Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 27, 2013

Egypt: Emergency Rule Might Start A Salafist Revolution

The current clashes in Egypt may lead to the reintroduction of emergency rules. The Muslim Brotherhood might be tempted to use these rules not only to against the protests from the left but also to act against its Salafi competition to the right. That again may well lead to an armed Jihadist insurgency which the Egyptian state would have trouble to suppress.

On January 25 the second anniversary of the begin of the unfinished Egyptian revolution was celebrated with renewed clashes at Cairo's Tahrir square. Various groups were involved with all of them seemingly opposed to the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. A "black block" appeared, a previously unknown phenomenon in Egypt. It is not known who is behind these people, who their leaders are and what the block's purpose is supposed to be. Usually such blocks, by attacking state organs, manage to delegitimatize any civil demonstration they join.

Another block involved in the protest were the rather radical supporters, the Ultras, of Cairo's soccer club al-Ahly. These never want to miss a fight with supporters of a competing club or the police.

Likely to stave off further fights with the al-Ahly supporters a court in Cairo yesterday announced a ruling in the case of a riot and panic in the Port Said football stadium on February 1 2012. In that riot followers of the Port Said team attacked players and fans of the al-Ahly team. The police did not intervene. A panic occurred and many al-Ahly fans got killed while trying to leave the locked stands. A total of 79 people died. CNN reported at that time:

Police conscripts then stood by as rival fans attacked each other with rocks and chairs. "The police did nothing to stop it," said Amr Khamis, an Al-Ahly supporter, at the train station in Cairo after returning from the match.

"Officers refused to open the gates of the stadium, so we could not escape and had to face thousands of Al-Masry hooligans attacking with rocks, knives, swords and anything else you can imagine."

The authorities at those riots were either completely incompetent or had willingly let it happen.

Yesterday the court announced the death penalty for 21 of the accused. All of these were Port Said soccer fans. Not one of the security officers or Cairo fans involved was found guilty. While the Cairo fans celebrated the judgement, Port Said fans immediately took to the streets and tried to storm the prison which holds the convicts.

Shots were fired from the security forces as well as by those attacking the prison. Thirty-three people, including two police, were killed. Later the military was deployed. As today's mass funeral procession for those killed yesterday passed along an army and police beach club shots were fired at the procession by unknown persons. New violence ensued and the police club was burned down. At least seven people were killed and hundreds were injured. In Port Said a cycle of demonstrates killed, mass funeral, mourners killed, seems to have started. Such a cycle had a great role in the Iranian revolution against the Shah. Violence in Cairo also continued today.

The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood demands that president Mursi reintroduces emergency laws that had been abandoned after the fall of president Mubarak. This would further alienate those who are already critical of the Mursi government. It would be a "four legs good two legs better" moment. The saying "the system did not change, it just grew a beard" would have become true.

The more secular opposition and the rioting seems to be without any plan. The hapless opposition National Salvation Front announced that it would not take part in the next parliament elections and issues demands that Mursi will certainly not fulfill. It has little influence over the rioters. Meanwhile the silent majority is abstaining from protests and enduring more economic pain.

While the current protests and the cycle of violence make it difficult for Mursi to rule they are in effect more of an economic problem than a real threat to the state.

The danger for Mursi is not from the secular and the left but to his right. The Salafis will certainly try to use the situation for their gain. The brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mohamed al-Zawahri, is leading the Salafist Jihadist group in Egypt. In a recent interview he explained his position:

Thankfully the situation is improving in terms of lifting the oppression from the Muslims and in terms of our freedoms and this includes promoting what we view as being the True Religion. However we are still very far from the primary objective of implementing Islamic Sharia law.
Sharia law would, according to him, solve the partisanship issues, lift Egypt's economic problems, better the security situation and heal tooth pain.
We are of the view that democracy contravenes the True Religion of Islam, as this places sovereignty outside of God’s hands, and so we reject democracy and all its mechanisms and tools.
Mohamed al-Zawahri played a role in the attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo on September 11. The storming of the embassy in Cario was, in my view, a diversion to help the well planned attack on the U.S. "consulate" and CIA station in Benghazi in Libya. This operation interrupted the CIA organized weapon flow from Gaddhafi's arsenals via Turkey to the more secular insurgents in Syria. The weapon flow to the Salafi insurgents in Syria was not interrupted and they are since the predominant force in the Syrian insurgency.

Many of Egypt's Salafist live in the Sinai. Many Libyan weapons were also reported to have been smuggled there. Benghazi is only a 200 miles desert ride away from Egypt's western border. It is a hotbed of Salafist Jihadis and not under government control. Fearing imminent attacks the British, German and Italian governments yesterday urged their citizens to leave the city.

For the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt the Salafists are the most rival political force and the biggest political danger. In the last parliament election the Muslim brotherhood received some 38% of the vote and the Islamist Bloc, led by Salafists, received 28%. Since he started ruling president Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood did not have much success. The economic situation further deteriorated with especially the important tourist business still being in tatters. The security situation is still bad.

It is quite possible that, with the secular opposition abstaining, the vote share for the Salafist parties in the upcoming parliament elections may overtake the one for the Muslim Brotherhood.

If Mursi follows the demand for reintroduction of the emergency laws it would give him the tools to suppress the Salafi parties and votes. The urge to do so might be overwhelming.

But any suppression of the Salafis increases the risk of a a real revolt. Armed and supported by their friends in Benghazi a Salafist insurgency in Egypt might have a real chance. Unlike Qatar, Saudi Arabia, as well as Kuwait and the UAE, see the Muslim Brotherhood as a danger to their countries. They may well be inclined to support an armed revolution from the right against Mursi's rule.

Even for the Egyptian army such an insurgency, which would take place in the cities, would be very difficult to suppress. Will the military see the danger and again take over?

Posted by b on January 27, 2013 at 19:34 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Didn't Mohammed al-Zawhari get arrested by the Syrian army when he was captured in Syria?

Posted by: Irshad | Jan 27 2013 20:26 utc | 1

kerenski

Posted by: Peter Hofmann | Jan 27 2013 20:26 utc | 2

Q: At least 30 people have been killed in the Egyptian city of Port Said Saturday in clashes that erupted over the sentencing of 21 people to death regarding last year's deadly soccer stadium riot.

R: Oh, the sweet irony of life...

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Jan 27 2013 20:44 utc | 3

The strange appearance of a black bloc is probably a sign of true outside agitation; and the injection of provacateuring is most unlikely to end there. This smells of coup d'etat, which will be leading to a military takeover to suppress all political factions; and, as a result, the Top Brass will find another Mubarak to act as their front man . I would guess this is another case of outside influence running the game that shifts the political advantage to the craziest salafists they can find, in order to break down social and political cohesion. It is the West with Israel, alongside the collaborators within the top military in Egypt, who have the greatest incentive to reverse the gains that were achieved with great sacrifice in Tahrir Square. Nationalist and secular leadership are clearly the targets of contemporary covert activity by the Israelis and the Western allliance.

Posted by: Copeland | Jan 27 2013 22:10 utc | 4

b

"The storming of the embassy in Cario was, in my view, a diversion to help the well planned attack on the U.S. "consulate" and CIA station in Benghazi in Libya. This operation interrupted the CIA organized weapon flow from Gaddhafi's arsenals via Turkey to the more secular insurgents in Syria. The weapon flow to the Salafi insurgents in Syria was not interrupted and they are since the predominant force in the Syrian insurgency."

How do you know which of the terrorists in Syria the CIA was supplying with arms moved from Libya? Their word on it? The terrorists have been getting arms from many sources, Israeli arms being a prominent mention in Syrian reports of captured weapon stashes. There has been a lot of weapons captured the last month. It's likely the bulk of the weapons the terrorists are using are new supplies, not surplus from the weapons Israel-America (and puppets) supplied to their terrorists in Libya. Both the USA and Britain have supplied fresh weapons in the last month, both having sent 10's of millions of additional "aide" in that time.

The whining for more weapons one hears from the terrorists is because they are probably desperate since they are apparently getting routed by the Syrian military and militias. The recent terrorist attacks on Syrian Kurd held territory is probably a manifestation of the terrorists management's panic at their substantial losses in Syria and a desperate move to get a foothold in the Kurd territory, from which to continue their terrorist raiding, and to get the Kurds and the Syrian government fighting each other (an attempt to draw the government into Kurdish territory, which would cause the Kurds to then begin fighting the government).

Posted by: вот так | Jan 27 2013 23:20 utc | 5

the religion of peace....seems to attract the murderous

Posted by: brian | Jan 27 2013 23:27 utc | 6

Morsi orders curfew, state of emergency in riot-hit governorates

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-01/28/c_124285333.htm

"Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi imposed Sunday a curfew and a state of emergency in the turmoil- stricken Port Said governorate, as well as Suez and Ismailia, due to the ongoing bloody clashes there."

Sentencing those people to death is probably the catalyst that increased the protesting to the violent level it's at now. Earlier, while strong, the protests were not violent - the cops were the violent ones. At least from what I've read, that appears to be what was happening. Once the death sentences were announced, all hell broke loose, almost immediately, within a couple hours of the announcement.

The Morsi government had to have known that giving all those people would take the protests to a much more threatening level. This could be a deliberate move on the Morsi government to push the protesting into a much more violent phase so that they then have an excuse for cracking down and expanding their own governmental powers and control.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 27 2013 23:28 utc | 7

"The Morsi government had to have known that giving all those people"

The Morsi government had to have known that giving all those people a death sentence

Posted by: вот так | Jan 27 2013 23:30 utc | 8

A look at the lack of democratic participation in the Egyptian constitution referendum (have a look at the figures), the diversity of those protesting, the similarity of Morsi's MB government to the previous Mubarak one and their similar methods of repression of democracy in Egypt. This was written right before the death sentence announcement caused all hell to break loose and provides some background to what that announcement exacerbated.

Egypt: Did Morsi Hijack Democracy?

http://www.voltairenet.org/article177238.html

"More Political Turbulence to Come?

The leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood is being perceived more and more by Egyptian society as a corrupt organization. It has flip-flopped on many of its promises. Even ideologically the group is being perceived as corrupt by many Muslims inside Egypt. Large segments of Egyptian society believe that very little has changed in their country. For Morsi’s opponents the status quo of the Mubarak era in Egypt essentially remains intact under him and his Freedom and Justice Party.

Like the dictatorship of Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood has refused to fully open the borders with Gaza to help the Palestinians. Its calls of support for the Palestinians have proved to only be political lip service. In fact, like Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood immediately pledged to safeguard Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel when the doors of power were opened to them. Finally, Morsi’s US-supported and Israeli friendly truce between Hamas and Tel Aviv appears to be a strategy devised to de-link Hamas and the Palestinians from Iran and the Resistance Bloc.

Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have kept all the employees of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry from the Sadat and Mubarak eras in place. The structures of Egypt’s intelligence services have remained untouched and are intact. The Muslim Brotherhood has continued to subordinate their country’s economy to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) like Mubarak did; this is in opposition to the tenets of Islam that ban interest-based banking.

Morsi’s attempts to viciously repress Egyptian protesters with force also resemble the use of force from the Sadat and Mubarak eras. The violent crackdowns on Egyptian protests by the Muslim Brotherhood have resulted in many protesters saying that the new government is just as murderous as the last. Political instability and turbulence lies ahead for Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood. The country’s economy is not doing any better and a new parliamentary election, which is scheduled for the end of February 2013, will see more heated battles between the Muslim Brotherhood and its opponents as the country is further galvanized."

Posted by: вот так | Jan 27 2013 23:51 utc | 9

BTW, an Egypt divided internally and fighting itself is very much in Israeli interests. The vast majority of Egyptians side with the Palestinians and any real democracy there would do more than just pay lip service to those sentiments like the current Morsi regime does.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 28 2013 0:09 utc | 10

"Will the military see the danger and again take over?"

Yes.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 28 2013 1:14 utc | 11


The degree of influence that Morsi has over the judiciary is debatable. Most of the judges were Mubarak's creatures: chaos suits them very well.

Or, rather, they probably think that it does.

Israel is in the position of a malicious householder, who has set fire to the houses of neighbours that he hates and is about to realise that his own place is going to be incinerated. I imagine that this is reflected in the immigration statistics.

Whatever happens in Egypt will affect the crisis that is developing in Europe. Slowly the situation there is becoming revolutionary as the prairie fire of unemployment and crumbling expectations spreads north and west. Revolutions occur when substantial parts of the population realise that, as Mrs Thatcher said, there is no alternative.

Posted by: bevin | Jan 28 2013 10:45 utc | 12

Slowly the situation there is becoming revolutionary as the prairie fire of unemployment and crumbling expectations spreads north and west.

You mean like in France protests against employments and France imperial ambitions solicit a few thousands of protesters, while protests against homosexuality brings out tens of thousands. Funny quoting Mrs Thatcher as a revolutionary LOL

Posted by: hans | Jan 28 2013 11:30 utc | 13

Egypt afaik has been under emergency rule since a long time, like the US btw.

This did not change with Morsi in any particulars. How ppl act on the ground is another matter.

heh! Football wars. The most quoted, known was between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969. The Soccer War, by Ryszard Kapuściński is da book. (see Amazon.)

Here, other comment:

http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp/research-projects/the-soccer-war/

245 ppl died in a disco yesterday in Brazil but that is non-political.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 28 2013 17:14 utc | 14

Egyptian protesters burning a Qatari flag in Tahrir Square

http://www.mehrnews.com/en/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=1802620

"Egyptian protesters burn the Qatari flag in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Sunday.

In Egypt demonstrator blasted Qatar’s interventions in Arab countries’ internal affairs.

Months ago, Qatari Emir had called Arab nations ‘sheep.’

Since months, Qatar has contributed to crime and insecurity in Syria by providing intelligence and weapons supports for terrorists."

Posted by: вот так | Jan 29 2013 5:01 utc | 15

Opposition rejects Morsi’s invitation for dialogue, calls for massive protests

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/28/286055/egypt-opp-rejects-morsis-call-for-talks/

"Egypt’s main opposition group, the National Salvation Front (NSF) has rejected an invitation by President Mohamed Morsi for talks, calling for massive protests on Friday.

“We will not participate in dialogue that is empty of content,” leading dissident Mohamed ElBaradei said on Monday following a meeting of the NSF which included mainly liberal and leftist movements.

Opposition leaders say the president’s proposal is not genuine. They say they will attend future talks only if a list of conditions is met.

The opposition leaders also call for nationwide protests to be held on Friday to achieve what they describe as the goals of the revolution.

This comes after Morsi called for talks to resolve the political crisis and to end the violence that had claimed dozens of lives. The opposition announced earlier they would welcome a national dialogue to end the unrest."

Posted by: вот так | Jan 29 2013 5:13 utc | 16

Remember though, Morsi had not been elected yet in February 2012. It was the SCAF as Egypt's government that allowed the riot between Port Said and the Ultras. If it was incompetence, it wasn't the MB's incompetence.

This was also the court, which unlike the Parliament, Presidency and Military has not undergone a substantial change in personnel since the Mubarak era that just issued death penalties for the Port Said defendants.

Which is to say, it's Morsi's job to clean up the mess he got from the SCAF and vestiges of the Mubarak government, but it is not Morsi, or the MB's fault this is happening.

Nor could these events justify a call for either Morsi to step down or to question the constitution that nearly two Egyptians voted in favor for each who voted against.

I'm always hesitant to write about the US colonies of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and others as if they were independent countries. Parties that look to the West essentially identical the MB, if not the MB itself, would probably win elections in each of these current colonies if competitive national elections were held. The US ultimately opposes democracy in its Middle East colonies more for Israel's sake than for any other reason.

Qatar's pledges to Egypt so far seem to me to have been just talk, like the pledges the colonies regularly make to the Palestinians. These pledges would be less subject to US pressure if these governments were accountable to their people rather than to their US embassies for unfortunately, though fortunately for the West, these governments are not accountable to popular voters.

Qatar can give Egypt money if and only if the US approves of such transfers. Qatar, despite the values and sympathies of the people there, could not offer Egypt freedom from financial dependence on the US. Neither can any of the colonies, unless elected governments, or governments independent of US control, take power in them.

On the positive side, so far I have not seen any indication that Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi, the head of the Army installed by Morsi after Morsi fired Tantawi and other Mubarak-era military officials, is disloyal to the elected government or would be willing or able to remove the elected government if requested to do so by US military officials.

I see ElBaradei as a total non-factor in this and in Egyptian politics. He has no constituency on any issue that is anywhere near a majority. Americans like him much more than Egyptians.

I expect that the MB will through speeches and meetings resolve this conflict imposed on him by vestiges of the US-aligned Mubarak government. Over time it will die down. Ultimately Port Said does not want to secede from Egypt over this football rivalry and Egypt has clearly voted many times for the MB and its affiliated parties.

The Salafis were allies with the MB as recently as the constitutional elections last month. If Egypt's voters were to actually deliver them more votes than they give the MB in the parliamentary elections, the MB would live with that just fine. The US Embassy, Juan Cole and ElBaradei would be the ones most upset by Salafis getting more votes than they've gotten so far.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 29 2013 16:10 utc | 17

Welcome back Arnold! :)

So in light of the following quotation (which sounds so very familiar to all people from Islamic countries, be they shia or sunni) made by 'b' from Mohamed al-Zawahri:

"We are of the view that democracy contravenes the True Religion of Islam, as this places sovereignty outside of God’s hands, and so we reject democracy and all its mechanisms and tools."

How do you think the prospects of 'democracy' will be if the Salafis come to power?
Is 'democracy' a one-time-only vote of majority never to be repeated again?
Is it likely -in your opinion- that free elections will be repeated under salafis in future -considering the quotation that I just copied again in this message?
If there is a strong chance that salafis will not tolerate democracy and free-elections are not repeated again (not that it has happened so far), then what is the guarantee that salafis will not get into under-the-table or even open deals with Israel or USA?

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 29 2013 17:01 utc | 18

"We are of the view that democracy contravenes the True Religion of Islam, as this places sovereignty outside of God’s hands, and so we reject democracy and all its mechanisms and tools."

What proportion of Egyptian people agree with that statement? I'm sure less than 40% of Egyptians agree with it, I'd guess less than 20%. Egypt last month by 2 to 1 voted on a constitution that features elections and term limits.

Supposed anti-democratic tendencies of Egyptians is a problem to solve when it actually presents itself. We definitely should not deny the Egyptian people the right to vote for whoever they want on the basis that the people Egyptians choose as leaders may in the undetermined future not want future elections.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 29 2013 17:19 utc | 19

Sorry, one more thing, the Salafis supported the constitution with the elections and term limits, worked to get Egyptians to vote for it and were a substantial part of the reason the constitution passed. If they had opposed it, they could have prevented it from passing.

So if actions speak louder than words, the Salafis are probably more democratic than either the US Embassy or ElBaradei. ElBaradei is calling for the constitution created by appointees of the elected Parliament and that 64% of Egyptians voted for to be scrapped.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 29 2013 17:22 utc | 20

Arnold;
Just to be clear: I am not implying that even if the Egyptians have undemocratic tendencies that they should be denied the right to vote and determine their future. If the majority of a population vote for people who make the quoted comments, democracy is de facto gone and a military coup or denying the right to vote in order to stop salafis won't help bring democracy (that would be like shooting a liver-cancer patient in his liver to cure him from his cancer!)

" Salafis supported the constitution with the elections and term limits, worked to get Egyptians to vote for it and were a substantial part of the reason the constitution passed. If they had opposed it, they could have prevented it from passing."

I think the bolded part of b's first quotation from Mr. Zawahiri is relevant to what you said. Here I quote that specific part from Mr. Zawahiri again:

"However we are still very far from the primary objective of implementing Islamic Sharia law."

I think that this suggests that salafis have an agenda whose end goal requires destroying democracy. They are not quite there yet (thank god!) as you very rightly pointed out but they do want to get there and in order to do that they may tactically vote for a 'constitution' without necessarily liking it.

But, let me repeat my question in a different way, let me base it on an "assumption". Let's *assume* that salafis really do mean what they say, and let's say Egyptians make a mistake and their majority votes for them (after all such mistakes do happen, a majority of Germans brought the right-wing coalition to power which eventually lead to Hitler's supreme rule). IF that happens, then what are the prospects of democracy in Egypt in your opinion and what would be the guarantee that without any further free-elections, a supreme sheikh or emir won't get into under-the-table (or even open) deals with US/Israel?

"So if actions speak louder than words, the Salafis are probably more democratic than either the US Embassy or ElBaradei."

You are not setting the bars very high, are you? :)

Incidentally I am not sure how to interpret a 'referendum' which has been boycotted by ~70% of the population (and I do mean that when I say "I am not sure how to interpret..."). I am inclined to say that ~70% of Egyptians think that this referendum is "irrelevant" (to say the least!) to their lives. One is for sure, the solid majority of Egyptians do not seem to support Islamists (otherwise why would not they vote for their constitution?).

What is your take on the low level of participation?

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 29 2013 17:56 utc | 21

Arnold Evans - 20

"ElBaradei is calling for the constitution created by appointees of the elected Parliament and that 64% of Egyptians voted for to be scrapped."

64%? Let's have a look at that magical figure.

Egypt: Did Morsi Hijack Democracy?

http://www.voltairenet.org/article177238.html

"Reading the Numbers

The new constitution won by a 63.8% approval of yes. This is very misleading when the level of participation is used to generate further data. Only 32.9% of eligible voters cast their ballots for the election and most importantly the new constitution was approved with the support of 20.9% of eligible voters.

Only 17.1 million people out of nearly 52 million registered eligible voters in Egypt participated. Even though the Muslim Brotherhood and its political allies came out in full force to vote, the turnout for the referendum was actually low. This means that about 35 million eligible Egyptians:
- (1) did not bother to vote or
- (2) boycotted the referendum or
- (3) were unable to go to a polling station to vote.
In some countries such a turnout would be disqualified, because of the lack of citizen participation.

Demographically, only 10.9 million Egyptians voted yes to approve the new constitution. This is a not even a quarter of the population in a country of nearly 82 million people. [2]

The numbers or data speak for themselves. Interpreting these statistics, we have a sound frame of reference to categorically state that a minority of Egyptians helped secure the Muslim Brotherhood’s new constitution. It is little wonder that many Egyptians declared that the referendum was illegitimate."

A graph showing this is here:

http://www.voltairenet.org/local/cache-vignettes/L400xH332/Chart-ofthe-2012-Egyptian-R-52fbb.jpg

Claiming the 64% of Egyptians voted for that constitution is what the msm say, and we all know how truthful they are...

Posted by: вот так | Jan 29 2013 18:02 utc | 22

I'm not sure Zawahiri speaks for the Salafis, and I doubt he speaks for more than a small number of Egyptians.

I don't know what to say about the question, what if, in the future, some Salafi leader is able to convince most Egyptians to abandon democracy. As long as a competitive and native political system remains, I'd probably be sympathetic with it if that's what the people of Egypt want or vote to transition to.

If the US allies with a future Salafi-led Egypt that has abandoned democracy, that's a problem for the future. Today we have the problem colonial dictatorships in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and others but not in Egypt whose government is accountable to Egyptians and whose leaders can be removed from office by Egypt's voters after set terms.

I think a Salafi-led anti-democratic Egypt is an improbable scenario and energy worrying about that is wasted in the face of anti-democratic colonial governments in the region supported by the US right now, or even the anti-democratic colonial government the US supported in Egypt until about last year and likely would want to restore.

You might think that since the Egyptian turnout was so low, all the anti-constitution people would have to do is campaign and get the same amount of voters on their side to the polls as they got to the earlier elections. They would have won if they had done that. If they could or did not, that means they still lost the electoral contest almost two to one.

People who can vote and choose not to are exercising a right to stay home on election day. For me, that does not reduce the margin that the Islamists won by.

Also, yes, more democratic than the US Embassy and ElBaradei is a very low bar. But any party that holds elections and accepts the results has met the most important bar for democracy and the Salafis have done that so far. The others, not as much.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 29 2013 18:44 utc | 23

Egypt army chief warns of 'state collapse' amid crisis

"The continuing conflict between political forces and their differences concerning the management of the country could lead to a collapse of the state and threaten future generations," Gen Sisi, who is also Egypt's defence minister, said.

He said the economic, political and social challenges facing Egypt represented "a real threat to the security of Egypt and the cohesiveness of the Egyptian state".

Definitely a threat to take over should Mursi not be able to calm the waves. There are no signs that he is trying to do so.

Mursi will be on a short state visit to Germany tomorrow. That may be a moment for the military to easily step in. But what then? The MB followers certainly have their own arms depot and will not shy away from pushing Egypt further down the drain.

Posted by: b | Jan 29 2013 18:54 utc | 24

One other thing, there have been six elections in two years. One of the election results were completely thrown out because the Mubarak-era judges didn't like the outcome, and they said in public that's why they threw it out. People who lost elections were encouraging street protests that resulted in loss of lives.

I feel like Egypt may well be experiencing voter fatigue but I don't think that favors the MB, and some of the voter fatigue is caused by opponents of the MB/Islamists.

As long as there have not been laws introduced to artificially suppress turnout, I'm not troubled by the low turnout myself.

Opponents of the Islamists seem to be frustrated by just how sympathetic to Islam having a role in the national identity and a basis in policy the voters of Egypt actually are. That may be why they aren't able to capitalize on the voter fatigue they've helped create to get their own supporters to the polls and win elections when the Islamists don't turn out as much.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 29 2013 18:54 utc | 25

What would el-Sissi do better? Ban the judiciary? They're the ones who issued the death penalties, not Morsi. The judges actually do need to be reformed, if not purged, but can anyone do that legitimately before the parliamentary elections?

El-Sissi still also has not express disloyalty to the elected government that installed him.

If el-Sissi was to throw out all of the elections Egypt has had so far and assume power: 1) I'd be saddened to assume he had been encouraged to do so by the Americans 2) He'll be facing a much broader and popularly supported uprising than Morsi is 3) when the dust settles, he'll have done more to marginalize the moderates and secularists than Zahawiri could have dreamt of and might easily find himself hanged by a real Salafist government.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 29 2013 19:02 utc | 26

@Arnold #23;

As always, it is a great pleasure to talk to you.

I only want to clarify one thing:
When I said that the majority of Egyptians seemed not to support Islamists (and I still stand by that), I did NOT mean that
they supported the opposition.

Also -in my opinion- a low turn out is an extremely alarming sign of people being disillusioned and that they don't feel represented by any of the current political groups.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 29 2013 19:37 utc | 27

Six elections in two years. I'm not that alarmed by a low turnout now, especially with how much chaos has been deliberately sown by various losers of various elections.

As soon as the people of Port Said decide they mostly don't want to secede from the country, the current crisis should die down and Egypt will move forward with a constitution and political system that, unlike those of the US colonies of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and others in the region actually is consistent with the values of the people of the country and tries despite obstacles presented especially by the West, to pursue policies in long with the country's values.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 29 2013 20:28 utc | 28

I won't venture to dispute Arnold Evans's knowledge about Egypt, but I'll dispute what Arnold Evans says about Jordan. Arnold Evans claims at #17 that the Muslim Brotherhod, or political parties very similar to the Muslim Brotherhood, would probably win elections in Jordan if competitive national elections were to be held in Jordan (and at #23 he claims there is a "colonial dictatorship" in Jordan (and at #17 and #28 he blythely says that Jordan is a "US colony")).

Last year, 2012, the Jordanian government and the Jordanian political establishment was pleading and begging the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists in Jordan to participate in the parliamentary elections that were to take place on 23 Jan 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood's "Islamic Action Front" is the primary organization of Islamists in Jordan. Despite the pleadings, and despite the true fact that the elections were free and fair, the Islamic Action Front and some of the rest of the Islamists decided to boycott the elections. For no decent reason. How did they justify themselves in calling for a boycott? They said the parliament was a sham with no power. But the laws of Jordan must be approved by the parliament. The prime minister of Jordan must be approved by the parliament (until last year the king had absolute authority to appoint the prime minister but that was changed last year). The parliament has real power. In addition, the parliament is the best institution in Jordan within which issues can be civilly discussed and into which information can be disseminated.

In the run-up to the 23 Jan 2013 elections, there was an atmosphere of apathy or non-excitement among ordinary voters in Jordan. For that reason, the turnout rate was not expected to be very high. The boycott call from the Islamists was NOT expected to much reduce the turnout rate. One analyst said before the elections, "the Brotherhood has not been able to rally a large sector of the public to their side." .... "Analysts say tribal leaders, other pro-regime figures and independent businessmen are set to sweep the polls.... Most leading candidates are businessmen and former officials from the government or security forces as well as tribal figures loyal to the regime."

The official turnout rate was 57%. That was towards the higher end of the spectrum of expectations. After the turnout figure was announced, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Islamic Action Front said in press conference that the 57% figure was a fraud and he pronounced that "the percentage of those who participated did not exceed 35 percent of eligible voters" (ref). He's got no intelligent basis for that. The elections were supervised by an Independent Elections Commission. There are voting numbers from every polling station (4,069 ballot boxes). Neither the supervisors nor the government officials had a motive for fraud. More than 7,000 local, Arab and international observers monitored the polls. Of the 2,272,182 eligible voters, 1,288,043 million voted.

In the same post-election press conference the head of the Muslim Brotherhood stated the elections were illegitimate "because the government had held the polls in the absence of national concord and portrayed the boycotters as a narrow segment with private agendas seeking power." I repeat, the elections were free and fair and the government begged the MB to participate in them. The MB declined for the MB's own tactical reasons. A Der Speigel journalist asked on 28 Jan 2013: "Why did your party, the Islamic Action Front, boycott the recent parliamentary elections?" Answer by a representative of the MB's Islamic Action Front: "These elections were a farce. The electoral law is undemocratic, it is rigged in favor of the king's loyalists and is designed to restrict the influence of the Islamists." He's not telling the truth. One thing that's true about the electoral law is that villages and rural areas are somewhat overrepresented in the parliament vis-a-vis the cities, in relation to their population sizes. The MB has been using that fact as the underlying factual basis for the claim that the electoral law is "undemocratic" and "rigged". It is bogus propaganda.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 30 2013 2:50 utc | 29

I won't venture to dispute Arnold Evans's knowledge about Egypt, but I'll dispute what Arnold Evans says about Jordan. Arnold Evans claims at #17 that the Muslim Brotherhod, or political parties very similar to the Muslim Brotherhood, would probably win elections in Jordan if competitive national elections were to be held in Jordan (and at #23 he claims there is a "colonial dictatorship" in Jordan (and at #17 and #28 he blythely says that Jordan is a "US colony")).

Last year, 2012, the Jordanian government and the Jordanian political establishment was pleading and begging the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists in Jordan to participate in the parliamentary elections that were to take place on 23 Jan 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood's "Islamic Action Front" is the primary organization of Islamists in Jordan. Despite the pleadings, and despite the true fact that the elections were free and fair, the Islamic Action Front and some of the rest of the Islamists decided to boycott the elections. For no decent reason. How did they justify themselves in calling for a boycott? They said the parliament was a sham with no power. But the laws of Jordan must be approved by the parliament. The prime minister of Jordan must be approved by the parliament (until last year the king had absolute authority to appoint the prime minister but that was changed last year). The parliament has real power. In addition, the parliament is the best institution in Jordan within which issues can be civilly discussed and into which information can be disseminated.

I'm not finished: Continued in next post.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 30 2013 2:53 utc | 30

In the run-up to the 23 Jan 2013 elections, there was an atmosphere of apathy or non-excitement among ordinary voters in Jordan. For that reason, the turnout rate was not expected to be very high. The boycott call from the Islamists was NOT expected to much reduce the turnout rate. One analyst said before the elections, "the Brotherhood has not been able to rally a large sector of the public to their side." .... "Analysts say tribal leaders, other pro-regime figures and independent businessmen are set to sweep the polls.... Most leading candidates are businessmen and former officials from the government or security forces as well as tribal figures loyal to the regime."

The official turnout rate was 57%. That was towards the higher end of the spectrum of expectations. After the turnout figure was announced, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Islamic Action Front said in press conference that the 57% figure was a fraud and he pronounced that "the percentage of those who participated did not exceed 35 percent of eligible voters" (ref). He's got no intelligent basis for that. The elections were supervised by an Independent Elections Commission. There are voting numbers from every polling station (4,069 ballot boxes). Neither the supervisors nor the government officials had a motive for fraud. More than 7,000 local, Arab and international observers monitored the polls. Of the 2,272,182 eligible voters, 1,288,043 million voted.

In the same post-election press conference the head of the Muslim Brotherhood stated the elections were illegitimate "because the government had held the polls in the absence of national concord and portrayed the boycotters as a narrow segment with private agendas seeking power." I repeat, the elections were free and fair and the government begged the MB to participate in them. The MB declined for the MB's own tactical reasons. A Der Speigel journalist asked on 28 Jan 2013: "Why did your party, the Islamic Action Front, boycott the recent parliamentary elections?" Answer by a representative of the MB's Islamic Action Front: "These elections were a farce. The electoral law is undemocratic, it is rigged in favor of the king's loyalists and is designed to restrict the influence of the Islamists." He's not telling the truth. One thing that's true about the electoral law is that villages and rural areas are somewhat overrepresented in the parliament vis-a-vis the cities, in relation to their population sizes. The MB has been using that fact as the underlying factual basis for the claim that the electoral law is "undemocratic" and "rigged". It is bogus propaganda.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 30 2013 2:54 utc | 31

I will agree with Arnold Evans that the foreign policies of the government of Jordan are thoroughly dictated by the US and EU. But I complain that it's thoroughly inappropriate language by Arnold Evans to say Jordan is a "US colony" and a "colonial dictatorship" -- especially when Arnold's talking at # 17 and #28 about general domestic political competition in Jordan, and he's not talking specifically about the foreign affairs.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 30 2013 3:04 utc | 32

I will agree with Arnold Evans that the foreign policies of the government of Jordan are thoroughly dictated by the US and EU.

This is probably just a dispute over terms, but for me, if foreign policies are thoroughly dictated by outside powers, a country is a colony. The policies the US cares about, the US sets in Jordan.

A domestic political process where the competitors have "real power" except over areas the US and EU care about, and also subject to a US/EU subordinate dictator who granted power to the parliament last year and can rescind it next year actually is a sham.

If Jordan adopts Egypt's constitution, and then holds elections, or adopts a process such as in Egypt, where elections would decide who would write a constitution to be put for a referendum with all of its articles subject to discussion, then Jordan's political process would be competitive.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 30 2013 8:09 utc | 33

@ Arnold Evans #33: You don't challenge what I talked about at #30 and #31, i.e. that Jordan had free and fair Parliamentary Elections on 23 Jan 2013. Therefore I conclude that you don't know what you are talking about, on Jordan.

@ Arnold Evans: Consider the statement: "In managing foreign affairs, the government of Japan maintains a policy of staying in alignment with the USA's foreign policies. This heavily dictates Japan's foreign policies. It is definitely the government of Japan's own decision." That's a statement in plain English that can be scrutinized for correctness or incorrectness. Your equivalent statement, "Japan is a US colony", is poetic blatherdash.

@ Arnold Evans: Jordan is a small and backward country that can have very little effect in international affairs. The government of Jordan's policy of staying in alignment with the Western powers in foreign affairs is a rational and respectable policy. For my own part I very much prefer Syria's foreign policies, but Jordan's are not stupid when I think about Jordan's circumstances. In any case, regardless of what the foreign policies could be, the government of Jordan ought to be focusing on achieving internal development of the country, leaving external affairs as only a very small part of what the government works on, I say. You, on the contrary, exalt foreign affairs policy. You give it undue weight. Undue especially for Jordan. That's your bad values and bad taste, as far as I'm concerned. I know you can't agree with me about that. But I don't and didn't want to argue about values. I just wanted to argue about what the political and institutional reality is in Jordan. The reality is that there is a longstanding ruling Establishment and the voters on 23 Jan 2013 voted for the continuance of the Establishment in a free and fair election with thousands of candidates competing for a few hundred seats.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 30 2013 20:17 utc | 34

1) According to you, Jordan's parliamentary elections were structurally biased against the Muslim Brotherhood's constituency. According to you, the prerogatives of the legislature are determined by Jordan's US subordinate dictator. He, maybe magnanimously, recently increased its prerogatives, and can decrease them tomorrow. Which is to say, the elections that are structurally biased only determine policy to the degree such policy is acceptable to Jordan's dictator. I think the MB is fair to describe such a process as a sham.

2) You, not me, said the US/EU thoroughly dominate Jordan's foreign policy. You've never said that about Japan. That's not true about Japan. Japan is not a colony. Jordan is, the way I use the term. You may use the term colony differently which is fine but I'll continue to use it to describe countries like Mubarak-era Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and, of course, Jordan and others in the region maintained in this state mostly for the sake of Israel.

3) Maybe Jordan's voters should be determining what role Jordan should play in foreign policy, what Jordan should be concentrating on. Jordan's voters do not determine that, people from places like your country determine that. I don't even care to argue with you about how important foreign policy is to Jordan but I note that policy-makers accountable to Jordanian voters are denied control over Jordan's foreign policy because Jordan is a colony of Western powers. I think you don't like the idea that your government maintains colonies, but you also don't like the idea of countries like Jordan actually being free of your country's government to make its own policies.

But thank you, because this gives me an opportunity to say a little more about what colonialism is.

First, to talk about Japan again. While the EU and US do not, in your words, thoroughly dominate Japanese foreign policy, Japan is aligned to the US and the US does exert pressure. Here's the thing. If tomorrow, Japan's voters strongly decide they want to completely reverse course and align with China, Japan's leaders will either accommodate Japan's voters and change course, or they will lose reelection in favor of officials who will.

If tomorrow Jordan's voters strongly decide they want to completely reverse course and align with China, their values and sensibilities will be ignored by their dictator who is subordinate to the US and Jordan's foreign policy will continue to be, in your words, thoroughly dominated by the US/EU.

Again Jordan is a colony. Japan is not.

You claim that foreign policy is not important to Jordan. So what? The people of Jordan have never voted to affirm that what you think is important should guide Jordanian policy priorities. The degree that your opinion matters at all is due only to Jordan's colonial subjugation to your country.

Again, Jordan my well free itself from its current colonial status. Not by leaving the US in control of its foreign policy and declaring that that's ok, but by competitively selected representatives of the people of Jordan deciding how Jordanian policy should be made, and then a set of rules embodying those decisions being ratified by a majority of the voters of Jordan.

My original statement that seems to have gotten you riled up was my suggestion that if a process such as that was followed in Jordan, or any of the other US colonies in the region, it is most likely that organizations that appear to the US to be similar to the MB would attain policy-making authority, and not only in the limited spheres where the you and the US are comfortable allowing local control, but over the entire policy-making apparatus.

I'll amend that to add the requirement that it be a one-person/one-vote process and not one deliberately constructed to diminish the representation of groups like the MB. But other than that, I think any reasonable observer by now will agree that my suggest is most likely correct.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 30 2013 22:58 utc | 35

As an improvement in precision from #34, I just looked up the number candidates who competed in the 23 jan 2013 elections in Jordan. It was either 1425 or 1435 candidates, and they were competing for 150 seats in the parliament. The electoral system had two tiers: (1) candidates elected locally, represening a local district; and (2) candidates elected nationally, representing a political party, not tied to a local district. There were 606 candidates competing for district-level seats, and 61 political parties competing for national-level seats, with 829 national-list candidates on the 61 party lists. 606 + 829 = 1435, but some reports are saying 1425 was the number of candidates.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 31 2013 0:05 utc | 36

1) According to you, Jordan's parliamentary elections were structurally biased against the Muslim Brotherhood's constituency. According to you, the prerogatives of the legislature are determined by Jordan's US subordinate dictator. He, maybe magnanimously, recently increased its prerogatives, and can decrease them tomorrow. Which is to say, the elections that are structurally biased only determine policy to the degree such policy is acceptable to Jordan's dictator. I think the MB is fair to describe such a process as a sham.

2) You, not me, said the US/EU thoroughly dominate Jordan's foreign policy. You've never said that about Japan. That's not true about Japan. Japan is not a colony. Jordan is, the way I use the term. You may use the term colony differently which is fine but I'll continue to use it to describe countries like Mubarak-era Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and, of course, Jordan and others in the region maintained in this state mostly for the sake of Israel.

3) Jordan's voters should be determining what role foreign policy should play in Jordan, which issues Jordan should be concentrating on. Jordan's voters do not determine that, people from places like your country determine that. I don't even care to argue with you about how important foreign policy is to Jordan but I note that policy-makers accountable to Jordanian voters are denied control over Jordan's foreign policy because Jordan is a colony of Western powers. I think you don't like the idea that your government maintains colonies, but you also don't like the idea of countries like Jordan actually being free of your country's government to make its own policies.

I'll amend my original suggestion that parties that appear in the West to be about identical to the MB would probably win power in all of the current US colonies in the region if there were elections to add the requirement that it be a one-person/one-vote process and not one deliberately constructed to diminish the representation of groups like the MB. But other than that, I think any reasonable observer by now will agree that my suggestion is most likely correct.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 31 2013 0:13 utc | 37

My understanding is thatthe up-weighting of parliament seats to the benefit of the small towns and rural areas is politically popular and intended to give more weight to the Old Stock Jordanians at the expense of those Jordanians who are of Palestinian immigrant Stock. In other Arab countries of the Arabian Peninsula region, the people of immigrant stock are even allowed to vote.

In the UK parliament longstandingly, England is underrepresented in relation to its population size; i.e. the distribution of seats gives more to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in relation to their population sizes. The UK Conservative Party wins almost no seats outside England, whereas the UK Labour and UK Liberal parties win considerable seats in Scotland and Wales. The UK Conservative Party has a policy of leaving the status quo as is, and aiming to be better competitors in Scotland and Wales. In a like way, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's Islamic Action Party could quit whining and aim to compete to win more seats in the rural and small-town areas. The fact is, the Old Stock Jordanians vote for the ruling Jordanian Establishment. The MB is going to be a small and impotent faction in the Jordanian parliament for so long as the MB are failing to win a lot more support from the Old Stock Jordanians throughout Jordan, town and country. Consequently the MB had nothing to lose from its boycott.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 31 2013 0:42 utc | 39

Arnold;
I know that you think that at the moment Egypt is more important than Syria. But could you please tell what you think about the developments in Syria?

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 31 2013 0:44 utc | 40

Jordan's foreign policy of alignment with the Western powers on foreign affairs has been decided upon by the Jordanian government, a sovereign government. As evidenced by the 23 Jan 2013 elections, the Jordanian government is generally popular with the people of Jordan, especially the Old Stock Jordanians.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 31 2013 0:50 utc | 41

Parviziyi - 40

A blog called Syrian Perspective is claiming:

"BREAKING NEWS: SYRIA AND JORDAN AGREE TO TIGHTLY CLOSE ALL BORDERS. KING ABDULLAH ANGERS SAUDI APES WITH NEW COOPERATION AGREEMENT WITH DAMASCUS. JORDANIAN ARMY TO SEAL BORDER AND PREVENT TERRORIST MERCENARIES FROM CROSSING."

http://syrianperspective.blogspot.com/2013/01/first-post-january-30-2013-ban-ki-moon.html

But I could not find confirmation of this anywhere else (in English). I'm assuming, if this isn't his imagination at work, he got the info from the non-English language media in the region.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 31 2013 1:10 utc | 42

I hope when the dust clears the people of Syria are allowed to vote for their leadership. The US position that Assad must leave before elections is, typically for the US in the region, fundamentally anti-democratic - and is designed to lead to a civil war that the US hopes will destroy Syria as a state. I'm disgusted by the support the US colonies of Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and others have given this plan. But I'm more disgusted with the US for its role in coordinating it. Turkey is moving toward but has not reached competitive civilian control over its foreign policy. I'm disappointed by Turkey also.

Syria should have had a total death toll similar to that of Bahrain. Too high, but not tens of thousands. The US, knowingly, coordinated the arming of the opposition that resulted in these tens of thousands of additional deaths because lives of people in the Middle East who are not Jewish and/or of European descent mean almost nothing to the US government, including Barack Obama. I'm disgusted by that.

If Assad is able to pull out and end the civil war, it will be a great victory for Syria. The US hopes to present Syria's voters with a very limited choice of candidates. Similar to the election of Karzai in Afghanistan, essentially unopposed, to be a democratic facade over an American colony. That plan did not work in Iraq and even if Assad is forced out, hopefully the US plan will not work in Syria. The US objective of rendering the country incapable of independent action even if it does not have an US-selected ruler did work with Iraq.

While I'm angry and disgusted at the US role in Syria, I don't have a good guess of what we will see there when the fighting stops. I'm hoping for the best and worrying that we'll end up with a bad situation there.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 31 2013 2:48 utc | 43

If the people of Japan tomorrow decide that they strongly oppose the US and want to align with China, Japanese policy-makers will feel tremendous pressure to follow the perspectives of the Japanese people. If they do not alter Japan's policy to match the values of the Japanese people, they will be voted out in the next election in favor of officials who will.

If the people of Jordan tomorrow decide that they strongly oppose the US and want to align with China, Jordanian policy-makers will ignore the perspectives of the Jordanian people in favor of the Western colonial powers that put them and maintain them in place.

I've never seen anyone say, as you've said about Jordan, that the US/EU thoroughly dominate Japanese foreign policy - because Japan is not a colony. Jordan is a sovereign state whose government is accountable to the US embassy especially but also to the embassies of other EU countries and not at all to the people of the country. Jordan is a Western colony.

Foreign policy was not on the ballot of the skewed and ultimately meaningless parliamentary election in Jordan. The results of that election have no bearing of Jordanian support for Jordan's subordinate relationship with the US and the West. Polls of Middle Eastern populations consistently show that the subordinate relationships the colonies of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and other countries in the region have with the US are not popular with their people.

But if the people of Jordan, on a one-person/one-vote basis, select a group to devise rules for making all of Jordan's policies, and the people of Jordan vote to accept that set of rules, then a government that follows those rules will be an independent country whether or not it cooperates with the United States.

Barack Obama and leaders of other Western colonial governments are not taking that chance of course, because he understands that the colonies in the region would most likely not cooperate as closely with the US or the West if they had independent governments.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Jan 31 2013 3:02 utc | 44

@Arnold #42;

Greatly appreciated!

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 31 2013 3:03 utc | 45

Arnold Evans - 42

You neglected to mention the one country that benefits most by destroying Syria, the one country which has openly attacked Syria, Israel.

Now why was that?

43

Japanese public opinion has worked wonders getting the Americans booted from Okinawa, hasn't it. The sort of democracy you postulate for japan exist now in dreams, and propaganda. Japan has been an American (now Israeli-American) colony since they were occupied by the Americans after WW2. They remain an American colony. Japanese politicians answer to Israeli-American interests every bit as much as those in the UK and Canada do, and all the rest of the Israeli-American (NWO) colonies do.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 31 2013 3:56 utc | 46

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