Egyptian Aak. Week 19

Main Headlines








 A Few Thoughts

Ahmed Maher

One of the ironies of Egypt is to see a high-profile activist like the arrest of cofounder of April6, Ahmed Maher by a government backed by the winning party, the Muslim Brotherhood, and then later, the political wing of the Brotherhood released a statement demanding his release, as if he were being held by enemy forces or opposition parties. Another and even more tragic irony is that Maher was sent last night to Tora prison, the same prison where ex-president Mubarak is held.

 Two years after the ousting of Mubarak, Egyptian prisons are full of revolutionary activists who fought against him in the January 2011 revolution; however, each activist has a different reason behind his detention that can shed some light on the opaque dynamics of Egypt these days.

 Remember that, when the April 6 movement first took place in 2008, it was initially dismissed by the Muslim Brotherhood as the work of a bunch of “crazy boys.” It was only later in 2010 that the Brotherhood started to accept April 6 as a real political player. However, April 6 considered its alliance with the Brotherhood as a deal between two equal political partners, but the Brotherhood considered April 6 as a junior partner, with only relative rights, which they didn’t see as permanent or binding.

 If April 6’s stance against the Brotherhood following Morsi’s November decree was not surprising, its innovative approach to protesting has taken the Brotherhood by surprise. April 6 has organised several unannounced, usually peaceful protests in various places including Morsi’s home and the ministry of interior. The turning point was what later became known as “the underwear protest,” held on March 29 outside the home of Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, during which Protesters waved the underwear and held banners that accused the Interior Ministry of “prostituting” itself to the Morsi government.

The peaceful yet provocative nature of this protest was proven too much for an “Islamist” party like the Muslim Brotherhood and for their loyal Minister of Interior. Members of the Brotherhood started to attack members of April 6 on local media since that protest, accusing them of taking an indecent approach to politics.

 Maher’s release on Saturday, after just one day in detention instead of the initial planned four days’ detention, has two possible explanations: Either it was a balloon test that had to be abruptly terminated following a public outcry or a mediocre gamble from the Brotherhood to prove their “impartiality” toward the government.  It is highly unlikely that the Ministry of Interior has arrested a high-profile figure like Maher without a nod from the Islamist leadership, but if this was the case, then his abrupt release kind of proves the point that the leadership is actually intervening in government work. Also, his release does not mean a non-guilty verdict; just as with Bassem Youssef, it will be a long process involving a grueling investigation.

 The Islamist leadership in Egypt has opted for legal harassment to fight its opponents. Such a policy has two goals: First, it drains the opposition mentally and physically. Second, it distracts them from core battles like the election campaign, particularly in rural Egypt. However, it is a policy that has proven to be risky and counter-productive, and it can be costly for the Brotherhood in the long term. In his last piece before his arrest, Maher reminded his readers that the Brotherhood during the Mubarak era only sought to reform the system and not revolt against it. In fact, the Brotherhood is neither a group of reformers nor revolutionary, and that is precisely their problem.

 Tamarod (rebellion):

 One of the new and most intriguing developments on the Egyptian front is the Rebellion campaign, which aims to collect 13.5 million signatures to withdraw confidence from President Mohamed Morsi and to call for an early presidential election. The movement seems to gather momentum with very enthusiastic participation, particularly in cities like Port Said and Mahalla. Up to this point, the Brotherhood seems to be in its usual dismissive mood, doubting that Tamarod will reach its target. However, the strength of Tamaroud lies not just in its numbers, but also in its innovative approach that replaces the current opposition’s hollow ranting with an actual campaign on the ground that re-ignites the memory of the 1919 civil campaign and can potentially challenge Morsi’s legitimacy.

 The mysterious Suez Canal project:

Two weeks ago, I reported on the resignation of ex-PM Essam Sharaf from leading the Suez Canal development project. Interestingly, this week, prominent judge Tarek al-Bishry wrote a strongly worded critical piece in Arabic newspaper el-Shorouk, describing the project as aiming to convert the Suez Canal area into a “privately owned, independent region under direct control of President Morsi.” Although these accusations have been raised before by many opposition figures accusing the Brotherhood of planning to sell the Suez Canal to Qatar, triggering the satirical song “My Beloved Qatar” by Bassem Youssef, the fact that a respected figure like Bishri confirms these allegations adds more weight to the situation and raises alarm about the project. Again, as usual, the Brotherhood’s figures reported on local media were dismissive, claiming that Bishry’s judgment is based on a false document released by the Egyptian Arabic newspaper Al-Masry-el- Youm. Thus far, however, neither the government nor the presidential team has revealed any details about the project or issued a formal rebuttal of Bishry’s piece.

Here are my thoughts about the new Cabinet in case you  missed it.

For the statement of General el-Sissi and Al-Qaeda cells in Egypt, I hope will cover them in separate pieces.

Good Read

Article I disagree with:

Morsi and the Muslims Shadi Hamid

Shadi’s statement: “The real ideological battles haven’t really started yet, ” is not entirely accurate, the process of Islamisation has started and is already in second gear.

Finally, here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

About nervana111

Doctor, blogger and Commentator on Middle East issues. The only practising doctor who write in Middle Eastern politics in UK.
This entry was posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Egyptian Aak. Week 19

  1. Amr says:

    Well said. Thanks 🙂


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