Monday, May 5, 2014

Egypt's elections 2014


Secretary of State Kerry, and my old boss, Nabil Fahmy, now Egyptian Foreign Minister.

Things do not look so good in Egypt. The country has strayed fairly far from the goals of the Revolution, in my opinion. I am really hoping to go to Egypt some time in June.

Egypt is becoming increasingly dependent on financial inflows from the Gulf. Gulf Inflows (Cargnegie Endowment). This is a problem for several reasons. Egypt has traditionally been a relatively secular, politically moderate state, with a strong Sunni heritage, but a tolerance for multi-culturalism. The Gulf states, by contrast, particularly the wealthy Saudi Arabia tend to observe Wahabiism. Wahabis are much stricter, much more puritanical, and much more missionary than mainline Sunnis. (Compare evangelicals to Methodists for example) This financial dependency could push Egypt into a more radical position culturally, and a much less tolerant position.

Egypt tentatively has scheduled presidential elections in May. The IMF, according to Carnegie, has bought into the "restoration of democracy" narrative postulated by the Egyptian government. Personally, I do not see how a coup by the military doth democracy make. Here is a good quote.

There is also historic precedent for dealing with Egypt regardless of its domestic political climate. The IMF dealt with former president Hosni Mubarak as compensation for Egyptian support for coalition forces during the First Gulf War, whose government by then had a less than optimal record on human rights, civil governance, and transparency. The g
eopolitical reasons for reengaging with Egypt today are equally profound. Despite public censure, western actors—notably the United States and European Union—by and large need Egypt to maintain pressure on armed Islamist groups in the Sinai and to remain a buffer against the larger destabilization of the region caused by the prolonged conflict in Syria. Western actors also want Egypt to not seek rival sponsors, such as Russia, whose recent arms agreement with Egypt buttresses speculation that Cairo is moving away from Washington.

Happy Monday. 

~WMB

Wangeci Bowman - Rest in Peace

Dear readers

I apologize for my extended absence. My sister, Wangeci Bowman, passed away of breast cancer on November 7, 2013 at age 43.

I had always hoped she would visit Egypt, but we never had the chance.

Rest in Peace.

~WMB

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Egypt's State of Emergency Continues





According to the Daily News Egypt, The cabinet has approved the establishment of a fact-finding committee to investigate the violence occurring on June 30th and subsequent weeks.  Egypt’s interim Prime Minister, Hazem al-Beblawi, explained that the state of emergency was extended due to security issues, and cited several acts of violence and terrorism. The cabinet has further stated that the Prosecutor General specifically carried out the startling number of arrests, and that those detained were charged with  criminal offenses. The interim cabinet has commissioned the National Council for Human Rights to collect and record data from the events that followed Morsi’s ouster, including several violent altercations.

There is growing unrest related to the extended state of emergency. The April 6 Youth Movement  called for a protest, scheduled in Talaat Harb Square in downtown Cairo on Monday evening. This is amid increasing calls for the release of what are perceived as random arrests and for stopping military trials for civilians.The Muslim Brotherhood has also issued statements condemning the extended state of emergency.

While the Presidential spokesman, Ihab Badawi, has stated that there was full support for the continuance of the state of emergency, several political figures have voiced concerns over a potential abuse of power, and human rights violations that may have occurred within this volatile timeframe. Interim President issued Presidential order 532 on Thursday stating that the state of emergency will continue for at least two months. The abolition of the law, which has been in force on and off since 1958, was one of the key demands of the 2011 Revolution. 

It remains unclear how the work of the National Council for Human Rights committee will impact this dialogue, however, their research, particularly the rehashing on several deadly clashes, may serve to further intensify this debate.

Another hot issue: Some of the latest in Egypt is related to the land dispute between Nile University and Zewail City for Science and Technology.  Former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif gave a plot of land over to Nile University in 2006 that had had been designated for the Zewail City of Science and Technology project in 2000. After the January 25th revolution, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf granted the land back to Zewail City  and moved Nile University over to Smart Village instead. However, the Nile University campus was already built in that space and ready for use. Nile University students have hosted sit-ins at the campus, demanding use of the facilities.  A short-term solution for what has been deemed "the Nile University crisis" has been rejected. The disputed land now hosts two hotly contested buildings. Nile students have not yet been granted access to the disputed buildings. Zewail City accepted 300 students into the contested buildings at the beginning of its first academic year on Sunday.

Many thanks to my wonderful GA, Neena. 

~WMB