Friday, July 5, 2013

Spotlight on Egypt -- July 5

So as of yesterday the Egyptian ship of state is being steered by the military instead of a civilian president. And unlike most military coups of the past, this change of leadership has not only been for the most part non-violent, but done with massive support from most of the population. That prompted me to leave the following comment at my Facebook page.

Excellent first-person account of events leading to yesterday's takeover of the Egyptian government by the military. If there were a punch list for failure, President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood would have checked off nearly every item.

I'm forming the impression that the historic non-violent demonstrations of the last five days were not as spontaneous as they are being reported. Too many pieces are falling into place too smoothly for the outcome, despite hot spots of violence and some fatalities. One Twitter message mentioned that gas during the "crisis" was flowing like the Nile and someone else noted that there had been no power interruptions for several days. Either of these two items would be remarkable, but both together -- lasting for five days, no less -- suggests a deliberate attention to a couple of important details.

It's not a stretch to think the military, which is a far more important part of the fabric of the country, economically and in production of goods and services, had a role in planning the recent protests. The video I posted earlier suggests as much. And as the Twitter remark noted even the taxi drivers remarked on several days of unrestricted, adequate petrol.

How Morsi, Brotherhood Lost Egypt
By: Bassem Sabry for Al-Monitor 
Posted on July 4.
CAIRO — I was in Tahrir when they announced Mubarak was ousted. I was in Tahrir when they announced Morsi had won. And I was also in Tahrir as they announced Morsi was ousted.

Each time was a remarkably different experience for me, only united by roaring crowds, waving flags, fireworks, hugs from strangers and a big sense of relief. This time, the cheers were even more deafening. They were not just in Tahrir, but in other squares around Cairo and the country, all packed without any real organizational power behind them. The floods of people in the streets around Cairo appeared to me bigger than before, people seemed to genuinely believe they “took back their country,” and that the military was a hero doing all the right things. But perhaps what characterized this time in Tahrir for me was my sense of worry, deeper than ever before. 
I believe that Mohammed Morsi had won his election, despite the more hardcore of the anti-Morsi camp's claims of fraud and voter intimidation by the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the Brotherhood had secretly threatened violence if they lost (likely, this narrative will be intentionally magnified now to make the new order even more acceptable). I believe in democracy and I have always argued in favor of the democratic process taking its course in Egypt, and always argued against any political exclusion. I consistently called for national reconciliation and compromise as the most sustainable way forward. Having said all of that, I cannot shake my conviction that Morsi, and the Brotherhood, had it coming. It was inevitable that an explosion was coming. 
Until November, many had held on to the idea that Morsi and the Brotherhood were wise enough not to overplay their hand, that they knew how complicated the situation in Egypt was and that unilateralism would only bring them down. Many believed that the Brotherhood would learn from the poignant history of deposed president Hosni Mubarak and the National Democratic Party, from which they suffered perhaps the most. Many felt Morsi would be wise enough to realize he was barely elected (51.7% of the vote) against a candidate who many viewed as representing the former regime, and with the vital aid of a strong, multi-ideological revolutionary coalition that supported him based on promises of inclusion and unity. 
But the problem was that it became more and more apparent that the Brotherhood was intent not on building a democratic administration, but a new regime.
Bassem Sabry is a writer and Egyptian blogger who covers the region on An Arab Citizen. On Twitter: @Bassem_Sabry
This article is much longer. An excellent read for anyone who really wants to for a sensible narrative of what is happening in Egypt. 
If you don't read but one article about this subject, this is the one to pick. 


Sprinkling of Twitter messages and links beginning with last night.

(Open this next "conversation" for the link.)

Haitham Tabei‏@Haithamtabei

Pro #morsi protestors provoked the guards first. Insisted on putting morsi pic on the barbed wires

Ahmed Ateyya ‏@Ateyya5h

@Haithamtabei were they violent?

Noha ‏@nohaakr5h

@Haithamtabei are they (protestors) armed?

George Orwell ‏@AliDc40095h

@Haithamtabei so they shot them for putting pics up! Is that what you call provoking someone?
Eman Abdelhadi ‏@emanabdelhadi5h

@Haithamtabei @Ana_Mubasher Apparently that's a crime punishable by death?

Ahmed Awadalla ‏@3awadalla5h

@Haithamtabei Provoked them to shoot? What did they use other than installing the picture?

Am the Lungs of aSea ‏@CapitalShip_5h

@Haithamtabei @Ana_Mubasher R u giving them excuses to shot unarmed Egyptians down?? remember how much provocations caused in

Am the Lungs of aSea ‏@CapitalShip_5h

@nohaakr @Haithamtabei not armed  [gruesome image]

Aya ‏@ayakhalil5h

. @Haithamtabei putting pics up supporting ousted prez = being shot to death. Cool makes sense.

Ana Mubasher ‏@Ana_Mubasher5h

@CapitalShip_ @Haithamtabei Hez not He is Just Reporting

James Miller (ميلر) ‏@MillerMENA5h

Matches other reports MT @Haithamtabei Pro #morsi protestors provoked guards first. Insisted on putting morsi pic on the barbed wires

Shami Witness ‏@ShamiWitness5h

@millermena @haithamtabei oh such a provocation.nobody said this who fired first during Jan25, genius.
James Miller (ميلر) ‏@MillerMENA5h

@ShamiWitness @haithamtabei that's not true, I worked hard to find that info out. I'm not 

Shami Witness ‏@ShamiWitness5h

@millermena @haithamtabei how on earth is putting a poster on barbed wire a provocation to kill?

James Miller (ميلر) ‏@MillerMENA4h

@ShamiWitness @HSimbad @suzzzh @Haithamtabei I agree. Just sorting the facts. This proves that SCAF is too on edge. Very scary times
H.A. Hellyer ‏@hahellyer4h

@Haithamtabei @Sandmonkey Obviously a provocation that deserves death?
Haitham Tabei ‏@Haithamtabei4h

@hahellyer @Sandmonkey dear they were told not yo cross the road to the deployed forces and approach them. A guy crossed, shoot dead.

H.A. Hellyer ‏@hahellyer3h

@Haithamtabei @Sandmonkey Exactly.The fact you find nothing wrong with this is disappointing. Unarmed protester shot dead for getting close.

amal matar ‏@Amal_Zak3h

@hahellyer @Haithamtabei @Sandmonkey many r scared of suicidal bombers..esp after armed confrontation&threats from jihadists in Sinai!

H.A. Hellyer ‏@hahellyer3h

@Amal_Zak @Haithamtabei @Sandmonkey I can't believe I'm having this conversation. He was an unarmed protester, killed by a military officer.

Haitham Tabei ‏@Haithamtabei3h

adam mowafi ‏@adammowafi3h

@Haithamtabei @hahellyer @Amal_Zak @Sandmonkey witnesses reporting now army fired in air, civilians shot man not army

amal matar ‏@Amal_Zak2h

@adammowafi @Haithamtabei @hahellyer @Sandmonkey u r right no justification for killing for any reason..


==►I lost several hours of narrative due to personal time limitations. Sorry.


It's now coming up on ten o-clock at night in Cairo... 

Street fighting will go on all night. 
The following Lisa Goldman recommendation -- from a New Zealand paper --  is a good place to end this post. 
This is a picture of denial on the part of Mohammed Morsi. 

(Time permitting, read also Juan Cole's comments at truthdig:
How Egypt’s Michele Bachmann Became President and Plunged the Country Into Chaos)

Morsi isolated but defiant in his last days
The army chief came to President Mohammed Morsi with a simple demand: Step down on your own and don't resist a military ultimatum or the demands of the giant crowds in the streets of Egypt. 
"Over my dead body!" Morsi replied to General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, two days before the army eventually ousted the Islamist leader after a year in office. 
In the end, Egypt's first freely elected president found himself isolated, with allies abandoning him and no one in the army or police willing to support him. Even his Republican Guards simply stepped away as army commandos came to take him to an undisclosed Defence Ministry facility, according to army, security and Muslim Brotherhood officials who gave The Associated Press an account of Morsi's final hours in office. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media. 
The Muslim Brotherhood officials said they saw the end coming for Morsi as early as June 23 - a week before the opposition planned its first big protest. The military gave the president seven days to work out his differences with the opposition. In recent months, Morsi had been at odds with virtually every institution in the country, including the top Muslim and Christian clerics, the judiciary, the armed forces, the police and intelligence agencies. 
His political opponents fuelled popular anger that Morsi was giving too much power to the Brotherhood and other Islamists, and had failed to tackle Egypt's mounting economic problems. 
There was such distrust between Morsi and the security agencies that they began withholding information from him - deploying troops and armour in cities in the past week without his knowledge, the officials said. 
The police also refused to protect Muslim Brotherhood offices that came under attack in the latest wave of protests. 
Thus, when Morsi was fighting for his survival, there was no one to turn to, except calling for outside help through Western ambassadors and a small coterie of aides from the Brotherhood who could do little more than help him record two last-minute speeches.
In those remarks, he emotionally emphasised his electoral legitimacy - a topic that Morsi repeatedly raised in the talks with el-Sissi. 
Early this week, during two meetings in as many days, Morsi, el-Sissi and Hesham Kandil, the Islamist-backed prime minister, sat down to discuss ways out of the crisis in which millions of Egyptians were clamouring for the president to resign. 
But Morsi kept returning to the mandate he won in the June 2012 balloting, according to one of the officials. He said Morsi wouldn't address the mass protests or any of the country's most pressing problems - tenuous security, rising prices, unemployment, power cuts and traffic congestion. 
A Brotherhood spokesman, Murad Ali, said the military had already decided that Morsi had to go, and el-Sissi would not entertain any of the concessions that the president was prepared to make. 
"We were naive. ... We didn't imagine betrayal would go this far," Ali said.
"It was like, 'Either we put you in jail, or you come out and announce you are resigning,'" Ali added. "He didn't do either because he didn't want to hand the country to the military again."
But according to one official, Morsi delivered the final, terse response to el-Sissi's demand: "Over my dead body!" 
On Monday, the armed forces announced they had given Morsi 48 hours to meet the protesters' demands or face military intervention. In reality, however, the countdown had begun as early as June 23, when el-Sissi gave Morsi and the opposition a week to work out their differences - a remote possibility given the wide gap between both sides.
Brotherhood officials said they saw the end coming based on el-Sissi's comments nine full days before Morsi's actual ouster. 
"We knew it was over on June 23. Western ambassadors told us that," said another Brotherhood spokesman. US Ambassador Anne Patterson was one of the envoys, he added. 
Morsi searched for allies in the army, ordering two top aides - Asaad el-Sheikh and Rifaah el-Tahtawy - to establish contact with potentially sympathetic officers in the 2nd Field Army based in Port Said and Ismailia on the Suez Canal. The objective was to find army allies to use as a bargaining chip with el-Sissi, security officials with firsthand knowledge of the contacts said. 
There were no signs that Morsi's overtures had any effect, but el-Sissi, on learning of the contacts, took no chances. He issued directives to all unit commanders not to engage in any contacts with the presidential palace and, as a precaution, dispatched elite troops to units whose commanders had been contacted by Morsi's aides. 
The commander of the 2nd Field Army, Lieutenant General Ahmed Wasfy, denied that there were any divisions within the military. 
"We are united. The culture and principles of the armed forces don't allow divisions," he said. 
On the surface, Morsi wanted to give the impression that the government was conducting business as usual. His offices released statements about meetings with Cabinet ministers to discuss issues such as the availability of basic food items during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims feast on food after a day of dawn-to-dusk fasting. He had four Cabinet ministers talk to TV reporters in the presidential palace about fuel shortages and power cuts. 
The opposition set its first mass protest calling for his ouster on Sunday, June 30, the anniversary of his inauguration, but the demonstrations began early, and Morsi had to stop working at Ittihadiya palace on June 26. 
The next day, he and his family moved into the Cairo headquarters of the Republican Guards, an army branch that protects the president, his family and his palaces and residences. 
Morsi worked at the Qasr El Qouba palace and continued to do so until June 30, when the Republican Guards advised him to stay put at their headquarters. His foreign policy aide, Essam el-Haddad, telephoned Western governments about what was happening in Egypt, and putting an optimistic spin on events, according to a military official. 
El-Haddad was also issuing statements in English to the foreign media, saying that the millions out on the streets did not represent all Egyptians, and that the military intervention amounted to a textbook coup. 
According to the usually authoritative newspaper Al-Ahram, Morsi was offered safe passage to Turkey, Libya or elsewhere, but he declined. He also was offered immunity from prosecution if he voluntarily stepped down, but he again said no, the newspaper added. 
Morsi gave a speech late on Tuesday night in which he vowed to stay in power and urged supporters to fight to protect his legitimacy. Soon after he finished, el-Sissi placed him under "confinement" in the Republican Guards headquarters. Some of his close aides, including el-Haddad, stayed with him.
Troops began deploying across major cities at 5am Wednesday, ahead of the expiration of the two-day ultimatum given by the army. On the army's official Facebook page, videos of the deployment were posted to reassure Egyptians. 
At noon Wednesday, hours before el-Sissi announced the ouster, the Republican Guards' troops assigned to protect Morsi walked away from the president and his aides.
Army commandos soon arrived. There was no commotion, and Morsi went quietly, taken to an undisclosed Defence Ministry facility, officials said.

- AP

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