| Egypt’s ‘legitimate’ leader, defiant Morsi, tells Egypt court to try ‘coup’ leaders instead!

I’m Egypt’s ‘legitimate’ leader, defiant Mohammed Morsi tells trial, says it’s a cover for ‘military coup’ ~

Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press, National Post.

An image grab taken from Egyptian state TV shows ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in court on November 4, 2013, in Cairo in his first public appearance four months after the military toppled him. Morsi was indignant and outraged

AFP/Getty ImagesAn image grab taken from Egyptian state TV shows ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in court on November 4, 2013, in Cairo in his first public appearance four months after the military toppled him. Morsi was indignant and outraged.

CAIRO, Egypt After four months in secret detention, Egypt’s deposed Islamist president defiantly rejected a court’s authority to try him Monday, saying he was the country’s “legitimate” leader and those that overthrew him should face charges instead. The trial was then adjourned until Jan. 8 after several interruptions.

President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, had been held at an undisclosed location since the military ousted him in a coup on July 3.

Looking healthy, Morsi appeared in court wearing a dark blue suit, but no tie. He had refused to wear a prison uniform as the judge had ordered, according to security officials.

Morsi and 14 co-defendants, prominent figures from his Muslim Brotherhood, face charges of inciting the killing of protesters who massed outside the presidential palace in December, demanding he call off a referendum on a new constitution drafted by his Islamist allies. Brotherhood members attacked a sit-in by the protesters, sparking clashes that left 10 people dead. If convicted, Morsi and the 14 other defendants could face the death penalty.

The longtime Brotherhood leader rejected the proceedings and said he had been forced to attend.

“This is a military coup whose leaders must be put on trial in accordance with the constitution,” Morsi told the court.

“I am the president of the republic and I am here against my will,” he said. “What is happening here is providing cover for the military coup,” he said, as his co-defendants chanted “down, down with military coup.”

Khaled Desouki / AFP / Getty Images

Khaled Desouki / AFP / Getty ImagesSupporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and of ousted president Mohamed Morsi (portrait) rally outside the Police Academy where his trial is taking place on November 4, 2013 in Cairo.

Monday’s raucous session reflected the highly charged atmosphere of a nation deeply polarized between Morsi’s Islamist supporters, and the military-backed administration and moderate Egyptians who support it.

The start of the hearing was delayed by nearly two hours over what the officials said was a dispute over Morsi’s refusal to wear a prison uniform, part of his rejection of the trial’s legitimacy. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

The judge, Ahmed Sabry Youssef, had to adjourn the hearing twice because the chants disrupted the proceedings. The proceedings were adjourned until Jan. 8 to allow defence lawyers to review documents, the court’s secretary said. Defence lawyers said the judge has ruled that they have access to their clients in prison.

It was not immediately clear where Morsi was taken after the adjournment. State TV initially reported he was to be transferred to the main prison in Cairo where his co-defendants are being held. But later it reported he was being taken to a prison in the desert near Alexandria.

The military says it removed Morsi only after the public turned against him with protests by millions demanding his removal, accusing him and the Brotherhood of trying to subvert the law and impose their will on the country. Morsi’s supporters accuse the military of crushing Egypt’s nascent democracy by overturning the results of multiple elections won by the Islamists since the ouster in 2011 of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising.

Rights advocates have expressed concern about the fairness of the trial as it is taking place in the atmosphere of a widescale crackdown on the Brotherhood and its Islamist allies in which several thousand have been arrested and hundreds killed. The judicial system also is stacked with Morsi’s adversaries, with whom he clashed repeatedly during his yearlong presidency.

In a last-minute change, authorities on Sunday switched the trial’s venue in a move apparently aimed at thwarting mass rallies planned by Morsi’s Brotherhood.

Security was tight around the police academy, with hundreds of black-clad riot police backed by armoured vehicles deployed around the sprawling complex. Police helicopters hovered over the site. The final stretch of road leading to the academy was sealed off, with only authorized personnel and accredited journalists allowed to approach the facility.

The academy also being used for the re-trial of Mubarak, charged with failing to stop the killing of some 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising that toppled his 29-year regime. But unlike Mubarak’s first trial, the proceedings against Morsi were not aired live.

Several hundred Morsi supporters rallied outside the police academy, carrying posters with his photo and banners depicting an open palm with four fingers — the symbol commemorating a pro-Morsi sit-in that was violently cleared by security forces in August. They also chanted slogans against Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the military chief who led the July coup.

Police fired in the air to separate them from Morsi’s opponents. They used tear gas to end clashes between the two sides outside a major court complex in Cairo’s downtown area. Police also used tear gas to disperse thousands of Morsi supporters in the southern city of Assiut.

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| Egypt court bans Muslim Brotherhood ‘activities!’

Egypt court bans Muslim Brotherhood ‘activities’ ~ BBC.

A court in Egypt has banned “all activities” by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Cairo administrative court said its ruling applied to the Islamist group, its non-governmental organisation and “any organisation derived from it”.

It also ordered the interim government to seize the Brotherhood’s funds and form a panel to administer its frozen assets until any appeal had been heard.

The military authorities have launched a crackdown on the group since ousting President Mohammed Morsi on 3 July.

Dozens of senior Brotherhood figures, including its general guide Mohammed Badie, have been detained on suspicion of inciting violence and murder.

Hundreds of people demanding Mr Morsi’s reinstatement, most of them Brotherhood members, have also been killed in clashes with security forces, who portray the crackdown as a struggle against “terrorism”.

The 85-year-old Islamist movement was banned by Egypt’s military rulers in 1954, but registered itself as an NGO in March in response to a court case bought by opponents who contested its legal status.

The Brotherhood also has a legally registered political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which was set up in 2011 as a “non-theocratic” group after the uprising that forced President Hosni Mubarak from power.

Following Mr Morsi’s overthrow and the suspension of the Islamist-friendly 2012 constitution, the Cairo administrative court and the social solidarity ministry were tasked with reviewing the Brotherhood’s legal status.

Earlier this month, a judicial panel issued a non-binding recommendation to the court supporting one legal challenge, which argued that the NGO registration was illegal because the Brotherhood-led government had effectively issued a licence to itself.

Egypt in crisis

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| A reading of the Western position on the Egyptian coup!

A reading of the Western position on the Egyptian coup ~ MEMO.

Bader Mohammad Bader

What Europe and America want from Egypt … In a nutshell, they want to protect their political, economic and security interests, one of which is the protection of Israel

 

Only a few days after the bloody and treacherous military coup in Egypt on July 3rd, Western governments released timid statements on the issue with a sense of concern and anticipation; they were unsure about the consequences and if they would be favourable for the coup leaders.

 

The rapid popular rejection of the military coup and the isolation of the first elected civil president, suspension of the constitution, dissolution of the Shura Council and other non-democratic acts prompted Western delegations to flock to Cairo in an attempt to examine the situation on the ground and explore options for a political solution. This was done by holding meetings with the political parties as well as the coup leaders.

Such efforts faded very quickly and have now virtually stopped altogether. The question is, why?

Before answering this we must ask ourselves what Europe and America want from Egypt. In a nutshell, they want to protect their political, economic and security interests, one of which is the protection of Israel. Stability in Egypt is important for that and can best be achieved with secular groups in power, it is believed, rather than Islamists.

The West is fully aware that the Islamists in Egypt, in particular, and in the Arab world in general, cannot be ignored or excluded from political participation. However, if the secularists are dressed in civilian clothes and in power, it would undoubtedly be best for the West. This can only happen by cancelling or hindering the democratic process and suppressing the Islamists who are a political force to be reckoned with, all of which goes against the West’s liberal thought and culture. As such, the statements made by Western politicians stressed the need to return to civilian rule as a matter of urgency and not to exclude anyone, meaning the Islamists, from participation.

It looks, though, as if the military leaders of the coup and Egypt’s secular elite have made it clear to the West that such an approach would return the situation back to zero; the Islamists are still influential at the grassroots level and could still win a majority in any election. Their solution has been to suppress the Islamists by arresting and prosecuting them to keep them out of the public domain and, therefore, politics.

Western doubts about the process are not out of concern for the well-being of the Islamists but for how it will look to domestic audiences in Europe and America. More importantly, perhaps, such moves do not eradicate Islamic political trends altogether but opens the door to violent extremism, with unpredictable results.

I believe that the Western position now boils down to one of two things: first, they might have realised that the military coup is now failing politically by its suppression of the Islamist opposition and bloody massacres of peaceful protesters calling for democracy in Rabaa Al-Adawiyya and Al-Nahda Squares. This bloodshed fuelled the rejection of the coup and boosted popular demands for the restoration of democracy, not just amongst Islamists. Moreover, the massacres will not be excused by Europe in the event that the perpetrators are not held to account for them by the international community. The coup has failed to sell itself internationally as a popular revolt against a non-democratic situation.

The coup is also sinking in an economic sense; Egypt’s already bad economic situation is now on the verge of collapsing altogether despite large injections of aid from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. Desperate economic conditions are linked by the people to the repercussions of the military coup.

The West could feel that it is probably better to leave the coup to fight for its life alone. If it collapses and dies then Western governments can tell their own electorates that they advised the coup authorities but they didn’t listen.

The second possibility is that the West has received commitments from the coup leaders regarding relations with Israel. Of special concern is the need to get rid of Hamas by re-imposing the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip; hence the destruction of the tunnels and closure of the Rafah Border Crossing as well as a military strike. The protection of all Western interests in Egypt will also have been promised by the coup government.

It is easy to imagine that the coup authorities in Egypt have assured the West that they are determined to stay in power because stepping aside would lead the way for a return of the Islamists even stronger than before. If the coup can achieve stability it would be best for Western governments. Failure, would affect everyone, the West included.

Politicians in Western capitals may have determined for themselves, therefore, to remain tacitly supportive of the coup, which explains the current absence of political delegations; the issue has gone beyond that stage. This may also explain Western silence, as well as that of international organisations, particularly the UN, regarding the violations of civil liberties in Egypt; is it acceptable because the repression, arbitrary arrests and brutality are being directed against, and suffered by, Islamists?

In conclusion, I would say that the West is heading along the first approach which will see it allowing the coup to wither on the vine and watch from the sidelines as it does. The growing pressure to restore democracy from all sectors of Egyptian society will have sent a clear message that the coup is not only anti-Islamist in nature. Western governments could well be planning for the post-coup stage already and an Egypt in which all political trends will have a full role to play, including the Islamists.

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| Egypt degenerates: Blast near interior minister’s home wounds four!

Security sources: Blast near interior minister’s home wounds four ~ Reuters, Al Jazeera.

A blast near the home of the Egyptian interior minister in Cairo’s Nasr City district injured at least four people, but the minister was not nearby at the time, three security sources told the Reuters news agency.

The cause of the blast, in an area just outside central Cairo, was not immediately clear, the sources said.

[Source: Reuters]

Explosion in front of Minister of Interior House on Moustafa Nahass Street in Nasr City / Al Jazeera
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| Turkey shows Egypt how the ballot beats the bullet!

Turkey’s Hidden Revolution ~ , Slate.

How Prime Minister Erdoğan accidentally fostered a generation of Turkish liberals.

Peaceful protesters in Ankara, Turkey, June 4, 2013.

Young Turks, like those protesting in Ankara on June 4, don’t fit into the country’s old ideological categories.
Photo by Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

On Aug. 5 a court in western Turkey handed down life sentences to a score of retired military officers, including the former chief of the general staff, as well as politicians and media figures, for plotting attacks that would have hurled the country into chaos in preparation for a military coup. The trial was widely regarded as flawed, but the verdicts did not provoke big protests in a nation that until a few years ago held the Army in higher esteem than any other institution. A few days later, at the end of Ramadan, the cities emptied as usual and the resorts were packed. Amid the festivities, the decapitation of the country’s former ruling establishment was largely forgotten.

To an outsider it might seem as though the Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has achieved what his former counterpart in Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, failed to do: boot the generals into irrelevance and impress on his opponents the fullness of their defeat. But that impression is incomplete. Over the past decade, emboldened by impressive mandates from the electorate, Erdoğan has indeed done much to subordinate the Army to the civilian authorities, but he has had help from an unlikely quarter: a generation of Turks who, although secular and deeply opposed to political Islam, no longer want the generals to fight their battles for them. These Turks are young (or youngish), and what they know of modern countries tells them that it’s not a good idea to have the Army running things behind the scenes. Nor has the military always contented itself with remaining behind the scenes; since 1960 the generals have staged three coups (four if you include the “soft” coup of 1997), befriended gangsters and neofascists, and sabotaged efforts to end a decades-old war against Kurdish insurgents. So, the silence of these younger, secular Turks after Aug. 5 was meaningful. It was a silence of disassociation.

Who are they, and what do they stand for? For the answer, look at the protests that swept Turkey this June, starting around some threatened sycamores in central Istanbul, spreading to no fewer than 60 of the country’s 81 provinces, and ending with five dead and many thousands injured. Amid the chaos and tear gas, new elements in society were discernible; these elements will be prominent in the political and cultural struggles of the future.

The old Turkey—the Turkey I came to know after moving to the country in 1996—was dominated by big, obvious blocs: left, right, and Islamist, each with its own culture, leaders, “look,” and foundation myths. Each bloc was subject to an internal tyranny, with leaders-for-life and the common foot soldier shielded from truths he wouldn’t understand. The media, academe, and the huge public sector bought into this system. It was hard to get on without being a client of one bloc or another. Everyone knew where he stood.

This summer’s agitation was suggestive of a different Turkey, variegated, harder to classify. The old blocs are gone. There is now a concatenation of groups, interests, forums, and individuals—different shades of identity and belief. Over the past decade, the country has gained the most sophisticated green, feminist, and gay rights movements in the Muslim world. A large, overwhelmingly secular minority, the proto-Shia Alevis, have emerged from semi-hiding, while the Kurds, long reviled and detested, enjoy greater prominence and freedom than at any time since the Ottoman era.

All of these groups were represented on the streets in June—rallied not by tub-thumping leaders or powerful editors, but by fellow protesters using Twitter and Facebook. Not forgetting the housewives banging pots at their windows, the students, private-sector workers, and football fans who joined the protests, and the celebrities who were photographed cleaning up the mess. Turkey has a new bloc, betrothed to none of the established political parties, loyal readers of no single newspaper: a liberal bloc.

The irony is that the person who did the most to bring liberal Turkey into existence is now its adversary: Erdoğan himself. It seems outlandish to recall, but he is the man who authored some of the most comprehensive pro-democracy reforms the country has known. Erdoğan’s measures were designed above all to benefit his own, Islamist supporters who had been persecuted by the old secularist elite. But Alevis and gays and the others also came up for air. A forgotten group, the Armenians—a group that almost symbolises Turkey’s troubled historical conscience—shot back into prominence. When the Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink was murdered by a Turkish nationalist in 2007, hundreds of thousands of Turks marched in protest. “We are all Hrant!”

All the while, Erdoğan presided over an unprecedented expansion in material prosperity, lifting millions into the middle class, where they enjoyed greater mobility, educational opportunities, and freedom of choice. The result was a more diverse, complicated, and irreverent culture than Turkey had seen for many decades.

Erdoğan does not seem to like this Turkey, or the liberals who inhabit it. He has criticized their drinking habits and their abortions; opponents in the media have been silenced through a combination of behind-the-scenes pressure and the courts. The prime minister supports radical changes to Istanbul’s already much-abused skyline—a mammoth hilltop mosque, the world’s biggest airport, a new bridge across the Bosporus, and endless shopping malls, all approved with little oversight. The sycamores were the last straw.

Erdoğan’s reaction to the June protests was neither thoughtful nor generous. He called the demonstrators “looters” and social media a “plague” spread by “social delinquents.” He congratulated the police, whose brutality had been deplored by human rights campaigners around the world, on writing “an epic of heroism.” Now he is lashing out, suing critics and complaining of an international conspiracy led by a sinister “interest rate lobby.” False modesty is not among the prime minister’s faults; he speaks of himself in the third person, when not using the royal “we.” He hopes to end 2014 as the occupant of a much-empowered Turkish presidency.

Erdoğan still has the numbers—pious, commercially minded Turks who constitute the country’s new establishment, and who share his conservative views. But his opponents are also a formidable force. There should be a way for liberals and conservatives to coexist—it’s the norm in many countries. Can Erdoğan be the leader of all Turks, even those who disagree with him? The auguries are not hopeful.

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| Behind Egypt’s coup, months of acrimony between Morsi and top general over Sinai, policies!

Behind Egypt’s coup, months of acrimony between Morsi and top general over Sinai, policies ~ Associated Press, Washington Post.

CAIRO — The head of Egypt’s military, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, sat with a polite smile in the front row listening to President Mohammed Morsi give a 2 1/2-hour speech defending his year in office. El-Sissi even clapped lightly as the audience of Morsi supporters broke into cheers.

It was a calculating display of cool by an army general plotting the overthrow of his commander in chief. Just over a week later, el-Sissi slid in the knife, announcing Morsi’s ouster on state TV on July 3 as troops took the Islamist leader into custody.

Demonstrators hold trays with bites decorated with small portraits of the government members during a protest in front of the delegation of the Spanish government in Catalonia, in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday July 18, 2013. Spain’s prime minister brushed off demands he should resign after text messages emerged showing he had a cozy relationship with a disgraced political party treasurer who amassed 47 million euros ($61 million) in secret Swiss bank accounts. The spectacle of alleged greed and corruption has enraged Spaniards hurting from austerity and sky high unemployment with no end in sight. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

 

The move was the culmination of nearly a year of acrimonious relations between el-Sissi and Egypt’s first freely elected — and first civilian — president.

A series of interviews by The Associated Press with defense, security and intelligence officials paint a picture of a president who intended to flex his civilian authority as supreme commander of the armed forces, issuing orders to el-Sissi. In turn, the military chief believed Morsi was leading the country into turmoil and repeatedly challenged him, defying his orders in at least two cases.

The degree of their differences suggests that the military had been planning for months to take greater control of the political reins in Egypt. When an activist group named Tamarod began a campaign to oust Morsi, building up to protests by millions nationwide that began June 30, it appears to have provided a golden opportunity for el-Sissi to get rid of the president. The military helped Tamarod from early on, communicating with it through third parties, according to the officials.

The reason, the officials said, was because of profound policy differences with Morsi. El-Sissi saw him as dangerously mismanaging a wave of protests early in the year that saw dozens killed by security forces. More significantly, however, the military also worried that Morsi was giving a free hand to Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula, ordering el-Sissi to stop crackdowns on jihadis who had killed Egyptian soldiers and were escalating a campaign of violence.

“I don’t want Muslims to shed the blood of fellow Muslims,” Morsi told el-Sissi in ordering a halt to a planned offensive in November, retired army Gen. Sameh Seif el-Yazl told AP. Seif el-Yazl remains close to the military and sometimes appears with el-Sissi at public events.

And at root, the military establishment has historically had little tolerance for the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi’s Islamist group. The military leadership has long held the conviction that the group puts its regional Islamist ambitions above Egypt’s security interests.

Its alliances with Gaza’s Hamas rulers and other Islamist groups alarmed the military, which believed Gaza militants were involved in Sinai violence. The officials said the military leadership also believed the Brotherhood was trying to co-opt commanders to turn against el-Sissi.

The military has been the most powerful institution in Egypt since officers staged a 1952 coup that toppled the monarchy. Except for Morsi, the military has since given Egypt all of its presidents and maintained a powerful influence over policy. Having a civilian leader over the military was entirely new for the country.

The Brotherhood accuses el-Sissi of turning against them and carrying out a coup to wreck democracy. Since being deposed, Morsi is detained by the military at an undisclosed Defense Ministry facility.

The Brotherhood had believed that el-Sissi was sympathetic with their Islamist agenda. A senior Brotherhood official told AP that Morsi installed el-Sissi, then the head of military intelligence, as defense minister and head of the armed forces in August 2012 in part because he had been the contact man between the Brotherhood and the military junta that ruled Egypt for nearly 17 months after the February 2011 fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

El-Sissi spoke of his differences with Morsi for the first time Sunday when he addressed military officers in a meeting that was partially televised.

“I don’t want to count to you the number of times that the armed forces showed its reservations on many actions and measures that came as a surprise,” el-Sissi said.

Along with the Brotherhood official, eight current senior officials in the military, military intelligence and Interior Ministry — including a top army commander and an officer from el-Sissi’s inner circle — spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the events between Morsi and the military.

They recounted tense conversations and meetings with a frustrated Morsi frequently reminding the military chief of his rank as supreme commander.

As early as April, the army drew up a contingency plan to assert control of the nation by taking charge of security if street violence escalated out of Morsi’s control, the intelligence and defense officials said.

The plan did not entail removing Morsi. Instead, it was an expansion of the role the army took in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, which by that time had seen months of anti-Morsi protests that evolved into an outright revolt. More than 40 protesters had been killed by police there, as Morsi publicly urged security forces to deal strongly with the protests. The military was deployed in the city, largely welcomed by the residents, who continued protests and strikes.

The military officials said Morsi had ordered the army to get tougher on protesters, but el-Sissi refused, telling him, “The people have demands.”

About this time, in April and May, el-Sissi’s officials met with commanders of the Republican Guard, the army branch that protects the president. The commanders told them that Morsi’s aides were trying to co-opt Guard officers and senior army officers in a move to replace el-Sissi, according to the official in the military chief’s staff.

Each side’s suspicions were fueled by leaks in the press with anonymous Brotherhood and military officials quoted as criticizing the other. In meetings, Morsi assured el-Sissi that he had no intention of firing him, saying, “These are just rumors,” the defense officials said. El-Sissi told Morsi that the military leaks were merely “newspaper talk.”

In April, the youth activists of Tamarod, Arabic for “Rebel,” began collecting signatures on a petition for Morsi to step down. When it said it had 2 million signatures in mid-May, the military took an interest and worked through third parties that connected the group with liberal and opposition-linked businessmen who would bank it, said two high-ranking Interior Ministry officials.

The campaign claimed in June to have more than 20 million signatures — though the number has never been independently confirmed — and called for mass rallies against Morsi to start June 30, the anniversary of his inauguration. El-Sissi issued a statement saying the armed forces would intervene to stop any violence at the protests, particularly to stop Morsi supporters from attacking the rallies. He gave the two sides a week to resolve their differences — with the deadline being June 30.

The protection plan appeared to be an evolution of the original contingency plan set up in April, and it was widely seen as a show of support for the protesters.

Morsi summoned el-Sissi to explain his statement, and the general reassured him that “this was designed to calm people down,” the Brotherhood official said.

“He did not show his true intentions until July 1 when he gave the president a 48-hour ultimatum,” said the official, referring to a second ultimatum from el-Sissi that explicitly demanded Morsi find a solution with his opponents or the military would intervene.

Soon after the first deadline was issued, two Morsi aides called the commander of the 2nd Field Army, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Wasfi, based in the Suez Canal region, and sounded him out about installing him in el-Sissi’s place, the military officials said. Wasfi immediately informed el-Sissi of the call, they said.

Seif el-Yazl and the military and intelligence officials said security in the strategic Sinai Peninsula bordering Gaza and Israel was at the heart of the differences. The region plunged into lawlessness after Mubarak’s ouster, with Islamic militants gaining increasing power. Soon after Morsi took office, militants killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in a single attack and smaller-scale shootings on security forces mounted. In May, six policemen and a soldier were kidnapped.

Morsi in each case vowed action, but he and his aides also spoke publicly on the need for restraint and dialogue. At one point, he publicly acknowledged holding the military back from a raid to prevent civilian casualties, and he also spoke of the need not to harm the kidnappers as well as the captives. Morsi’s ultraconservative Salafi allies mediated with militant groups to get them to halt violence, although attacks continued.

In November, Morsi ordered el-Sissi to halt a planned Sinai offensive a day before it was to be launched, and el-Sissi complied, Self el-Yazl said. In May, the kidnappers released their captives after a week, apparently after mediation. Morsi vowed publicly to track them down, but the military officials said the president ordered el-Sissi to pull his forces out of the area where they were believed to be. Again, the military complied. The kidnappers have not been caught.

The security and intelligence officials said they reported to Morsi about a rising number of foreign jihadis, including Palestinians, entering Sinai. The military identified Gazan militants involved in the killing of the 16 soldiers, but Morsi rejected a request by el-Sissi that he ask Hamas to hand them over for trial, the officials said. Hamas has repeatedly denied any role in the killings.

Morsi instead ordered el-Sissi to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to discuss the issue. El-Sissi refused, because of the military’s longtime view of Hamas as a threat, said the officials.

The military saw the policy of dialogue as being rooted in the Brotherhood’s sympathy to others in the Islamist movement, even ones engaged in violence. Another incident deepened the military’s belief that Morsi was more interested in a regional Islamist agenda than what the army saw as Egypt’s interests.

During an April visit to Sudan, which has an Islamist government, Morsi showed flexibility over the fate of a border region claimed by both countries. After Morsi’s return, el-Sissi sent his chief of staff to Khartoum to “make it crystal clear to the Sudanese that the Egyptian armed forces will never surrender” the territory, one defense official said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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| Mubarakism without Mubarak: The Struggle for Egypt!

Mubarakism Without Mubarak: The Struggle for Egypt ~ JOSEPH MASSAD, Counterpunch.

Ever since Muhammad Mursi was elected president of Egypt in democratic elections marred by his Mubarakist opponent Ahmad Shafiq’s electoral corruption and bribes, a coalition of Egyptian liberals, Nasserists, leftists — including socialists and communists of varying stripes –and even Salafist and repentant Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members began to form slowly but steadily, establishing an alliance with Mubarak’s ruling bourgeoisie and holdover politicians from his regime to oust him from power, fearing that he and his party were preparing a “Nazi-like” takeover of the country and destroying its fledgling democracy.

The scenario they fear is the one that brought the Nazis to establish a totalitarian state in 1933. In July 1932, in the German Reichstag (parliamentary) elections, the Nazi party received over 37 percent of the vote, becoming the largest party in parliament. On 30 January 1933, German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler Reich Chancellor, wherein Hitler headed a cabinet with a minority of Nazi ministers.  A month later, on 27 February 1933, arsonists burned down the Reichstag building in Berlin. Hitler blamed the communists and accused them of a plot to overthrow the democratically elected parliament and asked the President of the Weimar Republic to grant him emergency powers to suspend civil liberties so that he could chase the communists, imprison them, dissolve political parties and close down the press. This came to be known as the Reichstag Fire Decree. On March 23, the Reichstag conferred on Hitler dictatorial powers, establishing the Nazi totalitarian regime and state.

The anti-Mursi alliance, which began to form in earnest in August 2012, started out bashfully but would become proud and assertive by November 2012, after Mursi’s infamous Constitutional Decree, which centralized political power in the hands of the President. With the aid of Mubarak’s judges, the Mubarakist bourgeoisie and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which had ruled Egypt for a year and four months after Mubarak’s ouster, had already dissolved the post-uprising democratically-elected parliament, which was composed of a majority of Islamists, on technical grounds, before Mursi’s election. They did so to the cheers of liberals and leftists who claimed that they were the real leaders of the 25 January uprising that overthrew Mubarak and who feared the elected Islamists whom they depicted not as part of the uprising but as encroachers on their “revolution.” A few days before the elections, the military also issued a constitutional decree constricting the powers of the elected president and concentrating it in the hands of the military.

The liberals’ and the leftists’ fear was that the MB was Egypt’s Nazi party –they pretend to be democrats until they get elected and then they will refuse to leave power and will eliminate the democratic process and establish an Islamist dictatorship. That the Mubarak-appointed judges were the ones who dissolved the democratically elected parliament seemed not to bother the liberals and the leftists much, but they were horrified when Mursi issued his Constitutional Decree, which aimed to take away the power of Mubarak’s judges whom he had tried to depose unsuccessfully. Indeed the Constitutional Decree was seen as a sort of Reichstag Fire Decree, which it could very well have been. Mursi would soon reverse himself and would cancel the Decree in response to popular uproar. He would more recently express regret for having issued it.

Mursi’s Record

The Mursi government seemed surprisingly pliant and friendly to Western interests, including towards Israel, whose president Shimon Peres was addressed by Mursi as “my dear friend” in an official presidential letter. Contrary to expectations of a burgeoning friendship with Hamas, under Mursi’s government, the Gaza border in Rafah was closed more times than under Mubarak, security coordination with Israel became more intimate than under Mubarak, and to make matters worse, Mursi, with the Egyptian army and the help of the Americans, destroyed the majority of the underground tunnels between Gaza and Sinai which the Palestinians had dug out to smuggle in food and goods during their interminable siege since 2005 and which Mubarak had not dared demolish. Mursi even went further by mediating between Israel and Hamas during the latest Israeli attack on Gaza, vouching that he would guarantee that Hamas would not launch rockets against Israel but not the other way around. It is true that Mursi refused to meet with Israeli leaders but even Mubarak had refused to visit Israel for years before his ouster and had recalled his ambassador in protest against Israeli policies. One of Mursi’s more major acts before his recent ouster was not the closure of the Israeli embassy, as friends and enemies of the Islamists threatened he would do, but closed down instead the Syrian embassy in support of the ongoing rightwing Islamist insurrection in that country.

While in power, Mursi and his government continued Mubarak’s policies of contracting the public sector and social spending in a continuing war against the poor and downtrodden of Egypt, who are the majority of the population, and pushed forth neoliberal economic policies that favored the rich and powerful, including an IMF deal (which was never finalized for no fault of Mursi’s), which would increase the already existing austerity measures against the poor. Indeed, he did nothing to change the existing labor and tax laws that favor the rich and oppress workers, middle class employees, and the poor. Mursi neither prosecuted army generals for crimes of which they stood accused (he rather bestowed on them major state honors and awards and made those whom he retired into advisors to the President), nor tried the Mubarakist thieving bourgeoisie in the courts for its pillage of the country for three and a half decades, let alone the security apparatus that continued to repress Egyptians under his rule.

On the contrary, as a president who came out of the rightist and neoliberal wing of the MB (compared to the more centrist ‘Abd al-Mun’im Abu al-Futuh who also ran for the presidency and lost), he was interested in an alliance between the Islamist neoliberal bourgeoisie, whose most visible member is Khayrat al-Shatir (who was barred from running for the presidency by the Mubarakist courts), and the Mubarakist bourgeoisie. Unlike al-Shatir who is the son of a rich merchant and who made his own fortune in Egypt, many among the Islamist rich, though not all, made their money in the Gulf. They were mostly kept out of a share in the pillaging of Egypt, restricted to the close businessmen friends of Mubarak, now wanted a place at the table to partake of the ongoing pillage of the country. While Mursi won the favor of the military with the US vouching for his good behavior, at least until last week, hard as he tried to convince the Mubarakist bourgeoisie to allow the Islamists to partake of pillaging Egypt, the Mubarakist bourgeoisie would not budge.

The Response of the Mubarakists

The Mubarakist bourgeoisie’s response was that Egypt was theirs to pillage alone (though they have always been happy to include the Americans, the Saudis, the Emiratis, and of course the Israelis) and that they would not allow some Islamist upstarts to move in on their territory. Having shunned Egypt’s poor, its peasants and workers, its low income middle classes, while courting the rank and file of the MB, the Islamist and Mubarakist bourgeoisies, and the military, Mursi had no one but the MB to fall back on when the army abandoned him and the Mubarakists and the coalition plotting with them intensified their attacks on him.

Mubarak’s bourgeoisie set their media empires loose on Mursi and the MB. Week after week, hour after hour, on television, in the press, on social media, especially Facebook but also twitter, a campaign of vilification, exaggerations, and outright lies would ensue. Television anchors would go as far as calling for the violent overthrow of Mursi. Members of the opposition, like millionaire engineer Mamdouh Hamzah, openly called on the army to stage a coup.

Campaigns, which were also supported by the Saudis and the Emiratis, would target Qatar, the sponsor of the MB around the Arab world, as a financial monster trying to buy out everything in Egypt, including allegedly the Suez Canal and the pyramids! The comedian Bassem Youssef (very popular among the Cairo and Alexandria bourgeoisie and middle classes but virtually unknown to the majority of poor and lower class Egyptians in the cities and the countryside who cannot understand the majority of his Western and upper middle class references) went after Qatar with a clever parody of a late 1950s Arab nationalist song which designated Qatar rather than “the Arab homeland” as its object of adulation, on account of the latter’s increasing financial investments in Egypt (both real and imagined). That the Saudis, the Emiratis, and the Americans are larger financial monsters and have investments and property in the country that far exceed what the voracious Qataris had been rumored to acquire did not merit any of them a parody song like the Qataris. The irony is that while the Qataris have been the sponsors and engineers of MB takeovers across Arab countries which experienced uprisings, including Egypt, or were sometimes made to experience them by the Qataris, as in Libya and even in Syria, the Saudis and the Emiratis have been the active sponsors of the counterrevolutions and of theanciens regimes.

In the meantime, the media and the pundits kept speaking about Mursi as the new “Hitler” and the MB as the “Nazi Party.” The highly westernized Bassem Youssef even unfurled the Nazi flag to his audience in one episode as a reference to the MB flag, thinking that the Nazi flag would be so familiar to most Egyptians that it would produce gasps of horror. Judging from the reaction of his choreographed studio audience, which reacted nonchalantly to the flag, which is not recognizable to most Egyptians (who are, unlike their western counterparts, not avid consumers of Hollywood films about WWII) outside political and intellectual circles, the impact seemed limited. But the Nazi and Hitler analogies would be made also by academics in their op-ed columns, time and again. Indeed, the recently appointed minister of culture was even likened to Goebbels by one columnist, which is not a problem unto itself, but what about the endless and repetitious barrage of propaganda and lies by the anti-Mursi media conglomerates? Does it deserve a comparison with Goebbels?

We should bear in mind that the Nazi accusations have been often used in world politics to justify all kinds of actions. In fact, Mursi is not the first Egyptian president accused of being a Hitler. In 1954, and in light of the Lavon Affair, Israel dubbed Nasser “Hitler on the Nile” for prosecuting Israel’s terrorist spies. The French and the British followed suit during their preparation for the 1956 invasion of Egypt
massadcoverclaiming that they were fighting a fascist Nasser and that their anti-fascism trumps his anti-imperialism.  Western liberals who supported the US invasion of the Arabian Peninsula in 1991 and Iraq in 2003 to remove Saddam also argued that their anti-fascism trumps the anti-imperialism of opponents of the invasion. Husni Mubarak, in contrast, who served as tyrant for three decades was never called Hitler by the opposition press. Ironically, the only Egyptian president who ever flirted with Nazism was none other than Anwar Sadat who had been a pro-Nazi enthusiast in his youth.

In the case of Mursi, the media campaign against him and the MB, most prominently on CBC and ONTV satellite channels (both owned by members of the Mubarakist bourgeoisie), far outstripped anything that the CIA-financed El Mercurio could do in its anti-Salvador Allende campaign before the CIA-sponsored coup toppled him in 1973 Chile– which is not to say that Mursi is an Allende but rather that many of his powerful enemies are not unlike Allende’s (after all, middle class women carrying pots and pans, members of the truckers’ union, among other sectors, would march and strike against Allende’s rule).

Rumors had it also that the anti-Palestinian and increasingly anti-Hamas Mursi government was giving the poor and besieged Gaza Palestinianselectricity (which it was not) that it was allegedly stealing from the Egyptian people and causing massive shortages in Cairo and around the country. Other rumors had it that Mursi was ceding the Sinai to Hamas and the Palestinians. More rumors would have it that Hamas elements were being brought in to harass Egyptian liberals and leftists who opposed Mursi’ policies. Just a week before his ouster, we were told without a shred of evidence that Mursi had imported 1500 Hamas elements to attack the anti-Mursi demonstrators set to stage their massive rallies on 30 June demanding that Mursi step down. The media-whipped hysteria gripping the country was of such magnitude that even usually levelheaded liberal and leftist academics abandoned their critical faculties altogether and immersed themselves exclusively in the world of Facebook rumors and yellow journalism, which became their primary source of information and education.

The Confrontation

The Mursi government was clearly adamant in its plans to push ahead, with blunders and all (and its stupid blunders let alone its neoliberal policies and its utter incompetence in running the country are sufficient on their own to discredit it), including its courting members of the MB and other Islamists for key positions in the government, in constitutional committees, and in the bureaucracy. It is true that Mursi invited many in the opposition throughout his year in power to join committees, the cabinet, the bureaucracy, and even his team of advisors (and some accepted for a while), but most of them rejected these offers, fearing, legitimately in many cases, that they would be used as fronts for what they expected would be a program of “Ikhwanization” (the MB in Arabic are truncated to “Ikhwan”) of the state, which has been astronomically exaggerated by the Mubarakist media. Others resigned advisory positions they had accepted because Mursi refused to heed their advice, something, according to reported MB sources, he also did with MB advisors.

But the incompetence of the MB presidency was not the only reason the country deteriorated in the last year. Everywhere Mursi turned, the Mubarakists put obstacles in his way. The government bureaucracy refused to cooperate with him, the judges fought him every step of the way, and the police refused to redeploy in the streets. The Mubarakist bourgeoisie, as is increasingly being revealed in the international press, fabricated an energy crisis causing massive shortages in fuel and electricity, which miraculously disappeared upon Mursi’s removal from power.

This set the scene for the massive mobilization that a new “movement” calling itself “Tamarrud” (which actually means “Mutiny” and in some contexts “Rebellion,” but not “Rebel” as its founders, supporters, and the western media erroneously translate it), which called for the demonstrations on June 30, the first year anniversary of Mursi’s assuming the presidency. The entire spectrum of the coalition, which had formed and consolidated itself since Mursi’s election, including the National Salvation Front, which was hastily put together following the issuance of Mursi’s Constitutional Decree, joined in demanding that Mursi leave office. They would be successful in mobilizing millions in the streets culminating in the 30 June demonstrations.

A deal was brokered with the army (and the Americans), by which the army declared a coup, ousted Mursi, and began a witch hunt, in which it is joined by enthusiastic members of the public eager for the chase, against the MB. MB office buildings were burned down around the country by the “peaceful” demonstrators, including its headquarters in Cairo. The coup was not called a coup, and members of the popular coalition that support it consider anyone who calls it a coup “an enemy of the Egyptian people,” as many have been posting on twitter and Facebook. While Islamist and MB television stations were closed down minutes after the coup was announced, Mursi was abducted by the military and placed under arrest in an undeclared military location, and top members of the MB were arrested or have become fugitives. Top member of the National Salvation Front and charisma-less Mohammed El-Baradei has defended the military repression unhesitatingly to Western leaders and politicians and is awaiting his appointment in the post-coup government in recognition of his efforts to sell the coup as a democratic revolution or even as a “recall election.”

One of the first acts of the coup leaders was to shut down indefinitely the Gaza border crossing, effectively strangling the Strip and its Palestinian population. They have also immediately resumed demolishing whatever underground tunnels have escaped destruction since the last campaign. Xenophobia in the country against Palestinians, and increasingly Syrians and Iraqis is taking on Fascist proportions. The coup leaders issued an announcement threatening members of these nationalities resident in the country with legal prosecution if they joined any of the demonstrations.

The current popular festive scene in Cairo is ironically reminiscent of triumphalist fascist festivities in the Europe of the 1930s rather than of democratic ones. But it is not the MB who declared the coup, as we have been prepared to expect for a whole year, nor was it they who put the opposition in jail and closed down their TV stations, burned down their headquarters, and are chasing them in the streets and calling on people to hand them over to the police and report on them.

Indeed, during the one-year rule of Mursi not one television station or newspaper was closed, even and especially as many of them would call for open rebellion and for the violent overthrow of the democratically elected government. True, some journalists were prosecuted for insulting the president (and no sitting president in Egypt or arguably in any other country has ever had to endure a small fraction of the daily if not hourly insults and ridicule Mursi endured during his tenure, let alone the type of media language used to humiliate him) by paying fines. Though he could not successfully interfere with the privately owned media, Mursi did take over all state-owned newspapers and replaced their editors, many of whom were Mubarakists, but a number of whom were elected editors, with his own appointments.

One feels the terror of the witch-hunt on the streets of Cairo, and the targets are not just card-carrying members of the MB. Pro-coup doormen of posh buildings in the upscale neighborhood of Zamalek, to take a small example, taunt and threaten other doormen who are accused of supporting the MB. The latter are staying indoors for fear of their lives after the coup was announced. What is happening in more divided middleclass and poor neighborhoods and in smaller cities and the countryside is far worse with fire exchanges, shootings and outright killings in which all sides are involved. The army itself shot and killed tens of pro-Mursi demonstrators who oppose the coup. As the fascist adulation for the army and police have been adopted popularly in full force, this could very well spell the beginning of a much-feared civil war and massive pogroms against those identified as “enemies” of Egypt and the Egyptian people.

The Liberals and The Leftists

How can one explain that liberals and leftists would support a coup against a democratic order for which they fought, would stage a “revolution” against “democracy,” in alliance with the Mubarakist bourgeoisie and with the very military they condemned so hard just a year earlier until it ceded power to an elected government? The military and the bourgeoisie and Mubarak’s judges have evidently not changed, but the liberals and the leftists have. Their rationale is one reminiscent of the futurist and dystopic Hollywood movie Minority Report wherein the authorities prosecute people for “pre-crimes” – i.e. crimes they would commit in the future if they were not caught before they committed them. They allege that the MB was going to stage an anti-democratic coup of sorts and begin to repress them, and for this future crime, which the MB and Mursi were expected to commit, the anti-Mursi coalition had to intervene and punish them now to prevent them from canceling democracy in the future!

But it is the liberals and the leftists who helped stage the coup, and who ended extant electoral democracy, and who are persecuting and prosecuting the MB for real and imagined crimes, not the other way around. That their coup was popular, they insist, means it is what the people want. But the people also wanted Fascism and they also wanted Nazism? How is this an argument for democracy, which they claim it is? They assert in response that workers and the poor joined in their marches. But workers and the poor also joined the Fascist and Nazi rallies. They are also part of MB rallies.

The leftists are claiming that their support for the coup and their alliance with the Mubarakist comprador bourgeoisie are actually anti-imperialist in nature and are railing against the Western media for its current “orientalist” coverage of their coup (as if the western media has ever been anything but orientalist in its coverage of our part of the world at all times), which they deem hostile, and for Obama’s possibly having to cut off military aid in keeping with US laws that prevent him from extending aid to coup leaders in the Third World (Carter and Reagan found a way around this in the 1970s and 1980s when they subcontracted Israel to aid America’s anti-democracy allies in Central and South America and in Apartheid South Africa, and Obama will find a way too). At any rate, US military aid to Egypt for 2013 was already disbursed and the 2014 aid is not scheduled for a Congressional vote until the fall. Not to worry though, top Israeli diplomats are lobbying the White House and the US Defense Department to continue military aid to Egypt.

Another legitimate argument that the liberals and leftists offer is that when they and others staged an uprising in January and February 2011 that led to the removal of Mubarak and the take-over by the army who ruled the country directly afterwards, few referred to what happened as a “coup” but called it a “revolution,” whereas now that there was another massive uprising and the army also intervened but without designating themselves as rulers, many are claiming this as a “coup.” This of course is correct though not accurate, as it sidesteps the central issue. In February 2011, the army refused to obey the orders of an unelected dictator by not shooting at civilians, thus helping to topple him, while in July 2013, they overthrew a president that more than half the Egyptian electorate voted for in democratic elections.

The coup-supporting liberals and leftists are mad at the Americans and crying imperialism for the alleged failure of the Americans to support their revolt against democracy unequivocally, oblivious, it seems, to how much the Americans had actually helped in brokering the coup behind the scenes. Publicly, Obama has been attempting all kinds of verbal acrobatics to accommodate the liberals and leftists by not calling the coup a coup. Their misplaced anger at the Americans, however, is not necessarily anti-imperialist, but is rather elicited by a narcissistic injury that the United States (like the Egyptian Army) had allied itself, if temporarily, with the MB and not with them, even though the US (like the Egyptian Army) had clearly abandoned the MB and given the green light to the coup. Their fulminations are their way of courting the Americans back to their camp where the Americans already are. TheWall Street Journal has already expressed its hope and expectation that General Sisi will be Egypt’s Pinochet.  Some amongst the liberals are complaining that had the Republicans been in power, they would not have given this “soft” response to their coup that the Democrats have allegedly shown. But the Americans have not tarried at all in this regard!

The Americans are allies of all parties in Egypt and they are willing to let Egyptians choose who will rule them so that the US can then give them their marching orders as they did with Mubarak and the MB. All the Americans care about is that their interests are protected, and no member of the current anti- or pro-Mursi coalitions has dared threaten those interests. They are all vying to serve American interests if the Americans would only support them. In the last two and a half years, the Americans have been floundering trying to determine who among those competing to serve them in Egypt will be most successful in stabilizing the country so that the US can continue its dominance as before.

Nazis, Islamists, Liberals, and Leftists

For a year, we have been told that Mursi is Hitler, the MB are Nazis, and that they are consolidating their power so that they could later crack down on everyone else. Perhaps they were planning to do so, but no shred of real evidence has been produced to prove this. What happened, however, was the exact opposite; it was the coalition of liberals, Nasserists, leftists, Salafists and the Mubarak bourgeoisie who called for, and cheered and supported the coup by Mubarak’s army.  Unlike the MB who never controlled the army or the police, the latter two continue to be fully answerable to the Mubarakist bourgeoisie with which the liberals and leftists are allied.

Egyptians have been flooded with images that the “Islamofascists” were going to destroy the culture of Egypt and its identity with their intolerance, narrow-mindedness, lack of inclusivity, and anti-democratic policies. But it has been the liberals and the leftists, perhaps some would call them the “secularofacsists,” who proved to be less open, less tolerant, and certainly less democratic than the “Islamofacsists.” In the United States, the saying goes that “a conservative is a liberal who got mugged,” indicating in a proper American classist manner that the mugging of a well-to-do liberal by the poor turns the liberal against them, thus becoming a conservative. In the case of Egypt, one could easily say that “a secularofascist is a liberal democrat who lost to the Islamists in democratic elections.”

The army coup, which the leftists, among others, support, was not a coup by middle rank socially conscious anti-imperialist army officers who were supported by progressive anti-capitalist forces to overthrow imperial and local capitalist control of the country and the dictator that runs it (when the Free Officers staged their coup in 1952, within a few weeks they enacted laws that undercut the feudal lords of Egypt and redistributed the land to the poor peasants), but rather by top army generals who receive a hefty sum of US imperial assistance annually, and who have always been the protectors of Mubarak and his bourgeoisie. It is this army leadership that overthrew a democratically elected president, his incompetence and services to local and international capital notwithstanding.

Some of the leftists who are cheering on the coup seem to feel that their mobilization was successful because people are now educated and aware of their rights which the MB was undercutting. But the education that the members of the anti-Mursi coalition have been subjected to, including the workers and the poor who joined its rallies, is an education imparted to them by the Mubarakist bourgeoisie through their media empires. It has not been an education emphasizing the MB’s neoliberal anti-poor policies, stressing workers rights, peasant rights, the right to a minimum wage, etc. The Mubarakist media empire’s imparted education is an education that is not for the liberation of the poor, the workers, the peasants, and the lower middle classes of Egypt from capitalist and imperial pillage of their country and livelihoods but rather one for the liberation of the “secular” Mubarakist bourgeoisie and its partners from the competition of the neoliberal MB bourgeoisie and its Qatari sponsors.

That the King of Saudi Arabia and the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, the sponsors with the Americans of the Mubarakist bourgeoisie, were the first to send their congratulations to the coup leaders, minutes after the coup took place, clarifies who, they believe, was liberated from whom. Within hours of the coup, the Mubarakist bourgeoisie also celebrated. On Thursday, the 4th of July, Egyptian singer Muhammad Fu’ad, who had cried on TV two and a half years ago to express his sadness and despair over the toppling of his beloved Mubarak, was invited to open the Cairo stock market, which has been gaining billions of pounds since the coup. If the Qataris and the MB bourgeoisie won the first battle against the Saudis with the fall of Mubarak and then the second battle when the MB was elected, the Saudis and the Mubarakist bourgeoisie intend their latest battle, which they won by the removal of the MB, to be the final victory in the war for Egypt.

The goals of the Egyptian uprising from the outset included social justice as primary. Both the Mubarakists and the MB have a unified policy against the social justice agenda of the uprising. But the anti-MB coup, which has driven and will drive many of their supporters to openly violent means now that peaceful ones have been thwarted, has transformed the uprising from one targeting the Mubarakist regime and its security and business apparatus to one that has joined Mubarak’s erstwhile war against the MB. If the goals of the liberals and the leftists are to bring about a real democracy with social security and decent standards of living for the majority of Egyptians who are poor, then the removal of the MB from power by military force will not only prevent this from happening but is likely to bring about more economic injustice and more repression.

Whether the leftists’ and the liberals’ calculations, that their alliance with the Mubarakist bourgeoisie and the army is tactical and temporary and that they will be able to overcome them and take power away from them as they did with the MB, are a case of naïve triumphalism or of studied optimism will become clear in the near future. What is clear for now, however, with the massive increase of police and army repression with the participation of the public, is that what this coalition has done is strengthen the Mubarakists and the army and weakened calls for a future Egyptian democracy, real or just procedural.

Gripped by popular fascist love fests for the army, Egypt is now ruled by an army whose top leadership was appointed and served under Mubarak, and is presided over by a judge appointed by Mubarak, and is policed by the same police used by Mubarak. People are free to call it a coup or not, but what Egypt has now is Mubarakism without Mubarak.

Joseph Massad teaches Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians

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| Aleppo: Syrian rebels execute teenager Mohammad Kattaa in front of his parents!

Aleppo: Syrian rebels execute teenager Mohammad Kattaa in front of his parents, say reports ~ ALISTAIR DAWBERThe Independent.

A teenage boy from the Syrian city of Aleppo is reported to have been executed in front of his family by an Islamist rebel group, which accused him of blasphemy.

Graphic images of 15 year-old Mohammad Kattaa, a coffee seller in the war torn city, appeared on the internet yesterday. They appeared to show that the boy had been shot in the mouth and through the neck.

Several reports suggest that he was found arguing with another boy on Saturday, during which he used the name of the Prophet Mohammed flippantly. One report suggested that the other boy had attempted to get a free coffee, leading to Mr Kattaa to say that, “even if Muhammad comes down, I will not give it as debt.”

He was later said to have been detained by an extremist group in the area, beaten and then shot when his mother and father had been found so that they could be forced to witness the execution.

“An unidentified Islamist rebel group shot dead a 15-year-old child who worked as a coffee seller in Aleppo, after they accused him of blasphemy,” said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.

“They spoke classical Arabic, not Syrian dialect. They shot the boy twice, once in the mouth, another in his neck, in front of his mother, his father and his siblings,” he said.

Later reports suggested that the group that is said to have carried out the killing had links to a number of al-Qa’ida cells operating in Syria.

According to the AFP news agency, Syrian government forces are likely to target the area around Aleppo after taking the rebel-held town of Qusair last week. With support from the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, Syrian forces have made significant gains in recent weeks and now have rebel strongholds in the north of the country in their sights.

“It is likely the battle for Aleppo will start in the coming hours or days, and its aim is to reclaim the towns and villages in the province,” the source told AFP.

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| Referendum tallies in at 63.8%: Egypt approves disputed draft constitution!

 

Egypt approves disputed draft constitution ~ Al Jazeera.

Egypt’s new constitution, drafted by Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Morsi, has been approved by 63.8 percent of voters in a two-round referendum, the country’s top election committee has announced.

The result on Tuesday, which followed votes held on December 15 and on December 22, matched an earlier unofficial tally given by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

“We have seriously investigated all the complaints,” Samir Abu al-Matti, of the Supreme Election Committee, told a news conference. The final official turnout was 32.9 percent of the country’s 52 million eligible voters.

Morsi is now expected to call parliamentary elections within the next two months. In the interim, all legislative power will now be transferred from the presidency to the upper house of parliament.

All decrees issued since the revolution that removed former leader Hosni Mubarak from power in February 2011, meanwhile, now stand null and void.

These include both those passed by Morsi and those passed by the country’s supreme military council, which ruled over Egypt for 16 months after the revolution.

The Supreme Court will also be reshuffled, with its members decreasing from 19 to 10. Morsi is expected to announce the name of the new head of the court within the next few days, Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reported from Cairo.

No plans for protests

“The election commission went through, complaint by complaint, all the natures of the complaints that were filed by the opposition and independent monitors, debunking all of the allegations. One of the top allegations or concerns that the election commission wanted to respond to was the allegation that there was not correct judicial supervision in some of the polling stations,” Rageh said.

“We heard the election commission say it was deeply offended by that allegation, that it went through every such claim and in fact it was willing to present the names, contact numbers and information of every judge they believe was indeed inside any of those disputed polling stations.”

 

Morsi’s Leftist, liberal, secularist and Christian opponents had taken to the streets to block what they argued was a move to
pass a charter that would mix politics and religion.

The president argues that the new constitution offers sufficient protection for minorities, and adopting it quickly is necessary to end two years of turmoil and political uncertainty that has wrecked the economy.

Cairo, gripped by often violent protests in the runup to the vote, appeared calm after the announcement and opposition groups
have announced no plans for demonstrations to mark the result.

“The results was so odd and no change in the percentage points shows that nothing was done to take our complaints into
account,” Khaled Dawood, a spokesperson for the opposition National Salvation Front coalition, said.

The government, however, has backed the announcement of the result.

“There is no loser in this referendum result. This constitution will be for all of us,” Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said in a statement. He called on “all political forces to cooperate with the government” to restore the economy.

The Brotherhood’s religious leader, Mohamed Badie, tweeted: “Congratulations to the Egyptian people on approving the constitution of revolutionary Egypt. Let’s start building our country’s rebirth… men and women, Muslims and Christians.”

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| Viva la Revolution: Egypt’s draft constitution – English Translation!

Egypt’s draft constitution translated ~ Nariman YoussefEgypt Independent.

Egypt Independent’s translation of the draft constitution will be updated throughout the day.

Constitution Preamble


We, the people of Egypt,
In the name of God and with the assistance of God,
declare this to be

Egypt’s Constitution and the document of the pioneering, peaceful revolution, which was started by Egypt’s promising youth, protected by the Armed Forces, championed by the patient Egyptians who gathered in Tahrir Square on 25 January 2011 to assert their rejection of all forms of injustice, oppression, tyranny, plunder and monopoly, to fully proclaim their rights to a decent life, to freedom, to social justice and human dignity — all rights granted by God before being prescribed in constitutions and universal declarations of human rights;

A promise of a new dawn worthy of Egypt’s history and civilization, the same civilization that gave humanity the first alphabet, that opened the way to monotheism and the knowledge of the Creator, adorned the pages of history with creativity, established the oldest state on the banks of the timeless Nile, while from the beginning understanding the meaning of identity, and embodying the values of citizenship.

The great Egyptian people have regained their freedom and dignity, and here they are now, going forth toward a new tomorrow, more firmly joined to the historical moment, with greater faith in their abilities and their fundamental principles, more determined to achieve the objectives of their peaceful revolution, optimistic about a safe future under the rubric of a free country, ready for hard work and for active participation in the progress of human civilization.

Having restored a fresh spirit of unity between Egyptians, men and women, the people’s revolution continues toward building a modern democratic state, while preserving Egypt’s spiritual and social values, its rich and unique constituents, and building on the integral fundamentals expressed in the following principles:

One —
Sovereignty is for the people, the sole bearer of the right to set up the authorities, which derive their legitimacy from the people, are subject to the people’s control, are bound by the limits of their mandates and constitutional responsibilities, and are committed to protecting public funds, maintaining the State’s resources, and establishing the fundamentals of justice in the distribution thereof. The authorities shall uphold the principle that positions of public service amount to responsibilities and mandates, not to rights or privileges, and that their holders work to serve the interests of the citizens.

Two —
Democracy is the system of government established and expanding the grounds for peaceful transfer of power, supporting political pluralism, ensuring fair elections and the people’s contribution in the decision-making process.

Three —
The freedom of citizens shall be upheld in all aspects of life, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom in housing, property and travel, out of full belief in such freedom as a divine principle laid down by the Creator in the motion of the universe. God has created humans free and gifted them with the highest degree of refinement, intelligence and wisdom.

Four —
Equality before the law and equal opportunities for all citizens, men and women, without discrimination or nepotism, especially in the areas of education, employment, political rights, and economic and social rights, prioritizing the advancement of social justice.

Five —
The rule of law is the basis of government. The freedom of individuals and the legitimacy of state authorities are ensured by the submission of the State and of individuals to the rule of law and the State’s commitment to the independence of the judiciary. The Egyptian judiciary shall carry out its mission in defending the constitution, upholding justice and protecting rights and freedoms.

Six —
Respect for the individual, the cornerstone of the nation, whose dignity is a natural extension of national pride. Further, there is no dignity for a country in which women are not honored. Women are the sisters of men and hold the fort of motherhood; they are half of society and partners in all national gains and responsibilities.

Seven —
Upholding national unity is an obligation of state and society, for it forms the basis of stability and national cohesion, the cornerstone of building a modern Egypt and of the path to progress and development. To that end, the values of tolerance and moderation shall be spread, and the rights and freedoms of all citizens shall be protected without discrimination.

Eight —
Defending the land is a duty and an honor in the service of which human resources and funds shall be mobilized. As the country’s protective shield, the Armed Forces have a special place in the minds of the Egyptian people. The Armed Forces form a professional and neutral national institution that does not interfere in political affairs. No other group is allowed to form military or paramilitary structures or engage in activities of military character.

Nine —
Security is a great blessing. The role of security forces is to protect individuals and enforce the measures of justice. There can be no justice without protection, and no protection without security institutions capable of enforcing the state’s authority within a framework of respect for the rule of law and human dignity.

Ten —
Peace based on justice for the whole world, political and social progress for all peoples. Independent national development can only occur when the creative potential of the Egyptian people is unleashed, recalling their contribution to the advancement of civilization, for themselves and for humanity as a whole.

Eleven —
Arab unity is a call of history and of the future, and a demand of destiny that can only materialize under the protection of an Arab nation capable of warding off any threat, regardless of its source and the pretexts supporting it. Such unity is to be reinforced through the integration and brotherhood with countries of the Nile Valley and of the Muslim world, both a natural extension borne out of the distinctiveness of Egypt’s position on the global map.

Twelve —
Emphasizing Egypt’s pioneering intellectual and cultural role in the whole world and in the region, embodied by a soft power which has brought forth, and still does, icons of Egyptian thought, art and creativity. Creative freedom and the safety of thinkers shall be ensured, and the state’s responsibility for the supporting institutions maintained: universities, science centers, linguistic and research centers, the press, the arts, literature and mass media, the national church and Al-Azhar, with its history as a mainstay of national identity, the Arabic language and Islamic Sharia, and as a beacon for moderate enlightened thought.

We, the people of Egypt,
Out of faith in God and His heavenly messages,
In recognition of the right of the country and the nation,
With awareness of our responsibilities toward the nation and humanity,

Pledge to stay committed to the principles laid out in this Preamble, which we hold to be an integral part of this Constitution that we accept and grant to ourselves, affirming our determination to uphold and defend it, and asserting that it shall be respected by all.

Part I: State and Society



Chapter One: Political principles



Article 1
The Arab Republic of Egypt is an independent sovereign state, united and indivisible, its system democratic.
The Egyptian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations, proud of belonging to the Nile Valley and Africa and of its Asian reach, a positive participant in human civilization.

Article 2
Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic its official language. Principles of Islamic Sharia are the principal source of legislation.

Article 3
The canon principles of Egyptian Christians and Jews are the main source of legislation for their personal status laws, religious affairs, and the selection of their spiritual leaders.

Article 4
Al-Azhar is an encompassing independent Islamic institution, with exclusive autonomy over its own affairs, responsible for preaching Islam, theology and the Arabic language in Egypt and the world. Al-Azhar Senior Scholars are to be consulted in matters pertaining to Islamic law.
The post of Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh is independent and cannot be dismissed. The method of appointing the Grand Sheikh from among members of the Senior Scholars is to be determined by law.
The State shall ensure sufficient funds for Al-Azhar to achieve its objectives.
All of the above is subject to law regulations.

Article 5
Sovereignty is for the people alone and they are the source of authority. The people shall exercise and protect this sovereignty, and safeguard national unity in the manner specified in the Constitution.

Article 6
The political system is based on the principles of democracy and shura (counsel), citizenship (under which all citizens are equal in rights and duties), multi-party pluralism, peaceful transfer of power, separation of powers and the balance between them, the rule of law, and respect for human rights and freedoms; all as elaborated in the Constitution.
No political party shall be formed that discriminates on the basis of gender, origin or religion.

Article 7
Defense of the motherland and its soil is a sacred duty, and conscription is obligatory in accordance with the law.

Chapter Two: Social and ethical principles



Article 8
The State guarantees the means to achieve justice, equality and freedom, and is committed to facilitating the channels of social charity and solidarity between the members of society, and to ensure the protection of persons and property, and to working toward providing for all citizens; all within the context of the law.

Article 9
The State shall ensure safety, security and equal opportunities for all citizens without discrimination.

Article 10
The family is the basis of the society and is founded on religion, morality and patriotism.
The State is keen to preserve the genuine character of the Egyptian family, its cohesion and stability, and to protect its moral values, all as regulated by law.
The State shall ensure maternal and child health services free of charge, and enable the reconciliation between the duties of a woman toward her family and her work.
The State shall provide special care and protection to female breadwinners, divorced women and widows.

Article 11
The State shall safeguard ethics, public morality and public order, and foster a high level of education and of religious and patriotic values, scientific thinking, Arab culture, and the historical and cultural heritage of the people; all as shall be regulated by law.

Article 12
The State shall safeguard the cultural and linguistic constituents of society, and foster the Arabization of education, science and knowledge.

Article 13
The institution of civil titles shall be prohibited.

Chapter Three: Economic Principles



Article 14
National economy shall be organized in accordance with a comprehensive, constant development plan, ensuring the increase of national income, enhancement of standard of living, elimination of poverty and unemployment, increase of work opportunities, and increase of production.
The development plan shall establish social justice and solidarity, ensure equitable distribution, protect consumer rights, and safeguard the rights of workers, dividing development costs between capital and labor and sharing the revenues justly.
Wages shall be linked to production, bridging income gaps and establishing a minimum wage that would guarantee decent living standards for all citizens, and a maximum wage in civil service positions with exemptions regulated by law.

Article 15
Agriculture is an essential asset of the national economy. The State shall protect and increase farmland, work on the development of crop and plant varieties, develop and protect animal breeds and fisheries, achieve food security, provide the requirements of agricultural production, its good management and marketing, and support agricultural industries.
The law regulates the use of land, in such a way as to achieve social justice, and protect farmers and agricultural laborer from exploitation.

Article 16
The State is committed to the development of the countryside and the desert, working to raise the standard of living of the farmers and the people of the desert.

Article 17
Industry is an essential asset of the national economy. The State shall protect strategic industries, support industrial development, and import new technologies and their applications.
The State shall foster small handicraft industries.

Article 18
The natural resources of the State belong to the people, who have a right to their revenues. The State is committed to preserving such resources for future generations and putting them to good use.
State property is not to be disposed of. The franchise to use, or the commitment to a public utility, can only be granted according to legal regulations.
All money with no owner belongs to the State.

Article 19
The Nile River and water resources are a national wealth. The State is committed to maintaining and developing them, and preventing abuse. The use of such resources shall be regulated by law.

Article 20
The State shall protect its coasts, seas, waterways and lakes, maintain monuments and nature reserves, and remove any encroachments.

Article 21
The State guarantees and protects legitimate ownership of all kinds of public, cooperative and private property and endowments, as shall be regulated by law.

Article 22
Public funds are inviolable. It is a national duty of the State and society to safeguard them.

Article 23
The State shall support cooperatives in all forms and ensure their independence.

Article 24
Private property is inviolable and has a function in the service of national economy without deviation or monopoly. The right of inheritance shall be safeguarded. Private property may not be placed under sequestration except in cases specified by law, and with a court order. Ownership of property may not be removed except in cases where the public good requires and with just compensation paid in advance.
All of the above shall be regulated by law.

Article 25
The State is committed to reviving and encouraging the system of charitable endowments.
The way an endowment is established, the management of its funds, their investment and the distribution of proceeds to the beneficiaries, shall all be regulated by law, according to the terms of the trustee.

Article 26
Social justice is the foundation of taxation and other public finance duties.
Public taxes shall not be established, modified or repealed except by law. There shall be no exemptions except in the cases prescribed by law. No one shall be required to pay additional taxes or fees except within the limits of the law.

Article 27
Workers shall have a share of the management and profits of enterprises. They shall be committed in turn to the development of production, to protecting its means and to the implementation of plans in their production units, in accordance with the law.
Workers shall be represented on the boards of directors of public sector units within the limit of 50 percent of the number of members of these boards. The law shall guarantee for small farmers and small craftsmen 80 percent of membership on the boards of directors of agricultural and industrial cooperatives.

Article 28
Saving is encouraged and protected by the State. The State shall also safeguard insurance and pension funds, in accordance with legal regulations.

Article 29
Nationalization shall not be allowed except for in consideration of public interest, in accordance with the law and against fair compensation.

Article 30
Public sequestration of property shall be prohibited.
Private sequestration shall not be allowed except under a court judgment.

Edited by Sara Edmunds and Lindsay Carroll

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