Archive for April, 2014

Insufficiency means the lack of something you need, and extreme insufficiency can become a synonym of poverty and misery.
Insufficiency is an Egyptian disease. and it has been afflicting us for decades. We are needy at the level of the government and needy at the individual level, to the extent that the main concern of every person, and everyone responsible for this country, is to find a way out of this critical situation. Some try to walk away from it, while others try to adapt to it. One thing is for sure: this country will not witness any progress unless it moves out of this condition in which it seems we are bound by chains that limit our movement. The situation is very similar to the bread winner of the house’s, who sacrifices all of his or her monthly salary to pay the instalments, settle the debts and purchase the needs for the household, without being able to beautify the home, improve it, change it or develop it.images (1)

We may say that this disease started with the setback of 1967, when the government found itself falling into the middle of the war, so it sacrificed all of its economic resources to triumph in that war. The Egyptian government did not find any real support or anyone that valued it as the first defense line for the Arab cause and after the victory of October 1973, the government found itself alone, with drained resources.

Egypt has been bleeding economically, politically and socially

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Ever since that, insufficiency hit the government as well as individuals, and some of them tried to travel to the Gulf region in order to evade misery and poverty. Meanwhile, the government had to take economic measures, labeled later as economic openness, but it didn’t bring about the desired change. This obliged Egypt to take political and economic options, to which it seemed to be pushed by the lack of alternatives, and this insufficiency continued throughout the 1970s during the government’s wars against extremist groups, then against terror in the 1980s and 90s.

This condition cast shadows on daily life and manifested itself in the corruption in society and the rise of bribery, and some other times in the collapse of education and healthcare systems. Economic disparity was coupled with an exponential demographic increase, which locked Egypt in a vicious circle.

The situation has worsened since the January 25 revolution. Egypt has been bleeding economically, politically and socially; rising unemployment and poverty mars society, as does the hike in prices and inflation.

The first goal of the upcoming period is to cure Egypt of this chronic disease, and we should realize that the first and foremost way to exit our condition is to get out of this chronic insufficiency. This won’t be achieved except through hard work and unity for the sake of this country, and then we can realize our dreams of a better future.

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on April 17, 2014.

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“Egypt is the mother of all nations, and will remain in the heart of the world.”

This is a slogan oft repeated by Egypt’s presidential frontrunner Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as of late. He said it to his officers and soldiers prior to the Egyptian revolution of June 30 , 2013, and then he repeated it in public after the triumph of the popular revolution which was protected by the army. He used the same message, in different forms, when he announced his bid for presidency. This sentence might look like semantic overkill or a literal exaggeration, or might highlight his ability to pander to his audience.images

However, the truth, as I discovered, is that this slogan emanates from Sisi’s heart, his strong belief that this is an achievable goal and his belief in the Egyptian people who surprised everyone, even Sisi himself.

“Egypt is the mother of all nations” is a slogan that accompanied us since our childhood days, it lived with us and we lived by it, and it is a sentence said by all the Arabs who love Egypt, which are many. The origin of this phrase may be deep in the past; it is a symbol of Egypt’s history and civilization, as well as its status in the region and in the world. This was what was at stake when the Muslim Brotherhood were in power; they failed to understand Egypt, its values and its contribution to human civilization and the human conscience, and attempted to reduce it and deal with it as a small governorate in line with their dream of the global Islamic state. This behavior and lack of understanding of the value and role of Egypt might be one of the main catalysts of their thundering fall. The Egyptians revolted for the honor of “the mother of all nations” and against those who lost their way and insulted their country.

The heart of the world

The value and the status of “the mother of all nations” was restored by its own children who refused to live in such a situation. Now we get to the second part of the slogan created by Sisi who said “will remain in the heart of the world.” The question is: how will Egypt be “in the heart of the world”? How will it get its rightful status among nations? How can it be in sync with the world, the world of the 21st century, not the 10th century?

I believe that the first step towards choosing a new model for Egypt is to forget other examples and work on creating a uniquely Egyptian model

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

I will start with politics before moving on to the economy. The question is: which model should Egypt follow, the Turkish or the South African? There is a real political debate between intellectuals, politicians and specialists about which model to adopt.
Each side has plenty of arguments to support their decision of which path to take, as each model has had examples of success. However, this is something we can explore at another time, also up for discussion in the future are issues such as the role of the army in the political system and the extent of the role of religious political powers.

The first step

I believe that the first step towards choosing a new model for Egypt is to forget other examples and work on creating a uniquely Egyptian model. A model that will steer the country forward out of the politically stormy waters it is currently in.

The Egyptian model was started by a thundering popular movement, followed by the response of the army to the call of those it pledged to protect. So, the army stood by the people, protected them and achieved their dream of regaining the country. The army set out a clear roadmap and respected it, and it was favorably received by the overwhelming majority in order to take them out of the dark tunnel. The Egyptian model will be completed by the presidential elections, after the popular approval of the constitution, followed by the parliamentary elections.

The second face of the model is economic policy, which needs a wider space to discuss, so I will limit myself to say here that Egypt needs extra efforts from its children and its brothers.

The country needs to focus on the building and construction industry, which is the most important to reactivate and develop the infrastructure. As for Egypt’s brothers, they should recognize that Egypt took the bullet for them, its people and its army, and eliminated a malignant tumor which could have reached them if it grew and spread. The least they can do is to stand by Egypt at this stage, so Egypt can become “the heart of the world.”

Egypt’s success in reaching the shores of safety and stability is important, not only to Egypt but to those brothers which were protected by the stand of Egypt’s people and army against the danger, which hasn’t been eliminated quite yet.

This article was first published in al-Jarida on April 12, 2014.

The Canadian parliament has designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization after petitions were signed off and sent to it. Now that Britain is moving in a similar direction, it seems Europe has decided to lift its support of the Brotherhood.

Although the British intelligence community’s decision to take a close look at the Muslim Brotherhood’s activity in London surprised many, the move isn’t at all surprising for Britain which suffered from terrorism in 2005 – the July 7 London bombings.

These bombings, which targeted Underground train stations and killed 50 people and injured around 700 others, was the price the UK paid for harboring terrorists and embracing terrorist organizations and for turning into a haven for many extremists during the 1990s. Following the explosions which targeted innocent people in Egypt, and now that Egypt and Saudi Arabia have blacklisted the group, it seems Britain has finally realized the threat of the Brotherhood which wears the mask of Islam yet adopts violence.

On the run

After the Brotherhood’s state collapsed in Egypt and after the group was expelled from Saudi Arabia, Britain has found itself leaning in a new direction regarding extremist groups, especially since there are reports that Brotherhood members who fled to Qatar intend to immigrate to London. Therefore, the UK must be cautious of having London turn into a new haven for Islamist extremists.

The UK must be cautious of having London turn into a new haven for Islamist extremists

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood sensed the threat against it and hit back at British Prime Minister David Cameron – who ordered the investigation into it – and threatened to resort to the judiciary. The group said that it will take matters to court if the British government seeks to restrict its activities in London, and voiced its concern that former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Jenkins will lead the review ordered by Cameron.

A spokeswoman for Cameron justified why Jenkins was assigned to lead the review and said: “[the review] would focus on the group across the region, not just Egypt, and Jenkins has deep knowledge of the Middle East.” This justification however has not put an end to the anger of the Brotherhood – which has several legal, religious and charity organizations affiliated with it in London. The Brotherhood usually uses these organizations as a cover for other operations.

Choosing Britain

The Brotherhood considers Britain a safe country for it and an easy place to escape to. Therefore, it seems the group is worried about the inquiry into it because it’s a surprising and unprecedented move by Britain which never considered the group as a terrorist organization and never even put the group under surveillance. The British Times newspaper reported that the investigation will include assigning the MI6, Britain’s overseas intelligence agency, to examine allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood is behind a bus attack which killed British tourists abroad. It also said the MI6 would investigate other attacks in which there are suspicions of the Brotherhood’s involvement. But the major inquiry which Britain will launch will be carried out by the MI5, the domestic counter-intelligence and security agency, and will be focused on the Brotherhood’s presence inside the country.

These measures seem tantamount to lifting the European cover off from the Brotherhood – a cover which the group has long enjoyed. These measures also echo Egypt’s warnings of international terrorism threats and of radical international projects that are far from religion and only use Islam as a cover.

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on April 6, 2014.

Many of those claiming to be wise tell us now and then that those responsible for the terrorism imposed on Egytptian society are those in seats of authority who refuse to contain outlaws and rogues. Those seeking insignificant victories do the same and confirm the state’s inability to understand some of its rogue sons. Those making such allegations are either seeking to win electoral votes or are getting paid to speak as such. Just this week, terrorists responded to those claiming to be wise and carried out explosions near Cairo University. This act is not the first and we must expect that it won’t be the last either. I’ve already said several times that those people’s principle is clear: “We either rule you or kill you.” This is the principle they’ve proven themselves to be loyal to.

The stance hasn’t changed since the July 3 statement. The statement back then reinforced the concept of accommodating the views of everyone. However, the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters didn’t do that either. They did not only decide to be at odds with the people but to also punish them for their political stances that ended up toppling the Brotherhood.

What I currently expect from those who practice politics is that they will begin to practice it upon the basis of patriotism. I expect them to reconsider whom they will ally with and to realize that achieving personal gains and winning electoral votes are contaminated with the people’s blood. These people must unite to eliminate terrorism. I expect everyone to make a clear position towards this group and its followers and towards these terrorist acts. I expect them to stop trying to blame the state’s administration or security apparatuses.

Overwhelmed with anger

When I see how students panic as a bomb explodes in front of the university’s main gate and when I see how martyrs fall, I am overwhelmed with anger – as many are – towards those who decided to reap narrow interests when there is a serious threat against the country.

We hope this series of terrorist operations act as a clear message to the world which is willingly blind whenever it wants to be and which only talks about the rights of those it was once allied with and whom the people later toppled. Those capable of exposing the true face of these terrorist groups have a very important role to play at this phase. No great effort is required to prove the criminality of these groups and their terrorism. What’s required is that all institutions, individuals and groups work to show what these groups are doing to Egypt. Perhaps this will wake up the people and make them realize that if they don’t take a clear and decisive stance, then the time will come when terrorism targets them as well.

May God bless the martyrs of the nation and may he enlighten those claiming to be wise to lean towards those who are not worthy of wisdom.

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on April 2, 2014.