Category Archives: Egypt

At last — consistency of policy between Obama and Trump

It is reassuring to see that Trump is not totally opposed to all of Obama’s policies and that he is toeing the line of previous administrations in maintaining a strong supportive relationship with “strong leaders who keep the region safe for American business and military interests.” The butchering of a single journalist by Saudi Arabian authorities calls for a response no different in substance from the long-term reaction to the massacre of 600 peaceful protesters and murders of several journalists by Egypt’s godfather five years ago, or Israel’s ongoing killings of Palestinians — all unfortunate events that sometimes get a little out of hand despite the best motives and intent to maintain peace and stability. Trump may be acting unconventionally with traditional allies but at least there is consistency where it really counts.

 

The Muslim Brotherhood in post-Mubarak Egypt

rahimExactly one week before the Egyptian military’s removal of the Morsi government I received a copy of Muslim Secular Democracy: Voices from Within, edited by Lily Zubaidah Rahim. One of my particular interests at the time was in Turkey and I posted some interesting observations in the book about the Muslim government there: Can Democracy Survive a Muslim Election Victory? (That chapter raises the question of how valid are the fears of Muslim victories in democratic elections. The way the Muslim party has ruled in Turkey provides an instructive contrast with what happened recently in Egypt.) Other posts discussing Rahim’s book are archived here.

This post has been sitting half or less done in my drafts for some weeks now, and since the Egyptian military removed Morsi this post feels very academic and pointless ancient history. Patrick Cockburn’s view that Egypt has begun to enter a new dark age with the forces that had backed Mubarak’s bloody dictatorship more entrenched than ever.

povey
Tara Povey

Anyone following Egypt’s events in any detail will not find anything new here. The author is Tara Povey. Her chapter is titled Voices of Dissent: Social Movements and Political Change in Egypt. There is an earlier version of this chapter (published before Tara Povey moved to the University of London, and so not with the same details I cover in this post) here. Tara’s chapter in Muslim Secular Democracy is a much revised and augmented version of that online post. But let me post one section from it that overlaps with the new print chapter:

Islamic movements are generally portrayed in the West as undemocratic and are equated with terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism.

In reality they are far from being homogenous and uniformly conservative.

Islamic reformism, modernism and dynamic jurisprudence have a long history in the region, beginning in the 19th century when reformers sought to strengthen and reform Islam and oppose colonialism. Today, diverse Islamist frameworks exist which are not based on opposition to the ‘West’ as a whole but rather oppose the West’s support of undemocratic regimes, the prosecution of wars in the region and highlight the importance of a society founded on the principles of social justice and equality.

In many parts of the Middle East and North Africa, Islamic groups have participated in t he democratic process and are playing the role of a genuine political opposition.

Since the 1990s a number of Islamist movements such as the al-Nahda movement in Tunisia, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizbullah and HAMAS have entered electoral politics and have actively campaigned for democratic reform. This has prompted one author to note that in some countries Islamist movements “have been more strident in pressing for democratic change than have non-religious political parties.” Women’s activism has played a vitally important role in these movements and diverse strands of Muslim and Islamic feminisms have been formulated through which women have fought for gender equality as well as democracy, social justice and freedom from foreign domination. (my bolded emphasis.)

After the fall of Mubarak Western and other pundits were expressing fears that the events would lead to the takeover of Egypt by the MB.

The forces involved in the uprisings, however, says Tara Povey, “have been broader than any one organization or political party.”

Povey explains that the events surrounding the removal of Mubarak have forced out into the open generational and ideological splits within the MB. read more »

Hope for a real beacon of democracy for the Middle East and beyond

Still on a euphoric roll over the incredible news from the people of Egypt.

Remember that time when a U.S. president promised to make Iraq “a beacon of democracy across the Middle East”? Some of us protested then that the humane way to do this was to support  resistance movements within Iraq.

Now it’s the Egyptian people who are the ones set on course for becoming that beacon instead.

A thousand ironies lie in there somewhere. Stereotypes and myths have been shattered.

Even the Muslim Brotherhood is failing to conform to western expectations now one of their “pillars of stability” has crumbled:

The people of Egypt. The obscene criminal destruction of Iraq. What a contrast.

Will be breathing secular prayers that the people of Egypt will not suffer betrayal in the coming months.

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Secret violence good, public violence bad

It’s nice to see that the US State Department perceives the United States’ national interests coincide with a public call for the Egyptian presidency (specifically the vice-president) to hold accountable those responsible for the violence pro-Mubarak persons inflicted upon the demonstrators.

It is a pity that it was not apparently deemed to be in U.S. national interests to make similar calls during the past thirty years of Mubarak’s tortures, exiles and executions of dissidents, or his participation in torturing of others in secret rendition progams.