(Photo, Al-ahram online)
- EU offers Egypt 5 billion euros to support economy and democratic transition.
- Egypt’s stock market finished trading in the red, battered by political and economic uncertainty.
- New cemetery endangers Egypt’s ancient necropolis.
- Imams protest brotherhood influence on the endowments ministry.
- FJP decides to ally with Abu-Ismail in elections.
- Shura council committee approves electronic voting system.
- Sinai’s Tribal leader, al-Muni’ei: Egypt’s army creating buffer to protect Israel at our expense (Arabic).
- Train crash in Cairo suburb kills 19 young conscripts.
- Morsi’s slurs against Jews stir concern,
- Court postponed case against Parliament.
- A group of US Senators, including John McCain arrived in Egypt.
- Deputy Governor of the central bank resigns after her boss steps down, amid economic crisis.
- Egypt’s FM criticizes military escalation in Mali (Arabic).
- Eight parties form coalition for coming parliamentary election.
- Norwegian Cruise Lines cancels all Egypt calls through early 2014.
- McCain “disapproves” of Morsi’s comments about Jews but says he will push for aid to Egypt.
- Mob tears down Christian social centre in Fayoum.
- Currency crisis won’t end planned acquisition of Societe Generale’s Egyptian unit by Qatar National Bank.
- Egypt demands Abu Dhabi disclose charges against Brotherhood detainees.
- At least 24 dead in Alexandria building collapse.
- Morsi tries to defuse flap over Jews slur.
- Growing divide in Shura Council over elections law.
- Official death toll rises to 28 in Alexandria’s building collapse.
- Egyptian bonds retreat after Moody’s considers credit downgrade.
- Qatar lifts Egypt assistance by $2.5 billion.
- US says Egypt needs to do more to bolster religious tolerance.
- Egypt’s opposition leaders meet with prominent Salafist preacher.
- Islamist parties eye potential alliance in run-up to Parliament polls.
- Police kill gunman in North Sinai.
- Egyptian pound extends losses versus dollar and hits new low.
- Egyptian economists skeptical about ‘Islamic’ bonds.
- 3 Egyptians among militants killed at Algeria gas plant.
- FJP refusing international supervision over the upcoming elections, reminiscent of Mubarak era, according to activists (Arabic).
- Jama’a al-Islamiya forming large Islamist coalition but won’t include FJP.
- Islamists protest French intervention in Mali.
- Moody’s investors service puts Egypt on review for possible downgrade.
- Thousands of Ultras rally in Tahrir, demanding justice for Port Said victims.
- Violence erupts after Muslim protesters attack a church in Upper Egypt.
- Prosecutor general investigates ‘defamation of Islam’ charges against Journalist Ibrahim Eissa.
- Cairo criminal court released on presidential pardon, 400 Mohamed Mahmoud defendants
- Shura council approves controversial election law and rejects proposal on women and Christians.
- Muslim Brotherhood figures diplomatic posts.
A Few Thoughts
- On the Domestic Front: In 48 hours, two train crashes and three building collapses occurred. These tragic accidents have exposed the grim reality of the country’s public services and its climate of corruption. It also exposed the Islamist government’s abstract vision, with confused sense of priorties that doesn’t necessarily fit in with reality. The blame game, including blaming Christians for the train crash, reflects immaturity and inability to deal with Egypt’s chronic problems.
- Political parties: Fragmentation seems to be the prevailing theme. The NSF’s cohesion has been faltering ever since amendments to the law organizing parliamentary elections were proposed. An interesting statement by Nour member predicts that FJP will only win about 35% of the seats in the next Parliament. I think the Muslim Brotherhood shares his assessment, which is why they opted to appease the Salafis who oppose the “quota” systems.
- Economy: The hype about Islamic bonds is one example of how the word “Islamic,” is now used and abused to label superficial changes that is aimed to add a religious flavor to a politically motivated phenomenon (bonds, cafes). Here is another example of the government’s weird approach to the economy, which I will not even comment about. There were many resignations among big names, including Al Ahly (Egypt’s biggest bank) Chairman, Tarek Amer, and the Deputy Governor of the central bank. Many see that as part of planting pro-Morsi personnel in sensitive jobs that control the economy. In a nutshell, two words reflect the current state of the Egyptian economy—fear and greed.
- Judiciary: Though the top court postponed a ruling on the legitimacy of the upper house of Parliament and avoided a potential political storm, there are remaining potential storms coming on Saturday, the 26th of January, with another verdict on the crucial cases of the Port Said massacre. Many Ultras (as demonstrated Friday in Tahrir) demand the death sentence to revenge the death of their loved ones at last year’s Port Said tragedy. I doubt they will get the verdict they expect; there are droughts of evidences in post-revolution Egypt that make the job of any Judge nearly impossible.
- Sectarian approach and slurs: It is hard to ignore the trail of incidents for which Copts were blamed or attacked. The simmering tension between Islamists and Copts is not showing any sign of easing. Although Islamists always affirm their respect for their ”Coptic Brothers,” realities on the ground tell a different story of mistrust and a low threshold for justification of attacking Coptic local institutions once any accusation has surfaced. As for Morsi’s 2010 video, describing Jews as “pigs and bloodsuckers,” it is indicative of not just Morsi’s mindset, but also many more like-minded people in Egypt. Morsi will get away with his slurs, both the U.S. and Israel don’t want to escalate the matter; in other words, Morsi is just a lucky, hypocritical version of Ahmadinejad.
- Revolution’s anniversary: The supposedly happy celebration could potentially turn to a sour occasion, which political parties abuse for political gains:- With an eye on next parliamentary election, the Muslim Brotherhood seems to prefer to celebrate in the form of “public campaign,” around the country. It seems that the ruling party still behaves as a non-government organization. – Opposition parties are planning a demonstration in Tahrir, where they are within their comfort zone and can rant happily without articulating a clear strategy for the future.- Hazmoun are planning to “celebrate” at Media city, to protest what they perceive as the bias of the media against Islamists.
- A magic solution for sexual harassment: Some cadres of Egypt’s Strong party, led by Aboul-Fetouh, proposed separate bus services for women and men and doesn’t just indicate a twisted understanding of the roots behind sexual harassment in Egypt, but also indicates a problem within the party’s conservative camp, as well as the more liberal one. This difference will ultimately shape the future and the performance of this party in the next election.
- Egypt’s climate of intimidation. Editorial Board Washington Post
- Are Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood democrats? Steven Cook.
- The majority strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood. Roel Meijer
- Iran-Brotherhood ties: rooted in history with eye on future. Hassan Hassan
- The mystery in a Mubarak’s trial trial isn’t the verdict; it’s the crime. Issandr El-Amrani
- Worship and whipping on Nasser’s birthday. Maher Hamoud
- The future of Al-Wasat party. Nicholas Gjorvad
“Many see that as part of planting pro-Morsi personnel in sensitive jobs that control the economy.” Some may think of this as “Islamist” (MB) gaining control of economy, but danger may be more like Iran, where control shifted into families of clerics from Qom. Iran has entire empires of corruption, masked by religious rhetoric. That nation has major inherent economic problems even without the external sanctions that were long masked by oil wealth. We can only hope the MB can transition from its old role of the support alternative for the man-on-the-street to policy-driven governance that benefits all Egyptians, and not sink into the morass of personal-family empires like the Mubarak era. Morsi is an engineer who needs to think “fixing” the country and not subjugating it.