Archive for June, 2014

Five years ago and particularly in June of 2009, American forces released Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – the future leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria- from Camp Bucca, south of Iraq. The reasons he was released remain unknown until this very day, but while leaving prison, Baghdadi turned to the American general accompanying him to the exit door and to the American soldiers standing close together and said: “I’ll see you in New York.”

The story was carried by American news outlets and attributed to army general Kenneth King does not reveal why the U.S. released Baghdadi who was detained between the years 2005 and 2009 by American troops. It also does not explain how ISIS rose this quickly and invaded Iraq like a torrent or where it will reach.

Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, the ISIS, the Islamic State of Libya and Egypt and other terrorist groups that wreck havoc, kill and destroy are all faces of one coin.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

ISIS narrates this itself. It published a map of its future state which includes Iraq, Syria and all the way to Kuwait, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Cyprus. Away from all the delusions occupying the head of whoever made this map, the ISIS remains the clearest proof that if al-Qaeda ends, then a thousand al-Qaeda will emerge and will be stronger and more brutal as long as reasons for its rise are still present and as long as it’s not properly dealt with and eliminated from the roots.

Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, the ISIS, the Islamic State of Libya and Egypt and other terrorist groups that wreck havoc, kill and destroy are all faces of one coin. They exploit Islam and harm it more than its own enemies do. Governments deal with them the same way it’s always dealt with them – the way which has always proven to be a failure.

Warnings from Egypt

Egypt has for a long time warned of global terrorism and called for confronting, particularly following the rule of Islamists in the country last year.

And before September 11, there were also warnings from Egypt. However the world didn’t listen to Cairo. The U.S. thought that it destroyed this global terrorism by occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, but it has only returned in a more violent and hideous manner.

It’s not possible to eliminate terrorism without eliminating its intellectual basis and its economic basis supplying it with funds and equipment – especially when we know that the ISIS does not have financial problems preventing it from attaining arms and equipment and from recruiting men as its fortune is worth more than $2 billion dollars.

The new organization, unlike other organizations, has at an early stage realized the importance of going beyond attaining donations and funds via traditional methods. It realized this after restrains imposed on old funding means represented in bank accounts and bank transactions.

And so, the organization has from the beginning depended on technology and social networks that provide more freedom to market itself, lure people, continue operations, specify aims – particularly funding.

ISIS’ control over oil fields in East Syria since 2012 has also allowed it to strengthen its financial revenues. The strange irony is that it has sold some of this oil to the Syrian regime. It also looted historical and cultural fortunes and Syrian archaeological sites and carried out several smuggling operations.

The struggle with these groups has become an economic and intellectual one. Without drying up its financial resources and ideas and without intellectually fighting it and refuting what it lures youths with, it will not be possible to eliminate terrorism, which is not only threatening the Middle East but the entire world.

This article was first published in al-Jarida on June 20, 2014.

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One of the problems Hosni Mubarak suffered from during his last years as president was that he let himself be held captive by security and his guards. His security team transformed from a team that aims to protect him into a team restraining him and the president thus became hostage. So, he lived in isolation and while he could see what was going on around him, he became detached from reality. In brief, the president became prisoner of security fears as his own guards turned into jailers wearing kid gloves.images

A leader’s worst problem is allowing himself to give in to his security fears. In this case, he closes in on himself and becomes overly concerned for his security without realizing the repercussions. This would make things extremely easy for the guards as they would thus provide the official’s safety by preventing him from moving from one place to another or by at least restraining this activity.

A leader’s worst problem is allowing himself to give in to his security fears

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

One of the points that made me pause and which upset me was that security-related issues would dominate the behavior and life of Egypt’s new president. The phase of the electoral campaign was reason enough for this fear as the then-candidate’s activity was very limited due to security reasons. I was afraid this would be the case in the future especially as there were introductions that the state of fear over the president’s security is of supreme importance. I was thus afraid that Sisi would give up to this security grip which calls on him to plan where he’s going and whom he’s meeting with ahead of time – hours or even days ahead.

The nature of the man

I knew well that this contradicts with the nature of the man who frequently said that his decision is to live among the people and that people must expect to find him among them anytime.

This fear took over me during the last phase, and I said to many people that the best means the president can adopt is to resort to the military style in which the decision to act is taken and implemented at the same moment.

It means the president is the one who decides what he wants to do and that others have to adjust themselves to this. Therefore, the president becomes the leader of his groups, including of his security members, and he doesn’t allow these members to restrain him or isolate him from the people.

What I’ve seen so far is that Sisi resorts to this decision-making style. He was at the hospital visiting the victim of the sexual assault then he led thousands of cyclists. The latter scene did not only convey the intention to unite with the people but it also revealed the intention to get closer to problems.

What I expect in the upcoming phase is that if the president continues to adopt this style and manages to impose it on those around him, we will one day see him at a governmental institution and another at a factory and another at a school. I would like to remind you that Egypt is a lot bigger than Cairo and that Egyptians are not only present in the capital but are present in the entire country. Therefore, I hope the president’s activity in the upcoming phase includes all Egyptians and all Egyptian territories.

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on June 16, 2014.

Egypt witnessed two similar moments in 2012 and 2014 – the moment the results of presidential elections were announced. Despite the similarity, there’s a huge difference between these two moments, their repercussions and what happened during them.

In 2012, I was with some friends waiting for the election results to come out. The Brotherhood had said it won the elections even before counting the votes was over, and my friends and I were hoping for an opposing result. At the same time, there were threats to burn the country down if the Brotherhood candidate was not declared winner. The Brotherhood went as far as requesting that its members write their wills and pay off their debts. It’s as if they were on the verge of a war against the Egyptians if they weren’t enabled to govern – even if this contradicts with the result the high electoral commission could have announced. We later witnessed these threats and protests when the Egyptians toppled them on June 30.

In 2012, I learnt there was a lot of pressure by foreign parties to declare a result that suits what the Brotherhood wanted. The election results were hijacked before the high electoral commission announced them. Judges affiliated with the Brotherhood announced the Brotherhood’s victory during a press conference and the Brotherhood too held a press conference to announce the victory of its candidate.

In 2012, I learnt there was a lot of pressure by foreign parties to declare a result that suits what the Brotherhood wanted

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

A state of worry and fear overwhelmed the country as people were afraid the Brotherhood would implement its threats. After announcing the results, a state of grief overwhelmed Egypt as it appeared like the country hadtaken a turn for the worst and towards the dark ages.

The victory of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

The second moment was in 2014 after the high electoral commission announced the victory of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sisi gained a landslide victory. People were overwhelmed with joy and they took to the streets and squares to celebrate though the result was known beforehand due to the preliminary results announced by dailies and satellite channels. However, people’s joy was renewed once the high electoral commission officially announced Sisi as winner. Egyptians felt reassured and felt that their country is on the right path and that they can build their state and achieve the aims of their revolution – the aims of freedom, social justice, dignity and livelihood which Sisi talked about in his brief statement after he was declared winner.

These two phases make us realize that the Egyptian situation has differed. During the first one, the Egyptians felt that their country was hijacked. During the second one, they felt reassured and happy that they restored Egypt and that they can build their own future.

We must also note what Sisi said during his brief statement. He called on Egyptians for hard work – which is the only means to build our country. This is the major principle he’s talked about in almost all of his appearances and which without we cannot move forward.

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm.

It seems that the West’s media and political officials do not desire to understand what is going on in Egypt. It is as if they have chosen to be blind – as I have previously noted – and are resisting any attempt to change that. Proof to that is how almost all Western media outlets dealt with the electoral process and its results in Egypt.

Accurate follow-ups confirm that the only constant of these outlets is to suspect the reality of Egyptians’ will and show that Egyptian society is divided. These news outlets seek to undermine any notion that Sisi enjoyed a sweeping majority and in brief, they want to present Egypt as a model for division and political persecution.images

The clear results of this follow up confirm that the major aim is to doubt the political results of the elections. From the very beginning and before the elections were even held, most Western media outlets were suspicious over the state apparatuses’ stance regarding these elections. They also focused on any forms of protests – even if they were just few people gathered for doctrinal motives or because they were paid to demonstrate. However they either totally ignored or suspected the real popular state.

Inaccurate information on a low voter turnout

On the first day of the elections, there was inaccurate information on a low voter turnout. Accurate statistics will, however, confirm that those who voted on day one accounted to more than 12 million. The Western media took the path of marketing a low voter turnout to support its stance that the upcoming president is incapable of uniting the Egyptians as he claims. On the second day of elections when the Egyptians’ flow to the polling stations continued, these media outlets continued to market what they marketed on day one. The election commission’s decision to add one day of voting supported the false allegation of a low turnout as it appeared like it was a decision aimed at saving candidate Sisi. This, however, contradicts with the truth that more than 22 million people voted during the first two days. But Western media outlets and others with similar visions and aims found their perfect chance to say that the upcoming president is popularly weaker than he claims and that he doesn’t unite the people like his supporters say.

It seems that the West’s media and political officials do not desire to understand what is going on in Egypt

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Those who observe Western behavior can notice that it recognizes the fait accompli that the Egyptians imposed their will yet still wants to underestimate this as much as possible. Therefore, it wasn’t strange when a Western diplomat considered that Sisi’s sweeping victory did not fall in their favor and that it’s best for them if Sisi considerably wins but without being a consensual figure – that is still be a strong president but within limits and not be a popular figure with unlimited popular support. The last aim is to confirm that the Egyptian society is divided and that the upcoming president is not the man to unite or save the nation. I expect that upcoming events will confirm that they’ve once again made wrong calculations.

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm.