Tag Archives: Egypt

Egypt – army will take over power. But it will resolve the crisis?

Islamist leader offers to call early elections as military’s ultimatum expires, but nation remains on edge, troops move into state offices. As the military appeared to take control of state television, thousands of people massed in Tahrir Square in Cairo, waving flags, singing patriotic songs and demanding the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. They danced and cheered after a local television report that Morsi was under house arrest, but two presidential advisers told NBC News that the report was not true.

A military coup disguised in civilian dress ?

Egypt_Tahrir“For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup” said Assistant on Foreign Relation of President Morsi. In a televised speech overnight, Morsi clung to control and said: “I am prepared to sacrifice my blood for the sake of the security and stability of this homeland”. After yesterday’s telephone conversation with Barack Obama, became clear that Morsi can not hope for support from the West. More, US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says in her daily briefing that the US is very concerned about conditions on the ground in Egypt and that Morsi “must do more to be responsive to concerns of the Egyptian people”.,”Democracy is not just about being elected through the ballot box,” she says. “It’s also about allowing the voices in your country to be heard”.

The military issued a call to arms in a FB post titled “The Final Hours.” It quoted the military leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as saying that it would be an honor to die rather than subject the Egyptian people to threats or terror. It is good to remember that the military controlled Egypt from February 2011, when protesters forced the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, until June 2012, when Morsi won a competitive election and was sworn in.

Latest information suggests the existence of negotiations for the ceding power and Morsi’s departure in Jordan. Egyptian writer Bassem Sabry said on his twitter account: “Seif El-Yazal, close to military, says army statement being “fine tuned.” The statement will be made with attendance of Azhar, church, political forces. Seif El-Yazal also said statement by Egypt military and political forces will continue a detailed roadmap, not just a basic announcement.

Update: President Morsi replaced

Military ousts Egypt’s Mursi, fireworks left and right light up sky, current constitution suspended, new elections to be held. Egypt to see short interim period followed by technocrat legislative, presidential elections, said state news agency. 68 yr-old Adly Mahmoud, Head of Constitutional Court will run the country until a new president is elected. Mohamed El-Baradei, the former presidential candidate and opposition leader said the transition period will move toward new elections. He calls for “social justice for every single Egyptian.

Certainly the pattern of removing an elected institution with support on the ground by a mix of street mobilization and army intervention does not lead to positive outcomes.

Update (06.07.2013) – More than 30 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in Friday’s violence following the ousting of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi, it has emerged. At least 12 died in Alexandria, and eight in two separate clashes in Cairo, the Health Ministry said.

Early on Saturday, state media reported the Brotherhood’s deputy leader Khairat el-Shater had been arrested at his Cairo home on suspicion of incitement to violence.

The US State Department issued a condemnation of Friday’s violence and called for all leaders to put a stop to any further aggression. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also expressed alarm at the violence, saying that it was for the people of Egypt to determine the way forward – and all people, including women, needed to be part of that process, according BBC.

Update (07.07.2013) – An explosion has hit an Egyptian gas pipeline in the lawless Sinai peninsula following a spate of attacks on security checkpoints in recent days, state television and witnesses said.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the pipeline blast on Saturday or if the recent attacks were in reaction to the Egyptian army’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday. The fire caused by the explosion was under control by early Sunday morning, state media reported.

to be continued


2011 in Review

As we’re quickly approaching the end of December, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look over the last year.

2011 was a hectic year. 2011 was a year of turmoil, from revolutions in the Middle East and fiery turbulence in London to milder outbursts against Netflix price increases or the Hershey warehouse’s student working conditions. Even Time Magazine selected ‘The protester’ as the Person of the Year. Much agitation and latent discontents which erupted, generating many questions and few answers, many uncertainties and few clarifications. And if I said few answers, I not means to the aggressive responses of law of enforcement against protesters, used from the United States to Russia, and from London to Damascus or even to Beijing.

This year 42 journalists, more or less known, have lost their lives while trying to do their job professionally. Among those who left shockingly and prematurely included the British-American photojournalist Tim Hetherington, renowned photographer and co-director with Sebastian Junger of the documentary Restrepo (2010). Tim Hetherington was killed near town Misrata, during the civil war between opponents of the Gaddafi regime and its supporters.

Year of political and economic crisis

The eurozone’s future hung in the balance, the US saw its credit rating downgraded, Japan’s earthquake rocked financial markets and fiscal failings forced out two prime ministers. Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his Greek counterpart received “read card”. Also, many political players from Middle East (Syria, Yemen, Jordan), Europe and Russia received “yellow card” for low efficiency of crisis management and it is possible that the debt maturity to come in 2012. In spring, with the world looking for firm financial leadership, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York on sexual assault allegations, forcing his resignation as the head of the International Monetary Fund (the charges are subsequently dropped). Later the charges were withdrawn. The episode remains controversial. In autumn, the tension between the US and China over international trade escalates when Beijing imposes additional duties on cars imported from the United States. In change, Russia was admitted into the World Trade Organisation on Friday after 18 years of negotiation, finally binding it into the global economy two decades after the Soviet Union collapsed. EU leaders agree a “fiscal compact” after David Cameron vetoed a revision of the Lisbon treaty. And the year ends with a happy new year message from the IMF: the world, warns Lagarde, is at serious risk of sliding into a 1930s-style slump. But I think that it will keep happening and each time it will get worse and worse, because there is no answer to this present crisis if we continue with the failed economics of Milton Friedman and the free market gang. More, everything we have seen from 2008 to present was just the socialization of financial risk, but not profits too, and the politicians are «shy» when it comes to discussion about the bankers, those that support their political adventure.

Some dictatorship breakdown – the global police stat rises

But 2011 was also a year when humanity has escaped to some dictators. True, it remains questionable the lack of principles and functional hypocrisy of the same countries that have contributed to the fall of Egypt – Mubarak and Libya – Gaddafi regimes, after decades when they accepted the two dictators because it suited their interests.

Unfortunately, the democratization of these countries started with the left and the first results prove to be disastrous. Will see, in 2012 and beyond, how will be build a democracy with representative government, a free press, and an independent judiciary? Unlikely. More, Libyan “soap-opera” has provided opportunity to the regime in Damascus to justify unspeakable abuses against Syrian protesters. It’s still hard to discern between the repression of a criminal regime and the «help» received to destabilize Syria and justification for external intervention. In addition, after  Libyan adventure more and more shadows seem to imply in relations between major political actors  U.S., Russia and China.

At the end of the year, North Korea finally escaped to Kim Jong-Il. Natural. But how appear the things in space of communist – monarchy in Pyongyang, only to replace one dictator with another.

Watching the images of the funeral of Kim Jong-Il, any Western citizen wondered how such a thing possible. The answer has several components: time, fear, limits of human and citizen rights, ideological indoctrination. Basic tools of any police and dictatorial state. And if you think that this can happen only in Korea or Iran, I say to you, think again. Let′s speak a little about police stat, first step of any authoritarian regime. In fact, Syria is the leading exponent of the police state. But the same type of reaction (it is true to a lower level) can be seen in all countries where the authorities are facing with the discontent of the population. Take a look to the authorities of your country ! When they are no solutions, they will hide their incompetence under various pretexts – all generating fear and insecurity: the fall of the euro, the nuclear threat, terrorists, national security (basically just the security of their own pockets), unemployment, austerity. Team Obama’s press briefing about the ongoing saga of the Nigerian underwear bomber. Obama’s is clearly trying to cultivate a fear of Al-Qaeda while simultaneously building blind trust in his government. After the President’s remarks, his Homeland Security Secretary and Deputy National Security Advisor took the stage to unveil a series of proposals to ‘improve security’. After the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq (in a lost battle, despite the official statements), President Obama needs a new enemy on which to focus the attention of his voters. It could be Iran, Al-Qaeda or whatever. All what it is important is to cultivate your fear and deflect you attention from the disaster produced by the fat cats on Wall Street. In the same times, according The Moscow Times, the top three individual words used by mass-media from Russia in 2011 are полиция (police), рокировка (castling, job swap at the top) and альфа-самец (alpha male). And Russia has a favorite enemy meant to scare and to justify the cost of weapons: American anti-missile shield. The examples could continue. Therefore, 2012 will be a year when many countries will have parliamentary and presidential elections and I think it is good to think seriously about who you give your vote. Perhaps it is time to remind politicians that we want to live in a world of normal, healthy principles and values​​. According FT, in politics field, “2012 will be driven by tactics and electoral timing. The great revolt will come later. Next year, tactically adept incumbents may survive by offering stability at a time of chaos. Their chances are particularly high if they can identify with the pain of their citizens more effectively than weak challengers”. I think that the chance of citizens is to think. It does not cost. Not yet !

„No one knows how the power structure will ultimately shift in the Middle East“ – interview with Steve LeVine

– Usually (especially after the success of „Putin’s Labyrinth“ book) people tend to associate your name to Russia. However, your experience as correspondent in the Central Asia and Middle East, makes me to focus the discussion on the events in Egypt and Arab world. For Egyptians still is a moment of euphoria. But political analysts are reticent. What would be the major concerns and challenges for world powers and zonal actors? And what should worry Egyptian people?

Steve LeVine

– Analysts are reticent because no one knows what type of governmental system will result from the uprising, and how Egypt will interact with its nei­g­hbors. So that generates a whole series of questions for which unfortu­na­tely there are no answers, and very few clues. They include: Will the Army organize elections that end up reflec­ting the true will of voters, or will they reflect the leadership that its generals believe is „best“ for Egypt, regardless of their popularity? Whatever govern­ment is formed, how will it manage to satisfy the much-raised expectations of the Egyptian people? On foreign mat­ters, will Egypt continue to be a proactive intermediary in Middle East conflicts? Specifically regarding its respective relationships with Israel and the Palestinians – will it continue to be an honest broker between these antagonist parts?
– Most journalists are asking: Who’s next? There will be a domino effect throughout the Arab world? Sure, perhaps with not the same speed of propagation …
– I think it gets more difficult from here. After Egypt, the remaining despots of the region know that Tunisia was not a one-off event – they are all potentially in danger. Mubarak seems not to have thought he was vulnerable. Now they all know they are, and they are preparing. Yet none of that shifts the reality, which is that popular change really has happened in the Arab world. As I write this, the grip of the leaders of Bahrain and Yemen is in jeopardy. The situation in Libya is quite different.
– How interpret in this context the statement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israeli army is prepared for anything, depending on how events will unfold in next time? What option has Israel at this point?
– The events in Egypt potentially shake up geopolitics and security for Israel. The Palestinians could arise in a far more aggressive way, with the help of allies in Lebanon and elsewhere, for example. Israel no doubt has its lines of communication open with the Egyptian Army for this very reason. It wants Egypt to continue serving as a mediator with the Palestinians.
– Behind the media uproar of unrest in North Africa, at the Munich Security Conference was put the last piece of the new treaty START 2. Fairly quietly, I would say, given that was a top priority for both presidents – Obama and Medvedev. So, beyond the official rhetoric, there will be a real change in approach to global nuclear programs for military purposes?
– If what you mean is whether the key nuclear states – Russia and the United States – are going to do away with their nuclear arsenals, the answer is No. The first reason is that, even if they do, so many other countries have capability and are gaining it that it would be fruitless. Another reason is that it is a perceived fount of power in both countries that neither will surren­der. (Full text)

Romanian language version – can be read here

Published in Cadran Politic Review, April 2011