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Total number of comments: 69 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:15)

Steven

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  • Egypt's new Cult of Personality: The Beatification of Saint Gen. al-Sisi
    • It would be very interesting to see what results Zogby would report now. I suspect that serious damage has been done not only to Sisi's reputation, but to even support for the military institution as a whole. The politicization of the military will gradually demolish much faith in that organization.

      Also, the Taharor movement claims to have conducted polling supporting its conclusion that there is strong support for what it calls a civil candidate. They want ElBaradei to return and run for the presidency.

  • Egypt: Al-Sisi's run for President: Bonapartism and Gulf Oil Money
    • The more Sisi's agenda becomes evident, the more ludicrous it would be for unions or striking workers to back him, outside of the pro-dictatorship ones. Especially now that brute force is being increasingly used against their leaders, as in the postal workers case.

      The Sisi candidacy has even further turned the armed forces into a tool of partisan politics. This will start eroding the cultic image of both Sisi and that institution. Consequently, opposition to Sisi's governing approach will also produce long lasting societal effects in terms of generating anti-military sentiment. The military will become discredited in the eyes of many and blamed for the inevitable failures to come, especially if the election outcome is rigged. It will also become increasingly hard for the army to hide its extreme economic corruption and abusive practices.

      The partisanization of Sisi (and the army as well) will further reduce and polarize his waning popularity. If in democratic countries candidates cannot win universal support, there is no way the dictatorial Sisi's platform will be without controversy. Additionally, many Egyptian polling sources have repeatedly been proven to be unwilling or unable to publish useful information. His support base is likely still fairly large but probably considerably diminished from what he possessed in 2013.

      If Sabahi actually manages to get Sisi to the debating room, Sisi would have quite a difficult time justifying the massacres and ongoing torture that he has facilitated.

  • On Iranian New Year, Russia hints it May Swing Support to Tehran over Crimea Sanctions
    • Great post.

      "Others have argued that the West may get closer to Iran in order to turn her against Russia. Many Iranians are aware of these problems and have warned the officials that Ukraine is a geopolitical dispute between Russia and the West and Iran should remain neutral in the whole affair "

      The probability that this scenario will ultimately unfold is frequently being underestimated. In times of geopolitical realignment and great changes/shifts, it is rare for things in only one region to experience the alterations while conditions remain static in other areas.

      Not to overstate the odds, but there is no specific reason why American-Iranian relations must remain how they are indefinitely. The conditions that gave rise to the current problems occurred decades ago and cannot be considered a permanent, perpetual basis for how to conduct relations between the two countries.

      In addition to the changing foreign policies of both countries, there is the fact that the U.S. is not as militarily involved in the Middle East as it was a few years ago; a trend which may continue to accelerate. If the risk of military conflict diminishes and the clashes over influence morph into something less hostile, there becomes less of a reason for an Iranian turn toward Russia for support.

      Obviously, other scenarios are also very possible, yet it cannot be ruled out that Western policy makers will consider going this road.

  • Dear Arab Liberals: The Enemies of your Enemies aren't Necessarily your Friends
    • The idea that democracy, liberty, or human rights can be defend once one accepts the possibility of liquidating enemies/rivals through police power, or the prospect of curtailing freedom to supposedly advance an ideological project (even though the opposite happens), need to be rejected completely and utterly by these liberals.

      Once a political movement accepts the idea that suspending support for liberty or even humanity itself is an acceptable course of action, it cease to be a useful vehicle for advancing political or socio-economic development. The door becomes open to it supporting all sorts of abuses and dictatorial tactics.

      Many of the region's dictators understand that their sunset may soon be approaching and thus are trying to institute new mind games to entice revolutionaries or potential revolutionaries into buying in to some kind of deadening struggle which can be used to delay change.

      In Egypt's case, Sisi increasingly stands exposed as a lying, murderous con artist with an insatiable lust for the presidency, not a hero. Hamdeen Sabahi's recent statements against the Field Marshal were fully warranted; indeed, overdue. It appears very likely that the election is going to be rigged.

      Saudi liberals, gradually becoming more prominent, are being subject to extremely harsh crackdowns, even as splits, divisions, and jealousies inundate the GCC ruling elites.

      These despots fear that Tunisia reflects the region's future. No war in Tunisia, no fanatical political hysteria, no claims that to protest is to commit the worst possible crime in existence, and actually a constitution with a reasonable amount of consensus sustaining it. Also, they high probability that the upcoming elections will actually be free and fair.

  • A Russo-Iranian Bloc against the United States?
    • Iran would welcome Russian economic and political cooperation, but it isn't likely that the calculations that are driving the thaw with the West will be fundamentally stopped or derailed by the Crimean problem. It is possible to extract benefits from working with Russia without putting too many eggs in its risky and uncertain basket.

    • Rouhani, Zarif, and the political faction who have gained from the 2013 presidential election have invested a lot in their plan for rapprochement with the U.S. This policy has already started to bear some economic fruits and is one of the pillars for their intentions to embark upon certain domestic reforms, particularly economic ones. From the Iranian side, the most probable pressure that would halt the policy is if Khamenei turned against it and opposed it. However, he hasn't done that as yet.

      Putin has created problems for himself with his military intervention into Crimea and potentially other parts of Ukraine. A Putin made more desperate by isolation is unlikely to be a Putin who can or will make extreme demands in terms of forcing other countries who want to work with Russia to accept his actions in Ukraine or other conflicts. This means that many countries may take a page out of Putin's book and pocket whatever he offers without actually endorsing or supporting his invasion of Ukraine.

      It will not just be Moscow but also Washington that will be seeking to win favor from other countries. The U.S. will seek to detach countries from Moscow's orbit or from backing its more controversial policies.

      For some countries, a bidding war could ensue between the U.S. and Putin.

      In fact, this scenario bears at least some similarities to what led to the détente between the U.S. and China in the advanced stages of the Cold War. Several defining variables remain undetermined as yet about whether the nuclear and other negotiations involving Iran will follow a similar trajectory, but there are some parallels. Both the U.S. and the Chinese leadership saw value in turning a new page on relations, a fact which actually gave both enhanced leverage over world events, as the Soviet Union was one of the main beneficiaries of the lack of relations between the two countries. .

      Then there also is the schism within the GCC. Oman has already attempted to facilitate relations with Iran. Qatar, too, cold potentially choose to bid defiance of Saudi Arabia and the UAE while simultaneously trying to woo the West by advancing the nuclear negotiations.

  • The War on Terror Jumps the Shark as Everyone in the Mideast accuses everyone else of Terrorism
    • The fact that these autocratic leaders are now vilifying each other with the same language does not bode well for their future. Their strategy of employing the cult-like, reverential fetish surrounding the word terrorism to end dissent is backfiring badly.

      They ought to take note of what happened to Yanukoyvch when he tried to label an uprising against himself as "terrorists," "Nazis," "extremists," etc.

      Applying the word terrorist to democratic dissidents no longer automatically convinces most people that such the person to whom the label is being applied is a subhuman entity.

      The Middle Eastern versions of McCarthyism are destined to end up discarded and discredited.

      Furthermore, these self-righteous dictatorships ignore their own role in creating violent insurgencies like ABM or al-Qaeda. Their gulags and extensive use of torture certainly helped give impetus to the momentum gained by these movements. The frequent wars they wage, sponsor, and foster also strongly fuel these organizations.

      In a sense, the governments do not want their bogeymen to disappear and would privately mourn their passing. But now that popular protest and other strategies are increasingly replacing warfare as a means of political change, they are being forced to react in ways that are not working well.

      It is also obvious that torture is terrorism and those who practice it are terrorists.

      Not only the hypocrisy but also the rhetorical plagiarism ought to embarrass these elites. Especially as in the past they often denounced certain of the originators of the phrases they now employ.

  • A New Arab Cold War: Saudi Arabia Pressures Qatar on Muslim Brotherhood, American Think Tanks
    • The Saudis and Emiratis mistake the real meaning of the Brotherhood's electoral success. They read into "evidence" that there supposedly are no youth movements or youth discontent. This false interpretation is going to keep getting more costly.

      Never underestimate how detached from reality the elites ruling these countries are. For evidence, one need look no further than the fraudulent HIV cure being put forward by the Egyptian military.

      It some cases, the conflicts between the monarchies or other dictatorships is simply a manifestation of the fact that competing megalomaniacs cannot agree on a plan to carve up the world or coexist. Each wants to be predominate.

    • Saudi Arabia's foreign policy since the 2011 revolutions began is essentially a failing and futile attempt to defend a collapsing and outdated regional order. People in the Middle East and North Africa are increasingly rejecting the domination of grossly inequitable dictatorial modes of control. Saudi Arabia feels threatened by everything that emerges from these revolutions and thus will oppose their outcomes no matter what. Monarchies are not going to emerge from these popular uprisings.

      Whether it is the Ikwan, the liberals, the so-called left, Nasserism, or any other political party that wins the first elections, the Saudi autocracy views it as a mortal peril to their own mode of rule.

      Saudi opposition to revolutionism is based on the same mentality as to why they opposed the spread of Nasserism and Nasserite Egypt's bid for regional hegemony. They also opposed Saddam Hussein's plans for expansion, even though they originally were not nearly as hostile toward him.

      The Saudi elite seems to have three paramount goals (their domestic and foreign policies overlap in many ways):

      1. Maintain to the maximum extent possible the idea that the only viable for of government is system in which a dictatorial elite controls access to power and wealth.

      2. Support the principle of hereditary succession or something that approximates it as closely as possible.

      3. Promote the dominance and leadership of the Saudi elite over Muslims worldwide.

      The new revolutionary wave threatens all three goals to an extent never seen in the 20th century.

      The overwhelming preponderance of North African and Middle Eastern dictatorships, even those that started out as populist nationalist, have evolved into stationary, sectarian, misogynist systems that are very open to Saudi influence. They have moved closer to the past military dictatorships that Pakistan is trying to escape from. Some of these governments are now hereditary systems, albeit, not as extreme as North Korea.

      Any new dictatorship that emerges can only receive Saudi backing if it is not too independent. It has to be at least somewhat open to supporting Salafism as well; they absolutely will not back an Ataturkist system. Nor will they back democratic nationalists, like Hamdeen Sabahi, against the so-called religious right.

      Assad's Syria is an exception to the general pattern of Saudi support for dictatorship because it still operates outside the Saudi framework and is viewed as an Alawite Shiite government by the Saudi elite. Like they cannot support the current Iraq, they can't support the Assads.

      As for Iran, the Saudis will not like any Iranian government. They didn't even like Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi all that much, given that they oppose Shiism, opposed the Shah's interest in dominating the Persian Gulf, and his willingness to use force in territorial disputes.. A book could be written on this subject, but suffice it to say, an Iran controlled by the Green movement would not be viewed any less negatively by the Saudi elite or by their Wahhabi allies. The Bahraini dictatorship would be put in even more peril by a different type of Iran.

      The trouble for Saudi Arabia is that the revolutionary wave is only going to get more extreme. The Sisi cult-deep state alliance is failing catastrophically and is destined to be thrown on the historical trash heap as a failed example of counter-revolution.

      Generally, religious conservatives tend to do fairly well in societies transitioning to democracy for the first time in their history. The Ikwan was just the first to obtain some measure of success and wasn't all that revolutionary or willing to embrace hardcore revolutionary tactics.

      What will happen when either liberalism or the so-called left seizes power? Either of these is profoundly more threatening than the Ikwan from the Gulf monarchies. What will happen when Sisi falls to a new Egyptian movement that promotes and supports democratic dissidents in these monarchies?

      Decades ago, these monarchies exerted every effort to destroy Nasserism, the liberals, and the socialists. Probably the worst case scenario for them is if some kind of populist "left" movement takes hold as the new predominate force after the religious conservatives. There would be no community of interests between the plutocratic monarchies and those movements.

      The only reason why the Gulf dictatorships fixate so much on the Brotherhood is because they fail to grasp the nature of popular uprisings. They are so out of date and detached from reality that they actually believe that a liberal-Brotherhood-Masonic-foreign alliance of conspirators plotted the overthrow of Ben Ali, Mubarak, Saleh, and other dictators.

  • Paranoia strikes Deep: Russian Media Propaganda Feeds Ukraine Crisis
    • Putin's propaganda that democratic dissidents are "terrorists" or "neo-Nazis" as well as his invasion of Ukrainian territory is likely to produce lasting damage to his credibility as an ally, sponsor, or patron.

      The more erratic, hypocritical, arrogant, and domineering the Putinist elite acts, the harder it becomes for other countries to back Russian actions. Portraying all political or social progress in other countries (he is arguing this all over the place, not just in Ukraine) as being the result of terroristic foreign conspiracies is not going to win friends.

      What Putin is doing will end up repelling other countries and thus driving more of them toward the U.S.

  • The Crimean Crisis and the Middle East: Will Syria & Iran be the Winners?
    • Iran isn't likely to go out of its way to help Russia when in the past Russia has been very fair-weather and unreliable as a partner. While it won't ditch the Russia connections, Iran has too much to gain by improving relations with the West and China to hurt that by supporting Russia's intervention into Ukraine. Iran has been cultivating relations with states like Georgia and did not really support the Russian conflict with Georgia over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

      If Russia ends up being sanctioned, Iran might try to increase its leverage rather than tilt more toward a weakened and controversial Putin. This is contingent on the nuclear and other negotiations being likely to lead to a breakthrough.

      Prior to the 1950s, Iranian relations with the U.S. were great while its relations with Russia were not. While the past may not repeat itself, the present state of geopolitical affairs cannot permanently endure.

      As for Egypt, the idea of buying Russian weapons makes little strategic or monetary sense. Given that the Egyptian deep state is loyal to Riyahd and Abu Dhabi, the supposed Russia tilt is most likely more political theater to help solidify the emerging dictatorship.

      I expect that the military elite in Egypt is going to be shaken to its core by the rising labor unrest. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the strike wave and energy crisis in Egypt could in the near future galvanize an Egyptian Thaksin-like anti-elite political movement. The economic crisis in Egypt is extremely severe and is steadily getting worse.

      It is basically impossible for any Egyptian government, no matter its composition, to be pro-Assad.

  • Racializing Politics: We don't say "Slav" Democracy troubled in Ukraine, why Talk about "Arab" Failures?
    • Yanukoych has fallen, being deposed by Ukraine's parliament. It is extremely obvious that the uprising in Ukraine will have major ramifications across the globe, including in Egypt. The failure of the anti-protest law in Ukraine, as well as the futility of butchering protesters, must give Sisi's handlers pause in their preparation for a presidential bid.

      Putin's endorsement of Sisi suddenly isn't looking so good. Putin cannot be said to be on the march if he is not able to help defend his clients much. I have no doubt that if Sisi tries to act like a Yanukovych on crack/steroids during his presidential term, he will eventually fall. The repression in Egypt is already starting to shake the system, though it still is in the warming up phase.

      It is also clear that the Algerian ruling clique is heading for dissolution at the current rate.

      The Ukrainian uprising will help reinvigorate the Arab Spring momentum. It may not be immediate, but there is no getting around the fact that what happened in Ukraine shares strong similarities with changes that swept some North African and Middle Eastern countries.

      Yanukovych tried to vilify protesters and opposition as terrorists, foreign agents, traitors, and extremists but where did that get him? How long can the Egyptian elite continue to condemn all opposition, even peaceful dissidents and protesters, as terrorists, foreign agents, traitors, spies, saboteurs, or aliens? The demolition of the anti-uprising narrative in Ukraine will greatly weaken the vilification campaigns against Arab democracy and human rights movements.

  • Putinism in Cairo? The Rise of the Russian Model
    • The fact that this arms purchased if having to financed so heavily by Gulf money rather than through Egypt alones speaks volumes about this charade. Not only that, the meeting was rushed due to an obvious desire by elements of the Egyptian elite to push this event as a late act in Sisi's military career prior to his transformation into an overt politician.

      The most important purpose of the trip to Russia was, most likely, to give the illusion that foreign leaders will support and defend a Sisi presidency. The trouble though is that these are at best fair weather friends; they won't get too close to the Egyptian authoritarians if they start to become too hated in Egypt itself.

      One thing that is not discussed enough with all the talk of Sisi's supposedly overwhelmingly universal popular support is how well his cult will translate into a true political movement. Can Sisi actually retain this deified image created through a personality cult once he starts being forced to defend a platform and get into the grit of campaigning?

      Sure, the state and establishment will fanatically fight for him, but Egypt is in very bad economic straits. There is no indication that Sisi has any plan that will provide credible solutions to Egypt's various problems. There is an opening for Hamdeen Sabahi to exploit, even if ultimately things are too stacked against him to win.

      There are reasons to be skeptical that Putinism or other forms of authoritarianism can be successfully sustained in Egypt. One is that the Egyptian deep state is significantly more brutal and open about its dictatorial tendencies than what exists in Russia. Putinism tries to avoid pushing things to such an extreme that Putin himself garners too much hatred. By contrast, the pro-Mubarak, pro-Sisi forces have very little restrain and are right now practicing torture and suppression of dissidents on a massive scale. Egyptian dictatorship does 99.8% votes, not 55.7%.

      Even more importantly, Egyptian opinion will not be patient with failure, and it swings sharply against incumbents if they do not deliver. There is no reason to think that Sisi will be immune to this problem. Sisi supporters cannot wish away Egypt's recent history of revolutionism; especially not when they encouraged massive protests against Morsi. The same logic that worked against Morsi could definitely bring down the more authoritarian Sisi in the future. The tendency of the country to be drawn toward extremes also will work against the military establishment's attempts to permanently impose itself.

      Simply put, either an attempt to reestablishment Mubarakism in the guise of a semi-fascist order or an effort to employ Putinism will result in the system being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the coming years. Neither can deliver the goods that Egyptians are looking for and the sky high, messianic expectations surrounding Sisi will disappoint harshly.

      It also appears that Putin is not succeeded yet in turning Ukraine into a vassal. Yanukovych has a shaky presidency that has suffered a substantial diminishment in popularity while facing a determined opposition. Additionally, the Russian bailout for Ukraine failed to advanced Putin's agenda to an appreciable degree.

  • The 18th Brumaire of Gen. al-Sisi in Egypt
    • It is quite strange that the Sisi cult has caught on to the degree it has when no one has actually heard Sisi announce a presidential platform or a set of policies.

      If we go by his behavior in the interim cabinet, it gets even harder to explain. The real platform, of course, is to act as a front man to serve the interests of certain extremely violent individuals and institutions. But whatever set of lies that will be crafted, produced, and publicized as his supposed presidential agenda will itself be divisive and cannot satisfy everyone at the same time.

      The Sisi candidacy is a colossal, monumental mistake.

  • 3 Years Later, Young Bloggers who made the Tahrir Revolution are in Jail
    • On some articles in which you see loads of reader comments defending the hunting down of Egyptian democrats and attacking anyone criticizing it, one gets the sense that some of these comments were posted by elements associated with the Egyptian Ministry of Interior. There are some that even try to make contorted and tortured defenses of Mostafa Bakry's lunacy.

      It would not be a first; other governments are known to employ similar tactics.

      The escalating quantity of police resources spent on the crackdown against journalists, dissidents, intellectuals, political scientists, bloggers, satirists, and sports fans is clearly damaging the government's ability to detect and stop car bombs or other such attacks. It would seem that knowledge is more dangerous to primitive militaristic ideologies than is physical violence.

  • On eve of Revolution Anniversary, Cairo Shaken by deadly Bombings
    • I wonder what will happen if Hamdeen Sabahi goes through with his plan to run as a presidential candidate. Without doubt, the media and state forces will be going all out for Sisi (or maybe Muwafi), but it would seem that Sabahi's candidacy will tear open the so-called June 30 coalition. The crackdown is already ripping its fabric, but the presidential contest could get very unpleasant in terms of rhetoric and violence. There is the issue of whether Sabbahi or whoever is the main challenger will even be allowed to campaign to any appreciable degree, or whether his supporters be rounded up at every turn. The handling of the referendum does not bode well. The forces running the counter-revolution have a massive stake in not allowing a second civilian challenge to their power, one that could be substantially more threatening the Morsi.

      Khaled Ali, should he run, could be fairly hazardous to the plan to make Sisi the president. It would seem that either Sabahi or Khaled Ali could divide the urban vote (especially gaining the leftist and liberal votes), while making progress in the rural areas. The elites backing Sisi will try to sell a false package of goods by putting up a grandiose sounding platform that will never really materialize.

      The level of debate and free speech that a real campaign would require could pose problems for sustaining the crackdown. However, engaging in too much electoral repression risks creating an explosion. Perhaps Sisi's elite and foreign backers within the government are counting on his rivals not building any real momentum or winning support. That could be a very significant mistake.

      It would be unfathomable why supposedly leftist movements would prefer Sisi to either Sabahi or Khaled Ali. This situation can't sustain itself. There is no way that Sisi's polices in the realms of human rights, the economy, and other areas can avoid becoming ever more divisive. If a Sisi administration is just a continuation of what we see now, it is going to be very unattractive for huge numbers of Egyptians.

      If the MB and the Salafists falter too much, something else will seek to fill the opposition void as the main anti-Sisi force. It is probably not going too much out on a limb to envision that some kind of labor-oriented force allied to the revolutionaries and certain liberals will make its move soon. After all, Sisi and his handlers clearly do not fit with their vision of what Egypt should be like. It happens in every other part of the world, so why not eventually Egypt?

  • The Great Urban-Rural Struggle over the Constitution in Egypt
    • The urban-rural divide in Egypt and other places is a very important subject. If the pro-democracy side plays their cards right, they could exploit the situation to defeat the felool and fascists. Take a look at how Thaksin built a massive, popular political machine in Thailand to successfully challenge and terrify the country's aristocratic and militaristic elite.

      Thaksin Shinawatra took a good look at Thailand's economic structure, class divides, and demographic profile. He then built a strategy that enabled him to, against entrenched forces from the deep state, prevail in elections. Even the 2006 coup was eventually defeated with the coming to power of Yingluck Shinawatra.

      Egypt's revolutionaries need to seriously consider how to build a political machine that can offer the rural and impoverished areas hope and expose the false, toxic promises of the felool/Sisi messiah cult.

      What would happen if they declared a credible, presidential candidate, perhaps Khaled Ali, and had this person tour the southern territories and promote a genuinely appealing message? The urban centers were fairly receptive toward Hamdeen Sabahi last time, so it would not be impossible to force the Sisi cult to smash itself against an ascending democratic entity by organizing around a credible electoral program. If the elections prove to be as fraudulent as the constitutional referendum was, the initiating a new revolution would facilitated by the unification and rejuvenation of democratic ideals.

      An anti-police state force isn't just going to build itself. Both the street activism and political organization are necessary elements for success.

      I agree that the current constitution has somewhat more support overall, but the extreme repression and massive, intensive effort to squeeze out every last vote obscures the true degree of disparity.

  • 3 Years after Democratic Revolution, Egypt Decides it Prefers North Korean Model
    • One might also point out the failure that is Myanmar's military junta. Absolutely nowhere in the world is it a good idea to lead military institutions dominate political systems.

    • The meaning conveyed by the title is reasonably fitting. If Egyptian authorities were actually serious about freedom or cared the slightest bit about liberty, they would not be arresting, torturing, and murdering dissidents at an astounding pace.

      The Sisi personality cult worships violence and is a quite anti-democratic creed used by the deep state authoritarians to cloak their true agenda.

      There is not the slightest probability that the interior ministry plans to stop torturing democratic revolutionaries, or to cease engaging in vast, unlawful, wiretapping and surveillance.

      Strangely, Iran has a more developed economy than Egypt, despite sanctions being at odds with certain world powers over various issues. Perhaps this is because stone age military cultists simply exploit and sap the life out of any country as easily as any clerical establishment can?

      The April 6 movement and the Road of the Revolution Front have the right idea.

  • Egyptian Junta designates Muslim Brotherhood as "Terrorist Organization" in Attempt to Crush Dissent
    • There seem to be three broad categories of liberals/social democrats in Egypt in terms of their relation to the present government and willingness to ally with its narratives. Let’s say that one reflects the inner-most core of the 2011 revolutionary spirit and consists of individuals and groups like April 6, Elbaradei, Amr Hamzawy, Khaled Ali, Khaled Dawoud, elements of the Constitution party and many others. Then, there is a more middle ground like the Popular Current and a fraction of the Egyptian Social Democrats. The third group consists of much of the non-Mubarak political establishment that predates the phases of revolutionary activism, like the Tagamu party, Wafd, the Free Egyptians, and some others. Tamarod is a special case that does not clearly fit into any of those, though its behavior in practice most resembles the third group.

      It definitely is the case that many liberals/leftists/social democrats are being persecuted. Yet even though this persecution is escalating, many of the second and third groups remain silent. Why was it possible to work so many so-called liberals into a bloodlust yet they remain silent over the absurd indictments against Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma, and Mohammed Adel? The government classifies the Brotherhood as a “terrorist” organization and then these people immediately forget that state terrorists killed Bassem Mohsen so recently? Why do they barely condemn the ongoing massacres and the massive amount of torture being practiced by the police and at prisons? In fact, many of these political parties have rationalized and applauded a great many of the junta’s massacres. Why do they tolerate the impending constitution’s creation of a government ruled by the defense and interior ministries and the trashing of the judicial system through the preservation of military trials for civilians?

      As for Tamarod, there appears to be a growing split in that movement. Many of its leaders were repudiated by other parts of the movement recently on the grounds that they approve of/rationalize human rights abuses. Yet much of the movement approved the MB terrorist classification, ignoring the obvious fact that the classification plus the attendant suppression of civil liberties is enabling the ongoing repression of liberals. At some point, the Tamarod movement will have to decide whether it is a democratic or fascist entity. Currently, it is largely facilitating the creation of a nightmarish police state that will devour the gains of the 2011 revolution it if is allowed to continue. One Tamarod leader even condemned the Third Square as a “brotherhood front.” This delusional, intolerant attitude is what the deep state is counting on to dupe people into accepting its actions.

      The first group has admirably stood for its principles and has resisted the temptation support the rolling back of freedom and the creation of a totalitarian police state through the scapegoating of unpopular parties. The April 6 movement in particular reflects one of Egypt’s greatest hopes. This is why the government is going to ferocious lengths to suppress that movement and the war between the two continues to escalate. Yet in order to resist the slide into totalitarianism, Eygpt’s bankrupt political establishment has to eventually take a stand and stop supporting the puppet master’s use of scapegoats to setup a new dictatorship. They need to wake up and see what is really going on. It is only a matter of time before the deep/police state moves to suppress them as well. The second group, especially the Popular Current and the Constitution party, is probably next after the April 6 movement, the Ultras, the Strong Egypt Party, the Road of the Revolution Front, the Black Bloc, and Revolutionary Socialists have been outlawed and suppressed.

      The Egyptian deep state has chosen fascism as its preferred vehicle to reclaim and cement its hegemony. Sisi and the cult surrounding him are simply tools used like an opium to affect public opinion. Many of the liberals realize this. Yet some still refuse to accept that the roadmap is not leading to democracy but to something extremely abominable. Perhaps they still believe that June 30 was some kind of revolution on par with January 25 (it was not, even though early presidential elections may have been a reasonable solution to the impasse at that point). By supporting the August and September massacres, these groups emboldened the government and helped pave the way for the recent persecutions of many liberals.
      Sisi is anti-democratic, illiberal, and an important tool of the deep state. Yet some parties, such as the Free Egyptians, actually insist that he is the sole suitable presidential candidate. Amr Moussa is also demanding that. Such people/groups have abandoned what they originally stood for.

    • The Sinai insurgents must be astounded at their amazing luck of having such foolish opponents. Not only due their foes blame, massacre, and fight each other, now police and security power is stretched so thin that these groups are operating more and more effectively.

      The next (inevitable) attack may see the government blame other dissident groups. Recall that trial balloons have been floated on the rounding up of "fifth columnists" and that there is actually a case on the subject of whether to dissolve the April 6 movement.

      The strategy of the junta would be instantly recognizable be Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and many other figures.

    • This is 100% Orwell. The more Egypt's political establishment is allowed to get away with blaming scapegoats for its failures, the greater the slide into totalitarianism will be. The next step may be that the April 6 movement, the Ultras, the Revolutionary Socialists, and others will be outlawed as allies of the Sinai insurgents, American agents, anarchists, traitors, "terrorists," and spies.

      If people are willing to sell themselves into slavery because a puppet master manipulates the term "terrorism" to anathemize freedom, human rights, and dissent, then subjugation is unavoidable. The more Egypt's "liberals" help this process, the greater will be the destruction of everything they claim to value. By placing all blame for the country's problems on a number of scapegoats carefully nutured, defined, and maneuvered by the puppet master, even when there is no evidence they are guilty of their supposed crimes, the path to totalitarianism is being traveled rapidly.

      Potential candidates for the presidency may be rounded up to preemptively help the deep state's favored fascist candidate.

  • The Iraqization of Egypt: Two Large Bombs Rock Security Bldg in Mansoura, kill 14, wound 130
    • One primary reason why the Sisi government is incapable of seeing its own role in creating the downward spiral is because it is an example of an organized group that completely and totally believes in the concept of the ends justifying the means.

      The fascist clique (heavily based around the Defense and Interior Ministries) which uses Sisi as a new puppet is 100% convinced that it forms an aristocracy best fitted by nature to rule Egypt. In the mind of this oligarchy, its view of how Egypt should go is absolutely correct and anyone who disagrees is subhuman and unworthy of any rights. Thus, ANYTHING and everything appears justified to this government in executing and enforcing its will.

      The government firmly believes that totalitarianism is the way to go and that limitless force will inevitably destroy the opposition. Resultantly, they have no ability to see that their extreme violence is creating various reactions, many of which take the form of counter-violence.

      They believe that, by definition, no political rival can possibly have a legitimate point of view or grievance. Thus, they do not believe that state terrorism can or should create a downward spiral. The problem is that the ongoing destruction of the Egyptian economy and whatever freedom once existed is setting the stage for an impending massive crisis. Perhaps this will manifest on January 25, 2014. If not then, then the tidal wave will come later. It isn't possible to keep racking up debt, impoverishing Egyptians, and rolling back the gains of 2011 so soon after the revolution without a major backlash eventually emerging.

  • Egyptian Constitution: Army Strengthened, Religious Parties Banned, Freedom of Belief, Speech Enshrined
    • It is unclear how campaigning for presidential and parliamentary offices will be possible. Opposition rallies by foes of the deep state may be rounded up on various pretexts.

    • I'll also note that the Tamarod leaders (who were repudiated by the movement itself) are incredibly hypocritical about the constitution. They claim to hate the 2012 constitution but they essentially aided and abetted the return of some elements of that constitution such as the military trials for civilians. No wonder the movement has rejected these individuals.

      Egypt's deep state has no intention of allowing the restrictions on military tribunals from hindering its goals. The revolutionaries are going to have to wage a protracted struggle to establish freedom. The current constitution is nowhere near enough.

    • "What I can’t understand is that the Salafi Nour Party says it is all right with this constitution, even though as far as I can tell it might well require the dissolution of that party."

      The Nour party's restraint is peculiar, but they may be banking on the fact that this provision is very difficult to enforce. A similar article failed in the past to stop the FJP, the Nour party, and several others from forming. It was enforce during the 2011 elections. Additionally, the deep states elements in the government are obsessed with enforcing the "non-partisan" independent candidate voting system as much as possible. The larger the number of seats elected on that basis, the harder it is to stop candidates indirectly backed by religious and militarist parties and entities.

      The FJP describes itself as "non-theocratic" and several NSF parties support platforms that are decidedly not in line with typical notions of a "secular" state.

      Ultimately, the real point of articles such as this and the one that banned class based parties in previous Egyptian constitutions is to manipulate the outcome of parliamentary elections. The definition of what constitutes a "religious" party is arbitrary and entirely political in the Egyptian context. The NDP could have been forbidden on from participating in elections if the provision had been enforced objectively in previous eras.

      Given that enormous dissent and looming difficulties the government faces, I am not sure if dissolving the Nour party is viable. Certainly, the elite is hell bent on eliminating as much of the opposition as possible, but opening so many fronts is risky.

      The articles about the voting system which were fortunately voted down already raise concerns about whether the impending parliamentary elections will be fully free and fair. Hopefully the presidential elections will be held before the parliamentary ones so that some chance of a person of a higher caliber than Adly Mansour can take the office as soon as possible.

      I am curious as to how the repressive laws that the interim government is passing can be reconciled with the constitution. Are the protest law and the "anti-terrorism" law going to remain enforced and valid? The "Good intentions (lol)" law? A constitution which proclaims the protections of various freedoms is completely inimical to the despotic behavior of the ruling clique. The government can't have it both ways. Egypt is going to eventually move toward real freedom or renewed bondage. A house divided against itself cannot permanently endure.

  • Egypt's Counter-Revolution: 21 Women and Girls Harshly Sentenced, Liberal Bloggers to be Arrested
    • The next major Egyptian uprising will be bloodier than the previous ones. If the current situation continues to go on major longer, it could eventually produce a Robespierre or a Daniel Ortega. Sisi is not going to be a popularly elected president; if he gains the presidency, it will be after wading through oceans of blood and will not last long.

      There is no hiding the fact that arresting Ahmed Maher and Alaa Abdel Fattah on fabricated and ludicrous charges is indicative of authoritarian intentions. The court sentencing against the protestors is also insupportable by human beings.

      Whatever Egyptian government succeeds the president interim dictatorship, should a revolutionary one actually take power from the deep state, should ratify the ICC conventions in full and have international courts try much of the current cabinet.

  • Egypt: Youth Remember Martyrs, Reject both Army and Muslim Brotherhood
    • Another thing is that the October 6 crowds that the government tried to mobilize really were not that impressive in size. It is like it was only possible for the state to summon large numbers in the street only in the immediate aftermath of the Morsi overthrow. Now, however, the turnout on events meant to commemorate the army, police, or to worship Sisi see weak to miniscule numbers.

      It could be suggested that the feel no need to demonstrate but another possibility is that it was only anti-Morisism/anti-MB fervor that drove those previous protests, not pro-Army, pro-the current government zeal.

      As the economic crisis continues and Gulf aid fails to fix the situation, the split between the democratic/pro-liberty movement and the deep state is almost certain to grow.

    • I have been anticipating this moment for some time. The revolutionaries who remain true to the real values of the 2011 uprising have refused to sell out and retain a presence.

      Given that the turnout for their crowds is significantly larger than the quantities seen in the sets of rallies for the other two factions, one has to wonder about whether the majority is really sold on the current government.

      It is claimed that the Sisi cult is so powerful and widespread, yet when banners appear depicting the man in a noose, when he is cussed out along with other political and military figures, and when events symbolizing his trial and execution occur, the response offered in his defense is feeble. Could it be that the Sisi cult is in large part a creation of the servile media and segments of the elite rather than a genuine grassroots campaign with deep appeal? This is not to say that he doesn't have significant popularity but perhaps his fans are not being totally honest and the truth differs from what they depict.

      Another question is the ratio of popularity for the revolutionaries vs authoritarians in areas outside Cairo. The Third Square/Way of the Revolution Front/etc. need to make sure to sufficiently promote their vision in those areas as well, else they may have difficulty capitalizing on the chance to gain a greater national prominence.

      Their message of bread, freedom, and social justice is superior to that of militarists and would-be dictators.

  • Day of Division in Middle East: Bloody Clashes in Egypt, Iraq
    • The October 6 events could not have unfolded along the lines desired the Egyptian government. First, the bloodly clashes and deaths refuted the argument that, as the Interior Minister puts it, "security will return back to what it was even before January 25." The idea that there is stability or a safe environment for tourism is incompatible with the escalating bloodshed, especially as foreigners are frequently targeted for violence by ultranationalists.

      Even more importantly, however, is the fact that, despite entreaties from the president, the crowd turnout for the celebrations were not all that impressive. In the past, Tamarod was able to help Sisi and others raise huge crowds. This time? No where near as large; not even all that much larger than the pro-Morsi ones. Perhaps part of the reason is that the discourse surrounding the events is mainly attracting Mubarakists, military fascists, and extreme nationalists that will believe the army equals salvation no matter what. Fewer liberals, leftists, or those of independent political persuasion seem to be exert much effort to defend the interim government.

      The leaked video just goes to further show that the Egyptian media, largely controlled by a very low number of individuals, is being increasingly subject to militarists. Also that militarism is a major source of misogynist discourse and action.

      You cannot dine on partiotism. Nationalism and national security can't fill stomachs. If the interim government wants to avoid falling victim to the same fates that its predecessors have, it would keep this in mind. Right now, it is displaying the same insular, opaque, out of touch, and uncomprising traits that the led to the end of the previous cabinets. This is not to say that the Brotherhood will recover, but that there are other political forces awaiting the chance to capitalize on the next major political upheaval to seize power.

  • The Other Lobby: Newspapers of Gulf Oil Monarchies Condemn US-Iran Rapprochement
    • I agree that it is quite possible to simultaneously maintain relations with both Iran and Bahrain. However, with the uprising in Bahrain and the chronic instability there, there is a risk that the human rights situation in that country is going to continue to deteriorate in the future. Eventually, it could reach a point where it is counterproductive to the American image and reputation to sustain that facility. There is also the issue of whether frequent military intervention in the Middle East is actually serving the American national interest, or instead inflicting more harm than good upon it.

    • The government of Bahrain is a dictatorial monarchy (ruled by a minority as well) that violates human rights on a gross scale and routinely practices torture. It is a government that consistently refuses moves toward democratization and does not comprehend the meanings of freedom of speech of the right to peaceable assembly. It should not be surprised that much of the outside world expresses solidarity with the pro-democracy dissidents.

      Way past time to withdraw the naval base from Bahrain. It is illogical to maintain relations with that state but not with Iran. Iran even has far more oil.

      There is no objective American interest in allowing the U.S. to be employed by these dictatorships in their task of opposing Shiism. It is their responsibilty to manage their own relations with Iran.

  • Egypt's Revenge of the Leftovers: Mubarak to be released, Muslim Brotherhood leader Badie Arrested
    • There is a strong possbility that Saudi Arabia is pushing for a best case scenario for Mubarak and his family, perhaps even believing that a reversal of the most serious charge is becoming realistic. The primary doctrine and belief of the Saudi government is in heritable succession and aristocracy. Many Romanvos displayed similar predilections during the waves of European revolutionary changes.

      Releasing Mubarak would be markedly damaging to the intermin administration, but it is increasingly hard to put anything past the elites that are pulling the strings. Like the past Egyptian admins, they say one thing and then do something completely different. The ability of some politicians and military elites to fail to grasp reality is remarkable.

      If it does happen, it will seriously split the liberals and accelerate the speed at which real liberals voice serious discontent with the interim government. April 6 and the Revolutionary Socialists already are expressing major reservations about the direction the country is heading in.

      Just today news broke of an absurd charge being brought against Elbaradei of "breaching the national trust." Translation: Elbaradei held firm to his red line and spoke the truth. Furthermore, the incident of the Al Ahram journalist being shot dead as a result of paranoia induced by the state of emergency is not a good sign.

  • Has Military Suppression of Political Islam ever Worked?
    • One possible reason why these movement often eventually find a path to power after violent repression is that the very police state tactics used to fight against them ends up destroying the popularity of them regimes the strategies are meant to defend. That gives the religious-political movements an opportunity to reformulate themselves in a new guise at a later time.

      It does not make sense to sacrifice freedom to fight against a political movement through genocidal techniques. Doing so guarantees that it will resort to the type of violence that the techniques were allegedly meant to stop. The real reason to do so is to keep the cycle going for those who benefit and feed off of such conflict. I have doubts that it will work for long in Egypt.

  • Egypt's Waco
    • It is clear that the Interior Minister should be replaced, especially after his recent Freudian slip about January 25.

      Stirring up mass hysteria is not a substitute for the protection of civil liberties or economic reform. Sooner or later, the Adly Mansour administration will be judged on its governing abilities, not on its will to challenge the Brotherhood. The impending changes to the constitution will provide one of several tests of the intent of this admin, as well as of its military-economic elite backers. Non-Mubarak era civilian supporters of the government should keep a close eye on its actions and not grant it carte blanche. History has demonstrated that sacrificing civil liberties at best affords an illusion of stability, not the genuine article. The state of emergency opens the door to a variety of predictable abuses and sends the wrong signal. There are better ways of addressing Egypt’s difficulties.

      The present violence has been deliberately created and orchestrated to serve the interests of two particular facets of the Egyptian political scene. Both of these factors, the Brotherhood and the military-economic-security elite have been seeking to dominate the post-revolution transitions and have serious difficulties with the notion of accepting dissent.

      El Baradei is correct that the bloodshed and mayhem only helps the extreme elements of these two sides and is harmful to the majority. These two factions do, however, risk creating a backlash against their militant approaches, as it becomes ever more apparent how deep of a hole they are trying to dig and the violence escalates to rediculous levels. Eventually, the majority will get tired of the power games by specific individuals, even those currently favoring one of the two sides of the coin. Ideally, this would lead major groups to demand a nonviolent solution to the current conflagration/impasse. Indulging politicians who want to keep the fire lit for their own personal and collective ambitions simply delays the day that a solution will come.

  • Egyptian Police Clear Brotherhood Sit-Ins, at cost of Scores of deaths, injuries
    • Many of these governors can be judged by their own words, as well as by their deeds in previously held positions. Such individuals have not suddenly changed their mentality since 2011 and are quite likely to start reasserting their previous behavior patterns to a hazardous degree. You can say that is the least likely interpretation, but a growing number of non-MB liberals, leftists, and others Egyptians are rightfully worried that recent events are by driven by forces that do not care what they think. It is unsurprising there was condemnation and expressions of reservations about these gubernatorial appointments from across the political spectrum.

      Hopefully this transition will indeed lead to a “greater degree of democracy” and end up establishing a clear notion of civilian control. However, the events of the past few days provide rational reasons to be extremely worried about the intentions of the Interior Minister and many other leaders with so much clout. The massive death toll (which was NOT inevitable) and the lengthy state of emergency do not bode well. There are other political forces trying to reassert their own dominance that are every bit as problematic and even dogmatic as the Brotherhood.

    • The lineup of new governors is farcicial. So many of them are guilty of atrocious crimes and opposition to the 2011 revolution. The interim government is rapidly going down the tubes as Mansour repeatedly placates its pro-despotism elements.

      Can anyone doubt that these governors hate the liberals with extreme fervor? Support will rapidly erode once suppression of "secular" factions swings into full force. There are already signs that labor policy will be a major fulcrum of conflict.

  • Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Defiant as Government Mulls Dispersing Crowds in Cairo, Giza
    • "In the absence of more such attempts to use Rabi`a to paralyze Cairo city traffic, there doesn’t seem an obvious reason why the government doesn’t just let them demonstrate. The crowds don’t seem to be growing or gaining support, so even just on a political calculation, why not let them gradually dwindle?"

      There is the strong possibility that the purpose is and has been to provoke a violent reaction from the Brotherhood. For some, there is a two tier system of law: One law for an elite whose power and wealth is all that matters, and another for all others.

      Attempting to abort the onset of freedom and democracy through the diverting the course of the revolution into an artificially created conflict seems to be the present course preferred by the military-oriented elite. However, the Brotherhood's unwillingness to go underground, the recent slaughter, as well as the presence of western diplomats in Egypt trying to mediate the situation, have complicated matters.

      If the Brotherhood is destroyed, the next step is the inevitable conflict between real liberals and others and those espousing continued rule by a political-economic-military complex. Such an elite invariably produces a house divided against itself situation.

      The 2011 revolution was a serious shock to the power structure; its power will remain continously in jeopardy unless a distracting crisis can be created to draw away attention from reform and renewal.

      The third square is correct. Both "sides" are two aspects of the same aggressive coin, with the military one being the more violent at the present time. The interior minister could end up dragging down this cabinet and whittling away at its popularity.

  • Egypt's pro, anti-Morsi Demonstrators Settle in for the Long Game
    • It would seem like the model endorsed by the National Salvation Front and the Tamarod movement could pose a greater threat to the Saudi and other Gulf state governments. They are further from those monarchies in terms of viewpoints than the Brotherhood is, and have shown an ability to challenge autocracy in ways that would be be quite threatening for those governments. While the felul and some other groups have shared objectives with the Gulf states, there is little to no community of interests between the Egyptian youth movements and such dictatorships.

      There already is now a Tamarod Bahrain movement that is urging mass demonstrations on August 14. The GCC's rhetoric will continously look more inconsistent and Orwellian as it proves impossible for them to steer the direction of the region's future. The demographic profile of the Middle East and North Africa makes further drastic changes inenvitable.

      If Saudi, Emirati, and other dissidents increasingly look to Tamarod or to Tunisia, the aristocracies of those states may come to miss the time when they believed that the Brotherhood was the main or only threat to their own dominance.

  • Egypt: One Soldier Dead, 3 Wounded, as Muslim Brotherhood Clashes with Army, Secularists in Provinces
    • One way to withdraw a president from office is to have a provision for recall enshrined in the constitution. Whether the panel that enacts the amendments to the constitution considers or debates such an option will reveal information about their mentality.

      Had a recall been possible, the entire revocoupation would have been averted with new presidential elections coming (probable). The debate over legitimacy and coups would be resolved without involving the military.

  • Biggest Demonstrations in Egyptian History: Millions Demand President Morsi Step Down
    • Seems likely that negotiations between at least some of the factions (presidency and military at a minimum) must be ongoing, given the statement issued today by the generals. If a deal is in the works, this will take longer than 48 hours, as reacting to the rapid pace of events, forging compromise where distrust exists, and other factors will make the process complicated. One possibility is that some sort of coalition plan will be agreed to, possibly covering the provisions for parliamentary elections.

      The bitter divisions between political factions and social groups also are probably still exacerbated to some degree by the lingering effect of the "two cultures" phenomenon, a product of how modernization was attempted in many countries.

      Tunisia and Egypt are the two most vital focal points for the Arab Spring/Awakening, and their importance to guiding the overall transformation of the region is too important for either to tolerate failure.

  • Egypt's 'Rebellion' Movement Plans Protests as Generals Warn they'll Intervene
    • It appears that the Tamarod campaigners plan is to eventually have the petition presented to the SCC. The judiciary seems inclined to support such a step but may be hestitant to delve into something it considers likely to produce too drastic of consequences.

      Added to the mix, the Tagarrod campaign also claims to have collected more than 10 million signatures.

      Regardless of whether or not there are early presidential elections, having credible parliamentary elections would help this situation. Starting to seem more and more likely that any election, be it presidential or parliamentary, will not see overwhelming dominance by either the FJP or the NSF but instead for centrists and revolutionaries indpendent of either side (somewhat more ideologically like the NSF, but with a different tactical approach).

  • Why Tunisia's Arab Spring is in Turmoil
    • A recent poll suggested that in the upcoming June presidential/parliamentary elections, both Ennada and Call of Tunisia would gain about a third of the vote. Of course, the polls are usually massive off in the post-dictatorship Arab state, however, it seems that Call of Tunisia has gained quite a bit of traction.

      It would appear that the presidential race will be a vigorous contest between Marzouki, Beji Caid Essebi, and others.

  • Egypt: Canal Provinces Defy Morsi, Weakening his Authority
    • There are several cases where candidates and parties supposedly condemned to inevitable failure decided to present their case to the public and achieved considerable success.

      Recent example: Very few actually thought Lapid's Yesh Atid had hope of becoming the second largest party in the Knesset. Yet it happened. Several other parties in that election were also underestimated, even by polling, and a few parties were taken from miniscule representation to a sizeable amount of seats as a result of new directions charted by new leaders.

      In a society that is post-dictatorship for one of the first times in its history and is moving through semi-charted territory, things change rapidly and opinion is difficult to measure. Fortunes can easily alter and even minority movements can gain enough traction to become a majority.

      It seems like some of the parties in Egypt are excessively worried about their difficulties in organizing and mobilizing in the past elections. The elements of the NSF, particularly ones that have a lot of potential like the Popular Current, should roll the dice and try to win the electorate. It seems like they could do reasonably well with determintation, patience, and the right strategy. There are large amounts of people that are waiting for a well presented vision for Egypt presented by those willing to take responsibility for ensuring the success of the country's revolution.

      They could consider taking a look at the fact that the upcoming Tunisian elections appear set to become highly competitive.

    • "In the first round of the presidential elections last May, Port Said voted for leftist Hamdeen Sabahi. Sabahi did well but was not among the top two vote getters."

      The above quote, plus the stuff about the labor unions, seem to be strong reasons for the NSF not to boycott the elections. Election boycotts very often do not turn help the boycotters unless it is against some sort of rigged or predetermined election.

      If these parties organized well and emphasized a believable program of economic revival. Look at how well Sabbahi did in the presidential election with much lower resources and recognition than some of his rivals.

      There seems to be little to gain by staying away while a powerful opportunity exists by conducted vigorous, fully immersed campaign.

  • Top Ten Reasons the 'Obama lost Egypt' Meme won't Work for Romney
    • Those who say that the revolutions should not receive support offer no rational reaction and merely purpose incoherent, illogical diatribes as subsitute for foreign policy. While there are many who will flock to demagogic appeal, those that apply a modicum of analysis find the notions of those who believe that the Middle East revolutions should not be encouraged to be utterly lacking.

      People that claim "Mubarak was thrown under the bus" or offer convoluted and contradictory arguments about what should be done have a lot at stake right now. If these attacks are repeatedly made yet they do not enable victory, they will grow stale and face diminishing potency. It would be a sign that too many voters viewed these contentions as being deficient in rationality and were not swayed by them. Failure would damage their capacity to work in future election cycles.

    • The logical course of action is to encourage the gradual transformation of the region, even if it faces difficulties/setbacks/problems. This is clearly necessary to improve the long term situation.

      Democratic constitutionalism always faces difficulties when penetrating and breaking through entrenched masses of oligarchs. Nevertheless, it is something to clearly be supported. The "alternatives" are nothing more than idiocy and political con artistry. Support for engagement with emerging democracies is only going to be strengthed as time goes on; one simply has to look at differences of political views by age and generational criteria to see this fact.

      The political con artists are going to start hemorraging support and become an increasingly fringe clique in the future. If they don't succeed now they probably will never get another chance. However, given that their objectives conflict with key business interests and a particular brand of hard core advocate of intervening in other countries, some of their rhetoric would be forcibly reversed if they achieved positions of power.

  • Will Egypt's Mursi challenge US-Israeli Mideast Policy?
    • It will be interesting to see the official, state reaction to other Arab Spring revolutions. The Egyptian revolutionaries will want the state to follow a pro-revolution line that supports democratic change in other countries, perhaps in Jordan and elsewhere. However, retrograde elements will throw out smoke screens as to why supposedly no verbal endorsement should be given.

      If Egypt does succeed in fundamentally transforming its political system and structure, there is an opportunity for it to present an alternative to the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia. Hopefully the chance will be taken.

  • Uncertainty Grips an Egypt on the Brink
    • It also seems like SCAF and SPEC overestimated how much they would be able to turn Egyptians against the revolution. All their efforts had some impact, it was not enough to "convince" Egyptians to warmly and voluntarily reaccept military dominance. The brazeness of their actions may have been in part based on miscalculations of how much they could manipulate public opinion and control the flow of information. The reduction in censorship is another problem for them.

    • I tend to think that SCAF is more clueless about how the opposition works than is often perceived. Notice its almost complete fixation on the Brotherhood which seems to indicate that it believes no other political actors threaten military aristocracy. SCAF appears unable to grasp that other revolutionaries besides the MB pose a severe long term threat to unelected military rule and have been the most unyielding in opposition to such militarist elitism. They act like every other group supporting civilian democracy is a null force and irrelevant. That is a mistaken assumption.

      It appears according to most evidence that Mursi has one. However, it remains in the realm of possibility that SCAF has executed a plan in advance to provide Shafiq with a "win." Declaring Shafiq the "winner" on Thrusday would be the most drastic move yet and seemingly prove that the leading generals have become so trapped in their own self-made world that they no longer understand what Egypt is even truly like. Creating a new Myanmar is not going to be remotely possible.

  • Egypt: Fundamentalist President + Junta = ?
    • If SCAF and the judiciary would not immediately claim the idea is unconstitutional, this would be a decent time for Morsi to accept the idea of a temporary presidential council. This would enable the non-military factions to stand a better chance of resisting military dominance and producing more political progress. Such a council could last until a stable constitution and parliament have been formed. This most important thing right now is not who has what power or who pursues what agenda but that the revolutionary objectives of creating a constitutional democratic republic in Egypt succeed.

      Greater cooperation between pro-revolution factions is needed for this. Morsi's presidency can only act if either the MB solicits help from other civilian factions or if it makes a deal with SCAF. Making a deal with SCAF is futile, destined to fail, and contradicts the purpose of the revolution, so it would be best for Morsi and his party to create as much of a coalition government as possible so as to satisfy a broader range of the populace. History would certainly take note of such a move.

  • Egypt: An Election within a Coup within a Coup
    • Once the parliament was dissolved, any question about which candidate would end up having more untrammeled power was conlusively answered. Morsi could only have hoped to have power remotely like what Shafiq will wield by having a Brotherhood/Salafist dominated parliament and a somewhat favorable constitution.

      The possibility of the political scene being dominated to an unacceptable degree overwhelming comes from military leaders, corrupt business and political insiders, and their associated sycophants.

    • There is one obvious difference between Shafiq and the rest of the candidates who ran in both rounds: Shafiq will have institutional support in carrying out his agenda. This makes him, out of those who survived the disqualifications, the single most dangerous candidate.

      Morsi, or, for that matter, any non-Shafiq candidate, would face SCAF and other military bodies trying to restrict the power of the presidency as much as possible. Morsi would have to receive united help from the parliament in challenging institutional powers like the army and judiciary to seek in implementing almost anything. The generals would seek incessantly to undermine and discredit his term in office.

      By contrast, Shafiq does not face that difficulty. SCAF will do everything possible to transfer power from the parliament to the presidency and Shafiq will help the military select a constituent assembly that will indulge military tastes. Together, the institutional power sources will try to limit dependence on the parliament so that the military retains most real power. This would be cloaked in the creation of a supposed "unity" government that maintains only the fragilr illusion of being inclusive.

      The only person that SCAF will allow to have near dictatorial powers is their tool, Shafiq. If Morsi wins they will do everything they can to resist actions he might undertake. This means that even if it were true that both were aspiring dictators (which does not seem to be true), only Shafiq would actually have the capacity to literally become one. There would be far fewer factional checks on his power, regardless of the makeup of the next parliament.

  • The Revenge of the Leftovers in Egypt
    • The exorcism of the deep state appears to be one of the only available answers to the present difficulties. The military-political insider mentality is incompatible with democratic politics and so its hold must be broken in all societies.

  • Thousands Demonstrate in Alexandria Against Shafiq as Egypt Faces Election Turmoil
    • Regardless of whether or not military and intelligence officials assisted Shafiq in generating votes (the main charges were not investigated), it will remain the case that a person with the approval of less than half of the population became the president.

      This happens in other countries at times but this particular situation will have other features if it occurs. For one thing, he will have essentially attempted to hijack a revolution whose proponents he sought to suppress. Additionally, the issue of the constitution and the framing of the general nature of the government are at stake, so the margin of ability to risk having president of such questionable legitimacy is lower than in an established system.

      The separation of military and government is necessary for effective political functioning. Militaries and especially intelligence agencies have a way of spreading malignancy and opaqueness throughout any political system they weed into, be it democratic or dictatorial.

    • If the turnout on the run-off is substantially lower than the already low turnout of the first run vote, electoral fraud/violations would matter even more in proportional terms. However, a president elected on too low of a turnout will have severe legitimacy problems. SCAF and SPEC were allowed far too much power. Their mistake, though, is to keep pressing and pressing so hard that attention on these two entities is being fixed. This is dangerous to their ability to secure acquiesence. The counter-revolution risks, by its recent actions, destroying its popularity among those that are on the fence about the revolution itself.

  • In Race against Carbon Catastrophe, Solar Power is Making Strides
    • Solar energy has actually being doing better than many predicted as a result of its rapidly chaging costs. Spreading grid parity in the coming years will produce even more drastic changes.

      Interestingly, Egyptian presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi was advocating policies of making solar energy a high priority. But it seems that the military/intelligence elites care little about the country and are bent on getting Shafiq to help maintain their political-economic positions for as long as possible.

  • Egypt's Presidential Election: Between Revolution and Counter-Revolution
    • Seems that the unexpectedly low turnout helped both Mursi and Shafiq a lot. Both of them had support bases that were easily mobilized and bent on voting. Sabahi, Aboul Fotouh, and Moussa also had their own supporters but they all of them would probably have benefited from the other half of the electorate turning out. This section of the population would contain more supporters of those three. Ironically, the aggressive pushing of the Shafiq campaign may have given Mursi his best possible chance of gaining the presidency, even though Shafiqists kept arguing their goal was to stop this scenario. Mursi's chances against Sabahi and Aboul Fotouh were doubtful but he stands a better chance against Shafiq. If it comes down to Mursi and Shafiq, low turnout and elevated levels of electoral fraud, are quite possible. Such a matchup could see voting restricted mainly to Brotherhood members, those with bureaucratic ties, businessmen with inside connections, Salafists, and those focusing too much on the issue of security. It is quite uncertain whether Shafiq would be able to serve a full term if he does gain the presidency.

  • Are Egyptians voting Ideologically?
    • I find it hard to believe that these campaigners and officials that claim to know who will make it to the run-off have nearly as solid of data as they allege. Too often there is no much of whence this supposed information comes, and it seems peculiarly to coincide with what they want to believe is happening. Given that the voting is occurring across two days, exit polling does not seem be the primary source of the candidate-specific hype emanating from campaigners and official with deeply vested interests. It would seem probable that the most easily mobilizd voter bases are more likely to have showed up early (the Brotherhood, those with vested interests in supporting Shafiq).

  • Egypt between the Left, Muslim Fundamentalism, and the Old Regime
    • Given the information that exists, it seems that there are a few things that have been helping Sabahi rise recently:

      1. Some rural areas turning in favor of his candidacy as a result of becoming aware of his platform and viewpoints; areas with desperate levels of poverty and land tenure problems especially.

      2. The increased prominence of his campaign, participation in interviews/events, and endorsements. He recently was endorsed by a Coptic organization, artists, youth movements, and some other groups.

      3. The changing of the tribal vote in areas like Upper Egypt. Seems that some of the tribes have switched their support from other candidates to Sabahi. Since they apparently often vote as a bloc this has a significant effect.

      Exactly how much this will affect his vote total remains to be seen, though.

    • The polls are contradicting each other quite a bit and are of questionable accuracy. I suspect that they are over reflecting the opinions of the upper class and thus making Ahmed Shafiq seem more popular than he actually is. This is not to say that he will not garner a decent share of the vote and hasn't gained some traction but he is one of the most likely candidates to be having his likely percent overestimated.

      A few other speculations: the debate probably had little effect on opinions. It drew attention to the two supposed front runners however there is a tendency for people to hastily look for explanations as to why polls are fluctuating. One possibility is that the polls are flawed and unreliabe, another is that Sabahi's rise has chipped away some of Amr Moussa and Aboul Fotouh's supporters.

      One of the earlier indicators that Sabahi may have been being underestimated was the expatriate vote. Subtract the Saudi expatriates and the result was remarkably positive for Sabahi.

      There was an interesting poll from Brookings that contradicted an earlier one on the issue of whether Egyptians prefer the Turkish model or the Saudi one. The Brookings poll showed a greater level of support for the Turkish mode of relation between religion and state. Oddly, however, the media sources seemed mainly aware of the existence of the latter poll.

      It still seems that Moussa has the highest chances of winning but it is by no means assured that he is as invincible as originally thought. Sabahi has been gaining some endorsements and traction and thus has a chance, not necessarily that high but a chance nonethless, of reaching the run-off. The more vote splitting among his rivals the greater the chance of that happening. I think Aboul Fotouh will gain a lot more votes than Mursi despite Mursi's seeming gains recently. Probably Mursi has pulled away some of the more conversative voters while Sabahi has attracted some of Aboul Fotouh's revolutionary supporters. Still, it is very much in the realm of possibility that Aboul Fotouh will reach the run-off and win. Possibly has the second best chance after Moussa.

      For whatever reason Western polls seem to show higher results for Islamist candidates than Egyptian ones do.

      One topic that fails to receive enough attention is how the Muslim Brotherhood's attraction to free market and neoliberal economic ideas affects their popularity compared to the more "leftist" views held by Sabahi, Khaled Ali, and some of the other candidates. This undoubtedly is major matter of debate in Egypt.

  • The Egyptian Presidential Debate: It is all about Constituencies
    • Will be interesting to see what kind of effect this debate will have on Egyptian voting preferences.

      The mentality between the two main candidates is quite different. One very important factor is that Egypt needs someone who will appoint as high of a quality cabinet as possible. Very drastic reforms are needed. The constitutional crisis is another issue that it appears Egypt's next president will become embroiled in.

  • Will the Egyptian Military Allow the New President to take Office?
    • Given the present conditions and events, it seems that the two candidates with the best chances of winning are Amr Moussa and Aboul Fotouh. These two will most likely make it to the run-off. It is hard to tell which of them is more likely to win, though.

      It would have been interesting to see whether El Baradei would have gained traction had he tried to stay in the race (had he not been disqualified by the election commission).

      The military and intelligence agency elites have viewed Aboul Fotouh's platform as a severe threat in that it calls for a greater separation between military/intelligence/security bodies and the governmental structures that should take precedence over those. Amr Moussa seems to have sensed the public mood on this topic to some degree.

      It is important that whoever wins seeks to make security and military entities subordinate to civilian rule. In no country does allowing the military, intelligence apparatuses, and security agencies operate with near impunity work well.

  • All Hell is still Breaking Loose in the Arab World, Television is just not Reporting it
    • This may sound overly optimistic but the Middle East would benefit considerably by establishing something akin to the European Union. Obviously, it is a substantial ways away from being able to do something like that yet but such an entity could perform a useful function in that region. Despite its flaws and the recent economic problems, the EU has helped bring the European countries together in a variety of ways.

      If enough Middle Eastern and North African states became democratic, they could eventually try create and organization focused on joint-solutions so as to help transcend the national, religious, ethnic, and other divisions and forge a more cooperative course. This may take a while before it has any hope of happening but it is something that should be considered as an option.

    • The progress of Tunisia since the revolution seems to indicate a reasonable level of success. Looks like the constitution there will end up being reformed successfully. What is needed though is for more of the higher population and centrally located Arab states to experience a similar process. That would create a powerful momentum for improvement in the Middle East. A period of uncertainty and what may look "chaotic" is better than a longer lasting time of stagnation. The changes in Tunisia and Egypt show that political revolution achieved through non-military means are far preferable to guerilla warfare.

      The candidacy of Oman Suleiman is farcical. Other candidates like Ayman Nour may be disqualified on indefensible grounds, but Suleiman is going to be permitted to run despite his problematic past. He cannot win though unless the election outcome is rigged.

  • Videos on the Muslim Brotherhood and the Quest for Power in Egypt
    • Recent developments suggest that Abu Ismail may be disqualified from the presidential race since his mother is claimed to have held American citizenship. If he is compelled to withdraw from the field, this will undoubtedly help al-Shater. But it also might help Abol Fotouh get some of the votes from those who liked Abu Ismail yet are disgruntled with al-Shater suddenly coming in as these nationality qualification issues were circulating.

      Given the divisions in the field, I suspect that the run-off will see Amr Moussa (getting the most or second most votes) against either Abol Fotouh, al-Shater, or, if he is not disqualified, Abu Ismail. Al-Shater seems to have the edge right now but many news sources seem to be paying too little attention to the fact that Abol Fotouh has been in the race much longer than al-Shater. An Islamist would probably do well in the run-off, although Abu Ismail might be harder pressed than the other two.

      I doubt that the military is going to end up intervening to try to dissolve the parliament or disrupt the election of the president. In the past they would have liked to do this but now there is much more heated opposition among most civilian actions to their constant intereference in politics. More likely is that they will try to do something with the constitutional council. Though, in that case, they will still hestitate to bring opprobrium on themselves by getting to enmeshed in the process. The court ruling is imminent and will have some bearing on the issue.

  • Arab revolutions Continue
    • Meant to say "non-dicatorial cabinet" in the post above.

    • Another possible focal point of Arab Spring revolutionary activity is Algeria. The legislative elections on May 10 have a potential to spark a renewal of protests there.

      There are two possibilities for what will happen with the elections, both scenarios could act as catalysts for demands for change:

      1. The elections are massively rigged and/or heavily boycotted and thus the outcome is viewed as illegitimate and intolerable.

      2. The election results to some degree reflect popular opinion and turnout reaches a critical mass.

      In the first scenario, public disaffection would be a compelling reason to seek revolutionary change, seeing as how such activity worked in Tunisia and Egypt. In the second case, demands would increase to transfer power to the parliament and allow the creation of a real, dictatorial cabinet. The ruling clique's power and prestige would steadily erode if a sustained challenge is issued.

      Not saying that there inevitably will be an Algerian Spring in the next few months but a potential for such events does exist, in part because of the looming election.

    • I wonder how Khairat El-Shater's candidacy affects Moneim Aboul Fotouh and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. He could draw off a lot of votes from both but has entered late and may not actually receive more votes in the initial round.

      There was a poll from the Al Ahram Center that gives the impression that Amr Moussa and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail have the most support (prior to El-Shater's entry) but the polls for Egypt have been very unreliable. The polls about the parliamentary elections were often off by a large amount.

      It seems like one possibility is for Amr Moussa to get a slight plurality of the vote and then enter the run-off against either Moneim Aboul Fotouh or Khairat El-Shater. If the poll is reasonably accurate, Moneim Aboul Fotouh may not do as well as expected. However, he appears to have a lot of support among a significant faction of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as among many of the liberals.

      It will be interesting to see how well Amr Moussa would do in the run-off if he makes it to the second round of voting.

      The outcome of this election is going to be very hard to predict.

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