Archive for July, 2013

I am extremely worried by how the situation is panning out in Egypt. I am extremely worried about several issues to the point that no matter how long my article can be, it’s not possible to list them all. It’s also not possible to wait for the date of my weekly columns to detail each issue I’m worried about so I will summarize these fears of mine, call for holding dialogue on them and warn of what I think poses a threat.Abdellatif Elmenawy

I know there are a lot of local and foreign pressures on the political decision-makers in Egypt. But the voice of the people must be the major motivator of the events. Based on this, I think there’s an amount of haste in committing to a schedule with tight deadlines to reach a phase of political stability through the constitution. We must note that the Egyptians have for two and a half years lived through political exhaustion, the worst of which was endured through the phase of the Brotherhood’s governance.

A new political process

And so, when we launch a new political process that begins right away and lasts for at least another year, then we are truly complicating the surrounding public atmosphere and ramping up the pressures. Not to mention that the lack of time deprives new political entities, which sparked the second uprising on June 30, the chance to organize themselves. This will lead to traditional political parties dominating the upcoming political scene considering that these parties already have the experience and are already present on the arena.

The traditional parties I speak of also include the Muslim Brotherhood. It wouldn’t be surprising to find these heading the political scene once again.

I am also worried about the manner in which the cabinet is being formed. Egypt in this phase cannot afford going through this spiral of quotas and the division of gains. This is why I saw from the very beginning, that a cabinet of technocrats, with a limited number of ministers who are experts in their fields, will be formed to manage the crisis Egypt is going through. But the dialogue, the pressure and the disputes that happened over naming a premier and the interference of all influential parties, and of parties claiming to be influential, in choosing a PM was a huge mistake.

A political, economic and foreign crisis

The mistake swelled after Dr. Hazem al-Beblawi was named. The problem is that some of these candidates considered for his post do not have the required expertise which makes them not competent enough. All what they possess is their political affiliation and some fame gained through media appearances. This led those concerned to intervene to put an end to these nominations. This is yet another mistake. Quotas and dividing gains is an imminent danger, so avoid it.

Now, the major concern which we must also work towards resolving is the economic crisis. This crisis will not be resolved unless we quickly act towards bringing back the wheel of production into action and unless we take measures to once again gain investor trust. Calls to support Egypt and calls on our brothers to support us will not resolve the crisis. Although these calls of support are important, we must be aware that we are the only path towards restoring production and investment. This is linked to a strong interim cabinet formed of experts capable of restoring trust.

I think there’s an amount of haste in committing to a schedule with tight deadlines to reach a phase of political stability through the constitution.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

I am also very worried about the absence of proper representatives to deal with foreign parties. We were extremely angry when Western media described the Egyptian’s revolution which was backed by the army as a coup. It’s a justified anger. Yes. But what did we do? We stood to yell in anger announcing our rejection of the West’s stance. But amidst our anger, we forgot to address those whom should be addressed. We continued to speak among each other. Even the institutions and the people assigned to communicate with those concerned got occupied making local media appearances and forgot to address the foreign audience. The most important principle is that we speak to others in a language they understand and with a logic that convinces them.

The Brotherhood and its allies are making a big mistake with their ongoing protests calling for former president Muhammad Mursi’s return. The change has become a reality. What they are currently doing will only widen the gap between them and the rest of Egypt’s social fabric. They will become a group confronting a nation. This is a grave threat against the Brotherhood as it affects their future of being accepted among the Egyptians. But one here must inquire about the manner in which they are being dealt with during this phase. Is it the right approach to attempt lobbying them and their leadership? I think the chance is there for anyone who wants to be part of this nation but I am not with the lobbying attempts. I am, however, with the logic of moving forward and of creating a new fait accompli which all parties are forced to deal with.

I understand the resulting anger from some Palestinians and Syrians working with the Brotherhood and its allies in acts of violence or in preparation for terrorist acts. But this must not make us generalize all Palestinians and all Syrians. Egypt has always supported all Arabs, and it will continue to do so. Therefore, we must work towards putting an end to these campaigns against the Syrians and the Palestinians in general. Instead of generalizing, we must specify who the perpetrators are – and they are in fact known.

No one, whether an individual, party of group, can claim that they mobilized the Egyptians or that they have the ability to do so. We have all seen it with our own eyes and realized that the people were more developed and progressive than anyone who claimed to lead them. Therefore, the Egyptian people are to thank for the June 30 revolution. No one and no party has the right to claim that they possess the absolute right to express the aspirations of the people or that they have the right to represent the people.

On June 29, the day before the mass protests that shook Egypt’s ruling party, I was sitting with a friend who had just arrived in Egypt. We had a long conversation during which he mentioned the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, whom he knows and had seen the day before.Abdul-Latif-Al-Minawi

I asked him about Ms. Patterson’s views regarding the protests against the government planned for June 30. He said that he asked her directly: “Do you think the upcoming protests will lead to a change in government?” She confidently responded with “it’s not going to happen.” Her extreme certainty was not an expression of political analysis as much as an expression of her country’s desire and will.

It was also an expression of personal leanings towards the Brotherhood, clear since she first arrived in Egypt. Those who bet on supporting the Islamists and aiding them until the last second were shocked by the events that were to come.

A lesson learnt?

I thought that after the success of the protests the lesson had been learnt, and America’s stance would adjust itself towards the two countries’ mutual interests. But this did not happen. I was surprised when I found out through private sources that America supports Turkish attempts to reach an agreement that would guarantee the return of the Brotherhood and its president in exchange for promises of reform, national reconciliation, holding early elections and then leaving it up to the people to decide what they want. I couldn’t understand this huge defect in American plans.

This is a message to any local, American or international party to do what it takes to bring to justice anyone involved in this conspiracy against the people of Egypt.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

The armed forces have chosen the logical and natural choice which harmonizes with their role as a national institution not influenced by threats of punishment; thus, it would not accept such suggestions. What really surprised me was the American insistence to defy the popular will even if the latter takes a path that does not harmonize with what the Americans consider the only path towards democracy.

We were not surprised by what the website “Mobtdaa” – which during recent events proved to be an important source of news – revealed, according to what it described as “supreme sovereign” sources, about a conspiracy in which Ms. Patterson was directly involved.

Mobtdaa says that Patterson requested that Salafi groups obstruct the formation of a new government in Egypt in order to grant the Muslim Brotherhood a chance to raid the Republican Guards’ headquarters, effectively replaying what happened in Syria. Patterson made this request, but she is now aware that the whole thing ended with the Brotherhood’s defeat and the complete collapse of American schemes.

Even so, until the very last second, she did not stop her attempts to make a personal gain to save herself and Barack Obama from the Congress’ guillotine currently being prepared for her and the American president.

 

The Syrian scenario, replayed

Anne Patterson attempted to contact military commander Abdelfattah al-Sissi to suggest holding negotiations with the Brotherhood – a suggestion rejected by Sissi who insists on arresting all those responsible for the deaths of Egyptians. This angered Anne Patterson as she told Sissi that what he wants is an ideal that has no place in politics, and that adhering to the law sometimes harms politics. But Sissi has made up his mind, so he strictly ended the conversation with Patterson and told her that as she is just an envoy neither she nor her country has the right to intervene in Egyptian affairs. Patterson immediately responded telling him that his conviction would make the Syrian situation the most likely to happen in Egypt.

This time, Anne Patterson increased her communication with Salafi groups to request that they do whatever necessary to obstruct the formation of a new cabinet and any constitutional declarations until the Brotherhood was in a stronger negotiating position. Patterson said to the Salafis that Mohamed Mursi would return to office within days. At the same time, she gave a green light to Brotherhood supporters to launch the attack against the Republican Guards’ buildings.

The tasks were carried out by Issam al-Aaryan and Mohamed al-Baltaji. Al-Baltaji led the attack in front of the Republican Guards while al-Aaryan contacted global media outlets to prepare them to react the minute the clashes erupted between the Brotherhood and the Republican Guards or between the Brotherhood and the army. At midnight, Al-Jazeera channel, which supports the Brotherhood, began stirring up media interest. It broadcast several interviews and analyses stressing the Brotherhood supporters’ fear that the army or the Republican Guards would confront them and kill them. Later, other channels affiliated with the Brotherhood spread the idea that the army was summoning reinforcements to kill the Brotherhood supporters.

Finally, Anne Patterson’s plan was implemented as snipers from the Brotherhood positioned in high buildings opened fire, killing a Republican Guard officer. They brought down more than 40 soldiers during the first minutes of the clash. Their hordes ran quickly towards the Republican Guards’ headquarters’ gates leaving the army with no chance to intervene with tear gas or similar defences. Following many warnings, the army found that it had no other option but to act as per the law regarding the protection of military and armed forces’ facilities. Al-Jazeera seized the opportunity to record footage and direct the last scene, as it was the only channel ready inside Rabia al-Adawiya, in an attempt to tell their own story and to put the Syrian scenario into effect.

The details of this conspiracy are now published. This is a message to any local, American or international party to do what it takes to bring to justice anyone involved in this conspiracy against the people of Egypt.

“It’s a movement that was born near a cafe in the city of Ismailia, which died at Cairo’s Rabia al-Adawiya Square,” is one of the many running jokes made across the country since the end of the Muslim Brotherhood’s year-long rule.

The joke refers to the north-eastern Egyptian city of Ismailia where the Muslim Brotherhood movement was first established by Hassan al-Bana in 1928. Rabia al-Adawiya is the place where the movement supporters gathered to defend the Brotherhood, whose leadership insisted to push it towards the end it reached.hqdefault

When the Brotherhood began to govern in Egypt last year, many saw no end to their rule. The most optimistic of people spoke of an era that will last for more than a decade. Some said that Egypt has ridden the train of civil governance – either backwards or forwards – and will carry on in this path for decades, with the uncertainty whether this train will ever stop. Some adjusted to the idea that the Brotherhood characters who occupied Egypt’s political and social scenes had come to stay and that they have to either co-exist, suffer or leave the country. Those who fled the Brotherhood’s governance thought they would never return.

But the Egyptian people surprised us as they carried out an act that even the optimists didn’t expect. They took to the streets and squares and made it clear that they will stay until the Brotherhood exits power. It appeared that many possessed an unprecedented amount of anger inside them.

The Brotherhood was capable of sparking this widespread state of anger and rejection among most Egyptians.

Now, those who are still affiliated with the Brotherhood and are concerned over its future should be asked this: Why have many Egyptians come to hate the Brotherhood to this extent in just a year? The reasons could be their stubbornness and their belief they are superior over many and that they are God’s chosen people. Perhaps these factors are what they must begin with when attempting to understand what’s happened.

Leading up to their downfall

The main dispute had erupted between the leadership of the Brotherhood’s international organization and the group dominating the management of the Brotherhood in Egypt.

The Brotherhood committed suicide, the West was struck with shock, and the Egyptians got back their country.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

The international group knew from day one that the battle is not in its favor so it requested Egypt’s leadership to consider its battle with the Egyptian people on June 30 as one it will lose and therefore better to make concessions quickly and accept all possible demands made by the people.

Their logic was that losing the battle is better than losing the entire war and therefore Mursi should make concessions and the movement must begin organizing its ranks and exploiting all available financial capabilities to bridge the gap with the people. It realized that the Brotherhood’s defeat in Egypt in such a manner will lead to a fall in the region – a fall in which has no quick return.

Luckily for Egyptians, the movement’s leadership in Egypt was incapable of understanding all that. It was void of wisdom and clear vision, so it decided to resume confronting the people. It seems that it was struck with a hunger for power.

This hunger struck Mursi himself to the point that of all those who gathered on June 30 in Egypt, he only saw 160,000 people! This is what he told Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi when he met with him after protests erupted. This is also what he told his former allies in the West. Denial, stubbornness, desire for power – that all increased quickly – and being unable to even imagine giving up this power is what pushed this movement who had Mursi as president and Khairat al-Shater as a strongman taking Egypt and the Brotherhood affairs to this end.

This all led to the Brotherhood’s defeat. The issue is no longer about losing a battle. They’ve lost a war, and the entire Brotherhood will pay a huge price in the coming times.

Mursi’s and the Brotherhood’s aim to hold on to power was the political suicide of the movement. To continue championing their supporters in Rabia al-Adawiya has led to a state of tension and anger among Egyptians.

Regional aftershocks

The Brotherhood’s success in seizing power in Egypt indicated that the region has entered an era of governments that belong to political Islam. What is happening in Tunisia, Libya and Syria also contributed to this. This has planted fears and suspicions over the Brotherhood’s next goals. A few indications lead many to believe that they are attempting to seize governance in any of the Gulf countries to guarantee a source of permanent funding. The problem is that their presence was met by clear support from the U.S. and the West, who were under the impression that this will provide solutions for many problems and will provide a new style of how to run affairs in the region.

This explains the state of shock that struck them when the Egyptians, along with the army, succeeded in toppling the Brotherhood’s rule.

The Brotherhood committed suicide, the West was struck with shock, and the Egyptians got back their country.

When I would watch TV and see the faces of those who ruled Egypt for a year, I used to feel they were unrecognizable. Indeed they were Egyptian, but they changed where they believed they belong. They altered the order of their priorities to exclude us all and take the country as their own gain to achieve their own goals. They aimed to fulfill their own dreams where the entire country, with its history, turns into an Islamic state. This is why their facial features changed, or this is what I at least felt. And because I clearly saw this right away, I was possessed by this continuous feeling that I am alienated from them although I had friends from among them. These friends however had decided that their affiliation with the Brotherhood is more important than friendship.Abdellatif Elmenawy

This didn’t end here. The Brotherhood launched a real influential attempt to carve out features of the Egyptian character. It began imposing a new reality with different features. I think this metaphor is the most expressive term of the feeling Egyptians have. It partially explains this huge number of Egyptians who decided to take to the streets to protect their features from distortion that the Brotherhood began but had no time to implement.

Patient yet impatient Egyptians

 

The current famous Egyptian saying now is “stubbornness yields infidelity.” It’s true. The Brotherhood has in fact succeeded in altering old features in the Egyptian character. Egyptians don’t easily revolt and they are very patient with their rulers and impatient while protesting. But because stubbornness yields infidelity, the Brotherhood, through its stubbornness and insistence to deny reality, has managed to yield real infinite anger within the Egyptians. So the group pushed Egyptians to disbelieve them and to disbelieve their governance and their man at the presidential palace. This disbelief in the system and the Brotherhood changed the Egyptian’s character and so they revolted quickly and continued in the revolution against the Brotherhood announcing his disbelief in it. The Egyptians did not leave the street until this group and its president were defeated and until the Egyptians restored their original features.

The Egyptians, except a few, took to the streets and summoned the only institution capable of acting during this phase. In fact, it’s the only institution that relatively survived the Brotherhood’s moves. This institution, the army, was capable of restoring its position among Egyptians and even among those who chanted against it in squares few months ago. Some remained suspicious of the army’s stance especially when considering the wound that hasn’t healed yet, as plenty of Egyptians felt that the former military council abandoned them by striking a deal with the Brotherhood. But since the only option was to have faith in the army, they overcame their feelings of suspicion and kept waiting for the moment at which the army announces that it’s once again biased towards the people. The army did not disappoint the millions who took to the streets in search of their hijacked country.

I never doubted the army’s stance at all. I had great confidence in its current leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. There have been many questions regarding him and there have also been plenty of suspicions regarding his affiliations. But my response to these questions and suspicions was that this man is religious, just like many Egyptians are, but he only belongs to this country and to its national institution.

What I sensed at the early stages is that Sissi’s real belonging is to the country and to the army. This is why what Sissi mentioned in his statement regarding meeting the call of millions of Egyptians is a true expression that clears the army of coup suspicions.

Was it a coup?

 

But the U.S. and some of its followers in Europe insisted from the very first moment to describe the Egyptians’ revolt as a coup. This weird stance may be understood and expected from America but it’s relatively surprising when it comes from a country like Britain. The American administration which seemed confused regarding what was happening in Egypt reflected this confusion via its officials’ statements. And they were possessed by a sense of failure. The Americans did not expect that what happened would happen and they did not wish for it to happen either. A friend of mine met with American ambassador Anne Patterson two days before June 30. He asked her about her estimations regarding the protests’ results and whether these protests will topple Mursi or not. Her response was confident and superior, as my friend described, as she spoke in her obviously American accent and said: This is something that won’t happen.

When I heard the national anthem inside the Supreme Constitutional Court as the interim president was sworn in, I regained an old feeling I thought I had lost.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

But what happened on the ground shocked the Americans because the Egyptians destroyed the project that the U.S. had adopted and supported – the project of governance through some political Muslim groups which are ready to completely cooperate with them (the Americans) at any expense after they had convinced them that they are the only organized group capable of running the country. The surprise of the Brotherhood’s fall in Egypt angered them and confused them. So accusations that the army staged a coup against legitimacy and against the “first elected president” were immediately made. And they considered that what happened was an act against the democratic path. It’s as if they didn’t see millions of Egyptians out protesting on Egypt’s streets. It’s as if they were incapable of seeing the Al-Azhar sheikh, the Coptic Pope, the most prominent opposition leaders and youth leaders who led the rebellion announcing their agreement over the roadmap which Sissi suggested to express the will of the people who occupied Egypt’s squares and streets. They didn’t desire to hear Sissi’s confirmation that the army is keen not to engage in politics.

I don’t think that this insistence to deny and hint to cut off aid serves America’s image well. As for Britain, which supposedly has a deeper understanding of Middle Eastern affairs due to historical and geographical reasons, its stance only falls against its interest and against its image on the Arab and Egyptian streets.

When I heard the national anthem inside the Supreme Constitutional Court as the interim president was sworn in, I regained an old feeling I thought I had lost.