Archives For: Egypt June30

Egypt’s Martial Media, Ctd

Aug 22 2013 @ 8:29am
by Brendan James

Joshua Hersh notes that the creeping censorship of the Egyptian press post-coup is actually “self-censorship, growing out of an instinct for conformity”:

In the final years of the Hosni Mubarak era, private television networks and newspapers had opened the door to critical coverage of the regime; their encouragement and reporting helped pave the way for the revolution. There was hope that with a toppled regime might also come a truly independent press, one of the few institutions that could steer the country as it tumbled through a tumultuous post-revolutionary era.

But now, when the official state-run television channel puts a banner reading “Egypt Fighting Terrorism” in the corner of its screen (referring, of course, to the Brotherhood), the private networks do so as well. Over the weekend, the privately owned OnTV treated viewers to a highlight reel of the police clearing the Brotherhood sit-in, set gloriously to the soundtrack of “Rocky.”

This was the only coverage of the event many of those watching would have seen; local newspapers and television stations give no information about the number of Brotherhood dead, and have never shown images of them. And when reports broke on Wednesday that the former dictator Hosni Mubarak might be imminently released from prison, the local media took hours to mention the news. In the interim, they covered the traffic.

Capturing Egypt’s Killings

Aug 21 2013 @ 5:13pm
by Patrick Appel

Max Fisher has an interview with Egyptian photographer Mosa’ab Elshamy. He reflects on “how significant events really end up taking seconds”:

As a photographer you always have to keep the shutter on — we call it the burst mode. I have full sequences, and sometimes it starts with somebody standing, but in the sixth or seventh photo, he’s got a bullet through his head, and it all took less than a second.

The consequences of that moment, of this guy getting shot or avoiding a bullet that killed someone else — it’s a very significant thing, and more often that’s becoming lost. I try to focus on that in my pictures, I try to include as few people as possible; just a man sitting with a killed friend of his, or a mother mourning next to a daughter. It’s a very individual act, one person killing another person.

Check out a Flickr gallery of Elshamy’s work here.

All Eyes On Egypt

Aug 21 2013 @ 1:02pm
by Brendan James

PAKISTAN-EGYPT-UNREST-PROTEST

Madawi Al-Rasheed observes how the Saudi theocracy is keeping its own Islamist opposition in order as Egypt burns nearby. King Abdullah recently set the tone, declaring full support for the junta in Cairo:

The king’s message was clear: zero tolerance for all those who use Islam to pursue political agendas, sort of an oxymoron in the Saudi context as the state itself had been manipulating, co-opting, and promoting Islam for agendas that are nothing but political. The foundation of the state itself is a process of instrumentalizing Islam to revive the Al-Saud control of vast territories, under the pretext of purifying Arabia from blasphemy, innovation, and atheism. The Muslim Brotherhood and its likes appear to be latecomers to the project of politicizing Islam.

King Abdullah’s message, supposedly meant for Egyptians, did not go unheeded among the many Saudi Islamists who abhorred their government’s support for the Egyptian coup. Since July 3, they have turned into defenders of Morsi and the Brotherhood, issuing statements on social media condemning their own government for backing the coup.

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What Happens If We Cut Off Egypt?

Aug 21 2013 @ 10:54am
by Patrick Appel

Noah Millman is unsure:

America already has had the experience multiple times of cutting off clients who have crossed a red line of one sort or another. For example, we abandoned the Shah when he had plainly lost the support of his people. This did not win us any goodwill once the Iranian revolution brought to power a profoundly anti-American regime – because the Iranians had not forgotten America’s longstanding support of the Shah, and because the Ayatollahs had their own reasons for setting themselves up in opposition to America.

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by Chas Danner

Bobby Ghosh thinks the US and international community overestimate Egypt’s importance:

Cairo is no longer the region’s cultural heart: Egypt doesn’t produce great art, music or literature. Arab TV audiences are much more likely now to be watching Turkish soap operas, Lebanese music videos and Qatari satellite news channels. Egyptian universities are now laughably bad, and the Gulf states prefer Indian, Pakistani and Filipino labor to Egyptian. Egypt’s media scene is a regional joke.

After decades of mismanagement by corrupt generals and bureaucrats, Egypt is an economic basket case. It has few valuable resources to sell the world, and its mostly impoverished people don’t have the money to buy anything from the world, either. Even the Chinese, who aren’t deterred by political instability or violence, aren’t exactly queuing up to invest in Egypt.

Ghosh adds that Egypt poses no conceivable threat to Israel, and that its political weight within the Arab world has been eclipsed by other countries like Qatar and Turkey. He thinks Egypt’s symbolic value is waning as well:

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by Chas Danner

Many Feared Dead As Egyptian Security Forces Clear Cairo Protest Camps

Adam Shatz believes that the counter-revolution is in full swing:

To each setback they have undergone since the overthrow of Mubarak, Egypt’s revolutionary forces have responded with the reassuring mantra: ‘revolution is a process.’ But so is counter-revolution, which seems to have prevailed for the foreseeable future. It won not only because the army and the feloul (remnants of the old regime) had superior resources at their disposal, but because they had a unified sense of their aims, something the leaderless revolutionaries conspicuously lacked. The revolution has been a ‘process’ in the manner of a 1960s happening, a meeting of different, often bickering forces that shared the stage only to go their own way after Mubarak’s overthrow. While accusing one another of betraying the revolution, both liberals and Islamists, at various intervals, tried to cut deals with the army, as if it might be a neutral force, as if the people and the army really were ‘one hand’, as people had once chanted in Tahrir Square. Neither had the ruthlessness, or the taste for blood, of Khomeini, who began to decapitate the Shah’s army as soon as he seized power. While the old regime reassembled its forces, Egypt’s revolutionaries mistook their belief in the revolution for the existence of a revolution. By the time Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seized power on 3 July, the revolution existed mainly in their imagination.

(Photo: Feet from the bodies of supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi lie on the floor of the Rabaa al-Adaweya Medical Centre in the Nasr City district on August 14, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. By Ed Giles/Getty Images)

Realism Isn’t Always Realistic

Aug 20 2013 @ 11:22am
by Patrick Appel

Egypt Public Opinion

Douthat makes smart points:

I think in general, the kind of realism on display in our relationship to Egypt has been a better model for dealing with problematic governments in unstable regions than some of the alternatives, from Iraq to Libya, that recent presidencies have experimented with.

But there also moments when the ground moves, and you have to take a step back and reassess whether the approach that realism seems to dictate is actually realistic. So, for instance: There is a difference between supporting a longstanding, creaking dictatorship on terms negotiated during the Cold War and supporting a second-generation junta that’s just deliberately overturned a democratic election. There is a difference between supporting a leadership, however corrupt, with a proven record of delivering relative stability and a leadership that so far is mostly delivering bloody chaos. And there’s a difference between supporting a government that’s willing to bend to your wishes at crucial moments and a government that seems intent on embarrassing you while telling the world it doesn’t need your help.

Larison adds:

When a client is engaged in behavior that seems both self-destructive and dangerous to us, it is irresponsible for the U.S. to continue the relationship as if nothing is amiss. That’s a standard that the U.S. ought to apply to all of its client relationships, but it certainly applies in the case of Egypt.

(Chart showing that the public supports cutting aid to Egypt from Pew)

The Bodies Pile Up In Egypt

Aug 19 2013 @ 5:14pm
by Chas Danner

Friday night, Egyptian security forces laid siege to Cairo’s al-Fath mosque, where pro-Morsi protesters had been holding up after Wednesday’s massacre and Friday’s violence, which killed at least 173 people. Once the mosque complex was cleared, as many as 1,000 protesters were arrested. Yesterday, another 38 Morsi supporters were killed while in police custody, apparently suffocated by tear-gas inhalation under circumstances which remain unclear. Then today, 25 off-duty police officers were found executed on the side of a road in Sinai, as is purported to be seen in the tweet above. Sharif Abdel Kouddous is certain the chaos will continue:

As Egypt plunges headfirst into a deadly downward spiral with no end in sight, many of its citizens are baying for still more blood. Both sides leading the conflict, the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, are playing a zero-sum game, based on a false binary demanding that Egyptians choose one or the other. Both are defined by hierarchy, patriarchy, secrecy, mendacity and a blinding sense of their own superiority. Both are juggernauts in the Egyptian body politic that have heedlessly clawed away at Egypt’s social fabric in their struggle for power, proving time and again that their own political and economic interests trump all. …

Today, many of the revolutionaries who fought the country’s successive authoritarian regimes—first Mubarak, then the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, then the Muslim Brotherhood—now find themselves sitting on the sidelines, pushed out of the discourse and forced to watch as the bloodletting continues. The transformative revolutionary moment that exploded on January 25, 2011, has become a faint glimmer, in danger of being extinguished completely. “Despair is betrayal” is the mantra that has echoed throughout Egypt during the many tough times over the past two and half years. Today, it is very hard not to feel like a traitor.

Adding to the craziness, there are even reports that Mubarak will soon be released, while Morsi will face yet more charges. Elsewhere, Kristen Chick reports on the anti-Christian violence:

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The End Of The Muslim Brotherhood?

Aug 19 2013 @ 3:41pm
by Chas Danner

Bassem Sabry outlines the treacherous path that lies ahead for the organization:

On one hand, the Brotherhood is faced with the combined power of an antagonistic administration, the media, the judiciary and a substantial number of people who seem to be confronting the Brotherhood in the streets out of their own volition. The Brotherhood is even facing the leaderships of the country’s top two religious institutions, the Coptic church and Al-Azhar. Most remarkably, a senior Al-Azhar leader and scholar, Dr. Ahmed Kreima, had reportedly declared that Al-Azhar’s council of Sharia scholars has deemed the Brotherhood apostates.

On the other hand, as the Brotherhood seemingly continues to lose control over its base, and and as supporters resort to open violence, their cause and any sympathies garnered are damaged, and the position of the government strengthened. The prevailing narrative in Egyptian media of an “Egypt Fighting terrorism” becomes more palatable for some than it previously seemed.

Eric Trager adds that, while the Egyptian military has been very successful in targeting the Brotherhood’s leadership, the consequences of that success may prove dire:

[The generals have] demonstrated that they understand the Brotherhood’s vulnerabilities, since the Brotherhood cannot function effectively once its top leaders have been apprehended. After all, the Brotherhood is at its core a hierarchical vanguard, in which legions of fully indoctrinated cadres are organized under a nationwide, pyramidal chain-of-command. …

Still, the military’s decapitation of the Brotherhood is a double-edged sword.

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Egypt’s Martial Media

Aug 19 2013 @ 2:01pm
by Brendan James

Sarah Carr worries about the Egyptian state controlling the press:

It looks like we are heading towards media oppression that will be worse than under 2011. There is a public appetite for it, and the security bodies have apparently been given a green light to do as they please.  Wars on terrorism rely on crude binaries: You are either with us or against us, and this is the constant message being relayed to us ([presidential advisor Mostafa] Hegazy even said during the presser yesterday that Egypt is “taking note of who is with it and who is against it”).

Laura Dean connects Egypt’s polarized media to the country’s deepening divisions:

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by Patrick Appel

A National Review editorial urges America to “back Egypt’s military.” It claims that the “military’s horrific violence … does not alter the U.S.’s calculus”:

The Muslim Brotherhood and the military government are now at war, and the latter remains the best hope for securing American interests and, ultimately, a free Egypt. We should therefore continue our financial and matériel support for the Egyptian military and maintain as close a relationship as possible to push the government toward our objectives.

In Commentary, Michael Rubin is more unhinged:

So long as the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to turn back the clock, impose its hateful and intolerant ideology upon Egyptians of all religiosities and religions, and refuses to abide by the pathway to transitional elections, and so long as it continues to fight in the streets, then it should suffer the consequences of its actions. And if those consequences result in exponentially higher Brotherhood casualties than army casualties, then so be it. That is the truest path to peace.

Ali Gharib pushes back:

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The Chaos In Cairo Continues

Aug 16 2013 @ 1:09pm

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The American Response To Egypt, Ctd

Aug 16 2013 @ 12:22pm

Shadi Hamid sketches two ways forward in Egypt:

I think there are two options. First is the Algeria or eradication scenario, in which the military and old-regime elements simply try to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s the repression option. Then you have the referendum option. I don’t know how you would do it, exactly. The military has dug in so deep to its position, and it’s already calling the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, so I don’t know if this is realistic. But typically what you’d do is have some vote where both sides agree to abide by the will of the people.

At least in the near term, though, I think we could just be in a continuation of this low-level civil conflict, this war of attrition between the two sides. A stalemate with violence, if you will. The short-term outlook is very dark now.

Ambers explains why the US has so little leverage in either scenario:

The Egyptian military holds all of the cards. And the guns. And the credibility with non-Islamists. It is not clear whether Egyptian nationalists prioritize the protection of the rights of Islamist minorities, which is one reason why the military can act with relative impunity and with immunity (to an extent) from a blow to their standing.

The U.S. relies on Egypt for counter-terrorism intelligence, and this relationship has been more or less continuous since well before September 11. Countries (like Russia) have used intelligence sharing as an excuse to get away with activities that diverge from U.S. policy interests. They understand that, since 9/11, the U.S. government has invested heavily in the concept of a grand global alliance against terrorism, and that the relative importance of a country’s intelligence relationship with U.S. counterparts is much higher.

Drum still wants to pull military aid:

I think it’s been fairly clear for over a month that the Egyptian military began planning all of this in the spring, possibly even earlier. It was rolled out very carefully, very strategically, and very ruthlessly. And while Mohamed Morsi may have been no saint, it probably didn’t matter. The military never had the slightest intention of allowing true civilian rule, whether from the Muslim Brotherhood or anyone else.

Marc Champion makes the Tiananmen Square comparison:

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So good to read some sanity from the former Archbishop of Canterbury no less about the hyperbole of so much of the religious right. He’s more than a little uneasy about Western Christians claims of victimhood:

“When you have any contact with real persecuted minorities you learn to use the word ‘persecuted’ very chastely,” he said. “I think (Christians in the West) are made to feel uncomfortable at times … Don’t confuse it with the systematic brutality and often murderous hostility which means that every morning you get up wondering if you and your children are going to make it through the day. That is different, it’s real. It’s not quite what we’re facing in Western society. (That) level of not being taken very seriously or being made fun of — I mean for goodness sake, grow up. You have to earn respect if you want to be taken seriously in society.”

But the corollary to this is taking the actual persecution of Christians in the world seriously. I plead guilty to not paying sufficient attention to the plight of Coptic Christians in today’s Egypt. Over the last week, they have been subjected to horrifying mob attacks by frustrated and angry Islamists. Churches have been burned to the ground, whole communities terrorized, and the violence isn’t over:

Bishop Angaelos, the Cairo-born head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said he was told by colleagues in Egypt that 52 churches were attacked in a 24-hour span that started Wednesday, as well as numerous Christians’ homes and businesses.

Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, told CNN he had confirmed attacks on at least 30 churches so far, in addition to the targeting of church-related facilities, including schools and cultural centers.

Those churches reportedly set ablaze Wednesday included St. George Church in Sohag, a city south of Cairo on the Nile River. And the new day brought new attacks. Prince Tadros Church in Fayoum, which is southwest of Cairo, was stormed and burned Thursday night, according to the official Middle East News Agency.

There is also a burning of books – perhaps the most telling sign of theocracy combined with brutal authoritarianism:

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Time To Cut Off Cairo’s Aid, Ctd

Aug 15 2013 @ 7:39pm

Jeffrey Goldberg writes that there is “no good reason to continue funding the Egyptian armed forces”:

The aid obviously hasn’t provided the White House with sufficient leverage, and it makes the U.S. complicit in what just happened and what will undoubtedly continue to happen. One argument for continued aid is that it encourages the military to maintain Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. But the military will do so whether or not the U.S. provides money and weapons, because it has decided that Islamist extremism, and not Israel, is Egypt’s main enemy. And it will be too busy persecuting Egyptians.

We are united again! Plumer suggests one reason to continue aid:

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