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Category Archives: Egypt Revolution 25 January

Egypt: Where to Go From Here?

It’s a mixed bag in Egypt right now with some developments that call for disappointment, and others that call for hope.

New Government Scandal – Already

The 24-hour long violent attacks by “pro-Mubarak” thugs against peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Tahrir Square amid a total absence of security – coupled with government inaction – do not bode well for the current regime.

It is unlikely that Mubarak, a seasoned politician, authorized such primitive politically-naive action. It is improbable that the newly appointed government leadership was involved. It is highly likely however that elements in the ruling Democratic National Party (DNP) were involved. Either way, the fact that it happened, and that it went on for so long with the government failing to send in security forces, ambulances, or even so much as a timely public statement, indicates that the failures of the old guard system still plague us.

Between Marginalization and Revolution

Many Egyptians, by sheer fact of having lived all their lives under complete political marginalization are growing tired of the protests. They see it as a youth fad that is getting old and needs to end as soon as possible so that “life can get back to normal.” The State media is largely complicit in failing to carry the fact that the protests have grown into a revolution that has succeeded in bringing about unprecedented concessions in record time; choosing instead to propagandize on behalf of the status quo. Some elements in government conveniently feed into this line.

Many other Egyptians are full of praise for the protesters who have “achieved in a few days what all other Egyptians failed to achieve in decades.” They recognize that there is an Egypt before January 25th and post January 25th. Egyptian intellectuals largely feed into this line.

Thanks to the revolution, there is now such a thing as “public opinion” in Egypt that powerful politicians are obligated to take into full account.

Many protesters remain filled with energy and are insisting that Mubarak leave immediately.

President Hosni Mubarak

President Mubarak has refused to step down immediately, promising instead not to rerun in the fall for another term. He appointed a vice-president for the first time who said today that Mubarak’s son Gamal, will not be running for president in the fall as was fully expected before the revolution. Mubarak also appointed a new cabinet (executive government) and promised constitutional reforms.

Many Egyptians appreciate Mubarak as a war hero and love him as a dominant presence in their lives for the last three decades. Egyptians are a highly sentimental people. Their feelings, many will admit, are not an endorsement of his political record but are born out of personal human considerations and emotional attachments. They recognize Mubarak as an Egyptian national figure, who regardless of his shortcomings, must not be subjected to public humiliation. “Would you insult your father like that, even if he screws up?” many complained.

What should happen to Mubarak has therefore become a divisive issue in Egypt. The fixation on what is now a lame duck president by both sides, misses the larger picture, threatens to spoil the gains made by the revolution – and even worse – delve Egypt into further chaos and violence.

For those reasons, pro-democracy protesters must focus on ending corruption and on political reform and not uprooting Mubarak this very instant.  Not only has Mubarak been effectively disengaged, but it is my belief that Mubarak himself would leave today before tomorrow, had it not been for his pride and fear of degradation after so many years of hegemony. Today, Mubarak himself told ABC that he wants to leave immediately but fears chaos if he did so.

I was one of those Egyptians who loudly called for an end to Mubarak’s regime. For me, Mubarak’s announcement to leave in September satisfies part of this demand (If anything, I was concerned about a power gap should he leave as Tunisia’s Ben Ali did). The other part of this demand has to do with system reform, which for me is the focus. This is not a change in goals but a change in strategy necessitated by practical considerations: Mubarak will not be ousted by force without plunging Egypt into full blown divisiveness.

Political Reform

As I have stated many times before, Egypt’s revolution is non-ideological, non-partisan, spontaneous, and grassroots with a focus on wide scale political reform and not merely replacing one head of state with another. This is why the revolution must bring its focus back on system change, political culture change, and not fixate on Mubarak’s removal today versus a few months from now.

The real success of the revolution will come when Egypt confronts its political and economic corruption (200 politically-wired families own 90% of Egypt’s private sector), and introduces constitutional reform, due process, and checks and balances.

Towards that end, there are some promising developments.  Both the new Prime Minister and the new Vice-President are known to be anti-corruption. Indeed, they wasted no time indicting once untouchable billionaire politicians including the notorious Ahmed Ezz.

While Mubarak’s new political appointments are both military generals who are not likely to be vanguards of a new era of true democracy, they could act as a bridge that helps Egyptians cross over from dictatorship to democracy. In addition to their anti-corruption investigations, their promises to start a national debate about Egypt’s political system, and to place a schedule on implementing the demanded constitutional reforms are necessary preparatory steps for ushering in a new full-blown democracy, hopefully by the next election cycle.

Foreign Interference

Egyptians are fiercely nationalistic; no Egyptian would accept foreign interference – even in time of crisis. However, even those in Mubarak’s regime understand that the US and other countries are allies that have foreign policies affecting Egypt. It is fair game to put pressure on the US and others to advise their ally, Egypt, to push forward with the people’s demand for democracy. This however should not be misconstrued as an invitation for forced interference or internal meddling that politicizes domestic elements towards a foreign agenda. The US and others should put friendly pressure on the Egyptian government to continue in its declared steps towards democracy, offering resources that facilitate this journey.

The Next Steps

While the timeline for President Mubarak’s departure maybe subject to debate among protesters, there is little debate regarding the rest of the demands that focus on constitutional reform and guarantees for freedoms. The transitional government must not take those demands lightly or stall.

What has happened:

–          The Presidency: Mubarak’s rule is effectively over. His son will not inherit the presidency. After 30 years, there will be a brand new president in September who is not Mubarak Sr. or Mubarak Jr.

–          Corruption: The DNP ruling party, the source of much corruption in Egyptian politics (though certainly not the only one) has lost its immunity. The DNP was notorious for marrying politics to big money and special interest. It’s Secretary and mastermind, billionaire engineer Ahmed Ezz, has been indicted, his assets frozen.

What must happen:

–          Constitutional reforms on a set schedule, particularly items 76, 77, and 88 that have to do with set terms for the presidency, opening up qualifications for the presidency, and independent judicial review.

–          President Mubarak and Gamal Mubarak should resign immediately from the DNP

–          Regulatory, grievance, and punitive measures should be instituted to help end police brutality and overreach

–          All State media must be dissolved or privatized; the position of “Minister of Media” should be retired

–          The repeal of emergency laws

–          The complete independence of the Judiciary

–          Parliamentary reelections in place of the rigged ones

–          A new political culture of transparency and dialogue (chaos thrives where honest dialogue is suppressed, Egypt is learning that the hard way)

–          The current government must acknowledge that it is a transitional government that will make way for a new government to be formed after September

–          Constitutional guarantees for freedom of religion, expression, and speech

–          Intellectuals must help breed a new discourse of democratic linguistics

–          The youth must be given political capital including in leadership positions

–          Non-governmental civic organizations must be created to educate the public on civil rights and civic participation

What is the guarantee for all of this? The popular revolution.

Peaceful pro-democracy protests will not stop until Egyptians have full confidence that the current guardians of the government are serious about implementing a transition towards democracy. This does not mean they should continue incessantly. To the contrary, protests should halt if and when good will is shown in order to give an opportunity for dialogue and action. In the case of treachery or backtracking: everyone knows their address at Tahrir Square.

Democracy does not happen overnight, the revolutionaries would do well to remember that. But at the same time, the age of patronizing the Egyptian people is over; the old guard would do well to remember that.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2011 in Egypt Revolution 25 January

 

Why it is wrong to believe a word Mubarak said??

25 January Revolution, Tahrir Square

Why it is wrong to believe a word Mubarak said??

Excuse me I know I’m not very articulate, but he’s an attempt to explain reality to those who don’t understand it. Apologies in advance for typos, grammatical mistakes etc. I haven’t proofread this.

First refuting the promises:

  1. He wont run for another term.You are all accepting this as if Mubarak has a proven record of honesty, and he does deliver on his promises. Mubarak in 1981 said he will only stay in power for 2 terms, and we call saw how this turned out to be. We have seen the regime sending out a few hundred people in pro-Mubarak demonstrations, not to mention the tens of celebrities etc. who were saying all those nice things about Mubarak. Giving the regime 7 months to regroup and plan, don’t you think for example they can’t manage to create a massive large scale pro Mubarak campaign asking him to re-run leaving him “with no choice” but to re-run for another term? If I could think of such a cheap an easy plot, I’m sure Mubarak has at least a dozen of those up his sleeve.What happened to the rest of demands regarding elections? Judicial supervision, the right to vote for Egyptians abroad, voting using your ID (raqam qawmy) to avoid fraud, international and civil society organizations supervision?Again there was no mention of Gamal Mubarak not running for president, but more on that later.
  2. Looking into court appeals regarding electoral fraudLooking into those appeals would mean the re-election of many many seats (under no guarantees that the re-election would be fair [read next point about article 88 of the constitution]), plus the large number of appeals basically means the parliament is not legitimate and the proper course of action would have been dissolving the parliament entirely.
  3. Constitutional changes.Mubarak promised to ask the parliament to change articles 76, and 77 of the Egyptian constitution. 76 is the article regulating the conditions required to be a presidential candidate, 77 says the president serves a 6 years term with no limit on how many times he can be re-elected. He did not mention anything about article 88 which regulates supervision over the electoral process of the parliament, which means there will be NO guarantee they will be fair and fraud free.

What has Mubarak left out in his speech:

  1. Emergency law is still effective, which means oppression, brutality, arrests, and torture will continue. How can you have any hope for fair democratic elections under emergency law where the police have absolute power?
  2. Internet is still not working, no talks of lifting censorship.
  3. No talks of allowing freedom of speech, freedom to create political parties, freedom to participate in politics without the risk of getting arrested. FYI to start a political party you need the government’s permission. How do you expect democracy to come out of this?
  4. He said he will put anyone responsible for corruption to trial right? What about putting the police who killed 300+ to trial? What about members of NDP who are the most corrupt businessmen/politicians in the country. Do you think he’ll put those to trial? Think again.
  5. He didn’t even take responsibility for anything that went wrong in the last 30 years. Not even his condolences to the martyrs who have fallen in this revolution.

Why should Mubarak leave now and not a day later?

  1. He can’t be trusted, and we can’t believe a word he says. He’s a murderer and a criminal with a 30 years criminal record, and the blood of thousands on his hands.
  2. Every day he stays in power, not only are his cronies stealing every dime and every inch of this country, but we’re giving the regime a chance to regroup and get their shit together, and if not Mubarak, or Gamal Mubarak, I’m sure we’ll get someone even worse from within the regime.
  3. Egypt will see the worst 9 months of its history in terms of oppression, arrests, and torture from now till September (and after that). Rest assured the regime (with or without Mubarak), will stop at nothing to stay in power. He has given no real guarantees whatsoever that the situation will improve. None. Not even regarding Emergency law.
  4. You should NOT believe that there are any good people in the new cabinet Mubarak recently assigned. No good honest man would work for a criminal and a murderer, especially not in this war cabinet. Many honest Egyptians along the years have declined positions in Mubarak’s governments.
  5. If protesting stops now, it will never start again. At least not in those numbers, and thus creating no real pressure. And while giving the police a chance to regroup and reinforce their lines, expect more police brutality, and expect more deaths.
  6. Most importantly, 300+ haven’t sacrificed their lives, so we’d settle for some lame ass promises with no guarantees, and risk all this going to waste. They wanted Mubarak gone, and the least we can do is honor their will and keep going until Mubarak, and the rest of the regime are gone. Not in 9 months, but now.

My answer to the following claims:

“But the country is already in a state of chaos. Lets stop protesting so we can have some security and stability”

Don’t be fooled, this state of chaos is mostly intentional. With the economy reaching almost a complete halt, and lack of security on the streets etc, Mubarak made sure you’d eat up whatever he throws at you. Would you rather be ruled by a corrupt and criminal regime for another 9 months (at least), or go through “chaos” for another week, two, or a month until the regime has fallen?

Don’t let the blood of our martyrs go to waste. We’ve seen countries rise from the ashes of war, we’ve seen countries rise from the devastation of nuclear bombs. We can most DEFINITELY pull through for another couple of weeks. And once we have democracy, once we have freedom, once we get rid corruption, when 100% of our money goes into the country and not into the pockets of corrupt politicians and businessmen, we’ll rebuilt this country in no time. What are a few years of struggle in a the history of a free and proud nation?

“If Mubarak leaves now, who’s gonna be president? ElBaradei can’t be president!! With no one in power we’ll be in a spiral of chaos and havoc etc”

This is by far the most naive argument. Do you know what happens if the president has health problems? Do you know what happens if the president resigns? Do you know what happens if the president dissolves the government and resigns? Do you know what happens if the president dies? Do you know how an interim government works? Do you know what your constitution says? No. So any opinion you have on the matter is naive and based on emotion and not facts nor political understanding.

The constitution as it is tailored at the moment, puts on obstacles making it hard to proceed if Mubarak resigns at the moment. In other words the constitution obviously doesn’t account for the coup d’etat scenario. You can read articles 82, 84, and 189 to understand what I’m talking about it.

However the scenario we want is:

  1. the ousting of the regime entirely: President, government, and parliament.
  2. Establishing an interim (transitional) government representing everyone across the spectrum, chosen by the people, to make the necessary constitutional changes and prepare for fair democratic elections in 6 months while providing the necessary guarantees. There are lots and lots of names who can fill this interim government but everyone is concerned about the president of that transitional government, and to those I say: a) Enough with the centralization of power. Its seems we can’t think out of the one-man-ruling-the-country box. b) We are a country of 80 million people. Any honest decent Egyptian, who isn’t part of the current regime, could be the head of this interim government. c) Whats wrong with ElBaradei? If you know anything about me I’m not exactly a fan of his, but we just need an honest man, who knows the necessary processes, constitutional changes and legislative changes required to establish the basis for democracy. I wouldn’t want ElBaradei or any of the current opposition leaders to be president for a full term, but ElBaradei has what it takes to put down the ground work for fair and democratic elections after 6 months. Some people say he’s too “soft” to handle the tough reality of Egypt, well you have to keep in mind a leader is only as strong as his supporters, so whichever whoever leader the people stand behind will have the necessary strength to lead this transitional phase. The circumstances of an interim government are different from a normal government. Think of it as a committee temporarily running the country with the primary focus being elections in 6 months.Finally given 6 months of political freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, no emergency law, and with constitutional and legislative changes, not only will we have one strong candidate for presidency, we’ll have dozens.

For the reasons above, our goal should be: keep going until we overthrow the regime completely. And if you’re bothered by the chaos, remember that the more the people protesting, the faster the regime will fall and the chaos will be over. And once the regime has fallen, we should dedicate all of our efforts to make sure we choose a proper interim government that really represents the people, and everything will go smoothly from there, and the future of Egypt will be brighter than ever before.

Be strong, keep pushing, no compromises, don’t forget what they have done, we all know what they will do. The revolution has to go on so the lives of 300+ martyrs, and the blood of thousands other free Egyptians wouldn’t go to waste.

Don’t be naive. Its time to think politics and not just revolution. True freedom has a price and all of us should be willing to pay it.


 
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Posted by on February 3, 2011 in Egypt Revolution 25 January

 
 
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