Tag Archives: Egypt

Egypt and President Mohammed Morsi: A Democracy in its Infancy

We all know that infants aren’t born walking. First, they learn to crawl. And eventually, they’ll learn to walk. During this time, they’ll fall down. And get back up again. All of this is part of the process. It might be a little frustrating to watch, but you know in the end, they’ll be fine. When I think about Egyptians and what they’re going through right now, I think about those babies learning to walk.

The recent events show their progress through this struggle. They are protesting in Tahrir Square again. This time, it’s against their new president, Mohammed Morsi. President Morsi seems to be pulling a “Mubarak” with a power grab. Last week, he issued an edict to dissolve their judiciary. It happens to be the branch of government that he doesn’t control. Man, that takes some balls.

They’re are fighting this with everything they have as the crowds are just as big as when they protested Mubarak last year. I love what one protester said:

“It’s like a wife whose husband was beating her and then she divorces him and becomes free. If she remarries she’ll never accept another day of abuse.”

I hope they are able to kick him out or at least stop his dictatorial power grab.

I’ve heard from Conservative pundits that the Arab Spring was not a positive thing. They were afraid that radical Islamists would take over the governments of these countries. When Mohammed Morsi was elected, the pundits were quick to point out that he is a part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

My response to that was, “So?” The Arab Spring was about citizens finding their voices and striving for democracy in a region that is conducive to neither. Egyptians could vote for whoever they wanted, and they voted for Mohammed Morsi. Was that a mistake? Maybe. The point is that they finally had a say in who was to lead them. That’s huge considering a dictator ruled over them for so long. They might be regretting their choice, but because they have found their voices, they are fighting back.

I will always see the Arab Spring as a good thing. Egyptians have been crawling since last year, and are slowly trying to walk. They will learn a lot as they fall down and get up again – over and over. The first thing they’re learning is that democracy is messy. They might not see it now, but a lot of already know. It will take time, but they will be fine.

Why, Hamas? Why?

Hamas Closes Gaza Crossing into Egypt as Tensions Rise

Ugh. OK, the numbers of Palestinians that have been allowed to cross has been limited. Can’t Hamas deal with this without closing the border all together? Meet with officials in private, but let the ones who are allowed to go, go? It might be a smaller number, but it’s something. There are Palestinians who need to go to Egypt for medical reasons. Protesting the border restrictions by closing the border is just plain stupid.

This is all so sad. I have a Facebook friend from Gaza. Sweet, young guy (18). Last week, he was ecstatic about the opening. He hasn’t left Gaza for 10 years. His family has already talked about a trip to Egypt in July. He even started talking longer-term. He really wants to go to Malaysia to study dentistry.

When I woke up this morning, I saw that he messaged me and was very sad. I checked the news, and I felt so bad for him. The optimism is fading fast. I just said that we should remain hopeful and that I’d pray that the border would reopen. What else can we do?

What Hamas is doing is not helping one bit. They are risking this opening. This our way or the highway crap has to stop. I hope they don’t piss off Egypt so much that they close it permanently again. Ugh.

I want my young friend to feel hopeful. I want to see that optimism that 18-year-olds should have. I want to hear those long-term plans again.

Can’t Catch a Break

I was thinking about President Obama this morning. I love the guy, even though there are things he’s done as POTUS that I don’t agree with. After pondering what’s been going on, especially the last few months, I feel bad for him. Dude can’t seem to catch a break. In reverse chronological order (more or less):

  • Japan
  • Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear power plant, devastation

  • Middle East
  • From Egypt to Yemen, the entire region has revolted. A country with an ally-dictator unseated and a country with an enemy-dictator who is hanging on to his until it’s taken from his cold, dead hands.

  • Labor
  • The working class is starting our own revolt

  • Gas Prices
  • See Middle East

  • Tuscon Shooting
  • Memorial and miraculous recovery (Thank God)

  • START Treaty
  • It just had to expire during his presidency

  • Bush Era Tax Cuts
  • They just had to expire during his presidency

  • Midterm Shellacking
  • Congressmen, Senators, and Governors whose sole purpose in office/life is to make sure he doesn’t win in 2012

  • Terrorism
  • Oregon teenager, Fort Hood psychiatrist, Yemeni toner cartridges, Detroit underwear

  • Iraq & Afghanistan
  • Insurgents and Insurgents

  • Gulf Oil Spill
  • BP, compensation, regulation, moratorium

  • Health Care
  • Repeal attempt, lawsuits

  • Haiti
  • Earthquake, homelessness, cholera, devastation

  • Economy
  • He inherited the US’ and the world’s tanked economies

It seems like a larger-than-normal presidential crapload has happened/is happening in his term. I would have been curled up in a ball, in a corner, inconsolably crying by now. No, actually, I would have probably killed myself long before. That’s why I could never be POTUS. And why I wonder why anyone would want to be POTUS.

I don’t see it getting better anytime soon. Good luck Mr. President.

Egads, Emirates!

This article made its way to Yahoo! Mailbox: Emirates’ Exiles in Spotlight after Mubarak Fall. Looks like the recently ousted tyrant/dictator/monster may set up shop in the UAE. He isn’t the first (or the last, I’m sure) to end up in the Emirates. I didn’t know that before this morning, though. “The roster of Emirate exiles includes former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the late Pakistani ex-Premier Benazir Bhutto and a turncoat Chechen warlord who was gunned down by a killer with a gold-plated pistol.”

Wow. It’s a trip to me that controversial leaders would end up there. Well, not luxe-wise. That is definitely not surprising. The place is over-the-top luxurious. Politically though, the UAE is closed and doesn’t allow for dissent or protest. They’re not keen on political activism from anyone, exiles included. They like to stay out of foreign affairs. They seem to stay as neutral as possible. Their statement regarding Egypt highlights this. “The UAE said it has ‘confidence in the ability’ of Egypt’s armed forces to manage the affairs of the country ‘in these delicate circumstances.'” Very diplomatic.

Is it a mistake to take in these dictators? Some seem to think so. “But Christopher Davidson, an expert in Gulf affairs at Britain’s University of Durham, believes it was ‘a mistake for the UAE to get involved’ at a time when the Arab world is basking in the power of popular protests. ‘Both countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, were identified with the old Middle Eastern order,’ Davidson said. ‘That does not sit well with the UAE young population.'”

All due respect to the expert and coming from a random, far-from-expert chick in the US, I don’t think it will be a problem for them. They don’t have the extreme poverty Egypt has. And boy, do they love their leaders.

I bummed around Dubai for a couple days, on my way to and back from Bahrain. Dubai is Las Vegas on steroids. Miserably hot like Vegas but with the added humidity (better for me) being on the Gulf. Overindulgent like Vegas. They have the first 7-star hotel and made an island in the shape of a palm tree that can be seen from space. If you are addicted to shopping and have very deep pockets, you will fall in love with Dubai. Since I prefer online shopping, and I’m just a regular working schmuck, I didn’t even fall in like with the place. I just wanted to check out the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. That was really neat, and I was waiting for its opening.

I had dinner with my cousin who lives in Sharjah and her boyfriend, “Mr. Salah” a native Emirati – very rare as most who live in the Emirates are ex-pats from various countries. He sure loves his monarch, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also happens to be Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE. The sentiment is shared by his fellow countrymen. He’s very down-to-earth and approachable and can be seen walking around the mall by himself with no bodyguards.

Mr. Salah is an example of how well the government treats their small population of native Emiratis. They are guaranteed education and jobs. They are given land and will even get cash when they get married. The government encourages their native Emiratis to pro-create. He and others like him are set for life.

That’s why I don’t think it is a dangerous move by the government to house the dictators – a robust economy and popular leaders. Being the right move is a whole different story. If it were my country, just the idea of being a refuge for leaders known to rob, torture, and kill their citizens is repulsive. “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” would be my message to said dictators.

It will be interesting if Mubarak retracts his firm statement of dying on Egyptian soil. Will he live out his days in the opulent Emirates? If he does, he sure as hell won’t be uncomfortable. If you have $70 billion that you stole from your country, life in the UAE will be gravy, baby.

Liberated in Liberation Square

The Egyptian people have prevailed. Mubarak, the tyrant/dictator/monster, has handed power over to the military. Thirty years of oppressive chains are broken. Your voices, your tears, and your blood freed you.

May you create a government that represents all of you, and not just a select few. Your children (see picture), especially, will reap the rewards of your dedication to democracy. It will be difficult, but you will do it, Insha’Allah

The Initial Spark Reignites: Wael Ghonim

Wael Ghonim Interview on Dream TV

I couldn’t get the video with the English subtitles embedded – only the Arabic was showing up. I hope you will click on the link above and watch it. It’s very moving and only about 3 minutes long.

Mubarak refuses to step down. This battle is becoming one of sheer will. I feared that the Egyptian democracy movement was losing that will as protesters were growing physically and emotionally weary. Then, Wael Ghonim, the Google executive by day and passionate activist by night, was released by the Egyptian government. Right after he was freed, he granted an interview with Dream TV, an Egyptian “entertainment and lifestyle” television station.

I watched the interview with English subtitles. In that last part of the interview, the host shows pictures of the protesters who were killed during the protest. Ghonim breaks down and sobs. For 12 days, the Egyptian government held him captive, blindfolded the entire time. He did not hear about what had happened after his arrest kidnapping. He was literally kept in the dark, but interrogated about his role in the movement.

Apparently, this interview reignited the protests. The demonstration after his release rivaled the first one in numbers. Housewives, professors, laborers, young and old gathered again. What they saw in Ghonim was an Egyptian with a deep love for his country and fellow citizens. Using technology, he was the initial spark that set Egypt’s desire for democracy ablaze. And his voice helped fan the flames that were dying down.

I was extremely moved by his commitment to his country. Alive in Egypt has done a wonderful service and is true to its mission, Transcribing the Voices of Egypt. The entire interview can be found on its site, divided into 5 parts. It’s lengthy, but worth it.

2012 Republican National Convention: Cairo

Screw Tampa. Cairo is where it’s at. I read Politico’s article, GOP 2012-ers cold on Egypt strategy, and got a kick out of it. Only a select few of those who want to take on Obama in 2012 have been vocal about how we should proceed with Egypt. The others have not.

“I think what the United States has to do is make it very clear to the people of Egypt that we stand with the voices of democracy and freedom and we also have to communicate — I think as the administration has,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Translation: I have no chance because of the Mormon thing, so here goes nothing. It’s all about Democracy, even if the Muslim guy in the White House thinks so, too.

“I don’t think they have a clue. It’s very frightening to watch this administration,” he said on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren Tuesday night. “We should be very frightened of the Muslim Brotherhood. These may be people you can’t dialogue with.”
Translation: Obama bad. Me good. Gingrich 2012.

“I think his time is going to come to an end,” Pawlenty told a scrum of reporters accompanying his book tour in Iowa. “It should come to an end. But as that vacuum gets filled, we want to do all we can to make sure it gets filled by institutions and people and leaders that share our principles, and values of freedom and democracy and human rights.”
Translation: See how diplomatic I am? I’m very presidential. Oh, and God bless America!

“I don’t think anybody is trying to defend everything that he did as president, but they would have liked to have seen at least an acknowledgment that he’s been a friend for all these years,” Huckabee said Tuesday morning on Fox News. “So the concern is that if the U.S. will so quickly turn on that friend, how quickly will it turn on its other friends? And that’s the sentiment shared by not only the Israelis, but by the members of the European parliament from several European countries with whom I spoke this morning.”
Translation: Zionists, please vote for me.

Even silence can speak volumes.

“I’m not supposed to say anything until I read The Middle East for Dummies and can find Egypt on the map.”

“I’m Indian. They’re Egyptian. I don’t know if Americans can tell the difference, so I’ll sit this one out.”

Republicans always put on a great show. Who knew we’d have a trailer so soon?

It’s Not about Us

I found this picture while watching a Yahoo! Slideshow. This illustrates how long Mubarak has been in power using US Presidents – from Reagan to Obama. The fact that there is even a sign like this irritates the non-interventionist in me.

Our reaction to this revolution will be the true test of our passion for democracy and freedom. It’s easy to support the democratic aspirations of a country like Tunisia, where we have no vested interest. Egypt is a different story.

The response so far shows this difference. VP Biden does not believe that Mubarak is a dictator and should not step down. Secretary of State Clinton believes there should be a transition to democracy but warns that whoever takes over should represent the majority, unlike what happened in Iran 30 years ago.

Can’t we support Mubarak and the people? I would argue no. Egyptians are making it clear that they want Mubarak out. They don’t want the possible successor he chose. Changing the cabinet did not appease them either. It looks like the Egyptians want a complete government do-over where they get to choose who their leader in a real, fair election.

If they’re successful, this may affect the stability of the region and the peace treaty with Israel. So be it. Those of us who truly value democracy and freedom will support the Egyptian people in the quest for theirs. The struggle for democracy and freedom is messy and not without consequence. We just have to look at our own history.

This picture shows who this is really about. Hopefully, when she grows up, this little girl won’t be holding a sign showing a leader she despises next to one of our future presidents.

Semi-Presidential Republic

Is that what they call dictatorships nowadays? Is Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, really a dictator?

1. Face plastered all over the country…………….
2. Rigged elections……………………………………..
3. Water cannons for “troublemakers”…………..
4. Cutting off outside communication…………..

Looks like Mubarak has all of the qualifications. And like most dictators, he just doesn’t get it. In response to the riots, he fires his cabinet. Sorry, Mr. Dictator, they don’t care about the rest of your government. It’s you they want gone. These are your average citizens: young and old, rich and poor, Coptic and Muslim – united in their hate for you.

The Obama administration is being extra careful with this one. Per VP Biden:

“Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with — with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

Of course he isn’t, silly. We wouldn’t send $1.5B in aid every year to a dictator, right? Money we desperately need here, but I digress.

Mubarak isn’t giving up. Flipping the internet “kill switch,” arresting leaders of The Muslim Brotherhood, imposing curfews. I think the people will have to take that power from his cold, dead hands.

Looks like our meddling is blowing up in our face again. We have threatened to cut off the aid if he escalates the violence against the protesters. But, if he is overthrown, who are we going to aid pay off to play nice with Israel? The Muslim Brotherhood?

The United States government is pulling for Mubarak. We are also asking him to go easy on the protesters and start listening to what the people want. After all, we love democracy and freedom. Maybe not as much as we love Israel, but pretty dang close.