Archive for February, 2013

images (3)By ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

I know a sizable portion of Egyptians were disappointed at the country’s army owing to the expectations they had and which did not materialize for several reasons and now is not the time for listing them. I also know that a sizable portion of army officers were disappointed at the insults and accusations to which they had been subjected at a certain stage, namely when all political factions abandoned the army, thus falling into the trap set by the Muslim Brotherhood, which deceived military leaders into believing it is the only ally they had got.

At the time, I knew that several political factions, made up of youths and liberals, embarked on serious initiatives to communicate with the army. In fact, a project that aimed at politically empowering youths had at some stage been a viable alternative. However, those factions swallowed the Muslim Brotherhood’s bait and the gap kept widening between them and the army until any cooperation with the army came be seen as a betrayal of the revolution. Consequently, those factions deprived themselves and the country from the possibility of cooperating with the only remaining powerful institution that was capable of joining forces to protect the civilian, moderate character of the state. But not everything we wish for comes true.

The Brotherhood managed to isolate other political factions from the army against which accusations of plans to usurp power kept leveling. I, once more, know that this was absolutely groundless, for the army had no plans to remain in power but the propaganda machine of those who wanted everyone to believe that succeeded in doing so and this coincided with the interests of foreign powers. So, the Brotherhood managed to come to power then started crushing all rivals, former allies, or any faction it considers an enemy while allowing the army’s image to be tarnished abroad, which actually bore fruit with a lot of Western politician and journalists and I personally bore witness to that.

‘Brotherhood-ization’ project
  The “Brotherhood-ization” project is attempting to encompass the army so that it ends up as the group’s military wing or as a weaker and less independent institution through having its ranks infiltrated by Brotherhood loyalists   Abdel Latif al-Menawy

The outcome is what we see right now. The “Brotherhood-ization” project is attempting to encompass the army so that it ends up as the group’s military wing or as a weaker and less independent institution through having its ranks infiltrated by Brotherhood loyalists. This plan has already started as demonstrated by both public statements and leaks. We have not forgotten the statements made by the Brotherhood’s supreme guide and in which he derided the army and its leaderships then claimed his words were taken out of context. Add to that the test balloon of dismissing Minister of Defense General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

Our ancestors said that no rumor is baseless. Therefore, what is being said now reflects a real desire or an action that transcends desire to control the army. What is important is that the army is aware of this desire or action, which means this plan will be eventually aborted.

I also bear witness to something else. At an early stage, military leaders had tried to take all the necessary precautions to make sure that political allegiances do not infiltrate the Armed Forces and this is what I kept asserting whenever the issue of the army’s loyalty was brought up. For me, the army’s stance was clear from the very beginning, but the real challenge lied in dealing with the pressure exercised by the Muslim Brotherhood, which has access to the presidency and whose member is at the head of the state.

Imposing its will?

I was not surprised by a statement attributed to a military source and which implied the previous meaning, for it confirmed the truth and seriousness of the stance taken by military leaders, yet it also pointed to the pressure that has obviously started a while ago and that seems to have reached high levels. This source stressed that “all members of the Armed Forces reject ‘Brotherhood-ization’ or the like,” that “neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor any other political faction will succeed in infiltrating the army,” that “army officers stir clear of political allegiances and army regulations prohibit engaging in politics inside the Armed Forces,” that “army officers are subjected to yearly investigations and if any of them is proven to belong to any political faction he would be referred to a disciplinary committee and can even be dismissed,” that “the Military Academy chooses students with no political affiliations and those students pledge allegiance to Egypt and not any other party.”

It is then obvious that the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to impose its own will, yet found out it is faced with strong resistance, which was obvious in a statement by anonymous military sources following the rumor about dismissing the defense minister and which stressed that any action by the Muslim Brotherhood against the army would constitute political suicide for the former. Add to that the statement I mentioned earlier in the article. What does that means? And what is to be done at this stage?

Army as the only power

The answer is that the Muslim Brotherhood realizes that the only power capable of keeping the state intact is the army. It is also the only institutions that can stop attempts at monopolizing power. It is the only institution with which all political factions were ready to engage in a national dialogue contrary to what happened when the call came from the presidency, which is indicative that political factions are now aware of the role and the value of the Armed Forces and which were earlier questioned by some of them.

The statement issued by Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and in which he warned that the state could collapse if the current political tension persists proves that the army is monitoring the situation and is aware of its responsibility towards the country even if it seems determined not to be involved in politics.

There is the battle for the army and the battle of the army. After most Egyptians realized the reality of the military institution, it is now imperative to overcome that state of disappointment and anger that has been prevalent and to rally behind the common purpose of protecting the army as a national entity that cannot be monopolized or subjected to “Brotherhood-ization.” It is the duty of all Egyptians to stand behind the army and support it, for it is the only remaining power that can save the country when it is faced with the ramifications of the current regime’s policies. As for the battle of the army, it revolves around restoring the civilian and moderate character of Egypt.

430141_148983255224099_601152695_aBy ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

Talk about the “Brotherhood-ization” of the state has gone beyond the borders of Egypt and is now a hot topic in Western press. One journalist even made fun of this phenomenon and said it has actually replaced the alleged renaissance project.

Talk about this trend has transcended sheer criticism, usually met with denial, to confrontation and defiance coupled with indifference and determination to continue no matter the price. Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood took advantage of major national problems—disasters in fact—to oust several moderate figures and replace them with others from the group. This happened when Egyptians were killed in Sinai and we have not yet known who did that. Along with train accidents and the Port Said deaths. Whoever examines these times will realize that many moderate leading figures in different entities were replaced with members of the Brotherhood.

Compared to Obama
  Some reports confirm that the Brotherhood appointed around 15,000 of its members in different positions in state administration. This means we have 25,000 positions left so that Mursi can be equal to Obama   Abdel Latif al-Menawy

The new leaders compare Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi with his American counterpart Barrack Obama in the sense that the latter appointed 40,000 employees in different positions in the Administration in order to be able to implement his policies. Therefore, Mursi has the right to do the same thing. Others argue that the purpose of this policy is purging state institutions from the remnants of the former regime. This means we should be optimistic, for the prosperity they are brining to Egypt is not complete yet.

Some of those who found a place for themselves inside the Brotherhood’s web-like administration deceive themselves into thinking that they have become part of the new regime, but they are mistaken. The presence of any figures in the upper levels of the state from outside the Brotherhood is temporary, for there are some people they cannot do without at a certain stage or to whom they are unable to find an alternative from the group at the moment. Yet, as soon as this changes, they will immediately dismiss everyone who assumes a leading position from outside the group. This is basically related to the intellectual and psychological makeup of the Brotherhood’s current leadership which does not trust anyone from outside the group and is extremely keen on monopolizing power.

Some reports confirm that the Brotherhood appointed around 15,000 of its members in different positions in state administration. This means we have 25,000 positions left so that Mursi can be equal to Obama. Despite the fact that there have been demands for de-centralization through electing governors and changing municipal laws so that a larger number of citizens would be allowed to play a role in their local communities, the Brotherhood was quick to appoint its members in executive positions in different governorates as soon as it came to power. Deputy governors, who were appointed directly by the president, were given actual administrative powers in their respective governorates.

It did not stop at governors and their deputies, for 13 members of the Brotherhood also became advisors to the governors and 12 were appointed mayors in the governorates of Sohag, Minia, Kafr al-Sheikh, and Fayoum in addition to other local positions in hospital administration, the water, sewage, and electricity sectors, the media, and education, most of which by governors’ decisions. This becomes especially clear in the governorate of Kafr al-Sheikh, which is headed by one of the Brotherhood’s leaders. Salafis complained about this phenomenon in the meeting they held with Mursi last week, for they were yesterday’s allies who are now getting no privileges. In the meeting, Salafi leaders pointed out that the “Brotherhood-ization” process includes creating new positions for advisors in some ministries and governorates. The Salafi delegation expressed its discontent and gave the president a chance to intervene. Meanwhile, Mursi promised to have a firm stance on “Brotherhood-ization,” yet I think everyone knows by now that it is not up to him.

The Egyptian daily independent al-Masry al-Youm ran in the past few days an important report about this issue and which clarifies the matter for everyone who still questions the truth of this systematic plan that they insist on going ahead with. This report only reveals a drop in the “Brotherhood-ization” sea towards whose bottom they are pushing the entire country.

860912067gtygjBy ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

Iran has become remarkably present on the Egyptian scene since the fall of the former regime. This presence was confirmed when the Muslim Brotherhood started controlling state institutions, thus sounding alarm bells that the Iranian model, with an Egyptian flavor, is about to be reenacted. The resemblance between the two cases lies in the ability of an Islamist faction to hijack a social movement in order to monopolize power. This happened in Iran and is now happening in Egypt, with variations of course.

The Iranian presence is not only manifested in this similarity, but also in the mystery that shrouds the mechanism and nature of the new relationship between Egypt and Iran. There are undoubtedly many factors that seem contradictory and that will be made clear over time.

Clashing factors

– Relations with the United States are very crucial for the Muslim Brotherhood because they constitute proof that the group is still supported by the West even if against the people’s will. As for the relationship between Iran and the West, it is no secret that each of them demonizes the other. The question is: how can the architects of Egypt’s foreign policy manage this contradiction? Or is it all a matter of coordination and role play?

– Egypt and Iran differ, or at least that is what appears to be, about Syria, yet it looks like they have both determined the limits of this disagreement.

– Egyptian-Iranian relations seem to be at their best despite constant play upon the fears of simple-minded Sunnis and which was demonstrated in the speeches delivered by the Egyptian president whether in Iran or in Egypt with Iranian attendance. This discourse is unwise since it is bound to deepen the rift between Sunni and Shiite Muslims even though its promoters might not be aware of that.

– The relationship between Egypt and Gulf states is very crucial, especially in the light of the financial crisis, yet the tension between them has reached unprecedented levels. Some parties might assume or might convince Egyptian politicians that waving the Iranian card can put pressure on Gulf nations and whoever does that is playing with fire.

– It is obvious that the Iranian presence is increasing and this is demonstrated in mutual visits between the two countries. What is more important is the type of Egyptian delegations invited to Iran and the nature of the meetings that take place there. It is also necessary to note the Iranian presence in Egyptian media. Iran is trying to expand its media presence through its official news agency for the aim of competing with the Turkish news agency. This expansion is seen in the number of its offices and correspondents. If parliamentary elections are coming up, what would be the extent of Iranian influence on this process? Another question is: how far is the ruling authority in Egypt aware of this or at least turning a blind eye to it or coordinating it?

Question marks

Despite the question marks about this relationship, there is undoubtedly an obvious Iranian influence in the Egyptian scene under the new regime. There is not a clear proof than the message the Iranian news agency proudly addressed to President Mohammed Mursi and in which 17 Iranian regime loyalists called for emulating the Iranian experience in Egypt. These included Ali Akbar Welayati, former Iranian Foreign Minister and the supreme guide’s international affairs advisor, and Dr. Haddad Adel, former parliament speaker and the supreme guide’s brother-in-law. They all expressed their willingness to provide Mursi with their expertise and knowledge as far as the Islamization of the state is concerned, arguing that the Iranian revolution is an invaluable experience that can be copied in Egypt to establish a religious state with popular contribution.

It is noteworthy that according to the Velayat-e faqih system in Iran, the supreme guide is at the head of the political hierarchy and enjoys absolute constitutional powers.

He has the right to appoint and dismiss army commanders, chief judges, chief prosecutors, directors of the national radio and TV networks and the members of the Guardian Council of the Constitution and the Expediency Discernment Council. He also has the right to appoint the president after elections and to impeach him through a Supreme Court Order.

It is also customary in Iran that the president obtains the approval of the supreme guide before appointing ministers in key ministers like the interior, foreign affairs, national security, and petroleum.

Iran’s progress

The writers of this message, who called upon Mursi to apply Islamic law, said that despite the eight-year war and economic sanctions, Iran was still able to achieve substantial progress thanks to Islamic law and the wise leadership of Khomeini and Khamenei and was able to eliminate poverty in the countryside and impoverished towns.

The signatories of the message then enumerated the scientific, educational, industrial, and economic achievements of Iran and which they attributed to religious rule.

Writers of the message finally called upon the Egyptian president to establish a religious state and to disregard “international goals and pressures” or “calls for separating religion from politics.”

I have always called for establishing communication channels and a healthy relationship with Iran, yet it is important for us to know what we are doing and to give precedence to the interests of the nation and not those of a group or a project that transcends national borders.

Abdellatif ElmenawyBy ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

From the very first moments and till the regime was actually topped, I and many others warned of the difference between toppling a regime and toppling a state. During the past two years, there have been attempts at destroying, or at least dwarfing, the pillars of the state. Several political and youth factions took part in those attempts unknowingly after being deceived by other factions that have clear goals so that they ended up not differentiating between toppling a regime and toppling a state.

Organized attacks have recently targeted the main pillars of the state like security, economy, relations between political factions, the judiciary, and the army. Some of those attempts relatively succeeded in affecting many of those pillars while other institutions managed to rescue themselves. What is certain is that we are now paying for what Egypt has witnessed during the past two years.

Available options
  What is also not clear is this indifference towards the financial conditions of the country, and making it seem like the best achievement is securing more loans and the most effective economic initiative is selling a bank or a financial institution to Qatar or importing more goods from Turkey   Abdel Latif al-Menawy

We are still facing the same challenges, for we were deceived into thinking that we have reached stability while the truth is that the ruling clique, which is not different from the one that remained in power till the end of 2010, decided to monopolize power in the country. We are left with one of two options: either giving in or engaging in confrontations. It is not clear why the ruling faction is trying to destroy the pillars of society through instigating conflicts between the police and the people so that one of the two has to be repressed. What is also not clear is this indifference towards the financial conditions of the country, and making it seem like the best achievement is securing more loans and the most effective economic initiative is selling a bank or a financial institution to Qatar or importing more goods from Turkey.

Those attempts at undermining the pillars of the state have shaken confidence in the judiciary and created a rift among its ranks for it has now been divided into camps and Egypt has become a stage for intrigues while courts are busy with all sorts of futile cases. This led to a conflict in which one party has to fall, leading eventually to the division of society and the collapse of the judiciary. Add to that attempts and statements by the ruling power about the Armed Forces and which reveal a desire to dwarf the military institution, a matter that is bound to be met with resistance on the part of all factions that care about the security of the nation.

Endless turmoil?

For the state to face dangers during time of turmoil is understandable, but it is neither understandable nor acceptable for this situation to continue under a ruling political power that was expected to protect state institutions and allow them to fall or even take part in that.

430141_148983255224099_601152695_aBy ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

Leaked news that Egypt’s new rulers have agreed with Libya’s new rulers to hand over about 1,800 Libyans, who worked with late President Moammar Qaddafi and who reside in Egypt, is disturbing news, which is abundant these days. Included in the group is Ahmad Kadaf al Dam,the coordinator of Egyptian-Libyan relations who played an important role in strengthening bilateral relations on the popular and official levels under the previous government. He was also among the Libyan forces that participated in the 1973 October War. Dam has been residing in Egypt since the Libyan revolution, upon an invitation by the then-Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmad Aboul Gheit.

A think tank in Washington revealed that there is a deal between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Libyan authorities. The deal states that Egypt hands over Qaddafi’s men in exchange for securing oil investments in the eastern provinces in Libya. The suspicious deal is allegedly in exchange of three billion dollars and job opportunities for Egyptians in Libya. I tend to believe this piece of news because it has a well-founded basis. Around four months ago, I learnt of negotiations on the matter; the “bidding” began at 500 million dollars. At the time, I did not believe this information as I never thought that Egypt would reach this level, even when ruled by men whom I hold in disregard. But the recent news comes to confirm this fear. If they implement this deal, then they are really unaware of Egypt’s worth.

The history of refugees in Egypt
  “Arabs are also known for generosity, aiding the troubled, sheltering those seeking help and keeping their word. For the Arabs, attacking one refugee is considered an attack on the entire tribe which sought refuge.”   Abdel Latif el-Menawy

The value of states is measured by how much they retain their values. Part of Egypt’s value is that it has historically been a refuge for those seeking security. Perhaps the migration of Jesus and the Virgin Mary to Egypt to flee the Romans was the first trip of political asylum in history.

Pharanoic Egypt knew the asylum system in temples, castles and royal tombs considering that kings were gods or gods’ sons. Later, the religious basis of asylum took on a social impetus and defending it became similar to defending the honor of the group.

Muslim Arabs transferred to Egypt the traditions of the Arab peninsula and the rulings of Islam that state one should respect refuge and protect refugees. The transfer of these traditions and rulings left an influence on what the Egyptians consider today to be sanctity for places of worship and tombs of good people. Egyptians pride themselves on deeming Egypt a place which every distressed person can enter safely.

Arabs are also known for generosity, aiding the troubled, sheltering those seeking help and keeping their word. For the Arabs, attacking one refugee is considered an attack on the entire tribe which sought refuge. The Ka’aba had its sanctity ever since it was built. Islam later added to it a special sacredness to provide in it safety for runaways, unrighteous and repentant people. After the conquest of Mecca, the holy prophet made Ka’aba a haven to the infidels of Quraysh who wanted security (he who enters the Ka’aba is safe.) Islamic sharia even provided security for polytheists. These are the essentials which were the basis of the concept of refuge in Egypt’s values’ system.

The first Egyptian constitution prohibited handing over political refugees. This, later on, became a tradition in all Egyptian constitutions. The first refugees to Egypt in the twentieth century were some members from the family of Russia’s Czar who fled their home after the Bolshevik Revolution and requested political asylum to Egypt during the reign of Sultan Hussein in 1917.

Egypt opened its doors for everyone. Some of them returned to their countries to assume roles of authority like former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Chukri al Quwatli who fled to Egypt in 1950 and returned to Syria as president in 1954. The same goes for Habib Bourguiba who lived in Egypt for a long time during which he led the struggle against colonization. Men who were ousted from power also sought refuge in Egypt like former Sudanese President Jaafar Nimeiri, Iran’s Shah, former Yemeni President Abdullah as Sallal and former Libyan King Idris Senussi.

Circumventing tradition
  “I will not speak of international agreements that forbid handing over refugees if there is a threat against them or a possibility that their lives are jeopardized.”   Abdel Latif el-Menawy

The Public Prosecution in Egypt announced forming a joint Egyptian-Libyan committee working under the direct supervision of the Libyan and Egyptian public prosecutors. The committee is tasked with “overcoming all legal obstacles” regarding the process of extradition. What is weird here is that the public prosecutor who protects justice and law is looking for means to overcome obstacles in order to hand over those who sought refuge in Egypt!

I will not speak of international agreements that forbid handing over refugees if there is a threat against them or a possibility that their lives are jeopardized. Based on that, Egypt’s extradition of refugees is considered an international crime. If this happens, it is enough to speak of the immoral aspect and the insult against Egypt’s values which the country acquired during its history and which is being lost by those who do not comprehend it for the sake of achieving a group’s aims and few dollars.

430141_148983255224099_601152695_aBy ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

Any success is linked to the completion of the action and any partial success is also partial, and sometimes total, failure. Any incomplete sentence is a defective one, for no matter how eloquent it remains unable to convey the intended meaning and becomes like good intentions with which the road to hell is paved.

We have been in the habit of not completing our sentences both on the personal and the public levels. We start in an impressive manner then become unable to continue with the same force. The outcome, thus, becomes contingent upon external factors, for we initiated an action but did not pursue it and we uttered a sentence but did not complete it.

Incompletion led to Egypt’s status quo
  We have been in the habit of not completing our actions since the toppling of the former regime  

The idea of incomplete sentences has been haunting me for a while, especially as I followed the developments in the Egyptian street and the opposition in the past few months. That led me to reread something I had written 10 years ago about the same habit that is deeply-rooted in us. I have even chosen the title “incomplete sentences” for one of my books and which I started with today’s article.

We have been in the habit of not completing our actions since the toppling of the former regime; for the regime was toppled but the habit stayed. That is why we were an easy “prey” for the only organized faction at the time and which had one single and clear aim: monopoly of power. This group took advantage of that habit and our inability to finish what we had started and how easy it is to get us distracted. They did that first with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which was unable to complete the action despite the good intentions of most of its members. This is what led us to where we are now.

Youths are also guilty of the same habit, for they were led in the wrong direction when they unconsciously became a tool in the hands of this group and gave in to the group’s attempts at creating a rift between them and the army that constituted the last fortress. When youths started waking up to the trap in which they and all of us fell, they stopped taking positive actions and retreated once again behind their computer screens.

The same applies to civilian and liberal forces whose incomplete actions and hesitant stances became obvious in the past few months. They start with full force and absolute enthusiasm then withdraw and become unable to complete the action. The recent protests that were staged in front of the presidential palace in Cairo are what made summon back the idea of incomplete sentences.

  The anger that prevailed in these protests and the escalation that followed demonstrated beyond doubt that power is to the people and that the people are the actual decision-makers  

The anger that prevailed in these protests and the escalation that followed demonstrated beyond doubt that power is to the people and that the people are the actual decision-makers. Yet, this massive wave was broken on the rock of reluctance and lack of determination as civilian powers suddenly decided to pull back in a confusing and suspicious manner. Those powers are now giving the impression that they are willing to offer concessions, but the dispute is over the degree and type of those concessions. Here, the sentence is incomplete and the verb is defective once more. Yet, this time there is a benefit gained, because the street has now proved that it is capable of outdoing the factions that claim to be its leaders.

232323_105868398By ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

The definition of stupidity is repeating the same action several times and expecting a different outcome every time. This is the attitude we have been facing since the new rulers of Egypt came to power. They are not, however, the only ones to be blamed, for the same was done by other political factions that claimed to have the upper hand in the street at the time when the street, or most of it, had gone out of the control of any party, be it official or opposition.

The ruling clique has since the first moment been following one single technique that has proven to achieve its goals: totally ignoring the opposition and not paying any attention to public opinion. During that time, their top priority was gaining more ground at every stage and creating one crisis after the other to distract other political factions while they make more gains. This was shown in the constitutional declaration and before it, there was the hasty drafting of the constitution and contrary to what I said in the beginning, this tactic was repeated every time and worked. The question is for how long? I guess the answer would be not for long, because the people at this stage are no longer following one political power or another and are starting to become fed up with the way they have been manipulated.

Regime’s self-victimization

Another tactic the ruling group has been using whenever faced with a crisis is self-victimization accompanied by constant reference to some conspiracy to topple the state. This conspiracy, which thanks to their diligence and dedication is always aborted, is only known to them and they keep threatening to expose the people behind. An example of that was when President Mohammed Mursi said he had documents and confessions following the presidential palace protests. However, none of his attempts worked and all the suspects were later released to prove the president’s statements to be groundless. Yet the government’s website insisted and published a long report about a conspiracy in which members of the opposition decided in a meeting over dinner to topple Mursi. Everyone laughed about this lack of creativity but it was laughter that resembled crying. I wish they could have resorted to a detective novel writer like Nabil Farouk who could have saved them with a story in which his protagonist Wonder Man lives in one of the presidential palaces.

They have not learned from their mistakes and now they are coming up with another story about a conspiracy to topple the regime and destroy the state with foreign funding. One more time they invent a lie and try to deceive the simple-minded but they seem to forget what had happened a few weeks ago and assume this time they would not be exposed especially with the considerable influence they now wield over the judiciary.

Romantic invitations for dialogue

A third tactic the group has been using is those romantic invitations extended to political factions to engage in a dialogue with the regime with the aim of saving the nation. This dialogue is, however, to be held under conditions for its parties do not have the right to tackle issues that might in any way undermine the group’s plan to monopolize power. But they can discuss other things like whether the president should use his right or left finger in his speeches and if he needs to wear ties with certain colors and which is better for the people: to die of hypertension or of despair and frustration?