Tag Archives | SCAF

Egyptian Crack-down on NGOs a Diversion

Yesterday, Egyptian security forces raided about a dozen NGO offices.  It appears the affected NGOs worked on human rights or democracy promotion.  At least two prominent US-funded NGOs, ‘loosely affiliated’ with the Democratic and Republican parties, were targeted.

Everything about this NGO raid hits sour or contradictory notes:

There are three plausible explanations behind the raid:

1.  The military council is thumbing its nose at the US, a benefactor that contributes $1.5 billion/year to the military’s existence, sending a signal for the US to butt out of Egyptian politics or at least stop imposing itself as a referee between the military and competing political interests.

2.  The military once again took dramatic action with little thought, foresight or purpose in an attempt to frighten its domestic opposition.

3.   The NGO raid is purely a diversion, like the Israeli Embassy attack by soccer thugs or the ‘clash’ between Christians and Muslims this summer.  Nobody in a targeted NGO is going to be killed.  A few Egyptians, though no foreign nationals, might be arrested in connection with the raids.  That would compare with the thousands of activists jailed by the regime since last Spring.

It’s in the Generals’ interests to focus world opinion on a relatively soft ball conflict (that they can easily resolve) and away from the repressive tactics used by SCAF against pro-democracy groups as well as SCAF’s anti-democratic plans for writing a new constitution.

I’ll take the third.  These NGOs are no more a threat to today’s military council’s leadership than they were to Mubarak yesterday.  The only real threats to the military council is the potential of democratic forces to effectively use upcoming elections and claim legitimacy for a new government.  Forcing the State Department to respond to the NGO raids takes the spotlight off State’s ineffective demand that SCAF hold early elections and a quickly complete a full turnover of power to civilian authority.

BTW, the US government shouldn’t be funding ‘democracy institutes’ and other such groups in foreign countries. Period.  Beginning with the post WW2 Italian elections, the CIA poured huge amounts of clandestine funding to determine the outcome of elections in both the developed and developing world.  Such funding only gives credibility to the Assad’s and Qaddafi’s who accuse home-grown protest movements of being controlled by foreign forces.

Quite frankly, I’d also like to know what ‘democracy promotion’ programs the US government carries out, as well as why and how.

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Egyptian Women Rally Against SCAF

Thousands of Egyptian women took to the streets Tuesday to protest their  brutal beatings and repression at the hands of the military council.  Historians had to look back almost a century to find any precedent for the rally for and by women in opposition to the SCAF governing council.

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The Violent Egyptian House of Mirrors

Deadly clashes erupted in Cairo and other cities over the last two days, leaving at least 10 people killed and hundreds injured.  Nevertheless, Kamal Ganzouri, the temporary PM picked by the military, insisted that there was no violence even as it continued outside his window.

A key tactic of the Egyptian military has been to play Egyptian against Egyptian first by attacking the Egyptian Coptic population and blaming it on supporters of the democratic movement, then by declaring election procedures aimed at spitting the secular democrats and moderate Muslims and yesterday,  by staging a pro-military demonstration Saturday morning.

Chaos is good for the military

And that’s what they want to show.  They want to confuse the situation and divide their opposition by appealing to the undeniable desire of the Egyptian public for normalcy after 9 months of upheaval.  But the military is going all-out, ignoring recommendations on how to end the violence made by a civilian advisory council it appointed within the last month.

It’s possible that the military has decided to switch tactics from compromising with the various pro-democracy factions fighting to clamping down on protesters and whipping up suspicion and division among them.

But it doesn’t come easily for the SCAF.  The military may have counted on violence right before elections to sow chaos into the multi-day, multi-provence process.  Instead, a determined population ensured the elections went smoothly.

Updates later.








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Brotherhood Distances from Salafis

In the first round of parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood is expected to win 40% of the vote.  The shocker comes from the arch conservative Salafis who may win almost a quarter, followed by almost as many votes for the liberal, secular forces.

In case anyone hasn’t heard the Muslim Brotherhood promised a democratic, representative parliament, not only distancing itself from the Salafis but saying it had always thought it would form a coalition government with the liberal parties.  The Brotherhood renounced violence decades ago and does not want to impose Islamic law on the nation.

In another claim to its stake, the Brotherhood said:

…that Parliament should try to wrest the power to name a new prime minister from Egypt’s interim military rulers — an assertion of authority that the military council has so far rebuffed. But on Thursday the party also reiterated, as it has throughout the campaign, that it hoped to form a unity government with the more liberal parties in Parliament. The elections, it said in another statement, “will most likely lead to a balanced Parliament that reflects the various components of the Egyptian public.”

A united front within Parliament between the highly organized Brotherhood and liberal allies would be a formidable challenge to the ruling military council, SCAF

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Egyptian Election Off to Good Start

According to Al Jazeera:

Egyptians have started casting their ballots in the first parliamentary elections since former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising earlier this year.

Long queues were seen outside many polling stations amid tight security arrangements as voters flocked to the polls on Monday morning. Voting in this round of the elections last for two days.

It appears any problems so far are related to ballots and/or judges being late to polling places.

However, Tadros {Al Jazeera reporter-ed} added: “The mood is very much upbeat. I really have not seen this kind of voter turnout.”

Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reported from Assiut, one of the most significant governorates in the Upper Egypt region, that there appeared to be an exceptionally high turnout by the standards of the country’s previous votes.

“The lines have not stopped outside the polling centres,” she said. “If we’re judging by the turnout, this has been by all accounts a success.”

Women were turning out in high numbers, unusual for such a conservative region, she said.

There were no signs of violence or coercion, she reported, but there were campaign violations as some parties continued to campaign even as voting was underway.

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White House Calls for Egyptian Moves to Democracy

Over the weekend, the Obama Administration issued a reasonably tough call on the Egyptian military to move immediately to elections and civilian rule:

The United States strongly believes that the new Egyptian government must be empowered with real authority immediately. We believe that Egypt’s transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation. Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible.

Although violence in Tahrir Square subsided over the last two days, the immediate path forward will be determined by how well parliamentary elections, scheduled to begin tomorrow, November 28, are carried out.

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Egypt in 5th Day of Tahrir Square.2

The Egyptian Supreme Council ‘s (SCAF) announcement that Presidential elections would be held in June, 2012, and mark the turn-over of military to civilian rule, was overruled by protesters in Tahrir Square.  In yet another twist to the complicated politics of Egypt in transition, the Muslim Brotherhood, which started the last surge of protests last Friday, has decided to sit out today’s protests.  It is willing to accept the SCAF promise of complete transition to civilian rule while other democratic factions, including the February 6th Movement and some liberal groups, want the turn-over to take place immediately.      Mohamed ElBaradei     former IAEA head and Nobel Laureate, offered to form a new national unity government if he was assured of the right to pick his own ministers.  SCAF has not yet responded.

As we’ve said many times on this blog, the Egyptian Revolution has been a powerful movement for reform of a decrepit, autocratic system.  But a true reform program has been choked by the SCAF, de facto rulers of Egypt now.  SCAF keeps postponing elections and the transfer of power and continues to arrest, jail and torture Egyptians under Mubarak’s emergency law.

Media reports say the growing number of demonstrators in Tahrir Square are a broad representation of Egyptian society, including the Youth Movement of the Muslim Brotherhood.  They obviously don’t accept the leadership and deals being made by the political elite whether Muslim or secular.

Where is the US?

The US has demanded an end to violence in Egypt, but it has been steadfastly supporting the work of the SCAF.

Where can all this go.  The only way to head off chaos is for the SCAF to step down and turn power over to a civilian government.  I don’t think Egyptians want to destroy SCAF but do want to put them in their place under civilian rule.  The people are demanding that civilians lead the constitutional writing process and prepare for elections.

Although it’s still unclear whether SCAF has bungled the transition due to incompetence and the pressure of fast-moving events or if it has carefully sewn the seeds of divisions which could tear apart Egyptian society.

Meanwhile, the US continues its cat-and-mouse game.  If ever there was a time for the US to clearly part with the Egyptian military it is now.  The old order is dissolving.  Just look at Tantawi on TV: he is a man out of his league.

Either the Administration stands solidly behind an immediate turn over to civilian control and work with the opposition parties or risks any relevance to a future Egyptian order.





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Egyptian Militry Backs Down

According to Al Jazeera,

Mohammed Morsi, the president of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), has issued a statement about the five-hour crisis meeting held between the ruling military council and a selection of presidential candidates and party officials. The FJP is the best-organised political force in Egypt.

The military council has accepted the resignation of the interim government and will form a government of “national salvation” but still hold parliamentary elections on time on Monday, Morsi said, according to the statement, which was published on the FJP’s Facebook page.

The council has also agreed to completely transfer power to a civilian authority by July, likely in the form of a presidential election, for which a draft law will be written, Morsi said.

As part of the agreement, the military will withdraw forces from Tahrir Square, confine them to protecting public building, compensate the families of the victims, and bring to trial their killers.

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