“Mahlab managed to gain people’s admiration thanks to his diligence and presence in the street among the people. However, continuing to have this trust and admiration is linked to the size of practical achievements and to the government’s capability to communicate in a way that bridges the gap between officials and citizens. And the question remains, how can Ibrahim Mahlab succeed?”

Around a year ago, I wrote the aforementioned statement in an article called “How can Ibrahim Mahlab succeed?” However Mahlab’s journey as Prime Minister of Egypt has now ended. Despite the reasons and motives, we must salute this man who had accepted the challenge of becoming premier, assumed responsibility at a difficult time, and worked hard.

The path to success is through adopting a scientific approach in developing and executing plans.

Mahlab made many right decisions and he’s also made mistakes; however thanking him and voicing appreciation to him is a duty. We must also evaluate the phase of his reign; therefore this must be the basis of respecting the man’s efforts and honesty. I hope such an approach becomes part of our lifestyle.

Abdul-Latif-Al-Minawi

Sherif Ismail

Egypt’s new Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, who served as a minister in Mahlab’s government, was one of the most honest and serious men on the level of performing his role during the past phase. I’ve met him on several occasions and I sensed his perseverance to resolve the country’s energy problem. I felt that he was willing to do anything as long as it helps solve problems. After following up on his work in the previous phase, I always said that he dealt with the energy crisis as if he’s addressing a problem in his own household; thus, doing everything he can to resolve it. Therefore, I ask those who have already launched a campaign criticizing him to be patient.

But are the person’s positive traits enough to succeed? The certain answer is no, they are not. I hereby repeat that the path to success is through adopting a scientific approach in developing and executing plans, developing a system and communicating in a way that bridges the gap between officials and citizens.

Scientific approach

So to what extent does the government follow a scientific approach that’s based on solid studies in order to specify priorities? To what extent do we benefit from the experiences of those who preceded us or who passed through similar crises in their countries and succeeded at overcoming them? To what extent does the government, or rather its state institutions and apparatuses, adopt a scientific approach to specify the media plans to efficiently communicate with the people?

What I can say now is that this is not completely happening – and even if it did happen, it was amidst the absence of coordination among the state’s different parties. Therefore, there was no consistency as no scientific methods were adopted to evaluate the situation and follow up on it. At least, this is what I and others think.

The government had historical opportunities to create a positive atmosphere by marketing the major and huge projects which were launched. However this was not properly dealt with. Although there were many important measures and laws, there wasn’t a proper approach to market them and explain them in order to gain people’s support. Therefore, a new and different approach is needed to address all these details.

Creating harmony among the different ministries and adopting the proper scientific approach in specifying priorities which the people approved is truly the right path to achieve success. Many opportunities have been lost on the level of communicating with people, and if this is not realized and if no well-studied scientific measures are taken, more opportunities will be lost and success – which is now possible – will become difficult to achieve.

This article was first published in al-Jarida on September 19.

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Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate.

By Abdel Latif el-Menawy

What the Egyptian army is doing in Sinai has relieved Egyptians and assured them that their sons are capable of protecting their borders and deterring any state, organization or group plotting to harm Egyptian territories. Egyptians must have been reassured when they saw president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi visit soldiers and check on them, conveying a very important message as he wore his military uniform. They must have also been reassured when they heard him say on Saturday that the soldiers present in Sinai represent only 1% of the Egyptian army, in response to statements that the entire army has been involved in Sinai and that its capabilities are being drained. This is a psychological war that must not affect the people’s unity.
Abdellatif Elmenawy
The Egyptians are aware that there is a war being led against them and that the state is using its entire apparatus to combat terrorism which is arming itself with strong media outlets, propaganda campaigns and exploitation of social media networks in order to spread fear and desperation. The Egyptian army, however, confronted this by stating facts and responding to all misleading reports.

The Egyptians are also aware that this war is protracted and will not end overnight and that it will require time until we can win it. Some may think the solution is to resume raids and shell militias in Sinai until the last standing terrorist desecrating Sinai is eliminated. However there’s actually a second path that we must also take in order to eradicate terrorism and extremism and that is the path of progress, construction and work for a better future and for fighting ignorance and poverty which helped create all this extremism and allowed extremist parties to brainwash and recruit people.

The solution is development and construction. The revolutionary spirit we need is a revolution against bureaucracy, administrative obstacles and attempts to discourage investments. Terrorism aims to take the country backwards and these obstacles are preventing Egypt from progressing and are thus powerful factors that help terrorism achieve its destructive aims.

I believe that president Sisi is aware of Egypt’s need for development as we’ve recently heard of governmental meetings in regards to developing Sinai. He’s also aware that the real war is that of construction. However the government and executive administrations must operate as a factor that helps and facilitates the construction process and must not be an obstacle in the path of a better future.

Turn wishes into visions

The current aim is to turn these wishes into visions and to then transform these visions into executable plans and then provide the necessary tools to implement them. The most important step is to work on eliminating the real obstacles which are preventing the country from going forward.

Planting real hope among people is the way to salvation. Some say the best defense is a good offense, and I say that in our case, the best means to confront terrorism is to actively progress, and this can be achieved by creating a real developmental atmosphere where the Egyptians’ motive is the hope for a better future.

Maybe we must all borrow the slogan “One hand builds and the other holds arms” and let it shine our way as this is the real path to defending Egypt’s present and future and it’s the only way for Sinai, and rather the entire of Egypt, to become free of terrorism and extremism. There’s no solution except by building but we must pave the way for this and facilitate the building process for whoever wants to help us as this is the only way to move forward.

Tony_Blair_picBy Abdel Latif el-Menawy

On July 7 2013, former British Prime Minister Tony Blairwrote an article in UK paper The Observer, where he expressed his stance favoring the intervention of the Egyptian army to stand beside the people and overthrow the Brotherhood. Not everyone in Britain agreed with what he wrote. He was criticized by the media as well as British and Western politicians. However, the campaign that was waged against him did not deter the man from holding to his stance. He even went beyond that and visited Cairo for several times, and wanted to turn his stance from words into action. Due to his positions, Blair was subject to many campaigns attacking and discrediting him. It is needless to mention that he already is a controversial figure whose politics are not much loved by the British people. In contrast, it is quite clear that the man maintained his strong presence on the international level. No contemporary British politician managed to stay under the spotlight radiating controversy and influence as much as Blair did.

Blair’s stand

I got to know Tony – as he is called by the people around him – closely during the period following the overthrowing of the Brotherhood. The last time we talked, he tackled the reason why he was taking a stand against the group: “I think that some of us who supported the June Revolution feel that we took the right decision. Egypt was in a state of crisis, and I think that it was tumbling into the abyss. Millions of people had to go on the streets, because they knew what are the actions to be taken regarding this situation. Despite the various challenges, I believe that the state is now on the right track.”

I got to know Tony – as he is called by the people around him – closely during the period following the overthrowing of the Brotherhood

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

He added: “I am used to such criticism from the media, especially if you enjoy a wide experience; you should use this experience to tell the people what you are doing. What you say might seem to be futile. However, in my opinion, I saw and understood what was happening in Egypt. I saw the systematic acquisition of all the institutions by the Muslim Brotherhood, as a means to a certain goal and not to democracy. My job is to tell people to be aware and to keep their eyes wide open; it would not be easy for them if the situation stays the same”.

Tony believes that the problem is that the West is completely unaware of what is happening in the Middle East. He does not exempt himself from this ignorance, but after he left his post in the government and got involved in the peace process in the Middle East, he was able to understand the nature and complexity of the region.

Mursi is no Merkel

Perhaps one of the most important concepts that he understood is the belief of the West that the Muslim Brotherhood is similar to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party; this is ironic as it is completely the opposite. The West failed to understand that there is a huge gap between the reality of what is happening in the Middle East and the image that the west wants to see.

Tony, who considers himself a supporter for Egypt and President Sisi, believes that he has no choice in front of everyone, but to succeed. He says in this regard: “What I can do to Egypt and tell to the West is as follows: it is essential for our security that Egypt succeeds. If you look at the situation in the region, whether it is the Palestinian-Israeli case, ISIS activities or even the Libyan and Yemeni crises, you will find that none of these problems and crises can be resolved if the Brotherhood were in power instead of Sisi. The pillar of our security is the victory of Egypt. This victory is necessary to achieve the security of Western countries, given the importance of the role of Cairo in the crises witnessed in some countries of the Middle East”.

We will always endeavor to make, defend and support new friends. Friendly influential voices are rare at this stage, amid the events and bloodshed taking place in the region.

frontlineBy Abdel Latif el-Menawy

UK newspaper The Times recently published an article on Muslim Brotherhood activities in Britain, and how they could influence the country’s relations in the Middle East. The article also exposed the pressures aimed at decreasing the severity of the report.

“Britain’s relations with key Gulf allies could be put in jeopardy as the government cracks down on the activities of the world’s largest Islamist movement but stops short of proscribing it as a terrorist organisation,” wrote political editor Sean O’Neill, and crime and security editor Francis Elliott.

Questions raised

This begs certain questions. Will the Brotherhood be affected by this report? Have Brotherhood pressures, via its network of prominent interests and relations, succeeded in preventing the movement from being pursued? Does this reveal American and British support for the Brotherhood despite the toppling of the latter in Egypt?

What will happen in Britain is an attempt to legitimize the Brotherhood, although it is strange to set the condition of condemning terrorism rather than not carrying it out

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Could the refusal to pursue the movement explain the West’s confused viewpoint regarding terrorism in the Middle East, particularly that of the Brotherhood, which many Arab countries have declared a terrorist group?

According to the article, the Brotherhood, “which is linked to Hamas and groups fighting for power in Libya, will be told to come clean about its ‘opaque’ network of affiliates in Britain, which range from mosques and media outlets to businesses, charities and campaign groups.”

The article adds that a unit “has been created to enforce a consistent policy on the Brotherhood, cut its affiliates’ access to public sector grants, examine its financial and tax affairs and demand that groups linked to it disavow terrorism and promote social integration.”

Legitimization

Therefore, what will happen in Britain is an attempt to legitimize the Brotherhood, although it is strange to set the condition of condemning terrorism rather than not carrying it out. The Brotherhood, which is banned in Egypt, may condemn the explosions there, but its members carry them out. The Fajr Libya group is killing Libyan civilians, and the Brotherhood does not mind condemning these acts as its leaders have gotten used to lying.

According to the article, Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on the Brotherhood who contributed to the review, said: “This represents a new approach to the Muslim Brotherhood – both the organisation and its ideology. Britain will be using Al Capone tactics – like pulling them up for their tax affairs – to keep the Brotherhood in line.”

The article added: “Westminster sources said that the movement was being put ‘on notice’ and its activities were being closely scrutinized and that David Cameron was said to have been enraged last year after the group’s leadership met in London without British intelligence being aware.”

We do not expect a serious stance from Britain, as it seems that its complicated interests in the Middle East are bigger than its stance against terrorism.

420388_148983295224095_111175111_nBy Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Two keys to success, which I will never get bored of repeating, are following a scientific approach when planning, implementing and devising, and communicating with people using the right language.

This raises the question of how much the Egyptian government follows a scientific approach based on real studies in order to specify priorities. How much do we use the experiences of our predecessors, or of those who overcame similar crises in their countries?

Another question is how much state apparatuses follow a scientific approach in specifying media plans when communicating with people, in order to clearly point out the message they want to convey and convince people of.

What Egypt has suffered from most in recent years is administrative paralysis on all levels… This paralysis has been marked by vengeance and impulsiveness based on wrong information

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Neither of these two approaches are being completely followed. There is an absence of coordination between state institutions, of continuity, and of following scientific rules to follow up and measure results.

Historical chances

The government had historical chances to create a positive atmosphere via marketing important projects such as reclaiming 1 million acres, a plan that was handled as if it was a new poultry farm.

Dealing with the biggest event – digging the new Suez Canal – still adopts the traditional approach of decades ago, by which the event’s importance is conveyed via songs and repeated statements on the greatness of the Egyptians who built the pyramids and the high dam.

Creating harmony among different ministries, and following a proper scientific approach in specifying priorities that people recognize, are the right path to success. There have been many occasions in which opportunities were missed in terms of communicating with people. If this is not realized, and if no scientific measures are taken, then more chances will be lost and it will be difficult to achieve success.

What Egypt has suffered from most in recent years is administrative paralysis on all levels, among other things. This paralysis has been marked by vengeance and impulsiveness based on wrong information. Impulsiveness has reached the extent of trying officials who held their posts for more than 20 years. It is understandable that the result of this general atmosphere is a lack of confidence. The solution is restoring confidence and adopting a scientific approach.

430141_148983255224099_601152695_aBy Abdel Latif el-Menawy

The media has experienced chaos that harms state interests and stability. This comes amid the absence of a clear strategy to deal with the media in a way that serves the state, and takes political instability in Egypt and the wider Arab region into consideration. This chaos increases as the number of satellite and official TV channels and news websites has reached the hundreds, of which at least 20 have an audience that they influence.

All media outlets operate without understanding or fully knowing national security affairs, and without specifying goals that protect the state and take transitional phases into account. There are also uncontrolled forms of communication among media outlets, journalists and security apparatuses as documents, secrets and information linked to prominent political and social figures are being addressed.

“Media chaos increases political and ideological polarization, which threatens social peace”

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

These leaks create tension, especially with the spread of accusations of treason and collaboration among different parties. These accusations sometimes have no justification, and most of the time no legal basis. The absence of a context in which the media operates, and the lack of a central plan capable of mobilizing the public around one national cause, pave the way for spreading chaos.

Media chaos increases political and ideological polarization, which threatens social peace. This may reach the extent of some media figures’ incitement to murder as they assign themselves judges and detectives. Some media figures’ means of marketing themselves is to address the public via unprofessional rhetoric that respects neither laws nor ethics.

The media, intentionally or otherwise, emotionally blackmails the public and thus creates political problems. It also ignores social and economic affairs, and summons religious figures to address certain issues, thus increasing the severity of sectarian and ideological tensions. It also exposes society’s problems but without presenting solutions – this further threatens society.

Another aspect is the presence of media entities that appear disharmonious and create an incoherent image. Despite this, the Egyptian media has been divided into outlets owned by the state – though it is unknown what the state actually owns – or by private companies.

The latter outlets include small dailies or websites as well as giant media entities that are suffering great losses. This raises legitimate and serious questions about funding sources and the nature of these outlets’ aims.

Abdellatif ElmenawyBy Abdel Latif el-Menawy

The sinful men who killed Egyptian soldiers at Iftar during the holy month of Ramadan in Rafah and when the Brotherhood was still in power are the same sinful men who killed other Egyptian soldiers and wounded dozens of others in the recent Arish operation. The two operations cannot be separated and we can rather say that the aim of the first operation was to keep the army away from the arena. When these men lost control over the country’s capabilities they lost their temper and launched their terrorist operations aimed at nothing else other than to kill, destroy and sabotage.

I am not directing accusations at anyone in particular in the Brotherhood movement. I am rather directing the accusation to the entire Brotherhood – to those who colluded and remained silent, to those who lurked and to those who wanted to distance the Egyptian army and people and control the country in order to establish their alleged caliphate which is not any different than the caliphate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), with the only difference between the image they put forward.

The Arish terrorist attack that killed Egyptian soldiers and civilians proves once more that this is our battle, as army and people. We are all in one trench against a blind terrorist organization that recognizes no one but itself, worshiping only itself and its ignorant doctrines that don’t recognize humanity and patriotism. Such organizations sacrifice anything to reach their aims and thus target civilians and army personnel by placing bombs in restaurants and on trains and buses. They thus contradict their statements that they only target the police and army. They have once more awakened us to the fact that the enemy does not differentiate between an Egyptian civilian and an Egyptian military recruit. These groups have always been against the Egyptian people, regardless of their status.

“The Arish terrorist attack that killed Egyptian soldiers and civilians proves once more that this is our battle, as army and people”.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Their operations have moved from Sinai to the neighborhoods of Cairo and different governorates after the Jan. 25 commemoration. This was an attempt to create fear at a time when Egypt is finally moving forward to prepare for parliamentary elections – the third and last phase of the roadmap – and for the world economic development conference. It’s thus an attempt by the terrorist group to delude the world into thinking that Egypt is tension- and violence-ridden. They are thus trying to thwart the economic conference and obstruct the implementation of the roadmap.

The state needs to decisively deal with this violence, which is spreading and targeting several areas. Even though this violence is of no significance in some places, it’s still cause for concern and this is exactly what the terrorist groups and their media proxies want – they want to tell the world that there’s violence in Egypt again.

And as the government decisively deals with these terrorist groups, it must not overlook two important aspects: the economic and the social ones. The economic aspect means that the state needs to move forward in terms of economic and nationalistic projects that had already been launched and to resume creating an atmosphere of development. One the aims of the terrorist groups is to corrupt any developmental operations and economic progress. The social aspect lies in uniting politicians around the country and around the latter’s projects. It lies in making the Egyptians feel that they are united against extremism and sabotage as this alone is enough to thwart terror plans and to foil the organization that is apparently willing to eliminate all Egyptians in order to return to power once more.

“For Egyptian, the battle ahead will be a long one. It’s a battle to build the country and a battle against blind terrorism”.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

For Egyptian, the battle ahead will be a long one. It’s a battle to build the country and a battle against blind terrorism. It will not be enough to fight one battle and ignore another. We must fight both battles and we must win both. Perhaps at this point the Egyptians must recall that 1960’s slogan: “A hand that builds and a hand that holds the weapon.”