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Topic: Egypt (Read 66187 times)
WSJ: Henninger: Is Egypt hopeless?
Reply #100 on:
February 10, 2011, 10:48:36 PM »
With luck and support from the world's democracies, Egypt's people will get a credible political system. What they won't get—now or possibly ever—is an economy able to produce real jobs for their country's large, young population. Establishing a democratic system in Egypt is a walk in the park compared to allowing a 21st-century economy to come to life there.
Egypt isn't just a sad story of political oppression. Egypt is an object lesson for other nations, including ours, struggling to produce enough jobs for young workers.
While Egypt has floundered, some have noted that Turkey's economy has flourished, notwithstanding a strong Islamic presence in both countries. How come?
Editorial Board Member Matt Kaminski on the latest from Egypt. Also, Editorial Board Member Mary Kissel on Toyota and 'pedal misapplications.'
.Everyone cites a favorite datum—Egypt produced Nasser and Mubarak while Turkey got Ataturk and free-market economist Turgut Ozal as prime minister in the 1980s. But here's mine: In Egypt, the percentage of the working population employed by the state is 35%. In Turkey, it's 13%.
One is tempted to ask: What more do you need to know?
The economic literature is vast on the smothering effects of large, inefficient public sectors. If Egypt is now exhibit A for these studies in torpid economies, then exhibits B, C, D and E would be Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia and Algeria, the other nations that erupted the past several weeks. In Jordan nearly 50% of the employed population works for the state. This is an economy?
Consistent data on public work forces across nations is hard to find, but IMD, the Swiss business school, produces a comparison of public-sector employment as a percentage of total population for its Competitiveness Yearbook. It shows a striking correlation between economic success in emerging economies and relatively low populations of public employees, notably in Asia.
Korea, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and even China (at 8.3%) have low public employment as a percentage of total population. In Singapore, it's less than 3%. Also on the list, below 15%, are Colombia, Peru and Chile, three of South America's strongest economies. A low number doesn't guarantee strong growth, but a high number probably kills it.
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Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Who will hire them?
.The MENA countries of the Middle East and North Africa have used public work as a form of social security and tool of political stability. Their universities fed graduates into a nonproductive but high-benefit public economy. Many Tunisian rioters were unemployed college graduates.
The argument being made here is that past some tipping point of a population employed by the state, an economy starts to choke. Egypt is far past that point. In Tahrir Square you are watching the economic and psychological dislocation caused by this misallocation of national energy. This isn't just about a new government. It is a sit-down strike for a better economy.
Egypt faces a hard economic riddle: How does any place that has passed the public-sector tipping point escape these chains? (The crony capitalism of the younger Mubarak, Gamal, merely created a school of golden pilot fish alongside the public whale.)
The U.S. is hardly the place Egypt should look for an answer. Public-sector costs have driven New York, California and New Jersey to the edge of the fiscal cliff. Govs. Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo are getting good notices for their ideas. But so far they haven't solved anything. Large populations of public workers could burden these states for years in their competition with leaner states. Hosni Mubarak also promised public-sector reform—20 years ago.
With a third of the population employed by the state, Egypt may be past the tipping point what allows a modern economy to grow.
.Podcast: Listen to the audio of Wonder Land here. .But hey, there's always tourism. A major complaint from Egypt is that the protesters are killing tourism. Whether Egypt, France, Italy, or New York City, tourists' cash flow is the last prop beneath economies staggered by the weight of public costs they can't unwind. Egypt has the pyramids, New York has Times Square.
At Davos last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron eloquently sounded the pro-growth trumpet and chided pessimists who "say that slow-growth status for Europe is inevitable." But in a thought-provoking article last month for The Wall Street Journal Europe, "How Big Government Killed Britain's Regions," former U.K. economics official Warwick Lightfoot argued that years of high public-sector wage and benefit settlements had "de-marketized" labor costs in the U.K.'s regions—Wales, Scotland, northern Ireland and the north of England. "The private sector," he said, "cannot flourish because price signals cannot operate properly in the labor market."
Amid the current crisis, Mr. Mubarak decreed a 15% wage and pension increase for public workers. Decades of U.S. governors and mayors did the same thing, poisoning local markets.
California isn't Egypt, yet. But politicians everywhere make the same mistakes, thinking the real economy is always out there somewhere, producing jobs and tax revenue. They think it's sort of like magic. But it isn't.
The first great lesson being learned in the 21st century is that neither the state nor the stork can bring jobs to life in a modern economy. Good luck to Egypt and all other nations on the wrong end of this learning curve.
Reply #101 on:
February 11, 2011, 05:39:50 AM »
February 10, 2011
"What is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. It's a moment of transformation that's taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change."
Maybe the world doesn't actually work according to the transformative moments visualizations of President Obama.
Reply #102 on:
February 11, 2011, 08:22:36 AM »
I have but one word of advice for the protestors in Egypt, "run".
Reply #103 on:
February 11, 2011, 08:27:41 AM »
I could easily be wrong, but my guess is that the military will make a move against Mubarak that will be sufficient , , , for now.
Reply #104 on:
February 11, 2011, 10:35:10 AM »
I hope you're right and that's definitely a possibility but this could go bad in a heart beat.
Reply #105 on:
February 11, 2011, 11:30:51 AM »
Glenn Beck was in full rant mode last night about all this. He makes a lot of strong points about the true nature of the MB, why this is happening now, and that sort of thing but I was left wondering if he really appreciated something else-- which is the natural yearning to live free of being under the heel of Mubarak's police thugs. As a general principla it is a force which America should be aligned.
I have no problem with the idea that sometimes we must deal with bastards, but we also must keep ready to evolve situations to a higher level, one that is more in tune with what America is about-- which is why BO et al should have been supporting Bush's efforts in Iraq instead of destroying them from the home front.
Where would be now if the Dems had supported the war (or at least not sabotaged it!)? What would the Iraqis have done and be doing now if they had confident that we weren't bugging out?
IMHO we would be sitting a whole bunch prettier than we are now.
Reply #106 on:
February 11, 2011, 12:42:08 PM »
"which is the natural yearning to live free of being under the heel of Mubarak's police thugs. "
What if the heel of Mubarak's police thugs was preventing a hot war with Israel and an Sharia state and the rebirth of the caliphate?
Reply #107 on:
February 11, 2011, 03:06:01 PM »
As I said, "I have no problem with the idea that sometimes we must deal with bastards, but we also must keep ready to evolve situations to a higher level, one that is more in tune with what America is about" because being tied to hated dying 82 year old dictators also has its problems and because America standing for the higher level is one of our greatest strengths-- perhaps our greatest of all. We need to remember that.
Reply #108 on:
February 11, 2011, 03:44:26 PM »
Reply #109 on:
February 11, 2011, 03:57:19 PM »
The key problem is what you and I might define as freedom is probably not what many muslims in Egypt define as freedom. Also, having a military junta running a country probably doesn't qualify under most any definition of freedom anyone would care to use.
Victory lap from A-jad
Reply #110 on:
February 11, 2011, 04:31:39 PM »
Ahmadinejad: Egyptian protests herald new Mideast
Email this Story
Feb 11, 7:24 AM (ET)
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's president said Friday that Egypt's popular uprising shows a new Islamic Middle East is emerging, one that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims will have no signs of Israel and U.S. "interference."
The Iranian leader spoke as the country marked the 32nd anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the pro-U.S. shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought hardline clerics to power.
Ahmadinejad's remarks came hours after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he is transferring authority to his deputy but refused to step down, angering hundreds of thousands of Egyptians who have been demanding he relinquish his three-decade grip on power.
Tens of thousands marched down Tehran's main boulevard in state-organized anniversary festivities, chanting in support of Egyptian anti-government protesters. Some Iranians set an effigy of Mubarak on fire while others shouted: "Hosni non-Mubarak, 'Mubarak' (congratulations) on the uprising of your people."
Iran's state TV broadcast simultaneous live footage of the gathering at Tehran's Azadi, or Freedom, Square and that of anti-government demonstrations in Cairo's downtown Tahrir Square where tens of thousands had gathered by noon Friday.
Iran, which is at odds with the international community over its controversial nuclear program, has sought to portray the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt as evidence of a replay of its own Islamic Revolution.
Reply #111 on:
February 11, 2011, 08:48:25 PM »
STRATFOR’s Dr. George Friedman argues that the protesters in Egypt have achieved their primary objective: getting rid of Mubarak. Pay little attention to all the statements, he explains, the army is still in charge.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Colin: The question now many ask is: will Mubarak’s departure lead to the flowering of a new democracy in Egypt, or the continuation of 60 years of solid military rule, or perhaps a mixture of both? Welcome to agenda with George Friedman.
President Obama said today belongs to the people of Egypt. But what about tomorrow?
George: Well I really don’t know what Obama meant by that. What’s happened here is very simple: an 82-year-old man, who wanted to have his son appointed as his successor, was booted out by the army. Except for Mubarak, the army remains in charge of Egypt. The demonstrators are packing up and going home. In fact, they are rather friendly to the army and now the question really is what happens tomorrow is that the army may or may not declare martial law at some point to get everybody off the streets, they may have not gotten the Muslim Brotherhood for various reasons but the fundamental warp and woof of Egypt is intact. We’ve not had a dramatic sea change.
Colin: George, I suspect demonstrators were friendly to the army because they believed it would lead to ultimate democracy.
George: Well I don’t know what ultimate democracy means and I certainly don’t know what ultimate democracy means in Egypt. I know this much: the demonstrators were deeply opposed to Mubarak, they were not deeply opposed to the army. When the army announced they had essentially staged a coup to force Mubarak out, less 21 hours after a speech saying that he was staying, there was tremendous enthusiasm on the part of the people. And so these demonstrators, whoever they are, are favorably inclined to the military. They were bitterly opposed to Mubarak, they personalized the revolution, they won that part of the revolution. It’s not clear what else they wanted.
Colin: One of the opposition leaders said it would lead to the establishment of modern democratic secular government. We’re still a long way from that. Could it happen?
George: Well if he says it can happen, it certainly can happen. Look, this is a time where people say things and reporters write them down and record them and everybody wonders what they mean. Mostly what’s being said has no meaning. It is simply saying, “It’s over. The world will be better than it was before,” and so on and so forth. Pay very little attention to what people are saying at this point. Even as we saw we didn’t have to pay much attention to what Mubarak said. So let’s take a look at the objective situation, let’s forget all the statements and so on.
The army was in charge yesterday, it was in charge last week, it is in charge now. Whether or not the army will call elections, it will be a decision by the army. And as it has been for about 60 years, they will take place under the aegis of the army. The army remains a central institution of Egypt. It is, as in many of the countries, the most modern, the most efficient and certain the most powerful entity. That has not been shaken. And if there are elections, as the Constitution requires, the candidates will be running within this context. Do I expect an election in which a dramatic change takes place in who was elected? I suspect not, but that I’m not even sure when elections would be called because it’s not really clear whether martial law will be declared. Just a lot of things aren’t clear, except the most important thing: the army is in charge.
Colin: Who are the most important figures in the military?
George: One of the things that the army has shown is that the question of who’s the most significant figure really isn’t that important. It is an institution, not something of individuals. The fact that the army could purge itself of Hosni Mubarak showed that the institution in Egypt transcended the individual. Certainly, they’re going to be shifts and changes in people whose names we don’t even know will emerge from somewhat junior ranks — there was clearly dispute in the military at various points as to what was going to happen. But I would argue that really personalizing it — this person’s gained power, that person’s lost power — is not the point. The institution succeeded in stabilizing itself and I suspect will succeed in stabilizing at least for the immediate future the country, and that’s the most important question.
Colin: George, thank you. And that’s Agenda for this week, thanks very much for joining me, I’m Colin Chapman for STRATFOR. Until the next time, goodbye.
Reply #112 on:
February 12, 2011, 09:19:49 AM »
I've known from the beginning of this that Mubarak would not willingly step down and because of his strong ties to the military I thought that they would back him at least long enough for a transitional government to be set up. They did back his play for a time but when he failed to break the protest by injecting violence into the mix the military was left with the choice of acting militarily to quell the protest or try to appease the protesters by sending Mubarak on his way. One way or the other they had to act to end the protest because now serious damage is being done to Egypt's economy. They wisely chose to send Mubarak on his way. However, other than Mubarak being out of the chain of command nothing has changed in Egypt. The same system with the same people is still in place and the protesters have only gotten one thing that they wanted. They are going to want it all and they're going to want it much sooner than the military is going to give it to them. This is far from over.
Guro Craftydog called it right when he said the military would show Mubarak the door, the question now is who is going to do the same to the military? The other question is since Obama was so quick to throw Mubarak under the bus without even knowing what faction will ultimately gain control, how will our other fair weather friends in the region and around the world view our allegiance to them? I agree that a free and Democratic government in Egypt would be a wonderful thing. I think it's great that people there are willing to risk their lives to break free from a dictator's oppression; I'm on their side too. The problem is that those that truly want freedom and Democracy, might not be the ones that end up in power. Like it or not Mubarak the dictator kept a peace in place that protected our best interest and Israel's. Right now the Egyptian military is still honoring that peace but for how much longer? If the people of Egypt or the faction that ultimately gains control of the government puts the military in a position where they have to make another choice between loyalty to longtime ties and being forced to crackdown on their own people, who might be shown the door then?
Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 09:45:57 AM by prentice crawford
How do you say "reset button" in Arabic?
Reply #113 on:
February 12, 2011, 11:26:37 AM »
But a senior Republican member of Congress who has access to intelligence reports said U.S. spy agencies have seen recent indications that other Middle East leaders were dismayed by the United States' treatment of Mubarak.
"The other countries are mad as hell, and they're mad as hell at us," said the lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter candidly.
Re: How do you say "reset button" in Arabic?
Reply #114 on:
February 12, 2011, 11:30:57 AM »
Quote from: G M on February 12, 2011, 11:26:37 AM
But a senior Republican member of Congress who has access to intelligence reports said U.S. spy agencies have seen recent indications that other Middle East leaders were dismayed by the United States' treatment of Mubarak.
"The other countries are mad as hell, and they're mad as hell at us," said the lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter candidly.
Saudi Arabia is more concerned about losing allies to counter its regional adversary Iran than with the risk that upheavals sweeping Tunisia and Egypt might spread to the kingdom, diplomats and analysts say.
Flush with petrodollars, the world's top oil exporter can splash out to alleviate any social tensions due to unemployment — around 10 percent of the Saudi work force is jobless — and quell any unrest in the absolute monarchy, they say.
But some believe the Saudi rulers would be alarmed if the United States jettisons Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who, like successive Saudi monarchs, has been a longtime US ally since taking power three decades ago.
"The Saudis... are worried that the US has made a foreign policy mistake by appearing to give up support for Mubarak too easily," said Simon Henderson, a Washington-based Saudi watcher.
Egypt - Freedom and Democracy / consent of the governed
Reply #115 on:
February 12, 2011, 11:37:15 AM »
Buzzwords like democracy can be easliy mis-used. I don't know how it translates in Arabic. To us, democracy is shorthand for consent of the governed. Rule by the majority (mob rule, MB rule) is the exact opposite. When Reagan discussed the subject, it was "freedom and democracy" and spelled out that freedom includes religious freedom along with the other freedoms. Religious freedom includes in this case the right to be Muslim, the right to not be Muslim, the right to practice Christianity, even to be Jewish??, the right to be of no religion at all, and the right to NOT be ruled by someone else's religion. When that does not happen, you do not have consent of the governed, which was the point of removing the dictator.
WSJ: Military acknowledges Israel Peace Treaty
Reply #116 on:
February 13, 2011, 09:58:57 AM »
CAIRO—Egypt's new military rulers indicated Saturday they would abide by the country's peace treaty with Israel and said they aim to ensure a peaceful transition to elections and a "free democratic state."
A day after the ouster of Egypt's longstanding president, Hosni Mubarak, the country's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces issued a communiqué saying the country "is committed to all regional and international obligations and treaties." Those treaties include its 1979 peace agreement with Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the announcement, saying the peace agreement "has greatly contributed to both countries and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the entire Middle East."
The military rulers said Egypt's current cabinet would remain in power until a new government was formed. They pledged to insure "a peaceful transition of power in the framework of a free and democratic system." The new elected government "will rule the country to build a free democratic state," the statement said. It didn't set a timetable for the transition to democracy.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement posted on its website Saturday that it wasn't seeking power or a majority of parliament seats. The group reiterated its previous assertion that it was only a participant in the Egyptian revolution and that its demands echoed those of the nation. It called on the army to rapidly form a new transitional government, scrap emergency laws, amend the constitution, ensure free elections and free all political detainees.
Mr. Mubarak stepped down Friday after 18 days of unrelenting protests, handing power to the military and opening the door to an uncertain new course for the Arab world's most populous country, and for the entire Middle East.
A number of senior government officials and former ministers were banned from traveling outside the country, including information minister Anas al-Fiqi and former prime minister Ahmad Nazif, state news media reported, citing court sources.
In a sign of attempts to restore normalcy, the military relaxed the hours of a nighttime curfew, the Associated Press reported.
In Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the mass protests against Mr. Mubarak's rule, soldiers cleared the entrances to the square of barricades, barbed wire and the improvised barriers erected by protesters during the days of the heaviest clashes with pro-Mubarak demonstrators.
The country's stock market will reopen on Wednesday, the bourse said in a statement. It had planned to open on Sunday, after being closed since Jan. 27, two days after the start of the protests. In the last two days of trading before it closed, the exchange dropped 16%
Reply #117 on:
February 13, 2011, 10:07:46 AM »
We shall see.
George Friedman on Egypt
Reply #118 on:
February 14, 2011, 12:51:18 PM »
By George Friedman
This seems very sound to me:
On Feb. 11, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned. A military council was named to govern in his place. On Feb. 11-12, the crowds that had gathered in Tahrir Square celebrated Mubarak’s fall and the triumph of democracy in Egypt. On Feb. 13, the military council abolished the constitution and dissolved parliament, promising a new constitution to be ratified by a referendum and stating that the military would rule for six months, or until the military decides it’s ready to hold parliamentary and presidential elections.
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.
At this point, we simply don’t know what will happen. We do know what has happened. Mubarak is out of office, the military regime remains intact and it is stronger than ever. This is not surprising, given what STRATFOR has said about recent events in Egypt, but the reality of what has happened in the last 72 hours and the interpretation that much of the world has placed on it are startlingly different. Power rests with the regime, not with the crowds. In our view, the crowds never had nearly as much power as many have claimed.
Certainly, there was a large crowd concentrated in a square in Cairo, and there were demonstrations in other cities. But the crowd was limited. It never got to be more than 300,000 people or so in Tahrir Square, and while that’s a lot of people, it is nothing like the crowds that turned out during the 1989 risings in Eastern Europe or the 1979 revolution in Iran. Those were massive social convulsions in which millions came out onto the streets. The crowd in Cairo never swelled to the point that it involved a substantial portion of the city.
In a genuine revolution, the police and military cannot contain the crowds. In Egypt, the military chose not to confront the demonstrators, not because the military itself was split, but because it agreed with the demonstrators’ core demand: getting rid of Mubarak. And since the military was the essence of the Egyptian regime, it is odd to consider this a revolution.
Mubarak and the Regime
The crowd in Cairo, as telegenic as it was, was the backdrop to the drama, not the main feature. The main drama began months ago when it became apparent that Mubarak intended to make his reform-minded 47-year-old son, Gamal, lacking in military service, president of Egypt. This represented a direct challenge to the regime. In a way, Mubarak was the one trying to overthrow the regime.
The Egyptian regime was founded in a coup led by Col. Gamal Abdul Nasser and modeled after that of Kemal Ataturk of Turkey, basing it on the military. It was intended to be a secular regime with democratic elements, but it would be guaranteed and ultimately controlled by the military. Nasser believed that the military was the most modern and progressive element of Egyptian society and that it had to be given the responsibility and power to modernize Egypt.
While Nasser took off his uniform, the military remained the bulwark of the regime. Each successive president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, while formally elected in elections of varying dubiousness, was an officer in the Egyptian military who had removed his uniform when he entered political life.
Mubarak’s decision to name his son represented a direct challenge to the Egyptian regime. Gamal Mubarak was not a career military officer, nor was he linked to the military’s high command, which had been the real power in the regime. Mubarak’s desire to have his son succeed him appalled and enraged the Egyptian military, the defender of the regime. If he were to be appointed, then the military regime would be replaced by, in essence, a hereditary monarchy — what had ruled Egypt before the military. Large segments of the military had been maneuvering to block Mubarak’s ambitions and, with increasing intensity, wanted to see Mubarak step down in order to pave the way for an orderly succession using the elections scheduled for September, elections designed to affirm the regime by selecting a figure acceptable to the senior military men. Mubarak’s insistence on Gamal and his unwillingness to step down created a crisis for the regime. The military feared the regime could not survive Mubarak’s ambitions.
This is the key point to understand. There is a critical distinction between the regime and Hosni Mubarak. The regime consisted — and consists — of complex institutions centered on the military but also including the civilian bureaucracy controlled by the military. Hosni Mubarak was the leader of the regime, successor to Nasser and Sadat, who over time came to distinguish his interests from those of the regime. He was increasingly seen as a threat to the regime, and the regime turned on him.
The demonstrators never called for the downfall of the regime. They demanded that Mubarak step aside. This was the same demand that was being made by many if not most officers in the military months before the crowds gathered in the streets. The military did not like the spectacle of the crowds, which is not the way the military likes to handle political matters. At the same time, paradoxically, the military welcomed the demonstrations, since they created a crisis that put the question of Mubarak’s future on the table. They gave the military an opportunity to save the regime and preserve its own interests.
The Egyptian military is opaque. It isn’t clear who was reluctant to act and who was eager. We would guess that the people who now make up the ruling military council were reluctant to act. They were of the same generation as Hosni Mubarak, owed their careers to him and were his friends. Younger officers, who had joined the military after 1973 and had trained with the Americans rather than the Soviets, were the likely agitators for blocking Mubarak’s selection of Gamal as his heir, but there were also senior officers publicly expressing reservations. Who was on what side is a guess. What is known is that many in the military opposed Gamal, would not push the issue to a coup, and then staged a coup designed to save the regime after the demonstrations in Cairo were under way.
That is the point. What happened was not a revolution. The demonstrators never brought down Mubarak, let alone the regime. What happened was a military coup that used the cover of protests to force Mubarak out of office in order to preserve the regime. When it became clear Feb. 10 that Mubarak would not voluntarily step down, the military staged what amounted to a coup to force his resignation. Once he was forced out of office, the military took over the existing regime by creating a military council and taking control of critical ministries. The regime was always centered on the military. What happened on Feb. 11 was that the military took direct control.
Again, as a guess, the older officers, friends of Mubarak, found themselves under pressure from other officers and the United States to act. They finally did, taking the major positions for themselves. The demonstrations were the backdrop for this drama and the justification for the military’s actions, but they were not a revolution in the streets. It was a military coup designed to preserve a military-dominated regime. And that was what the crowds were demanding as well.
Coup and Revolution
We now face the question of whether the coup will turn into a revolution. The demonstrators demanded — and the military has agreed to hold — genuinely democratic elections and to stop repression. It is not clear that the new leaders mean what they have said or were simply saying it to get the crowds to go home. But there are deeper problems in the democratization of Egypt. First, Mubarak’s repression had wrecked civil society. The formation of coherent political parties able to find and run candidates will take a while. Second, the military is deeply enmeshed in running the country. Backing them out of that position, with the best will in the world, will require time. The military bought time Feb. 13, but it is not clear that six months is enough time, and it is not clear that, in the end, the military will want to leave the position it has held for more than half a century.
Of course, there is the feeling, as there was in 2009 with the Tehran demonstrations, that something unheard of has taken place, as U.S. President Barack Obama has implied. It is said to have something to do with Twitter and Facebook. We should recall that, in our time, genuine revolutions that destroyed regimes took place in 1989 and 1979, the latter even before there were PCs. Indeed, such revolutions go back to the 18th century. None of them required smartphones, and all of them were more thorough and profound than what has happened in Egypt so far. This revolution will not be “Twitterized.” The largest number of protesters arrived in Tahrir Square after the Internet was completely shut down.
The new government has promised to honor all foreign commitments, which obviously include the most controversial one in Egypt, the treaty with Israel. During the celebrations the evening of Feb. 11 and morning of Feb. 12, the two chants were about democracy and Palestine. While the regime committed itself to maintaining the treaty with Israel, the crowds in the square seemed to have other thoughts, not yet clearly defined. But then, it is not clear that the demonstrators in the square represent the wishes of 80 million Egyptians. For all the chatter about the Egyptian people demanding democracy, the fact is that hardly anyone participated in the demonstrations, relative to the number of Egyptians there are, and no one really knows how the Egyptian people would vote on this issue.
The Egyptian government is hardly in a position to confront Israel, even if it wanted to. The Egyptian army has mostly American equipment and cannot function if the Americans don’t provide spare parts or contractors to maintain that equipment. There is no Soviet Union vying to replace the United States today. Re-equipping and training a military the size of Egypt’s is measured in decades, not weeks. Egypt is not going to war any time soon. But then the new rulers have declared that all prior treaties — such as with Israel — will remain in effect.
What Was Achieved?
Therefore, we face this reality. The Egyptian regime is still there, still controlled by old generals. They are committed to the same foreign policy as the man they forced out of office. They have promised democracy, but it is not clear that they mean it. If they mean it, it is not clear how they would do it, certainly not in a timeframe of a few months. Indeed, this means that the crowds may re-emerge demanding more rapid democratization, depending on who organized the crowds in the first place and what their intentions are now.
It is not that nothing happened in Egypt, and it is not that it isn’t important. It is simply that what happened was not what the media portrayed but a much more complex process, most of it not viewable on TV. Certainly, there was nothing unprecedented in what was achieved or how it was achieved. It is not even clear what was achieved. Nor is it clear that anything that has happened changes Egyptian foreign or domestic policy. It is not even clear that those policies could be changed in practical terms regardless of intent.
The week began with an old soldier running Egypt. It ended with different old soldiers running Egypt with even more formal power than Mubarak had. This has caused worldwide shock and awe. We were killjoys in 2009, when we said the Iranians revolution wasn’t going anywhere. We do not want to be killjoys now, since everyone is so excited and happy. But we should point out that, in spite of the crowds, nothing much has really happened yet in Egypt. It doesn’t mean that it won’t, but it hasn’t yet.
An 82-year-old man has been thrown out of office, and his son will not be president. The constitution and parliament are gone and a military junta is in charge. The rest is speculation.
Reply #119 on:
February 14, 2011, 07:27:18 PM »
That's all fine and well but the unrest has caught on in the area and what I see happening is radical Islamic fascist doing the military equivalent of shaping the battlefield for a future caliphate and the author of that piece failed to recognise the consequences of our allies in the area looking at us very suspiciously now and how our government and the Media couriered this up as being 1776.
As Glenn Beck pointed out it wasn't so long ago that all these same players, including Obama as a Senator, said that no one in that region of the world could ever come out of termoil and create some kind of free Democratic government and they said that about Iraq where we had people on the ground setting it up. In Egypt we had nothing going on like that but yet they seemed to think a free democracy was just going to magically appear.
Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 08:09:51 PM by prentice crawford
Reply #120 on:
February 14, 2011, 07:29:41 PM »
WSJ: Administration was warned for a year of coming problems
Reply #121 on:
February 16, 2011, 06:49:04 AM »
By JAY SOLOMON
WASHINGTON—Early last year, a group of U.S.-based human-rights activists, neoconservative policy makers and Mideast experts told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that what passed for calm in Egypt was an illusion.
"If the opportunity to reform is missed, prospects for stability and prosperity in Egypt will be in doubt," read their April 2010 letter.
The correspondence was part of a string of warnings passed to the Obama administration arguing that Egypt, heading toward crisis, required a vigorous U.S. response. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's 82-year-old dictator, was moving to rig a string of elections, they said. Egypt's young population was growing more agitated.
The bipartisan body that wrote to Mrs. Clinton, the Egypt Working Group, argued that the administration wasn't fully appraising the warning signs in Egypt. Its members came together in early 2010, concerned that the Arab world's biggest country was headed for transition but that the U.S. and others weren't preparing for a post-Mubarak era.
The Cairo uprising has so far had a more orderly outcome, and one better for U.S. interests, than might have been the case. But the U.S.'s hesitant initial embrace of the revolt could reverberate as a democratic wave surges across the Arab world. The U.S. at first alienated protesters—and then alienated the Mubarak regime, a longtime ally, sparking concern from other regional friends.
U.S. officials say the Obama administration focused from the beginning on promoting democracy in Arab states and was aware of the deep problems in Cairo. The administration generally chose not to deliver its message through tough public rhetoric, contending such language alienates foreign governments.
The administration of George W. Bush, by comparison, at times publicly pressed Mr. Mubarak for political reforms, identifying democracy promotion in the Middle East as a key tenet of U.S. foreign policy.
Officials said President Barack Obama and Mrs. Clinton regularly raised democracy issues with their counterparts in private. Mr. Obama focused during three meetings over 18 months with Mr. Mubarak on ending Egypt's 30-year state of emergency, press freedoms and elections. Mrs. Clinton pushed Egypt and other Arab countries to allow the free flow of information, urging them to lift blocks on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
Moreover, Mr. Mubarak had survived challenges before, and few took seriously the idea he could be toppled. "This type of movement simply never happened before in the Middle East," said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator.
"In a complicated situation, we got it about right," Mr. Obama told reporters Tuesday. The U.S. now faces "an opportunity as well as a challenge" in the broader regional movement.
As a candidate, Mr. Obama campaigned against aggressively intervening in the affairs of other states, largely in response to the Iraq war. His State Department cut funding for civil-society support in Egypt to $9.5 million in 2009 from nearly $30 million a year earlier, although this funding line would later rise.
Washington's ambassador to Cairo, Margaret Scobey, agreed to an Egyptian demand that all grants to civil-society groups from the U.S. Agency for International Development be distributed only to those registered with the Mubarak government.
When Mr. Obama chose Egypt as the venue for his much-anticipated June 2009 speech to the Muslim world, he refrained from specifically pressing Mr. Mubarak on democracy.
The Obama administration reaped strategic gains from this outreach. Cairo embraced Mr. Obama's initiative to accelerate Arab-Israeli peace talks, hosting meetings between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and attempting to broker a unity government between feuding Palestinian factions.
By early 2010, Mr. Mubarak's government began taking steps widely viewed as aimed at extending his rule or that of his anointed successor. In May, he extended martial law in his country by two years.
The Egypt Working Group sent a letter to the State Department even more alarmist than the one it dispatched in April. "The renewal...heightens our concern that the administration's practice of quiet diplomacy is not bearing fruit," it read.
Following June elections for the lower house of parliament, Egyptian and American nongovernmental organizations reported to State Department contacts a crackdown on anyone seeking to bring transparency to the next set of elections, for Egypt's upper house of parliament, in November. The National Democratic Institute, a U.S. organization that was training Egyptians to be election monitors, saw its Egyptian staff regularly interrogated by Cairo's intelligence services.
"The families of our workers grew terrified about retaliation by the regime," said Les Campbell, who heads NDI's Mideast programs. Mr. Campbell said he held regular meetings with U.S. officials to discuss the problems as the crisis in Egypt worsened.
To try to stop the intimidation tactics, the NDI's chairman—former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright—and Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.), chairman of the International Republican Institute, jointly wrote to Mr. Mubarak in late July asking him to allow international monitors to observe the November vote. They say the Egyptian leader didn't respond.
Sen. McCain sought to pass, with then-Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, a Senate resolution formally censuring Egypt's human-rights record. Egypt persuaded the two senators to anonymously place a hold on the resolution, according to congressional officials. Sen. McCain blamed the Obama administration for not publicly backing the bill.
"I was disappointed that we didn't get administration support," Sen. McCain said in an interview. "To think this would have changed things fundamentally at the time in Egypt? I don't know. But we at least should have tried."
Senior U.S. officials said they weren't opposed to Mr. McCain's resolution. They said both the White House and State Department repeatedly raised concerns about the fairness and openness of November elections with their Egyptian counterparts.
For analysts tracking Egypt, the risks inherent in the elections were clear. "If the ruling party plops someone in as president…then you really have the possibility of the lid popping off in Egypt," Robert Kagan, a Working Group member and conservative foreign-policy analyst, said in a November interview. "We're playing this Cold War game of clinging to the dictator for fear of something more radical."
Weeks later, Mrs. Clinton met Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Washington and didn't mention the need for transparent elections during their public remarks. Instead, she praised Cairo as the "cornerstone" of Middle East stability.
In the late 2010 upper-house election, Mr. Mubarak's party won 93% of the seats. It was widely viewed as the most corrupt in the country's history.
That prompted the Obama administration to take a harder line on Mr. Mubarak and other regional strongmen. Mrs. Clinton, on a swing through Gulf states in early January, echoed the sharp rhetoric of the Bush years by telling a gathering of Arab leaders in Qatar that their countries risked "sinking into the sand" if they didn't change.
But even in the final stages of Egypt's unrest, the U.S. went back and forth. On Jan. 30—days after protests broke out on Egyptian streets—Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D., Mass.) called Vice President Joe Biden to say he had written an opinion piece for the New York Times calling on Mr. Mubarak to resign.
Mr. Biden offered encouragement, Mr. Kerry said in an interview. "My instincts and feeling was the thing was broken with Mubarak," he said.
Just a few days later, the administration's chosen envoy, former ambassador Frank Wisner, delivered a much more tepid message to the Egyptian president, according to people familiar with the matter.
In the end, Mr. Obama took increasingly strident tones that all but called for Mr. Mubarak's removal. As protests continue to roil the region, administration officials say they will stick to basic principles: supporting the core rights of people to assemble and protest peacefully.
By SAM SCHECHNER
CBS News correspondent Lara Logan on Friday suffered a "brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating" after being separated from her crew in the midst of a crowd in Egypt, the CBS Corp. news unit said Tuesday.
At the time of the incident, Ms. Logan, a veteran war reporter, was covering the celebrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down. Ms. Logan was separated from her colleagues by a large "mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy," CBS said.
CBS News correspondent Lara Logan suffered a "brutal and sustained sexual assault" last week while reporting in Cairo's Tahrir Square, CBS said Tuesday. Video courtesy of Fox News and photo courtesy of Associated Press/CBS News.
The separation and assault lasted for roughly 20 to 30 minutes, said a person familiar with the matter, who added that it was "not a rape." A CBS News spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement.
CBS said Ms. Logan was rescued by a group of women and roughly 20 Egyptian soldiers, and reunited with her team. She flew back to the U.S. on the first flight Saturday morning, and is now in the hospital recovering, CBS said.
The assault follows a rash of violence against journalists during the uprising in Egypt. In multiple instances, reporters were detained by security forces, or beaten by angry mobs, often described as supporting now-ousted Mr. Mubarak.
In a Feb. 7 interview on public-affairs talk show "Charlie Rose," while Mr. Mubarak was still in power, Ms. Logan said her team had been "heavily, heavily intimidated" while reporting in Egypt. She said they were detained for 16 hours, and their Egyptian driver was badly beaten.
"It was really the first sign of the strategy of the Mubarak regime. They want the spotlight turned off," she said. "It was an instant crackdown."
It is unclear whether Friday's assault against Ms. Logan had political aims. In its statement, CBS News statement said only that Ms. Logan and her team were "surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration."
Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 06:51:41 AM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #122 on:
February 16, 2011, 11:25:32 AM »
"The Cairo uprising has so far had a more orderly outcome, and one better for U.S. interests, than might have been the case."
To borrow from the president's spiritual leader of 20 years: "Those chickens will come home to roost".
Reply #123 on:
February 16, 2011, 01:46:29 PM »
CBS reporter's Cairo nightmare
By MICHAEL SHAIN, DON KAPLAN and KATE SHEEHY
Last Updated: 7:16 AM, February 16, 2011
Posted: 1:19 AM, February 16, 2011
"60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan was repeatedly sexually assaulted by thugs yelling, "Jew! Jew!" as she covered the chaotic fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo's main square Friday, CBS and sources said yesterday.
The TV crew with Logan, who is also the network's chief foreign correspondent, had its cameras rolling moments before she was dragged off -- and caught her on tape looking tense and trying to head away from a crowd of men behind her in Tahrir Square.
READ: BATTLE-TOUGH BEAUTY NO 'GIRLY GIRL'
"Logan was covering the jubilation . . . when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration," CBS said in a statement. "It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy.
"In the crush of the mob, [Logan] was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.
"She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning," the network added. "She is currently in the hospital recovering."
A network source told The Post that her attackers were screaming, "Jew! Jew!" during the assault. And the day before, Logan had told Esquire.com that Egyptian soldiers hassling her and her crew had accused them of "being Israeli spies." Logan is not Jewish.
In Friday's attack, she was separated from her colleagues and attacked for between 20 to 30 minutes, The Wall Street Journal said.
Her injuries were described to The Post as "serious."
CBS went public with the incident only after it became clear that other media outlets were on to it, sources said.
"A call came in from The [Associated Press]" seeking information, a TV-industry source told The Post. "They knew she had been attacked, and they had details. CBS decided to get in front of the story."
Most network higher-ups didn't even know how brutal the sexual assault was until a few minutes before the statement went out.
Egyptian democracy not as warm and fuzzy as expected
Reply #124 on:
February 16, 2011, 04:53:19 PM »
Egyptian youth group: Halt gas shipments to Israel
By JPOST.COM STAFF
A coordinator of Egypt's April 6 Youth Movement told USA Today on Wednesday that if the group's demands "are not met, we'll be on the street again."
First rain drops of the coming storm?
Reply #125 on:
February 16, 2011, 05:14:27 PM »
This reads to me as much worse than that:
If attacks from Sinai start hitting Israel, things could get really hairy really quickly.
Reply #126 on:
February 16, 2011, 05:20:34 PM »
Well, at least Israel has a good friend in the white house.
Reply #127 on:
February 16, 2011, 05:22:37 PM »
Maybe they will be too broke to do anything about it?
Until just a few years ago, Egypt’s ruling military elite was able to “borrow” money from Egyptian banks with no intention of paying it back. President Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal changed all that, reforming and privatizing the system in order to build an empire for himself. For the first time in centuries, Egypt’s financial position was not entirely dependent upon outside forces. Now, Mubarak and his reform-minded son are out of the picture and Egypt has a budget deficit and a government debt load that are teetering on the edge of sustainability.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit called on the international community Feb. 15 to help speed Egypt’s economic recovery. Such foreign assistance will certainly be essential, but only in part because of the economic disruptions caused by the recent protests. Even more important, the political machinations that led to the protests indicate Egypt’s economic structure is about to revert to a dependence upon outside assistance.
Egypt is one of the most undynamic economies of the world. The Nile River Delta is not navigable at all, and it is crisscrossed by omnipresent irrigation canals in order to make the desert bloom. This imposes massive infrastructure costs upon Egyptian society at the same time as it robs it of the ability to float goods cheaply from place to place. This mix of high capital demands and low capital generation has made Egypt one of the poorest places in the world in per capita terms. There just has not been money available to fund development.
As a result, Egypt lacks a meaningful industrial base and is a major importer of consumer goods, machinery, vehicles, wood products (there are no trees in the desert) and foodstuffs (Egypt imports roughly half of its grain needs). Egypt’s only exports are a moderate amount of natural gas and fertilizer, a bit of oil, cotton products and some basic metals.
The bottom line is that even in the best of times Egypt faces severe financial constraints — its budget deficit is normally in the range of 7 to 9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — and with the recent political instability, these financial pressures are rising.
The protests have presented Egypt with a cash-crunch problem. At $13 billion in annual revenues, tourism is the country’s most important income stream. The recent protests shut down tourism completely — at the height of the tourist season, no less. The Egyptian government estimates the losses to date at about $1.5 billion. Military rule, tentatively expected to last for the next six months, is going to crimp tourism income for the foreseeable future. Simultaneously, the government wants to put together a stimulus package to get things moving again. Details are almost nonexistent at present, but a good rule of thumb for stimulus is that it must be at least 1 percent of GDP — a bill of about $2 billion. So assuming that everything goes back to normal immediately — which is unlikely — the government would have to come up with $3.5 billion from somewhere.
Which brings us to financing the deficit, and here we get into some of the political intrigue that toppled former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
One cannot simply walk out of Egypt, so since the time of the pharaohs the Egyptian leadership has commanded a captive labor pool. This phenomenon meant more than simply having access to very cheap labor (free in ancient times); it also meant having access to captive money. Just as the pharaohs exploited the population to build the pyramids, the modern-day elite — the military leadership — exploited the population’s deposits in the banking system. This military elite — or, more accurately, the firms it controlled — took out loans from the country’s banks without any intention of paying them back. This practice enervated the banks in particular and the broader economy in general and contributed to Egypt’s chronic capital shortage. It also forced the government to turn to external sources of financing to operate, in particular the U.S. government, which was happy to play the role of funds provider during the final decade of the Cold War. There were many results, with high inflation, volatile living standards and overall exposure to international financial whims and moods being among the more disruptive.
Over the past 20 years, three things have changed this environment. First, as a reward for Egypt’s participation in the first Gulf War, the United States arranged for the forgiveness of much of Egypt’s outstanding foreign debt. Second, with the Cold War over, the United States steadily dialed back its economic assistance to Egypt. Since its height in 1980, U.S. economic assistance has dwindled by over 80 percent in real terms to under a half-billion dollars annually, forcing Cairo to find other ways to cover the difference (although Egypt is still the second-largest recipient of American military aid). But the final — and most decisive factor — was internal.
Mubarak’s son Gamal sought to change the way Egypt did business in order to build his own corporate empire. One of the many changes he made was empowering the central bank to actually enforce underwriting standards at the banks. The effort began in 2004, and early estimates indicated that as many as one in four outstanding loans had no chance of repayment. By 2010 the system was largely reformed and privatized, and the military elite’s ability to tap the banks for “loans” had largely disappeared. The government was then able to step into that gap and tap the banks’ available capital to fund its budget deficit. In fact, it is this arrangement that allowed Egypt to weather the recent global financial crisis as well as it did. For the first time in centuries, Egypt’s financial position was not entirely dependent upon outside forces. The government’s total debt load remains uncomfortably high at 72 percent of GDP, but its foreign debt load is only 11 percent of GDP. The economy was hardly thriving, but economically, Egypt was certainly a more settled place. For example, Egypt now has a mortgage market, which did not exist a decade ago.
From Gamal Mubarak’s point of view, four problems had been solved. The government had more stable financing capacity, the old military guard had been weakened, the banks were in better shape, and he was able to build his own corporate empire on the redirected financial flows in the process. But these changes and others like them earned the Mubarak family the military’s ire. Mubarak and his reform-minded son are out of the picture now, and the reform effort with them. With the constitution suspended, the parliament dissolved and military rule the order of the day, it stretches the mind to think that the central bank will be the singular institution that will retain any meaningful policy autonomy. If the generals take the banks back for themselves, Egypt will have no choice but to seek international funds to cover its budget shortfalls. Incidentally, we do not find it surprising that now — five days after the protests ended — the banks are still closed by order of the military government.
Yet Egypt cannot simply tap international debt markets like a normal country. While its foreign debt load is small, its total debt levels are very similar to states that have faced default and/or bailout problems in the past. An 8-percent-of-GDP budget deficit and a 72-percent-of-GDP government debt load are teetering on the edge of what is sustainable. As a point of comparison, Argentina defaulted in 2001 with a 60-percent-of-GDP debt load, and it had far more robust income streams. Even if Egypt can find some interested foreign investors, the cost of borrowing will be prohibitively high, and the amounts needed are daunting. Plainly stated, Cairo needed to come up with $16 billion annually just to break even before the crisis and the likely banking changes that will come along with it.
A Luckier Woman Covering Cairo
Reply #128 on:
February 18, 2011, 08:12:28 AM »
It wasn’t celebratory that night Lara Logan was attacked. It was terrifying.
The Yuppie Revolution In Egypt Is Over, The Islamist Revolution Has Begun
Reply #129 on:
February 20, 2011, 07:33:28 PM »
Sunday, February 20, 2011
The Yuppie Revolution In Egypt Is Over, The Islamist Revolution Has Begun
When it came to overthrowing Hosni Mubarek, the western media thrust itself into the situation and portrayed the uprising as a western-style demand for freedom.
The television screens were filled with stories of relatively western figures such as Google employee Wael Ghonim, who became the face of the new Egypt -- educated, professional, and desirous of freedom as we know it.
Now that Mubarek is gone, the western media mostly has moved on to the next revolution, secure in the perception that Egypt is moving in the right direction.
But that is a false comfort. As I posted yesterday, over a million Egyptians turned out in Tahrir Square last Friday to cheer the vile anti-Semitic Sunni cleric Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who had been exiled by Mubarek, and who espouses the fundamentalist Islamic view that Jews must live as Dhimmis under Islamic control. Instead of accurately reporting the significance of this event, The New York Times whitewashed the cleric as someone who supports a "a pluralistic, multiparty, civil democracy."
Here is the video of the rally (in Arabic, via Israel Matzav) with the crowd chanting:
"To Jerusalem We go, for us to be the Martyrs of the Millions."
#Invalid YouTube Link#
[Added: Partial transcript and video of speech with translation at links.]
Where was the western hero Ghonim?
He tried to take the microphone to speak to the crowd, presumably to preach his western values, but he was kept off the stage by Sheik al-Qaradawi's security.
But you probably haven't heard that, because it was not widely reported, except by AFP, Egypt protest hero Wael Ghonim barred from stage (h/t Israel Matzav):
Google executive Wael Ghonim, who emerged as a leading voice in Egypt's uprising, was barred from the stage in Tahrir Square on Friday by security guards, an AFP photographer said. Ghonim tried to take the stage in Tahrir, the epicentre of anti-regime protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, b ut men who appeared to be guarding influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi barred him from doing so.
Ghonim, who was angered by the episode, then left the square with his face hidden by an Egyptian flag.
This is the problem with those, like Roger Cohen in The New York Times, who glorify the "Arab Street." Ghonim was not the face of the "Arab Street," he merely was a face to which western media could relate.
Will the western media be as vigorous in exposing what is going on now in Egypt as it was in exposing the wrongs of Mubarek? I think not, because the truth -- that the western media acted as willing dupes once again -- hits too close to home.
As for Ghonim, expect him to follow the path of the intelligentsia wherever Islamist forces have taken control. He'll move to the United States, where he will sit down for another 60 Minutes interview lamenting what has become of his beloved Egypt.
Last Edit: February 20, 2011, 07:38:23 PM by G M
Re: The Yuppie Revolution In Egypt Is Over, The Islamist Revolution Has Begun
Reply #130 on:
February 20, 2011, 07:43:08 PM »
Quote from: G M on February 20, 2011, 07:33:28 PM
Sunday, February 20, 2011
The Yuppie Revolution In Egypt Is Over, The Islamist Revolution Has Begun
When it came to overthrowing Hosni Mubarek, the western media thrust itself into the situation and portrayed the uprising as a western-style demand for freedom.
**I think we are going to look back at 9/11/01 as the "good old days" compared to what's coming.
Reply #131 on:
February 20, 2011, 09:05:39 PM »
Quote from: G M on January 29, 2011, 02:48:40 PM
There are very few, if any would-be Thomas Jeffersons clad in man-dresses in Egypt. Democracy in Egypt will be the genesis of the Islamic Republic of Egypt.
Al-Qaeda’s Zawahiri Tells Egyptians to Establish Islamic State
By Vivian Salama - Feb 20, 2011 6:12 AM MT
Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Egyptians to revive Islamic rule and criticized Hosni Mubarak as a “modern-day pharaoh” in remarks that came before the former Egyptian president was toppled.
“The Egyptian regime is in fact a repressive regime that relies on brutality and rigged elections while the Islamic system is consultative and seeks to achieve justice,” the Egyptian militant leader said in an audio recording posted on a website used by Islamist groups including al-Qaeda.
Mubarak was ousted Feb. 11 after 18 days of anti-government protests that demanded political and economic reforms. Al- Qaeda’s Saudi-born leader Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri have often condemned the Mubarak regime for its ties to Israel and the U.S. and urged Muslims to remove U.S.-backed rulers.
Egypt, under the late president Anwar Sadat, was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Mubarak, who took over after Islamists killed Sadat, upheld the accord.
“The reality of Egypt is the reality of deviation from Islam,” Zawahiri, an Egyptian, said in the recording, part of a documentary by al-Qaeda’s media arm As-Sahab titled: “A message of Hope and Good Tidings to Our Folk in Egypt.”
“Secularism entered our countries through military occupation, oppression and massacres,” he said. “Western secularism is animus to Islam and supportive to Zionism.”
Reply #132 on:
February 20, 2011, 10:13:06 PM »
February 18, 2011 Clip No. 2815
Leading Sunni Scholar Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi Calls for the Egyptian Army to Replace the Government and Prays to Allah for the Conquest of the Al-Aqsa Mosque
Following are excerpts from a speech delivered by Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, at Tahrir Square, Cairo, on Febuary 18, 2011. The speech was delivered live by Egyptian Channel 1
Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: I call upon the youth to maintain their spirit. The revolution is not over yet. Do not think that the revolution is over. The revolution continues.
We must contribute to the building of the new Egypt, Egypt which has learned a lot from this revolution. Continue your revolution and protect it. Beware that nobody steals it from you. Protect this revolution. Beware of the hypocrites, who are ready to put on a new face every day.
A word to the Egyptian army: I salute the Egyptian army, which is the shield of the people and its support. Some of the brothers told me not to be too hasty in praising the army, because it might let you down and not support the revolution. I said to them: By Allah, they will not let me down.
When I delivered my last sermon, following the first [army] announcement, which caused many people to feel frustration, I said that I believe that the Egyptian army is no less patriotic than the Tunisian army. The Tunisian army supported the Tunisian revolution. It is inconceivable that the Egyptian army, which waged four wars for the sake of Egypt and Palestine, would betray its country or sacrifice its people for the sake of a single person. This army is too wise and noble to do such a thing. I swore that the army would join the people, and indeed, they did.
We demand that the Egyptian army liberate us from the government, which was formed by Mubarak in the days of his soon-to-be-erased rule. We want a new government, without a single one of the faces that people cannot tolerate anymore. Whenever people see these faces, they remember the injustice, the killing, they remember the invasion of the camels, mules, and horses, as well as the snipers who killed the people.
A message to our brothers in Palestine: I harbor the hope that just like Allah allowed me to witness the triumph of Egypt, He will allow me to witness the conquest of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and will enable me to preach in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Oh Allah, allow us to preach in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Allow us to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque safely.
Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Allow us to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque without fear.
Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Accomplish this complete victory for us.
Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Oh, the sons of Palestine, rest assured that you will be victorious.
Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: The Rafah border crossing will be opened for you. This is what I demand from the Egyptian army and from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
Egypt Gets Its Khomeini: Qaradawi Returns in Triumph
Reply #133 on:
February 20, 2011, 10:17:10 PM »
Egypt Gets Its Khomeini: Qaradawi Returns in Triumph
This article was published in American Thinker but the full text--with additional material--is posted here. I'd prefer that you forwarded, read, or reprinted this text.
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By Barry Rubin
Friday, February 18 may be a turning point in Egyptian history. On this day Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the best-known Muslim Brotherhood cleric in the world and one of the most famous Islamist thinkers, will address a mass rally in Cairo.
It was 32 years ago almost to the day when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned in triumph to Tehran to take the leadership of that country. Qaradawi has a tougher job but he's up to the challenge if his health holds up.
Up until now, the Egyptian revolution generally, and the Brotherhood in particular, has lacked a charismatic thinker, someone who could really mobilize the masses. Qaradawi is that man. Long resident in the Gulf, he is returning to his homeland in triumph. Through internet, radio, his 100 books, and his weekly satellite television program, Qaradawi has been an articulate voice for revolutionary Islamism. He is literally a living legend.
Under the old regime, Qaradawi was banned from the country. He is now 84 years old--two years older than the fallen President Husni Mubarak--but he is tremendously energetic and clear-minded.
It was Qaradawi who, in critiquing Usama bin Ladin and al-Qaida, argued that Islamists should always participate in elections because they would, he claims, invariably win them. Hamas and Hizballah have shown that he was right on that point.
Symbollically, he will give the Friday prayer sermon to be held in Tahrir Square, the center of the revolutionary movement. The massing of hundreds of thousands of people in the square to hear Islamic services and a sermon by a radical Islamist is not the kind of thing that's been going on under the 60-year-old military regime that was recently overthrown.
The context is also the thanking of Qaradawi for his support of the revolution, an implication that he is somehow its spiritual father.
Qaradawi, though some in the West view him as a moderate, supports the straight Islamist line: anti-American, anti-Western, wipe Israel off the map, foment Jihad, stone homosexuals, in short the works.
One of Qaradawi's initiatives has been urging Muslims to settle in the West, of which he said, “that powerful West, which has come to rule the world, should not be left to the influence of the Jews alone.” He contends that the three major threats Muslims face are Zionism, internal integration, and globalization. To survive, he argues, Muslims must fight the Zionists, Crusaders, idolators, and Communists.
Make no mistake, Qaradawi is not some fossilized Islamic ideologue. He is brilliant and innovative, tactically flexible and strategically sophisticated. He is subtle enough to sell himself as a moderate to those who don't understand the implications of his words or look beneath the surface of his presentation.
What is his view of both the Mubarak regime and the young, Facebook-flourishing liberals who made the revolution? As he said in 2004: “Some Arab and Muslim secularists are following the U.S. government by advocating the kind of reform that will disarm the nation from the elements of strength that are holding our people together.”
Have no doubt. It is Qaradawi, not bin Ladin, who is the most dangerous revolutinary Islamist in the world and he is about to unleash the full force of his power and persuasion on Egypt.
Who are you going to bet on being more influential, a Google executive and an unorganized band of well-intentioned liberal Egyptians or the world champion radical Islamist cleric?
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His books include Islamic Fundamentalists in Egyptian Politics and The Muslim Brotherhood (Palgrave-Macmillan); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, a study of Arab reform movements (Wiley). GLORIA Center site:
His blog, Rubin Reports,
Jeffersonian democracy alert!
Reply #134 on:
February 25, 2011, 02:37:49 PM »
Egyptian Armed Forces Fire At Christian Monasteries, 19 Injured
Posted GMT 2-24-2011 3:6:34
(AINA) -- For the second time in as many days, Egyptian armed force stormed the 5th century old St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi el-Natroun, 110 kilometers from Cairo. Live ammunition was fired, wounding two monks and six Coptic monastery workers. Several sources confirmed the army's use of RPG ammunition. Four people have been arrested including three monks and a Coptic lawyer who was at the monastery investigating yesterday's army attack.
Monk Aksios Ava Bishoy told activist Nader Shoukry of Freecopts the armed forces stormed the main entrance gate to the monastery in the morning using five tanks, armored vehicles and a bulldozer to demolish the fence built by the monastery last month to protect themselves and the monastery from the lawlessness which prevailed in Egypt during the January 25 Uprising.
"When we tried to address them, the army fired live bullets, wounding Father Feltaows in the leg and Father Barnabas in the abdomen," said Monk Ava Bishoy. "Six Coptic workers in the monastery were also injured, some with serious injuries to the chest."
The injured were rushed to the nearby Sadat Hospital, the ones in serious condition were transferred to the Anglo-Egyptian Hospital in Cairo.
Father Hemanot Ava Bishoy said the army fired live ammunition and RPGs continuously for 30 minutes, which hit part of the ancient fence inside the monastery. "The army was shocked to see the monks standing there praying 'Lord have mercy' without running away. This is what really upset them," he said. "As the soldiers were demolishing the gate and the fence they were chanting 'Allahu Akbar' and 'Victory, Victory'."
He also added that the army prevented the monastery's car from taking the injured to hospital.
Don’t count on democracy
Reply #135 on:
February 26, 2011, 02:32:08 PM »
Don’t count on democracy
Op-ed: Despite talk about Mideast democracy, what we see is brutal violence, rising Islamism
Published: 02.26.11, 13:18 / Israel Opinion
Many festive words had been written and uttered this past month in respect to “democracy” and “popular uprisings.” We were told about the downfall of Middle Eastern tyrants as if this is the 1989 Eastern Europe. A more realistic view may seek new democracies yet discover anarchy, death, aggressive rulers and radical political Islam waiting to take over.
There is not even one beginning of democracy in any of the “revolutions” we are seeing around us.
People are talking about Facebook and Twitter, yet in practice we have violent tribes competing for oil, as is the case in Libya, vengeful sects like in Bahrain, hostile regions that seek to disengage in Yemen, as well as wounded military establishments and severe violence.
The current regimes are not giving up easily and are putting up a fight, also in Sudan, Kuwait, and of course in Iran. So we are indeed seeing social networks, but also brutality and terrible repression of human rights. It is in fact the old Middle East that is speaking up.
Some will say that the revolution won in Egypt, yet this is a superficial view of reality. Mubarak was forced to step down, yet the military establishment that has been ruling Egypt for dozens of years now continues to rule it – and has now taken front stage, rather than staying backstage as it did in the past.
What we had in Egypt was a military revolution that put an end to an uprising on the street. Not even one opposition figure had been brought into the government thus far. One wonders when Egyptian protestors will realize that for the time being they’ve been fooled. The army indeed promised elections in six months, but for now it has all the time in the world to fix the results. Moreover, no dates for the vote had been announced yet.
Tunisian seculars wake up
If there is one change in Egypt, it has to do with the blunt emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood, which mocks democracy. The Islamists are already feeling like the state’s future masters.
The provocative return of the Egyptian Khomeini, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, was meant to grant this revolution a face and an identity; an Islamist identity. Qaradawi was the one who issued the call for Israel’s destruction last week in his appearance before hundreds of thousands (and possibly millions) of Egyptians in Tahrir Square. He opposes the United States and the Shiites, and is of course in favor of a religious Islamic regime in Egypt. This is a grave blow to anyone who thought that Egypt is moving towards democracy; it is also a sign of things to come.
Just like in Iran in 1978, secular leftist protestors fought to topple the Shah and in favor of Khomeini’s return, yet once he arrived he simply pushed them out of the way. The same is happening in Tunisia. Last week, we saw seculars protesting there after they suddenly realized what they did: With their very own hands they are paving the way for the rise of radical Islam in the country. Preacher Rashid Ghannouchi, who rushed to return to Tunis just like the Egyptian Qaradawi, is organizing the previously banned Islamist party ahead of the “democratic elections.”
The common perception is still about the “domino effect” – that is, tyrants shall be toppled with the click of a button. Another “Like” on Facebook, and we’ll have democracy. However, there are no suckers in the Middle East, and nobody will be giving up easily.
Many observers claimed recently that the warnings uttered by Arab rulers regarding the dangers of radical Islam are meant to keep these regimes in power. Maybe, but nonetheless they may be right. After all, radical Islam is the only organized alternative to the authoritarian regimes and has a solution for every problem: “Islamic law is the solution.”
The Middle East this year is just like what we saw in Iraq in 2003, in Iran in 1979, or in the Palestinian Authority in 2006: Nice talk and theories about liberalism and democracy, yet in practice what we have is anarchy and violence, terrible death, and Islamic autocracy waiting down the road.
Stratfor: The Evolving Moder Egyptian Republic-1
Reply #136 on:
March 01, 2011, 04:14:45 PM »
The Evolving Modern Egyptian Republic: A Special Report
March 1, 2011 | 1312 GMT
The Egyptian establishment faced internal strife over the transition of power from President Hosni Mubarak even before massive public unrest demanding regime change erupted in mid-January. With Mubarak now out of office, some hope for democracy while others fear the rise of radical Islamist forces. Though neither outcome appears likely, the Egyptian state plainly is under a great deal of stress and is being forced to make changes to ensure its survival.
The modern Egyptian state is a new polity, founded a mere 60 years ago in the wake of a military coup organized by midranking officers under the leadership of Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser overthrew a 150-year-old Albanian dynasty to establish a military-dominated regime. Mubarak was only the third leader of the order established in 1952. Under his rule and that of his predecessor, President Anwar Sadat, Egypt evolved into a complex civil-military Leviathan.
Since the late 1960s, the military has not directly governed the country, allowing for the consolidation of single-party governments led by former military officers assisted by an increasingly civilian-dominated ruling elite. In recent years, however, the military had begun to reassert itself given the succession question, a process accelerated by the outbreak of popular demonstrations. The military has thus assumed a more direct role in security, governance and managing the transition. The National Democratic Party (NDP) regime depends upon the military to ensure its survival, and opposition forces, including the country’s main Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), are reliant upon the Egyptian armed forces to realize their objectives.
The provisional military authority, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, led by the country’s top general, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, will play the pivotal role in the post-Mubarak era. To understand what Egypt’s future holds, one must examine the evolution of the incumbent political arrangement, the central role played by the military in the formation of the state, previous transitions, and the reasons behind the regime’s need to oust one of its own.
Founding and the Nasser Days
On July 23, 1952, the Free Officers Movement, a group of largely junior military officers from lower middle class backgrounds, overthrew the monarchy and established a new political system based on their left-wing Arab nationalist ideology. Within days, King Farouk was exiled after having been forced to abdicate. Within a matter of months, parliament was dissolved and political parties outlawed. A Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) comprising the leadership committee of the Free Officers Movement — a group that included Lt. Col. Nasser, Maj. Abdel Hakim Amer, Lt. Col. Anwar Sadat, Maj. Salah Salem, Maj. Kamal el-Din Hussein, Wing Cmdr. Gamal Salem, Squadron Leader Hassan Ibrahim, Maj. Khaled Mohieddin, Wing Cmdr. Abdel Latif Baghdadi, Maj. Hussein el-Shafei and Lt. Col. Zakaria Mohieddin — was formed and began forging the country’s new political and economic structure.
Among the RCC’s most important changes were radical agrarian reform and the confiscation of private property. By limiting land ownership to 80 hectares (200 acres) per person — reduced to 20 hectares in 1969 — and redistributing some of the confiscated land to peasants, the military established its populist roots. The nationalization of the industry and service sector and the creation of a mammoth public sector were other key factors sustaining the military regime.
As it steered the country away from its monarchical past, early on the new military order encountered internal problems. Within two months of the coup, the civilian figurehead premier, Ali Mahir Pasha, was dismissed due to his differences with the RCC over land reform policy. Maj. Gen. Muhammad Naguib succeeded him. Four months later, in January 1953, the RCC had Naguib disband all political parties, abolish the 1923 constitution and declare a three-year period of transitional military rule.
Issues also emerged with the Regency Council. The council had replaced the ousted monarch and was tasked with exercising the prerogatives of the infant King Fuad II, Farouk’s son. The three-member body included Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim, a cousin of King Farouk; Col. Rashad Mehanna, a free officer with close connections with the MB; and Bahieddin Barakat, a former president of the Senate. Problems arose when Mehanna also turned against the RCC over the land reform policies. The clash resulted in Mehanna’s being imprisoned over charges of plotting a counter-coup. With Mehanna’s departure, the Regency Council was reduced to a ceremonial status.
Though the Wafd, the MB and the Communists had been neutralized with the move to outlaw political parties, the old order was not officially abolished until June 18, 1953. Egypt now was officially a republic, with Naguib holding both the portfolios of the president and prime minister. While the military would run the show for several years, Nasser laid the foundations of a civilian single-party state in 1953 with the creation of an entity called the Liberation Rally.
Nasser became deputy prime minister, Abdel Hakim Amer succeeded Naguib as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Abdel Latif Baghdadi took over as minister of war and Salah Salem became the minister of national guidance and Sudan affairs. Just who was the ultimate leader of the new regime remained unclear, however, leading to strains between Naguib and Nasser.
The two disagreed on a variety of issues, including the British withdrawal from Egypt; the MB, which Nasser was hostile toward; and the issue of resuming parliamentary life, which Nasser and his supporters opposed. (Their vilification of the politicians led to factionalization within the RCC.) These differences made Nasser distrust Naguib and his mild attitude toward the conservative Wafd and the Islamist MB.
Nasser ultimately began to view Naguib as an obstacle to the revolution. Nasser and his colleagues in the RCC were in a rush to institute their envisioned political order. Naguib in turn regarded Nasser and his supporters as impatient young men who lacked his experience.
Naguib proved the loser in this contest. He tendered a first resignation Feb. 23, 1954, but was restored to office due to pressure from a public that still supported him and out of fears that Khaled Mohieddin was engineering a revolt in the cavalry corps. His second and final resignation came April 19, 1954, as a result of Nasser’s behind-the-scenes efforts to portray Naguib as supporting a return of the Wafd and of the old order in general.
Nasser assumed the positions of prime minister and chairman of the RCC. All the members of the RCC were inducted into the new Cabinet except Mohieddin, the most left-leaning member of the RCC, who was sent away to Europe. Nasser and officers in the RCC loyal to him thus took full control of Egypt.
In January 1955, the RCC appointed Nasser president of Egypt. It took another year to draft the new constitution. That same year, the National Union replaced the Liberation Rally as the state’s sole political party. The new party selected Nasser as its presidential candidate, and in June 1956, Nasser was overwhelmingly elected president in a national referendum.
Nasser’s election as president brought the three-year transitional period from the monarchy to an end. The RCC was dissolved and its members resigned from the military to assume civilian positions. The new constitution established an institutional framework for the new regime, which concentrated power in a strong executive branch.
Now firmly in control, Nasser began paying more attention to foreign policy, in particular, to his Pan-Arab goals. As a first step, he nationalized the Suez Canal, which led to the 1956 war and in the process made Nasser a national hero and enhanced his stature in the wider Arab world. His involvement in regional and international affairs — which saw alignment with the Soviets and hostile relations with the West and Israel; involvement in Syrian, Yemeni, Iraqi, Algerian and Lebanese domestic politics; and tensions with Saudi Arabia and Jordan — had an impact on his efforts to consolidate power at home.
Nasser’s most unusual foreign policy move was the brief merger of Egypt and Syria into the so-called United Arab Republic (UAR) in 1958. North Yemen sought to join the merged state the same year to create a loose confederation known as the United Arab States. While the Yemeni component retained its autonomy, the Egyptian-Syrian merger required adjustments to the still nascent political structure of Egypt. A new constitution in 1958 for the UAR created a legislature and two vice presidents, one for Egypt and Syria, which had become provinces of the UAR.
Merging with Syria proved challenging, however. The Syrians resented that Egyptians dominated the UAR. Using Syria as a base to engineer a coup against Iraqi leader Abdel-Kareem Qasim also exacted a toll on the union between Cairo and Damascus. The UAR ultimately collapsed when Syrian army units declared the country independent in 1961 and forced the Egyptians out of Syria.
Fearing that the collapse of the UAR would undermine his position at home, Nasser embarked on a more aggressive drive toward socialist political economy. A new National Charter was devised in 1962, and a new ruling party called the Arab Socialist Union (ASU) replaced the National Union. More than half of the country’s businesses underwent nationalization, and Nasser’s opponents in the military were purged from the ranks.
While Nasser was working on a new constitution in the post-UAR period, the rise to power of pro-Nasser military officers in a coup that overthrew the monarchy in North Yemen once again pulled the Egyptian leader out of domestic politics and into regional geopolitics. A proxy war ensued between the Egyptians, who supported the new Yemen Arab Republic (YAR), and the Saudis, who threw their weight behind the forces of ousted Imam Muhammad al-Badr. Unable to impose a military solution, Egyptian forces backing YAR troops became locked in a stalemate with Yemeni monarchist forces. Many of Nasser’s top comrades came to oppose the military adventure in Yemen.
Further afield, the 1963 coup in Iraq brought pro-Nasser forces to power, and there was once again a move toward a new Arab union. The idea never gained traction because Nasser insisted on his own vision, and by this time Nasser faced serious domestic challenges from individuals who had been with him since the Free Officer and RCC days, including Amer, Sadat and Baghdadi.
A provisional constitution was enacted in 1964 that created a 350-member parliament. Elections were held and the new legislature completed one four-year term and another half term from the 1969 legislative elections before yet another constitution was enacted in 1971. Nasser secured a second six-year term in a fresh presidential election, taking his oath of office in March 1965.
While Nasser and many of his close allies had become civilian leaders, the military remained very much part of the government. It was not until Egypt’s crushing defeat at the hands of Israel in the June 1967 war that the military truly began moving away from actual governance. The defeat was a major setback for the military establishment’s reputation. In the period of introspection that followed the defeat, the regime decided that the military’s direct involvement in governance had degraded its professionalism. The 1967 war was seen as the culmination of a series of miscalculations, including the lack of preparation for the British-French-Israeli assault in the wake of the 1956 nationalization of the Suez Canal; the 1961 military coup by Syrian military officers, which led to the collapse of the union between Egypt and Syria; and the losses incurred in Yemen.
In an attempt to recover from the 1967 war, Nasser was forced to make changes to the military order he had established a mere 15 years earlier, removing senior military officers including military chief Field Marshal Amer, air force chief Gen. Muhammad Sidqi Mahmud and nine other generals. (Replaced as commander of the armed forces by Gen. Muhammad Fawzi, Amer eventually committed suicide.) The changes saw a second generation of military commanders come to the fore, a group that, with the exception of the army chief, had no direct ties to the Free Officers Movement. Under pressure from anti-government demonstrations triggered by the 1967 defeat, Nasser embarked on the March 30 Program, an initiative aimed at overhauling the military and the political system. In 1968, Nasser promulgated a law designed to separate the military from the formal government structures, but because the Israelis controlled the Sinai Peninsula, the army retained a privileged position within the state.
Despite these problems on the home front, which remained volatile, Nasser continued to dabble in foreign policy but by now had backed off from his desire to control the Arab world. Instead, he sought an Arab alignment against Israel. Nasser gave himself the additional roles of prime minister and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. In December 1969, he appointed Sadat and Hussein el-Shafei as his vice presidents. He had fallen out with a number of his associates from the RCC days, such as Khaled and Zakaria Mohieddin and former Vice President Ali Sabri. Having reconciled with Baghdadi, Nasser considered him as a replacement to Sadat.
Modern Evolving Egypt 2
Reply #137 on:
March 01, 2011, 04:15:41 PM »
Metamorphosis During the Sadat Era
Nasser’s death due to a heart attack in September 1970 cut short his plans and brought Sadat to power. It was under Sadat’s rule that the major moves to separate the government from the military took place. Initially, Sadat ran into a number of challenges, including the fact that he lacked Nasser’s stature and was opposed by those loyal to his predecessor both within the military and the ruling ASU.
As a result, within the first three years Sadat had to get rid of two sets of senior regime leaders — first, the Nasser loyalists, and then those he himself had brought to replace the pro-Nasser elements. For example, he replaced his vice president, Sabri, with el-Shafei, whom he eventually replaced with Mubarak in 1975. Sadat skillfully used the 1971 constitution and his “Corrective Revolution” to forge a new establishment. Like his predecessor, Sadat relied on the military for his support and legitimacy. Unlike his predecessor, he went one step further by playing the officer corps off each other. To this end, Sadat made full use of his presidential powers and the weakening of the military during the end of the Nasser era.
While Sadat picked up on Nasser’s move to separate the military from governance, he was also making good use of Soviet assistance to rebuild the armed forces in preparation for another war with Israel to reverse the 1967 outcome. Egypt’s “victory” in the 1973 war with Israel greatly contributed to Sadat’s ability to establish his leadership credentials and bring the military under his control.
The following year, he initiated the open-door economic policy, known in Arabic as “infitah,” which steered the country away from the Nasserite vision of a socialist economy and led to the creation of a new economic elite loyal to Sadat. To further weaken the Nasserites and the left wing, he also worked to eliminate the idea of a single-party system by calling for the creation of separate platforms within the ASU for leftist, centrist and rightist forces.
As a result, the ASU weakened and was dissolved in 1978 and its members formed the NDP. In addition to a new ruling party, Sadat allowed multiparty politics in 1976. Sadat also relaxed curbs on the country’s largest Islamist movement, the MB, allowing it to publish material and carve out a limited space in civil society as part of his efforts to counter left-wing forces.
In sharp contrast with the Nasser era, when the government was heavy with serving military officers, the Sadat era saw the creation of a new civilian elite consisting largely of ex-military officers. The elimination of Nasser’s allies, the rise of a new generation of military officers, and the building of a relationship of trust between the serving and former military officers were key factors in shaping a new order in which the military did not feel the need to rule the country directly.
The 1967 defeat had weakened the military’s position in the state, and there were concerns that Nasser’s death and Sadat’s rise would force it to resort to extra-constitutional means to regain power. A mix of purges and the relatively positive outcome of the 1973 war helped rehabilitate the institution, which went a long way toward strengthening the relationship between the presidency and the military.
By this time, Egypt had also switched sides in the Cold War, with Sadat establishing close relations with the United States. The move led to the creation of a new generation of U.S.-trained military officers. Even more important, U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s administration mediated a 1978 peace treaty between Egypt and its historic foe, Israel. That he faced no opposition from within the military in recognizing the state of Israel — still a controversial move among wider Egyptian society — underscores the extent to which Sadat had consolidated his hold on power, and how much Egypt had drifted away from its Nasserist roots.
The 1978 peace treaty made the military more comfortable with its exclusion from government. It did raise concerns about a reduction in the military budget, however, especially when Sadat’s economic policies were leading to the creation of a new civilian economic elite.
Sadat salved the military’s concerns by giving it the freedom to engage in business enterprises. While on one hand he promoted economic liberalization, allowing for the return of the private sector, he also promulgated Law 32 in 1979, which gave the armed forces financial and economic independence from the state. The military became heavily involved in the industrial and service sectors, including weapons, electronics, consumer products, infrastructure development, agribusinesses, aviation, tourism and security. According to the reasoning behind the move, this would keep the military from draining state coffers. In fact, it did drain the state’s coffers via subsidies for the military’s businesses.
In the 1980s, during the days of Defense Minister Mohamed Abu Ghazala, the military created two key commercial entities: the National Services Projects Organization and the Egyptian Organization for Industrial Development. It also created a variety of joint ventures with both domestic and international manufacturing firms.
In addition to the enrichment of the military as an institution, senior officers have long benefited in individual capacities through commissions on contracts involving hardware procurement. Even in the political realm, the military was able to have its say. This especially was true regarding succession, where Sadat appointed former air force chief Mubarak as his vice president.
The strong links via institutional mechanisms and informal norms were key to stability: Retired officers were able to run the show without having to worry about a coup. The political leadership felt it needed to prevent the emergence of a new civilian elite, which it feared could upset the relationship between the presidency and the military and thus increase the chances of a coup.
From the military establishment’s point of view, the new arrangement under Sadat was actually better than the arrangement under Nasser. Under Sadat, the military did not have to shoulder the responsibility of governance, but its interests in the government still were being looked after by people from military backgrounds. This allowed the military to avoid the hassles of governance and accountability for mistakes in governance and to maintain a democratic facade for domestic and foreign consumption.
The military still could briefly intervene should the need arise, as during the 1977 bread riots, when domestic law enforcement was unable to cope with unrest. The military was able to exact a price for helping Sadat then, forcing him to do away with the austerity measures. Overall, common origins, shared socialization, and academy and institutional experiences shaped a collective worldview. This created tight links between the presidency and the military, paving the way for the military to go into the background.
Institutionalization and Decline Under Mubarak
The changes that Sadat brought did not alter the reality that the military was embedded throughout the fabric of state and society. Senior serving officers in the presidential staff and at the Defense Ministry, governors in most provinces, and a parallel military judicial system provided a structural mechanism through which the security establishment maintained a say in policymaking. Even so, the move toward greater civilian political and economic space initiated by Sadat went into effect under Mubarak.
As Sadat did when he first came to power, Mubarak engaged in limited reforms and expanded on the process of developing institutions in an effort to consolidate the regime. The new president freed political prisoners and allowed for a slightly freer press. During the 1980s, Egypt also began having multiparty parliamentary elections in accordance with Law 40 enacted by the Sadat government in 1977 allowing for the establishment of political parties.
While carefully developing political institutions, the regime under Mubarak began addressing the presence of radical Islamist sympathizers in light of Sadat’s assassination. Emergency laws helped immensely to this end; they also helped the military preserve its clout at a time of increasing civilianization of the regime.
While Mubarak sought to broaden his base of support, his government fought the two main Islamist militant movements at the time, Tandheem al-Jihad and Gamaa al-Islamiyah. To do this, the Mubarak government reached out to the country’s main and moderate Islamist movement, the MB. The need to work with the MB to combat jihadists, who, in assassinating Sadat, had threatened the state, allowed the Islamist movement to expand.
The MB remained proscribed, preventing it from operating as a political entity. But the Mubarak government allowed it to spread itself in civil society through academic and professional syndicates as well nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in social services. Elections also allowed the MB to enhance its public presence.
In the 1984 elections, the MB won 58 seats out of a total of 454 in a coalition with the Wafd party, and in the 1987 polls, an MB alliance with the Labor and Liberal parties bagged 60 seats with the MB getting 30, Labor securing 27 and Liberals three. The rise of opposition forces, especially the MB, in the 1980s saw the regime institute new electoral laws in 1990. The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the mixed voting system was unconstitutional, however, given that it did not allow for people to run as independents.
On its face, the judgment looked like it would help the opposition, freeing it from being bound by lists and thresholds to securing its candidates’ election. The way in which the NDP implemented the new system, however, gave the ruling party an advantage through redistricting. The outcome was a reduced presence of opposition parties in the legislature.
By 1992, the Algerian experiment with democracy had further scared the Mubarak government about the risks of allowing multiparty polls. The Algerian elections almost saw a relatively new Islamist movement, Front Islamique du Salut, secure a two-thirds majority in parliament. An army intervention annulling the polls denied victory to the Algerian Islamists but sparked a decade-long insurgency by more militant Islamist forces. From the point of view of the Mubarak government, the MB was far more organized than Front Islamique du Salut, and Egypt’s jihadist movements were just as well established. This viewpoint received validation from Gamaa al-Islamiyah attacks against the government.
Having political opponents operating within constitutional bounds served the military by stabilizing the regime and giving it a democratic veneer. But the move to allow these forces to create space had unintended consequences, namely the rise of the MB. The NDP could only go so far in rigging the system in favor of the government, which meant the ruling party needed to take steps to enhance its domestic standing.
While the Mubarak regime was toiling with how to have a democratic political system while maintaining the ruling party’s grip, it was also experimenting with economic liberalization. There were efforts toward the privatization of state-owned enterprises in the mid-1990s. But the army made it very clear that its holdings were off-limits to any such moves.
The economic liberalization and the need to bolster the ruling party allowed for the rise of a younger generation of businessmen and politicians. Toward the end of the 1990s, Mubarak’s son Gamal was heading the Future Foundation, an NGO supported by pro-privatization businessmen. Gamal floated the idea of founding a Future Party, but his father brought him into the ruling party and Gamal still presided over the NGO.
The Gamal group included prominent businessmen Mohammed Abul-Einen and steel magnate Ahmed Ezz. This new guard led by Gamal quickly rose through the ranks of the NDP, and by February 2000, Gamal, Ezz and another key businessman, Ibrahim Kamel, became members of the NDP’s General Secretariat. Their entry immediately created a struggle between the military-backed old guard and the business-supported rising elements within the NDP, given that new voices had begun contributing to the policymaking process.
The 2000 parliamentary polls were a defining moment in the history of the NDP because of the need to balance parliamentarian candidacies between the business community and the old guard. Further complicating matters was a Supreme Constitutional Court ruling that members of the judiciary must oversee polling, which meant the usual electoral engineering would become difficult to pull off. Gamal wanted younger candidates who could revitalize the party and improve its public image, something rejected by old guard figures such as NDP Secretary-General Youssef Wali and organizational secretaries Kalam al-Shazli and Safwat Sharif, who later became secretary-general.
Eventually a compromise was reached in which some 42 percent of the NDP candidates were from the rising elements, with as many as a hundred of them in the 30-40 years age bracket. The party also benefited by the move of some 1,400 NDP members to run as independents, an average of six per constituency. In the end, the opposition parties bagged only 38 seats, 17 for the MB and the remaining 21 divided among the legal opposition parties.
While the struggle within the NDP actually benefited the ruling party on election day, it reshaped the landscape of the party. Only 172 of the official NDP candidates (39 percent) won, while another 181 NDP independents won, later joining the NDP. Another 35 genuine independent members of parliament also joined the ruling party, giving the party a total of 388 seats.
Thus, for a time, the NDP was forced to rely on its members who had run as independents to sustain its hold on the legislature. The outcome triggered an internal debate in which Gamal was able to make the case that the party needed internal reforms and pressed for a meritocratic method of candidate selection. Consequently, for the first Consultative Council polls and then local council elections, the NDP formed caucuses that allowed party members to vote for candidates.
This new system further enhanced Gamal’s stature within the party to the extent that he and two of his allies, lawmaker Zakariya Azmi and Minister of Youth and Sports Ali Eddin Hilal, were given membership in the NDP Steering Committee in 2002. This move brought parity between the old guard and the rising elements in the six-member body. In the 2002 party conference, Gamal was also appointed head of the party’s new Policies Secretariat.
Additional business class parliamentarians such as Hossam Awad and Hossam Badrawi gained entry into the NDP General Secretariat. In an election, 6,000 delegates voted in favor of Gamal’s agenda calling for technocratic reforms and economic liberalization, giving his faction majority control of the NDP’s central board. While the old guard under Sharif’s leadership held onto the post of secretary-general, the No. 2 position after Mubarak, Gamal’s influence rivaled that of Sharif.
Essentially, the need to revitalize the ruling party enabled a new generation of businessmen to enter the political realm via the parliamentary vote. The rise of these elites was likely seen as disturbing to the military-backed old guard, as it threatened their political and economic interests. But it served the military’s need to see the NDP sustain its hold on power in order to ensure regime stability.
The Roots and Future of the Current Crisis
It did not take long for the situation to change, however. Sept. 11, the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the George W. Bush administration’s push for democracy in the region complicated matters for the regime. They forced Mubarak to focus on the home front, as opposition forces became emboldened and sought to expand their presence.
Of all the opposition groups, the MB benefited most from this development, winning 88 seats in the 2005 elections. For their part, secular opposition forces began organizing protests under the banner of the Kifayah movement. The combined pressure forced Mubarak to permit a multi-candidate presidential election, though arranged in such a fashion as to make it extremely difficult for an opposition candidate to win.
Most significantly, these changes took place as the aging Mubarak’s health rapidly failed. Regime continuity post-Mubarak became the critical issue for the military and the old guard. These elements did not accept Gamal, as he was seen as leading a group that might bring in a new ruling elite. The old guard disagreed over who from within the regime would be best to succeed Mubarak, in great part because Mubarak failed to appoint a vice president as his predecessors had.
The internal struggle to succeed Mubarak intensified in recent years, especially in the past 18 months. The outbreak of popular protests in Egypt in the wake of the Tunisian unrest vastly complicated this process. The military sought to channel these protests to its advantage to better manage the transition from Mubarak. In the process, it had to engage in domestic security, governance and managing a crisis for the first time since the early 1970s.
Now that Mubarak is out, a military-led provisional authority controlled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is in power for a six-month interim period. The military council is composed of 18 generals and is chaired by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the military. It has moved to suspend the constitution but has thus far not issued an interim legal framework order. Instead, it has appointed an eight-member committee, headed by a renowned legal personality and including a representative of the MB, to work on amendments to the constitution. The amendments will enable the holding of competitive parliamentary and presidential elections, at which time the military council intends to cancel the emergency law.
In addition to stabilizing the situation, a core intent behind the democratization of the political system is the military’s imperative to avoid regime change. The military will need a party aligned with the establishment, especially since it still dominates the caretaker Cabinet, and this is where the fate of the NDP is a significant factor. Besides, the military needs a political force strong enough to counter the MB; however, strength is not just a function of party machinery but also public support, which is where the NDP is seriously lacking.
The history of the modern Egyptian republic and its evolution in the past six decades provides for a great deal of experience. The current crop of generals can use its experience to manage the transition in a way that placates popular demands for a democratic political system while maintaining the military’s grip on power. There are numerous options for revamping the order established in 1952, but none of them will be easy, as the current transition leaders’ predecessors never faced such a robust popular demand for democracy. Regardless, Egypt has essentially returned to the 1952-type situation in which there are only two organized forces in the country, the MB and the military, and the country is in the hands of a provisional military authority.
Islamic tolerance alert!
Reply #138 on:
March 06, 2011, 09:31:53 AM »
(AINA) -- A mob of nearly four thousand Muslims has attacked Coptic homes this evening in the village of Soul, Atfif in Helwan Governorate, 30 kilometers from Cairo, and torched the Church of St. Mina and St. George. There are conflicting reports about the whereabouts of the Church pastor Father Yosha and three deacons who were at church; some say they died in the fire and some say they are being held captive by the Muslims inside the church.
Witnesses report the mob prevented the fire brigade from entering the village. The army, which has been stationed for the last two days in the village of Bromil, 7 kilometers from Soul, initially refused to go into Soul, according to the officer in charge. When the army finally sent three tanks to the village, Muslim elders sent them away, saying that everything was "in order now."
A curfew has been imposed on the 12,000 Christians in the village.
This incident was triggered by a relationship between 40-year-old Copt Ashraf Iskander and a Muslim woman. Yesterday a "reconciliation" meeting was arranged between the relevant Coptic and Muslim families and together with the Muslim elders it was decided that Ashraf Iskander would have to leave the village because Muslims torched his house.
The father of the Muslim woman was killed by his cousin because he did not kill his daughter to preserve the family's honor, which led the woman's brother to avenge the death of his father by killing the cousin. The village Muslims blamed the Christians.
The Muslim mob attacked the church, exploding 5-6 gas cylinders inside the church, pulled down the cross and the domes and burnt everything inside. Activist Ramy Kamel of Katibatibia Coptic advocacy called US-based Coptic Hope Sat TV and sent an SOS on behalf of the Copts in Soul village, as they are presently being attacked by the mob. He also said that no one is able to contact the priest and the deacons inside the burning church and there is no answer from their mobile phones.
Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub reported the mob has broken into Coptic homes and has called on Copts to leave the village. "Terrorized Copts have fled and some hid in homes of Muslim neighbors," he added.
Witnesses said the mob chanted "Allahu Akbar" and vowed to conduct their morning prayers on the church plot after razing it.
By Mary Abdelmassih
Reply #139 on:
March 06, 2011, 02:05:51 PM »
This can't be true-- the Pravdas haven't reported it
More seriously now
Not going according to plan.....
Reply #140 on:
March 08, 2011, 05:32:08 PM »
WSJ: Muslims vs. Coptics
Reply #141 on:
March 09, 2011, 09:14:32 PM »
CAIRO—Clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims have killed more than a dozen people in recent days in Egypt, heightening a sense that the country's postrevolutionary euphoria is yielding to enduring problems including sectarian violence, poverty and misogyny.
Coptic Christians angry at the burning of a church clashed late Tuesday with thousands of Muslims in a largely Coptic Christian neighborhood near Egypt's capital. At least 13 died and more than 100 wounded in a four-hour clash, said witnesses and the state news agency.
The fighting between different religious groups came just hours after several hundred men roughed up female demonstrators who had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to mark International Women's Day and demand expanded rights and opportunities.
In a separate tussle on Tahrir Square, the nerve center of Egypt's recent revolt, scores of Egyptian troops and men armed with sticks moved Wednesday night into the square and forced out several hundred protesters who had camped there for the past few days. Dozens of people were hurt, witnesses said.
The military's move came amid growing frustration that life hasn't yet gotten back to normal after President Hosni Mubarak ceded power a month ago following massive nationwide protests.
Various groups have continued taking to the streets to press their grievances. Workers have mounted strikes demanding their bosses be fired and salaries raised. Many police are reluctant to return to duty, fearing attacks by citizens angry at years of police corruption and alleged torture, and at police attacks on protesters during last month's pro-democracy uprising.
Egypt's economy, meanwhile, is struggling to regain its footing after virtually all businesses shut down amid protests. Some state-run banks and companies remain closed, as does the stock market.Advertising has dried up as companies hoard money.
"Another 60 days and the economy will go bust," says Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Orascom Telecom, one of the biggest publicly held companies in the Middle East.
Egypt's latest sectarian unrest began last week after a mob of Muslims—furious over a rumored romance between a Coptic Christian man and a Muslim woman—torched a church near Helwan, an industrial city outside Cairo, witnesses said.
On Tuesday, groups of Christians blocked highways around Cairo to protest the incident, snarling traffic and fraying nerves. The events leading to the day's fatal clash began around 2 p.m. in the Cairo suburb of Manshiyet Nasser, a destitute enclave known to many as "garbage city" for a population of mostly Copts who collect and sift through waste throughout the city.
Protesters in Manshiyet Nasser blocked a small bus on a main thoroughfare. Its angry driver stormed into a surrounding neighborhood and returned with dozens of young, mostly Muslim men, one protest participant said Wednesday.
Angry youths soon joined both sides. By late afternoon, some 2,000 Muslims and 500 Christians had gathered, said Rifaat Atif, a Christian pharmacist who said he saw the escalation.
Young men set fire to a recycling factory and several apartments, witnesses said. Some witnesses said Egyptian soldiers stood by, watching. Others, producing shotgun shells they said were recovered from the scene, said soldiers opened fire on Christian protesters.
An officer among nearly 100 soldiers patrolling the site Wednesday said the military has maintained neutrality in recent events and denied troops fired on Christian youth. Most casualties, he said, had occurred before military troops arrived.
"What have we gotten from this revolution?" asked Mr. Atif, the pharmacist. "We don't trust the army anymore. The money has stopped. There's no security."
Hundreds of Christians have also held noisy protests in front of the country's state television building for the past four days, demanding that the interim government act forcefully to defend the rights of Egypt's Christians, who make up about 10% of the population.
The government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, appointed last week, held its first cabinet meeting Wednesday, saying it was following reports of the sectarian violence with concern.
For the most part, Muslims and Christians have enjoyed cordial relations in Egypt, which has the Middle East's largest Christian population. But 2010 saw an unusual uptick in tension.
The year began with a shooting outside a church in Upper Egypt on Coptic Christmas that killed six worshippers and a Muslim security guard. Starting in the summer, Salafi Muslims began regular demonstrations outside churches in Alexandria and Cairo against the Coptic Church. The Salafis—who follow an ultra-conservative form of Islam widely practiced in Saudi Arabia—accused the church of having kidnapped two Christian woman who were rumored to have tried to convert to Islam.
On New Year's Day in 2011, a bombing at an Alexandria church killed 23 people.
Adding to sense of looming trouble is Egypt's economy. The stock market was slated to reopen March 6 but a mob of angry retail investors demanded it remain shut until activity in the rest of the economy picks back up, avoiding what the protesters said would be unnecessarily large losses now.
Mr. Sawiris and others want the market opened right away, saying the closed exchange is contributing to an overall sense of unease. "There are no guts in the government. Everyone is scared of mobs right now," he said.
In a statement, Mr. Sharaf's cabinet called on citizens to go back to work and "to delay factional protests and strikes so the government can return stability that would allow the national economy to overcome these difficult times."
Write to David Luhnow at
C'l changes approved
Reply #142 on:
March 20, 2011, 03:08:10 PM »
The New York Times
Sun, March 20, 2011 -- 2:03 PM ET
Elections Chief Says Egyptian Constitutional Changes Are Approved, The A.P. Reports
The chief of Egypt's elections commission said that a package
of constitutional amendments was approved with 77 percent of
the vote in favor, The Associated Press reported.
The changes eliminate restrictions on political rights and
open the way for parliamentary and presidential elections
within months. Opponents argued that the timeframe was too
quick for political parties to organize. Egypt's best
organized political forces -- the Muslim Brotherhood and
members of the former ruling party -- campaigned for passage.
The commission chief, Ahmed Attiya, said 41 percent of 45
million eligible voters cast ballots in Saturday's
referendum. More than 14 million -- 77.2 percent -- voted in
favor, with around 4 million -- 22.8 percent -- opposed.
Reply #143 on:
March 20, 2011, 03:12:42 PM »
Sharia fever! Catch it!
POTH is shocked to discover that
Reply #144 on:
March 25, 2011, 05:57:18 AM »
CAIRO — In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.
It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.
As the best organized and most extensive opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an edge in the contest for influence. But what surprises many is its link to a military that vilified it.
“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “It makes sense if you are the military — you want stability and people off the street. The Brotherhood is one address where you can go to get 100,000 people off the street.”
There is a battle consuming Egypt about the direction of its revolution, and the military council that is now running the country is sending contradictory signals. On Wednesday, the council endorsed a plan to outlaw demonstrations and sit-ins. Then, a few hours later, the public prosecutor announced that the former interior minister and other security officials would be charged in the killings of hundreds during the protests.
Egyptians are searching for signs of clarity in such declarations, hoping to discern the direction of a state led by a secretive military council brought to power by a revolution based on demands for democracy, rule of law and an end to corruption.
“We are all worried,” said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone.”
The Muslim Brotherhood is also regarded warily by some religious Egyptians, who see it as an elitist, secret society. These suspicions have created potential opportunities for other parties.
About six groups from the ultraconservative Salafist school of Islam have also emerged in the era after President Hosni Mubarak’s removal, as well as a party called Al Wassat, intended as a more liberal alternative to the Brotherhood.
In the early stages of the revolution, the Brotherhood was reluctant to join the call for demonstrations. It jumped in only after it was clear that the protest movement had gained traction. Throughout, the Brotherhood kept a low profile, part of a survival instinct honed during decades of repression by the state.
The question at the time was whether the Brotherhood would move to take charge with its superior organizational structure. It now appears that it has.
“The Brotherhood didn’t want this revolution; it has never been a revolutionary movement,” said Mr. Zarwan of the International Crisis Group. “Now it has happened; they participated cautiously, and they realize they can set their sights higher.”
But in these early stages, there is growing evidence of the Brotherhood’s rise and the overpowering force of Islam.
When the new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square this month, Mohamed el-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood member, stood by his side. A Brotherhood member was also appointed to the committee that drafted amendments to the Constitution.
But the most obvious and consequential example was the recent referendum on the amendments, in the nation’s first post-Mubarak balloting. The amendments essentially call for speeding up the election process so that parliamentary contests can be held before September, followed soon after by a presidential race. That expedited calendar is seen as giving an advantage to the Brotherhood and to the remnants of Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which have established national networks. The next Parliament will oversee drafting a new constitution.
Before the vote, Essam el-Erian, a Brotherhood leader and spokesman, appeared on a popular television show, “The Reality,” arguing for the government’s position in favor of the proposal. With a record turnout, the vote was hailed as a success. But the “yes” campaign was based largely on a religious appeal: voters were warned that if they did not approve the amendments, Egypt would become a secular state.
Page 2 of 2)
“The problem is that our country will be without a religion,” read a flier distributed in Cairo by a group calling itself the Egyptian Revolution Society. “This means that the call to the prayer will not be heard anymore like in the case of Switzerland, women will be banned from wearing the hijab like in the case of France,” it said, referring to the Muslim head scarf. “And there will be laws that allow men to get married to men and women to get married to women like in the case of America.”
A banner hung by the Muslim Brotherhood in a square in Alexandria instructed voters that it was their “religious duty” to vote “yes” on the amendments.
In the end, 77.2 percent of those who voted said yes.
This is not to say that the Brotherhood is intent on establishing an Islamic state. From the first days of the protests, Brotherhood leaders proclaimed their dedication to religious tolerance and a democratic and pluralist form of government. They said they would not offer a candidate for president, that they would contest only a bit more than a third of the total seats in Parliament, and that Coptic Christians and women would be welcomed into the political party affiliated with the movement.
None of that has changed, Mr. Erian, the spokesman, said in an interview. “We are keen to spread our ideas and our values,” he said. “We are not keen for power.”
He would not comment on whether the Brotherhood had an arrangement with the military, but he said the will of the people to shift toward Islam spoke for itself and was a sign of Egypt’s emerging democratic values. “Don’t trust the intellectuals, liberals and secularists,” Mr. Erian said. “They are a minor group crying all the time. If they don’t work hard, they have no future.”
But the more secular forces say that what they need is time.
“I worry about going too fast towards elections, that the parties are still weak,” said Nabil Ahmed Helmy, former dean of the Zagazig law school and a member of the National Council for Human Rights. “The only thing left right now is the Muslim Brotherhood. I do think that people are trying to take over the revolution.”
Egypt is still a work in progress. Ola Shahba, 32, a member of a group in the youth coalition behind the protests, said, “After the results of the referendum, we need to be humble.”
The coalition and others have said they see the overwhelming approval of the amendments and the rise of the Brotherhood as worrisome, and as evidence that more liberal forces need to organize in a more effective outreach campaign, and fast.
“Freedom is nice; so is democracy,” said Rifaat Abdul Massih, 39, a construction worker. “But I’m a Christian, and we are a bit worried about the future. I voted ‘no’ to give more time to the secular parties. I don’t want to have the Muslim Brotherhood here right away.”
Reply #145 on:
March 25, 2011, 08:46:14 AM »
CAIRO — In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.
But Egypt had hope, and change!
It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.
Let's try never.
Reply #146 on:
March 25, 2011, 10:12:21 AM »
The turn of events in Egypt or at least coverage all seems to be negative for freedom and positive for the MB. I thought I would look up the Prof. from U of MN Humphrey Institute, Cairo native, who was so optimistic earlier to see what he is saying now. Couldn't find anything more recent than this fluff piece in MSNBC March 1 about young people and hope and change. Can they really be that naive? yes. Is there any chance we are wrong about this turning into a new oppressive regime? I hope so. It is a little ironic that he compares to the Tiananmen protesters. That did not work out very well.
Egyptian activist Jihan Ibrahim, 24, during the protests in Cairo that led to the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.
Mideast 'baby boomers': Shock troops of protests
By Miranda Leitsinger Reporter
Demographics play a key role in unrest sweeping volatile region
The wave of protests breaking across the Mideast and North Africa has a common leading edge — in each case, the unrest was triggered by young people lacking jobs or a viable future.
The youthful revolts and protests are in many ways predictable, experts say, combining a population boom that has produced a high percentage of teenagers and young adults with social conditions that are as volatile as the oil that fuels the region’s economy.
“Young people without jobs, young people who are waiting for a chance, young people without hope … they’re waiting, waiting, waiting,” said Tarik Yousef, dean of the Dubai School of Government. “At some point, you reach a threshold of patience.”
Jihan Ibrahim, a 24-year-old Egyptian activist who was shot in the back with a rubber bullet during one of the protests and fled through a rain of tear gas and water cannons, said the pain and terror were “the price of freedom under this kind of a regime.”
“I want to be able to elect who I want to represent me. I want my government to be transparent,” said Ibrahim, who lived in California for several years when she was younger. “I want free education and decent health care, and decent wage and job opportunities — just like any reasonable human being would ask for.”
Young adults like Ibrahim are part of a regional “youth bulge,” a situation that occurs when infant mortality declines during a period of improved medical technology and families continue to have many children.
Overall, 15- to 24-year-olds make up about 20 percent of the population across the Mideast and North Africa, and 30 percent when that range is extended to 15- to 29-years old, according to a report by the Brookings Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
In the U.S., 15- to 24-year-olds and 15- to 29-year-olds make up 14.1 percent and 21.3 percent of the population, respectively.
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'Like the baby boom generation’
“It’s a bit like the baby boom generation in this country,” said Ragui Assaad, an Egyptian-American and professor of planning and public affairs at the University of Minnesota. “But it’s not because there are more babies — it’s because more babies are surviving.
“What makes the youth bulge particularly problematic is its combination with economic conditions that have made it hard to employ these young people in productive ways.”
Unemployment among the young is stubbornly high in many countries in the region. In 2009, Algeria and Iraq had unemployment rates of 45 percent for 15- to 24-year-olds, according the Brookings report . In Libya, where the government of Moammar Gadhafi is clinging to power amid a massive revolt, the rate was 27 percent in 2005, the most recent data available. And in Egypt, where youth-led protests forced regime change, the rate was 25 percent.
Compare that with an unemployment rate for young Americans of 19.1 percent in July 2010 and 20 percent across the 27 nations of the European Union, as of August 2010.
“The Middle East and North Africa have the highest youth unemployment rate amongst all regions,” Credit Suisse said in a Feb. 25 report on the region’s demographics. “The effect of unemployment in some of these countries is felt even more strongly due to high inflation.”
The surge in the youth population creates “a primary condition for potential destabilization” if this situation “does not translate into youth achievement,” said Yousef, the Dubai educator.
“It sets up a demand for social-economic transformation, modernization that has to be focused on addressing the needs of this particular segment of the population,” he said. “Most of the governments in the regions have precisely failed to do that. Their approach and response to it has been one of, ‘Let’s repress it.’”
As a result, sometimes an individual can ignite a revolution.
The suicide of a 26-year-old unemployed university graduate in Tunisia, who set himself on fire on Dec. 17 after authorities said he did not have a permit to sell fruits and vegetables, was one of the triggers of the youth-led protests in that country and was widely seen as helping spark the protests sweeping the region.
Educated and underemployed
Ibrahim, the Egyptian activist, said educated and underemployed young people organized the early demonstrations. She recalled one protest outside of the Ministry of Petroleum in Cairo that was led by a group of unemployed graduate engineering students.
“We have a ministry that’s supposed to employ them and they don’t,” she said, noting the students were instead “selling sandwiches off of carts.”
“You have people that have time on their hands, they’re oppressed politically and treated horribly by the police, and then unemployed or underemployed, and they’re educated,” she said. “So that definitely has to build up a lot of anger.”
In Iran, where the government has cracked down hard on recent protests and employment is 20 percent among 15- to 24-year-olds, the lack of economic opportunity also has motivated many youth to organize anti-regime protests.
Interactive: Young and restless: Demographics fuel Mideast protests (on this page)
Among them is an anti-government activist who identified himself as a 26-year-old man after being contacted by msnbc.com. He said he has only been able to find a part-time job despite looking for work for two-and-a-half years.
“Injustice. Oppression. Lack of freedom. Our resources used for terrorism and not for jobs, or making Iran better. No future,” he wrote to msnbc.com, declining to identify himself out of fear for his safety.
Though he was beaten by the hardline Basiji militiamen, he said he wouldn’t stop.
“My blood is no less value then Neda … and all of our martyrs,” he wrote, referring to a young woman slain in the initial 2009 opposition protests in Iran. “… We need to free Iran.”
Assaad, the University of Minnesota professor, noted that youth were not willing to accept the “authoritarian bargain” that their parents had agreed to, giving up their freedoms in return for economic stability.
'We are not getting anything in return'
“These young people are saying, ‘We are not getting anything in return, why should we accept that bargain,’” he said. “And so they are demanding a say in how their countries are run.”
Some parallels in history of this youth bulge — and ensuing protests — can be found in the anti-government demonstrations in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, the 1986 “People Power” movement in the Philippines that brought down Ferdinand Marcos and the post-World War II protests in Europe and the U.S., Assaad said.
“It’s not a coincidence that the late 1960s in the U.S. where you saw the greatest protests on the part of young people — whether it’s a civil rights movement, or the student movement in the late ‘60s, the anti-war movement — those were led by young people,” Assaad said. “That’s the peak of where the baby boomers were becoming young adults and that same phenomenon was occurring also in Europe as the post-war generation was coming of age.”
Story: China's well-oiled security apparatus stifles calls for change
“Their demands were less economic and more cultural in nature,” he said. “I see the 1968 revolts as more, ‘We want a say in the society and we want to be able to assert ourselves culturally in ways that are different from the previous generation.’”
The Tiananmen protesters also were not primarily making economic demands. “It was a question of, ‘Now that we have this higher level of economic achievement, we would like to have also a say in running our country,’” Assaad said.
But the presence of a youth bulge does not necessarily mean there will be violence or unrest, Assaad said.
“Youth bulges basically create dynamics for things to happen that involve youth and these things could be quite different depending on the conditions in each context,” he said. “It could be cultural demands and counterculture, as well as demands for human rights and marginalized groups, like what happened in the U.S. … In the case of the Middle East, it’s a combination of economic and political.”
In East Asia — Korea, Taiwan, China — and parts of Southeast Asia, for example, the “youth bulge actually coincided with tremendous growth in the economy and good employment opportunities, and as a result, resulted in even more rapid growth” in the ’80s and early ’90s, Assaad said.
Though the Mideast protests have been led by youth, they have grown to include others disgruntled with their governments.
“The government has put the people in a situation where they live in constant fear and I think that’s one of the main reasons why so many people have come out, because they have just had enough,” said Maryam Alkhawaja, a 23-year-old activist in Bahrain who fled her home last year out of fear of imprisonment but returned to document and participate in the protests there.
The peak of the youth bulge was reached somewhere between 2005 and 2010 in much of the Mideast and is now declining in many countries there. But the youth have made a lasting impact, along the same scale of what happened in Eastern Europe in 1989, Assaad said.
“The genie is out of the bottle. You cannot bring those people back to being apolitical and apathetic. They’re going to be there, they’re going to be active, they know now how to do it,” he said. “This region had been the region where democracy had been the slowest to come in the world. … I think that’s going to change now.”
Reply #147 on:
March 25, 2011, 11:14:30 AM »
Secret shame of Egypt's army: Women protesters were forced to have 'virginity checks' after being arrested in Tahrir Square
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:10 AM on 24th March 2011
Women arrested by the Egyptian police during protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square were subjected to forced 'virginity tests', according to Amnesty International.
Eighteen demonstrators were detained after army officers cleared the square on March 9 at the end of weeks of protest.
Amnesty today said that the women had been beaten, given electric shocks and then subjected to strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers.
They were then given 'virginity checks' and threatened with prostitution charges if medics ruled they had had sex, according to the charity.
Amazing! I mean women usually are treated so much better in the muslim world. Who could have imagined this?
WSJ: Muslim Brotherhood
Reply #148 on:
April 10, 2011, 08:17:37 AM »
By MATTHEW KAMINSKI
Two months after Hosni Mubarak's ouster, Egyptian politics are a dervish of confused agitation. Each day, it seems, a new party forms to fill liberal, Nasserist, Marxist, Islamist and other niches. A joke has it that 10% of Egyptians plan to run for president.
"All Egyptians now think they are Che Guevara, Castro or something," says Essam el-Erian, a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, bursting into laughter. "This is democracy."
Amid this political ferment, the Brotherhood is an exception: a well-funded, organized and established force. Founded in 1928, it's also the grandaddy of the Mideast's political Islamist movements. The Brotherhood was banned from politics 57 years ago and focused on business, charity and social ventures. But the secretive fraternity always aspired to power.
Now free elections due later this year offer the Brotherhood their best opportunity. The group says it believes in "Islamic democracy," but what does that really mean? I spent a week with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it turns out the answers are far from monolithic, though often far from reassuring.
Shortly before midnight on Monday, Mohamed Baltagi walks into his office in a middle-class Cairo apartment block and apologizes for the late hour. Brotherhood leaders are all over the place these days—on popular evening chat shows, at public conferences, setting up their new Freedom and Justice Party, or advising the military regime on the interim constitution. The revolution made Dr. Baltagi, an ear-nose-and-throat specialist, a prominent face of what might be called the Brotherhood's progressive wing.
Dr. Baltagi, who is 47, led the group's informal 88-strong caucus in Egypt's parliament during a limited democratic experiment from 2005-10. He wears a moustache and gray business suit and expresses regret that U.S. diplomats shunned him and other Brothers during their time in parliament. The Brotherhood's green flag—with the group's motto "Islam is the solution"—sits on his desk next to the Egyptian tricolor. While the most senior Brotherhood leadership sat out the first few days of anti-Mubarak protests, Dr. Baltagi was in Tahrir Square from the start of the 18-day uprising. He was the only Brother on the 10-member revolutionary steering committee. "It's not a revolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, or of the Islamists," he says. "It's the revolution of all Egyptians."
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Egyptians in Alexandria celebrate after Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office.
.Unprompted, Dr. Baltagi brings up the charge that Islamists prefer "one man, one vote, one time." "As far as I know," he says, Islamists in Algeria, Egypt and elsewhere were victims, not perpetrators, of repression. Iran's theocracy, to him and every other Brother I spoke to, is a Shiite apostasy irrelevant to Sunni Muslim countries. The Muslim Brothers recently lost elections for student union posts at state-run Cairo University, which the group dominated in the past. "We accepted that," he says. "We accept democracy."
He says the revolution will change the Brotherhood. For the first time, his organization considers its goal in Egypt the establishment of a civic not a religious state, as close to "secular" as an Islamist group might come in words. After some internal wrangling, the Brothers said they could live with an elected Christian woman as president of Egypt—a merely symbolic concession since the odds of that happening are less than zero.
The new environment has already exposed internal tensions. Any push for transparency runs against six decades of cloak-and-dagger Brotherhood habits. "We will be working openly in front of everyone," says Dr. Baltagi, "talking openly about our members, programs, fund raising."
So how many Brotherhood members are there? He gives a nervous, almost apologetic smile and says, "for now that is a secret." He offers little more on funding beyond that members tithe and include generous businessmen.
Its conservative culture jars the younger, tech-savvy Brothers. The leadership announced that all members must support the new Freedom and Justice Party, angering especially the youth wing of the group.
A week ago Friday, the Brotherhood didn't call out its supporters to join other anti-Mubarak groups in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the "January 25th Revolution." Islam Lotfi, a 33-year-old lawyer, was one of numerous "young Brothers" who went anyway. The tensions inside the Brotherhood, he says, "are very normal. It is a gap between generations."
Mr. Lotfi has a smoothly shaved, round face and works closely with youth activists across the spectrum. "We want wider opportunities to work inside" the hierarchical Brotherhood, he adds. "It's not accepted by a culture that doesn't believe in young people." Two-thirds of Egypt's 80 million people are under the age of 30.
Abdel Moneim Aboul Fatouh, a leader of the Brotherhood's middle generation, last week refused to fall in line behind Freedom and Justice, instead backing another religious-leaning party. He wants to bring the discontented younger Brothers with him. Dr. El-Erian, a physician who sits on the group's 15-member ruling Guidance Bureau, waves off the defection. "In Israel you have many religious parties," he says. "You can have many Islamist parties [that] can cohere together and make alliances" in a future parliament.
The Brotherhood has seen splits before, with no serious consequences. Fifteen years ago, Abou Elela Mady, then the youngest member of its Shura Council, left to found the Wasat (or Center) Party. He says the Brotherhood's new, tolerant positions are nothing more than "tactical" moves to reassure anxious Egyptians, the military and the West.
Mr. Mady, whose party will compete with the Brothers for the large conservative and poor chunk of the electorate, says he wouldn't form a coalition with them. The Mubarak regime called Wasat a Trojan Horse for Islamists. He likens his group to Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party.
Mr. Mady, who is 53, fits the profile of many current and former Brothers. Born into a lower-class family, he did well in school and got an engineering degree. He joined the Brotherhood in the late 1970s through the university unions. The Brotherhood seeks out ambitious outcasts—a sort of geeky fraternity for those who study hard and feel awkward around girls.
He left the party, he says, because "I wanted to be more open-minded. . . . I now can watch TV, listen to music and shake a woman's hand without feeling you were doing something wrong. Most members frown on it," he says. "The challenge of freedom for the Muslim Brotherhood is much more difficult than the challenge of an authoritarian regime. . . . They have to give concrete answers to difficult questions" about Egypt's future political and economic course.
Then there are Egypt's adherents of Salafist Islam, which in its most extreme version is practiced by Osama bin Laden. After last Friday's demonstrations, Salim Ghazor takes me to a large gathering in a lower-class Cairo neighborhood. A line of buses has brought the faithful from across Egypt to the Amr Ibn El-Aas mosque. Lit by a faint moon, bearded men in billowing gellabiyas walk past women in black niqabs into Egypt's oldest mosque. "Islam is the religion and the country," reads a sign.
The Muslim Brothers, who favor Western clothes and neatly trimmed facial hair, have clashed with the traditional Salafists, who looked down on political activity until the revolution. Mr. Ghazor, a teacher, once backed the Brotherhood but went over to the Salafists. "The Brothers care about politics more than the application of Islam," he says. Yet Brothers tend to practice the Salafist brand of Islam—raising the possibility that their movement could become Salaficized.
Here's a sampling. At the prayer meeting, the Salafist cleric Ahmed Farid calls out: "Those who refuse to abide by Islamic law will suffer and be damned." Another, Said Abdul Razim, gives advice for the Coptic Christian minority, about 10% of Egypt's population: "If they want peace and security, they should surrender to the will of Islamic Shariah."
On Sunday, I drive to Alexandria, the famed Mediterranean port, to meet the Brotherhood's rising star. Sobhi Saleh, 58, is a former parliamentarian and lawyer whom the military picked for the committee that drafted a raft of amendments to the interim constitution. No other anti-Mubarak political group was represented on the body. In the next parliament, Mr. Saleh would likely help draft a permanent new constitution. "People will be surprised how open-minded we will be," he promises.
Mr. Saleh rehearses the Brotherhood's plans to "purify laws" and "implement Shariah" in Egypt. It wouldn't, he says, be of the Taliban variety. Alcohol would be banned in public spaces. Women would be required to wear the hijab headscarf, but not the full-bodied niqab. These laws are intended to "protect our feelings as an Islamic society," he says.
As for the rights of Coptic Christians, he says that "Muslims have to protect Copts"—a patronizing view held by many Islamists. (Dr. Baltagi, by contrast, had offered that Copts are "fellow citizens.")
Having been a left-wing nationalist in his youth, Mr. Saleh waves away complaints about the Brotherhood's possible dominance over political life. "I do not care about the opinions of secularists who are against their own religion," he says. "If they were real liberals they should accept others and their right to express themselves."
But aren't the Brothers proposing to limit their right to self-expression? "We would ban activities in the public square, not in private space. Islam is against spreading unethical behavior and this is the difference between Islamic democracy and Western democracy. In Islam, everything that is against religion is banned in public. You"—meaning the West—"selectively ban behavior. We are only against those who are against religion and try to diminish it." This view seems to allow limited tolerance of dissenting opinions or minority rights.
The Brotherhood abandoned violence against Egypt's government in the 1970s, but it endorses Hamas and other armed Islamic movements. Every Brotherhood member I spoke to calls the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Camp David accords existing international law that a future government might reopen. Egypt's liberals say the same.
"Israel treats us as enemies," says Mr. Saleh. "If they are enemies for all its neighbors, why is it there?" Should Israel exist? "When they admit our peoples' rights," he says, referring to Palestinians, "we can study this."
The appeal of the Brotherhood remains hard to gauge, with no proper polls, few parties or elections in living memory. The group's candidates took 20% in a partially contested parliamentary poll in 2005, and it aims to win a third of seats this year.
The Brothers won't field a presidential candidate, a savvy move to soothe nerves and avoid governing responsibility. They can wait. Anyway, the military seems to prefer an establishment figure like Amr Moussa, the recent chief of the Arab League. The secular parties are immature, numerous and elitist—not the best recipe for electoral success.
"No one needs to be afraid of us," says Dr. El-Erian. "We need now five years of national consensus of reform, to boost the new democratic system, and then have open political competition." How seriously one chooses to take such reassurances depends on whether the Brotherhood ends up as just another political party in a freer Egypt or stays a religiously-driven cause.
"Skeptical optimism" is a phrase often heard in Egypt these days. Religion wasn't the galvanizing force in Egypt's revolution, and the Brotherhood's 83-year-old brand of political Islam looks its age compared to ideas of modernity and freedom that excited the crowds in Tahrir Square. You don't find the fervency of religious extremism here as in, say, Pakistan. If the generals today or a future regime allow space for pluralism to flourish, Egypt could build on its weak foundations and accommodate a changed Muslim Brotherhood. That assumes, not altogether safely, that the worst instincts of would-be authoritarians in military, clerical or Brother garb are kept in check, and the Arab world's most important democratic transition stays on track.
Mr. Kaminski is a member of the Journal's editorial board.
Reply #149 on:
April 10, 2011, 09:43:32 AM »
Second post of the morning
CAIRO—Soldiers beat hundreds of protesters with clubs and fired heavy volleys of gunfire into the air in a pre-dawn attack that broke up a demonstration in Cairo's central Tahrir Square in a sign of increasing tensions between Egypt's ruling military and the country's protest movement.
A force of about 300 soldiers swept into the square around 3 a.m. and waded into a tent camp in the center where protesters had formed a human cordon to protect several army officers who joined their demonstration, witnesses said.
Several hundred protesters remained Saturday morning in Tahrir Square, where many continued to protest against the military's lack of action on prosecuting former regime officials. Witnesses to Friday night's violence waved spent bullet cartridges left over from the confrontation. A woman who gave her name only as Enas said she saw as many as 10 protesters shot dead last night.
"We said to the army, 'why are you doing this? We are all family,'" Ms. Enas said. "They said 'you want to make Cairo burn, so we will make it burn."
Ms. Enas said protesters were shot as they tried to protect a group of about eight soldiers who were sleeping among the protesters in a tent in the middle of Tahrir Square. Several soldiers had joined the protests against the military in defiance of threats from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that any soldier caught participating would face a military court.
The troops dragged an unknown number of protesters away, throwing them into police trucks.
"I saw women being slapped in the face, women being kicked," cried one female protester, who was among several who took refuge in a nearby mosque. Troops surrounded the mosque and heavy gunfire was heard for hours. Protesters in the mosque reported large numbers of injured, including several wounded by gunfire.
The assault came hours after protesters poured into Tahrir Square in one of Egypt's largest marches in two months, marking growing frustration among many here at the military's perceived slowness in removing and prosecuting officials from the deposed regime.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
A protester waves his national flag as tens of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square on Friday to demand further government purges.
.Friday's "Day of Trial and Cleansing" drew several thousand protesters, one of the biggest gatherings since President Hosni Mubarak was replaced on Feb. 11 by an interim high council of military officers, a show of the abiding strength of Egypt's youth-led protest movement.
The gathering also demonstrated how the prosecution of lingering elements of the old regime, such as Mr. Mubarak and his top aides and officials, will be a critical task for Egypt's military officers if they hope to maintain their high standing among the public.
"People feel they are not doing enough—and if they are doing enough, it's too slow," said Ahmed Wahba, 41, referring to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which is leading Egypt's transition toward democracy. Mr. Wahba, who was protesting in the crowded square Friday, said the Egyptian public won't be satisfied until they "see Mubarak in the middle of [Tahrir] Square, locked up or executed."
Mr. Wahba was standing in front of a mock cage containing an effigy of Mr. Mubarak that demonstrators had erected at one end of the square. People also carried signs with images of the former speaker of parliament's upper house, Safwat Al Sharif, behind bars, and chanted that Mubarak-appointed local governors and mayors should be dismissed from power.
WSJ's Margaret Coker had a first-hand seat to the recent revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. She joins Simon Constable to discuss what's likely to happen next as these Middle East countries transition to new governments.
.Egypt's attorney general has investigated and arrested some of what protesters say are the most-hated characters from the former ruling National Democratic Party. Earlier this week, prosecutors banned travel and froze the personal finances of Mr. El Sherif; Fathi Sorour, the speaker of parliament's lower house; and Zakariya Azmi, Mr. Mubarak's former chief of staff. Mr. Azmi was arrested Wednesday, according to Mena, Egypt's state news agency, along with former housing minister Ibrahim Suleiman. But several demonstrators say the effort has proceeded at a pace they say indicates the sway the old regime still holds over the military leaders who deposed them. These people say delays in the investigations give officials time to put what they say are embezzled assets in foreign accounts.
Another former housing minister, as well as former tourism and interior ministers, have also been arrested on charges of corruption. Ahmed Ezz, a high-level party official and close confidant of the former president's son, Gamal Mubarak, is also in prison awaiting trial.
"We need our money to come back. We will stay here until our money comes again," said protester Mohammed Garib.
Friday's numbers were bolstered by the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most powerful Islamist political group and a champion of democratic reforms under Mr. Mubarak's rule. The Brotherhood's official call for members to participate in the demonstrations came after two months in which the group was seen as working closely with military leaders.
Following the violence on Friday night, the Brotherhood released a statement blaming the military's attacks on elements of the former regime who hope to cling to power by inciting chaos. The statement praised the military-led transition to democracy and called on Egyptians to continue supporting the armed forces.
The dissatisfaction with the military seems to have spread to within the ranks. In YouTube videos posted this week, at least two Egyptian soldiers said they would participate in Friday's protests. On Thursday, Maj. Mohamed Askar, a spokesman for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, told CNN that any soldiers who participate in the demonstration will face an "immediate military tribunal."
Despite demonstrators' pique, it remains unclear whether their demands match those of Egypt's 80 million people. According to a poll released this week by the New York-based International Peace Institute, 77% of Egyptians said they still view the military favorably. A separate 2008 poll by the New York-based Charney Research group showed a 90% approval rate.
Protesters nevertheless took Friday's large turnout as a vote of confidence for a youth movement whose power to sway public opinion appeared to have been fading.
The revolutionary youth were humbled when voters accepted a set of controversial constitutional amendments in a referendum in mid-March despite their forceful campaign urging Egyptians to vote "no." Protests last Friday, also organized to seek the prosecution of former regime officials, drew far fewer people.
"Obviously, the Supreme Council is not supporting the people's interests," said Ahmed Naguib, one of the protest leaders who said he helped plan Friday's march in Tahrir Square. "So the people are taking into their own hands what the military council should be taking into their own hands."
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