Egyptian Aak 2014 – Week 38 ( Sep 15 – 21)

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The myth of Sisi’s Sinai proposal

 

Sisi: abbas

(Photo via Cairo Post)

Initially published in Al-Monitor

A few days ago, a claim surfaced that Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offered to give part of the Sinai Peninsula to the Palestinians to expand the Gaza Strip and create a state. It was also claimed that the Palestinian president had rejected the Egyptian offer.

In fact, the claim is a farce — it never existed. Anyone with a basic understanding of the Egyptian psyche and current dynamics will reach this same conclusion. The proposal, however, reflects the new reality that has emerged after Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza that ended with an open-ended cease-fire deal. This inconclusive end of the war highlights a new reality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is characterized by no peace, no victory and no guarantees for any long-term period of calm. Within this atmosphere of uncertainty, everyone is bound to feel stuck, and rumors can be considered legible.

Continue reading here

Posted in Egypt, Gaza, Israel, Middle East, Palestine, Politics, Sinai | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISIS recruitment in Turkey

nervana111:

Interesting piece that is worth reading

Originally posted on turkeyetc:

Sahin Aktan005

Şahin Aktan keeps a file to help him in his hunt for his ex-wife Svetlana, who took their three-year-old son Destan to live under ISIS rule in Syria’s Raqqa province in July. (Photograph by Fatih Pinar).

Last Friday Newsweek published an article by Alev Scott and I about recruitment by ISIS—the self-styled ‘Islamic State’—in Turkey, which has received substantial attention in the Turkish press.

We weren’t the first to write on this issue, and several other publications have run great stories on it in recent weeks. One of the most notable was Emily Feldman’s excellent article for Mashable, which examined ISIS recruitment in a single neighbourhood of Ankara, and goes into more detail than our own piece, in particular looking at the perception among many that they will enjoy a ‘better life’ under ISIS.

Feldman interviewed a man who has apparently spent time in Syria’s ISIS-controlled Raqqa province and intended to take his family…

View original 1,692 more words

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Egyptian Aak 2014 – Week 37 ( Sept 8- 14)

 

Hunger strike

(Egyptian Journalists denouncing the Protest law, Photo via Lobna Monieb)

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Power outage in Egypt, a burning memory from the past

 

Power outage

The pain was excruciating, the darkness daunting. The combination was too much for an 11-year-old girl. I cannot remember exactly how that night started, but I will always remember how it ended. The nightmare began when I accidentally dropped a pot full of boiling water, severely scalding my upper legs and the lower part of my abdomen. To add insult to injury, a power cut followed that delayed the emergency treatment I required. Although I have never forgotten this incident, Egypt’s current electricity crisis has inadvertently triggered a flashback.

 Later in the hospital, the plastic surgeon rightly pointed out that the neighboring pharmacist who had applied a dressing had made a classical error. The last thing you should do to a scalding burn is to wrap it with a dressing. The surgeon had to unwrap the dressing, which was firmly attached to my swollen and inflamed skin, and peel the dead skin away. The standard at that time was to perform this procedure without anesthesia or any form of pain relief. The procedure, punctuated by my relentless screams, lasted a full 96 minutes, according to a giant wall clock that glared down on me. Words are not enough to describe my ordeal, but I survived it, and was later discharged home___ to another power cut.

 Pain and darkness are a terrifying and almost unbearable combination. Fortunately, however, the pain became more tolerable over the next few days, and the random power cut was an event that distracted my attention from my wounds. But my real savior was my little transistor radio, which broadcast news from channels around the globe. Each one taught me something new, and allowed my hyperactive mind to grasp two words: perspective and spin. In short, my recovery days served as my introduction to the world of politics.

 Moreover, the random power cut became fun. Darkness made the noisy Cairo streets quieter; no loud TV from my neighbors’ houses, or kids bickering in the streets. Then there was, of course, the loud cheer when the electricity came back on, as if the whole neighborhood had won the lottery. Looking back, it was not such a bad experience. I learned a lot and it shaped my life in a way that might not have happened otherwise.

My mother and I (like many Egyptians) developed a plan to cope with power outage; candles, matches, dried food, batteries, and a prompt defrost of the fridge ___ a tenacious plan to maintain a kind of normality. Interestingly, there was no revolt or resentment among the public. Admittedly, the problem eased off a bit later, although it never disappeared.

 However, more recently, Egypt’s energy crisis has become worse. A combination of negligence, chaos, abuse of the system, and chronic lack of investment has compounded the existing problem. This reached grave proportions on September 4, when Cairo and other cities and regions in Egypt experienced an unprecedented power outage.

 Thus far, the government has remained tight-lipped about the damages and consequences of the outage. Undoubtedly, there must be a loss of production times, damage to equipment, destruction of products, and additional maintenance costs. It is also easy to imagine the health impact on hospitals and patients. Generators in Egypt are poorly maintained and may not start promptly after the power cut. The lack of accountability in Egypt prevents us from properly assessing the damage. Furthermore, one important aspect that tends to be largely ignored is the psychological impact a chronic power outage has on people, particularly children. Instability and unpredictability can interrupt children’s thinking processes, rattle them deeply, and negatively influence their studies and progress at school.

 Exacerbating the situation is the fact that in the age of high-speed internet, games and mobile phones, people have become increasingly dependent on electricity for their daily routine. As a child, I was content with my simple radio; the younger generations of today are not; their expectations are higher. As Akram Ismail has rightly mentioned, after the January 25, 2011 uprising, Egyptians have had less patience with the failures of state services and have demanded change.

 If we exclude those who approved of the ousting of ex-President Morsi, Egyptians are roughly divided into two groups: an older generation that is willing to give President Sisi some time to address Egypt’s domestic woes, and a younger generation that is more angry and frustrated, who demand accountability. Many youth do not believe the current government is capable of implementing an innovative approach to the energy crisis.

 Egypt needs solar panels, smart meters, and, more importantly, a new motivated management team that can implement the right changes. In a special televised speech, President Sisi appealed for patience over power cuts. The question, however, is: Can the public remain patient, and for how long?

 If the January 2011 revolution can teach us anything, it is how revolution succeeds only when it can unite the nation’s various generations. This energy crisis can inflict deep burning wounds that can bridge the age gap and turn many Egyptians against their leadership. What Sisi needs to do now is what my surgeon did with my wounds years ago, peeling the dead skin off to allow fresh healing to start. A process that can be rough and painful. However, unless Sisi can do a good, comprehensive job, the much-required healing process will never start, and unimaginable knock-on effects may happen in the near future.

 In a way, I was lucky the burns happened at a relatively young age. Healing was fast; the burns left no scars. Egypt, however, suffers from several deep wounds that can leave it scarred for a long time. The leadership has a colossal task; a complicated surgical process that needs meticulous handling. Egyptians can put-up with a short-term agony, but it is unlikely they will tolerate chronic, enduring torture.

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt, Middle East | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Egyptian Aak 2014 – Week 36 ( Sep1- 7)

Sisi after power outage

(Sisi speaks after major power outage – AFP Photo )

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Interview

  • ‘Building a strong parliament essential for bringing about normalised democracy’: Nick Harvey

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Egyptian Aak 2014 – Week 35 ( Aug 25- 31)

 

Ahmed Seif

 

(Cartoon about the late human right defender Ahmed Seif, via klmty)

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Poll:

Baseera’s latest poll claim 82 % of Egyptians approve of El-Sisi performance

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Gaza cease-fire might lead to indirect Egypt involvement

 

Gaza

( Kids in Gaza celebrate the ceasefire agreement, via Twitter)

 

I wrote this piece for Al-Monitor, warning that in the future a failed Gaza can easily end its existence as an autonomous entity, and snooker Egypt into a very tricky corner.

After seven weeks of confrontations in the Gaza Strip, a cease-fire has been reached. The details are still sketchy, and needless to say, it is still too early to judge if this truce will last. However, regardless of the durability of the new deal and its implications for Israel, it’s safe to say that a new reality may unfold in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority (PA) could return to the Gaza Strip, at least to run the Rafah border with Egypt. While this seems a benign move, it is not; it could open the door to a new scenario that was previously considered far-fetched — an indirect Egyptian involvement in the governance of Gaza.

First, it’s important to note that Egypt does not want to control Gaza. It only wants to contain its own problems and shield the Sinai Peninsula and the Rafah border from infiltration by radical militants from Gaza. Recently, Egypt has stepped up its operations to destroy most of the tunnels that Hamas and other groups have built underneath the Rafah border. Inevitably, however, tunnel destruction has aggravated an already shaky relationship between Egypt and Hamas, especially after the ousting of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi by the Egyptian army.

Continue reading here

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Egyptian Aak 2014 – Week 34 ( Aug 18-24)

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Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt, Gaza | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Egyptian Aak 2014 – Week 33 ( August 11-17) Rabaa Anniversary

Rabaa anniverssary

( Photo of Cairo clashes in the anniversary of Rabaa via AP)

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Photo Heritage

Book Review

  • Inside The Arab Revolution – a Book By Koert Debeuf. Nehad Ismail
Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment