Thursday, August 29, 2013

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria

It seems to me there is a paradox at the heart of recent events: while his policy towards Syria is given as a reason for the overthrowing of Morsi, at the time it was seen as part of a general hardening of Sunni Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, towards the Assad regime and, of course, Saudi Arabia has been a strong supporter of  of Morsi's overthrow.

One of main priorities of
Saudi foreign policy, evidently, is the struggle against Iran and Shi'ism in general. It is also, though, informed by hostility towards the Muslim Brotherhood.Joseph Kechichian, on Newshour (BBC WS, 18/8, 21:50) says this is because of the MB's "extremism", which does not take us very far. Frank Gardner (BBC WS, 20/08 11:12) says Saudi Arabia (and the UAE) cannot stand the MB, they view them as an existential threat. They are regret having hired lots of Egyptian teachers in the 60's, who then spread the MB message in Saudi Arabia.

Khalil Anani says that Saudi Arabia fears MB links to Iran (on Al Jazeera, 17/8, 14:45).  Certainly,  there is a link there,  from the MB to Hamas,  through to Hezbollah and Iran.  According to the Lebanese paper As-Safir (Why is Saudi Arabia Backing The Egyptian Revolution? ),  Gulf countries agreed to support the new regime "because the Saudi request was accompanied by a reassurance that Egypt after the Brotherhood will be a base of stability in the region,   and because Iran had a significant alliance with the Brotherhood.  So a revolution [i.e. the coup or counter-revolution] in Egypt will strengthen the anti-Iran front.  It will also weaken Iran’s project to "export the revolution" and cause problems for "Arab conservatives."

As-Safir again: "Saudi Arabia usually adopts policies that match its regime’s conservative nature. It is a regime that is resistant to internal change and to revolution — any revolution in any Arab country."

Finally, it is clear that Saudi Arabia acts as a force against democracy in the region (while remaining on good terms with Western democracies such as the US and Britain).  Bruce Riedel, in Saudi Arabia and The Illusory Counterrevolution:
In Syria, of course, the Saudis have backed the revolution against Bashar al-Assad but they are not eager for Assad to be replaced by a democratic, reformist regime. They would prefer a new strongman in Damascus but one who is a Sunni Arab who will tilt the country toward Saudi Arabia and away from Iran.
It probably thinks that the chances of a longlasting democratic outcome in Syria are pretty low.  Regarding Egypt's position on Syria,  it probably considers this does not matter much one way or another.
[ Update: on 1/9, at the Arab League meeting, Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon opposed US airstrikes and wanted a UNSC resolution (BBC WS, 9:00). Juan Cole has a map, which though unexplained, shows Egypt in the camp of Russia, Iran, Assad-controlled Syria ... (red), though edged in blue - aligned with Saudi Arabia  and other Sunni Arab countries.  ]

Incidentally, Riedel also has a reminder: 
Bahrain, too, is also far from stable. It is hard to get reliable information on the situation in Manama, largely ignored by the foreign press, but incidents of violence appear to be more frequent and more sophisticated.
Posted 10 Sep 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Egypt: repression

From Al Jazeera, Egypt: Are foreign journalists lying?, Inside Story, 20/8:
 But while criticism has been levelled at the foreign press - the government has said nothing about local media coverage. The local media scene has been dominated by one narrative, while the others are attacked, there are similarities to the Mubarak era when there was no free press to speak of. The military rulers say they are leading the country in a march towards democracy, but it is increasingly starting to look like a giant step back.
One of the guests in the following discussion, though, says that Morsi's year in power saw attacks by his supporters on private media channels that took an anti-Morsi line. There has been a failure since 2011, including under Morsi, to reform the legal framework of the media.

From the Boston Herald / AP, 20/8:
In addition to the arrests, a campaign is in full swing to "cleanse" ministries, government departments and state media of Brotherhood supporters, dismantling a network built during Morsi's year in office. Employees known to have taken part in sit-ins or protests are being brought before disciplinary panels to account for not showing up for work. 
Kristen Chick,  in The Christian Science Monitor, August 21:
Since [Aug. 14], many Brotherhood members have been on the run, not returning to their homes at night and switching off their phones for fear of arrest. Many who had been active on Facebook and Twitter are no longer posting. Spokesman Gehad el Haddad said many mid-level leaders were killed in the dispersal of the sit-in, including 12 he knew personally.
Mohamed Okda, an alliance spokesman, said the group held a meeting Sunday, but he only found out about it just before it was to begin. “Communication within the coalition is very difficult right now,” he said after the meeting. “No one is talking on the phone. For me to know about this meeting, it was through maybe three intermediaries who managed to get to me and tell me we were meeting today.”
In addition to the arrests, a campaign is in full swing to "cleanse" ministries, government departments and state media of Brotherhood supporters, dismantling a network built during Morsi's year in office. Employees known to have taken part in sit-ins or protests are being brought before disciplinary panels to account for not showing up for work. - See more at:
In addition to the arrests, a campaign is in full swing to "cleanse" ministries, government departments and state media of Brotherhood supporters, dismantling a network built during Morsi's year in office. Employees known to have taken part in sit-ins or protests are being brought before disciplinary panels to account for not showing up for work. - See more at:
In addition to the arrests, a campaign is in full swing to "cleanse" ministries, government departments and state media of Brotherhood supporters, dismantling a network built during Morsi's year in office. Employees known to have taken part in sit-ins or protests are being brought before disciplinary panels to account for not showing up for work. - See more at:
Joshua Hersh in The New Yorker, Egypt’s Media Counter-Revolution, 21/8:  :
  “It’s very clear to everybody now that there is a conspiracy against Egypt. Why aren’t we taking measures against these people?” [Saturday night in Cairo ..] But when it came time for local reporters to ask questions, many of them seemed enthralled by the government’s version of events. One wondered why the government wasn’t taking action against opposition figures who met with officials at the American embassy. (It was this reporter who mentioned a “conspiracy.”) [..] Another criticized Western media reports that the Egyptian government had backed out of a possible deal with the Brotherhood. “How are you going to deal with that?” he asked.

[..] the criticism of the international media is not surprising, but the role that the local press has played as an abettor in this is the more dispiriting phenomenon.
Fatima El-Issawi, a former correspondent for Agence France Presse in Iraq [..], says one problem that can’t be overlooked is how little the media evolved during the Morsi era.
So, is Egypt moving back to the Mubarak era? Shadi Hamid, in several tweets, thinks it's even worse.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Egypt: disaster not averted (Part 2)

(17/8) - Egypt crisis: Dozens dead in Egypt 'day of anger' -

17/08/2013 (0700GMT) [Presented by Julian Worricker] with Jonathan Steele in London and Vaiju Naravane in Paris, discussion on Weekend, 7:10 GMT, sums it up, Jonathan Steele and female (Maria ... ?) from al-Hayat says that the MB refused to talk. Vaiju Naravane puts the point that, according to the EU's Bernardino León, it was the army that rejected peace negotiations The al-Hayat woman insists that this was because MB said, either we bring Morsi and then talk or there are no talks. (Onedrive (Skydrive))

Khaled Dawoud on Al Jazeera: calls for compromise: Morsi return a non-starter, but MB must be included in political process. He resigned as spokesman of the NSF not only because of the government's use of excessive force, but also because of their denial of the same

Egypt crisis: Cairo mosque 'cleared' after siege
Egypt: Security Forces Used Excessive Lethal Force
The New York Times has what Shadi Hamid describes as "a long, fascinating - and tragic - account of last-ditch int'l efforts to stave off violence in Egypt" (8:11 PM - 17 Aug 13):
a senior European diplomat, Bernardino León, told the Islamists of “indications” from the leadership that within hours it would free two imprisoned opposition leaders. In turn, the Islamists had agreed to reduce the size of two protest camps by about half. [..] Two senators visiting Cairo, John McCain and Lindsey Graham , met with Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi and the interim prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, and pushed for the release of the two prisoners. But the Egyptians brushed them off.
“You could tell people were itching for a fight,” Mr. Graham recalled in an interview. “The prime minister was a disaster. He kept preaching to me: ‘You can’t negotiate with these people. They’ve got to get out of the streets and respect the rule of law.’ [..]
the Israelis, Saudis and other Arab allies have lobbied [Obama ] to go easy on the generals in the interest of thwarting what they see as the larger and more insidious Islamist threat.
Diplomats from Qatar, a regional patron of the Muslim Brotherhood, agreed to influence the Islamists. The United Arab Emirates, determined opponents of the Islamists, were brought in to help reach out to the new authorities. But while the Qataris and Emiratis talked about “reconciliation” in front of the Americans, Western diplomats here said they believed the Emiratis were privately urging the Egyptian security forces to crack down.
The Israelis, whose military had close ties to General Sisi from his former post as head of military intelligence, were supporting the takeover as well. Western diplomats say that General Sisi and his circle appeared to be in heavy communication with Israeli colleagues, and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.
American and European diplomats hoped to reinforce the few officials in Egypt’s interim cabinet who favored an inclusive approach, led by Mohamed ElBaradei, the vice president .. . After the second massacre, on July 26, Mr. ElBaradei wanted to resign, but Mr. Kerry talked him out of it, arguing that he was the most potent, if not the only, voice for restraint in the government. 
But General Sisi never trusted Mr. ElBaradei, and on the other side was a small core of military officers close to the general who saw a chance to finally rid Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood. Among them were Gen. Mohammed al-Tohami, a mentor and father figure to General Sisi and now head of the intelligence service, and Gen. Mahmoud Hegazy, the general’s protégé and chosen successor as head of military intelligence. And with no serious reprisals against Egypt after two mass killings, many analysts here argue that the hard-liners could only feel emboldened.
Mr. Kerry sent his deputy, William J. Burns, to Cairo, where he and a European Union counterpart scrambled to de-escalate the crisis. Under a plan they worked out, the Muslim Brotherhood would limit demonstrations to two squares, thin out crowds and publicly condemn violence. The government would issue a similar statement, commit to an inclusive political process allowing any party to compete in elections and, as a sign of good faith, release Saad al-Katatni, the Muslim Brotherhood speaker of the dissolved Parliament, and Aboul-Ela Maadi, founder of a more moderate Islamist party. Both faced implausible charges of instigating violence, and Western diplomats felt that before the takeover, Mr. Katatni in particular had proved himself a pragmatic voice for compromise. 
Adding to the shock of the new charges [against Khairat el-Shater and Mohamed Badie], they came just hours before Mr. Burns and his European partner, Mr. León, were allowed to see Mr. Shater. Mr. Shater embraced the need for dialogue, but did not endorse the proposals.
Again and again the actions of the interim government left the diplomats "surprised", "furious, feeling deceived and manipulated". 
 “They were used to justify the violence,” [Amr Darrag, an adviser to Mr. Morsi and top negotiator for the Islamist coalition] said in an interview. “They were just brought in so that the coup government could claim that the negotiations failed, and, in fact, there were no negotiations.”
Khaled Dawoud: one day b4 Baradei resigned, I wrote for Ahram Weekly 10:13 PM - 15 Aug 13
[..] following bloody clashes with Brotherhood supporters on 26 July that left at least 72 people dead, Al-Baradei could be forgiven if he thought little had changed: state-owned newspapers, as well as television shows on private channels whose owners were part and parcel of the Mubarak regime, began a fierce campaign against him.
Abdel-Rehim Ali, an expert on militant Islamic groups who had close ties with the Interior Ministry under Mubarak, claims Al-Baradei threatened to resign on 26 July if the police attack on Brotherhood supporters went further or the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in was broken up violently. “The police,” says Ali, “were ready to finish the job but they were held back by Dr Al-Baradei.”
Novelist and newspaper columnist Gamal Al-Ghitani used an entire page of Al-Akhbar to claim Al-Baradei was “a danger to the Egyptian people and state”. [..] Scores of articles appeared charging that Al-Baradei had promoted “foreign intervention” in domestic affairs by allowing European, African, American, Qatari and Emirati top officials to visit Egypt and meet with senior Brotherhood officials, including former president Morsi.
Khaled Dawoud: on bbc world with gehad hadad at 930 pm cairo time, in 25 mins 8:06 PM - 16 Aug 13. it was an intv on bbc radio. J hadad of MB still lives in lala land and wants Mursi, Shura, shameful Cons back. No to MB and police state 9:17 PM - 16 Aug 13

Public mood in Egypt appears to harden against Muslim Brotherhood , by Heba Saleh in Cairo, August 18, 2013
As Egypt’s military-backed authorities edge closer to banning the Brotherhood, now frequently described by officials as terrorists, those who still advocate political dialogue with the Brotherhood or who raise human rights concerns, face an angry and intimidating reaction from a large section of public opinion.
The public mood in Egypt appears to have hardened against the Islamists since the army deposed Mr Morsi. [..] A hostile local media, which has largely refrained from covering the Islamist protest camps, their clearance or their casualties, has played its part.
[Khaled] Dawoud said he has been accused of being a “sleeping cell” for the Muslim Brotherhood, of jumping ship “at a critical time with the country facing a terrorist threat” and of being a CIA agent.
“It was sad for me that the majority of the secular parties within the NSF decided to basically give a blank cheque to the [now empowered] old security state to do whatever they wanted to do to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “The golden rule is that violence begets more violence, which is what is being ignored in this kind of position.”
Khaled Dawoud: majority of average Egs hate bloodshed. MB cd've [given] more had they not seen increasing calls to crush them anyway 11:26 PM - 20 Aug 13; my understanding MB recognized Mursi can't be back, talks were on release of leaders, pledges they'll remain legal, group n party 8:28 AM - 21 Aug 13
(17/8) Article by Tariq Ramadan. (*)

(19/8) Memri says that an "Al-Jazeera Commentator, Former MB Official, Gamal Nassar" claims al-Sisi is Jewish. A little research shows that he is a founding member of the FJP. But is he an Al-Jazeera Commentator or just a commentator on Al-Jazeera ? It might say something about the MB / FJP, though.

20/8 This is getting nastier. "Erdogan is now citing a French intellectual who downplayed MB's electoral victory, stressing his Jewish identity."
"Sources in Erdogan's office say the "French Zionist" behind Egypt's coup was Bernard-Henri  Levy, Turkey's state-run news agency reports."
Incidentally, the accusations against B-HL are probably unfounded.

21/8 Political Memo: Attacks on Protesters in Cairo Were Calculated to Provoke, Some Say

* Update 27 Aug. Someone comments, "You simply ignore the 12 billion dollar contribution made by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE within days of the coup." Absolutely right. But on Israel, Tariq Ramadan could be right. See above. 

Updated 10 Apr 2014: links updated.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

14 August and its aftermath

Simon McGregor-Wood on Al Jazeera English, with a piece to camera, from their Cairo Bureau, looking dusty, drained and shaken. He nails most of the regime's falsehoods:
1. "Protestors were warned to leave". The attack came as surprise, though there were some rumours
2. "We did not use live fire" [believe it or not, the regime at first claimed they had only used tear-gas]. We were surprised by amount of sustained gunfire (incoming); there were clear signs of gunshot wounds.
3. "People were given an exit to leave each site".  Most were unaware of these.
Also, first gunfire targeted TV crews on roof (to get them to stop filming, giving the security forces the benefit of the doubt, not to kill). We could only get a  mobile phone signal when we moved about 1 km from the square.  A bit of the report is here: News Bulletin - 03:35 GMT update. More here,  published on Aug 14, 2013: "Security forces stormed the sit-in at Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square early on Wednesday morning. [..] Simon McGregor Wood was there and sent this report of panic". Early on, I think, you see the reporter crawling along the roof. One report on the BBC did suggest that warnings were given, over loudspeakers.

Egypt unrest: BBC witnesses Cairo raid on pro-Morsi camps . FM spokesman speaks to C4 News, 15/8: we tried to disperse sit-ins peacefully (Egypt: the aftermath of a massacre  +5:00).

Later, EU special representative, Bernadino Leon: our proposal was accepted in principle by both sides; we spoke mainly to ElBaradei - his views (not to storm the protests) seemed to prevail for 2 weeks; then, opinions of others within the interim government prevailed (Egypt's bereaved  +6:00).

Khaled Dawoud, looking somewhat more contrite: I cannot support the killing of innocent people, I cannot except agree with ElBaradei's view that more time should have been given ... Nevertheless,  the Muslim Brotherhood brought it on themselves and it was not a coup.

On Friday morning Khaled Dawoud, the spokesman of the National Salvation Front, resigned. Al Jazeera at first reported this as the majority of his party failed to agree to condemn the violence. In a later C4 News interview, though, he explained that his party (ElBaradei's party) is in a coalition of 11 parties in the NSF and it was there that it was failed to reach agreement (Egypt in crisis: 'why I stopped representing the government'). ElBaradei, of course had resigned as vice-president on Wednesday evening (14/8) (*). How significant the refusal of figures such as Khaled Dawoud to endorse the crackdown is, I don't know. The Guardian's editorial said that "a split between secular revolutionaries and the Brotherhood that goes right the way back to the start of the revolution in 2011 could be in the process of being repaired. " (Egypt: disaster on Europe's doorstep )

More from  C4 News (16/8): Muslim Brotherhood: this is a regime killing its people ...  Egypt in crisis: protestors walk into gunfire in Alexandria ... Egypt: the aftermath of a massacre

Gehad El-Haddad: We condemn all attacks on houses of worships & condemn police treachery in leaving thugs to vandalise while focusing on killing protesters. 2:53 PM - 15 Aug 13. That's good. Unfortunately, other MB spokesmen indulge in conspiracy theories: the attacks on churches were organised by the state ...

Shadi Hamid: My new piece for @nytimes on how #Egypt's crackdown means not just a return to Mubarak era, but something worse:  2:45 PM - 15 Aug 13

Shadi Hamid: On France after 1848: "Conservatives were able to co-opt fearful liberals and reinstall new forms of dictatorship." Marx’s Lesson for the Muslim Brothers. 2:17 PM - 15 Aug 13.

Updated 21 Aug 2013 (C4 News "catch up" links valid 7 days)
* Update 23 Aug. This is from a statement by the NSF (14/8):
The conspiracy then attempted to impose on Egypt a half victory, proposing what they called a “safe exit”, returning the organization’s money and letting it continue its activity. But the firm leadership of the armed forces and the collective will of the people demanded the dispersal of the sit-in at the hands of the security forces.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Egypt: disaster not averted

I have been on Twitter quite a bit the last few days. Trying to keep calm and reading this report from the IGC. Some extracts:
Mohamed Selim el-Awa, an Islamist with good ties to the army and who competed in the 2012 presidential elections, has suggested that both the 2012 constitution and Morsi briefly be reinstated; the latter would then resign in favour of a consensual prime minister. Presidential and parliamentary elections would soon follow. (fn69 See Al-Masry Al-Youm, 27 July 2013. Hisham Qandil, who served as prime minister under Morsi, launched his own initiative, suggesting that a referendum be conducted on the post-3 July arrangements while maintaining the 2012 constitutional framework. See The Muslim Brothers, insisting on Morsi’s legitimacy as president, reportedly have turned down several invitations for dialogue by the defence ministry and interim president. ICG interview, member of Mansour’s national reconciliation team, Cairo, 16 July 2013. Some members have floated the idea that Morsi could be reinstated and then resign in a dignified manner – though even then it is unclear what would follow. According to the 2012 constitution, upon whose authority the Brothers still insist, the head of the Shura Council (a Brotherhood member) would assume the presidency. A number of initiatives launched by non-partisan Islamist-leaning figures,including [..] Hisham Qandil and former presidential candidate Mohamed Selim el-Awwa, suggested Morsi could transfer his authorities to a “consensus prime minister”, while presidential elections would be held within 90 days; the constitution would be reinstated until consensually amended. ICG interview, EU official, July 2013. See also [Both videos in Arabic] ... though this proposal meets some of the Brotherhood’s requirements, it almost certainly is unacceptable to the military at this stage. [my emphasis]
(fn16) Hisham Qandil later claimed that Morsi was “open” to the idea of early presidential elections, but only after parliamentary elections had been conducted, in order not to create a constitutional or institutional vacuum.
As I said in my previous post. MB sources have indicated that they were willing to compromise. According to Cairo crackdown follows failed negotiation, the MB has hinted in interviews that it would accept Morsi's ousting if the 2012 constitution were restored. "Maybe he's back for one minute. And we have some sort of agreement that he's back and the first decision is to resign. Fine," Amr Darrag, a senior Brotherhood official, said in an interview last month.
(Incidentally, it's well worth reading that earlier interview: "We've been telling people that we don't have control, and people didn't believe us. We've always been accused of the ikhwanization of the state, controlling the bones and joints and everything, spreading our people everywhere [..]  We acknowledged that it isn't good to clear everything at once, because this could mean the failure of the state, so we took a more gradual approach, but we were not in control at all. The president had maybe 25 percent control, but not more than that, and the control he had related to his power of legitimacy, rather than physical power. [..] This coup succeeded because we did not really have that much control.")
 A Brotherhood member and ex-Morsi adviser said, “we theoretically could agree on dropping the demand that Morsi complete his term, but without the constitution, what guarantees will we have to practise politics and operate normally without crackdowns and repression?” (fn35 ICG interview, Muslim Brotherhood member and former presidential aide, Cairo, 21 July 2013. Reinstatement of the constitution would mean making the head of the Shura Council, a Muslim Brother, interim president. Such suggestions bring shrugs from the other side: “It is inconceivable
that the army would agree to handing power to [Shura Council President] Ahmad Fahmy. What do you think he will do, even if he is there for a second? His first executive order would be to fire Sisi and other generals who helped oust Morsi. The army will never allow such a scenario to materialise”. ICG interview, member of the interim president’s national reconciliation team and former adviser to Morsi who resigned, Cairo, 16 July 2013.
Going back to before 3 July:
(fn7) The NSF declined repeated invitations for dialogue over the constitutional declaration, constitutional amendments and other issues, insisting that Morsi meet their preconditions first, including firing the government and the prosecutor general. The NSF justified its boycott by claiming Morsi intended to use the dialogue as a photo-op to boost his flailing presidency. ICG interview, founding member of the Egypt Freedom Party, Cairo, 22 July 2013. An aide to the former president’s team said that NSF leaders used to ignore phone calls from the presidency requesting their attendance at dialogue sessions. Morsi had made clear he would not offer compromises without first engaging in a dialogue. ICG interview, aide to Morsi’s adviser for political affairs, Cairo, 18 April 2013.
On what I find rather mystifying, that policy on Syria played an important role in al-Sisi's decision: 
(fn12) An important event purportedly involved the change of policy toward Syria Morsi announced on 18 June, arguably to rally wider Islamist support; in that speech, pronounced in the presence of former Islamist militants and prominent Salafi leaders and preachers, he said Cairo was cutting diplomatic relations with Damascus and appeared to endorse calls for jihad against the Syrian regime. A retired general said, “this guy [Morsi] lost his mind. He thinks he can break our ties with and declare jihad against Syria, threaten Ethiopia with war and surround himself with militants who have kidnapped and killed our soldiers in Sinai. This is Egypt. We cannot be ruled by ignorant amateurs”. ICG interview, Cairo, 1 July 2013.
(fn15)  An opposition member [said]: “Morsi really thought he could cut off ties with Syria without consulting leaders of the armed forces. He was delusional”. ICG interview, Cairo, 17 July 2013.

on 23 June, the defence minister, Lieutenant-General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, had urged all political forces to resolve their differences prior to the day of demonstrations; when that failed to yield results, and in the wake of the massive protests, the SCAF gave the presidency 48 hours to meet the “people’s demands” (read: accept early presidential elections), or it would impose its own “roadmap”, [Al-Arabiya, 1 July 2013] thus, closely mirroring Tamarrod’s demands.

The combination of a public outpouring of discontent and reassuring army signals helped convince the overwhelming majority of protesters – some of whom initially wanted Morsi to call for early presidential elections; others who wanted him to resign; and still others who advocated a collegial presidency linking Morsi to other political leaders – to endorse a military solution.

(fn49) An NSF member described how senior anti-Brotherhood figures walked away on the eve of 30 June when he reminded them of the need to integrate Islamists in post-Morsi arrangements. “They see this (military-supported popular protests) as the moment in which all Islamists have been defeated and should be cast aside”. ICG interview, Cairo, 7 July 2013.
As Jim Muir reported for the BBC, both sides revile the US, so EU mediation stood a better chance.
The U.S. faces greater limitations, being vilified by both sides, each suspecting Washington of doing the other’s bidding. (fn70 Tamarrod issued a statement on the eve of 5 July anti-Morsi protests accusing the U.S. of “aiding the Brothers, and encouraging them to attack the people and the armed forces”. Akhbar al-Youm, 5 July 2013. General Sisi also blasted the U.S., claiming it had abandoned Egyptians and mistreated the
nation’s “patriotic military” by suspending the delivery of fighter jets. The Washington Post, 3 August 2013. On the other hand, Essam el-Erian, vice president of the FJP, suggested that Washington had supported the “failing military coup” and went so far as to urge the U.S. embassy staff to leave the country. Al-Masry Al-Youm, 21 July 2013.)  As a result, Brussels, via Ashton’s visits to Cairo, has assumed an unusually active role ...
Various names mooted as PM: Ziad Bahaa Eddin was, I think, mentioned by RFI. end
(fn23) Biblawi reportedly was Mansour’s third choice; his name emerged during consultations between the army, protest movement, NSF and Al-Nour. The Salafi party is said to have vetoed both Destour party leader Mohamed ElBaradei and Ziad Bahaa Eddin, a senior Social Democratic Party member and veteran economic technocrat, on grounds that they were overly hostile to the Islamists.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

14 Aug 2013

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Egypt: divided

Just taking a step back and listening to some interviews from 2 July (BBC WS, Africa Today) ... NSF spokesman, Khaled Dawoud, does not call for Morsi to be ousted or for military coup, but for early presidential elections. (So, did the coup go further than the protests demanded?) Later he says Morsi should resign. He equates calls for being ready for martyrdom with inciting to violence. Gehad al-Haddad, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, says all attempts to bring back parliament have been blocked by the judiciary, opposition leaders refuse to come to the table.

Al-Sisi himself , in his Washington Post interview, says:
Only 20 days before Morsi was ousted, the public was only calling for reshuffling the government. But ten days later, the demands changed to having early presidential elections. Five days later, the call was for Morsi to leave.
So, al-Sisi went with the escalated demands of the anti-Morsi movement, rather than continuing to seek compromise, maybe on the basis of the earlier demands. Of course, plunging the country into an even deeper crisis, of which the resolution is difficult to see.

Various propositions have been floated: MB sources said they were willing to compromise. It was proposed that Morsi should return for one symbolic day; in return al-Sisi would also step down; also the upper house (Shura council) should be reinstated and there should be the return of the constitution (Al Jazeera, 4 Aug ). But so far all attempts to reach agreement have failed: both sides' positions appear entrenched.

On 6 Aug., Gehad al-Haddad 'told Reuters news agency that the Brotherhood had rejected the diplomats' pleas to "swallow the reality" that Mohammed Morsi would not return as Egypt's president' (Egypt diplomatic efforts gather pace). On Twitter, he shows he has some sympathy with the view that the US planned / supported the coup:
(‏@gelhaddad 5 Aug) "Although written in March 8, 2013 by a former CIA officer, it shows how early planning 4 started & involv. "
(5 Aug) "The Grand Scam: Spinning ’s » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names "


30/7 Ashton to stay extra day (Al J, 00:00). Ashton has met Morsi (BBC R3, 08:00) She was taken by helicopter, suggesting he is outside Cairo (BBC WS). EU mediation, both sides revile US, Jim Muir (PM, 17:10). Obama sends Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham as envoys to Cairo. Members of armed services committee (Al J, 22:30) Ousted Egypt leader 'in good health' -

1/8 Egypt's grand negotiation under way - Rights groups worried about violent crackdown in Egypt

2/8 Police to blockade pro-Morsi sit-ins -

Secretary of State John Kerry is seeking to clarify controversial remarks he made about the crisis in Egypt. Kerry had earlier told Geo TV in Pakistan that the Egyptian military did not take over and oust President Mohammed Morsi, but instead was "restoring democracy'' in Egypt. His comment was seen by some as a signal that the US was siding with the military, even though the State Department has repeatedly said the US is not taking sides.
In London on Friday, Kerry insisted that all of the parties - the pro-Morsi supporters and the military - be inclusive and work toward a peaceful resolution of the crisis. He says the interim government should respect demonstrators and the protesters have a responsibility not to prevent the nation from moving forward. [AP]

3/8 Khaled Dawoud, in Doha studio (Al J, 00:20)

Blogger The Big Pharaoh, no friend of the MB (The Road To #Jun30) :
I’ve stated before that I prefer if Morsi continued his term. However, this doesn’t seem to be the consensus among the new activists behind the Tamarod campaign or the poor people who will protest because they wait for 5 hours before getting some fuel for their trucks.
Refuting The Myths Around June 30 Failing to protect the Muslim Brotherhood offices is not the same as not "siding with a political faction".

On Al-Jazeera's lopsided coverage of Egypt

4/8 Egypt crisis affects manufacturing industry  - Diplomatic push to end Egypt crisis - Egyptian men leave country for work -

5/8 Diplomatic moves to end the crisis in Egypt appear to be gathering momentum. Al Jazeera sources say that the foreign ministers of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are to join European Union and US envoys in a meeting with the jailed deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. ... more "anti-coup" marches are planned by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies.  Fresh diplomatic efforts to end Egypt crisis

Shrines in Sinai attacked (Al Jazeera)