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Total number of comments: 36 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:21)


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  • Egypt: Over 50 dead in Brotherhood-Army Clash; Baha-al-Din proposed PM; Thousands support Gov't
    • It seems that the coalition put together by General Al-Sisi is collapsing. Al-Nur was forced to leave the coalition by its base (deep divisions inside the Salafits movement), and now Hizb Masser Al-Kawiya--Party of Strong Egypt--left the coalition as of this morning.

      Who is left in it?

    • So, what do you propose? Burn your country down? Start a civil war that lasts for decades? Turn your country into failed states with warlords roaming the country side? Is that what you want?

      That's exactly what i am talking about when i said the fog of war is thick and we don't know with great certitude who is doing what. You probably have never been in a civil war. I spent 8 months touring Algeria at the highest point of the civil war, and it is the ugliest and most destructive thing that a country can go through.

      There will be no winner or ticker tape parade. Only destruction and hatred for the foreseeable future. And a big loser: Egypt and everyone in Egypt. So, step back, take a breather, think about the big picture. Stop thinking about who did what to whom and how i can get back at him, thus perpetuating the cycle of violence. It's not worth it.

    • What Egyptians need now is the US telling them "You are destroying your country." What they need now is someone, a friend to smack them on the back of their head and tell them "the window of opportunity is rapidly closing. So get in that room, sit down, and start talking to each other and making concessions."

      The fog of war tromps and tramples any logic and any rational thinking. The parties get entrenched in their camps, polarization increases, and they start having tunnel visions. After a while, they get busy with the day to day operations, and they forget about the big picture. And that's how the body count gets bigger and bigger everyday.

      Yes, Egyptians need someone to tell them to stop. They need someone to bring them to the table of negotiations, lock the door, and keep them inside until they arrive to a compromise.

    • Dr. Cole, it is time to start offering solutions to this crisis. Describing what is happening is good and fine, but it is going to be increasingly difficult to assign blame and to know exactly who did what to whom, why, and when.

      Believe me, i have an experience with this. I tried to coverage the Algeria civil war, and after a while, i wasn't sure anymore of who was killing whom because there were: fake islamists, fake terrorists, fake statements, fake soldiers, fake terrorist group, fake attacks, fake witnesses etc etc. I had at least 3 narratives for every attack (the government's, the terrorist's, and the eye witnesses) and all of them sounded correct. Relying on local coverage to get the story is also going to become increasingly difficult since the military will control the press/media and will impose their narratives on those institutions.

      I was there on the ground after the massacre of Beni-Messous (the official account was 89 casualties, but then you got to the village and count 100 and something funerals) close to Algiers, i am not sure at all that the terrorists did it. And if they did, there were helped by the military for several reasons.Until today, i have my suspicions backed by several eye witnesses.

      The fog of the civil war is going to get thicker and thicker, and implore you to start looking at the big picture here: Egypt, not the liberals or the military or the MB. Egypt is the big pictures here.

      So, let us start offering a way out: negotiations are the ONLY way out. All parties, including the MB, have to sit down and have to start negotiating. Yes, Morsi have to be released (because he has not committed any crime) to quiet the MB and get them to sit down. If Morsi is not released, the MB will keep on protesting. The longer the MB is out there (and they can out there for years), the closer Egypt inches toward total civil war, the closer the region inches toward great instability, the faster the democratic process dies.

      So, i am begging you to get out of the day-to-day who did what to whom (believe me, you won't be able to keep track), and let us get into the business of offering solutions, putting pressure our government to bring all parties together and force them to make concessions and force a major compromise.

      There is no other way.

  • Egypt: 8 Wounded in Clashes as Salafi Fundamentalists Object to Elbaradei as PM
    • Mr. Wiesmann, the United States has no interest whatsoever in encouraging a coup in Egypt or favoring it or even looking away while it is being carried out. We needed a military coup in Egypt as we needed a giant wart in the middle of our face.

      If you read the process stories published by the Guardian, the Washington-Post and NYT (see link here: link to, you will notice that we clearly didn't want this to happen and we acted (maybe not as forcefully as we could have, you might argue) to prevent it.

      We bear no responsibility in this coup. The only one responsible for the coup and consequently all fallout is the Egyptian military.

  • Brotherhood, Army risk Civil War: 30 Dead, Hundreds Wounded
    • Check this footage from ITN tv: link to

      And this is not the first instance where the military has fired live ammo at peacefully gathered crowd.

      Clearly, the military wants the confrontation to be bloody and the situation to worsen so they can claim full powers.

    • I just checked my twitter fed and some forums and FB pages, and didn't find anything that could confirm these reports. I really do hope that a split in the military doesn't happen for very obvious reasons

  • Egypt: One Soldier Dead, 3 Wounded, as Muslim Brotherhood Clashes with Army, Secularists in Provinces
    • Ask every Latin American country in which the military were invited to take over and solve a political crisis? Asked them about the prospect of democracy, rule of law, due process, freedom speech and assembly? Ask the Brazilians and Argentines, Chileans, and the Venezuelans. Or even better, ask the Thais about their 2006 coup (there is a strong resemblance between the Egyptian case and the Thai case). And if you don't speak Thai or Spanish or Portuguese, ask the Algerians, they speak Arabic.

      To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, those who sacrifice liberty for the sake of security will have neither security or liberty.

    • If this was about kicking the religious nut-jobs out of power--and not a pure power grab by a corrupt military--why would the military beg the Salafists to support the coup? Nader Bak'r from the ultraconservative Nour Party has become the long lost friend of General Al-Sisi lately. So, you push aside the MB, a mainstream religious party, and ally yourself with the snake-handlers-ultra-conservatives of the Nour Party?

      It's like we have the choice of allying ourselves with Fred Phelps from Westboro baptist church and another religious mainstream figure, and we choose the nut-job of Fred Phelps.

    • It's more like: Mubarel 2.0

    • Then what's the point of having elections? Next time, we just organize a petition drive and elect our president. Oh wait, i have a better idea: "The American Idol". Call Ryan Seacrest and ask him to organize a big television show so we can vote via text and phone calls.

      The only way to remove an elected official is through: 1) elections; or 2) impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors. The little "Good Soldier Schweik" stays in his barracks and eats MREs and waits until someone invades the country. Other than that, i don't want to hear from anyone who wears a uniform, especially from the corrupt military of the Arab-Muslim world and developing countries.

    • Last time i visited Egypt (Cairo and then Alexandria) was in December 2012 during the ratification of the constitution, and i agree that the economic situation was extremely bad--and to be fair here, no one could have turned that economy round in less than a year.

      Having said that, i agree with you, the future of Egypt is more than bleak, and whoever takes over (either the Junta or another civilian or Morsi) will be facing tremendous socio-economic challenges that require decades (if not more) of hard work and patience.

    • We saw the actions of the military today and yesterday: decapitation of the MB--i.e., arresting most of its leadership, leaving the rank and file roaming around without direction, guidance, and control. What are the consequences of such a move? Is it to create reconciliation? Or to create a climate so chaotic, which will favor violence?

      This is straight out of the Algerian playbook, and we know what happened there.

    • Weren't they elections on the calender? Will there not be more elections in the future? Yes and Yes. Then organize, mobilize, get your people out, get them to vote, go beat Morsi and his party. This is the only legitimate way of dealing with an elected official.

      No need to call on a corrupt military to solve a political dispute.

      The military created this situation, therefore the military is and will responsible for any bloodshed.

    • Gleeful? Really? I have been warming that this could turn bloody over and over. If anyone here is sad about what's going on in Egypt and the prospect of more bloodshed is me.

      There is no need for a straw-man argument here and informal fallacy. Argue with the facts.

    • This is not about religion--it happened that Morsi is from an religious party. That's all. If he were from another ideology or another political party, i would have reacted in the same exact manner.

      As i said it before, this is about civilian democratic governance in which the military has no role whatsoever.

      Moreover, i am not a supporter of Morsi or the MBs and have never been. But what i dislike more than confessional political parties is the military intervening in civilian politics. This is a red-line to for me, and i am not going to compromise just because i dislike Morsi and his party.

    • I was even surprised by the huge pro-Morsi rallies today, in almost every city.

      Moreover, i was watching one rally over a live fed on the Internet went i clearly saw the military change what was so far a very peaceful rally.

      It is clear to me that this military Junta is looking for a confrontation with the MB. They want blood to be spilled. In the last 3 days, the military has been responsible for more death and arbitrary illegal arrests than all the arrests and death of the last year, and by far.

      Dr. Cole: stop deluding yourself: this is not about secularist vs. non-secularist. This frame won't stick and last and no one will believe it, though you have been trying to force it out there for the last 2 months.

      This is about: civilian democratic governance vs. Military Junta.

      Inspired by U2: this is "Friday bloody Friday" in Egypt.

      link to

    • I advise you to follow Jeremy Bowen of the BBC on twitter: @@BowenBBC

      Jeremy Bowen is live tweeting what is happening on the ground live such as military firing live ammo into the MB supporters and he witnessed more than 1 dead body on the ground.

      Also pro-Morsi protest today in: Algiers and most city in the ME, and even in Kabul.

    • There will be casualties and deaths every Friday from now till kingdom or Morsi is reestablished in his functions or the military literally eliminates every supporter of Morsi and the MB.

      This is only the beginning and this is only the eerie calm before the big horrible plunge.

      And the military (and those who supported the coup) are and will be responsible for every drop of blood.

      Just to remind folks here about politics and violence. I was in Florida in 2000 during the contested presidential elections, and i witnessed Bush's supporters beat the hell out of Gore's supporters. I saw them intimidate journalists, city workers, and create a war-like environment. And this was just a contested election and they were still counting vote in one of the oldest democracy on earth with the strongest institutional framework and organization in any democracy western.

      If this could happened in the US, well multiply that by infinity in a new democracy with 50 years of one of the most violent and vicious authoritarianism and legitimate grievances about a coup.

      As the Christmas song goes, "It's beginning to look a lot like "Algeria"....

  • Egypt's "Revocouption" and the future of Democracy on the Nile
    • One last point: If Morsi was setting himself to be the new all powerful dictator of all time, wouldn't you find those powers in the new constitution that was adopted by 64% of the Egyptians?

      Well, let's see: I am not going to list every article (since i am sure you read that tyrannical document very carefully), but this tyrannical document that compelled the poor brave military to leave their barrack to protect freedom and liberty ends Egypt's all-powerful presidency, institutes a robust parliament with check on the executive, and has serious provisions against torture or arbitrary detention without a trail--basically, establishing Habeas Corpus, which our Abraham Lincoln canceled during the Civil War--I think General Grant should have deposed Abe Lincoln, the tyrannical president. Oh wait, yes Abe fired 10 generals during the civil what a example of the supremacy of the civilian over the military.

      By the way, the Islamist organization called Human Right Watch said that the new constitution adopted by Egypt provides for protections against arbitrary detention and torture and for some economic rights extended to the Egyptian people (check Human Rights Watch Report of November 30 2012).

      So, yes he was on his way to establishing a serious authoritarian regime the like of which we have never seen :) Again, did he make mistakes? Absolutely. Was he a bad president (he should not have listen to the IMF and he should have engaged in a serious deficit spending, but that would have led to other consequences)? Probably. Was a military coup justified? Absolutely not.

      There is an old French saying that says "If you want to kill your dog, accuse him of having rabies." Well, let's just say that Morsi had rabies LOL

    • Larry Piltz: By "let them fight it out" i meant argue, debate, protest, and put pressure on the executive until it yields. This could have led to a resolution of the situation without the military intervention, and therefore the coup. Even the members of the young Egyptians didn't want the military to intervene and they issued a statement in that sense.

      Although I didn't mean to have an all out bloody fight, but that bloody fight and that bloody violence is now more probable than ever before. Do you think that this situation would not lead to a very probable civil war? The writing is on the wall my friend.

      In addition, you said that "it seems Morsi was putting Egypt on a quick path to its own totalitarianism." The operating word here is "It seems." This is just a speculation. And do you think now we don't have the roots of authoritarianism deeply implanted in Egypt? Just read the headlines of the NYT or Wa-post or of any other decent newspaper.

      Finally, Egypt is not unique. There is no such a thing as a place or a situation that is so unique that it doesn't share any characteristic with any other situation or place or country that a comparative framework cannot be constructed. Mathematically, this is an impossibility. There is a huge sub-field of political science whose sole purpose is to compare things and Egypt is just case among other.

      Finally, I see how the military is reaaaaallly restoring democracy in Egypt. They did that by shutting down a TV channel close to the MB, shutting down Al-Jazeera feed from Egypt, and under military orders, the prosecutors went on a widespread roundup of top MB members and close adviser of Morsi (link to Long live democracy a la Egyptienne, as the French would say.

      The military cannot help itself. They have the gene of authoritarianism coded in their DNA. Just like any other military from Latin American to Thailand, every military coup led to more repressive policies, not more freedom and liberties. And the Egyptian military is not an exception.

    • No one is denying or disputing that there were many many people in the streets shouting their discontent against Morsi. No one! But that does not justify in any way and shape the actions taken by the military. Deposing a legitimately elected official sets a very dangerous precedent in a young democracy, and it is a coup. You can put as much lipstick on that pig as you can Dr. Cole, it will not change the fact that what happened in Egypt meets the minimalist and/or the maximalist conceptual definition of a coup d'etat. The rest is really not important. I even heard a new expression, "Coup with adjectives," which shows how creative some people are becoming these last 2 days.

      The military just can't help themselves. These are the same corrupt, authoritarian, criminal and torturer military that sucked the blood of the Egyptian people since Nasser. These are the same military who own approximately 30% of the Egyptian economy. And now, they have somehow became lovers of freedom and grand protectors of liberty and rights. To read some columns, i thought Al-Sisi was Thomas Jefferson and Al-Baradei was James Madison. Give me a break!

      You said that street was boiling with people, well let the street face the palace, and let them fight it out. Surely, it wouldn't have been the first time that protests curbed the appetite of a leader or changed policies. Although, we have plenty of examples here in the US or the UK where the leaders just ignored the streets completely (example, LBJ, Nixon, Bush II, Thatcher, De Gaulle and so on and so forth).

      At no moment did the military pressure or voice it discontent or interfered or intervened (though De Gaulle had some problems with a faction of the military post-1958) in civilian democratic governance. And if the military reacted and said one word, we would have all been horrified and we would have all been screaming bloody murder. If we are talking about approval rating, Margaret Thatcher's approval rating during the poll tax protests/riots was in the low 20%. Is that enough for the British military to depose her or depose her party? After all, there were violent riots, protests, and casualties every day in almost every city. How about May 1968 in France and De Gaulle, did the military just send an ultimatum to De Gaulle telling him to find a solution or else? Actually, De Gaulle went on TV and called the protests "Chienlit"--meaning, a joke or a carnival, but the way he said it hinted that he had in mind some scatological reference.

      So, why is it not ok for the military to intervene in western democracies and push elected officials and governments aside and it is ok and a blessing for the military in Egypt to do whatever it wants? Why is it "tyranny" if it happened in western democracies and "revival of democracy/revolution 2.0" etc etc when it happened in Egypt?

      Is our/your judgment Dr. Cole tainted by the fact that we/you feel antipathy and aversion toward the MB and Morsi? Are we/you being objective in your analysis? Do like post-modernists do, state your bias and go about your descriptive pieces. At least, we would know where you stand and what's your bias.

      I don't like the MB and i think Morsi has been so far a horrible president. All my antipathy and aversion aside, i cannot justify what happened in Egypt as a revolution 2.0. It sounds so out of place that my fingers refuse to type it. What happened in Egypt is a coup d'etat, as simple as this. And it is coup led by a group of counter-revolutionaries and remnants of the Mubarek regime. Nothing more and nothing less. Like like in Thailand in 2006 and in many many instance in Latin America. We never hesitated to call those coups coups. So, let's not start now.

      To me, Egypt is no longer a democracy. It meets the perfect conceptualization of an elected authoritarian state with a gigantic veto player sitting in the corner called the military.

      Anything else falls under dishonest scholarship and shabby analysis and just plain 'ol bias.

  • Fourth of July Comes a Day Early to Cairo after Fundamentalist President is Removed (video)
    • I am not saying that everyone in the MB will radicalize. I am saying that the radical wing which has been defeated and dominated by the moderate of the party will be free now and will revert to the old narrative of "we told you so...."

      This will split the party badly. It will have its 40 years in the desert, but they will come back. Their organizational and mobilizing structures are too perfected to disappear overnight.

    • Many constitutions do not a impeachment process. The first constitution of the 5th Republic (France) didn't have that institutionalized process. I think was later on (many years later) added through amendment.

      Still that doesn't justify a coup or the intervention of the military in democratic governance. The simple definition of a coup is a coercive force transferring power from a legitimately elected official and placed it in the hands of an unelected and illegitimate official. It's as simple as that. Everything else is lipstick on a pig.

    • All you are saying is not correct. He made mistakes, but none of them justify a military coup d'etat.

    • Of course it's a military coup d'etat that brought into power a military junta. But they are afraid to call it a coup because they would force Congress to suspend foreign aid to Egypt.

    • No, there is no dispute about his election. All independent observers reported that the elections for free and fair.

      To the question of an elected losing popular support: So, if Obama approval rating gets in the 20s, should we go out there and demand that he leaves office before the end of him term? Should we call on General Dempsey to depose Obama? How about the French president, Holland, whose approval rating is in the low 30, should they depose him as well?

      Democracy is nothing without the respect of its institutions.

    • The 7 consequences of the military coup in Egypt: link to

    • Dr. Cole, are you justifying this coup by adding the word "fundamentalist" next to Morsi?

      Yes, he is what he is. He is probably a bad president and failed one, but no legitimately elected official should ever be pushed by a military junta. This is a coup, and this will end badly.

  • Egypt's Countdown to Meltdown: Morsi Refuses to Deal
    • Well, they should have voted "No" then. That's what we do. We go out and defeat the referendum. I don't understand your reasoning at all. Moreover, how did they know that there was a fix? What proof did they have? Was there even a fix? And if they knew that there was a fix and they didn't act to defeat that fix, are they crazy to risk a civil war?

      My stories are for sure anecdotes, so are yours Dr. Cole.

      Our feelings aside, this is a coup and it is illegitimate one. And no amount of excuses would justify this coup.

    • I have no sympathy for the Islamists or Morsi, but elections have consequences. Those who do not turnout and vote, don't have the right to show up a day later to the party and throw a temper tantrums.

      I was there in Cairo during the constitutional referendum and the young Egyptians did not care at all. They were sipping tea and playing dominos. I asked several of them (all over the old Cairo and the new one) if they voted and all of them said they didn't and they didn't care about the referendum. When i asked "why? It's the constitution?" They replied, almost in unison, "Hadihi Masser Ya Akhy, no one cares about the constitution and it's a document with out value."

      Well, the constitution was ratified. 30% turnout is not Morsi's fault. 30% turnout is the opposition's fault for not being able to mobilize their base and voters and get them out to vote down this constitution. So, they don't have any sympathy from me about their weak mobilizing and organizing powers.

      Moreover, calling on the military to intervene in the democratic process is a very dangerous precedent that this opposition is setting. What guarantee do they have the this same thing won't happen again for the next president and the one after next? What guarantee do they have that this military, which suddenly became the most republican military in the history of the military, is not going to do this every time they don't like something? Turning the military institution into a veto player over the civilian democratic process is inviting more problems, not solving them. Look at the experience of Latin American countries, It never ended well (This is a great piece by Snider on Latin American country civil-military relationships.: link to

      As Linz and Stepan argues, the day democracy becomes the only game in town, then we can talk about a true democratic process and democratic institutions. For the Egyptian opposition to masquerade (this ad-hoc coalition of leftist and youth and women, and yes supporters of the former dictator Mubarek) this coup as some sort of saving democracy from the jaws of death is a joke. The Opposition voluntarily abdicated their power to the military and weakened their democracy for good.

      Sorry for this long post Dr. Cole. I can't help it. I am institutionalist :)

  • Egypt: Fundamentalist Morsi Defies both Protesters & Military Ultimatum, says Obama Backs Him
    • Dr. Cole, where did you read that Gen. Martin Dempsey called Brig. Gen. al-Sisi yesterday?

      To add to your point about the parallels between Algeria 1992 and Egypt today is that the 1992 coup reinforced an old narrative favored by the radical wing of the Islamists--the narrative that says "the west will never allow an Islamist to be freely and democratically elected because he would oppose US/Western politics". US/Western democracies need puppets. That's why westerners' rhetoric about democracy is just hypocrisy.

  • Biggest Demonstrations in Egyptian History: Millions Demand President Morsi Step Down
    • I have no idea what you are talking about. With due respect, there are elections and constitutional process, it must be respect. The military are the greatest threat in new democracies, not the radicals from both sides of the political spectrum.

    • This is a very crucial moment in Egypt's history. It reminds me of Algeria in 1992, and the victory of the FIS (the only exception is that FIS was never allowed to even contest the 2nd round of the legislative elections), which was canceled by the military. We all know what happened afterward: a very bloody civil war, Algeria became a magnet to all Jihadists, and the AQ moved in and established a franchise.

      If the military intervenes in Egypt and pushes Morsi aside, it would be a coup d'etat with horrible consequences for Egypt, the region, and America. First, a civil war would more than likely start in Egypt. Second, this would destabilize the region completely. Third, Al-Qaeda would have an unbelievable opportunity to move in in numbers in Egypt and establish a solid base. Forth, the United States will be blamed for the coup (people still remember what happened to Mossadegh). And the narrative will be "We told you that America and Israel will never allow an Islamist to be elected in the Arab-Muslim world." This has always been the narrative of the radical Islamists and if Morsi is pushed aside, it will be more than reinforced. Lastly, this will be a terrible blow to the democratic process in the Arab and Muslim world with unforeseeable consequences.

      My advice to whomever is dealing with this crisis at the state department or the W.H. is to get his behind moving and get on the phone and call the Egyptian military and tell them "To back off. Morsi is not to be touched."

  • Egypt's Presidential Election: Between Revolution and Counter-Revolution
    • Every political or sociological study shows us that political socialization occurs early in life. For this generation of Egyptian voters, their strongest and most lasting political socialization is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood movement of the 1980s, 90s and even before. So, this block ideologically is the strongest and the most dominant one and will be for a while. It is just natural

      Moreover, the notion of secular liberal vs. non-secular conservative in Muslim countries does not mean what we wanted it to mean. What's secularism in Egypt or Tunisia or Algeria? Completely separating politics and religion? No, they refuse that meaning and in overwhelming number (check the world survey value for hard data on that) (I live in the bible belt and they also hate the concept of secularism). Do they want an Islamic state/republic? Here their answers are all over the place and they pretty much depend on the definition of an Islamic state (again, check the WSV for hard data). Moreover, all these folks tend to equate secularism with the old regime, which means torture and dictatorship.

      In sum, party identification is hard to determine in the early phases of democratization, but not political socialization. That usually happens way early in life and we can see those patterns well represented in the last electoral cycles.

    • It is clear that Mursi and Aboul Fotouh are going to hold some rallies together and they are going to win the run-off round easily. From the early projection that i am looking at (reuters news) Mursi has about 25%, Shafiq 23% and Abul Fotouh about 19%. This gives Mursi a very good reservoir of voters for the second round.

      On the other hand, our US foreign policy vis-a-vis the Middle East and the region is totally up in the air. We need a new one because the old one aint' gonna cut it anymore. Moreover, it looks like a new alliance is being forged between Egypt and Turkey (all the nice speeches of Mursi toward Turkey and Erdogan), which will totally reshape the balance of power in the region.

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