May 30, 2012

The Negative Results of the Egyptian Elections

For the first time in the 5,000 years of Egyptian history, more than 50 million people were eligible to vote for their first democratically elected president.  It is regrettable to say that less than half of Egyptians have exercised that right.  It has been reported that only 23.5 million Egyptians went to the polls to cast their votes.

The first winner was Dr. M. Moursi, who received 28% of the vote.  The second winner was Dr. A. Shafik, who received 24% of the vote.  The third winner was Mr. H. Sabahi, with 20% of the vote.  It also should be noted that Dr. A. Abou-el Fetouh and Mr. A. Mousa ranked fourth and fifth.  Both presidential candidates were ranked at the top prior to the election.

The result of the first round of elections was not anticipated by the majority of Egyptians, who expressed negative views and rejected the result. 

Many questions have been raised regarding the election results, especially about Dr. A. Shafik coming in second and being a candidate for the second round of elections on June 16th and 17th.

Protestors gathered in Midan al-Tahrir, objecting to Mr. Shafik as a possible president because he is viewed as an extension of the ex-Mubarak regime, which is considered a total violation of the objectives of the January 25th revolution.

Dr. A. Shafik was appointed as prime minister by ex-president Mubarak on January 29th, 2011, to crush the revolution, but this strategy failed.  Furthermore, Dr. Shafik was the minister of aviation in the previous cabinet.  He was considered a trusted and close friend of Mubarak.  Also, while as prime minister he facilitated the transfer of billions of dollars out of Egypt illegally.  Dr. Shafik’s hands are full of dirt and he should have been prevented from running for the position of president. 

The Egyptian parliament, prior to the election, passed a law preventing any members from the previous regime from running for a government position.  That law was sent to the Egyptian Constitutional Court to examine its legality and no decision was made regarding this.

I am of the opinion that Dr. Shafik is the candidate of the Egyptian Higher Military Council.  The military has been in power for 60 years and are not going to surrender many of the economic and political privileges that they enjoy.

There is no doubt that the Egyptian army protected the revolution during its first stage.  In reality, the revolution has succeeded in removing Mubarak and it put an end to the possibility of his son, Jamal, inheriting that position.  The army’s views on that possibility were well known – they objected to that scenario.  Nevertheless, after the removal of Mubarak on February 11, 2011, the Egyptian Higher Military Council, with the cooperation of the Muslim Brotherhood, developed a counter-revolution strategy to stop the demands of those who initiated the revolution and to curtail their influence.  This strategy was successful.  Both groups, the military council and the Muslim Brotherhood, have committed blunders that led to the instability of the political and economic situations that the country is facing.  For that reason and others, more than half of the Egyptians did not vote and the consequence of such actions led to the emergence of two undesired political candidates (Moursi and Shafik).  Both candidates ended up getting less than ¼ of the Egyptian vote.

The Egyptian mass media has been speculating about those who supported Dr. Shafik by referring to several groups with different rationales behind their decisions to cast their votes for Dr. Shafik.

1)   The majority of Egyptians Copts were fearful of political Islam’s control of Egypt and turning it into a conservative religion state.  Furthermore, Dr. Shafik publicly assured the group that if he is elected, he knows how to deal with Islamists.
2)   Many of the Mubarak supporters cast their votes for Dr. Shafik to protect their financial and political interests.  The election of Shafik, from their point of view, will be an extension of the Mubarak regime.
3)   Another group that didn’t participate in the previous election, many of them cast their votes for Dr. Shafik, because they were under the impression that the revolution brought instability, not security and safety, and their negative feelings regarding the increasing influence of political Islam played an influential role behind their support of Shafik.
4)   The money that was circulating, especially by advocates of Dr. Shafik, in popular neighborhoods where the poor reside, played a role in support of Shafik.  Also, many of these people are illiterate and lack the ability to make sound judgment in casting a vote.

There have been some demands made for the withdrawal of Dr. Shafik from the upcoming election, but that call will not be implemented.

Furthermore, other groups called on Dr. Moursi to withdraw from the election in favor of Mr. H. Sabahi, since the Islamists are in full control of the Egyptian parliament.  That call was also dismissed so far.  There is no doubt in my mind that the next two weeks of June 2012 might bring the unexpected.

May 21, 2012

The Ongoing Arab Spring Revolution

The Arab Spring Revolution is still an ongoing process, reflecting      democratic political progress, as is the case in Tunisia and Egypt.  On the other hand, political and military struggles are still going on in various forms, as is the case in Syria, where the regime is conducting a military civil war against its people.  No relief is in sight in Syria, except by the removal of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which has already killed more than ten thousand Syrians.

The situation in Yemen reflects an ongoing struggle between the supporters of the previous Yemeni president, Ali Saleh, and the new transitional government, headed by A.R. Mansour.  Many of Ali Saleh’s relatives are still in important military positions and have refused to surrender their authority, which has led to a division and conflict in the Yemeni army.  This situation enhanced the emergence of al-Qaeda in southern Yemen, which is posing a threat to the security of the Arab Gulf states and the U.S.  This situation led President Obama to sign a new law, which will penalize any state that contributes to the instability of Yemen.  Furthermore, the U.S. military is helping the Yemeni military forces attack al-Qaeda’s forces in southern Yemen.  The Yemeni situation is more complicated than the presence of al-Qaeda there.  More than half of the Yemeni population is living below the poverty index level, and in addition, the unemployment rates are high.  Also, Yemen is among the world’s five states that are most water poverty stricken.  This has impacted the agriculture sector.  Yemen depends on food imports.  Yemen needs a comprehensive economic development program that will lead to the creation of new jobs, which will impact the strength and influence of al-Qaeda in Yemen.  The U.S. and the oil-producing Arab Gulf states could play a constructive role that will be more influential in defeating al-Qaeda.  This would be more effective than the current military strategy.

The Libyan situation is still in a state of reorganizing its political situation to bring harmony to the various political groups and tribal affiliations that will lead the country to its first free political election.

Egypt will experience its first free and democratic presidential election in a few days (May 23rd and 24th, 2012).  Regardless of who will be elected, the Egyptian political model will have an impact on the rest of the Arab world.