Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult
For ordinary men.
— Bertolt Brecht
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama expressed deep concern about the Egyptian military’s removal of President Mohamed Mursi on Wednesday but stopped short of condemning a move that could lead to a cut-off in U.S. aid.
Obama issued a written statement responding to dramatic events in Cairo after huddling with his top national security advisers at the White House. The session took place shortly after the Egyptian military made its move.
Obama stopped short of an outright condemnation of the intervention, which came amid growing concern among U.S. officials over Mursi’s leadership. Continue reading
Much like the ongoing revolutionary struggle in Egypt, this short piece is part of an in-progress work to chronicle the evolution of revolutionary art on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, also known as the “street of the eyes of freedom”—nicknamed as such since many protesters lost their eyes on that same street after being targeted by professional snipers during protests in 2011. (See previous articles on this subject by clicking here, here, here, here, and here. Also see interview with artist Alaa Awad on the subject by clicking here).
For a second consecutive year, Mohammed Mahmud Street witnessed intensive turmoil, and chronic violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Clashes ensued again in November 2012, ironically in the context of demonstrations that were organized to commemorate the previous year’s clashes of 19-24 November 2011, known as the Mohamed Mahdmoud Street battles. The clashes seemed like a farcical reenactment of those of the previous year, much like the Mohamed Morsi presidency and the Muslim Brotherhood, for many revolutionaries, are farcically reenacting the same policies, mindset, and discourse of the Hosni Mubarak regime.
Repertoire here might perhaps be one key concept that can help explain why the regular use of violence by authorities, and the recycling of the old regime’s discourses by the perpetrators of such violence have become dominant elements in the apparent counter-revolution led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many anticipate that 2013 will be a decisive year for the wielders of power in their (recurrently violent) confrontations with the large segments of the population that are growingly losing faith in the Muslim Brotherhood. The hastily drafted constitution, and the overt threat it poses to basic principles of human rights and citizenship, perhaps underscore the Brotherhood’s desperation and angst over their faltering efforts to assert their control over—or as some call it, to “Brotherhoodize”—the state. Continue reading
[When the people rose up against the Mubarak compradarchy, some said the US-Mubarak relationship would not be broken. But soon, the US imperial hegemonists decided to unhinge their prospects from Mubarak, and focus efforts on sidelining the popular revolt by encouraging the Egyptian military to declare “support” for the uprising. Some said the US now had the new, effective puppet relationship with the military, to further stem popular revolt and prevent Muslim Brotherhood seizure of the the process. But ongoing struggle discredited the military, and the Muslim Brotherhood took advantage and jockeyed for position, and power. The Obama administration then maneuvered toward rebranding the Muslim Brotherhood “democratic” and finding suitable enticements for the hegemonist’s new Egyptian alliance–and overtly took sides with MB primacy over the military. Yet the people, whose historic Tahrir Square revolt unhinged all the old imperial arrangements, are not satisfied with any of this shell game in the halls of power. Democratic pretense only works on the gullible, and the people have learned far too much to be taken in. The wheels will continue to revolve. — Frontlines ed.]
Egypt: US for Strong Mursi Presidency
By Kimeng Hilton Ndukong, BBC, 16 July 2012
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged the new President to fully assert his authority.
The new Egyptian leader, Mohamed Mursi on Sunday July 15, received a much-needed backing in his standoff with the country’s military when the visiting United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton urged him to assert the full authority of his office.
Clinton on the other hand told the country’s military officers to return to what she described as a purely national security role, after they stepped aside last month, promising to retain wide-ranging legislative and political powers.
Shortly after meeting with the US official for about an hour, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi in a rare public rebuke apparently directed at the powerful Moslem Brotherhood to which Mursi belongs, declared that the Armed Forces would not allow people he described as pushed from outside to dominate the country. Al Jazeera Television reported that Tantawi’s comments that were delivered to reporters after a military ceremony in the city of Ismailia, sounded a discordant note after Clinton’s urgings.
Clinton’s discussions with President Mursi on Saturday July 14 focused on the domestic political deadlock and economic development. She pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in debt relief, private investment and job creation funds – money the US administration had earlier promised. Clinton said her country’s shared strategic interests far outnumbered differences with Egypt. At a joint news conference with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohammed Amr, the US Secretary of State said her visit to Cairo was to re-affirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and their democratic transition.
However, on Saturday evening, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Clinton’s Cairo hotel, chanting anti-Islamist and anti-US slogans in protest at her visit. Another protest outside the US Embassy was organised by Coptic Christian youth activists who chanted that Americans and the Moslem Brotherhood could not be trusted, the BBC said.
Speculation is rife that the Muslim Brotherhood are again reaching a deal with the ruling military council after weeks of what seemed to be escalating tensions between the two. The long awaited government Morsi is expected to appoint soon may reveal what the two parties will finally agree upon.
While sources at the office of President Mohamed Morsi have revealed that Egypt’s newly-inaugurated head of state has not yet contacted anyone specific for the post of prime minister, analysts hint ongoing negotiations may be the source of this delay.
“There’s broad consensus between the Brotherhood and military leaders on the need to accommodate the military’s longstanding political and economic interests,” political analyst Hesham Sallam told Ahram Online.
“But the devil’s in the details; I don’t think the two sides have reached agreement on specifics,” Sallam added. “Control over cabinet appointments is probably one source of these disagreements.”
On 30 June, Morsi was sworn into office before Egypt’s High Constitutional Court (HCC), bringing an end to an ongoing conflict with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
The Brotherhood had earlier rejected a constitutional addendum giving the SCAF legislative powers at the expense of Egypt’s dissolved parliament and keeping the Armed Forces independent of the president. Morsi’s oath before the HCC, however, appeared to signal a retreat from the Brotherhood’s stated position. Continue reading
by Samir Amin | Monthly Review | 30 June 2012
The electoral victory of the Muslim Brotherhood and of the Salafists in Egypt (January 2012) is hardly surprising. The decline brought about by the current globalization of capitalism has produced an extraordinary increase in the so-called “informal” activities that provide the livelihoods of more than half of the Egyptian population (statistics give a figure of 60%).
And the Muslim Brotherhood is very well placed to take advantage of this decline and perpetuate its reproduction. Their simplistic ideology confers legitimacy on a miserable market/bazaar economy that is completely antithetical to the requirements of any development worthy of the name. The fabulous financial means provided to the Muslim Brotherhood (by the Gulf states) allows them to translate this ideology into efficient action: financial aid to the informal economy, charitable services (medical dispensaries etc.).
In this way the Brotherhood establishes itself at the heart of society and induces its dependency. It has never been the intention of the Gulf countries to support the development of Arab countries, for example through industrial investment. They support a form of “lumpen development” — to use the term originally coined by André Gunder Frank — that imprisons the societies concerned in a spiral of pauperization and exclusion, which in turn reinforces the stranglehold of reactionary political Islam on society. Continue reading
Published on Jun 25, 2012 by AlJazeeraEnglish
The decision by Egypt’s electoral commission ends a week of uncertainty in a country without a parliament or a constitution, and a barely functioning economy. There is a new president, the country’s first elected leader. Mohammed Morsi, the candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood. Is Egypt’s political limbo over? Guests: Hisham Kassem, Waleed El-Haddad, Adel Darwish.
Euphoric jubilation spilled into a second day Monday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where revelers celebrated the election of Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
But with the hopes of the Egyptian revolution resting on President-Elect Mohamed Morsi’s shoulders, the former Muslim Brotherhood member faces an array of challenges both at home and abroad.
For the moment, the presidency is largely a figurehead position as Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) maintains widespread control over the country – just as it has since Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule succumbed to a popular revolt last year.
Egyptian armed forces and protesters have clashed in Cairo, with troops using water cannon and rocks to disperse demonstrators trying to reach the defence ministry.
|Hundreds of troops guarding the ministry surged forward on Friday when protesters began cutting through barbed wire used to seal off the ministry building in the capital’s central Abbasiya neighbourhood.”We understand that just a few minutes ago, the protesters tried to remove the barrier with barbed wire between themselves and the defence ministry,” Al Jazeera’s Steve Chao reported from Cairo.
“Security forces responded with water canons. Protesters responded with rocks.”
He said the military forces were describing their actions as “self-defence”.
The protests come amid heightened tension after 11 people were killed in clashes that broke out on Wednesday when unidentified assailants fired at protesters staging a sit-in outside the ministry of defence in Cairo.
Protesters have plastered Cairo’s Tahrir Square with banners reading, “Down with military rule”. Continue reading
[A strong advocate of secular revolution posted this report of the 7/30/11 rally at Tahrir Square in Cairo, on http://www.3arabawy.org. Given the history of what came to replace the Shah of Iran, these are timely insights for the worldwide revolutionary movement to discuss and debate. — Frontlines ed.]
For weeks, the Islamist forces, without exception, have been denouncing the Tahrir sit-in, spreading all sorts of cheap, filthy, sensationalist lies against the largely secular protesters, amid agitation by SCAF also, that already incited Abbassiya residents against marchers on 23 July.
The Islamist forces, whose leaders, also without any exceptions, are in one way or another allied to the SCAF awaiting their shares of the booties in the coming parliamentary elections and constitutional reform, decided to escalate their moves against the Tahrir revolutionaries by announcing roughly two weeks ago they were calling for mass protests in the square, to “assert Egypt’s Islamic identity, denounce supra-constitutional principles, and to demand the application of Islamic sharia.” Such announcement was coupled with an agitation campaign that spoke of “purging Tahrir from the secularists.”
There was tension in the square over the past few days. We didn’t know what to expect on Friday. Some were expecting an “Islamist invasion” of the square, medieval style, with swords and sticks. Others thought it was going to be a peaceful day.
Some, like me, expected troubles, but we were hoping to at least try to polarize the Islamist protesters around different demands that their leaders had put forward. I suggested that Islamists would be welcomed at the gates, while distributing leaflets on the military tribunals, detainees, torture, retribution for the martyrs’ families, and social demands. There were calls by some to try to block the Islamists from entering. This was totally impossible even if you thought it was politically correct. It would have been a massacre.
As the countdown to Friday started, shuttle talks were taking place between protest leaders, representatives from leftist, liberal and secular groups with officials from the Islamist groups including the Gamaa Islamiya, Salafi Nour Party and last but not least, the Muslim Brotherhood. An agreement was announced yesterday whereby the Islamists vowed not to include the application of sharia on the list of their demands and not to attack or provoke any secular protesters. In exchange, the leftist and liberal groups agreed not to engage in the “Elections First” or “Constitution First” debate and promised not to chant against SCAF (liberals in general are not those who meant by the agreement, it was largely the leftists, since the liberals are cowing down everyday to SCAF). A statement was issued, with a list of demands agreed by all parties.
What happened since the night of Thursday was a complete disgrace. The Islamists have broken the agreement. They started showing up on Thursday evening setting up their stages, only to be followed later by sound systems blasting anti-secular, anti-leftist propaganda, calls for the application of sharia and pro-SCAF chants.
To be fair, some young Muslim Brotherhood organizers tried to intervene and control the situation, but they failed. The ones who mainly broke the agreement were the Salafis. Over hours and hours, till Friday 7pm, Tens of thousands of Islamists were chanting for Sharia, the Quran as a constitution, intimidated secular activists and non-veiled women. Continue reading