Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
Egypt in 2011-2012
He’s presiding over a country that lacks a constitution, a dissolved parliament, an economic — a huge economic crisis — the country is almost on the verge of bankruptcy — and very divided country, and against — and he has to deal with the unrealistic probably expectation of those who led the revolution early on, but those who also voted for him.
They want to see — to reap the economic and political fruits of the revolution. And they are impatient. – Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya news. PBS Newshour (25 June 2012)
NYT Egypt News – The Protests
Al Jazeera In Depth
Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak
By Tarek Osman, Yale University Press
Is There an Egyptian Nation?
The current protests aren’t about the President Mohamed Morsi’s power grab — this fight is over something far more basic. (4 December 2012)
Egypt’s draft charter gets ‘yes’ majority in vote
Preliminary results released by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood
(AP via CBC)) The results, posted on the Brotherhood’s website, show that 71.4 per cent of those who voted Saturday said “yes” after 95.5 per cent of the ballots were counted. Only about eight of the 25 million Egyptians eligible to vote — a turnout of about 30 per cent — cast their ballots.
The referendum on the Islamist-backed charter was held over two days, on Dec. 15 and 22. In the first round, about 56 per cent said “yes” to the charter. The turnout then was about 32 per cent.
The Brotherhood, from which Islamist President Mohammed Morsi hails, has accurately predicted election results in the past by tallying results provided by its representatives at polling centers. Official results would not be announced for several days. When they are, Morsi is expected to call for the election of parliament’s lawmaking, lower chamber no more than two months later.
Has Morsi borrowed Mubarak’s playbook?
The new Egyptian president’s media strategy may be echoing that of his predecessor, but Egypt’s media is fighting back.
(Al Jazeera) Mohamed Morsi’s move to grant himself sweeping powers were seen as tactics pulled straight out of former President Hosni Mubarak’s playbook. His media strategy echoes Mubarak’s as well – state TV has been commandeered to broadcast Morsi’s message.
However, there are some big differences – the head of Egyptian state TV has resigned in protest and private media in Egypt have been unafraid to attack Morsi. Then there is the coverage on the outlet that was seen as one of the channels of the revolution – the Egyptian arm of the Al Jazeera network. Once celebrated by the crowds at Tahrir, it has come under fire from Morsi’s opposition for their coverage of the president and the protests.
The Stubborn President — Morsi Fans the Flames of Hatred in Egypt
(Spiegel) Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi addressed his nation on Thursday night. But instead of striking a conciliatory tone aimed at calming the tense situation in his country, he continued to toe the Muslim Brotherhood line.
Morsi, behind cordon, affirms Egypt referendum
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi refused to postpone a referendum next week on a draft constitution, blaming two weeks of violent protests on a “fifth column” even as senior advisers and other officials resigned from his government in the wake of his decree claiming broader powers. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (12/6), Reuters (12/7)
Egypt’s judicial council to oversee referendum despite calls for boycott
(The Guardian) Even though the council is the highest judicial body, its declaration puts it on a collision course with the Judges Club, a broader body that counts the majority of Egypt’s judges among its members.
The Judges Club said its members would not supervise the referendum – mandated by law – until a constitutional decree issued by the president, Mohamed Morsi, which granted him immunity from judicial oversight was revoked.
However, it is the council that is the official representative of the judiciary, the Judges Club being an unofficial body, and therefore the 15 December referendum on the constitution will take place with judicial supervision.
Project Syndicate: Egypt’s Democratic Dictator?
Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first-ever elected civilian president, recently granted himself sweeping temporary powers in order, he claims, to attain the objectives of the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship.
Protesters descend on Tahrir Square
More than 100,000 gather to protest against a decree issued by President Morsi granting sweeping constitutional powers
“Dictator” was the word being used to describe Morsi’s new status after last Thursday’s decree, which grants immunity for the president from judicial review as well as protecting a controversial constitutional assembly dominated by the group he is affiliated with, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt clashes as President Morsi defends his new powers
(AP via Yahoo!News) Supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi clashed Friday in the worst violence since he took office, while he defended a decision to give himself near-absolute power to root out what he called “weevils eating away at the nation of Egypt.”
The edicts by Morsi, which were issued Thursday, have turned months of growing polarization into an open battle between his Muslim Brotherhood and liberals who fear a new dictatorship. Some in the opposition, which has been divided and weakened, were now speaking of a sustained street campaign against the man who nearly five months ago became Egypt’s first freely elected president.
Liberals and secular Egyptians accuse the Brotherhood of monopolizing power, dominating the writing of a new constitution and failing to tackle the country’s chronic economic and security problems.
Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt’s most prominent reformer and a Nobel Peace laureate, warned that Morsi was making himself a “pharaoh” and appealed to him to withdraw the decrees “before the polarization and aggravation of the situation increases.”
In his decrees, Morsi ruled that any decisions and laws he has declared or will declare are immune to appeal in the courts and cannot be overturned or halted. He also barred the judiciary from dissolving the upper house of parliament or the assembly writing the new constitution, both of which are dominated by the Brotherhood and other Islamists.
The edicts would be in effect until a new constitution is approved and parliamentary elections are held, which are not expected until the spring.
Morsi also declared his power to take any steps necessary to prevent “threats to the revolution,” public safety or the workings of state institutions. Rights activists warned that the vague – and unexplained – wording could give him even greater authority than Mubarak had under emergency laws throughout his rule. (ABC News) Egypt’s Top Judges Slam President’s New Powers
Egyptian president grants himself far-reaching powers
Mohammed Morsi issues constitutional amendments, orders retrial of Mubarak’s regime leaders
(CBC) Egypt’s president has issued constitutional amendments granting himself far-reaching powers and ordering the retrial of leaders of Hosni Mubarak’s regime for the killing of protesters in last year’s uprising.
Mohammed Morsi also decreed immunity for the Islamist-dominated panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it.
Egypt Faces Fraught Diplomatic Test
(Spiegel) The outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence poses a delicate diplomatic challenge for the Egyptian government. While the powerful Muslim Brotherhood is sympathetic to Hamas and public anger is swelling in Egypt against the Israeli military operation in Gaza, President Morsi is also under international pressure to help broker a ceasefire and safeguard peace in the region.
Cairo’s western allies have made it clear that they expect Egypt to exert diplomatic influence on Hamas. Whether or not Morsi manages to bridge the gap between the expectations of his supporters and the demands of Egypt’s international alliance policies will indicate where Cairo’s Muslim Brotherhood is planning to position itself in the Middle East’s political landscape.On Friday, the Egyptian media reported that Kandil was planning to present Hamas with a ceasefire plan which foresees Egypt committing itself to opening its Rafah border crossing with Gaza to goods. For the time being, it is only open to people, which means that Israel controls imports into Gaza — and therefore, effectively, the entire economy of territories that are home to 1.5 million Palestinians.
Egypt: President Mursi’s 100 days in power
In the 100 days of his presidency Mohammed Mursi has managed to surprise Egyptians on many occasions. The very fact that he was elected at all was surprising to many.
… last August, Mr Mursi took the nation – and the world – by surprise when he cancelled Scaf’s constitutional declaration and transferred full executive and legislative authority from the military council to himself.
He also forced the Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi and his second-in-command Sami Enan into retirement
He appointed Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the former head of military intelligence, and the youngest member of Scaf as defence minister. Mr Mursi then continued his reshuffling of Egypt’s top brass when it was announced that 70 other generals in the Egyptian armed forces were to be retired.
Tarek Masoud: Is This the Clash of Civilizations?
Maybe. But only because the United States is the only one willing to act like an adult
(Slate) … one of the remarkable things about the Arab Spring has been the equanimity with which Americans have responded to displays of anti-Americanism—even when they emanate from the top.
Though the protests have been portrayed as spontaneous expressions of civilizational anguish, they are—as almost all protests are—actually organized by political actors with agendas to advance. Though it’s not clear yet who choreographed the current moment of excitement, there are lots of people who stand to benefit from it. First, and most obviously, are other Islamists who wish to usurp the Brotherhood’s throne as the principal defender of Islam. Staging protests against the United States isn’t just a way of casting stones at the Great Satan, it’s also a way of showing up the Brotherhood, of saying that the group is too weak or corrupted by power to do anything to protect Islam’s honor.
Secular groups, too, can make political hay out of these protests. After all, the demonstrations put Morsi (and by extension, the Brotherhood) in a pickle. If he seems to be feeding the frenzy, then he can be painted by his opponents as a reckless provocateur who courts the wrath of the world’s sole superpower. If he condemns the protests, he can be portrayed as a hypocrite who talks tough about the West but in reality is willing to make himself its lackey in order to hang onto power.
(Spiegel) President Mohammed Morsi has made the bold and surprising move to disempower the Egyptian military, but many questions still remain about the country’s democratic future. German commentators on Tuesday praise his political finesse but worry Morsi may be paving the way for an Islamist state. More
Egypt president sweeps out army rulers
(Reuters) – Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi has driven back the biggest challenge to civilian rule by dismissing top generals and tearing up their legal attempt to curb his power in a bold bid to end 60 years of military leadership.
Mursi and his long-suppressed Muslim Brotherhood had been expected to roll back the influence of the army, a close ally of Washington and recipient of $1.3 billion in annual military aid; but many had predicted a process that would take years of delicate diplomacy to avoid sparking a military backlash.
(The Economist) In Egypt, Hisham Qandil, whom President Muhammad Morsi has appointed as prime minister, announced a cabinet composed largely of technocrats with a handful of Islamists. He kept the existing finance and foreign ministers and appointed a police general, Ahmed Gamal al-Din, as interior minister. Field-Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has continued to pull the strings in Egypt, was named defence minister. See article»
Constitutional court: Verdict on Parliament dissolution final
(Egypt Independent) The Supreme Constitutional Court declared that all its verdicts are final and immune against appeals, stressing that it will not be a party to any political dispute.
The announcement came in the wake of a decision by President Mohamed Morsy to reinstate the People’s Assembly, which the court dissolved in mid-June because parts of the electoral law were unconstitutional.
Egypt’s top court rebukes president’s decree
(Al Jazeera) Judges tell President Morsi he cannot reconvene parliament after they ordered it dissolved last month.
Egypt parliament set to meet, defying army
(Reuters) – Egypt’s parliamentary speaker said the chamber would reconvene on Tuesday after the new, Islamist president risked a showdown with the generals by quashing their decision to dissolve the assembly last month.
The military council which had run Egypt since Mubarak was toppled in February 2011 sought to trim the president’s authority before handing over to Mursi on June 30. It had dissolved parliament and taken legislative power for itself.
Mursi’s decision hands those powers back to a parliament packed with his Islamist allies. He also ordered new elections for parliament – once a constitution is passed by referendum.
The row is part of a broader power struggle which could take years to play out, pitting the long sidelined Islamists against generals whose fellow officers ran Egypt for six decades and a wider establishment still packed with Mubarak-era officials.
Robert Fisk: President Morsi, a rigged ballot and a fox’s tale that has all of Cairo abuzz
The Long View: The army intelligence service is said to want a mini-revolution to get rid of corrupt officers
For most people, a sigh of relief
(Economist) The new Islamist president seeks to calm the nerves even of his opponents
Egypt’s Morsi asserts power in speech before thousands in Tahrir Square
(Globe & Mail) Mohammed Morsi’s strongly worded speech was a show of defiance as he gears up for a power struggle with the country’s ruling generals who passed a constitutional declaration taking over major presidential powers in the days before election results were announced. (Al Jazeera) Egypt’s Morsi defies military in fiery speech
An Islamist democracy?
(Foreign Policy) A huge part of the appeal of Brotherhood candidates in Egypt has been their opposition during the Mubarak years. They seem to have clean hands, and that is an enormous political advantage as Egypt shakes off the tawdry hold of Mubarak’s spoils system. It appears to have been enough to carry the presidential election, a stunning rebuke of the “secular” military.
There is much to be concerned about with the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power. They have been staunchly anti-American. They intend to reform the basis of society with Koranic law as its foundation. They are profoundly uncomfortable with Western mores, especially where the rights of women and religious minorities are concerned.
(Al Jazeera) Celebration in Egypt as Morsi declared winner — Muslim Brotherhood candidate, now president-elect, vows in victory speech to “restore rights” to Egyptian people. … The Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement that Morsi had resigned his positions in both the Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party, fulfilling a campaign pledge. Morsi’s win is a victory for the revolution — Morsi’s victory is the best progressives could have hoped for, and will allow a grassroots movement to slowly build. (BBC) Egypt’s president-elect Mursi calls for national unity
Egypt in peril
Beneath the chaos lies a complex power struggle between generals and Islamists. The West should back the latter
(The Economist) There are two canards that politicians in the West use as an excuse for ignoring the Arab spring. The first is that there is little to choose between the generals and the Islamists. This is just Mubarakism revisited. This newspaper did not want the Islamists to trounce the secular reformers, but they did. The best way to tame the Islamists, as Turkey’s experience shows, is to deny them the moral high ground to which repression elevates them, and condemn them instead to the responsibilities and compromises of day-to-day government.
Calvinball in Cairo
(Foreign Policy) The best guide to the chaos of Egyptian politics is Hobbes. No, not Thomas Hobbes — Calvin and Hobbes. Analysts have been arguing since the revolution over whether to call what followed a transition to democracy, a soft coup, an uprising, or something else entirely. But over the last week it’s become clear that Egyptians are in fact caught up in one great game of Calvinball.
Calvinball is a game defined by the absence of rules — or, rather, that the rules are made up as they go along. The rules change in mid-play, as do the goals, the identities of the players and the nature of the competition. The only permanent rule is that the game is never played the same way twice. Is there any better analogy for Egypt’s current state of play?
As in Calvinball, the one constant in Cairo’s trainwreck of a transition seems to be the constantly changing rules and absolute institutional uncertainty. Prior to the first round of the Presidential election, several key candidates were disqualified on questionable grounds. Efforts to form a Constitutional Assembly before the Presidential election failed, then succeeded, then failed again. Just before the Presidential election, the Supreme Constitutional Court declared the Parliamentary election law unconstitutional, leading to the dissolution of Egypt’s first freely elected Parliament. But the Parliament’s speaker rejected the ruling, declaring that he would convene a session anyway.
Marwan Bishara: What went wrong in Egypt?
For a revolution to succeed, it takes more than elections, and more than popular support, for a break with the past.
(Al Jazeera) … many of those who will put either Mohamed Morsi or Ahmed Shafiq on top are doing so not out of conviction in their vision or agenda. Many Morsi voters want to ensure that the old regime doesn’t come back with a vengeance, and many Shafiq voters want to prevent the Islamists from taking over the state.
Egypt’s military ‘grants itself sweeping powers’
Egypt’s ruling military has issued a declaration apparently granting itself sweeping powers, as the country awaits results of presidential elections.
Court rulings tip Egypt’s transition into turmoil
(Yahhoo! News) On Thursday, just days before a runoff presidential election, Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that Ahmed Shafik, a former prime minister under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, could compete in this weekend’s contest. The judges also dissolved the country’s first democratically elected parliament because of problems with the law governing the race.
Marc Lynch: That’s It For Egypt’s So-Called Transition
(Foreign Policy) Egyptian politics is prone to exaggeration and panic, fueled by deeply felt frustration, endless political maneuvering, partial information spread through dense and contentious news media, and profound political uncertainty. Things are often not as desperate as they appear. … But today’s moves by the Constitutional Court on behalf of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) seem difficult to overcome and likely to push Egypt onto a dangerous new path. With Egypt looking ahead to no parliament, no constitution, and a deeply divisive new president, it’s fair to say the experiment in military-led transition has come to its disappointing end.
US ‘deeply concerned’ after Egyptian forces raid NGO offices in Cairo
State Department urges government to ‘resolve this immediately’ as US-Egyptian relations threaten to sink to new low
(The Guardian) Relations between Egypt’s military rulers and the United States threatened to hit a new low after Egyptian security forces launched unprecedented armed raids on a series of high profile human rights and pro-democracy organisations.
Egypt clashes move into fourth day
(Reuters) – Egyptian security forces fought opponents of army rule in Cairo for a fourth day on Monday and the United States, worried by the violence, urged the generals to respect human rights.
Thomas L. Friedman: Egyptian elections leave more questions than answers about the future
The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood and the even more fundamentalist Salafist Nour Party have garnered about 65 percent of the votes in the first round of Egypt’s free parliamentary elections since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak should hardly come as a surprise. Given the way that the military regimes in the Arab world decimated all independent secular political parties over the past 50 years, there is little chance of any Arab country going from Mubarak to Jefferson without going through some Khomeini.
Islamists come out on top of Egyptian elections
(Foreign Policy) Only one-third of Egypt’s provinces voted in this round of elections, but some of those that did were among the most liberal in the country. That suggests that Islamist gains could be even larger during future voting rounds.
The Islamists proved better organized than many of the liberal groups and activists that launched Egypt’s revolution earlier this year. While many of the groups formed during the revolution faced difficulty in translating the enthusiasm on the street into political support, the Islamist movements could draw on networks of support built up over decades.
Egypt election: voters defy fears of violence with record turnout
(The Guardian) Fears of violence and chaos unfounded with no major violations or security incidents reported in first free ballot for over 80 years. The high turnout followed 10 days of resurgent protests in the capital that had threatened to overshadow the election.
The Second Republic of Tahrir
(Foreign Policy) The ruling military generals in Cairo tried to placate the swelling crowds calling for their ouster today. But as the battles raged, it appears the junta may have already lost the people’s trust.
Egypt crisis deepens as clashes continue
Egyptian security forces continued to clash with demonstrators for a fifth consecutive day today despite promises from the country’s military leaders to fast-track presidential elections. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an end to the use of excessive force and an investigation into the deaths of at least three dozen protesters. The Washington Post/The Associated Press (11/23), AlertNet/Reuters (11/23), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (11/22)
Mubarak trial put on hold in Egypt
(CNN) — The trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was put on hold for two months pending a decision on whether to replace the judge.
Geopolitical Journey: Riots in Cairo
(Stratfor) … the Oct. 9 riots mattered a great deal. The image of demonstrators shooting at soldiers against a backdrop of sectarian riots is one that will stick in the minds of many Egyptians. If that scenario is repeated enough times, the military could find the justification it needs to put off Egypt’s democratic experiment, perhaps indefinitely. The key to knowing what comes next lies in finding out who actually pulled the trigger against those soldiers in Maspero on Sunday.
When Egyptians took to the streets at the start of the year, they did so with a common purpose: to oust a leader who symbolized the root of their grievances. What many didn’t realize at the time was that the military elite quietly shared the goal of dislodging the Egyptian leader and in fact used the demonstrations to destroy Mubarak’s succession plans. Throughout the demonstrations, the military took great care to avoid becoming the target of the protesters’ wrath, instead presenting itself as the only real vehicle toward political change and the champion of stability in a post-Mubarak Egypt.
Where the opposition and military diverged was in the expectation that the removal of Mubarak would lead to fundamental changes in how Egypt is run.
(Reuters) – Israel flew its ambassador home from Cairo on Saturday after protesters stormed its embassy building, plunging Egypt’s military rulers into their worst diplomatic crisis since they took over from Hosni Mubarak. … reflecting a growing readiness among many Egyptians to express anger at Israel and the United States over Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, after decades of pragmatic official relations. Read more
Egypt Embraces Oil Monarchs, Dubiously
(IPS) With the nation’s economy in tatters from the uprising that ousted its dictator of 30 years, Egypt’s transitional government has turned its back on the Western lending institutions that once propped the Mubarak regime. But its decision to accept the massive aid packages dangled by the oil-rich Arab Gulf states has raised suspicions about their intentions, as well as its own.
“Borrowing from our wealthy Arab neighbours makes economic sense,” says Alia El-Mahdi, dean of the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences at Cairo University. “But these are countries that were strongly opposed to Egypt’s revolution, so we must treat their (display of benevolence) with suspicion.
Egypt Rejects IMF Conditions
(IPS) – Egypt has cancelled plans to borrow 3 billion dollars from the International Monetary Fund because of conditions that violated the country’s national sovereignty and a public outcry that warned against terms that were blamed for impoverishing many Egyptians.
Muslim Brotherhood youth break away to form new political party
(LA Times) The Muslim Brotherhood is struggling with more dissent in its ranks after a group of young members broke away from the Islamist organization’s political party to form a secular party that is more inclusive of other cultures and religions.
The new party, known as the Egyptian Current, is a direct challenge to the Brotherhood and follows the expulsion this week of Dr. Abdul Monem aboul Fotouh, a prominent member who defied the organization by running for president. Fatouh has the support of thousands of young members, many of whom reportedly have had their memberships in the organization frozen.
Light, dark and muddle: The shakiness of the economy could undermine progress towards democracy
(The Economist) Much is at stake in Egypt economically, as well as politically. Like other Arab economies, the country has what might be called a patriarchal economy, with a weak private sector dependent on a dominant state one. Such an economy is the counterpart to autocracy, and in the economic sphere, just as much as in the political one, Egypt is a test for the Arab world. If it can prosper, others can too.
The economy also matters to democracy. Most people poured into Tahrir Square in January because of economic discontent, as well as for political reasons (at any rate, that is what they told pollsters from the International Republican Institute). Many Egyptians, argues Ahmed Heikal, Egypt’s biggest private investor, underestimate the impact the economy is likely to have on the political system. If the economy improves, that should help consolidate democracy; if it falters, so will political reform.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood forms alliance with liberal party
(WaPost via Foreign Policy) The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most powerful Islamist party, announced on Monday that it had formed a coalition with the liberal Wafd Party for the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections. The partnership between two of Egypt’s oldest political movements, which will run on one candidate list, will be a formidable force in the elections.
Tom Friedman: Pay Attention to Egypt
(NYT) After the ouster of Mubarak in February, his presidential powers were shifted to a military council, led by the defense minister. It’s an odd situation, or as the Egyptian novelist Alaa Al Aswany, author of “The Yacoubian Building,” put it to me: “We have had a revolution here that succeeded — but is not in power. So the goals of the revolution are being applied by an agent, the army, which I think is sincere in wanting to do the right things, but it is not by nature revolutionary.” … In short, the Egyptian revolution is not over. It has left the dramatic street phase and is now in the seemingly boring but utterly vital phase of deciding who gets to write the rules for the new Egypt. And how Egypt evolves will impact the whole Arab world. I just hope the Obama team is paying attention. This is so much more important than Libya.”
Egypt to open Gaza border this weekend
Egypt’s military government announced on Wednesday that it would permanently open the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip this weekend. The decision marks a dramatic change from the policy of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, which largely participated in Israel’s efforts to isolate the Hamas-ruled territory. Israel controls all other official entry points into Gaza.
Mubarak to face trial for killings of protesters on Tahrir Square
(The Independent) The move by the military government is seen as an attempt to satisfy growing popular anger in Egypt at its failure, since taking over from 83-year-old Mr Mubarak on 11 February, to prosecute and purge members of the old regime.
The former dictator is being charged with the “premeditated murder of some participants in the peaceful protests of the 25 January revolution”.
He is also accused along, with his two sons Alaa and Gamal and a close business associate, with abuse of power in order to make money.
Christopher Hitchens: What I Don’t See at the Revolution
(Vanity Fair/April 2011) As someone who has witnessed many stages of upheaval, whether in Eastern Europe, Asia, or South Africa, the author puts forth a wary prognosis for the brave Egyptians who thronged Tahrir Square: they likely haven’t got the resources to break the chains of tyranny.
EGYPT: Islamic Hardliners Becoming Aggressive
CAIRO, Apr 15 – Shrines venerated for centuries by Sufi Muslims have come under attack as Islamic fundamentalists seek to purge the Egyptian landscape of “heretical” artifacts that do not conform to their strict interpretation of Islam.
Ailing Mubarak detained on wide range of charges
(NYT via FP Morning Brief) Former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons have been detained for 15 days for questioning about corruption and the abuse of power during Mr. Mubarak’s three-decade rule, Egyptian authorities said Wednesday.
The detention, announced by a prosecutor Mr. Mubarak had appointed before his ouster, is a breathtaking reversal for the strongman. whose grip on Egypt seemed so unshakable just three months ago that some thought he could hand over power directly to his son Gamal, who is now being held along with his brother, Alaa, in Tora Prison in Cairo.
Egypt army sets new limits on free speech: HRW
CAIRO (Reuters) – A three-year prison sentence handed to a blogger who criticized Egypt’s army suggests the country’s military rulers are drawing red lines around permissible speech, Human Rights Watch said.
Activists suspect anything from hundreds to thousands of Egyptians are being held and tried before military courts behind closed doors after President Hosni Mubarak’s ousting on February 11.
“The methods used by the Egyptian military do not seem to have evolved since Hosni Mubarak’s fall,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-Francois Julliard.
Egyptian Economic Growth Will Slow ‘Significantly’ After Revolt, IMF Says
(Bloomberg) Egypt’s gross domestic product will expand about 1 percent, the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook report released today, cutting the forecast from 5 percent after the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February.
Egypt protesters defy call to leave Cairo square
CAIRO (Reuters) – A few hundred protesters defied an army demand to quit Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday, vowing to stay until Egypt’s ruling military council heeds their demand for civilian rule and a deeper purge of corrupt officials.
Violent army crackdown on Cairo protesters shocks Egyptians
(LA Times) Tahrir Square, a scene of celebration two months ago when Hosni Mubarak fell, became a battlefield as soldiers beat protesters and tore down tents. One demonstrator was shot dead; 71 others were hurt.
In a predawn raid Saturday that stunned the nation, Egyptian soldiers stormed Tahrir Square to disperse about 2,000 protesters angry at the ruling military council for failing to deliver democracy and bring corrupt officials to justice after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt’s Mubarak ‘under house arrest’
(Al Jazeera) Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s ousted president, has been put under house arrest along with his family, according to an Egyptian military statement.
Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces on Monday said that the former leader and his family would not be allowed to leave the country and denied reports that Mubarak had fled to Saudi Arabia.
Large turnout in Egypt referendum
(BBC) Millions of Egyptians vote in a referendum on constitutional reforms, a month after a popular uprising swept President Hosni Mubarak from power.
Millions of Egyptians have voted in a referendum on constitutional reforms. If passed, it would allow Egypt to hold fresh elections within six months. Initial results are expected on Sunday. A BBC correspondent in Cairo says that for most Egyptians, this was the first genuinely free vote in their lives.
Egypt Dissolves Hated State Security Agency
(AP via NYT) — Egypt’s interior minister on Tuesday dissolved the country’s widely hated state security agency, which was accused of torture and other human rights abuses in the suppression of dissent against ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule.
Reforming crony capitalism will bring more upheaval
(FT) In Egypt’s cat’s cradle of mutual enrichment, scores of businessmen went into parliament while retired officers remuneratively graced their company boards
(RCI) Ministers of Egypt’s new government were sworn in on Monday…. On Sunday, men in plain clothes armed with swords and petrol bombs attacked protesters in Cairo during a demonstration demanding reform of the security services. Observers say it appeared to be the first time armed men in plain clothes had deployed in force against reform activists in central Cairo since Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign and hand power to the military. The military has promised democratic elections but activists continue to demand deeper reform, including a major change to the police forces.
Mubarak Regime ‘Provoked’ Attacks on Christians
(IPS) Analysts say there is growing evidence that Egyptian security forces planned attacks on Christian churches and clergy, or allowed them to happen. The apparent purpose of the attacks was to reinforce the idea to sympathetic Western governments that without Mubarak, radical Islamist groups would gain a foothold in Egypt and wage a holy war on its Christian community.
Tom Friedman: This Is Just the Start
Future historians will long puzzle over how the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, in protest over the confiscation of his fruit stand, managed to trigger popular uprisings across the Arab/Muslim world. We know the big causes — tyranny, rising food prices, youth unemployment and social media. But since being in Egypt, I’ve been putting together my own back-of-the-envelope guess list of what I’d call the “not-so-obvious forces” that fed this mass revolt.
Female activists in Egypt debate Shariah
Women in Egypt are at odds with each other over the look of a potentially democratic country, with some activists pushing for an entirely secular legal code, and others seeking to maintain elements of Shariah, or Islamic-based, laws. “The revolution is not only taking place in Tahrir, it is taking place in every Egyptian house. It is the revolution of fighting the patriarch,” says one woman. Bloomberg (2/15)
Tom Friedman:Pharaoh Without a Mummy
… the most valuable thing America could do now is to help Egypt’s democracy movement consolidate itself. And the best way to do that would be to speak its language. It would be to announce that the U.S. intends to divert $100 million of the $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt this year to build 10 world-class science and technology high schools — from Aswan to Alexandria — in honor of all Egyptians who brought about this democratic transformation.
Egypt: The Distance Between Enthusiasm and Reality
By George Friedman
(Stratfor) On Feb. 11, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned. A military council was named to govern in his place.
… What we see is that while Mubarak is gone, the military regime in which he served has dramatically increased its power. This isn’t incompatible with democratic reform. Organizing elections, political parties and candidates is not something that can be done quickly. If the military is sincere in its intentions, it will have to do these things. The problem is that if the military is insincere it will do exactly the same things. Six months is a long time, passions can subside and promises can be forgotten.
Egypt’s army dissolves parliament
Military rulers say they will remain in charge for six months until elections are held as some protesters vow to remain
Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from Cairo, said the two announcements do not indicate that the prime minister and military council are talking against each other.
But it is “quite clear that the power now rests entirely” with the military council, he said. “They’ve taken on the role of the presidency and the prime minister and the other ministers carry out their orders.
(CBC Radio – The Sunday edition) Egypt’s military … we look at the Egyptian military, its power, its influence and its intentions with someone who knows the army intimately. Robert Springbord is an expert in national security affairs and was director of the American Research Centre in Cairo.
Egypt’s Mubarak steps down
(CNN) Vice President Omar Suleiman announced the resignation on state television and said he was transferring authority to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to “run the affairs of the country.”
Egypt Erupts in Jubilation as Mubarak Steps Down
(NYT) Shouts of “God is great” erupted from Tahrir Square at twilight as Mr. Mubarak’s vice president and longtime intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, announced that Mr. Mubarak had passed all authority to a council of military leaders.
Mubarak Resigns, Military is in Charge
(Stratfor) … Suleiman’s statement is the clearest indication thus far that the military has carried out a coup led by Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. It is not clear whether Suleiman will remain as the civilian head of the army-led government. Egypt is returning to the 1952 model of ruling the state via a council of army officers. The question now is to what extent the military elite will share power with its civilian counterparts. Read more:
Mubarak Resigns As Egypt’s President, Armed Forces To Take Control
(HuffPost) Mubarak had sought to cling to power, handing some of his authorities to Suleiman while keeping his title. But an explosion of protests Friday rejecting the move appeared to have pushed the military into forcing him out completely.
World reacts as Mubarak steps down
Global leaders hail “historic change” and “victory” in Egypt, but Obama warns of difficult days ahead.
Janice Gross Stein: The urgent question is who manages the transition
(Globe & Mail) Omar Suleiman … made clear in his brief statement of Mr. Mubarak’s resignation that the president had handed power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. What it does with the power it now has officially will be determining. It can, as it appears to be doing for the moment, support Mr. Suleiman as the steward of the transition to presidential elections in September. If it does so, change will be constrained and suspect to the population.
Alternatively, the military can finish the soft coup that it started and nudge the Vice-President out of office. Who then leads the transition? Does the army choose from within the military or from without? What kind of relationship does the military build, in the first instance, with the opposition who have organized the streets?
How Hosni Mubarak Got Filthy Rich
There are no Mubaraks on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people, but there sure ought to be.
(U.S. News) … after three decades as his nation’s iron-fisted ruler, … Mubarak amassed a fortune that should finance a pretty comfortable retirement. The British Guardian newspaper cites Middle Eastern sources placing the wealth of Mubarak and his family at somewhere between $40 billion and $70 billion. That’s a pretty good pension for government work. The world’s richest man—Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim—is worth about $54 billion, by comparison. Bill Gates is close behind, with a net worth of about $53 billion.
Crisis Flummoxes White House
(WSJ) President Mubarak’s Refusal to Step Down Signals a Loss of Western Influence; Sense of ‘Disbelief’ After Speech
Egypt’s Democratic Mirage
By playing the role of both arsonist and firefighter, the Egyptian government has forced protesters fleeing the regime to seek refuge with the regime. In so doing, has the government ensured its survival?
(Foreign Affairs) Despite the tenacity, optimism, and blood of the protesters massed in Tahrir Square, Egypt’s democratic window has probably already closed.
Contrary to the dominant media narrative, over the last ten days the Egyptian state has not experienced a regime breakdown. The protests have certainly rocked the system and have put Mubarak on his heels, but at no time has the uprising seriously threatened Egypt’s regime.
Don’t Fear the Brotherhood
(Foreign Policy) Running away from the Islamic party is exactly what the entrenched Egyptian ruling class wants America to do.
Moment of truth for Egypt’s military
(CNN Analysis) It was a speech both defiant and patronizing. Remarkably, Mubarak managed to say all the wrong things at precisely the wrong time. Egypt is consumed by uncertainty and confusion.
[Update: How wrong everyone was!]
Defiant Mubarak refuses to resign
Egyptian president vows to remain in office until his term ends in September, and not bow down to ‘foreign pressure’.
(Al Jazeera) Mubarak’s comments were not well-received by hundreds of thousands gathered at Cairo’s Tahrir [Liberation] Square and in other cities, who erupted into angry chants against him.
Sources: Mubarak could step down tonight
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will announce today that he is leaving office, sources told NBC News. Vice President Omar Suleiman reportedly is to take his place. The army leadership is sending signals to demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that it was planning to step in to “safeguard” Egypt during the transition. Mubarak is expected to address Egyptians via state-run TV tonight. MSNBC (2/10), The New York Times (free registration) (2/10), Los Angeles Times (2/10)
Ruling party officials suggest Egypt’s president will ‘meet protesters demands’, ahead of televised statement.
(Al Jazeera) The Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces has met to discuss the ongoing protests against the government of Hosni Mubarak. … Some opposition groups, however, have said that they are concerned about how Mubarak would hand power over to, were he to resign.
“It looks like a military coup,” said Essam al-Erian of the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned but tolerated group which is the biggest organised opposition party in Egypt. “I feel worry and anxiety. The problem is not with the president it is with the regime.”
Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt
(NYT) There were only about 15 of them, including Wael Ghonim, a Google executive who was detained for 12 days but emerged this week as the movement’s most potent spokesman.
Yet they brought a sophistication and professionalism to their cause — exploiting the anonymity of the Internet to elude the secret police, planting false rumors to fool police spies, staging “field tests” in Cairo slums before laying out their battle plans, then planning a weekly protest schedule to save their firepower — that helps explain the surprising resilience of the uprising they began.
Protest in Egypt Takes a Turn as Workers Go on Strike
As reports filtered in of strikes and unrest spreading on Wednesday, the government seemed to dig in deeper.
Protesters demanding the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak appeared on Wednesday to have recaptured the initiative … At dawn on Wednesday, hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators remained camped out at Parliament, where they had marched for the first time on Tuesday. There were reports of thousands demonstrating in several other cities around the country while protesters began to gather again in Tahrir Square, a few blocks from Parliament. (HuffPost) Egyptians Stage Massive Anti-Mubarak Protest ; (Al Jazeera) Labour unions boost Egypt protests
Allies Press U.S. to Go Slow on Egypt
Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have each repeatedly pressed the United States not to cut loose Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, too hastily, or to throw its weight behind the democracy movement in a way that could further destabilize the region, diplomats say
Egypt protesters regain momentum in bid to oust leader
Demonstrators in Egypt against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak have re-upped their demands for his ouster, extending their protests from a central square in Cairo to the Parliament, and rejecting government overtures to long-awaited reforms. U.S. allies in the Mideast are urging the administration of President Barack Obama to try to steward democratic change in Egypt in a way that would not further destabilize the region. The Wall Street Journal (2/9), The New York Times (2/8)
A Correspondent Reminisces on 56 Years in Cairo
(Spiegel) An Essay By Volkhard Windfuhr
Mubarak’s Exit Plan
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s latest attempt to hang on to power? He created a committee on Tuesday to propose constitutional changes that would impose presidential term limits and promise a pay raise for public workers Monday. Still, it appears the 82-year-old Mubarak is creating an exit plan: Der Spiegel says he’s looking at a luxury hospital in the German town of Bühl for a “prolonged health check” that would allow him to save some pride in leaving Egypt.
Days of Rage in Alexandria
(Spiegel) For days, residents of Egypt’s second-largest city, Alexandria, have been living in a largely lawless zone. And while there is anger and rage on the streets, there is little of the enthusiasm and joy that usually marks a revolution.
Robert Fisk: US envoy’s business link to Egypt
Obama scrambles to limit damage after Frank Wisner makes robust call for Mubarak to remain in place as leader.
Blogger’s release ‘reignites’ Egypt
(Al Jazeera) Google executive Wael Ghonim speaks after release from Egyptian custody, sparking outpouring of support from protesters.
Suleiman: The CIA’s man in Cairo
(Al Jazeera – Opinion) Suleiman, a friend to the US and reported torturer, has long been touted as a presidential successor.
( FP Morning Brief) On Sunday, … Suleiman reportedly offered a series of measures include the eventual lifting of emergency rule, lifting restrictions on the press, and studying reform to the constitution. Suleiman released a statement after the meeting stating that a “consensus” on political transition had been reached. Opposition leaders angrily rebutted his assertion. The Muslim Brotherhood said it would participate in future talks only if all its demands, including Mubarak’s resignation and the dissolution of the Egyptian parliament, were on the table.
The West’s March of Follies continues in Egypt
M.D. Nalapat, Director, Department of Geopolitics, Manipal University
There are more than Western interests at play in Egypt. The other catalysts for the unrest are a combination of Iranian adventures, hypocritical policies of West Asian regimes and resurgent commodity speculation in western markets, triggering a rise in prices of basic items in emerging markets
ABC’s Christiane Amanpour reports on the historic week in Egypt.
The Opposition Enters Talks
Egypt Vice President Omar Suleiman, now backed by western leaders, had a surprising meeting with members of the group Muslim Brotherhood
U.S. and European nations are now backing Egypt Vice President Omar Suleiman in an attempt to take things slowly during the chaotic uprising in Cairo. Suleiman promised an “orderly transition,” say American officials, though this may entail leaving President Mubarak in office and maintaining the one-party political system. Protesters interpreted the support of Suleiman as a rebuff. Reports that Suleiman was the target of an assassination attempt haven’t been confirmed by the state, and the White House would not comment. (NYT) Egypt Leadership Holds Firm After Talks
Mubarak’s power fades as US backs his deputy
(The Guardian) The mass resignation announced yesterday afternoon is likely to be seen as a further sign of Mubarak’s weakness and will only strengthen the demands of protesters determined to topple him. It appeared to be part of a strategy agreed with the US to manage the transition, with or without Mubarak, as power shifts to Egypt’s vice-president, who is backed by the Americans to head the political transition.
As Mubarak Digs In, U.S. Policy in Egypt Is Complicated
(NYT) Twelve days into an uprising in Egypt that threatens to upend American strategy in the Middle East, the Obama administration is struggling to determine if a democratic revolution can succeed while President Hosni Mubarak remains in office, even if his powers are neutered and he is sidelined from negotiations over the country’s future. West Backs Gradual Egyptian Transition
Carl Bernstein: What the White House Isn’t Saying
(The Daily Beast) For the past week, a series of realities unstated by the White House or the State Department has driven American diplomacy dealing with the momentous events in Egypt, according to high-level sources familiar with the process.
First and foremost, The United States—in concert increasingly with other governments—is seeking an immediate transition to democratic pluralism and procedures that, simultaneously, will prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from overwhelming or co-opting the process to become the dominant political force in Egypt’s post-Mubarak future.
Egypt is critical of UN chief’s remarks over revolt
Representatives from the Egypt mission to the United Nations have expressed their displeasure with the public comments by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that were critical of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, and encourage bold transition. Reuters (2/4) , ForeignPolicy.com/Turtle Bay blog (2/5)
Who’s afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood?
(Globe & Mail) In Arab states such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco, Islamist movements don’t command the support to gain a majority and would have to share power with secular parties. Would the Muslim Brotherhood participate in a government that recognizes Israel and works with Western governments? Their leaders, and informed observers, say yes.
Leadership of Egypt’s Ruling Party Resigns
(ABC News) The top leadership body of Egypt’s ruling party resigned Saturday, including the president’s son. … but the regime appeared to be digging in its heels, calculating that it can ride out street demonstrations and keep President Hosni Mubarak in office.
Organizers fear that without the pressure of protesters on the street, Mubarak’s regime will enact only cosmetic reforms and try to preserve its grip on power. So they are reluctant to lift their demonstrations without the concrete gain of Mubarak’s ouster and a transition mechanism that guarantees a real move to democracy afterward.
Cairo protesters hold firm
(Al Jazeera) US envoy says Mubarak must stay to steer through reforms, as tens of thousands in Tahrir Square call for him to resign.
Suspected attack on Egyptian gas pipeline halts supply to Israel
(The Guardian) Gas explosion rocks the Sinai peninsula as anti-government unrest continues across the country
Frank Rich: Wallflowers at the Revolution
The live feed from Egypt is riveting. We can’t get enough of revolution video — even if, some nights, Middle West blizzards take precedence over Middle East battles on the networks’ evening news. But more often than not we have little or no context for what we’re watching. That’s the legacy of years of self-censored, superficial, provincial and at times Islamophobic coverage of the Arab world in a large swath of American news media.
More Than 100,000 Rally in Cairo With Few Clashes
Lurking fears that the opposition may have lost momentum were banished by the sheer number of protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday.
Egyptians rally in Alexandria
Tens of thousands of protesters thronged today in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria to demand the swift departure of President Hosni Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood was prominent in the crowds, which were described as “joyous and determined.” Mass gatherings across Egypt marked the 11th day of protests on what activists have designated as Mubarak’s “day of departure.” Al-Jazeera (2/4)
Egyptian Government Figures Join Protesters
Enthusiastic cheers rose up several times at the appearance of Amr Moussa, easily the most popular politician in Egypt and a major figure in its political establishment. He became famous as a straight-talking and charismatic foreign minister, until Mr. Mubarak moved him to the less threatening position of head of the Arab League.
Mubarak family fortune could reach $70bn, say experts
Egyptian president has cash in British and Swiss banks plus UK and US property
(The Guardian) President Hosni Mubarak’s family fortune could be as much as $70bn (£43.5bn) according to analysis by Middle East experts, with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and along expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast.
After 30 years as president and many more as a senior military official, Mubarak has had access to investment deals that have generated hundreds of millions of pounds in profits. Most of those gains have been taken offshore and deposited in secret bank accounts or invested in upmarket homes and hotels.
Soothing thoughts from The Economist
The West should celebrate, not fear, the upheaval in Egypt
Pessimists point out that Egypt has neither the institutions nor the political leadership to ensure a smooth transition. But if it did, the people would not have taken to the streets. No perfectly formed democracy is about to emerge from the detritus of Mr Mubarak’s regime. Disorder seems likely to reign for some time. But Egypt, though poor, has a sophisticated elite, a well-educated middle class and strong sense of national pride. These are good grounds for believing that Egyptians can pull order out of this chaos.
Egypt: How Amanpour Came to Interview President Hosni Mubarak
Egypt’s President Mubarak sits with Christiane Amanpour for an ABC News Exclusive Interview
U.S. Discusses Plan for Mubarak to Quit
Vice President Would Become Leader, Officials Say
President Hosni Mubarak has balked at leaving, but talks are continuing with Egyptian officials about a plan in which Vice President Omar Suleiman would begin a process of reform, officials said.
The Muslim Brotherhood After Mubarak
What the Brotherhood Is and How it Will Shape the Future
(Foreign Affairs) Portraying the Muslim Brotherhood as eager and able to seize power and impose its version of sharia on an unwilling citizenry is a caricature that exaggerates certain features of the Brotherhood and underestimates the extent to which the group has changed over time. Understanding Revolutionary Egypt FP gathered a group of Egypt experts to discuss how we should adjust to this rapidly shifting reality
(CBC) Protesters involved in Thursday’s melee in Tahrir Square found identification cards and licence plates they say prove the battles were state-sanctioned and initiated by secret police loyal to President Hosni Mubarak. more:
Gangs Hunt Journalists and Rights Workers
Security forces and gangs chanting in favor of the Egyptian government hunted down journalists at their offices and in the hotels where many had taken refuge on Thursday in a widespread and overt campaign of intimidation aimed at suppressing reports from the capital.
Egypt’s Bumbling Brotherhood
(NYT Opionator) The Muslim Brotherhood, which so scares the West, has been shut out of the revolution through its own incompetence.
… here’s the real deal, at least as many Egyptians see it. Ever since its founding in 1928 as a rival to Western-inspired nationalist movements that had failed to free Egypt from foreign powers, the Muslim Brotherhood has tried to revive Islamic power. Yet in 83 years it has botched every opportunity. In Egypt today, the Brotherhood counts perhaps some 100,000 adherents out of a population of over 80 million. And its failure to support the initial uprising in Cairo on Jan. 25 has made it marginal to the spirit of revolt now spreading through the Arab world.
Egypt army wants protests ended
(Al Jazeera) Military urges protesters to pack their bags and go back to ‘normal life’ as anti-government rallies enter ninth day.
Robert Fisk: Secular and devout. Rich and poor. They marched together with one goal
There were several elements about this unprecedented political event that stood out. First was the secularism of the whole affair. Women in chadors and niqabs and scarves walked happily beside girls with long hair flowing over their shoulders, students next to imams and men with beards that would have made Bin Laden jealous. The poor in torn sandals and the rich in business suits, squeezed into this shouting mass, an amalgam of the real Egypt hitherto divided by class and regime-encouraged envy. They had done the impossible – or so they thought – and, in a way, they had already won their social revolution.
Chaos in Cairo as Mubarak backers, opponents clash
Protesters contended there were plainclothed police among their attackers, showing police ID badges they said were wrested off them. Others, they said, were paid by the regime to assault them — a tactic that security forces have used in the past.
Robert Fisk interview with Mohamed ElBaradei: The man who would be President
Mubarak to step down, leaves protesters impatient
(Reuters) – President Hosni Mubarak said on Tuesday he would step down in September, offering a mixture of concessions and defiance to Egyptians who marched a million strong to demand that his 30-year-rule end immediately.
Egypt’s ancient treasures are safe from turmoil
Egypt’s antiquities and archeological sites are secure from the social turmoil unfolding across the country, Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass says. Officials have reported a handful of looting incidents, but most items have already been recovered. In one case, thieves were challenged by civilians and unable to leave the Cairo Egyptian Museum with any items. The New York Times (2/1)
Will Egypt’s military loosen its grip on power?
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak installed a new team of Cabinet ministers today, in an effort to assuage critics. Protesters appeared not to be mollified by the move, and support is building among opposition groups for a transition to be led by Nobel laureate and former UN official Mohamed ElBaradei. But some observers note that even if Mubarak is deposed, Egypt’s military will still maintain hold on the levers of power in society. Bloomberg (1/31) , The New York Times (free registration) (1/31)
Protesting on an Empty Stomach: How the Egyptian economy is fueling unrest in Egypt.
(Slate) … The price of oils, sugar, and cereals have all recently hit new peaks—and those latter prices are especially troubling for Egypt, as the world’s biggest importer of wheat. Egyptians are particularly vulnerable to increases in food prices because they spend an unusually high proportion of their income on food
(Information Clearing House) The Torture Career of Egypt’s New Vice President: Omar Suleiman and the Rendition to Torture Program
Egyptians have reservations about ElBaradei
(Reuters) – Egyptians on the streets of Cairo said on Monday they had reservations about opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who has offered to act as transitional leader to prepare Egypt for democratic elections….
Robert Fisk: Egypt: Death throes of a dictatorship
Our writer joins protesters atop a Cairo tank as the army shows signs of backing the people against Mubarak’s regime
Former Canadian Ambassador to Egypt Michael Bell: Mubarak’s choice: resign honourably or leave blood and chaos
(Globe & Mail) … [His] longevity has been perhaps his greatest enemy. The seemingly insoluble problem of poverty and unemployment, coupled with an increasing awareness among the middle class that pluralism in politics should be a basic right, has left him isolated from the people he rules. They are fatigued by his predictability, manipulation and ties to a corrupt business elite created by his policies.
Egypt authorities shut down pan-Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera
(Haaretz) Egypt’s information minister cancels Qatar-based network’s license to broadcast from the country, as Al Jazeera considered to have inspired protesters. (Al Jazeera) Egypt shuts down Al Jazeera bureau
Network’s licences cancelled and accreditation of staff in Cairo withdrawn by order of information minister.
Egypt Protests Show American Foreign-Policy Folly
(Information Clearing House) Accepting that Arabs have the right to elect their own leaders means accepting the rise of governments that do not share America’s pro-Israel militancy. This is the dilemma Washington now faces. Never has it been clearer that the U.S. needs to reassess its long-term Middle East strategy. It needs new approaches and new partners.
And, on the other hand, the Telegraph trumpets America’s secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising
The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years … disclosures, contained in previously secret US diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website, show American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by the police.
Mubarak Names Former Air Force Chief as New Egyptian PM
(Stratfor) Mubarak may be nominally dissolving the Cabinet, ordering an army curfew and now asking Shafiq to form the next government, but the embattled president is not the one in charge. Instead, the military appears to be managing Mubarak’s exit, taking care not to engage in a confrontation with the demonstrators while the political details are being sorted out. The Egyptian Unrest: A Special Report
Tarek Osman (CNN) Why Egypt regime can weather the storm
ElBaradei Under House Arrest as Demonstrations Rock Cairo
(Spiegel) Mass protests in Egypt continued to spread on Friday, with police breaking up demonstrations with tear gas and force. Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has also been detained and President Hosni Mubarak has said he will address his people on Friday night. Wall Street Journal
Egypt’s day of reckoning
Robert Fisk: Mubarak regime may not survive new protests as flames of anger spread through Middle East.
Already there have been signs that those tired of Mubarak’s corrupt and undemocratic rule have been trying to persuade the ill-paid policemen patrolling Cairo to join them. … But no one is negotiating – there is nothing to negotiate except the departure of Mubarak. More on Al Jazeera
US reported ‘routine’ police brutality in Egypt, WikiLeaks cables show
(The Guardian) Torture widely used against criminals, Islamist detainees, opposition activists and bloggers, embassy cables suggest (NYT) Cables Show Delicate U.S. Dealings With Egypt’s Leaders
Bruce Riedel: Don’t Fear Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood
Technically illegal, it has an enormous social-welfare infrastructure that provides cheap education and health care. In Egypt’s unfair elections, it is always the only opposition that does well even against the heavily rigged odds.
… Egypt’s new opposition leader, former International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei, has formed a loose alliance with the Brotherhood because he knows it is the only opposition group that can mobilize masses of Egyptians, especially the poor. He says he can work with it to change Egypt. Many scholars of political Islam also judge the Brotherhood is the most reasonable face of Islamic politics in the Arab world today. Skeptics fear ElBaradei will be swept along by more radical forces.
Des milliers d’Égyptiens réclament le départ de Moubarak
(AFP via Cyberpresse) … Partout, les manifestants ont fait référence à la révolte populaire qui a fait tomber mi-janvier le président tunisien Zine El Abidine Ben Ali après 23 ans de pouvoir.
The Post-Tunisia World
(Foreign Policy) Last week’s upheaval showed that citizens of the Arab world are willing and able to overthrow their dictators — and the Obama administration has to figure out how it will respond when they do.
A region that has felt paralyzed by autocratic rule is now in motion. Leaders are backpedaling: The emir of Kuwait abruptly announced that he would distribute $4 billion in cash and free food to citizens. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt issued a call for investment in Arab youth. You can almost smell the fear in the likes of Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt’s foreign minister, who informed the country’s official press agency that “the talk about the spread of what happened in Tunisia to other countries is nonsense.”
(Foreign Policy) The Next Tunisias – Five Arab states that are ripe for revolution
Algeria … Egypt … Libya … Sudan … Jordan
Dr. Cesar Chelala: PRESIDENT MUBARAK IS VERY WORRIED
(Middle East Times) It is fair to assume that Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is very worried. And if he is not he might well be, since recent events in Tunisia don’t augur well for his regime. The Tunisian events may find echo not only in Egypt, but in other Arab countries under repressive governments.
Egypt susceptible to Tunisia-style revolt
(Zawya) One outcome of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia has been the expectancy that similar civil revolts might be replicated throughout the region, as the autocratic rule and economic ills that spurred protest in Tunisia are very much apparent in various other Arab countries.
Arab Regimes Fear Bread Intifadah
(IPS) – “Break my heart but don’t come near my bread,” goes an old Arabic proverb. Failure to observe it has often come at a high political price.
Providing cheap food to the masses is part of an unwritten pact between Arab dictators and their people. Since the 1950s, authoritarian Arab regimes have committed to distributing subsidised food staples such as bread, milk and eggs to their populations in exchange for political quiescence.
Analysis: Arab leaders to grapple with new order post-Tunisia
(Reuters) – Tunisia’s political earthquake has shattered the cozy world of entrenched Arab rulers and destroyed the image of their military-backed regimes as immune to popular discontent and grievances.
From Atlantic coast to Gulf shores, live images on Arab satellite channels of a popular uprising unseating President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 25 years in power must have rattled Arab leaders, many with similarly repressive records.
Analysts, opposition figures and ordinary people say the Tunisian revolt may prove contagious. Like Tunisians, many Arabs are frustrated by soaring prices, poverty, high unemployment, a bulging population and systems of rule that ignore their voices.
Morning In Tunisia The Frustrations of the Arab World Boil Over
(Foreign Affairs) … Rulers of Arab countries whose political systems most resemble Tunisia’s — the secular single-party authoritarian republics of Egypt and Syria — undoubtedly watched Ben Ali’s fall with knots in their stomachs. Internet users and bloggers throughout the region reveled in what Tunisian protestors had achieved, calling for copycat actions elsewhere. The monarchies of Jordan, Morocco, and the Gulf states also have cause for concern.
Yet the dominoes may not fall so fast. Tunisia’s military is smaller, more professional, and less politicized than the militaries in Egypt and Syria. Reports suggest that the Tunisian military refused to fire on citizen protestors; militaries in Egypt and Syria, however, are much closer to the ruling regimes and may not be so hesitant to shoot. They might not even need to — if Tunisia descends into anarchy, publics in nearby countries may be reluctant to destabilize their incumbent regimes.
Anthony Shadid–In Peril: The Arab Status Quo
(NYT) It’s still early, but 2011 may prove the year that the status quo in the Middle East proved untenable and began falling apart.
In the streets of the Tunisian summer getaway of Hammamet, in the seething quarters of Sadr City or in the claustrophobic neighborhoods of Beirut, hopelessly divided by the most primordial of religious and clan loyalties, Arab states looked exhausted, ossified and ideologically bankrupt, surviving merely to perpetuate themselves. Never has the divide between ruler and ruled seemed so yawning, and perhaps never has it been so dangerous.
Analysis: A warning to Arab dictators
Some in Arab world hope intifada that erupted in Tunisia spreads to the rest of the Arab countries, signaling start of a new, more promising era.