Thursday 29 November 2012

Egypt said staring down the barrel of a gun

Two Egyptians – one a media superstar, the other a seasoned diplomat – believe their country is trending towards disaster.
Egyptian media superstar and talk show host Imad Adeeb, writing for the leading Saudi daily Asharq Alawsat, gives his reasons as follows:
This time, the rules of play in Egypt will be totally different than in the past.
This time, the president is duly elected, civilian and legitimate.
This time, if the army is called upon, it will answer the call only if it receives written guarantees that it won’t be ordered back to barracks.
This time, police won’t have rules of engagement and police chiefs don’t wish to stand trial again for killing protesters.
This time, not all the “street” is against the regime. There is a sharp divide between a street of loyalist demonstrators and a street of opposition protesters.
This time, political funding from abroad is a sign of frightening external links.
This time, there are 15 million firearms smuggled in from Libya and Sudan. More are turned out by local workshops.
This time, the stockpiling of firearms by numerous political groups is mushrooming.
This time, the Copts genuinely fear for their personal safety.
This time, there is a lack of interest among the protagonists in dialogue, negotiation or a settlement.
This time, the Judiciary is not an independent branch of power. It is party to the dispute.
This time, the president feels through his inner circle that many forces target him. He thus senses a conspiratorial and menacing atmosphere.
This time, the youths won’t hurl stones in the streets, but Molotov cocktails instead. They might even resort to primitive or automatic firearms.
This time, the famished, the paupers and the slum dwellers will come out, not to protest in Tahrir Square, but to appropriate anything or everything on Egyptian soil.
This time, American or regional intervention won’t ward off the disaster.
This time, only prayer will help.
Talking anonymously, the seasoned diplomat tells political analyst Sarkis Naoum, writing for the independent Beirut daily an-Nahar:
1. Egypt has a president, but he is inexperienced.
2. Egypt has innumerable problems that need to be addressed. They include the remnants of the Mubarak regime’s now-defunct National Party. They are the enforcers the party created and used before mutating into a quasi-independent force-for-hire.
3. Egypt has tens of millions of its citizens living either on the poverty threshold or under the poverty line.
4. Egypt has Islamists, chiefly Muslim Brothers, and Salafists.
5. Egypt is in transition. Apart from issues like Sharia jurisprudence and religion being the sole source for legislation, Arabs outside Egypt know little about Egypt’s constitutional impasse. What they don’t know is alarming, such as reducing the marriageable age for girls down to nine years.
6. The problem of sexual harassment on Egyptian streets is getting out of control. Females wearing a headscarf, veil or full hijab are being targeted now.
7. President Mohamed Morsi got rid of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and its tutelage. Who gave him internal or external cover for the move, the United States?
8. Morsi sent troops to Sinai to confront extremist Jihadists and Salafis after they attacked Egyptian security forces there. Israel helped him secure Sinai with intelligence aid, but he never said so publicly.
9. Did the election of Muslim Brother Morsi give the nod to the entire Muslim Brotherhood to rule Egypt, its people and its resources?
10. Whether Morsi reached the helm alone or with all the Muslim Brothers, they have to address Egypt’s problems and build the state, its economy, its security and its tourism, considering that tourism without “sex” does not exist in the world. They have to tackle the problems of terrorists, Salafists, democrats and thugs.