Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 10, 2012

Egypt: Political Ineptness Lets Downward Spiral Continue

Under pressure to secure a $4.8 billion IMF loan the Egyptian president yesterday legislated, by decree, massive tax hikes on steel, cement, soft drinks, beer and cigarettes and some services like mobile-phone services, air-conditioned transportation, cleaning and security.

He immediately came under fire even from his own Freedom and Justice Party:

The FJP reiterated its permanent position, rejecting any economic policies that increase the burden on low-income citizens.
The party certainly feared that the tax hikes, issued shortly before a referendum on the new constitution, would turn voters to vote no.

Today, at 2 am local time, the tax hike decree was annulled through another one issued via Morsi's Facebook account.

The Muslim Brotherhood's calvinball game continues with rules, laws and decrees made up whenever convenient only to again change a few moments later. False comprises are offered only after its aims have been achieved.

The FJP, of which Morsi was number two before becoming president, is a bourgeois party led by a billionaire. It is unlikely to drastically increase taxes on the rich. The new constitution, should it come into force, leaves the military, its huge assorted industrial empires and its income on its own. The parliament will have no financial control over it nor will it be able to tax it. With the pressure from the conservative Islamist right against alcohol, nighttime parties and other liberal attitudes the tourism that brought much to Egypt's foreign currency reserves is unlikely to revive. There will be little foreign investment as such, even from the Gulf, does not like to play under calvinball rules.

Egypt's foreign currency reserves are falling fast. Without the IMF loan Eygpt will soon have to default. The IMF is under Washington's control. The conditions under which it gives loans can be changed. If the U.S. wants Morsi to continue to rule, as I suspect, the IMF will give him the loan without demanding immediate tax increases. But that only means that those will come later, after the referendum and a new parliament election. Will the voters anticipate this?

The Muslim Brotherhood is in a bind. Its ideological contradictions, demanding social justice while also being somewhat neoliberal capitalists, are now for all to see. Its political ineptness is obvious.

If the unfortunately splintered opposition would point that out and present the referendum about the constitution, which it does not want to come into force, as a referendum about the Brotherhood and Morsi's rule it would probably have a good chance to turn it down. But so far the opposition has been just as political inept as the ruling party and it continues to insist on boycotting the referendum. Such boycotts have a record of backfiring.

New demonstrations from both sides have been announced for Tuesday and might well lead to new violent clashes. By decree Morsi gave the military power to intervene in them which is something it does not really want to do. The outcome will only be radicalization on both sides.

Unless something big happens the Muslim Brotherhood will likely win the referendum and the next parliament elections. When the economic pressure on the poor continues, as it inevitably will, Egypt may thereafter slide even further to the right. Egypt's current downward spiral will continue from there.

Posted by b on December 10, 2012 at 05:00 AM | Permalink

Comments

Don't know b. I guess economic interest wise Muslim Brotherhood is not Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi is not Salafi.

Everybody seems to repeat that higher taxation was Mursi's plan to get the World Bank loan - it is news to me the World Bank works like that. What they recommend and demand is less state spending, cutting of social services so that the economy does not get burdoned by having to pay taxes.

That is what cultural warfare is about - make people forget their economic interest.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 6:14:03 AM | 1

I think it's important to be careful not to blame the Muslim Brotherhood for policies imposed by external actors such as the United States. Conditioning IMF loans on cooperating with the blockade of Gaza is outrageous, but it's the US doing that, not Morsi.

The officials whose agendas make them indifferent to the suffering of the people of Egypt (and throughout the Middle East and world) are in Washington, Tel Aviv and places like that. We can't blame the Muslim Brotherhood for policies created by the Barack Obama administration.

If Egypt's voters believed that, for example, ElBaradei could deal with the foreign currency issues and IMF conditions better - according to their values - than Morsi can, then Egypt's voters were free to elect him and will be free again to elect him in four years.

If we disagree with Egypt's voters about who is best able to guide Egypt through a hostile world environment, then of course Egypt's voters should win.

There is also no reason for us to add to that hostility.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 10:14:34 AM | 2

Kind of off-topic,but,encouraging:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/middleeast/la-fg-syria-violence-20121210,0,1630331.story

Posted by: ben | Dec 10, 2012 10:28:43 AM | 3

I don't think this is about Gaza or Israel. There is no pro Zionist constituency in Egypt. Even Mubarak holdovers are not clamoring for the peace process. Arnold is correct that the US will seek to impose its policies regardless of who is in charge.

This is about domestic the Egyptian condition. The MB has the majority now, I agree. It seems that they are trying to codify their rule in the constitution so that, in the event they loose that majority 10 years from now, they will still keep in place all the policies they want. A constitution is not voted on every four years. It is voted on but once and I'm not sure if there are practical mechanisms to change it later. It is therefore reasonable for a loud minority to agitate to ensure its own interests are protected.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 10, 2012 10:35:34 AM | 4

It seems that they are trying to codify their rule in the constitution so that, in the event they loose that majority 10 years from now, they will still keep in place all the policies they want.

The pro-Zionist constituency in Egypt is in the US Embassy - but through the US Embassy, a substantial portion of Egypt's policy-making apparatus has been made effectively pro-Israel. This is in the process of diminishing but has not vanished now that the consequence of opposing the values of the Egyptian people can be the loss of meaningful popularly decided political contests.

If secularists become a majority in the future, I see nothing in the constitution that forces the government to enact specific anti-secular policies. On the other hand, there's no guarantee or even reason to think secularists will become a majority in Egypt soon enough for that to be an important concern.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 11:14:44 AM | 5

Arnold;

In your opinion, why do people of Egypt would prefer Islamists/MB? Do you think they should prefer MB? If you were Egyptian, would you prefer to vote for MB, and if yes, then why?

Posted by: pirouz_2 | Dec 10, 2012 11:17:10 AM | 6

The pro-Zionist constituency in Egypt is in the US Embassy - but through the US Embassy, a substantial portion of Egypt's policy-making apparatus has been made effectively pro-Israel.

All well and good, but what does that have to do with the protesters? None of them are calling for less civilian oversight of the military, or that the military budget be kept secret. They are demanding clear articles preventing military rule. Just today, Morsi has given the military powers of summary arrest. That doesn't sound like he is reducing military's influence over a civilian government.

Getting rid of Tantawi/Anan and a number of others is fine, but if the US REALLY thought Mosri had turned the military, it would not still be giving it money.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 10, 2012 11:32:19 AM | 7

Pirouz_2:
In my opinion, the people of Egypt prefer Islamists/MB because religion is important in their lives, an important part of their identity and an important part of what they consider moral and good. In my opinion, most Egyptians vote to elect candidates who reflect those priorities.

I'm glad that there is something to prevent, in Egypt, political contests from being decided by who has the most money for marketing campaigns. That makes it even more difficult for Egypt to be influenced by outsiders, including by the US, the country in the world with the most money of any to devote to influencing politics in other countries.

If I was Egyptian, I probably would have voted for Morsi in both stages of the presidential campaign. In the first stage to protest the SCAF's banning of the MB first choice candidate and then in the second stage obviously to prevent a Mubarak-era candidate from taking power.

In Parliamentary elections, I'd probably vote for a Nasserist if I was Egyptian.

Lysander:
How much agitation would you consider reasonable for Romney supporters in the US to prevent the US from becoming socialist and destroying all of the values America stands for?

Street fights with Obama supporters? After the election? A demand that Obama should not be sworn in? Demanding delays in election day?

There should come a time when people in a potentially loud minority decide that they are not the majority.

If Egypt is not to be ruled by Mubarak, I think Israel and Barack Obama because of Israel would prefer to see Egypt paralyzed and non-functional and I think loud minorities agitating works toward their hopes to see Egypt become paralyzed and non-functional.

I'm happy that China is not able to quietly encourage Romney supporters to reject the results of US elections. If China was in the position relative to the US that the US is relative to Egypt, and China had policy preferences analogous the US's, a lot of unnecessary chaos loss of life and property would follow from that.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 11:44:18 AM | 8

Arnold;

"In my opinion, the people of Egypt prefer Islamists/MB because religion is important in their lives, an important part of their identity and an important part of what they consider moral and good. In my opinion, most Egyptians vote to elect candidates who reflect those priorities."

On this part I disagree. I don't think that people in Egypt were being forced to live contrary to the Islamic ways. Were they being forced to drink wine, get their women to wear revealing clothes or commit adultery? Are these what the 'elections' in a country with 40% living with under $2/day are about? I am afraid Islam does not have much more than this to offer...

Besides that goes contrary to the fact that Islamists/MB DID NOT start the revolution in Egypt. On the contrary, they abstained from it for a 3-4 days before they realized that the other parts of the opposition are not backing off and their numbers are swelling by day in the Tahrir square and it seems quite plausible that they overthrow Mubarak!

Also how does S. Arabia fit in this picture? Well obviously, women are very well covered in S. Arabia, no one dares to commit adultery or drink alcohol, Sharia is in full control. So why would the people of S. Arbia ever be unhappy with their Islamic state??

Also what do you think Islam and Sharia has that would necessarily call for a fight with Israel? Why would Sharia require Egyptians to fight and die (or at least suffer) for the welfare of 'Palestinians'? Why should Iranians or Turks be required (by Sharia) to fight for Palestinians? Just because they are fellow muslims? Well the Muslims in Chechnya are under the rule of the godless Russians, why don't Iranians declare that Russian control of Chechnya should stop? or send guns to chechen rebels? Why are Iranians silent about the uyghur uprising? Aren't they muslims?

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Dec 10, 2012 12:20:03 PM | 9

P_2:

I must not have written clearly. What I mean is that a large number of Egyptian people think that it is a good thing to be religious, so when they vote for a religious party, they are voting for people who stand for a good thing.

As far as the fight against Israel, it is not the Islamism that leads to that, but the democracy. Most Americans tribally identify with Jews in their conflict with Arabs, so they elect leaders who will enact policies that reflect their preferences. If the US was ruled by a pro-Iranian dictator, US government policy would be anti-Israel regardless of the preferences of the American people. Going from a pro-Iranian dictator to elected officials would cause the US to be less anti-Israel whether those politicians were Christian or not.

Getting Egypt to operate its foreign policy in line with the preferences of the Egyptian people is helped by respecting who the Egyptian people vote for.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 12:41:11 PM | 10

Arnold - I'm glad that there is something to prevent, in Egypt, political contests from being decided by who has the most money for marketing campaigns.

If even half of the stories of Gulf money flowing to the Salafists and MB are true then these elections were bought through a marketing campaign.

The MB, in its social service configuration, is handing out lots of stuff to the poor. That certainly influenced the election. But in its political configuration it has not shown any sign of care for the poor. Increasing consumption taxes on peoples' daily needs, some by more than 100%, while only very slightly increasing income taxes and leaving the military aside is not a social policy.

How can anyone believe that this what the Egyptian voters wanted?

Posted by: b | Dec 10, 2012 12:41:53 PM | 11

How can anyone believe that this what the Egyptian voters wanted?

As long as there are going to be reelections, the Egyptian voters will decide what they wanted. For President there are also term limits.

If the people of Egypt think someone could have handled the IMF demands better, they'll vote for them. But we'll see.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 12:44:37 PM | 12

How much agitation would you consider reasonable for Romney supporters in the US to prevent the US from becoming socialist and destroying all of the values America stands for?

Permit me to substitute Ron Paul for Mitt Romney. I would be in favor of everything from peaceful protests, to passive resistance/disobedience to state nullification of federal law. We are not yet a large enough number even for that, but if we grow to a large minority, then yes.

There would be no need for Romney supporters to engage in any of these things since, quite frankly, he and Obama are identical in any issue that is significant. And at any rate, their is currently no law preventing them from protesting if they want to.

Back to Egypt, the dispute is because some feel entitled to impose their own views of religion on others. I would not willingly allow that to happen to me no matter how many people voted for it. If for example most Egyptians were anti-religious and wished to ban public prayer, public recitations of the Qur'an, limit gatherings at mosques, then clearly it would be unfair even if a majority of people voted for it. And yet, reverse the situation and somehow it becomes reasonable.

Normally, there is an easy way to resolve such a dispute: let the religious be as religious as they want and the non religious be as non religious as they want.

But Islamists will never accept that. The feel a right, even duty, to compel others to behave according to their rules...which they would argue are not theirs but God's. Call me crazy or undemocratic, but if a majority insists I wear x, when I wish to wear y, I'm going to wear y. They can only compel me to wear x by brute force or the threat of it, which in my view is the very antithesis of freedom though, technically, it may be democracy.

Now what is the US position in all this? I don't think they care at all so long as Israeli/US dominance in the middle east isn't challenged. You cannot present the US as being opposed to Islamism when clearly they support it in KSA and in Syria.

Lastly, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to Morsi. Nor do I reject his rule for the next four years. That doesn't mean I have to put up with whatever he does.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 10, 2012 12:55:21 PM | 13

Morsi’s proposed tax hikes were clearly aimed:

> across the board, > where it is possible to implement, > designed to save energy.

(See for ex. the closing restaurant rules I posted previous or the taxing of cement, it is a non-negligible contributor to CO2 in the atmosphere.)

A mixture of ‘Western type austerity’ and ‘taxing the rich’ and ‘everyone contributes’ (hike in sales taxes combined with ‘sin’ taxes) ...

One positive is that ‘the plan’ was made public. Assad made similar moves in a piece-meal fashion under the radar. Except for taxing the rich which wasn’t on his agenda. See where that got him.

Proposals are autocratic, top-down, as said previously.

Then... ppl protest, and Morsi changes his mind or rescinds in whole or part.

A kind of “Royal / Tribal Chief” autocratic functioning, where the ppl are allowed a say - through protests, demos, desperate outcries or now Twitter storms (say), lobbying by a group of any kind who respectfully presents ‘reasonable demands’ and achieves some favors, exceptions, new rulings, through influence, either personal, occult and threatening, or just on the numbers and some kind of - often corporate in it’s old sense - clout.

Personal, exceptional requests - pleas and not the claiming of rights - are always welcome, they may be granted through the compassion of the ‘Leader’.

Is, was, it reasonable to expect different? I can’t say.

Note in the W, some orgs. within it, through the intertubes, is also undermining instituted political organization and previous arrangements by touting the efficiency and impact of ‘supporting’ one or the other cause, personal thingie thru citizen voices -

http://www.change.org/

prototypical: Nominate Malata for the Nobel Peace Prize.

http://www.change.org/petitions/take-a-stand-for-the-girl-who-stood-up-nominate-malala-for-the-nobel-peace-prize


Posted by: Noirette | Dec 10, 2012 12:56:23 PM | 14

"Today, at 2 am local time, the tax hike decree was annulled through another one issued via Morsi's Facebook account."

Government by facebook account.

Is it just me, or do any others see something very wrong about that?

Posted by: вот так | Dec 10, 2012 1:22:06 PM | 15

Lysander, in the abstract, imposing religion on others is a bad thing. But the articles of the constitution neither seem outrageous to me or substantially different from Egypt's current constitution.

Maybe a Parliament could pass a bad law, and that law would not be unconstitutional, but the constitution itself does not, for example, require people to wear veils. Protesting laws that require wearing veils is much different from protesting a constitution that, in theory would not prohibit a future parliament from passing a law that requires wearing veils.

And I've read that there are a lot of Egyptians, maybe more than the other way, who would like Egypt's constitution to be even more explicitly religious.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 1:40:25 PM | 16

Lysander;

I generally enjoy your posts and agree with what you say. Your post number 13 is no exception. However, I will make a few ammendments, and I think theey may partially relate to our discussion about democcracy as well.

"...which in my view is the very antithesis of freedom though, technically, it may be democracy."

In my view democracy cannot be dissociated from 'freedomand/justice' (there is no real freedom without justice) and a certain set of basic rights. You see, if we strictly equate democracy to 'the vote of majority' (and in certain cases not even that but rather the vote of a plurality at best!) then the question becomes: Why should anyone even care what the 'majority' thinks? Why should it be 'one person one vote'?? why not one person or one group rulling over all rest of the society?

Well the answer is that the 'majority vote' is not the point we start from, it is rather the conclusion we arrive at! The starting point is a set of rights that we assign to all people and see them all equal in those rights, and it is from there that we arrive at the conclusion that there should be one vote for one person. It is not just these rights, there is also -I think, this i just my opinon- an underlying rationality behind the idea of "one person one vote", that perhaps on the condition that there is a freedom of information, on the condition that one part of society cannot dominate the channels of access to information with the social power called capital and distort/hide the truth the mojrity in the long run will turn out to make the best decision for the society. So in my opinion the minority's right to express its views and organize is an inherent part of democracy. And in the absence of TRUE human rights, we will end up with a situation where a man is believed to have once said: “I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the Empire, …The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire. And I control the money supply.”

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Dec 10, 2012 3:14:04 PM | 17

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 1:40:25 PM | 16

The way you define democracy you can justify slavery as being democratic.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 3:40:38 PM | 18

Somebody, your definition of democracy seems to be a dictatorship ruled by you.

But if democracy is a way to resolve disputes by measuring support for competing sides, then I guess it is possible that it is not inherently inconsistent with slavery. Especially if the slaves can vote.

Just because something is not inherently inconsistent with democracy does not make it good. I believe slavery is bad, not because it's undemocratic but because it violates my morals on other bases.

Once you say everything good is democracy and everything bad is not democracy, then we get to the question, good according to whom? The answer becomes you, and you're not even Egyptian. Why not good according to a majority of Egyptians? It comes down to you not being able to make an argument that can convince Egyptians, so you start to rationalize that what most Egyptians think doesn't matter.

Barack justifies over-ruling the people of Egypt plus the current US colonies of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and others on the topic of Israel on a similar basis. Mubarak wasn't a dictator because he cooperated with the US on Israel.

Once you have a definition of democracy that goes against majority rule, you're not talking about democracy, you're talking about you imposing your views and values on other people.

There are other good things in life, other good things in a society other than democracy, but democracy itself is settling disputes by majority rule and that is good in itself. That's preferable to disputes being settled by foreign or local forces battling or dominating opposition with arms. Or local proxies for foreign forces torturing opposition as we see in the US colonies to ensure that policies the US approves of are carried out.

And again, the constitution whose text we can all read right now does not require anyone to wear a veil. It does not require any place of worship to be closed. A loud minority has a right to destabilize the country because the representatives of the voters of Egypt did not decide that laws like that, laws that have never been proposed, are not expressly unconstitutional? You can't wait for laws like that to at least be proposed before the agitation against them? When you argue that you're making common cause with those who would like to see post-Mubarak destabilized to minimize the potential threat to Israel.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 4:10:39 PM | 19

No leadership of any nation should ever consider accepting loan monies from IMF/World Bank terrorists.

This ain't rocket science... any leader considering such an act should be deemed tantamount to treasonous.

Posted by: Eureka Springs | Dec 10, 2012 4:31:47 PM | 20

Does anyone have a good breakdown on the "opposition"? I have a sense of the other players, the military and the two Islamist factions, but very little idea who this opposition is. They seem to consist of labor unions, El Baradei and his followers, remnants of the pan-Arabists, Nasserites, leftists and others. It is these others that seem poorly defined. Young, secular, twitter and facebook users, but what then?

If the opposition is not unified it is very difficult to see how they could make any sensible political decisions. Mursi's ineptness is certainly a god-send -- he may single handedly discredit the MB and create an opening for a unified opposition to emerge.

Posted by: ToivoS | Dec 10, 2012 4:51:14 PM | 21

Arnold Evans | 19

Where to begin. There is nothing like "majority rule" in modern political systems as the make up of a majority might change continously depending on issue, making governments unstable. There are decisions taken by popular vote e.g. in Switzerland and some parts of Germany, and probably other political systems but that is the exception not the rule. What you get is "party rule", i.e. people getting organized and united to achieve more political power on issues they care most about than they would have otherwise. And the way efficiency and unity is achieved in political parties is not really "majority rule" either but usually involves a lot of backroom deal making and financial power.
So when one party gets the vote once and then starts to form a political power structure to fit like a glove you better fight back or you may be governed by this party for the rest of your life.
No, the Egyptian draft constitution does not go into any specifics. It just states

Article 199
The Police force is a statutory civil body with the President of the Republic as its Supreme Chief. It shall perform its duty in the service of the people, its loyalty being to the Constitution and the law, and its responsibilities to preserve order, public security and morality, to implement laws and regulations, and to safeguard the peace, dignity, rights and freedoms of citizens, all as regulated by law and in a manner that enables Police personnel to carry out their duties.

This here is what is usually understood to be "Morality Police"

Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 4:59:00 PM | 22

If the people of Egypt want the word morality to be part of the description of the police force in the constitution, that's their right. If you can't convince them they're wrong, then it's their constitution. Not yours.

Still nobody is being forced to wear a veil by that. You think there's hidden potential for that, but so what. You're not an Egyptian voter.

If time shows you to be right and the current voters of Egypt to be wrong, there are plenty of elections in the future. Nothing in the constitution indicates that some future secular Egyptian population would not be able to decide on its own laws or even amend the constitution as it sees fit.

Meanwhile, agitating to destabilize the country because your faction has fewer votes than the other is closer in line with the agenda of the enemies of Egypt than with its supporters.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 6:32:18 PM | 23

Arnold Evans,23
Obviously "the people of Egypt" do not wish - among other things - morality to be part of police duties.

They are in the streets protesting.

Obviously, Mursi declaring absolute powers for himself made "the people of Egypt" wonder if they got rid of one dictator to have to do it again with the next dictator.

Or do you have a definition on who are "the people of Egypt" and who is not?

Obviously Salafis, Muslim Brotherhood, Nasserists, Old Regime, Liberals, trade unionists, businessmen, Sufis, Christians, Shiites, Sunnis, Atheists, Bahai, Bedouin, farmers, computer programmers, engineers, students, workers, women ... will have to recognize that they all are "the people of Egypt" and will have to vote on a constitution that includes them all.

Or risk dictatorship or chaos.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 6:50:20 PM | 24

@ToivoS 21 -- Does anyone have a good breakdown on the "opposition"?

Here's a good start -- The Brothers and the Others - Kieran Wanduragala

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 10, 2012 7:01:42 PM | 25

the money graph: "Mursi’s actions are molding these disparate forces into an increasingly coherent secular opposition. The frontline street activists, the old-regime patronage networks, and the ‘liberal’ money and media are making common cause against the threat of MB domination."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 10, 2012 7:03:26 PM | 26

Muslim women against the Muslim Brotherhood

with English subtitles - you can enable them in the toolbar under the video

Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 7:11:37 PM | 27

Or do you have a definition on who are "the people of Egypt" and who is not?
Um, yes. It's called elections. The people of Egypt who don't want morality in the constitution vote for representatives, the ones who do vote for other representatives, then you count who has the most representatives. Then the representatives write the constitution that the people of Egypt voted for them to write.

Yes there is a group of people protesting. It doesn't take a large proportion of a population to sustain protests. On Saturday the people of Egypt will decide whether or not they want this constitution, not in street contests, but the graceful way, at the ballot booth.

If that constitution passes, then despite your fears and criticisms, the people of Egypt want that constitution.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 7:48:44 PM | 28

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 10, 2012 7:48:44 PM | 28
sorry, the countries I know you get citizenship by birth or by a bureaucratic act not by elections.


Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 8:05:34 PM | 29

In all honesty, the difference between 'them' and 'US/us' is the fact that 'they' still take to the street to seek their 'justice,' where we're herded into our collective 'free speech zones.' A billion to get elected? What's the ff-ing difference? Flip-flopping? What's the ff-ing difference? Promises being broken? What's the ff-ing difference?

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Dec 10, 2012 8:08:51 PM | 30

I've been "in the street protesting" but I wasn't "the people." They wanted war and I didn't, obviously. It's a democracy.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 10, 2012 8:18:37 PM | 31

I would call the US a plutocracy.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 8:28:24 PM | 32

@ BOT TAK [#15],

Q: Is it just me, or do any others see something very wrong about that?

R: Count me in as well.

[and Zuckerberg is laughing all the way to the bank].

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Dec 10, 2012 8:47:18 PM | 33

@ Arnold Evans [#28]

Q: If that constitution passes, then despite your fears and criticisms, the people of Egypt want that constitution.

R: For argument's sake - do the American ppl [collectively] really want all these [foreign & domestic] wars or are they too busy living from paycheck to paycheck to be bothered what happens elsewhere?

Also, have you considered voters' disappointment resulting in an ever declining number of ppl showing up @ the ballot boxes/touch screens, thus rendering a majority mandate null and void?

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Dec 10, 2012 8:51:55 PM | 34

I give up on your code -- what do Q and R stand for.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 10, 2012 9:19:45 PM | 35

Don Bacon @25

Thanks, that was a very good post by Kieran Wanduragala.

What was also impressive is how he/she admitted what was not known. In the comments there was a very clear statement that even the MB rank and file have no idea about where the the various factions in the leadership of the MB stand.


Posted by: ToivoS | Dec 10, 2012 9:31:23 PM | 36

@ToivoS 36

You're welcome. It was a good question.
And face it, some people just like to raise hell. Particularly if they're unemployed.
Which reminds: Egypt above all needs stability for economic purposes.
It needs its tourist trade back, for one thing.
If not Mursi, who.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 10, 2012 10:56:03 PM | 37

Why the Anti-Mursi Protesters Are Right

http://www.merip.org/why-anti-mursi-protesters-are-right

Interesting analysis that sets out to debunk some western media enforced views of what has been happening in Egypt. Some examples:

"First faulty assumption: The rival camps in Egypt embody a divide between Islamism and secularism....

Second flawed premise: Islamists are authentic representatives of the majority of Egyptians....

Third analytical error: Mursi has made great strides toward civilian democracy and his downfall would mean a return to military rule...."

Posted by: вот так | Dec 11, 2012 1:46:33 AM | 38

After 4 days the New York Times has noticed. The worrying thing in the following is not that opposing demonstrators beat each other up and people got killed. Though that will make a solution to the conflict much harder. Large demonstrations require immense logistics, responsible actors and very good policing for that not to happen.

The worrying thing is that President Mursi claimed in a speech that there are "confessions" proving opposition demonstrators are paid by foreign embassies though the police did not obtain any confessions. But the Muslim Brotherhood seems to have done by beating up protesters.

It was torment for us,” said Yehia Negm, 42, a former diplomat with a badly bruised face and rope marks on his wrists. He said he was among a group of about 50, including four minors, who were held on the pavement overnight. In front of cameras, “they accused me of being a traitor, or conspiring against the country, of being paid to carry weapons and set fires,” he said in an interview. “I thought I would die.”

The abuses, during a night of street fighting between Islamists and their opponents, have become clear through an accumulation of video and victim testimonies that are now hurting the credibility of Mr. Morsi and his allies as they push forward to this weekend’s referendum on an Islamist-backed draft constitution.

To critics of Islamists, the episode on Wednesday recalled the tactics of the ousted president, Hosni Mubarak, who often saw a conspiracy of “hidden hands” behind his domestic opposition and deployed plainclothes thugs acting outside the law to punish those who challenged him. The difference is that the current enforcers are driven by the self-righteousness of their religious ideology, rather than money.

It is impossible to know how much Mr. Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, knew about the Islamists’ vigilante justice. But human rights advocates say the detentions raised troubling questions about statements made by the president during his nationally televised address on Thursday. In it, Mr. Morsi appears to have cited confessions obtained by his Islamist supporters, the advocates said, when he promised that confessions under interrogation would show that protesters outside his palace acknowledged ties to his political opposition and had taken money to commit violence.

Khaled el-Qazzaz, a spokesman for Mr. Morsi, said Monday that he had ordered an investigation into the reported abuses and asked the prosecutor to bring charges against any involved. He said that Mr. Morsi was referring only to confessions obtained by the police, not by his supporters.

But human rights lawyers involved in the cases of the roughly 130 people who ended up in police custody Wednesday night, all or most of them delivered by the Islamists, say the police obtained no confessions. “His statement was completely bogus,” said Karim Medhat Ennarah, a researcher on policing at Egyptian Initiative on Personal Rights, whose lawyers were on hand about an hour after the speech when prosecutors released all the detainees without charges. “There were no confessions; they were all just simply beaten up,” he said. “There was no case at all, and they were released the next day.”

Posted by: somebody | Dec 11, 2012 2:08:11 AM | 39

In Egypt, opposition tent camp attacked by unidentified people

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_12_11/In-Egypt-opposition-tent-camp-attacked-by-unidentified-people/

"Some 30 people attacked the protesters from several nearby streets by opening indiscriminate fire form shotguns and hurling Molotov cocktails."

How very Klu Klux Klan of them. Perhaps the terrorists were just getting in some recreational fun before their deployment to Syria to teach kids how to lop off heads of tied up prisoners?

Posted by: вот так | Dec 11, 2012 2:17:52 AM | 40

TeleSur is reporting the deteriorating cancer situation of Hugo Chavez, his condition is quite serious. The opposition is already calling for early elections we need to watch what is going to happen.

WRT Morsi and Egypt, Morsi is a USA plant, this man whose wife and children are all USA citizens and who refused to attend the inauguration of their father. The troubles in Libya, Syria, soon to be Egypt and Algeria has to do with the control of the desert religions. The Khazar's have aligned themselves with Christian including Orthodox, Islamist, Buddhist fundamentalist. What is stopping this is Iran and large section of Russian Orthodox. Not Putin, not Lavrov.

Posted by: hans | Dec 11, 2012 5:28:14 AM | 41

“Today, at 2 am local time, the tax hike decree was annulled through another one issued via Morsi's Facebook account."

Government by facebook account.

Is it just me, or do any others see something very wrong about that?

- Bok Tak

You bet. It means a normal State Apparatus, with checks and balances, which comes to some kind of consensual decision, is non-existent. Egypt did not have it in the past, so expectations are too high. Secondly, formality, traceability, and history are abandoned (though I suppose some of Morsi’s decrees do get published into print) - but the whole legislative underpinning is missing, a void.

This what Stars do about their personal decisions to participate in a movie or not!

Shows that Morsi is doing social networking as the MB have done for 50 years, rather than address institutional matters. Plus he takes on the garb of modernity.

What an ass. Or puppet.

(Not implying that the trappings of ‘democracy’ - most seem to use the word to refer to a Republic with ‘representation’ - are inherently hallowed, necessary or a guarantee of anything. But in Morsi’s situation, they are starkly on the scene. The ppl want to have a say, an edge, a stake..but mostly a majority are fed up with their living conditions and demand change..how the two types of demands fit together is beyond the scope of this post.)

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 11, 2012 11:43:41 AM | 42

Well, Morsi definitely couldn't win an election if we here were the only voters. But somehow the people of Egypt may not be blaming Morsi for some of the things we're blaming him for. Morsi has really prevented the SCAF from dissolving the second constituent assembly, the way it dissolved the parliament and has kept Egypt on track towards a government where elected officials set pretty much all policy. That is a huge victory accomplished against deeply entrenched and highly resourceful opposition, including the US.

We're just not Morsi, or the MB's target audience.

But if from there we say "forget the votes, we're right anyway" then we're going into very morally questionable territory. We're also joining Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu there.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 11, 2012 12:16:46 PM | 43

Evidence of torture by Egyptian Islamists

Who does not have the votes today might get them tomorrow. An electorate should be able to get rid of people when they are not satisfied. And the main purpose of a constitution is to make sure there is an even playing field and there are referees in the contest.

Of course, if you are sure you are right, you do not cave in to the majority - you try to convince them. Otherwise most of Europe would still believe the earth is flat.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 11, 2012 1:37:29 PM | 44

am I the only one that thinks "What a wanker" every time the person above posts a comment?

Posted by: ONS | Dec 11, 2012 2:23:12 PM | 45

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