Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Egypt: plunging further into the Abyss of Dictatorship

Yes Egypt indeed has gone a few decades back when it comes to political liberalization. I am personally not surprised at all, whatever has been given by an upper hand can also be taken by that same upper hand. “Upper” being the government/ regime, which in reality is a dysfunctional alliance between a few essential ministries run by a few security institutions (of course protecting the regime and its interests and all what keeps it surviving nothing more)

The parliamentary elections a few days ago were a complete farce, the opposition was not allowed to advertise their candidates, and the government that is represented by the (so called) National Democratic Party (NDP), Candidates that were likely to vote for opposition were prevented from entering the ballot boxes, Many of the opposition candidates were simply knocked out the list competitors and were not allowed to run – despite the administrative court ruling against this practice as unconstitutional eventually making elections in several electoral districts as illegitimate and requiring they be redone, voters for opposition were beaten up in clashed with national security forces, some died others severely injured. Ballots were stuffed with fake votes, where the opposition and NGOs have caught such incidents on camera, youtube is full of them I could estimate something like 30 of them. Judges were not allowed to monitor the elections, nor independent or national media, that were not allowed to take any live footage from the elections. In the next round of elections the opposition pulled out in protest of what happened. Finally the administrative court ruled that the entire elections were illegitimate and that they should be carried out again, the next parliament will be illegitimate and it has asked the president who has the right to dissolve it to do so and call for reelections.

Of course this was not the only thing on the plunging state freedoms; 12 Islamic channels have been shut down by the government, while threatening to shut down others, several public celebrity media persons were put out of their jobs on TV, their programs shut down, an editor on chief of one of the biggest oppositional newspapers was put out of his position. Of course as usual hundreds of the Muslim Brotherhood are in prison with for no legal reason; and this stuff all happened in the past 2/3 months. This is aside from several national scandals of police men killing regular innocent citizens with no political or religious or any significant affiliations, that has mobilized protests in thousands especially in Alexandria where its entire beach had silent mourners wearing black and praying for Khaled Said, killed by Egyptian cops, (a facebook group for him has over 350 000 members). Another incident a woman was rapped (despite that she was wearing niqab) by a police man aided by low rank security persons. And female university students beaten up by police as they wanted to enter their university and they were refused for "being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood" (one of them beaten almost to death) which created widespread protests of disgust. The list of these atrocities is long and these are merely the ones that hit the media. And let us not forget Kamila Shehata and several other Copitc women who converted to Islam and were abducted by the church while the government stood by not doing anything, protests in Alexandria were made in at times reaching 50 000 and in Cairo with smaller numbers. ( the dynamics of sectarian politics in Egypt are becoming complicated and alarming)

Where the F is America ?

Well apart from the mere gesture of dissatisfaction the American ministry of foreign affairs has passed nothing has happened. In fact the Bush administration was way better in the way it handled this issue than Obama’s admin. America gives 1.3 billion dollars in “Military aid” to Egypt. Basically American Hawks see a weak and oppressed Egypt as in the interest of Israel. As if there is a democratic Egypt there is no way of guaranteeing that the elected government will maintain peace with Israel or remain quite on the atrocities Israel carries on the Palestinians etc. The current Egyptian government is basically acting as an Israeli agent running the country( not because it loves Israel but because it grantees its survival) . This is so true and its no conspiracy theory, you don’t need to read the wik leeeeeks on this its just enough to see Egyptian foreign policy on the way they have dealt with the siege and war on Gaza, The gas they give Israel for dirt cheap way below international prices etc. The only reason why America doesn’t protest to any domestic issues is because the government serves this vital function of perceived stability, yes in the short run it is so, but in the long run it wont be the case at all. The Egyptian government has went to lengths to please Israelis and Americans on its policy in the Middle East. That aid is basically invested in the security apparatus to keep the regime safe from domestic turbulence, the regime spends most of the national income on its security forget health care, forget education, forget infrastructure forget scientific research forget everything, this is what takes up most of the income. And America would accept anything this regime does so long as it serves its function with Israel.

Future Implications

A generation of youth including the educated, knowledgeable and politically conscious, including those who engaged in political reform, civil society and hoped for gradual political liberalization will give up on the idea of “peaceful reform”. What some commentators like to call “radicalizing the moderates”. Actually they are giving up on it now, and the “radicalization” is ongoing. This is not only in the younger generation but also in the counter elite aka the opposition which sees no use of engaging the political process (which was engaged only by the Muslim Brotherhood and al Wafd Party which both are rejecting it), yet its leadership is still not doing anything significant with its policies carrying on with its inertia but I suspect in the future the Muslim Brotherhood will not act in the same way. Even the reformist faction of the Muslim Brotherhood which is seen as extremely liberal by mainstream Muslim brotherhood has called for boycotting political life for 20 years and concentrate on Islamic preaching. This leaves for two options either violence or civil disobedience and in any case given the history of Egypt both are very likely to occur. In fact violence is just waiting to happen, an oppressive regime that conducts a foreign policy that negates the wishes and aspirations of its people that are very poor and mostly young and aware of their surroundings (with millions of them living in shanty unregulated towns) and a disenfranchised political counter elite you are just asking for trouble. An Iranian style revolution? maybe.

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