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Posts Tagged ‘mubarak’

Egypt holds massive protest in Tahrir square

 

Frustration with the Egyptian military Friday fueled the largest nationwide protest since longtime President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.

Trials for military officials have been postponed. The military has continued to engage in violence against protesters.

While I feel SCAF should try to postpone September’s elections to allow other parties to gather strength, it has been slow to introduce or announce any reforms. That has sent a bad message to Egyptians, one that leads them to believe the military establishment intends to hold onto its same level of power even after elections. Surely, the protests against Mubarak were just as much against SCAF.

Mubarak relied heavily on the secretive military, which has assumed the role of interim government until September elections. Suppression tactics that led to violence last week that left hundreds of protesters injured and has some believing Mubarak’s legacy lives on with the military.

Egypt had been under emergency rule since 1967, which extended police powers, suspended some constitutional rights and allowed the military to easily detain people and censor newspapers. Mubarak entrusted his secretive military/police force, SCAF, to keep order in the country and his people subservient to the president. SCAF has rounded up “subversives” for years and used torture for years to maintain fear and subordination.

 

 

Egypt must push elections back to ensure political choice

June 29, 2011 1 comment

A call to eliminate Hosni Mubarak-era local councils in Egypt is another step toward clearing the political grounds of corruption. It shows the military is committed to transparency and a more functional government. Still, the nation should try to postpone its September elections to prevent a consolidation of power in the hands of the highly organized Muslim Brotherhood.

Representatives from Mubarak’s former party won widely presumed rigged elections to these countrywide local councils, so it makes sense to clear them out of office. There is a legacy of corruption with any officials tied to Mubarak, so good riddance.

Interestingly, Al Jazeera included this line:

Tuesday’s ruling followed calls by protesters for remnants of the old political order to be dismantled.

I don’t mean to twist words, so I’ll try not to. But the Muslim Brotherhood was a part of the old political order — albeit a marginalized one. But it was a part nonetheless, which means it is very much established. I am not saying it is anything like Mubarak’s National Democratic Party and I am not here to debate whether the Muslim Brotherhood is Islamist. All I am saying is the Muslim Brotherhood has an unfair advantage going into September elections.

The Muslim Brotherhood already had a hierarchy with clear leaders. As Egypt soon learned following Mubarak’s resignation, the protest movement lacked organizational structure befitting a political party. The movement had no focus following Mubarak’s fall. That created a power vacuum, which allowed the military — another already established group — to fill the void.

I don’t think the protest movement could have stepped right in and run the country or set up elections, regardless of how organized it was. The military has tried its best to provide security, and I’m not sure the peaceful Egyptian movement would have been able to ensure that sort of stability and command legal authority.

Still, the obvious confusion over how to become an organized political party is telling. And if Egypt rushes ahead with these elections, it could play right into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. I don’t believe the Muslim Brotherhood is to be feared, but it’s always good to have political opposition — the Muslim Brotherhood has very little right now.

The youth in Egypt led this revolution, so it would make most sense to allow the youth to devise their own parties rather than simply join the ranks of the older, established Muslim Brotherhood. This revolution was about choice and freedom to choose, freedom to speak. Young Egyptian voices could be quieted among the Muslim Brotherhood’s more experienced ranks.

As we learned, though, Egyptian youth can be loud. They have bold opinions. They have different ideas on how Egypt’s government should operate — beginning with the fact they don’t want it to operate like the last one.

Virtually the only strong party in the running right now was active during the last government. While there certainly needs to be caution about pushing the elections too far back and jeopardizing order and rule of law with extended military governance, it would be best for Egypt to give nascent political factions time to evolve into full-fledged parties.

Sunday links

Here are some links from the weekend that will make you think. I’ll try to do this every Sunday because who subscribes to newspapers anymore?

Iran is building a state-run Internet to that will help them control social media that helped bring about the Arab Spring and the 2009 Green Revolution.

Iran recently confirmed plans to establish a self-enclosed national Internet – a two-tier or dual network, comprising a publicly available but easily monitored Internet, with restricted access to the wider Web; and an open access Internet for government, business and tourists. Cuba, Burma, Russia and China are trying to form similar two-tier systems.

Yasser Hareb writes for the Gulf News about how Arab journalists must Tweet change to grab youth.

When half of the population in the Arab world is under the age of 25, it becomes a fact that half of the media’s targeted audience is young people using smart phones and new means of communications. Those young people do not want to sit and watch news bulletins on TV and will not be disappointed if they miss a certain programme; nor will they wait for the re-run.

Mona Eltahawy says “virginity tests” administered by the Egyptian government blur the line between politics and sex.

Let’s be clear, “virginity tests” are common in Egypt and straddle class and urban/rural divides. Be it the traditional midwife checking for a hymen on a bride’s wedding night, or a forensics expert or doctor called in after a prospective bridegroom’s suspicions, young women are forced to spread their legs to appease the god of virginity. But no one talks about it.

But it’s different when the state/SCAF is the one forcing women’s legs apart. A protest is planned for Saturday. It’s a perfect time for gender to come out of the revolution’s closet.

Following Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s failure to reform government in 100 days, protesters took to the streets.

With security greatly improved in Iraq, the citizenry has finally had the time to focus upon other issues such as governance and services. The country has been hit by twenty years of wars and sanctions, which have devastated its infrastructure. Despite the expenditure of several billion dollars in reconstruction funds, water, electricity, health care, etc., have not caught up with demand.

A martyr may spur a revolution to change the monarch’s role in Morocco, says Betwa Sharma in Foreign Policy.

Kamal Amari, 30, was a university graduate with a degree in physics who worked as a private security officer at the port in the western city of Safi. On May 29, he was caught up in the crackdown there. “Seven policemen beat him for five minutes,” said Adel Fathi, a friend.

On June 2, Amari succumbed to his wounds. Local activists call him the “first martyr” of Morocco’s freedom movement. His death has transformed Safi into a front line of the country’s protest movement.

Muhammad Faour of the Carnegie Middle East Center says Arab nations must use revolutions as a launching pad for education reform and teaching young Arabs what it means to be a citizen.

Educating young Arabs for citizenship requires much more fundamental reform than what has so far been undertaken in education reform plans. It requires getting past several serious shortcomings in the Arab education and political systems.

These shortcomings begin at the individual student level, including low learning achievement; lack of creative, independent, and critical thinking; and lack of problem-solving skills. They also include the home or family level, which is often guided by authoritarianism, obedience to authority figures, limited freedom of expression, and dependence on a family network for prospective employment.

Elliot Abrams says he believes democracy will take root in Syria when and if Bashar al Assad’s regime falls.

Some day, and tomorrow would not be soon enough, the Assad mafia will be gone and Syria will face the difficult challenge  of building a democracy after decades of bloody repression.  The Damascus Declaration—and the courage of those who wrote it and suffered time in Assad’s prisons for their principles and their patriotism—provides Syrians with the key guidelines to follow, and provides us all with some hope that democracy can indeed be built in Syria.

 

 

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