Egyptian Aak: Episode One


Al-Hadad

Presidential adviser for foreign affairs, Essam el-Haddad (Egypt’s real FM)  in UAE after arrest of “Brotherhood cell.” courtesy AlArabyia

 

Here is the first episode of my diary. As I wrote last week‘Aak’ is an Egyptian term that describes a messy situation.

 Tuesday

  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s Saad el-Katatni: “God willing, the year 2013 will be the year of institution-building and establishment of the modern democratic State.”
  • A group of ultraconservative Islamists, under the leadership of Emad Abdel Ghafour, announced the formation of a new party, Al-Watan.

Wednesday

  • Egypt’s fact-finding commission says Mubarak watched the January 2011 uprising against him live. It also urges the investigation of the Muslim Brotherhood members accused of killing protesters.
  • Egypt’s satirist, Dr. Bassem Youssef, faces a probe for insulting the president. Another complaint was also filed, claiming that Bassem has mocked the Islamic prayer.
  • Opposition writer, Abdel Halim Qandil, is being investigated for “insulting” President Morsi (Arabic).
  • President Morsi’s administration has accused the al-Masry-Al-Youm, newspaper of “circulating false news likely to disturb public peace and security.”
  • Hisham al-Ashri, a brotherhood-member-turned- Salafi has proposed a new morality police (Arabic).

Thursday

  • Five non-Islamist political parties are discussing a possible merger with the Al-Dostour party.
  • According to Egypt’s Prime Minister Qandil, Egypt’s parliamentary elections law will be submitted to the constitutional court for review within 15 days of the endorsement of the new constitution (that’s January 9th).
  • Egypt’s main opposition announced it is willing to engage in a national dialogue with President Morsi if a number of conditions are met.

Friday

  • The Nour Party is getting ready for the upcoming parliamentary elections by selecting candidates and developing new methods of campaigning.
  • Radical Saudi cleric, Al-Qarnee delivered Friday sermons in Cairo (broadcasted by Al-Jazeera Mubasher). Arabic

Saturday

  • Opposition calls for 25 January protests
  • Cabinet reshuffle brings in 10 new ministers including new interior and finance ministers. ‪ 

Few thoughts:

  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s Chief Katatni ( apart from the cheesy clichés) did not articulate a clear plan ( apart from cheesy cliches) on how the ruling party will rebuild the country’s institution. I doubt the Muslim Brotherhood is willing to change the framework of governance in Egypt; they just want to mend it to their advantage.
  • The changes on the Salafis front are very interesting. Watan party officials claim that they are more moderate than Nour, while Shadi Hamid claims that Abu Ismail “offers a more revolutionary form of Salafism.”  Besides these fancy definitions, all Salafi parties claim their goal is the implementation of Sharia, but none of them has articulated how it will be translated into a political platform in a way that differs from other Salafi parties. The Strong Egypt party is another party to watch; whether it will run alone or make a possible alliance with other non-Islamist parties in the next parliamentary election.
  • What is disturbing about the Egypt fact-finding commission is the unprofessional early leakage of its findings. Announcements should be in a complete report with a formal reply from the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, who are both implicated in the events. That is the international standards, which are sadly ignored.
  • Probing Bassem Youssef and others raises many questions: Is democracy for the Brotherhood a strategic choice or is it a tool to reach power? Islamists in Egypt view satire as an act of disrespect; they fail to see it as part of the safeguards against dictatorship. It was great to watch him on Friday, unfazed, and continuing with his satirical criticism of Morsi.
  • Regarding the Al-Ashri proposal for a morality police, here are some of his views, which speak for themselves:

Once you left the house, you are not free. Sharia is about obedience.”

       “If the Coptic woman doesn’t want to convert, she still has to wear the hijab against    her will.”

Many Salafists share his views. The preaching of radicals Sheiks like Al-Qarnee will enforce these trends in the Egyptian society.

  • Election law presents a crucial battle; the gap remains wide between Islamists and opposition forces. The current law will serve the Islamists well, and modifying the law will be crucial if the opposition stands any chance of success in the next election. As for the news of a possible merger among opposition parties and the “national dialogue,” I will believe it when I see it. The call for protests on the 25Th January, highlights the opposition’s heavily reliance on street protests. Their performance is not convincing; it is even alarming.
  • The details of the proposed protest law are enough to cause anyone to lose faith in the Brotherhood’s intentions. I think Morsi’s administration will have to proceed with the proposed law to curb future protests that are expected due to economic hardship.
  • Despite the fact that Egyptian authorities did not confirm the smuggling reports, if true, it indicates that Egypt is a partner to the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and is willing to take steps against smuggling. The question is: How does Hamas view the Egyptian policies?
  • Egypt‘s foreign policies are amateurish. The recent crisis with the United Arab Emirates reflects how Morsi still view his party, the Muslim Brotherhood, as his main priority, which is exactly why Gulf States are deeply worried. To send a president advisor who was later rebuffed by the authorities in UAE and the alleged Saudi rejection to mediate are slaps in the face to Morsi. The relationship with Iran is also intriguing− what exactly is Morsi after? Knowledge about their subsidy system or their Basij?
  • Finally, the cabinet reshuffle was expected. I doubt that this government will produce any remarkable changes. Morsi’s team is the one who calling the shots, not Prime minister Qandil.

Best Tweets:

‪@stevenacook Why can’t you insult the president? How about this? If you don’t like being insulted, don’t run for president.

@ElBaradei Egypt: Show me a faltering economy and I will show you a fractured society.

@monaeltahawy “People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.” ― Emma Goldman

@tomgara Egypt’s core skill has been managing a series of graceful declines for 1000s of years.

‏‪@hisham_melhem Egypt didn’t recover from the flight of Greeks, Italians & Jews; if flight of Coptic Christians continues the loss will be incalculable.

Good read:

Next week, a new episode.

 

About nervana111

Blogger and Commentator on Middle East issues
This entry was posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Egyptian Aak: Episode One

  1. Fairuza Cengis says:

    Fantastic job with great explanations. Thank you so much, Ms. Nervana!

  2. aarefaat says:

    First, thank you for the huge effort, your ” chronicles ?”will be from now on what i ‘ll look to first for an enlightening view of the Chaotic Egyptian scene .Only i have to say that i am really amazed by your “doubts” about the brotherhood’s Commitment to democracy !! Does anyone still have doubts about the “commitment” to democracy of a militant group raised on Al-sam3 wa Al-taa3a and indoctrinated in medieval religious worldview which considers the establishment of the so called Khelafa as its sublimest goal ?

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