Egyptian Aak 2015 – Week 25 ( June 15- 21)

Morsi in red

Egypt’s ousted president Morsi is seen for the first time wearing a red jumpsuit in court ( via Ahram-online)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt court confirms death sentence imposed on ex-President Mohammed Morsi (Tuesday)
  • Wikileaks began releasing leaked documents from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry  (Friday)
  • Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour is detained in Germany at the request of  the Egyptian authorities ( Saturday) 

Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

 Saturday

Sunday

 Good Reports

Good read

Plus

Interview

From Twitter

Photo Essay

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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Egyptian Aak 2015 – Week 24 (June 8- 14)

Rafah border

Palestinians gather at the Rafah border crossing in Gaza as they await permission to enter Egypt, June 13, 2015. Reuters

Top Headlines

  • Suicide attack outside Karnak Temple in Luxor (Wednesday)
  • Cairo policeman jailed for 15 years over the death of Shaimaa Sabbagh (Thursday)
  • Egypt allows two-way travel through Rafah (Saturday)
  • Ahmad Shafiq resigns from the Egyptian National Movement Party (Sunday)
  • Reports: Tunisia’s Ghannouchi seeks Egyptian government-Brotherhood settlement

Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

Plus

 Photo Gallery

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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The Arab World and Turkey

Erdogan

( President Erdogan- Photo via AP)

In a historic election, the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lost its parliamentary majority. The consequences of these results are felt not just in Turkey, but also throughout the Arab world. Erdogan lost his bid to dominate Turkey through a new presidential system that he advocated; he further lost his unchallenged clout among his Egyptian and Arab admirers. The results have forced Arab Islamists to defend Erdogan instead of pursuing their usual grand celebrations that have become common after Turkish elections.

The fascination with Turkey is relatively new in the Arab world. At the university, I was mocked for reading about modern Turkish leaders like Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel, which others, including Islamists, perceived as a waste of time. Indifference to Turkey was common, even among those most passionate about regional politics. However, following Erdogan’s rise in Turkey, the interest in the country surged, particularly among Islamists, to an unhealthy level.

As I wrote before, the relationship between Erdogan and his Arab Islamists is based on mutual exploitation. Erdogan engineers more domestic popularity for himself by harping on the misfortunes of Islamists while Arab Islamists market Erdogan’s success as proof of the soundness of their ideology. Erdogan’s non-Turkish Islamist fans have elevated him to a semi-sacred level, taking his Ottoman rhetoric literally. Egyptian and Arab Sunni Islamists have put all their eggs in one virtual Ottoman basket created by Erdogan’s charm, thereby linking their own success with his Turkish dominance. Indeed, they see him as the new prophet of modern Islamism.

Some Arab Islamists have argued that they have limited options. In their eyes, their support for Erdogan is out of necessity, not choice, because of the lack of successful Islamist leaders in the region. They have also argued that non-Islamists, not radical Islam, are the main obstacles preventing political Islam from dominating the Muslim World. They see no problem in embracing a foreign leader as a patron, ignoring Erdogan’s arrogance and desire for dominance, which are not exactly the model that will convince non-Islamists to embrace or even accept Islamism.

Furthermore, as I have argued before, Ottoman Islamists have no clear theory regarding the role of religion in political life. Their own experiences are mainly the slow introduction of religious teaching and symbols to replace the Kemalist doctrine. They have not developed a clear strategy to buttress against Islamic radicalism, as is subsequently proven in Syria in the murky relationship between Turkey and radical Islamists fighting Assad’s regime. Again, this is another reason why non-Islamists in the Arab world are not buying Erdogan’s “model” of Islamic democracy.

On the other hand, some non-Islamists have been fascinated with Turkey, albeit in a different way. When the Turkish assistant of my uncle (who used to work as a diplomat in the Egyptian Embassy in Ankara) visited Egypt, I was struck by her liberalism, which was so different and more open. The rest of Egypt and the Arab world started to get to know Turkey somewhat later, mainly through the television series invading many Arabic satellite channels that painted a very misplaced liberal, secular image of Turkey. Erdogan’s Turkey was initially happy to perpetuate this image as part of his marketing strategy to win as many Muslims as possible.

Eventually, the Ottoman image slowly started to emerge and flood the Arab TVs, particularly the popular television series “Magnificent Century.” The stunningly beautiful Ottoman women portrayed in the series fascinated many Arab men and women. The glorification of the Ottoman Empire initially worked. Later, however, one episode changed that perception: the killing of Mustafa, the Sultan’s eldest son, upon his father’s order, which is apparently not entirely fictional, as Mustafa’s tomb still exists in Turkey’s Bursa. This episode shattered the myth of the good Ottomans that Erdogan tried so hard to sell to the Arabs. Needless to say, Erdogan’s hostile views of Egypt after the ousting of Morsi dampened his popularity among Egyptians. His manufactured perception of Egypt’s complex political scene into a binary of good Islamists versus evil coup supporters was received with contempt by many, who saw how Erdogan purposefully used Egypt as tool in his domestic agenda.

Over the last decade, both Islamists and non-Islamists have learned to explore more about Turkey, the neighbor that once ruled them, then later drifted away. This knowledge was initially marred by misconceptions, and myths. Nevertheless—and despite Erdogan’s propaganda’s machine—both Islamist and non-Islamist Arabs have started to develop a clearer picture regarding Turkish politics and society.

The latest Turkish parliamentary election has generated unprecedented responses among Egyptians and Arabs. Undoubtedly, and regardless of the impact of the results on Turkey’s domestic politics, Erdogan has lost, at least part of his clout among Arabs. Islamists might defiantly claim that winning 40% of votes is not a bad result, but deep inside they acknowledge that this new Turkey will force Erdogan to look inward and could distract him from his grand Ottoman ambitions for the region. Their patron may not be capable of providing them with the support and help they desperately need. As for non-Islamist Muslims, who naturally reject political Islam as an ideology, they take the results of the Turkish election as the silver lining they have been looking for amidst the doom and gloom of their turbulent region. Turkey has finally provided them with the hope that they can prevail against political Islam without the help of authoritarian regimes and army generals.

Posted in Best Read, Turkey | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Egyptian Aak 2015 – Week 23 ( June1-7)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi shake hands following a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 3, 2015.    REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi shake hands following a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 3, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Top Headlines 

  • Egypt court postpones Morsi death sentence ruling (Tuesday)
  • Senior Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested by security forces (Tuesday)
  • Egypt’s former president to be retried over killing of protesters (Thursday)
  • Egyptian court annuls previous court decision deeming Hamas a terrorist organization (Saturday) 

 Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

 Wednesday

 Thursday

 Friday 

 Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

Good Read

Plus:

Corruption index 2

Photo Gallery

  • Street Carnival project brings minority cultures to cities across Egypt

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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The True Nakba -June 9 1967

nervana111:

Due to travelling, I decided to re-blog some suburb pieces written by others that I think they are great to read. Here is one by Maged Atiya. Enjoy….

Originally posted on salamamoussa:

For a few in Egypt who had access to external information, the June 5 1967 rapid success of Israel came as no surprise. The Jews had in less than two decades built a functioning state that acquired the underpinning of Western culture that many Egyptians envied. The claims and exhortation of “Voice of the Arabs” radio were hollow, and even for a young boy the Arabic language had acquired such a patina of empty bravado that it seemed less a native tongue than imposition by an evil step-mother. In any case, the evidence of defeat came rapidly with news that all military aircrafts around Cairo had been destroyed in less than one hour.

The true disaster began to unfold four days later as Nasser tendered his resignation in a short speech on Television. For a few minutes some imagined an escape under Zakaria Mohieddin; a silent man whom many in…

View original 798 more words

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What Will Happen After Turkey’s Elections on Sunday

nervana111:

This is a an excellent piece that is definitely worth reading regarding the Turkish election. Enjoy……

Originally posted on Ottomans and Zionists:

When Turkish voters go to the polls this Sunday, it will mark the end of what has been an interminable 15 month long election cycle in Turkey encompassing municipal elections, a presidential election, and finally parliamentary elections. This would be have been taxing under the best of circumstances, but given the factors involved – including but not limited to the transition of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from prime minister to president, the fate of Erdoğan’s desired constitutional overhaul and prospective presidential system, the pending forced retirement of term-limited AKP legislators, the ongoing fallout from the Syrian civil war, the Kurdish peace process hanging on by a thread, the increasingly nationalist tone of the government following the 2013 Gezi protests, the war between the AKP and its former Gülenist allies, worsening assaults on freedom of speech and expression, and allegations of rampant AKP corruption – the last 15 months have been rough…

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Egyptian Aak 2015 – Week 22 ( May 25 – 31)

Mahinour Al-Masry

( Imprisoned, activist Mahinour Al-Masry- via El-Masry Al-Youm)

Top Headlines

  • After 489 days on hunger strike in prison,‪ Soltan gives up Egyptian citizenship, deported to US. (Saturday)
  • Egyptian activist Mahinour El-Masry sentenced to 15 months in prison (Sunday)
  • Rift deepens in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood after failed soft coup. (Report)

 Main Headlines

 Monday

 Tuesday

 Wednesday

 Thursday

 Friday

 Saturday

 Sunday

 Good Reports

 Good read

Photo Gallery

Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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The New Old Wafd

Egypt’s oldest nationalist party, the Wafd Party, is facing a deep and challenging internal conflict. Despite intervention by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a new internal election, and a formal announcement that the crisis is over, the party’s internal problems are unlikely to heal soon.

On the surface, the party appears to be divided between two camps. The first is led by party leader El-Sayid El-Badawy, while the second supports leading member, Fouad Badrawy, who hails from a family with strong Wafd roots.

Badrawy lost by a small margin in the party’s leadership elections in April, 2014. He received 956 of the votes, while current leader, Badawy, received 1,183. Earlier this month, following a decision by over 1,000 members to withdraw confidence in Badawy, the current leadership suspended Badrawy and seven other members of the party’s high board. Together the suspended members refer to themselves as the Wafd’s Reform Front. Following Sisi’s intervention, an agreement was apparently reached among party members to reinstate the suspended members.

However, beneath the party’s internal bickering lie more serious problems for the Wafd. The party, which has survived decades of turbulent Egyptian politics, has a long record of grave errors of judgment. For this, it is now paying a hefty price.

The Beginnings of the Wafd

The founder of Wafd, Saad Zaghloul, was not just an Egyptian national hero; he represented the aspirations of many Egyptians to have a contemporary, independent state that values all its citizens regardless of religion, ethnicity, class, or gender. That is precisely why, in the 1919 uprising against the British, Egyptians chanted “Saad! Long live Saad!” For them, he was the humble Egyptian citizen who understood the poor, and at the same time, the Pasha who fit in with the aristocracy. Zaghloul’s ability to manage this delicate balance was crucial for his success and for the popularity of his party, which continued after his death under the leadership of his successor, Mustafa al-Nahas. Even after Gamal Abdel Nasser disbanded all political parties in 1954, Egyptians did not forget Wafd and its positive role in Egypt’s contemporary evolution.

Later, following Nasser’s death, the Wafd Party was briefly resurrected during Sadat’s rule, then later during Mubarak’s tenure. The revival of the Wafd triggered some optimism regarding shift from an authoritarian political scene to a pluralistic democracy. I remember how residents of Heliopolis in Cairo warmly received famous composer and Wafd member Kamal al-Taweel when he decided to run for parliament in the late eighties. Many eager voters hoped the elegant, talented composer, whose music captivated millions in Egypt, would bring with his party a new air of elegance to Egypt’s rotting political life.

The high expectations, however, failed to materialize. Instead of revitalizing Egypt’s democracy, or at least pushing Mubarak’s regime out of its comfort zone, the Wafd opted to maintain the status quo, accepting the role of a “decorative opposition” that legitimized rather than discredited the regime. During the 2005 presidential elections, the Wafd’s Noaman Gomaa ran for president alongside Mubarak and Ayman Nour, despite a boycott by other parties. This in turn legitimized the outcome in favor of Mubarak. Gomaa’s poor performance in the presidential election, together with an equally poor party performance in the parliamentary elections, created serious divisions within the party.

Policies of Convenience

Since its creation, the Wafd has shifted its stances on several issues, including religion. In the lead up to the 1984 parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood and Wafd formed an electoral coalition in an attempt to counterbalance the dominance of the then-ruling National Democratic Party. The two groups managed to win fifty-eight seats in the 458-member parliament. The “new” Wafd put aside its famous slogan “Egypt is for Egyptians, and religion is for God” and adopted a more Sharia-compliant rhetoric in order to survive the rise of political Islam and the Brotherhood’s own slogan “Islam is the solution.” Unsurprisingly, the alliance fell apart after the election. Later, however, in 2010, cooperation between the two groups became more visible, again prompting more internal divisions among party members.

The Wafd also distanced itself from its policy of tolerance, embracing a more anti-Semitic view. As Samuel Tadros points out, Ahmed Ezz al-Arab, the vice chairman of Wafd, openly denied the Holocaust in a 2011 interview with The Washington Times. The only possible explanation for this view is again due to the party’s desperate desire to fit in with the prevailing climate in Egypt that has grown hostile to Jews since Egypt’s 1967 defeat against Israel. Recently, commenting on Norway’s objection to deposed President Mohamed Morsi’s death sentence, Ezz al-Arab compared it to Norway’s execution of Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian politician who aided Hitler’s occupation of Norway. These deeply illiberal remarks do not reflect Ezz al-Arab alone. The fact that he secured a top rank in the party latest’s High board election, receiving 1,218 votes, indicates that many in the Wafd share his alarming, illiberal views.

During the 2011 revolution, the Wafd, like the Muslim Brotherhood, did not initially join the demonstrations; however, party leader Badawy gave his approval for the youth of his party to participate in their personal capacity. This sit-on-the-fence attitude symbolized his leadership style that neither inspired popularity nor earned the party any revolutionary credentials.

In 2013, the Wafd Party supported Sisi’s roadmap after Morsi’s ouster, but the party leader later lashed out after a meeting with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab regarding the electoral law for the upcoming parliamentary election. Badawy said that the next parliament would be the “worst in Egypt’s history.”

The Egyptian Wafd

Despite those fiery comments, Wafd’s leadership welcomed Sisi’s intervention following its recent internal rift. A senior member described it as “a lifejacket” for the party. This description provides the best explanation of the relationship between the president and non-Islamist political parties in Egypt. On the one hand, they need him as a patron who conceals their own unpopularity. On the other, Sisi needs parties that compete in the parliamentary election ___ the crucial, final part of his pledged roadmap. Sisi cannot afford for Egypt’s oldest party, the Wafd, to suffer an internal meltdown.

Now the Wafd has a new elected board, which has voted in favor of a bylaw amendment to change the name of the party from “New Wafd” to its original “Egyptian Wafd.” Will this change signal a return to the party’s original values? Unlikely.

Sadly for the Wafd, it is relying heavily on the grandeur of its past, rather than its present achievements – on the old Egyptian Wafd, which was led by true statesmen who stood by their principals. The Wafd Party has shifted from the party that campaigned for freedom to a shallow, go-with-the-flow party that is willing to accommodate everything from authoritarianism and revolution to Islamism and a coup, with survival as its sole aim. The Wafd also suffers from a deep identity crisis. It has become neither liberal nor secular, and enjoys no distinct differences that make it stand out among other non-Islamist Egyptian parties.

In 1965, during the funeral of Wafd’s late leader, Mustafa al-Nahhas, thousands of Egyptians chanted during the funeral procession: “There is no leader after you Nahhas.” With the current colorless, divisive leadership of Wafd, that prediction has tragically proven to be correct.

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On Bilal Erdogan’s alleged Egyptian Nationality

Bilal photo

(Bilal Erdogan)

Yesterday, I tweeted an Arabic report published in Egypt’s newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY) about an ongoing court process to deprive Bilal Erdogan, the son of the Turkish president Recep Tayyib Erdogan, from his Egyptian citizenship. The report claimed that Bilal had used the Egyptian passport issued to him by the ousted Egyptian president Morsi to flee to Georgia after a huge corruption scandal went public on Dec. 17, 2013, and hinted that this is enough reason to revoke his citizenship.

Due to the seriousness of the allegations, and the huge interest that my tweet has generated among many Turks, I decided to trace the story to find as many details as possible. Here is what I found:

 First, the report seems to be authentic. It was published not only in al-Masry Al-Youm, one of Egypt’s biggest newspapers, but also in other Egyptian outlets. Second, the case is not new. It started in October 2014, when Egyptian lawyer Samir Sabry submitted the case to Egypt’s State Security, citing the Bilal Erdogan case as one of many cases in which the ousted president Mohamed Morsi allegedly abused his legal powers and granted many foreigners Egyptian citizenship. The case was escalated to the General Public Prosecutor to check the authenticity of the documents provided by Lawyer Sabry. The first court session was on the 9th of November 2014.

According to what leaked from those alleged documents, The Egyptian Lawyer Sabry, Bilal Erdogan has an Egyptian passport, in which his residence in Egypt (a legal requirement to be a citizen), is 1st Ahram Street Heliopolis, Cairo. As far as I am aware, no one can have access to these documents except the defendant Bilal Erdogan, or his legal team, and I doubt Turkey has even considered to send a legal team to check the case.

The fact that the court accepted the case indicates that both Egyptian security and judiciary have accepted the authenticity of those documents provided. In other words, any future verdict may not be whether Bilal Erdogan has Egyptian citizenship or not, but whether it is legitimate to revoke his citizenship.

As a consequence, the verdict, regardless of its nature, will be harmful to Morsi. The ousted president is already facing many ongoing legal charges, and has already been sentenced to death for one of them. Piling on more negative verdicts indicates dim prospects for his survival.

 Today in Turkey, Bilal Erdogan completely denied the allegations, calling them “slander and lies.” It also stated that Bilal Erdoğan is not an Egyptian citizen and did not use an Egyptian passport to flee to Georgia. Bilal Erdoğan also claimed that the report in al-Masry al-Youm was the doing of the “parallel structure,” a term used in Turkey to vilify the Gülen movement.

 Bilal Erdogan has every right to dismiss the allegations against him; however, it is important for him and for everyone else in Turkey to understand that what is going on in Egypt has nothing to do with Turkish domestic politics, but rather to do with the tense and deteriorating relationship between Egypt and Turkey. Moreover, Egyptian Lawyer Samir Sabry is a hard-core anti-Islamist with a record of other legal cases against non-Islamist revolutionaries.

 It seems that both Egypt and Turkey are using the case for domestic political reasons. In Egypt, the case is another weapon to demonize Morsi “ the traitor.” The case is clearly part of domestic politics; not even a single report was published about in in English. All reports, and comments were in Arabic. In Turkey, the story has become part of the polarized environment ahead of the election, regardless of its facts and background.

 The case is now postponed till next October, and may continue to drag on for years due to the slow bureaucratic nature of the Egyptian justice system. However, any verdict will be controversial and may not reflect the truth of what really happened in 2013 between Bilal Erdogan and Mohamed Morsi.

Posted in Egypt, Turkey | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Egyptian Aak 2015 – Week 21 ( May 18 – 24) an

Top News

  • Egypt appoints Brotherhood critics as Justice minister (Wednesday)
  • Egypt’s militants’ vows to attack judges (Thursday)
  • Egypt to host 2016’s World Economic Forum (Friday)
  • IMF criticizes Egypt’s decision to delay capital gain tax (Sunday)

 Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

 Friday

 Saturday

Sunday

Good reports

Good read

From Twitter

Plus:

Photo Gallery

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments