Archive for the ‘Egypt’ Tag

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first here’s my take. Can Arab countries be real democracies? Well, one of them, Tunisia, just did well on a big test. More than 20 years ago the scholar Samuel Huntington established his famous two- turnover test for fledgling democracies. He argued that a country can only be said to be a consolidated democracy when there have been two peaceful transitions of power.

Tunisia passed Huntington’s test after last weekend’s election when for the second time a ruling establishment agreed to hand over power. Tunisia’s relative success is in marked contrast to the abysmal failure of Egypt. The Arab world’s largest and once most influential country.

As in Tunisia Egyptians also overthrew a dictator three years ago, but after Egypt’s brief experiment with democracy in which the Muslim Brotherhood was elected and then abused its authority, today the country is ruled by a repressive dictatorship. I recently asked a secular liberal Egyptian from Cairo who was involved in the uprising against Hosni Mubarak whether the current regime feels like a return of the old order. Oh, no, he said. This one is far more brutal, repressive, and cynical than Mubarak’s.

Why did Tunisia succeed where Egypt failed? Analysts of the two countries have offered lots of answers, but the most common one is that Tunisia’s Islamists were just better than Egypt’s. In both countries Islamist parties won the first election, but as many have pointed out, Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, which is a rough equivalent of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, sought to share power while their Egyptian brethren did not.

Now Tarek Masoud, the author of a fascinating new book on Islamists and elections entitled “Counting Islam,” suggests that Tunisia’s success and Egypt’s failure had less to do with the quality of its Islamists than with deep differences in those countries’ political environments. Tunisia is more developed, more urban, more literate, and more globalized than Egypt.

It has a more diverse civil society than Egypt, stronger labor unions, civic associations, professional groups, and so there was relative parity between Islamists and their opponents. Tunisia’s Islamic party shared power, in other words, not because it was nicer than the Muslim Brotherhood, but because it had to. Tunisia had more of the preconditions that have historically helped strengthen democracy than did Egypt.

Of course, Tunisia faces many economic challenges. Its youth unemployment rate is around 30 percent. The government is battling Islamist militants at home and recent reports have suggested that the Arab world’s only democracy is also its biggest exporter of fighters to join ISIS. Though this may be because Tunisia is relatively open and not a closed police state like Egypt.

But Tunisia’s relative success does suggest there is nothing inherent in Islam or Arab society that makes it impossible for democracy to take root there. You need favorable economic and political conditions for sure in the Arab world as elsewhere. You need good leadership, and you probably need some luck.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1411/02/fzgps.01.html

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FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: But first here’s my take. Watching the gruesome ISIS execution videos I felt some of the same emotions I did after 9/11. Barbarism after all is designed to provoke anger, and it’s succeeded. But in September 2001 it also made me ask a question, why do they hate us?

I tried to answer it in an almost 7,000-word essay for “Newsweek” that struck a chord with the readers. I reread the essay this week to see how it might need updating in the 13 years since I wrote it. I began the piece by noting that Islamic terror is not the isolated behavior of a handful of nihilists. There is a broader culture that has been complicit in it or at least unwilling to combat it.

Now things have changed on this front but not nearly enough. I also pointed out that we face not an Islam problem but an Arab problem. For example, in 2001 and 2002 Indonesia was on the top of people’s worries because of a series of terror attacks there soon after 9/11, but over the last decade jihad and even Islamic fundamentalism has not done well in Indonesia, which is the largest Muslim country in the world, larger than Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Libya and all the Gulf states put together.

Well, look at India which is right next door to Ayman Zawahiri’s headquarters and yet very few of India’s more than 150 million Muslims are known members of al Qaeda. Zawahiri has announced a bold effort to recruit Indian Muslims, but I suspect it will not do too well. The central point of the essay was that the reason the Arab world produces fanaticism and jihad is that it is a place of complete political stagnation. By 2001 when I was writing almost every part of the world had seen significant political progress. Eastern Europe was freed, Asia, Latin America and even Africa had held many free and fair elections but the Arab world remained a desert. In 2001 most Arabs had fewer freedoms, political, economic, social than they did in 1951.

The one aspect of life that Arab dictators could not ban, however, was religion. So Islam had become the language of political opposition to these secular regimes. The Arab world was then left with secular dictatorships on the one hand and deeply illiberal religious groups on the other. Hosni Mubarak and al Qaeda. The more extreme the regime the more violent was the opposition.

This cancer was deeper and more destructive than I realized. Despite the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and despite the Arab spring, the dynamic between dictators and jihadists has not broken. Look at Syria where until recently Bashar al-Assad was actually helping ISIS. How? By buying oil and gas from it and by shelling its opponents, the Free Syrian Army, when the two were in battle against each other.

You see, Assad was playing the old Arab dictator’s game, giving his people a stark choice. It’s either me or ISIS, he was saying, and many Syrians, the Christian minority, for example, have chosen him.

The greatest setback has been in Egypt where a nonviolent Islamist movement took power and then squandered its chance by overreaching. But not content to let the Muslim Brotherhood fare the polls, the military then displaced it by force, has moved back into power and Egypt is now a more brutal police state than it was under Hosni Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned, its members killed and jailed, the rest driven underground.

Let’s just hope that 10 years from now we do not find ourselves discussing the causes of the rise of an ISIS in Egypt.

 

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1409/07/fzgps.01.html

 

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST:

But, first, here’s my take. Let me tell you what worries me most about the events in Egypt. The greatest blow to Islamic terrorism in recent years came not from the killing of Osama bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, but rather from the Arab Spring.

When millions of Arabs went out into the streets in protest against their dictators, the world saw that they were asking for freedom and justice, not an Islamic state.

Indeed, perhaps the sharpest blow to the jihadi world view was to see Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamist organization in the Arab world, join the 2011 mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square to ask for elections, not Sharia law.

The leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri, an Egyptian, certainly saw the danger and he denounced the Brotherhood for participating in the democratic process.

Now, Morsy’s government, a disaster in many dimensions, was almost certain to be roundly defeated in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Had it failed politically, electorally and democratically, that would have been a huge boost for the forces of liberalism and reform in the Arab world. It would have sent the signal that political Islam may be a heartwarming, romantic idea, but it is utterly unsuited to governing; that mullahs can preach, but they cannot manage an economy.

Instead, the great danger of what has happened in Egypt is that followers of the Muslim Brotherhood will once again become victims, gaining in stature as they are jailed, persecuted and excluded. And some of them will decide that democracy is a dead end.

The most important debate in Egypt since the July 3 ouster of the democratic government is taking place behind closed doors and on websites and chat rooms, and it revolves around this question: How will followers of political Islam respond to the Brotherhood’s ouster?

For decades there has been a dispute among these groups on whether to embrace democracy or work through underground means and methods. The Brotherhood has renounced violence for some 40 years ago and chose to work though social and political organization since then, pressing for democratic change.

This stance was actively criticized and opposed by the many of the more extreme Islamist groups in Egypt and beyond, like al-Qaeda which advocated violent struggle as the only way forward. These groups now feel vindicated.

Somalia’s al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab movement weighed in with a series of tweets. Yes, it has a Twitter account. They went like this, “When will the Muslim Brotherhood wake up from their deep slumber and realize the futility of their efforts at instituting change?”

And, “It’s time for the Brotherhood to revise its policies, adjust its priorities and turn to the one and the only solution for change, “Jihad.”

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood ruled terribly, even unconstitutionally. Were I an Egyptian, I would never vote for the party, but it did win at the polls three times.

It won in the parliamentary elections, in the presidential election and then in its referendum for the new constitution, which passed with 64 percent of the vote.

And what came of all that? Well, last year a judge dissolved the lower house of parliament, and now the constitution has been suspended and the former president is in jail.

Egypt does have a second chance. The military has done some things right since the coup, quickly scheduling elections and the drafting of a new constitution.

But the central challenge it faces is to bring the forces of political Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood, back into the political process. Remember that they still represent millions and millions of Egyptians. The Muslim Brotherhood has to be allowed to compete in elections at every level otherwise Egypt will be neither democratic nor even stable in the foreseeable future.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1307/14/fzgps.01.html

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Fareed Zakaria “But first, here’s my take.

The events in Egypt over the last week have been fascinating, but, also, a bit bewildering. Most of us don’t quite know what to make of them. Is what happened there a good thing or a bad thing?

So, let’s start with some basic facts. The government that was deposed in Egypt was an elected government. Mohamed Morsy’s Freedom and Justice Party won the presidential elections, the parliamentary elections and a referendum to approve a new Egyptian Constitution.

So, there’s no getting around it, this was the party that represented the wishes of the Egyptian people as expressed through the ballot box three times.

On the other hand, the government ruled in an arbitrary and high- handed manner and, in many, many cases, violated human rights and outlawed its political opponents.

President Morsy announced that his decrees were above judicial scrutiny. He banned members of the previous ruling party from participating in politics for 10 years. He did little about the attacks on Egypt’s Christian minority. The Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsy had been a lifelong member, had promised not even to seek the presidency or even a parliamentary majority and it reneged on both pledges creating this new Freedom and Justice Party as a facade.

In 1997, I wrote an essay describing the rise of what I called. “illiberal democracies,” elected governments that were abusing individual rights and freedoms. The Morsy government is a textbook example of such a regime.

But it is important to note that the post-Morsy in Egypt, the current government, does not look like one that is upholding liberty in any sense either.

Indeed, the more the arrests and the crackdowns continue, it looks like the old Mubarak military complex crowned once more over the ashes of democracy.

This has been Egypt’s and the Arab world’s tragedy. These lands are caught between repressive dictatorships on the one hand and illiberal democracies on the other. And from this vicious cycle, there does not seem much space for genuine liberty to break out.

So what should the United States do to help the cause of freedom and stability in Egypt? Well, a suspension of U.S. aid right now would plunge an already bankrupt country into deeper chaos.

But Washington should announce that it will continue its aid for a limited period, say two months, while it determines whether the new government is, in fact, moving to restore genuine democracy in Egypt.

Specifically, it should ask for three things. The end to arbitrary arrests of the Muslim Brotherhood or any groups or people for political opposition. Also, the end of the crackdown on the media in all forms.

The writing of a new constitution through a process that includes all major voices in Egyptian life, the scheduling of parliamentary and presidential elections in which everyone can participate, including and most especially the Muslim Brotherhood.

If these conditions are not met, than Washington will have no alternative than to recognize the reality that this is not the restoration of democracy nor a path to moderation and inclusion, this is a pretty old-fashioned military coup and it should be treated as such.

If you’d like to take a look at that 1997 essay, “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” it’s up on our website, cnn.com/fareed. It still holds up pretty well.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1307/07/fzgps.01.html

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By Yasmine Saleh and Maggie Fick

CAIRO | Mon Jul 1, 2013 7:38pm EDT

(Reuters) – Egypt’s armed forces handed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi a virtual ultimatum to share power on Monday, giving feuding politicians 48 hours to compromise or have the army impose its own road map for the country.

A dramatic military statement broadcast on state television declared the nation was in danger after millions of Egyptians took to the streets on Sunday to demand that Mursi quit and the headquarters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood were ransacked.

The generals’ intervention was greeted with delight among protesters in the streets – and muted dismay by Islamists.

Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak as the Arab Spring revolutions took hold more than two years ago, the Arab world’s most populous nation has remained in turmoil, arousing concern among allies in the West and in neighboring Israel, with which Egypt has had a peace treaty since 1979.

Mursi’s allies were angry: “The age of military coups is over,” said the Brotherhood’s Yasser Hamza. Mohamed El-Beltagy said Islamists would take to the streets to show their strength. Mursi himself did not respond all day.

Crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square cheered when a flight of military helicopters swooped overhead trailing national flags. Silhouetted against the sunset, it was a powerful illustration of the military’s desire to be seen in tune with the people.

“If the demands of the people are not realized within the defined period, it will be incumbent upon (the armed forces) … to announce a road map for the future,” the chief of staff, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said in the statement. It was followed by martial music.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/01/us-egypt-protests-idUSBRE95Q0NO20130701

 

Posted July 2, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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Stewart speaking about the war between Israel and Gaza “This is such a depressing, cyclical status quo. where the untenable underlying conditions are never addressed.  There are no winners here.  Or, to put that a different way…”

Pundit 1.) “Who was the big winner, do you think, here?”

Pundit 2.) “There are two clear winners.”

Pundit 3.) “Who are the losers and who are the winners?”

Stewart “You really miss the election, don’t you?  Is everything about the winners and losers and the horse race?  Even intractable bloodshed is just another chance to see who’s incrementally up or incrementally down.  And, by the way, winners and losers, in what game?  Sandy Land?  Hungry Hungry Hebrews?  Or, maybe it’s the old family favorite, Monotony (A game of momentary respite from implacable historical hatred), where violence is the day to day norm.  It’s a game where angrily flipping over the board is how you start.  And don’t get them started about where you can put up houses.  You can’t put up a house on Baltic Avenue.  I own Baltic Avenue.  Stop calling it Baltic Avenue, it’s called the dark purple territories and it was given to my people before this game was even invented.  Now, get your thimble off my schnauzer.  So, no winners.”

Pundit 4.) “There’s a military side of this, which Israel clearly won.”

Stewart “Oh, yes, Israel clearly won.  Israel’s in great shape now.  There’s no winners!”

Pundit 5.) “Hamas emerges as a big winner from this conflict.”

Pundit 6.) “Hamas is a winner here.”

Stewart “So, Israel won and Hamas won.  Did I say no winners?  I meant two winners.”

Pundit 6.) “President Obama is a winner here.  Netanyahu is a winner here.  Hillary Clinton is a winner here.”

Pundit 7.) “Egypt has definitely emerged as the winner in all this.”

Stewart “Did anyone lose this bleeping thing?  Did anybody lose?  Did anybody actually lose in this bloody conflict that killed over 150 people?

Pundit 8.) “The loser in all this is Mahmoud Abbas.”

Pundit 9.) “Iran is the main loser in this conflict.”

Stewart “So, the only two losers in the war between Israel and Gaza, are people that don’t live in either of those places.  So, the lesson here is that the next time your region descends into a war, you’ve gotta be in it to win it.”

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Back at the presidential palace in Heliopolis, Morsi supporters slam Tahrir protesters for, they say, “opposing the revolution.”

“We fully support our president’s decisions. Why do they want judicial powers to prevail while the judiciary needs to be completely purged?,” asks Mariam El-Shafei, a member of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party who bought her two children to the demonstration.

“People who are in Tahrir now, like former tourism minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour, are the ones who wanted the military to remain in power and preside over the constitution. Those in Tahrir do not have principles, they’re opposing for the sake of opposition, but we are defending our country, our revolution. I can’t say I’m not worried that Egyptians are dividing but we assure them we, here, are not merely perusing our own interests.”

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/58968/Egypt/Politics-/Live-updates-Rival-protests-erupt-across-Egypt.aspx

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Protesters in Egypt have set fire to Muslim Brotherhood offices in several cities, according to state TV.

They were demonstrating against President Mohammed Mursi’s decision to grant himself sweeping new powers

His decree states, among other things, that the president’s decisions cannot be revoked by any authority – including the judiciary.

Rival rallies have been held across the country by supporters and opponents of Mr Mursi.

Offices of the president’s Muslim Brotherhood party were reportedly attacked in the cities of Port Said and Ismailia. Earlier reports of an attack on the office in Suez were denied.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20458148

Posted November 23, 2012 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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