Egypt 2013

Written by  //  November 4, 2013  //  Egypt  //  No comments

Robert Fisk: As Mohamed Morsi goes to trial, General Sisi should remember –Egypt is a dangerous place to rule
The erstwhile President appears in court at a tense time even by Egypt’s standards
Being an Egyptian leader, however – and if we get to see the man today, Mr Morsi will surely say he still is the president of Egypt – is a rather dodgy profession. King Farouk got deposed in 1952, but he was allowed to sail away on his royal yacht to Italy. General Mohamed Neguib was put under house arrest by Gamal Abdul Nasser and then Nasser died of a heart attack in 1970, three years after he lost his air force, his armies and the Sinai desert to Israel. Then one of his lesser officers, Anwar Sadat, won back part of the Sinai, visited Jerusalem and was shot dead by one of his own soldiers for making peace with Israel. His air force buddy Hosni Mubarak took over and ended up on trial following the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Gen Mubarak is now at the appeal stage, and today, his successor will also goes on trial.
In court, defiant Mursi says he still Egypt’s president
(Reuters) – Ousted Egyptian leader Mohamed Mursi struck a defiant tone on the first day of his trial on Monday, chanting ‘Down with military rule’, and calling himself the country’s only ‘legitimate’ president.. Mursi … spoke with anger and passion, interrupting the first day of his trial repeatedly from his cage during an unruly hearing that the judge adjourned to January 8.
3 November
Egypt on high alert as Mohamed Morsi trial threatens to revive civil unrest
John Kerry flies in for surprise visit day before ex-president is due to be tried for inciting murder of opposition demonstrators
(The Guardian) The trial is expected to increase Egypt’s political tensions, with Morsi supporters planning a series of nationwide protests and police announcing a state of alert. Security fears are so high that on Sunday court officials had not yet confirmed whether the trial would be televised, or even whether the ex-president would be allowed to attend in person.
Kerry sees signs of Egypt moving back towards democracy
(Reuters) – A day before Egypt’s deposed Islamist president goes on trial, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed guarded optimism on Sunday about a return to democracy in the country, as he began a tour partly aimed at easing tensions with Arab powers.
1 November
Egypt TV station stops popular satire program
(AP) — A private Egyptian TV station stopped the airing of the latest episode of a widely popular political satire program Friday after it came under fire for mocking the ultranationalist, pro-military fervor gripping the country.
CBC announced the program by Bassem Youssef, often compared to U.S. comedian Jon Stewart, would not be shown because the satirist and his producer violated its editorial policies. The announcement came just minutes before Youssef’s show “El-Bernameg,” or “The Program” in Arabic, was to air Friday night.

Egypt Spy Bird: Authorities Detain Migratory Bird Citizen Deemed Suspicious
With all the turmoil Egypt has endured, many people there have grown suspicious of anything foreign. Case in point: A migratory bird did time in an Egyptian jail when a citizen suspected it of being a spy (1 September) [Sad Update 7 September: Egypt’s ‘Spy’ Stork Found Dead]

The Economist/Alamy

Special Report: As Egypt’s Brotherhood retreats, risk of extremism rises
(Reuters) The Brotherhood’s discipline and hierarchy helped it win elections after the 2011 popular uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, eventually propelling Mursi into power. But now the army-led government and its supporters regard the Brotherhood as a terrorist group and enemy of the state. The security forces and police, feared and despised under Mubarak, are lauded for cracking down on the organization.
The Brotherhood denounces violence and says it is committed to peaceful protest. But as members go into hiding, its key building blocks – local groups of seven members known as usras – are under pressure.
22 September
Thomas L. Friedman: Mother Nature and the middle class in Iran, Egypt
… On July 9, Iran’s former agriculture minister, Issa Kalantari, an adviser to Iran’s new president, Hasan Rouhani, spoke to this reality in the Ghanoon newspaper: ” the Iranian plateau is becoming uninhabitable. … Groundwater has decreased and a negative water balance is widespread, and no one is thinking about this.” …
In Egypt, soil compaction and rising sea levels have already led to saltwater intrusion in the Nile Delta; overfishing and overdevelopment are threatening the Red Sea ecosystem, and unregulated and unsustainable agricultural practices in poorer districts, plus more extreme temperatures, are contributing to erosion and desertification.
.. . two of the most interesting leaders to watch today are Rouhani of Iran and Egypt’s new military strongman, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi … both men were brought into the top leadership by the will of their emergent middle classes and newly empowered citizens, and neither will be able to maintain order without reforming the systems that produced them – making them more sustainable and inclusive. They have no choice: too many people, too little oil, too little soil. And pay attention: What Mother Nature and these newly empowered citizens have in common is that they can both set off a wave – a tsunami – that can overwhelm their systems at any moment, and you’ll never see it coming.
Egypt considers future of Muslim Brotherhood as protests erupt
The Egyptian government says it is considering whether to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi took part in anti-government demonstrations in several Egyptian cities today. BBC (9/6), Al Jazeera (9/6), Reuters (9/6)
4 September
Egypt’s constitution drafters defend eliminating controversial Sharia article
(Ahram online) Representatives of several political forces, including Islamic scholars, in the 50-member committee entrusted to finalise a draft of Egypt’s new constitution say Article 219 defining Islamic Sharia must be dropped
3 September
Egypt Brotherhood members jailed for life
Military court sentences 11 to life while 45 others get five-year jail terms for violence in Suez last month.
1 September
Dr. Fadhel Kaboub: A Financial Sovereignty Strategy for Egypt
(New Economic Perspectives) This is an open invitation to all the progressives who care about Egypt’s future to focus on restoring financial sovereignty by developing a series of 5-year plans with the following core features:

  • Leverage domestic labor resources to be the engines of sustainable growth and development (a Job Guarantee program, rather than welfare and subsidies programs): focus on youth employment and university-sponsored R&D.
  • Renegotiate dollar-denominated debt: Convert loans into bonds and allow investors to use bonds to pay taxes and fees owed to the government (i.e. convert foreign debt into domestic debt).
  • Crackdown on domestic speculators who profit from Egypt’s foreign debt (capital controls).
  • Leverage the Suez Canal importance in global trade to negotiate debt cancellation and technology transfer.
  • Invest in renewable energy (both in rural and urban areas), sustainable agriculture, sustainable public transportation, and sustainable urban development.
  • Use export revenues to fund import priorities that will maximize domestic production rather than consumption.
  • Cancel Egypt’s odious debt.

I have intentionally left out “food and nutrition policies” from this 5-year plan because it requires an entire generational and cultural shift. This is more of a 50-year plan to introduce a popular gastronomy and nutrition culture that is less dependent on imported wheat products (bread and pasta), corn, sugar, and other imported carbohydrates of lower nutritional value; and to promote domestically produced food products with higher nutritional value. The resulting health benefits will also translate into lower healthcare costs and higher productivity in the long run.
Dr. Fadhel Kaboub is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Denison University (OH) and a Research Associate at the Levy Economics Institute (NY) and the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability (MO). His research focuses on job creation programs, monetary theory and policy, and the political economy of the Middle East. For more on his work, visit www.kaboub.com
Morsi to stand trial for incitement to murder
The charges relate to violence outside the presidential palace last December, after Morsi had ignited protesters’ rage by expanding his powers. … Morsi is also being investigated over his escape from jail during the 2011 uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak.
Deposed Egyptian president and 14 other Brotherhood members referred to court on charges of committing violence.28 August
First They Came for the Islamists — Egypt’s Tunisian Future
By Michael J. Koplow
(Foreign Affairs) If history is any guide, authoritarian governments do not confine their repression to only one category of opponents, and coercive measures taken in the name of security always morph into something larger. The secularists should think twice before cheering on the regime’s campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, no matter what type of language the government is using to couch its antidemocratic actions. The lesson of Tunisia is that once the Islamists are gone, the secularist opposition is going to be next.
Kristallnacht in Cairo–Prelude to a Christian Exodus?
By David T. Jones
(The MetropolitaIn) Kristallnacht or “crystal night” or “night of broken glass” identifies the German attack on Jewish synagogues, properties, and homes on 9-10 November 1938. … for someone with a sense of history, the images of destruction of Christian churches, schools, and properties in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt on 18 August has a horrific resonance. Are barbarians coming for the Christians this time?
Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, wrote recently:

“Violent aggression by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, including those sympathetic to al-Qaeda, continues to be directed at one of the world’s oldest Christian communities…The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has been inciting the anti-Christian pogroms on its web and Facebook pages. …lists a bill of particulars against the Christian Coptic minority, blaming it, and only it, for the military’s crackdown against the Brotherhood, alleging that the Church has declared a ‘war against Islam and Muslims.’”

Shea noted that least 58 churches, several convents, monasteries and schools, the YMCA, dozens of homes and businesses of Christians were reported to have been looted or burned. The Coptic Pope is in hiding. Particularly pitiful was the cancellation of Sunday prayers for the first time in 1,600 years at the Orthodox Monastery of the Virgin Mary and Priest Ibram in Degla, south of Minya. A scholar on Egypt noted that the recent attacks appeared to be the worst violence against Egypt’s Coptic Church since the 14th century.
25 August
Uri Avnery: Cry, Beloved Country
I DIDN’T want to write this article, but I had to.
I love Egypt. I love the Egyptian people. I have spent some of the happiest days of my life there.
Egypt has fallen into the hands of a brutal, merciless military dictatorship, pure and simple.
Not on the way to democracy. Not a temporary transition regime. Not anything like it.
Like the locusts of old, the military officers have fallen upon the land. They are not likely ever to give it up voluntarily. Even before, the Egyptian military had enormous assets and privileges. They control vast corporations, are free of any oversight and live off the fat of a skinny land. (24 August)
19 August
Saudi Arabia Blames America for the Turmoil in Egypt
Saudi Arabia’s king said that Washington’s ‘interference’ in Arab politics is to blame for the coup in Egypt. Bruce Riedel on Abdullah’s pitch: autocracy will set you free.
(The Daily Beast) In an unprecedented comment this weekend, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah blamed American “ignorance” for the crisis in Egypt. Without mentioning America by name, the king blamed Washington’s “interference” in Arab politics for the last two years of turmoil.
The Saudis were shocked when Obama abandoned Mubarak, a close Saudi ally, in 2011. They saw a dangerous precedent for their own future. Since then the kingdom has been the leader of the counterrevolution in the Arab world, bucking up regimes in Bahrain, Yemen, and Jordan. The Saudis were early supporters of the coup in Cairo and have rallied their Gulf allies, Kuwait and the UAE, to promise $12 billion in aid to the military government that has ousted the Muslim Brotherhood. The UAE issued its own statement this weekend fully backing Abdullah.
Has Egypt’s ElBaradei lost his principles by fleeing, or found them?
(Globe & Mail) One month after Egypt’s interim leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi appointed him vice president – following the arrest of President Mohamed Morsi and forcible end of Mr. Morsi’s government – Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei is reportedly in Vienna, his second home, having quietly left Egypt after resigning his position in the wake of the bloody clearing of the pro-Morsi sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa el-Adaweya Mosque
Egypt court to review case against ElBaradei
(Ahram) The case, filed by Dr. Sayed Ateeq, head of the Criminal Law Department at Helwan University’s Faculty of Law, charges ElBaradei with  breach of “national trust”. According to Ateeq, ElBaradei had not presented to the government, the presidency or the revolutionary forces any other alternatives to dispersing the sit-ins, as well as disregarded the “terrorist crimes” committed by the Muslim Brotherhood there. Ateeq added that ElBaradei’s resignation created an impression to the global community that the Egyptian government used excessive force in dispersing the sit-ins.
18 August
Robert Fisk: How some ordinary Egyptians became ‘malicious terrorists’
Disgust, shame, outrage.
All these words apply to the disgrace of Egypt these past six weeks.
… it’s our dear friends the Saudis whom the Egyptian army and police can count on for help. King Abdullah himself has promised billions of dollars for poor old Egypt, now that Qatari generosity has dried up. But Egyptians should beware Saudis bearing gifts. The House of Saud is not really interested in helping foreign armies – unless they are coming to save Saudi Arabia – but it is very much involved in supporting the Salafists of the Egyptian Noor party. It is the Noor religious fundamentalists who won an extraordinary 24 per cent in the last parliamentary election – and who ruthlessly decided to ally themselves with General al-Sisi when Morsi was dethroned. The conservative Salafists are much more to Saudi taste than potentially liberal members of the Brotherhood. It is for them that the King is opening his purse. And if by some mischance, the Salafists can drum up a majority from disenchanted members of the Brotherhood in the next election, then the Caliphate of Egypt is a step nearer.
And the Other Side of the Story. It is true that gunmen have fired from Brotherhood crowds. A handful at most – and it does not justify the Egyptian press calling tens of thousands of people “terrorists” – but both my colleague and I have seen armed men among protesters. The attacks on the churches are real. Churches have been burned, Christian homes vandalised.
The anti-Christian fury is now political-ideological. It is persecution. Pope Tawadros might perhaps now regret having his photo taken alongside the coup supporters. But the sheikh of Al Azhar was in the same picture – and so were the Salafists.
Waller R. Newell: Coups and democracy
(Ottawa Citizen) Don’t let the perfect be the enemy to the good. No one can be happy when the prospects for democracy can be secured only through a coup against a democratically elected government and by bloodshed in the streets, and negotiations are probably both necessary and inevitable. But the current Egyptian military regime, while arguably authoritarian, has no long-term totatilitarian blueprint for the revolutionary transformation of Egypt, and will likely wish to withdraw from politics and restore elections as soon as it is able. If they are governing by coup, it is a coup aimed at forestalling a Muslim Brotherhood coup whose effects would be far more destructive and would last far longer. Totalitarian movements favour elections when they can hope to win — but only once.
17 August
How American Hopes for a Deal in Egypt Were Undercut
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, PETER BAKER and MICHAEL R. GORDON
(NYT) Egypt’s military crackdown has left President Obama in a no-win position: risk a partnership that has been the bedrock of Middle East peace, or stand by while allies try to hold on to power by mowing down opponents.
Egypt: mosque is stormed as generals plan to outlaw Muslim Brotherhood
Death toll continues to soar, with government saying 173 killed across country on Friday
More on Al Jazeera Egypt in turmoil

Battle for EgyptThe battle for Egypt
The generals’ killing spree is a reckless denial of the lessons from the Arab spring
(The Economist) The coup was not only wrong, it was also a tactical mistake. The Brothers would probably have lost any election handily; and if they had refused to hold a vote, then the people would have risen up. The army’s violence since then has been disastrous. When it shot scores of people on July 8th, it drew a baleful lesson from the tepid Western response: that it could get away with it. In fact violence has served to unite Egypt’s various Islamist factions—some of which had previously rejected the Brothers almost as keenly as secular Egyptians did. The Brothers’ incompetence and abuse of power is now disappearing under a mantle of injustice and suffering.
The generals’ worst mistake, however, is to ignore the chief lesson of the Arab spring. This is that ordinary people yearn for dignity. . (from the August 17 print edition)
16 August
How the West failed Egypt’s democracy: Jeremy Kinsman
Egyptian army crackdown could set democracy back a generation
(CBC) Today, power in Egypt has been dispersed to a triad of distinct bases.
One is the faith-based Islamist parties of which the Muslim Brotherhood — long banned from politics in the Mubarak era, but always present as a social service provider — was elected to office in 2012 only to be deposed by protest and the army.
Another grouping comprises the many elements of the “secularist” and democratic opposition that was the spearhead in toppling Mubarak. It is probably equal in aggregate support to the Brotherhood, but has none of its unity of organization and common purpose.
Then there is the army. It presents itself as the guarantor of the nation’s integrity with its self-appointed role as broker between these other two groups. But it also has vast economic interests of its own that it wants to safeguard.
Supporting cast members here include the very tough internal security agencies that are anti-Brotherhood, and the courts, which are largely Mubarak-appointed and which, with ardent support from the network of old-regime business cronies, try to protect the remnants of the former status quo.
Beyond them all are tens of millions of Egyptian poor along with the country’s frustrated urban professionals chafing at the economic disarray. [Emphasis added]
Dr. Charles CoganEgypt: the Return of the Deep State
What the [June 2012 presidential] runoff revealed (or should have) was that the non-Islamist constituency in Egypt was considerably stronger than was generally thought. But Mohammed Morsi acted as though he had won an overwhelming victory and exhibited the “winner take all” mentality that is so prevalent throughout the region – ramming though a constitution that was offensive to the non-Islamists; declaring himself to be above the judiciary; and making government appointments that largely went to Islamists.
After the huge disavowal of Morsi this past June by the millions of people demonstrating in Cairo, the military acted, removing Morsi and his government. The “deep state” – the bureaucracy, the military and the security services which is a legacy of the Mubarak regime – re-emerged. (Suddenly, for example, the traffic police began to function again.)
15 August
In Egypt, Reconciliation Fades Into the Distance
By Dr. Bessma Momani
(OpenCanada) The Brotherhood is willing to be sacrificed in the name of pursuing its own grand ideology. The military is content with killing hundreds of Brotherhood supporters with the support of many Egyptians supporters who will cheer and carry soldiers on the shoulders of jubilant people. These two very powerful narratives leave no room in the middle for moderates, for those who may be liberals and democrats strongly against emergency law and military violence. Not surprisingly, Mohamad El Baradei quit as vice-president and the April 6 revolutionary movement that gave birth to the Jan. 25, 2011 overthrow of Mubarak authoritarianism also rejects the clamp down.
The death toll will continue to rise, the number of injured will also rise as time elapses, the curfew will be ignored by hardline supporters of the Brotherhood leading to further clashes with security forces, and the hate and rhetoric of both sides will be elevated to soaring highs. Breaking up the Brotherhood sit-ins is easier than mending the wounds of an increasingly polarized society. There are no winners, and all Egyptians will pay the price of constant vilification of the other today and in the future.
14 August
Updated: Experts reflect on Egypt’s turmoil
A cross section of Middle East analysts discuss the implications of the latest wave of violence in Egypt.
(Al Jazeera) The body count is rising across Egypt. The latest crackdown on demonstrators by the interim government has the potential to ignite a prolonged period of violence in the Arab world’s most populous country.
The recent wave of unrest began when the military and social movements ousted Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first elected president. Critics of Morsi and his backers in the Muslim Brotherhood say the former president was acting like a dictator who had lost popular support, and thus he needed to be deposed in order to pave the way for new elections.
While the causes of Egypt’s political and social problems are debatable, there is consensus that the country is facing exceptional chaos and bloodshed.
(Reuters) – Supporters of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood stormed and torched a government building in Cairo on Thursday, while families tried to identify hundreds of mutilated bodies piled in a Cairo mosque a day after they were shot dead by the security forces. More
6 August
Q+A With Egyptian Billionaire Naguib Sawiris
(WSJ) Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris tells The Wall Street Journal his family plans to invest billions of dollars in Egypt after the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. Mr. Sawiris, a scion of the Christian family that controls the Orascom corporate empire, is currently chairman of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding, a large mobile operator in the Middle East. As one of the wealthiest businessmen in the Middle East, Mr. Sawiris founded the secular-leaning Free Egyptians Party after Egypt’s first uprising that toppled leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
5 August
The Egyptian army’s economic juggernaut
The military plays a major role in Egypt’s economy, even owning child-care centres.
(Al Jazeera) As political turmoil pushes Egypt’s economy into its worst slowdown in more than two decades, only its well-heeled army can afford to construct bridges, offset bread shortages, raise herds of cattle and chicken, manufacture home appliances and even provide child-care. …
The Egyptian armed forces, headed by Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El Sisi, who is supervising a roadmap encompassing early presidential elections and the drafting of a new constitution, runs scores of manufacturing and service-providing companies, through which it controls a significant stake of the nation’s economy.
The Ministry of Military Production manages at least 14 such companies – producing merchandise varying from tank shells and ammunition to fertilisers, sports equipment, cement, pasta and cars.
Diplomatic efforts stepped up as Egyptian protests continue
Western countries stepped up diplomacy efforts to reach a resolution in Egypt as backers of deposed President Mohammed Morsi demonstrated for his reinstatement. Egyptian Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said Morsi’s ouster was an act of “a free people who rebelled against an unjust political rule.” Reuters (8/5), Al Jazeera (8/5), The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (8/3), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (8/4)
28 July
csm-cover_trouble on the NileIn Egypt, journey down a Nile of discontent
Voices from the ‘other Egypt’ show why the country is so riven – and what its next leaders face.
(CSM cover story) As Egypt confronts another hinge moment in its millenniums-old history, a journey down the Nile reveals some of the reasons why political unrest once again engulfs the streets of this country and what challenges any government that ultimately emerges – however democratic – will have to face. Decades of government neglect and more recent failings since the 2011 uprising have left the economy and some of the stanchions of Egyptian society in disrepair: Schools are struggling, railways are crumbling, and social strife is rising as discrimination and sectarian violence grow.
The problems are exacerbated by a surge in kidnappings, once a rare phenomenon in Egypt, the looting of the country’s historical sites, and a thriving trade in illegal weapons – signs of either a fear of personal safety or a desperation to make money in a society whose economy has atrophied. Even the country’s farmers, who have been tilling the lush fields along the Nile since the birth of human civilization, are struggling to survive and produce enough food for a rapidly growing population.
Sisi’s Islamist Agenda for Egypt — The General’s Radical Political Vision
(Foreign Affairs) Sisi’s speech was only the latest suggestion that he will not be content to simply serve as the leader of Egypt’s military. Although he has vowed to lead Egypt through a democratic transition, there are plenty of indications that he is less than enthusiastic about democracy and that he intends to hold on to political power himself. But that’s not to say that he envisions a return to the secular authoritarianism of Egypt’s recent past. Given the details of Sisi’s biography and the content of his only published work, a thesis he wrote in 2006 while studying at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania, it seems possible that he might have something altogether different in mind: a hybrid regime that would combine Islamism with militarism. To judge from the ideas about governance that he put forward in his thesis, Sisi might see himself less as a custodian of Egypt’s democratic future than as an Egyptian version of Muhammed Zia ul-Haq, the Pakistani general who seized power in 1977 and set about to “Islamicize” state and society in Pakistan.
14 August
ElBaradei quits Egypt government, other liberals stay
(Reuters) – Egypt’s interim vice president, Mohamed ElBaradei, resigned on Wednesday after the security forces used force to crush protest camps of supporters of the deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi
7 August
Egypt at ‘dangerous stalemate’ in political crisis
(Reuters) – Egypt’s political crisis entered a tense phase on Wednesday after international mediation efforts collapsed and the army-installed government repeated its threat to take action against supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi.
Both sides called their supporters on to the streets on Thursday, while Mursi supporters in two protest camps in Cairo strengthened sandbag-and-brick barricades in readiness for any action by security forces.
2 August
“The Army Is on the Edge”
Mohamed ElBaradei calls for reconciliation before the violence in Egypt’s streets spirals out of control.

Being harsh is not a solution. Understanding what we need to do and how you achieve social inclusion and political stability is more important. There’s a lot of high emotions here and a lot of anger. That’s not where we want to go. We want to go into more acceptance of diversity of different views. That’s the only way to achieve stability. What we need to do right now No. 1, of course, is to make sure that we stop the violence. And there is a lot of violence.
Once we do that, we immediately have to go into a dialogue to ensure that the Brotherhood understand that Mr. Morsi failed. But that doesn’t mean that the Brotherhood should be excluded in any way. They should continue to be part of the political process, they should continue to participate in the rewriting of the constitution, in running for parliamentary elections and presidential elections. You have the Tea Party, and you have the American Civil Liberties Union. There is a big, wide gap, but they are able to live together under the Constitution.
31 July
Vanishing Treasures: Tomb Raiders Exploit Chaos in Egypt
(Spiegel) Egypt’s cultural heritage is in danger. Grave robbers, sometimes heavily armed, are taking advantage of political chaos to plunder its poorly guarded archaeological sites. Authorities feel powerless to stop them and fear that ancient treasures might be lost forever.
Details emerge on charges against Morsi as protesters take to the streets
Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is being accused of allegedly arranging jail attacks during the 2011 uprising as well as liaising with Hamas. Pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators took to the streets today. Meanwhile, the Obama administration says it doesn’t need to determine whether the ouster was a coup, allowing the U.S. to continue to fund the Egyptian government. BBC (7/26), Al Jazeera (7/26), Reuters (7/26), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (7/25)
25 July
The Reckless Agitator — Gen. el-Sissi is willing to plunge Egypt into chaos for his own personal power and legitimacy
(Slate) Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi certainly knows how to dress the part. On Wednesday, wearing dark sunglasses, full military dress, and a chest full of medals—despite never having seen combat—Egypt’s defense minister looked every bit the junta leader that his critics say he is. “Come out to give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism,” he declared in a nationally broadcast speech, as he called for Egyptians to take to the streets in a show of support for him and the rump government the country’s generals have propped up. “I’ve never asked you for anything. I’m asking you to show the world. If violence is sought, or terrorism is sought, the military and the police are authorized to confront this.” After weeks of violent clashes, Gen. el-Sissi wasn’t interested in tamping down the unrest or demanding a return to calm; he was stirring Tahrir for his own ends
He sounds like a man looking to start a fight—or at least for the political cover to begin a crackdown on his opponents in the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egyptian army gives Brotherhood ultimatum
Military official says group has 48 hours to join roadmap after army calls for rallies on Friday, Reuters reports.
21 July
Panel meets to amend Egyptian constitution
(AP) — The panel charged with amending Egypt’s constitution in the aftermath of the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi met for the first time on Sunday, according to the country’s official news agency.
Meanwhile, as the military-backed interim leadership pushes its fast-track timetable for a return to a democratic rule to Egypt, thousands of women held a brief protest against Morsi’s overthrow at the heavily fortified Defense Ministry in Cairo. Ranks of soldiers formed a military cordon outside the ministry.
High hopes, mixed support for Egypt’s cabinet
(Al Jazeera) New ministers appointed this week to staff interim government have already been met with criticism and protests.
15 July
Egypt to put IMF talks on back burner
(FT) Planning minister says interim government plans to close Egypt’s budget gap of more than 10% of GDP by relying on help from foreign countries
Jeffrey Sachs: Bring Back Egypt’s Elected Government
(Project Syndicate) Putting an end to Egypt’s deepening polarization and rising bloodshed requires one urgent first step: the reinstatement of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s duly elected president. His removal by military coup was unjustified. While it is true that millions of demonstrators opposed Morsi’s rule, even massive street protests do not constitute a valid case for a military coup in the name of the “people” when election results repeatedly say otherwise.
Jim Lobe– Neocons and Democracy: Egypt as a Case Study
(via Other News) If one thing has become clear in the wake of last week’s military coup d’etat against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, it’s that democracy promotion is not a core principle of neoconservatism. Unlike protecting Israeli security and preserving its military superiority over any and all possible regional challenges (which is a core neoconservative tenet), democracy promotion is something that neoconservatives disagree among themselves about — a conclusion that is quite inescapable after reviewing the reactions of prominent neoconservatives to last week’s coup in Cairo. Some, most notably Robert Kagan, are clearly committed to democratic governance and see it pretty much as a universal aspiration, just as many liberal internationalists do. An apparent preponderance of neocons, such as Daniel Pipes, the contributors to the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board and Commentary’s ’Contentions’ blog, on the other hand, are much clearer in their view that democracy may be a universal aspiration, but it can be a disaster in practice, especially when the wrong people get elected, in which case authoritarian rulers and military coups are much to be preferred.
Egypt gets funding from Saudis, UAE
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are pledging $8 billion in aid to Egypt to help build a foundation under the new government. Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities ordered the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Badie on charges of inciting violence. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (7/9), Al Jazeera (7/10), Al Jazeera (7/10)
9 July
Even Good Coups Are Bad — Lessons for Egypt from the Philippines, Venezuela, and Beyond
(Foreign Affairs) To understand the swift and dramatic demise of Egypt’s first democratically elected leader and what it might portend for the country’s future, it helps to take a broad comparative perspective. The manner in which the country’s military deposed President Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood–affiliated Freedom and Justice Party, is by no means an isolated case. In fact, it fits rather perfectly within the model of a civil society coup, a concept I first described in a 2002 World Policy Journal essay that explained the brief removal from power of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez by a coalition of business, labor, and civic groups. Other scholars have subsequently applied the idea to other coups, such as those in the Philippines in 2001, in Ecuador in 2002, in Thailand in 2006, and in Honduras in 2009. All of these cases show that civil society coups are not the fix for democracy that they purport to be, which looks to be true in Egypt as well.
Egypt names former minister as interim PM
(Al Jazeera) Liberal economist Hazem el-Beblawi, former finance minister, appointed as interim prime minister.
(Foreign Policy) “The appointment of Beblawi was accompanied by the news that reformist leader and Nobel peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei has been tapped as the vice president responsible for foreign affairs. The liberal ElBaradei had been in line to assume the post of prime minister, but his appointment to that post was torpedoed by the Salafist Nour party. With Beblawi’s appointment to the position, the military tapped a man who served as finance minister during the previous military transitional government and who has said that he knows exactly what it will take to cure Egypt’s struggling economy.
“The thing is we have a situation whereby we have to tighten the belt. And this means we have to pay a price,” Beblawi told the Washington Post in October. “And it is difficult to ask people to sacrifice, particularly after the revolution, where everyone was expecting to get rewards for past experiences.” Among the most pressing challenges facing Beblawi is securing a $4.8 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund. But Beblawi received some welcome news Tuesday: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced they would provide $8 billion in aid, a move geared equally at shoring up the government and undermining the monarchies’ Islamist enemies.”
Nonie Darwish: The Problem at the Heart of Egypt’s Revolutions
This is the central problem in most Muslim countries: the difficult choice between a man-made, civilian, military, “infidel” government, and a totalitarian Islamic theocracy.
(Gatestone Institute) The problem is compounded when most Egyptians consider themselves both Muslim and lovers of democracy, but refuse to see that Islam and freedom cannot co-exist. How can Islam anywhere produce a democracy when freedom of speech and religion are outlawed, where there is no free and independent judiciary, and equal rights for women, minorities and non-Muslims are legally suppressed?
More than 50 dead in Egypt; political talks stall
More than 50 people were killed today during a clash between the Egyptian army and backers of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. The violence led the Islamist party Al Nour to pause its efforts to form an interim government. Reuters (7/8), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (7/8), Devex.com (7/8)
5 July
Special Report: Mursi’s downfall
By Yasmine Saleh and Paul Taylor
(Reuters) – For Egypt’s military chiefs, the final spur to rebellion came on June 26. That day top generals met Mohamed Mursi, the country’s first democratically elected president, and spoke bluntly, telling the Islamist leader what he should say in a major speech he planned as protests against him intensified around the country.
4 July
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Recovers After Morsi’s Ouster(misleading headline)
(Stratfor) It is unclear what will become of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the July 3 ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. In the short term, the world’s oldest and largest Islamist movement will continue to denounce the coup and engage in protests which, coupled with the security crackdown on the Brotherhood, will likely result in violence. Eventually, however, the group will try to revive itself by re-assimilating into Egypt’s political institutions, though it is in no hurry to attempt to reclaim the presidency.
(Spiegel) ‘Setback for Democracy’: World Leaders Critical of Egyptian Coup
3 July

President Morsi overthrown in Egypt

(Al Jazeera) Army suspends constitution, appoints head of constitutional court as interim leader and calls for early elections.
In a televised broadcast, flanked by military leaders, religious authorities and political figures, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi effectively declared the removal of  Morsi.
Sisi called for presidential and parliamentary elections, a panel to review the constitution and a national reconciliation committee that would include youth movements. He said the roadmap had been agreed by a range of political groups. More from AP via HuffPost Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi Out As Military Presents Roadmap
Brotherhood leader arrested, Egypt’s Islamists call protests
(Reuters) – Egyptian security forces arrested the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday, security sources said, in a crackdown against the Islamist movement after the army ousted the country’s first democratically elected president.
Global TV news: With the ousting of Egypt’s president Morsi, what is next for the politically shaken nation? Concordia University’s International Relations expert Kyle Matthews talks about the implications for Egypt and the world.
2 July
Egypt’s Waning Influence
(Stratfor)  The political turmoil facing Egypt, its political class and its powerful military has become almost a given, with all sides turning to public displays of unrest and emotion as often as they do to the democratic process. And as Egypt’s political system evolves, it is becoming clear that — with the exception of a few critical issues, including Gaza, the Suez Canal and the Egyptian military’s ability to secure both — Western and regional governments are viewing Egypt’s affinity for unrest with diminishing concern. Read More »
Egypt on the edge after Mursi rebuffs army ultimatum
(Reuters) – President Mohamed Mursi rebuffed an army ultimatum to force a resolution to Egypt’s political crisis, saying on Tuesday that he had not been consulted and would pursue his own plans for national reconciliation.
Newspapers across the political spectrum saw the army’s 48-hour deadline as a turning point. “Last 48 hours of Muslim Brotherhood rule,” the opposition daily El Watan declared. “Egypt awaits the army,” said the state-owned El Akhbar.
1 July
Egyptian Armed Forces Give Morsi Ultimatum: Respond to Protests or Military Will
(PBS Newshour) Following anti-government demonstrations that brought millions of Egyptians to the streets to express dissent, Egypt’s top generals gave President Mohammed Morsi 48 hours to respond to citizens’ protests or face a military takeover of the government. Are Latest Protests and Ultimatum a Game-Changer for Egypt’s Political System?  (Al Jazeera) Army delivers ultimatum to end Egypt crisis
30 June
Who Will Save Egypt? — Cairo’s Economic Disaster and Those Fighting to Fix It
Underneath all the anger in Egypt lies a basic fact: The country’s economy is in deep trouble. Normally a country in such a bad way would go to the IMF for support. Instead, it has tried to play the fund and Gulf donors off one another to stay afloat.
(Foreign Affairs) Since former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011, the state’s revenue has decreased sharply. The business sector is in the doldrums, and investments have dried up as both domestic and foreign investors bide their time waiting for the political fog to lift. At the same time, the government’s expenditures are mounting. The climb is partly a result of salary increases that were granted to government workers since the uprising in an attempt to quell the unrest. More fundamentally, though, the costs of subsidies on food prices and, above all, energy continue to mount as oil prices increase on the world market but Egyptian consumers are charged the same prices as before. Energy subsidies now amount to more than $16 billion a year, with an additional $4 billion devoted to food.
29 June
Opposition group claims anti-Morsi petition has 22 million signatures as feeling of doom hangs over Egypt
(Associated Press via National Post) The planned demonstrations, which hold the potential to set off deadly clashes and plunge Egypt once again into a dangerous round of civil unrest, reflect the growing polarization of the nation since Morsi took power, with the president and his Islamist allies in one camp and seculars, liberals, moderate Muslims and Christians on the other.
27 June
The Egyptian State Unravels — Meet the Gangs and Vigilantes Who Thrive Under Morsi
Mara Revkin
(Foreign Affairs) Once a police state, Egypt has descended into lawlessness. Crime is on the rise, the black market for weapons is booming, and the police are too lazy or incompetent to do anything about it. Until the country builds an accountable state, Egyptians will continue to take their security into their own hands.
27 May
Egyptian NGOs Fear Law That Would Cripple Civil Society
(IPS) – A controversial bill backed by Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood and submitted to the Islamist-dominated legislature surpasses previous laws used to repress Egyptian civil society, rights watchdogs say.
The legislation would allow the government to intervene in the internal governance and activities of civil society organisations and to control all funding.
If enacted, some critics say, Egypt’s 41,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) would become part of the state apparatus.
8 April
Coptic Christians under siege as mob attacks Cairo cathedral
Alastair Beach sees gunfire exchanged as armed gang descends on funeral of five Christians killed in recent sectarian clashes
Hundreds of Christians were under siege inside Cairo’s Coptic cathedral last night as security forces and local residents, some armed with handguns, launched a prolonged and unprecedented attack on the seat of Egypt’s ancient Church.
26 March
Egypt’s constitution swings into action
(Foreign Policy) the constitution begins to work in ways that are surprising the political forces that dominated its composition. The short-term result is confusing and complicates an already impossibly complicated transition. The longer-term result could be to entice opposition elements back into participating as they come to realize the system does provide opportunities to hem in their adversaries who now sit in power.
3 March
Thomas Friedman: The Scary Hidden Stressor
(NYT) … “The Arab Spring and Climate Change” doesn’t claim that climate change caused the recent wave of Arab revolutions, but, taken together, the essays make a strong case that the interplay between climate change, food prices (particularly wheat) and politics is a hidden stressor that helped to fuel the revolutions and will continue to make consolidating them into stable democracies much more difficult.
Only a small fraction — 6 percent to 18 percent — of annual global wheat production is traded across borders, explained Sternberg, “so any decrease in world supply contributes to a sharp rise in wheat prices and has a serious economic impact in countries such as Egypt, the largest wheat importer in the world.”[emphasis added]
The numbers tell the story: “Bread provides one-third of the caloric intake in Egypt, a country where 38 percent of income is spent on food,” notes Sternberg. “The doubling of global wheat prices — from $157/metric ton in June 2010 to $326/metric ton in February 2011 — thus significantly impacted the country’s food supply and availability.” Global food prices peaked at an all-time high in March 2011, shortly after President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in Egypt.
15 February
Dr. Charles Cogan — Marry in Haste, Repent at Leisure: the Problem With the Egyptian Constitution
(HuffPost) In its description of sharia as the source of law, the new Constitution differs little from a similar passage in the Constitution of 1971, promulgated under the presidency of Anwar Sadat. (In practice, though family law is governed by sharia, otherwise Egypt is still administered by the Napoleonic Code, like many other countries outside the sway of English common law).
However, further along in the text (Article 219), the principles of sharia are defined as those of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence under Sunni Islam. This is new: heretofore, the principles of sharia were defined by the courts. Furthermore, in another novation, the Islamic University of al-Azhar is given a role of “consultation” regarding anything that relates to sharia.
25 January
Morsi Slams New Lid on Labour Rights
(IPS) –  In recent months, thousands of disenfranchised workers across Egypt have taken collective action to secure better wages and working conditions, paralysing sectors of an economy still recovering from the 2011 uprising. The country’s new Islamist-led government has promised to resolve labour disputes quickly and equitably, but faces formidable challenges as it grapples with restive workers, unyielding employers, and depleted state coffers.
The Muslim Brotherhood … has a poor track record on worker rights, and a history of anti-union activities.
Deadly clashes as Egyptians mark uprising
Violence in Suez and elsewhere, as opposition hold anti-government protests marking the revolution’s second anniversary.
(Al Jazeera) Two years to the day after protesters first rose up against the autocratic ex-president, the new phase of Egypt’s upheaval was on display: the struggle between the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and their opponents, played out against the backdrop of a worsening economy. (BBC) Fatal clashes on Egypt uprising anniversary
24 January
The Egyptian Revolution Through Mubarak’s Eyes
Insider accounts are shedding new light on the 18 days that brought down a pharaoh

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm