Archive for December, 2013

For months now, we have been expecting that the Muslim Brotherhood will escalate their attacks and that more assassinations and explosions will take place in Egypt. We knew that their level of violence would increase as the referendum date nears since they can sense that the situation is approaching stability. To them, stability will end their hopes of succeeding at undermining the state. The terrorist attack in the Mansoura was not surprising, but its violence, defiance and bloodiness were shocking. It was not surprising because when the Egyptians overthrew the Brotherhood, the Brotherhood leaders took a stance which was politically nonsensical. They decided to go against logic and against the popular will rejecting them. Thus, they became hostile towards society and attempted to harm the foundations of the state for the sake of destroying it.430141_148983255224099_601152695_a

The huge mistake committed by the Brotherhood’s leaders is that they decided to antagonize the people. As a result, the group lost people’s sympathy. Those who were willing to understand the Brotherhood’s stance and to support it in returning to practice peaceful work decreased in number. Protests held in sympathy with the Brotherhood, in the wake of its overthrow, included thousands of people and sometimes even tens of thousands. But the size of such protests today, even before its designation as a terrorist organization, shrank to dozens and the number can barely reach hundreds. These protests are now met with clear popular anger. This is simply due to the group’s acts of targeting all citizens, and not only state apparatuses. The Brotherhood is attempting to punish the people for overthrowing it by obstructing their daily affairs.

Destabilizing Egypt

Resorting to destabilizing Egypt and attempting to destroy the state’s foundations appear to have been the group’s major aim ever since its removal from power. Here, we recall Mursi’s threat that shedding blood has not begun yet and that the Brotherhood will not remain silent. Let us recall the threat which Beltagy made when the Brotherhood occupied Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. Beltagy said that violence in Sinai will not stop unless Mursi returns to power. Such threats reveal which path the Brotherhood has taken when dealing with the Egyptians. The path can simply be summarized as such: The Brotherhood has given the people two choices, to either let it rule or to get killed. So far, it seems the group is practicing the second option.

The huge mistake committed by the Brotherhood’s leaders is that they decided to antagonize the people

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

In a statement, the cabinet considered the group responsible for acts of violence and terrorism committed in Egypt during the past few decades. It may be noticed here that crimes throughout its 83 years have been pinned on the Brotherhood. Some may think this is prejudice. But one can understand the limits of the Brotherhood’s responsibility for these events by recalling that even if it hadn’t directly participated in some of these crimes, it didn’t actually taken a clear condemning stance. The Brotherhood has also not apologized to the Egyptians for the acts of violence and terrorism it was involved in for years. Another important fact is that all violent groups which directly implemented these operations have branched out from the Brotherhood which has always adopted an opportunist style of sponsoring and supporting these operations – but without directly getting involved in them.

Some websites posted a poll asking people whether they agree or disagree with the Egyptian cabinet’s decision to consider the Brotherhood a terrorist group. Results on most websites were in support of the decision. What this simply means is that the Brotherhood antagonized the state and the people. Therefore, they’ve found no one to support or mourn for the group.

Making choices is a chronic crisis for people. Sometimes, it appears like one is free to make a certain choice when in fact he or she is responding to or being driven by the circumstances around him. On June 30, Abdelfattah al-Sisi had the capability as army commander to choose to side with the people, with the authority or to remain neutral.

The choice was his despite the repercussions and whether the decision would be made under the influence of his personal character, as a man of the military, as an Egyptian or as a man with a tendency towards piousness. Despite all that, Sisi on that day, had the choice of which road to take.images

He ultimately chose what harmonized with his character. His choice turned him into a legendary hero for most Egyptians and Arabs. His decision revealed characteristics which otherwise Sisi may not have discovered about himself.

These characteristics turned him into a model of a leader whom all simple Egyptians, who represent the majority of the Egyptian people, look for. And so overnight, Sisi turned into a beacon of hope for all these people.

So the relative freedom in making decisions was present in June. But is this space of freedom still present? I think the situation is completely different today. That space of freedom is no longer present. Choice transformed into commitment and abandoning it is abandoning responsibility.

Egypt’s grave problems

Everyone is wondering who will be the next president. Egypt is currently passing through a very dangerous phase. We are confronting a huge economic crisis, and our production has decreased. Our calculations only include expenditure but there’s no real income. The crisis is escalating as a result of halting production, and we may not be able to confront the repercussions shall the political crisis worsens.

On the political level, Egypt is confronting a weak and confusing political reality. We don’t have cohesive political parties or social parties with clear features. This is the truth which we must confront ourselves with.

This is the truth which those practicing politics must confess so we begin searching for the proper solution. This political reality divides and does not unite.

 

On the political level, Egypt is confronting a weak and confusing political reality. We don’t have cohesive political parties or social parties with clear features. This is the truth which we must confront ourselves with.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

On the security level, Egypt is confronting dangerous challenges it has never witnessed before. We have a group that hijacked the country for a year and which the Egyptians overthrew and restored the country via a real revolution.

But this group has allied itself with the axes of evil, inside and outside Egypt. It has put the people in front of two choices: either rule them or kill them. We must admit the truth that this group has presence in some circles.

And even if this presence is in fact weak, it’s much bigger than we thought it would be. Egypt is thus confronting a dangerous security challenge that transcends to the level of terrorism.

Who will lead?

This information leads to one conclusion: Egypt is incapable of managing the state. Egypt at this phase has elements that will lead to failure.

Therefore, success cannot be achieved via traditional methods but through exploiting the energy of the Egyptians who are competent to manage it. But this can only happen on condition that there’s someone available to unleash these energies.

This person must have the Egyptians’ trust and he must have the capability to lead and persuade the Egyptians in a manner where he leads the work and makes sacrifices at the same time. He must be a man whom the simple Egyptian people believe. Who from among the suggested names is capable of leading the Egyptians during this phase?

The decision to join the people on June 30 was a choice. Today, responsibility includes commitment.

The Egyptian government has always been centralized. Therefore, the central authority has always played a major role that cannot be ignored. The various components of the Egyptian state have always been organized in relation to the central government.

This is neither praise nor slander of the nature of government in Egypt. It is simply a description of a situation that has come about as a result of geography and history – factors we did not create and cannot control. In the past, when they talked about the importance of decentralizing governance in Egypt, I always thought it was unrealistic because altering the pattern will not be a political decision which people will cheer for but, instead, it will be the product of organized work implemented throughout decades.Abdellatif Elmenawy

Establishing a decentralized government would thus require implementing a plan, the results of which will only materialize later.

What Egypt needs

The most important question all Egyptians, and all those concerned with Egypt’s affairs, are asking is: Is it better to hold the presidential elections first, or the parliamentarian elections first? Based on what I’ve previously said, the choice is not a luxury. I think it’s a necessity if we want to take the right path because an Egypt without a head of state will confront chaos and dispersion, and we would all pay a high price for that. The country has always had a leader and going against this would have negative repercussions.

If we hold parliamentarian elections first, tension will follow. Such an atmosphere will not enable the Egyptians to establish any consensus on a presidential candidate

Holding the parliamentarian elections first would divide the people. It is not a decision that takes the country forward. Imagine that the country starts by holding elections in which at least 5,000 people are candidates. Amidst the absence of a states with clearly defined regulations, this decision is tantamount to political and security suicide. The upcoming competition among these thousands, amidst the absence of a strong state, will only lead to political, tribal and popular rivalry. This situation will produce an exhausted state on the brink of collapse and struggle. These negative repercussions will worsen as a result of the absence of a leader who is capable of controlling the situation. This is a reality which will yield negative results.

What Egypt wants

Another important issue is that the general mood among the Egyptian public is in favor of holding the presidential elections first. The issue was raised during a meeting between interim President Adly Mansour and 60 young representatives of the country’s youth parties. The majority of these young men – 37 of them – said they would prefer that presidential elections be held first. If we consider this sample to be representative of the most radical orientations among the Egyptian public, then this implies that the traditional Egyptians – who are a majority – would be more inclined to seek stability than these youths. Ergo, the general popular orientation should be in favor of electing a president first.

If we hold parliamentarian elections first, tension will follow. Such an atmosphere will not enable the Egyptians to establish any consensus on a presidential candidate, and we will witness severe polarization that will result in real threats against the country’s future. Defying the historical pattern is not wise. Allowing a powerful group to control people’s fate, simply by virtue of its power, is not democracy. Going against the general public mood is not what the Egyptians hoped for after their revolution in June.

When Egyptian interim President Adly Mansour called on Egyptians to participate in the referendum on the constitution, which the 50-member committee finalized, he transcended beyond ordinary legislative measures and drifted towards celebration and perseverance. The celebration is of the first important step which the Egyptians committed to as part of the roadmap. This means that despite all obstructions, insistence to move forward is so far the best means to finalize the ongoing battle with the Muslim Brotherhood and their followers. The 50-member committee, others who represent the Egyptian political and social spectra and millions of Egyptians agree that what unites them is the conviction that this document is the way out of the current situation.download

The current draft constitution has 247 articles of which 42 are new, 18 are on freedoms and rights and 45 are on laborers and peasants. The draft constitution has also ended the Shura Council and this grants the parliament the authority of legislating, deciding the government’s general policy and supervising the work of the executive authority. Unlike the 2012 constitution, establishing parties on religious basis has been banned. Also, according to the draft constitution, the supreme constitutional court is the reference to interpret sharia principles.

Remarks on the constitution

There are many notes that can be presented when evaluating this draft constitution. One of them is perhaps that lengthy preamble which dealt with Egyptian history as per a selective vision. It therefore highlighted some phases and ignored others and presented Egyptians leaders in a way that many citizens would disagree with.

There have been other remarks regarding adding articles that go without saying and which are not subject to confirmation or doubt – like that article on the unity of Egyptian land. One of the controversial articles is that linked to assigning and choosing a minister of defense via the supreme council of the armed forces for a period of eight years from the time the constitution is passed. Those who criticize it do so because they think the military institution is being positively discriminated against, while those who support it – and there are actually many – do so because they think the army is the only institution that withstood the attack Egypt was subjected to and because, in the current phase, they think the military institution is the only institution capable of protecting popular will.

The new constitution has for the first time ever included articles on remote areas which were previously overlooked, like Sinai and Upper Egypt

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

The new constitution has for the first time ever included articles on remote areas which were previously overlooked, like Sinai and Upper Egypt. These areas are important for Egypt on the economic, political and security levels. The new constitution thus allows the integration of these areas in establishing states within the context of democracy and devolution of power.

The constitution also includes articles on increasing education and health allocations as well as articles on the right to issue dailies and establish unions and syndicates. There are also articles on prohibiting imprisonment in cases related to peaceful demonstrations of freedom of expression and speech. The constitution also supports all human rights within the principles of equal citizenship which criminalized discrimination according to sex, color, race, ethnicity, mental capability or political affiliation.

Controversy will remain but the super-majority knows that this constitution is an important step forward and a major pillar of the state’s stability. Therefore, the general orientation is the majority’s acceptance to move forward towards progress.

The Bank of England, the UK’s central bank, announced that Winston Churchill will be the first British leader in the country’s modern history to be featured on banknotes. The banknote will be issued during 2016. Churchill, who led the country during World War II, will be featured on the back of the £5 note. The banknote will also bear the famous statement he made before the House of Commons in 1940 and which is “I have nothing to offer but blood, tears and sweat.”

Churchill, the most prominent military leader in Britain’s modern history, was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty when WWII erupted in 1939. He held the post of prime minister following Arthur Neville Chamberlain’s resignation in 1940, and he remained in that post during the war.

Churchill managed to lift the morale of his people during the war while his speeches were a source of great inspiration to the Allies. He was the first to flash the victory sign with his index and middle fingers.

His writings on British and world history won him the Nobel Prize in literature in 1953. The speeches he wrote and delivered during the tough times which Britain endured during the war and during the German air raids on London prove that Churchill was a combination of a witty politician, a talented author and a leader who understood his people’s mentalities and thus knew how to strengthen them and enable them to challenge what seems impossible.

No impossible promises

The British people at the time were prepared for such a leader. But Churchill did not appeal to the people’s sentiment by ignoring reality and he did not make promises which implementing was impossible. He was frank and honest, and he made commitments in exchange of commitments made by his own people so they can accomplish a dream together.

The Egyptians are looking for a leader who’s willing to be among the first of those to offer blood, sweat and tears. He who thinks is up for it must step forward

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

When looking at the current Egyptian situation, I realize it resembles the British situation during Churchill’s era. The similarity here is that Britain was going through a difficult phase. The country was on the verge of defeat and brink of economic collapse. It was a desperate case. We are currently going through a real crisis in Egypt.

The country’s economy is going through its most difficult phase of its critical condition. There’s a state of internal confrontation against parties pushing towards the state’s and society’s collapse. But the most important similarity is the psychological situation of both, the British and the Egyptian people.

Spirit of resistance

Both people possessed the spirit of resistance and challenge as well as the desire to emerge victorious from a situation in which failure was more likely. The British people were lucky as they found a man to lead them towards victory. The Egyptians are currently waiting for someone to suggest himself as the leader towards victory.

The Egyptians are currently going through a rare state of insistence and desire to unite towards one aim. Their situation is close to that they’ve been through during the October War. Back then, the Egyptians united and thought of nothing other than that their country is confronting a war where winning is the only choice. Back then, everyone felt a real desire and willingness to unite towards achieving the dream of victory.

The Egyptians currently have a similar spirit. But they want to find a leader capable of creating confidence that they can confront challenges.

Uttering the truth

They want to find a leader, who like Churchill, is capable of uttering the truth to his people – the truth that there is a difficult situation which many believe will bring nothing but failure but which can be overcome if there’s a new spirit and a capable leader.

The Egyptians are looking for a leader who’s willing to be among the first of those to offer blood, sweat and tears. He who thinks is up for it must step forward. Or the people must push the person whom they think is up for it towards leading them.

And just like Churchill promised his people of sweat, blood and tears, he also promised them “of victory…Victory at all costs.”

Too much noise might give the wrong impression, exactly like when frogs croak in the night and those who hear them think they are huge monsters. But as soon as the light of truth is directed on to these frogs, you can see their reality.

This is similar to what’s happening in Egypt, as the so-called political powers and parties – I challenge any Egyptian to know exactly how many there are or identify their leaders –compete in making as much noise as they can to fool those who don’t know them and induce them to think that they are mega political powers able to mobilize millions behind them while the truth is that none is able to recruit more than the number of passengers on a Public bus. This situation describes the present situation in which parties, called the political powers, aren’t as strong as their name or their description. The problem is that they succeeded in creating misperception on the part of the public who are led to believe that they are the real representatives of the Egyptians. People are led to believe that what these parties say, or what they don’t say, isn’t unfounded but is based on the voice of the people and their will. Based on this, they are holding the reins of Egypt’s fate and future and nobody seems to succeed in stopping them. What’s known for sure is that Egypt lacks what we may describe as coherent political powers enjoying real weight or an interrupted long presence in Egypt’s history. We can look into some of the examples that will prove what I am saying.430141_148983255224099_601152695_a

The proof

The parliamentary elections, before and after January 2012, proved that there are no political parties in Egypt and that the party diversification announced, for the second time, in 1977 was just a big lie or a project that lost its real meaning as the years went by. Before going further in explaining this idea, it might be useful to remind you that partisan life in Egypt started in 1907, the year described by historians as “the year of the parties.” This is when five parties were established: The National Free Party later called the Liberal Party, the Egyptian Republican Party, the Nation’s Party,

The truth is that all the parties and powers on the political scene do not have the weight to claim that they represent the Egyptians

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

The Constitutional Reform party and the National Party. Then, other parties were established in 1908 like the party of the Noblemen and the “blessed” socialist party in 1909.

Between 1919 and 1952, Egypt witnessed some kind of partisan plurality, as liberal parties took the floor. Al-Wafed and other parties bloomed in this period, the socialist parties and the “Court parties” which were supporting the king, women’s parties and religious parties like the Muslim Brotherhood came to light.

One-party rule

One-party rule started in 1953 when the Revolutionary Council decided in September to dissolve political parties and ban the establishment of new parties, which put an end to the multi-party system.

The diversity of parties returned to political life in March 1976 when the then-President Anwar Sadat approved the creation of three wings within the socialist union, representing the Right, the Center and the Left which became independent political parties on Nov. 22, 1976, preceding a new era of a limited multi-party system in 1977. Between 1977 and Jan. 25, 2011, many parties were formed, including the National Democratic Party which replaced the ruling Egyptian party.

In spite of the numerous parties, it is difficult for anyone to remember their names, and the National Democratic Party weakened the liberal and civilian powers so it became weak itself and the other forces weakened as well. This is not a new analysis, but I was alarmed by it, before and after the elections of 2010.

The establishment of the main opposition parties in the post July revolutionary era was one of the main problems to show the lack of sincerity and impact of that opposition, being the child of the regime itself, as the partisan experience started at the summit and cascaded to the public and was looked at as the result of a decision taken by the central authority represented by the ruler. This is a complete contradiction to the concept of political parties that are formed to reflect the power of a certain group in the society, established to call for their rights and defend their interests; this is why the opposition parties didn’t gain the popular support – they were considered an extension of the regime.

As a result of the way these parties were established, they just remained a drop of water in the sea of the political scene, unable to convince or mobilize the crowds or exert real pressure. And now, according to available data, Egypt has a record number of political parties. In spite of this rise in the number of parties, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the partisan system is strong enough and the recent elections proved the nature of the reality we have to face: We don’t have the symptoms of a real partisan system and of course we are not ready for a real multi-party system.

The truth is that all the parties and powers on the political scene do not have the weight to claim that they represent the Egyptians, but the real problem is that they are not convinced of this fact and they are convinced that they represent the Egyptians. The worst part of this reality is that they aren’t content with being representatives of the Egyptians but they see themselves as being in charge of taking decisions on their behalf. The wise men should read the symptoms, decide on the right diagnosis and think up a suitable cure.