Of the many failings inherent in the Egyptian media, the ability to plaster ambiguous, conspiracy-laden information as front-page fact is right up there at the top of the list. Case in point is the infamous “spy ad” Egyptian television in its infinite wisdom deemed fit for broadcasting, cementing telephone texting as a threat to the nation, and pushing the xenophobia meter into overdrive.
So more of the same then in last Tuesday’s Al-Watan newspaper, it’s main headline screaming that “sovereign entities” (unidentified as usual) are on the lookout for a Jihadist cell in Sinai that is texting its members military movements in Sinai. This cell naturally is comprised of foreigners, this time Afghanis, Pakistanis, Arabs and (specifically) Tunisians who were seen in a market some time back wearing Afghani/Arab/Tunisian garb and speaking an unidentified Western language (might it be Dutch? Spanish? It could be anything).
A source from this sovereign entity told Al-Watan that not one of them had been taken into custody, nor seen again since their cameo in the market in a small town 25km from Al-Arish. Meanwhile clashes continues in Sinai from the fallout of the August 5 attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. Two days ago security forces had arrested ten people purportedly linked to the attack in a raid that saw a retaliatory attack that lasted for hours. The “sovereign” source told Al-Watan that five of the ten had been released because they are not connected to any of the recent attacks in Sinai in any way. It wasn’t indicated if the two Al-Watan reporters behind this story texted any of the information relevant to the piece to their editors’ phones prior to publication. Read more…
There was Sadat’s corrective revolution in 1971, and 2012 gives us the Morsi maneuver, where in one fell swoop the Muslim Brotherhood president removed the country’s top two military generals, cancelled their constitutional addendum and appointed a senior judicial figure as his vice president.
With no discernable reaction to the spate of decisions, Mohamed Morsi seems to have consolidated his power after a month and half in the presidency where it seemed that there was two distinct powers in Egypt, the military and the presidency.
“Egypt’s strategic partners were certainly concerned about the duality of power in Egypt, so there had to be a consolidation of power within one institution and normally it had to be the elected one,” said chief editor of the Egypt Independent Lina Attalah, “I imagine the move was well supported if not blessed by strategic partners because it has been so messy in Egypt amidst two contesting powers and what happened in Sinai served as an index for this state failure.”
Morsi removed head of the supreme council of the armed forces (Scaf) Hussein Tantawi, replacing him with head of the military intelligence Abdel-Fatah El-Sissi. Things seem to have come to a head however after an attack in Sinai 6 August that resulted in the death of 16 Egyptian soldiers. Read more…
If it was a salute to seal the deal, the Scaf chimera of Tantawi and Anan willingly gave it in greeting to president-elect Mohamed Morsi as he stepped out onto the tarmac of the Haykestep, there to be officially handed power by the military. It was a cursory salute mind you, not the official salute they often gave Mubarak, but it would have been more appropriate for them all to sign on the dotted line, bringing to an end the 18-month long negotiation process on the new state.
Meet the new state, same as the old state, just with the avuncular Morsi in the middle. What the Haykestep ceremony indicated was that the old state has succeeded in absorbing the dominant external force in Egyptian politics, the Muslim Brotherhood, into its bulletproof bosom. Through blunt and crude machinations, the deep state as well as the not-so-deep-state has managed to emerge unscathed from a season-long revolt, its functioning bodies more or less intact.
Morsi can riff all he likes on the revolution and its goals to Brotherhood throngs in Tahrir, but with the exception of the 1979 NDP machine and its patronage network of quid pro quo interconnections, the dismantlement of the corrupt embedded state has not happened. Even the NDP stalwarts will survive – and potentially thrive – in a new guise. Read more…
You’re sitting in a café with your friends. A foreign stranger walks in and being the ever-hospitable Egyptian, you invite him to your table. You garrulously bemoan the state of the nation, prices are high, there is a gas shortage, a dastardly plot against the military is being hatched underground – in the metro. The stranger’s interest is piqued, and he texts this information to his foreign intelligence handler.
Ludicrous as this may sound, this is the plot of a state-sponsored ad doing the rounds on Egyptian television channels, warning against talking to foreigners armed with tweet-ready smartphones. The ad is a window on the toxic discourse that has engulfed Egypt since the ouster of the dictator Hosni Mubarak, in those heady days of February 2011.
What has come out of a botched transitional period overseen by the ruling military junta, the supreme council of the armed forces (Scaf), is an extremely polarized society and political process that has culminated in a choice between two options the majority did not want, the old regime that was supposedly overthrown and its age-old antagonists the Muslim Brotherhood. Read more…
As the verdict was read out, sentencing Hosni Mubarak to life in prison, an earthquake shook the ground not too far from the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the former president preferred to while away his days during his last decade in power.
A verdict that has seemingly appeased nobody has shrouded Egypt’s future in even more uncertainty at a delicate time on the brink of handover from overt military rule to an elected president. For while Mubarak and his interior minister Habib el-Adly got life, his sons and Adly’s aides were completely exonerated.
The streets of Egypt are brewing with discontent in response to a “politicised” verdict: protests in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez are already at full pelt and will increase as the searing summer sun winds down. Egypt is currently in the midst of a presidential election runoff slated for mid-June between Mubarak’s prime minister during the revolution, Ahmed Shafik, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. The two candidates that made it to the second round have been roundly criticised as the two options the majority did not want. Read more…
In the end I walked out, which wasn’t what I was expecting. Nor was I expecting the cameraman on the army APC filming us as we filed past. I had been trapped in between two sets of clashes, thugs on one side and military and residents on the other. I didn’t know where to go. And on Hosni’s birthday of all days.
The clashes had already started at Abbaseya by the time I arrived. Abbaseya is not like Tahrir, it’s a perpetual death trap for protesters. There are no safe exits, and there are many people there that are generally annoyed by your presence, and are willing to let you know about it. It’s also huge, which should be an advantage when you’re scurrying off, but it isn’t because you have further ground to cover to get away.
At that point it was rock-throwing and the army were firing water from a cannon at protesters. The clashes were further up the street and as I walked up to the front tear gas was fired. The army had advised that people go to Tahrir, and not the MOD, Tahrir now being a center point for people who had long forsaken the revolution, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. You know that Tahrir is not the place to be when Mustafa Bakri is there; then it’s definitely not the place for any sort of pro-revolution, anti-Scaf action.
This was different from other clashes in that protesters didn’t return to the same line after the gas cleared; they merely retreated and set up a new boundary. The gas was potent, with a long range, and the stifling summer heat kept the pungent stench permeating through the air. The protesters weren’t only Salafis like the media keeps regurgitating. There were the usual types who tend to be at these things, the street movements and those who were just opposed to military rule. Read more…
The past year in Egypt has highlighted the difficulties civilians face in the military justice system. Around 15,000 civilians were tried in military courts, most of them reporting that they did not receive full legal rights in their speedy trials. These trials prompted a widespread campaign against trying civilians in military courts and the practice has, for the most part, stopped.
But it’s not just civilian defendants who have had their quest for justice stymied in military courts. Any case involving a member of the military must be heard by a military tribunal, even if it is a civilian accusing a member of the military of a crime.
Tanya, a British citizen, knows the frustrations of dealing with Egypt’s military justice system all too well. (Her name has been changed to protect her identity.)
She says she was raped by a military officer at the barracks of a military checkpoint between Ismailia and Arish in May 2011. Read more…