May 30, 2011

A read into the SCAF's actions

Since 1952, Egypt has been run by the military. By that we don't just mean that it was headed by a president with a military background. The military is involved in more aspects of civilian life than many would imagine. Some estimate that the military runs about 40% of the Egyptian economy in the form of companies, factories, farms and construction companies. We also know that they had a say in permitting (or prohibiting) the use of certain technologies (communication, GPS and others). The determination of the use of any land across the country had to be approved by the military, resulting in some cases in the army reserving some of the most prime plots to its own use. In addition, key positions in the government such as: governors, heads of government influential agencies and presidents of public companies, were given to ex-generals. Moreover, the army has a major role in many of our bilateral relationships with the outside world. In short, the involvement of the army in the decision making in this country stretched far beyond their traditional role of protecting our borders.

In the 5 – 7 years leading up to January 25, Mubarak had largely left the decision making to the NDP headed by Gamal and his cronies. The move was a clear indication to the army that the country was heading towards a civilian rule. The management of the country at that time was split in two, the old guard (including the army) and the new guard (Gamal's group). While the new guard worked on the economic side, the oldies worked on the security aspects, they maintained control over such ministries as Defense, Interior, Foreign Affairs, but also on what they considered security threats such as Ministry of Solidarity, Employment and Education. The separation between the two camps has lead to several cracks and a chaotic government policy. Whereas, such conflict has resulted in the big mess we've witnessed in the past years, it has also prepared the army to a certain extent for an eventual change in its involvement. Needless to say that the army did not like that scenario one little bit, especially that they probably saw that Gamal neither had the strength of character nor the vision that they would've liked to see in an upcoming leader. Several discussions about an eventual coup must have taken place behind closed doors with the option to revert to a military dominance.

The revolution started on January 25th and put the army in an awkward position. On one hand, the end of the Mubarak succession plan came as a relief to them, but on the other hand, the fact that Egyptians took to the streets in millions to change their leader made them realize that reverting back to a strictly military rule was going to be very tricky. At first they tried to wrap it up by making minor cosmetic changes in order to maintain status quo: amending a few clauses in the constitution, removing some of the key figures in the ministries, etc. In doing so, they needed to ensure some popular support: who is more prepared to offer such support than the well organized, 82 year old Muslim Brotherhood? Not only are they the only ones capable of mobilizing large numbers but they are also the ones that, should they be allowed to gain control of the upcoming parliament, would happily draft a constitution that would retain a significant portion of the army's role.

The protests continued beyond the referendum and they soon realized a few things: 1) That there is no turning back from a fully civilian rule, 2) that the MB's are not as reliable as they thought they were, 3) that the country is not as manageable as they believed it was when they took over and 4) that there are far more socio-political forces in the country than just the MB's.

May 29, 2011

If you ever wondered where sectarian tension comes from..

Check-out this website:

I would like to find a way to report this website and make sure that this sort of hate speech is not accepted. If you have ideas let me know. 

May 25, 2011

Courage, Recklessness and Idiocy

One needs to know where each of those starts and where it ends. Facing danger is courageous, ignoring the presence of a danger is reckless and not realizing that there is a danger is idiotic. Facing the police on January 28th was courageous, holding a protest in front of the Israeli embassy was reckless and definitely not realizing what the majority of the population really thinks about this revolution is idiotic. Deciding to have a second revolution is courageous, not having proper security in place is reckless and calling for a sit-in on May 27th is idiotic.

May 24, 2011


A major characteristic of our culture - that I have understood recently - is that we operate on a binary system. We can only view things in light of one of two extremes. There are no middle grounds. We either love the SCAF or hate them, people either go to heaven or to hell, a person is good or a person is bad. The degrees that lie between any two extremes are non-existent, in most of our thinking. If we ever change our opinions we go from one extreme to the other. Operating within such a binary system reduces any situation to a single factor. In many cases we are unable to describe a situation based on all of its dimensions. At times we can even criticize those who can see the various angles in a situation as being too lenient. Flexibility, pragmatism and ability to compromise are sometimes used as insults. What was surprising for me was the realization that this is not the curse of the simple person but that it is a trait shared by a significant percentage of our population regardless of their education and / or exposure. 

May 22, 2011

Leaderless!! A second revolution?

It's with a heavy heart that I declare that I am not supporting the second revolution. I'm not supporting it the way it is being presented. I share the same fears as everybody else. I do not see the results of the revolution the way I imagined them on January 25th nor on February 11th. Our media is still as ignorant and corrupt, our police force as infested as ever, the political process is nothing short of a joke and our government is – to say the least – in Lala Land. Yet, I do not agree with the second revolution. I do not support the demands and I do not support the process.

May 18, 2011

Why this time around it will not work this way..

I hear the calls for the 2nd revolution. May 27th is being talked about as the new January 25th or even January 28th. I find that those who believe that a second round, will be equal to the first, to be unaware of the popularity (or lack thereof) of this revolution in the street today. I'm sure that the call for May 27th can probably put together 100'000 or 200'000 people. But are those the numbers that made the first round so successful? Nope. The first round did not succeed until the millions hit the streets. Do you believe that millions will hit the streets again this time? If your answer is YES, think again.

May 4, 2011

No.. the security situation isn't good

The security issue is far more complex than many would like to think. It's not that the police are refusing to go back to the streets; it is that we don't have a police force to start with. What we have is an angry, under staffed, corrupt, incompetent and underpaid government organization, similar in many ways to il shahr il 3akary or bank il tasleef il zera3ee. Moreover, that shitty organization was broken by the revolution, while the media post January 25th has continued to slaughter them.