Egyptian Aak: Week 23 -The week of Aabath

Image week 24

(One of the “suggestions” made by Egypt’s political elite to tackle the Ethiopian dam)

Main headlines








A few thoughts

 This week, I would like to introduce a new Arabic term, “Aabath.”  It was mentioned by various Egyptian figures, from president Morsi who described the rebel campaign against him as Aabath, to various disenchanted local political commentators, unhappy with the chaotic political scene in the country, and even the satirist Bassem Youssef.

Aabath is word describing a wild mix of the absurd and futile nonsense. This week was certainly full of unique Egyptian Aabath.

 The best example was Monday’s shambolic meeting called by president Morsi to discuss the Ethiopian dam project, which was broadcast live on Egyptian television. Unaware that the event was airing live, Egyptian political “elite” expressed candid, but reckless, and even condescending suggestions including: sabotaging the dam, interfering in the internal political disputes in Ethiopia, even bribing the local tribes. In a nutshell, our “wise men,” as Amr Hamzaway has rightly described, had decided to assume the role of James Bond. Inevitably, they drew scathing criticism, and provided rich material for Bassem Youssef and his satirical show. Even social media joined in with inspired widespread mockery.

 It is worth noting that workers at Egyptian state TV were instructed not to label the Ethiopia Dam as a renaissance dam, obviously to keep “renaissance” as the exclusive catchphrase of the Brotherhood’s project aimed at rebuilding Egypt. In addition, some local media have circulated that China will not finance Ethiopia’s dam, yet there was no independent verification of this news.

 On the other hand, the Egyptian main opposition, the National Salvation Front (NSF) has decided to assume a different role, not from a James Bond movie, but from a classic Egyptian crime movie, “The Second Man.” They did this when a prominent member of the NSF, Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, agreed to meet the Brotherhood strong man Kheirat Al-Shater, which was hosted by politician Aymen Nour. The meeting was ___ somehow___ leaked to the media, triggering accusations and counter-accusations, plus endless debate and criticism. Although everyone agrees that the meeting has achieved nothing, still Egypt’s feckless opposition has opted to be distracted by this virtual battle, arguing about the logistics, purpose, and details of the meeting, rather than focusing on its main goal; fighting the Muslim Brotherhood and their growing iron-fist rule.

Thus far, the opposition has no clear strategy for 30 June, a day of planned protests throughout Egypt against president Morsi on the anniversary of his swearing into office, or even for the day after. There are endless challenges ahead, from a high probability of bloody violence on 30 June to a lower possibility of a political void if Morsi decides to step down. Yet the only action that the opposition is currently offering is ranting.

 In another example of Aabath, on the 43rd anniversary of the Six-day War, many in Egypt are still bickering about Nasser’s rule in the 1967 war, with Muslim Brotherhood’s members and supporters blasting the late president’s military performance in 1967. Meanwhile pro-Nasser activists responded by hacking the Brotherhood’s Facebook page. Such nonsense is not really new, the old debate erupts __ quietly __ every year, but this year was louder as the brotherhood are now the ruling party and it has started to openly express its grievances from Egypt’s left.

This week Jerusalem rally was an opportunity for the Brotherhood to support their Culture Minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz, who is facing a serious challenge by artists who have started a sit-in at his office in the ministry’s headquarters this week. In addition to expressing his support of Jerusalem, Dr. Abdel Aziz has  declared a cultural revolution that provides all forms of arts and creativity, and rejects “intellectual terrorism.” It is unclear what “all forms of arts and creativity” means for the Islamists. On various occasions they have expressed their desire to ban ballet, contemporary dance, and other modern art. Unless maybe they mean that the revolution that Abdel Aziz is advocating is the Islamist equivalent of Mao’s cultural revolution, with the intent to purge Egypt’s contemporary customs, cultures, habits and ideas, and replace them with puritan Islamist alternatives.

The Brotherhood’s ongoing mission of empowerment is growing steadily, with concrete results within the information and culture ministries, not to mention the “efficient” public prosecutor who has already arrested a substantial number of anti-Morsi activists.

The Recent NGOs trial and the recent verdict that decried foreign funding as a new form of “control, predominance and soft imperialism practiced by donors to destabilise, weaken and dismantle beneficiary countries,” is another form of populist Aabath, as H Hellyer wrote, it’s about sending a message – that civil society organizations in Egypt are not welcome to challenge the status quo and authority.

In a nutshell, Islamist arrogance has met with only confusion and division from their opposition. As a result, both camps are fighting at the expense of the state with its collapsing economy, energy crisis, water shortage, and million of angry, disenchanted Egyptians. Both sides are not fighting to save Egypt, but are fighting for the ruins of what will be left of it. It is unlikely that this Aabath will stop anytime soon. In fact, Egypt is probably heading for at least a few weeks of meaningless Aabath. However, the determined Egyptian youth are ignoring both sides and are still collecting signature in their relentless anti-Morsi ‘Rebel” campaign, they are the only meaningful movement among the Aabath, that is why I am still optimistic about the future of Egypt.

Good Read

  • Brotherhoodization of the Opera by Vivian Salama
  • Farag Fouda; assassination of the word by Sara Abou Bakr
  • What the U.S. should have said to Egypt about the NGO trial by Amy Hawthorne
  • Egypt’s Khaled Said : Three years on, still no justice by Bel Trew

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.

1 Response to Egyptian Aak: Week 23 -The week of Aabath

  1. nedhamson says:

    Reblogged this on Ned Hamson Second Line View of the News and commented:
    Tons of competent people in Egypt but none seem to be involved in politics or governing. Those who were are being tossed out by those who are not.


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