media celebrated the moment Morsi was ousted. Strict orders were given to government officials not to express any reactions on the events in Egypt. As violence increased in Sinai, news spread that Israel was helping the Egyptian army deal with the armed groups in the peninsula.
The Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries (excluding Qatar) considered the Arab Spring a threat to their monarchial system of governance. They were also never really fond of the Muslim Brotherhood. During Morsi’s rule, they generally refrained from giving Egypt financial and energy aid while the country was dealing with an ailing economy and an energy crisis. Almost immediately, upon the announcement of the coup, these countries poured in aid in large quantities.
Since the launch of the satellite channel AlJazeera, Qatar has worked hard on becoming an important player in the international political field through the use of its soft power (the AlJazeera network, energy sources, and wealth). With the rise of the Arab Spring, Qatar found a golden opportunity to gain some more influence in Middle East politics. Over the years, before the Arab Spring, Qatar managed to market itself as the new promoter of pan-Arabism (and, in some cases, Islamic unity). As the dictatorships of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya began to fall, Qatar supported the new ruling systems financially and energy-wise. It also aligned itself quickly with the new democratically-elected rulers. When Morsi was ousted, and with Egypt’s return to military rule, Qatar, wisely, took a business-as-normal approach, sending another cargo of fuel to Egypt to help survive through the energy crisis.
Russia and China have, so far, remained rather silent on the events. The only statement made by Putin on Egypt, so far, was said 4 days after the coup, in which he warned that violence may escalate in Egypt. According to Reuters, Putin said, “Syria is already in the grips of the civil war . . . and Egypt is moving in the same direction.” (In Egypt, rumors spread, at some point, that Putin would visit Egypt on one particular Wednesday. So far, that has never happened.)
Turkey’s long experience with coups has taught it one important lesson: Coups are bad for the country. Given that, and Erdogan’s Islamist-leanings (Turkish Islamism is, of course, a more liberal version than Egypt’s), it is only logical that Turkey would oppose the coup in Egypt. Erdogan wasted no time in denouncing the coup, the military junta, those who supported the coup and the junta, those who remained silent as the coup occurred, and anybody who refused to call the coup a coup. (Egyptian-Turkish relations have dramatically declined since the coup. Egypt’s toughest actions against Turkey so far have been: Summoning the Turkish ambassador and boycotting popular Turkish drama episodes. Turkey’s toughest actions against Egypt: Summoning the Egyptian ambassador and cancelling many economic and business deals.)
To briefly repeat what we just mentioned: Interests and ideological principles, not wild conspiracies of evil alliances, are what shape the decisions and actions of each player in the political field in Egypt. (Temporary) Political alliances are built when the interests and/or ideological principles of one faction lead it to support another against a third faction. In some cases, the importance of a faction’s interests may outweigh its principles, and, the next moment, its ideological principles may outweigh its some of interests.
And the world turns.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
When Egyptians split up into 2 camps on the 30th of June, nobody imagined how significant a large intersection in one of the suburbs of Cairo would become.
Monday, August 26, 2013
The situation in the Middle East:Palestine is occupied. Egypt is suffering from a bloody political conflict after a Vizier led his armed forces against the ruler. Syria is suffering from warring factions attempting to gain control of the Levant. The Turks are attempting to gain influence in the region.
That was the scenario in the 12th century. Frankish knights (crusaders) had occupied the eastern shores of the Mediterranean decades earlier. Emirs fought each other in Greater Syria over land and titles. Turkish emirs formed political alliances with various factions and managed to gain land and the support of local rulers. An Egyptian Vizier, Shawar, managed to overthrow his predecessor by force. This coup lead to a bloody political struggle for the control of Egypt.
The situation in the Middle East:Palestine is occupied. Egypt is suffering from a bloody political conflict after the minister of defense overthrew the elected president. Syria is suffering from a civil war between a dictator and rebel factions. The Turks are attempting to gain influence in the region.
This is the scenario today. Zionists occupied Palestine decades ago. Bashar al-Assad is battling a rebellion after he attempted to forcefully bring an end to peaceful revolutionary protests. Egypt is suffering from a bloody political crisis after Abdel-Fataah ElSisi overthrew Egypt's first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in a coup. Numerous massacres have already taken place in which hundreds of Morsi-supporters died when military and police forces attacked peaceful protests. And Turkey is attempting to gain more influence in the region through alliances with and support for various factions across the Middle East.
History repeats itself once again.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
The future seemed so bright then, that we felt that the world would bloom with flowers by the end we achieved what we wanted.
Blood spilled onto the streets. Stones were thrown in response to rubber-coated and live bullets and teargas. Pavement was broken into fist-sized rocks with anger. People were yelling their lungs out as they carried the injured. Young men charged to the front, knowing that they may not see their families by the end of the day. Women and the elderly chanted slogans to bring their spirits up. Military helicopters flew at low altitudes, and angry men shouted at them and raised their fists at the general direction of the helicopters.
The future seemed bleak, and, as days passed, many complained of depression. Chaos, war, or just ongoing violence were words that spilled from our tongues when asked what the coming days held.
The above-mentioned scenes are written in chronological order: The first occurred on the 11th of February, 2011 - when millions of Egyptians spilled onto the streets in celebration of the ousting of Hosni Mubarak; The second occurred during the weeks that followed the military coup that removed Egypt's first elected president Mohamed Morsi on the 3rd of July, 2013. What occurred between the two events is a mixture of a counter-revolution that won ground and popularity, and a revolution that split and lost ground and popularity.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
I’m sure, a day ago, very few would have even heard of the film that has become the center of the news today. What was but a mention on the streets of some Islamic countries has grabbed attention from every media outlet, not because of the film itself and its attack on Islam, but because of the response that I would describe as immature.
What was supposedly supposed to be a peaceful protest changed entirely when a group of members of the Ultras White Knights (a group of young ultra-fanatical lovers of a sports club in Egypt) joined the protest.
A group of youth climbed the wall that encircled the American embassy, and took down the star-spangled banner, replacing it with a flag bearing the famous ‘Testimony of Faith.’
The anniversary of 9/11 has become an annual attempt at instigating anger among the Muslims around the world. It was just last year, if I am not mistaken, that an announcement was made that there would be a burning of the Quran. Uproar also occurred, and it died down later.
The energy caused by the anger should have been used to promote the Message of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him), rather than injure a promise made by the nation that no embassy would be attacked.
Invading an embassy in one’s own country that the nation is obligated to protect, and the burning of a flag is more of a display of a weakness, than it is of strength.
It is no sign of bravery and strength to break into a room in one’s home. But displaying the truth and standing by it against the storm is what we need to practice.
Much change has occurred since the last post I made. (I was busy fixing my laptop, unfortunately).
Miracles occurred faster than expected. The ‘spare', as he was nicknamed, won the presidential elections. Morsi utilized the Sinai incident that killed over a dozen Egyptian soldiers to end the decades-long reign of the military, finally establishing a civilian rule over the country. A new government has been formed, with Hesham Kandil at its head. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces underwent changes. And many members and followers of the old regime have been swept away.
And more is yet to come.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
The Egyptian revolution is arriving at the most crucial stop along its path. One of the greatest political battles in the history of Egypt and the Middle East is unfolding.
On the 12th of February, 2011, it would have seemed outlandish if we were told that Omar Suleiman would run for the next presidential elections. Just 2 days before that date, Hosni Mubarak had delegated presidential authority to Omar Suleiman. And on the 11th of February, 2011, the whole world watched as Omar Suleiman announced that presidential authority was being transferred to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces after millions protested at the public squares throughout the nation demanding that both Mubarak and Suleiman step down.
Yet, as politics in this world has always been, those who took part in the revolution were in for a surprise on the 8th of April, 2012. On that day, and just minutes before the doors were closed for nominations, Omar Suleiman nominated himself (with thousands of signatures he miraculously collected within 24 hours).
A few days earlier, the Muslim Brotherhood made a tactical change in plans. The Brotherhood had – on the 10th of February, 2011, to be exact – promised not to field out a candidate for presidency, expecting, in return, understanding and cooperation from other ideological groups in Egypt, and assuming the good intentions of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. As a response to both political isolation (on the intellectual-level, despite a continuing street-support and winning elections in various syndicates and universities) and a lack of cooperation between the parliament and the SCAF, the Brotherhood decided to send out perhaps one of their best – Khairat El Shater.
Those 2 men represented the decades-old rivalry between Egypt’s greatest political powers: the old National Democratic Party that, during Mubarak’s reign, governed Egypt; and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that Mubarak, Sadat, and Nasser had always feared as their real rival political force.
Omar Suleiman was a formidable column in the old structure, he supported Mubarak’s reign from behind curtains. Khairat ElShater was a formidable column within the Muslim Brotherhood, he helped finance the organization and played a major role in forming its political strategies and, after the 11th of February, 2011, worked hard towards formulating the organization’s economic, social, and political program for the nation (which he named مشروع النهضة, or the Revival Project).
Omar Suleiman gained a reputation similar to Vlad the Impaler, a man with no heart, who would kill, decapitate, and torture at will without hesitation. Khairat El Shater has gained a reputation of a powerbroker and a political mastermind, a man (it has been said) who controlled and lead one of the country’s most powerful political forces from behind bars and so persuasive that his foes respect his skill.
Quite surprisingly, destiny had it that both candidates would be banned from the competition. Omar Suleiman did not fulfill the geographical-numerical requirements regarding the nominations that were required to be considered a candidate. Khairat El Shater’s previous politically-motivated legal cases (from which he received pardon) prevented him from running.
At the moment, 13 names remain as candidates, and still, anything remains possible.
Monday, April 16, 2012
The doors of new presidential-candidacy nominations closed today at 2:00 pm. And the competition is just getting started.
On the 23rd and 24th of May, 2012, Egyptians will head to the polling stations (those living abroad will be heading to Egyptian embassies and consulates) to elect the first freely-elected president of the Arab Republic of Egypt 1 year, 3 months, and 12 days after the people successfully toppled Egypt’s last pharaoh.
Prior to that date, on the 26th of April, the final list of candidates for the presidency of Egypt will be announced. And prior to that date, the Presidential Elections Council will announce whether any of the currently-listed candidates does not actually fulfill the requirements and criteria stated by law and the constitution.
And the current list is as follows:
- Ahmed Aoud AlSaeedy (Nominated by the Egypt National Party [حزب مصر القومي])
- Abu ElEzz AlHariry (Nominated by the Socialist Popular Alliance Party [حزب التحالف الشعبي الاشتراكي])
- Mohamed Fawzy Eisa (Nominated by the Democratic Generation Party [حزب الجيل الديمقراطي])
- Hossam KhairAllah (Nominated by the Democratic Peace Party [حزب السلام الديمقراطي])
- Amr Moussa (Nominated by over 40,000 citizens)
- Abd ElMeniem Abu ElFetouh (Nominated by over 40,000 citizens)
- Hazem Salah Abu Ismael (Nominated by over 150,000 citizens and 47 members of parliament)
- Hesham ElBastawisi (Nominated by the National Progressive Unionist Party [حزب التجمع الوطني التقدمي الوحدوي])
- Mahmoud Hussam (Nominated by over 30,000 citizens)
- Ibraheem Ghareib (Nominated by over 30,000 citizens)
- Mohamed Sileem ElAwa (Nominated by 30 members of parliament)
- Mohamed Khairat ElShater (Nominated by 277 members of parliament)
- Ahmed Shafeeq (Nominated by over 60,000 citizens)
- Hamdeen Sabbahy (Nominated by over 40,000)
- Ayman Nour (Nominated by the New Egyptian Tomorrow Party [حزب غد الثورة المصري الجديد])
- Mamdouh Qotb (Nominated by the Civilization Party [حزب الحضارة])
- Abdallah AlAshaal (Nominated by the Authenticity Party [حزب الأصالة])
- Khalid Ali (Nominated by 32 members of parliament)
- Mohamed Moursi (Nominated by the Freedom and Justice Party)
- Omar Suleiman (Nominated by over 30,000 citizens)
- Hussam Khairat (Nominated by the Egypt Arab Socialist Party)
- Ashraf Barouma (Nominated by the Egypt ‘Kenana’ Party [حزب مصر الكنانة])
- Murtada Mansour (Nominated by the Egypt National Party [حزب مصر القومي])
The representation of ideologies and perspectives and identities is extremely variant in the list of candidates. Hazem Salah Abu Ismael represents the Salafist ideology. A number of socialist parties pushed forth their own candidates, including Hussam Khairat and Abu ElEzz AlHariry. 2 candidates come from pan-Arab perspectives, AbdAllah Alashaal and Hamdeen Sabbahy. (What is interesting about Alashaal’s nomination is that the Salafist Alasala (Authenticity) Party were those who nominated him).
And on opposing sides, we find 2 Muslim Brotherhood candidates and 4 pro-Mubarak candidates. On the MB corner we find Khairat ElShater and Mohamed Moursi (who is seen as a reserve-candidate in case Khairat ElShater is taken off the list for any reason), and on the pro-Mubarak corner we find Murtada Mansour, Amr Moussa, Ahmed Shafeeq, and (former chief of intelligence) Omar Suleiman.
This is, perhaps, the election of the century. And anything is possible to happen.
The curtains began to open to reveal this conspiracy a few days ago. However, the actual plan was already in effect since (perhaps and most probably) the 11th of February. In what many saw as a noble and honorable action on the part of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Omar Suleiman announced the transfer of presidential power to the Military Council. And all of Egypt erupted in celebration. Yet it was in that act (that many at that time considered to be patriotic) that the conspiracy (may have been) hatched.
It is no secret to anybody who has paid attention or read into Egyptian politics over that last 3 decades (and 6, if we were to take into account Sadat and AbdelNasser’s reign) that the ruling authorities have always had a sense of animosity towards the Muslim Brotherhood. There was perhaps not 1 year during those years in which at least one prison was empty of a member of the Brotherhood. And there was not 1 media organization that had even the slightest ties with the ruling system that did not spread (false) accusations against the Muslim Brotherhood. It seemed as though the ruling powers only had 2 things they worried about: corrupting the nation and attacking the Brotherhood.
And anybody with an understanding of the nature and personality of the majority of the Egyptian people, as well as the real potential and popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood had an understanding as to what to expect with regards to power shifts once the revolution toppled the old pharaoh. The Brotherhood would have eventually gained unrivaled power in the political system. (Yet to the surprise of many, the Salafists came around to become the Brotherhood’s main political competitor.)
And the old gang would stop at nothing to prevent that from happening.
Looking back at the post-Mubarak events, it seems that the first step in the conspiracy (that one group later saw as a plot to divide the revolutionary front and another group saw as an early lesson and practice in democracy and elections) was actually an attempt at portraying the Brotherhood as a power-hungry entity to the other ideological groups that differ from the Islamist political thought. Despite the fact that the council that was selected to change a few articles in the constitution were from a variety of ideological backgrounds, the media zoomed in on only 2 members: Sobhi Saleh (a member of the Brotherhood and a legal expert and lawyer) and Tareq AlBishry (though not a member of any Islamist organization, yet an Islamist-leaning legal expert).
The other splitting point of the constitutional-amendment predicament was that the amendments called for early parliamentary elections before the creation of a constitution, and also noted that the parliament would elect the members of a constitutional assembly that would write Egypt’s new constitution. Although the objective was to speed up the transfer of authority to a civil government, political opponents of the Brotherhood objected to that for the fact that it was predicted that the Brotherhood would win the majority of seats in the parliament. And so the media focused on those aspects as well.
In the game of politics, in order to win against an opponent, it is best to understand his way of thinking, his objectives, and what would either stop him from reaching those objectives or delay them until you gain a better ground.
The old system understood it from the start: The Muslim Brotherhood wants the transfer of power from the Military Council to be transferred to a civil government as soon as possible, with parliamentary elections to take place at the earliest possible date. And so all was done to delay both of those objectives.
Events took place in ways that were aimed to instigate the revolutionary anger among the youth. And at each event, the young revolutionists would run down to the streets and protest, and the old system would begin killing, fuelling the fires of anger even more.
And at each event, the Brotherhood would take a step back and refrain from participating in the protests. The youth would interpret lack of action and participation as either a deal struck with the Military Council, or simply selling out the revolution for personal gains. The Brotherhood would claim that the event was a bait to lure members of the Brotherhood in and create a status of greater chaos and blame it on the Brotherhood.
And again, the media would portray the Brotherhood as both striking deals with the ruling powers and selling out the revolution for personal gains, ruining the public image of the Brotherhood more.
And so the parliamentary elections finally took place. The Muslim Brotherhood won the most significant majority (though not the absolute majority, the 50%+1). Only to face 3 more obstacles.
The first of these obstacles came in the form of a chaotic aftermath of a soccer match that ended in a bloody massacre. The parliament created a fact-finding group. The media, again, played into the hands of the old system, belittling the efforts of the parliament.
The second of these obstacles was a militarily-chosen government that remained so complacent that it actually had negative impact on a country that was already struggling from revolutionary stress. And so with current crises on one hand, demands for revolutionary legislations on another, and demands for the toppling of the government on yet another, and with media focusing its lenses on the negativity of the parliament, the public image of the Muslim Brotherhood (despite sharing the parliamentary burden with other political entities) continued to decline.
The Muslim Brotherhood then made an attempt to improve its public image. It publicly demanded the Military Council to dissolve the government. However, with the media’s ever-focus on the Brotherhood, this act was portrayed as an attempt at reaching for more power, rather than calling for a transfer of power to a civil-selected government.
In a similar publicly-announced demand, the Muslim Brotherhood publicly questioned the Military Council’s intentions. In response, the Military Council, in a threatening tone, called on the Brotherhood to learn from ‘historical mistakes.’ That was a clear reference to a campaign of mass arrests of members of the Brotherhood in 1954. Surprisingly, the media considered those statements to be merely an act for the public and without real substance.
Then came perhaps the most controversial move the Muslim Brotherhood ever made: it chose from among its members a candidate for the presidential elections (when it had previously stated it wouldn’t). Khairat ElShater, known by many as the political and economic mastermind of the organization, was chosen by a majority vote by the Brotherhood. (This was most probably the Brotherhood’s response to the threat made by the military council.) And, of course, the media attacked the Brotherhood for breaking its word.
And then, the conspiracy was exposed. Omar Suleiman, the former chief of intelligence and the vice president during a part of the 18 days of the revolution, announced that he would be running in the presidential elections. And the reason he stated for his nomination: To protect the revolution from the Muslim Brotherhood.
And rather than labeling Omar Suleiman as a former member of Mubarak’s inner circle, and rather than labeling his stated reason for running for elections as laughable (given that he was the chief of intelligence during the first few days of the revolution and the vice president through the remaining days, while Khairat ElShater was imprisoned and while the Brotherhood was participating in the protests), the media began to label him as a worthy candidate and a respectable individual.
These are, perhaps, the most crucial crossroads of the Egyptian revolution. It is that point in which all sides either make it or break it. It has reached the point where both the old system, the Muslim Brotherhood, and all who participated in the revolution, face the famous Shakespearean quote: To be or not to be.
If the old system gets out of this crucial point alive, it would most probably mean that the Brotherhood would face another 1954 scenario, and that anybody who took part in the revolution is a potential inmate at a prison, and that is to put it lightly.
A victory of the Brotherhood (or anybody supported by the Brotherhood or with close ties to them) would ultimately mean that the tombstone has finally been laid upon the burial spot of the old system.
This is the actual point that everybody spoke about when they mentioned that: A revolution never ends half way, and when it does, it ultimately means the end of the revolutionists.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
(written on the 5th of July)
Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilization. – Winston Churchill
The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. – John F Kennedy