Jun 24, 2012

The New President of the Second Republic of Egypt

The Egyptian Constitutional Higher Court has announced Dr. Mohamed Morsi as the winner of the presidential election.

True and democratic election has taken place in Egypt. More than 51.7% of the eligible voters have exercised their right for the first time in their life, and voted for Dr. Morse while 48.3% voted for Dr. Ahmad Shafik. The new Egyptian political model will definitely have an impact on the rest of the Arab world.

The advantage of Dr. Morsi being the first president of the second Egyptian Republic gives the Egyptian society a fresh start. It also reflects an end to the influence of the previous regime that Dr. Shafik represented.

Dr.Morsi has already declared, prior to the official election’s results, that he will nominate an independent prime minister. That is a prime minister who is not affiliated to his party “Freedom and Justice” and neither to the Muslim Brothers. I sincerely hope that he will implement what he has promised the Egyptian people.

 Regardless of the fact that the Egyptian revolution of January 25 is not completed, the result of the latest elections, however, will lead the new president to focus on the much needed revolutionary demands of the economic, political and social reforms. “Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice” was the slogan of the young, vanguard of the Egyptian Revolution.

I hope Dr. Shafik’s supporters will join their forces to support Dr.Morsi for the benefit of all Egyptians.

Jun 23, 2012

Revolution or Military coup

In a previous post (October 30, 2011), I pointed out that the Egyptian revolution of January 25th was stalling and that it might turn into a military coup. Such an assessment has now turned into a reality. The Egyptian military, which has been in power for more than sixty years, is not ready to give it up.

The revolution came as a blessing for the Egyptian military generals, who were known to be unsupportive of Jamal Mubarak inheriting his father’s position. That fact and others encouraged the Egyptian military not to turn their guns against the protestors.

After the collapse of the Mubarak government on February 11, 2011, the Egyptian Higher Military Council began to prepare for a counter-revolution to stop any further revolutionary demands for political, economic, and social reforms.

The young Egyptian protestors were chanting, “Bread, freedom, and social justice.” The army generals who control between 20%-30% of the Egyptian economy anticipated a threat to their interests and the special privileges they have been enjoying for many decades without accountability.

The military general turned to the Muslim Brotherhood, who is the oldest and most organized political group, for an undeclared partnership for political support. Both groups have their own hidden agenda to implement, regardless of their impact on the others, but their               priority supersedes any other issue, except stopping any further demands by the revolutionary forces. For that and other reasons, both the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood joined forces and began to call on the protestors to stop their protests in Tahrir Square in order for the revolution to succeed and the economic wheel to start turning.

The Muslim Brotherhood did not condemn the killings of the young protestors in front of the Myspairo Square, the Mohamed Mahmoud Street, the Ministry of Interior, and in front of the prime minster’s headquarters. Many young Egyptian protestors were killed during the peaceful protests at these sites. The Military council always blamed a third unknown party for the killings.

In the meantime, the Muslim Brotherhood turned its face to the other side and was preparing to implement their hidden agenda. They were under the illusion that they have a religious-political mandate to lead the nation despite the fact that they were not the ones who began the revolution. They succeeded in pressuring the military general to postpone drafting a new constitution, electing a new parliament instead. They have succeeded in doing that. Second, the Muslim Brotherhood have also misled the Egyptian public on several occasions prior to the election, and they announced that their candidates would run in only 30% of the districts. They then said they would run in 50% of the districts and prior to the election they ran in all the districts. The Muslim Brotherhood, through their political party “The Freedom and Justice Party” ended up winning 46% of the pertinent seats, and the Salafi Muslims won 24% of the seats. Both political Islamic groups ended up controlling nearly 2/3 of the parliament seats.

The second blunder that the Muslim Brotherhood committed is their demand to control 50-60% of the committee designated to draft the new constitution, which was supposed to consist of 100 members. Their aim was to create a new constitution that meets their political objectives, but it did not materialize. The third blunder that the Muslim Brotherhood committed was also their first announcement that they would not have a candidate run for the position of president. They then ended up having a candidate run – Dr. M. Mursi – run. He received nearly 5.5 million votes and was the leading candidate. Dr. M. Shafik came in second out of the 13 candidates. Unfortunately, neither candidate was the desired one by the majority of the Egyptian population for the following reason:

First, Mr. Mursi represents the Muslim Brotherhood, which has lost credibility with many Egyptians for not being honest in terms of their public policy. Their reputations during more than one year in parliament are negative. No major accomplishment was made by them, despite the fact that they controlled parliament. For example, instead of focusing on major problems that the nation faces, such as the high unemployment and poverty rates, low wages, corruption, the continuous increases in food prices, and the shortages of gas for cooking and petrol for cars, some of their members are concerned with other insignificant issues such as decriminalizing female genital mutilation, stopping the production and consumption of liquor, and prohibiting tourists from wearing bikinis at Egyptian beaches. Such behavior on the part of the political Islamist parties caused many Egyptians to discredit them, politically speaking.

Finally, the blunders committed in parliament led the Egyptian Military Council to turn against them. The military council gave the Muslim Brotherhood enough rope to hang themselves with during the right moment. During the election of the members of parliament, members of the military council were aware that the Muslim Brotherhood violated the election law. However, they waited for more than a year to raise the issue.

The Egyptian Higher Constitutional Court responded to the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood violated the election law for parliament. The Court issued its verdict by dissolving the parliament.

The military council was waiting for such a decision and issued its order by implementing the court decision and closed the door of parliament.

Furthermore, two days before declaring the winner in the second round of elections for the presidential position, the military council issued a new binding rule to limit the authority of the newly elected president before the official announcement of who will be the winner. They announced their decision to create a new committee that will draft a new constitution in no more than three months. The military council assumed the legislative power as a result of the constitutional court verdict of dissolving parliament. The media announced that Dr. Mursi is the winner with 51.5% of all the votes cast after completing the counting. The Muslim Brotherhood, who has been waiting for more than eighty years, is ready to take over the government. Dr. Mursi gave a short speech thanking the Egyptian people for their support. He also stated that he would be the president for all Egyptians and that they will all be treated equally, regardless of their religious affiliation. He will be president of a civil, free, and democratic government.

Dr. Mursi should be given the chance to run the new government and every Egyptian should support him. He will implement what he said in his speech.

Finally I will say that the Egyptian military strategy was implemented with success. The revolution’s meager success so far is very significant for the following reasons. First, it removed the blanket of fear from authoritarian regimes so that political dictators do not emerge again. Second, Egyptians have experienced democracy and free elections for the first time in more than sixty years. Third, people began to experience the feeling of being free and expressing themselves without being prosecuted.

There are still more reforms that need to be implemented. Let us hope it will be accomplished by the incoming new government. The projection of Dr. Mursi as the winner was made before the official result of voting was made.

Jun 4, 2012

The Syrian Tragedy

The Arab Spring Revolution in Syria has turned into a civil war, drawing several national and international powers into the conflict.

More than a year ago, in 2011, I wrote that the only way for the spring revolution to succeed in Syria is if a military coup takes place to remove Bashar al-Assad from power.  Such a possibility is a remote one.  Since Hafez al-Assad assumed the presidency as a result of a military coup more than 30 years ago, he followed a security strategy by appointing relatives, friends, and mainly members from his Alawaii minority group into high and important positions in the army and other security institutions to prevent the possibility of a military coup against his regime.  For example, Bashar’s brother Maher is the commander of the national presidential guard.  It is known to be the most powerful and biggest regiment in the Syrian army.  No other regiment is permitted to come close to Damascus.  In 1981, an attempt of rebellion by the Muslim Brotherhood took place in Hama City, which led the Syrian army, under Rifaat al-Assad to attack the rebels.  It was reported that between 20,000 and 30,000 people were killed as a result of the heavy bombardment of the city.  Nevertheless, during the past year, a few hundred soldiers and officers have split from the regular army in protest of the brutality of the security forces against the Syrian protestors all over the country.  Those who deserted the army have created a freedom fighter force against the ruling regime.  They have created the “Free army” and its members are from the Muslim Sunni majority in Syria who constitute among 75% of the total population.  The Alawites, who control the government, constitute only 10-15% of the total population.  The Alawites are an offshoot of the Shiaa Muslim population, who constitute a minority group in Arab Islamic countries in the Middle East.  Only in Iraq and Iran do the Shiaa constitute a majority of the population.  The conflict between the Sunnis and the Shiaa has been going on for hundreds of years.

Unfortunately, the civil war in Syria is now turning into a conflict between the Sunni majority, who are calling for freedom and democracy from the ruling minority, who are in full control of the country.

Countries in the region with a dominant Shiaa majority, such as Iraq and Iran, are supporting the Syrian regime with armaments and even security forces sent by Iran to Syria.  Also, it was reported that the borders between Iraq and Syria are wide open for all sorts of help in support of the regime.  On the other hand, Arab Sunni regimes, especially in Gulf region, have been supporting the Sunni Muslim uprising in Syria.  The Saudi government has been the leading force in their support, by arming and financing the rebels in Syria.  They have also pulled their diplomatic missions from Syria.  The Syrian uprising has already created a political conflict between Sunnis and Shiaa in the Middle East region.

The impact of the Syrian conflict is turning into an international one, drawing more countries into the conflict and forcing them to take a stand, especially after the Houla Village massacre committed against unarmed civilians by the Syrian army.  It has been reported that more than 100 people, including many children, were shot to death.  The killing was condemned by the U.N.  However, Russia, China, and Iran have been defending the Syrian regime and are against foreign intervention in Syria.  The U.S. and most western European countries are supportive of the Syrian uprising.  The U.S. government in particular has been working with the Saudi government in providing armaments to the Syrian rebels, in additional to financial support.

Also, the Russian government has been sending armaments to Syria and is playing a role as a supporter of the Syrian regime.  It seems to me that the Russian government, which has a naval base in Syria, is now playing a new role, especially since the collapse of the previous communist regime.  The Syrian conflict is now providing a new arena for both super powers, the U.S. and Russia, to use the Syrian conflict as an excuse to flex their muscles on the international political stage.  However, I doubt very much that foreign military interference like the one that took place in Libya will take place in Syria.  It will be a destructive war for Syria and its people as a whole.

The Russian and Chinese governments who are permanent members of the U.N. Security council have rejected many attempts to impose sanctions on Syria by using the veto power.  The Arab League has attempted to play a role in bringing a peaceful settlement to the conflict, but has failed so far.  Also, the U.N. has attempted a similar approach by asking the previous U.N. Security General, Mr. Kofi Annan, to lead a mission in Syria that lead nowhere.

The Syria situation is getting worse and innocent civilians have paid a heavy price.  It has been estimated that more than 12,000 people have been killed so far.  There is no possible solution in sight to this conflict.