This week's window on the Middle East - July 10, 2013

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week, What Algeria 1992 can, and cannot, teach us about Egypt 2013

Arab Awakening
10 July 2013
  • Algeria 1992 and Egypt 2013: the moral costs
  • The Egyptian crisis and its regional effects
  • What is happening to civil society in a disunited Lebanon?
  • Testing what we learned in Gezi Park
  • Qatar’s incomplete example
  • A letter from Cairo: support Egypt and Egyptians today and tomorrow
  • Algeria 1992 and Egypt 2013: the moral costs

    By Hicham Yezza

    The key and lasting parallel between the Algerian scenario of 1992 and the Egyptian one in 2013 must be the moral cost of military usurpation of the democratic process.

    Cancelling elections, like deposing elected leaders, is a deeply wounding experience for a nation’s sense of collective self, because it seems to reaffirm, however implicitly, that one segment of the population has a higher moral claim to have its vision, aspirations and desires taken seriously than any other.

    As such, it fatally undermines the very social contract and national settlement that forms the basis of any cohesive, popular revolution. I am thinking here of the sense of utter alienation felt by many of those who had voted for the FIS, many of them first time voters after 30 years of abstention, who discovered their country’s future was run with only one section of its citizenry - the ‘good’, ‘responsible’, ‘acceptable’ Algeria – in mind.

    And we see this today in Egypt: while those who support Morsi’s ouster are routinely portrayed as authentically representative of the Egyptian revolution and popular will, those who oppose it, no matter how numerous, are reflexively described as mere ‘Morsi or MB supporters’.

    While many of those supporting the coup claim it was a painful option, the spectacle of air shows over the skies of Cairo and helicopters flying Egyptian flags over Tahrir in celebration can only deepen the sense of anger and betrayal felt by the millions of Egyptians who felt there was nothing to celebrate. (A frontpage headline in Al Ahram on Saturday read: “The Army joins the people’s joyful celebrations with air shows over Tahrir during the ‘Friday of Victory’).

    As was the case in Algeria twenty years ago, how Egypt manoeuvres itself out of the current impasse largely depends not on what has already happened but on what is yet to come. In this regard, one cannot but be extremely worried by what has happened in the past few days since Morsi’s ouster.

    The military leadership’s decision to close TV stations sympathetic to the Brotherhood, to issue arrest warrants for hundreds of its leaders and militants and to launch a process of prosecuting both Morsi and fellow leaders (for alleged misdeeds that apparently include 'Jan 25 Revolution crimes') is a dark echo of the corrosive vindictiveness that characterised the anti-FIS crackdown of early 1992, with disastrous consequences for all.

    Calls for the Muslim Brotherhood to be disbanded and locked out of political life, as the Tamarrod movement has demanded, are dangerous in the extreme, not only because of their impact on the political actors but the message they send to the millions who voted for them. Encouragingly, Morsi‘s last statement before his arrest, calling on Egyptians to “preserve blood and to avoid falling into the swamp of infighting” is at odds with the discourse of the FIS back in 1992 -  which urged the people to rise up against the government.

    Though the prospect of civil war in Egypt remains distant, the Algerian scenario is not incomparable (especially in light of Egypt’s relatively more heterogonous religious make-up.) The shooting and killing of dozens of MB protesters early on Monday morning is the sort of dangerous swerve that can prove hard to recover from.

    More worrying still is the escalation between supporters of the two camps, a familiar feature of early 90s Algeria, with accusations of treason, murder and being anti-Islam becoming a constant refrain of exchanges across the social media. Unless this “sheep vs infidels” paradigm is actively resisted now – and by all sides - unless the demonization of opponents is publicly exposed as anti-revolutionary, anti-democratic, and anti-Egyptian, the slippery slide towards the irreparable can only accelerate.

    The Egyptian crisis and its regional effects

    By Michael Stephens

    The Egyptian crisis is having ramifications across the Middle East, and it will come as little surprise to many that as millions of Egyptians poured out onto the streets and President Morsi was toppled, regional actors began to move their chess pieces in expectation of the momentous changes that were occurring.

    The rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was seen as an indicator of wider regional trends, following the removal or attempted removal of largely secular foreign-backed dictatorships that had ruled the region for decades. The brutal repression of Islamist actors over the past fifty years, causing a built-up anger and resentment led to the conviction that once these dictators were removed, Islamist politics was the inevitable model for their replacement.

    Some erroneously assumed that Turkey would be the leading example of this rise, but it turned out that the Arab world found its own variants of Islam and politics, particularly in the form of the Ikhwan.

    By the beginning of 2012 it was common to talk of an Islamist arc stretching from Tunisia all the way over to Syria, in which Sunni Islamic parties, and in particular the Muslim Brotherhood were either rising to power, or gaining ground. Behind this rise stood Qatar, and its enormous wealth. Money flowed into Rachid Ghannouchi’s Ennahda Party in Tunisia, to Ali al Sallabi and Abdul Hakim Belhadj in Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in the Gaza strip, and politically Islamist movements in Syria.

    Qatar calculated that these forces were on the rise across the region, and that supporting movements that were coming to power made more sense than opposing them. Furthermore Qatar had housed many Islamist dissidents over the years, including Khaled Mashal, Sallabi and Yusuf al Qaradawi, and possessed the conduits and personal connections to exploit these relationships.

    Qatari officials in 2012 exuded confidence in their position, even a brash arrogance. Qatar’s power was increasing daily and the world was subjected to endless news articles about “small state, big influence” and Qatar “punching above its weight”. The region appeared to be moving in a Sunni Islamist orientation, and despite the idiosyncrasies present in each of the countries Qatar was involved with, it was clear that the Qataris had picked what appeared to be the winning side.

    But things went bad; Bashar al Assad, with Iran and Hezbollah supporting him, fought back.  The National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army remained hopelessly disparate and fractured and began to lose ground militarily. Qatar has now accepted that it must let Saudi Arabia take the lead in Syria after its efforts to remove Bashar have proved unsuccessful. In Libya, anger turned against the Islamist militias roaming Benghazi, and by extension Qatar. Analysts based in Libya have often phoned me to ask what on earth the Qataris were doing, noting that Libyans were angrily turning against them.

    Finally the conundrum in Egypt: anti-Morsi activists set alight Qatar’s flag in February, and a number of times in the June protests opposition activists merged Qatar’s flag with that of Israel’s to symbolise their discontent with Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood government. Anger had built over months at the poor performance of the government escalating into the events which led to the revolution/coup/intervention by Egypt’s armed forces and the removal of a defiant President Morsi from power.

    Ripples in the Gulf

    What is fascinating is the division these events have created inside the Gulf region. Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 both Saudi Arabia and the UAE (and also Jordan) viewed the rise of political Islam, and especially the Muslim Brotherhood in the region with fear and suspicion. Emirati policy in particular became more activist, and increasingly hostile rhetoric poured out of the country, its target being the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar, whom it blamed as responsible for funding these destabilising regional trends.

    Relations between the UAE and Qatar have undoubtedly suffered recently, and mutual hostility has grown in recent months. At the moment of Morsi’s fall the Emiratis could hardly hide their delight, immediately sending congratulations and their support for what appeared to be a Brotherhood collapse. Qatar’s reaction to Morsi’s downfall was delayed but supportive of the ‘will of the Egyptian people’. Under the circumstances and faced with the potential collapse of their ally, Qatar had no other choice.

    Nevertheless Qatar’s position has been both sensible and correct. Faced with a crumbling regional position, their foreign policy in Egypt and Syria is no longer the advancement of their national interest and affecting regional change, but holding the line and preventing any further deterioration of their foothold in the region.

    Lucky break

    Luckily Qatar’s new Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, has come to power at just the right time. It has often been said that he would be the man to work out a new set of relations with regional partners and redefine Qatar’s place in the regional order. Although very much party to the execution of his father’s policies, now he can appear to be his own man. As such, Qatar can exploit this angle to its advantage and begin to rebuild relations with the UAE, and hedge its bets effectively in Egypt.

    One thing is for sure, the process of change in Egypt won’t be smooth and easy. The Salafist Al Noor party, so keen to stand next to Egypt’s opposition factions has now rejected Mohammed al Baradei for Prime Minister and pulled out of Egypt’s new coalition in protest at the army’s use of violence against protestors. As the biggest single faction after the Muslim Brotherhood, their position in any future political alignment is crucial and Egypt will struggle to be stable without their buy in.

    As such it would be premature to say that either Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates has actually gained at Qatar’s expense. Until Egypt is able to stabilise and form a political order that involves no bloodshed and begins to improve its disastrous economy, there is nothing to be gained by any Gulf state pumping in untold billions of its oil wealth.

    Furthermore Islamists in the Gulf region are furious with what appears to be the abandoning of Islam in the political sphere. Whilst Salafis have serious disagreements with the Brotherhood, they are at least Islamic in their outlook and as such receive Salafi sympathy and support. The prevailing opinion of these Islamists is that those who support the coup in Egypt are against Islam, and that democracy is a farce that cannot accept Islamic ideals. Worrying trends lie ahead and Gulf states would do well to understand that appearing too supportive of Morsi’s downfall could cause domestic instability in their own borders.

    Whilst it might be clear that the regional order is now turning against the Islamist/Brotherhood tide, these are not necessarily positive developments. Should Egypt collapse into violence and disarray, supporting the Army might well make the UAE look similar to how Iran and Qatar appear in Syria - one sided backers in a conflict that pulls the country apart rather than unifying it.

    What is happening to civil society in a disunited Lebanon?

    By Helen Mackreath

    The Lebanese citizen is stuck in the middle of a maelstrom of disputes. Aside from propelling violent skirmishes across the country, the situation in Syria is misbalancing the country in far more deep-rooted ways, and shaking the already wobbly confidence in the Lebanese state to its fundaments. Whilst sectarian tensions exist, they are not uniform in their distribution or extent. The national political vacuum is percolating down through directionless MPs, increasingly prompting questions about the depth, role and freedom of an equally inchoate civil activism.

    National political impasse

    As questions abound about when (not ‘if’) the Syrian conflict will lead to more large-scale violence in Lebanon, the country is still meandering along with no government. Nor is there much optimism that a new government will be formed soon - all parties are continuing to put obstacles in the way of Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam carrying through the cabinet formation process.

    The hierarchy of power in the country is already turned on its head (Hezbollah is arguably more powerful than the state and has been for a while, and the phenomena of weak centre and strong peripheries is nothing new here), but the layers of organization which exist beneath the government are also displaying a lack of direction. The Sunni population remains leaderless, the Lebanese Army has very scarce funding, and civil society has too many quibbles to forge an effective group.

    Sectarian politics, though messy and blurred depending on where you are in the country, are up until now manifesting themselves in largely self-contained skirmishes. Tripoli, always prone to tension, is caught up in broadly sectarian warfare between Sunni fighters, the army and pro-Assad gunmen, but which is being waged more accurately, by uncoordinated private militias. The gunfight in Sidon two weeks ago between the Lebanese army, probably assisted to some degree by Hezbollah, and supporters of fiery Sunni Muslim Sheikh Assir, was condemned by the Sunni population, not necessarily a unified body at the moment.

    Challenges to civil society

    Unsurprisingly Lebanese civil society remains in confusion over its identity, partly apathetic owing to deepseated disillusionment with national politics, partly too complacent - too used to appeasing permanent conflict with rituals of normality, and partly overtly frustrated. However, channelling discontent remains a problem owing to the lack of clear and identifiable people to blame.

    Most popular frustration is aimed at the nexus of corruption between political elites, party militias, and the legal system in Lebanon. A lack of confidence in the judicial system is attracting much activism online onto facebook pages and twitter.

    The most recent civil demonstrations against the extension of Parliament, held in Nejmeh Square towards the end of June had an identifiable goal, and impassioned and determined supporters to broadcast it. But they also only attracted a few hundred people at most which, given the level of popular discontent against the government, seems scant. Maybe, writing in a week when many millions of Egyptians have been protesting both for and against Morsi, prior to the military coup, activism in Lebanon is bound to seem not a little tame at first glance.

    But it would be a mistake to label Lebanese civil society as ‘weak’. Lebanon has a history of one of the strongest civil societies in the world, demonstrated by the million protestors (a quarter of the population) who rallied against Syrian intervention in the country in ‘The Cedar Revolution’ in 2005, and the demonstrations in Downtown in 2007 and 2008.

    What is certainly true is that activism is less obvious on the streets today, and is operating through alternative channels such as online. It also remains largely piecemeal, coalescing around individual events rather than around a single, tangible cause.

    Last Friday witnessed a feminist group embroiled in an unprovoked run-in with the bodyguards of an MP, while the peaceful demonstrations in Downtown against the extension of parliament are still fresh in the memory. The assault on the feminist collective, Nasawiya, by the bodyguards of the parliamentarian Nadim Gemayel catalysed protests of a dozen or so activists, orchestrated by social media. Following confusion around the three-car convoy parked illegally outside the group’s office, bodyguards beat up the collective and activist supporters. The next day five Nasawiya supporters were detained without charge in the local police station, leading to further protests.

    Lebanese citizens are taking matters into their own hands to try to hold government officials to account when they break the law, but only in a reactive and individualistic manner. This incident also illustrates the paranoia and heavy-handedness displayed by MPs, which are further blighting public confidence and hindering any collective political strategy towards state rebuilding.

    Whilst it is true that Lebanese civil society is strong and multifaceted, seeping through various channels of the free press, unions, syndicates and university clubs, the majority of it is still operating online rather than on the streets. The disunity displayed within the top political echelons, within the population (with well over a quarter of the population currently consisting of refugees), within sectarian divisions, is making for a potent yet directionless voice, increasingly frustrated yet equally hamstrung.

    Testing what we learned in Gezi Park

    By Oguz Alyanak

    On September 28, 2009, a 14-year-old girl named Ceylan Onkol was killed in the Lice (pronounced Leejay) district of Diyarbakir, allegedly by a mortar shell fired from the gendarmerie battalion stationed in the region. An expert report, later cast into doubt, stated that it was Ceylan’s own misconduct, and not mortar fire that led to her death. Three months ago, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Lice dismissed the case.

    Ceylan’s death took place far away from many of us. We did not hear the mourning mother. Having become accustomed to the disposability of Kurdish lives, many of us treated the news as part of a ‘normal’ flow of life in the rural southeast of Turkey. Grief was what defined that space - not ours.

    Then, the very same misconduct spread to our urban neighbourhoods. Clouds of pepper spray filled our living rooms, followed by the shooting of rubber and live bullets. Sons and daughters previously accused of being apolitical took the stage, enduring the gas and the bullets. And then came the killings. The death of Mehmet (20), Abdullah (22) and Ethem (26) happened on the streets of Istanbul, Antakya and Ankara. We were shocked.

    The situation might have been “all too familiar to Kurds.” Or as a Kurdish protestor in Istanbul put it: “the violence…here in the streets over the past few days is like the state violence that the Kurds have been facing for decades.” The state’s suspension of the rule of law in the name of security was all too common for the southeast. What appalled many in Istanbul was this everyday reality in Diyarbakir.

    As the protests in different parts of Turkey start to resemble each other, could the same simile be extended to our experiencing of grief and mourning? Will the protestors brought together around the symbol of Gezi, regardless of their background, begin to grieve for those killed or “disappeared” in the southeast?

    Breaking the frame

    Over the past thirty years, the crowds most visible at Gezi Park, (so-called Generation Y), were moulded in the understanding that the common denominator was to be a Turk, or a Kurd, and not a human being.

    Accordingly, one’s enemy was the other’s martyr. Death mattered only within a given frame -one which excluded many lives like that of Ceylan. Diyarbakir meanwhile was envisioned as a space in a perpetual state of exception where the Turkish state acted as the ultimate arbiter over human lives. The arbiter gained legitimacy as the blood shed at Diyarbakir enabled the protection of Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir or Ankara. Our comfort zone was a perfect bubble.

    In order for us to step out of this comfort zone and reach out to Diyarbakir, we needed a counter-narrative. Gezi was that teaching experience. But what was learned at Gezi had to be put to the test.

    Lice, Diyarbakir

    The protests in Istanbul came as a response to claims over space. Gezi Park was not just a historical site; it was a site that entailed what Pierre Nora, in Les Lieux de Mémoire called the “will to remember.” Thus, owning the space meant owning the memory and obtaining the capacity to manipulate it. Since the 1977 incident known as the “Bloody May Day” when 34 protestors were killed (with the murderers yet to be found), every year, contestations between the government and workers unions have taken place to “reclaim” Taksim as the place for demonstrations. Building a shopping mall over scarred lands was perceived as a violent act.

    Lice’s memory was also long scarred by atrocities. In addition to Ceylan’s death, in 1993, the town was razed by the Turkish military, killing 100 people according to locals’ accounts. Through outposts and police stations, the state attempted to claim Lice and its memory. And that, it did through repressive methods. The infamous Diyarbakir prison where hundreds were tortured and dozens killed (and many other disappeared) during the 1980 coup d’état were still fresh in people’s minds.

    Hence, the construction of a new gendarmerie outpost in the region was not at all welcome. A month after the Gezi protests began, a group of 250 protestors at Lice’s Kayacik village gathered in response, leading to a clash between gendarmerie forces and locals, who allegedly used stones and Molotov cocktails, and burned down the construction site. The clash led to the killing of an 18-year-old protestor, Medeni Yildirim, as well as injuring nine others.

    When the news reached Istanbul, thousands gathered on the streets. The demonstration gained momentum as the Gezi protests reached their apex with over 10,000 protestors occupying Taksim Square. The outcry that Yildirim’s death evoked not only traversed from the land of the exceptio to the land of the norm, but also shattered the rules defining who we are, how we act, and more importantly, how we are supposed to feel in this part of Turkey.

    The publics at Lice and Taksim, having already been framed as terrorists, found in the new sense of precariousness something that made human life, and not merely Turkish or Kurdish life matter. Such commonality, as the Turkish journalist Rusen Cakir prophetically alluded to in his column a day before the incidents in Lice occurred, narrowed the distance between the two spaces.

    Lice is not Taksim, nor Taksim, Lice? There are differences in terms of the historical trajectories the two spaces envelop, and the memories that they recall which continue to modify not only the spaces themselves but also who we are and how we perceive the world around us. However, the fact that Yildirim’s death now matters to us, to those who are filling streets in growing numbers, and mourning for a life that does not exist in the state’s rhetoric, cannot be underestimated. And perhaps here we can start to search for the beginnings of a much-needed comprehensive counter-narrative.

    Qatar’s incomplete example

    By Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi

    Last month Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani handed over power to his son and Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim. The move became an instant headline grabber with various publications and officials praising the Emir. The Economist called him “remarkable” and “a hard act to follow” while British Foreign Secretary William Hague hailed it as a “historic day”.

    In fact it has been quite a year for abdications. Just last April Dutch Queen Beatrix abdicated in favour of her son, and more recently Belgium’s King Albert II announced his abdication in favour of his. Little known is an incident that took place a month before the Qatari abdication in neighbouring Saudi when the leader of the Al Sager clan, the “115 year old” Sheikh Haif Bin Saleem abdicated in favour of his son after eighty years as chief of Sarat Obaida, in Asir province. 

    Although at face value these abdications may seem similar there is in fact quite a significant difference. Unlike fellow monarchies Belgium and the Netherlands, Qatar does not have a legislative council or an independently elected government. As in its fellow Arab Gulf States, the monarchy solely holds the reins of policy and governance. 

    In an article last September I explored the possibility of a “Black Swan” event that could jolt the Arab Gulf States into introducing serious and much needed political reforms - from the fall of one of the Arab monarchies to the militarization of the opposition. The last of my hypothetical points revolved around Qatar and whether this unpredictable Gulf State will surprise us yet again. “The wildcard here,” I wrote,“could be maverick Qatar introducing major political reforms instead of the announced cosmetic advisory council elections next year, encouraging others to follow suite.” A few months later initial reports of a possible abdication emerged.

    Today there is a six-decade difference between the youngest and the eldest of the Arab Gulf leaders. Qatar media has been reporting on the awkward cables of congratulations that were sent from the Gulf monarchs to their 33-year-old “brother”. One of the highlights of the next Gulf Cooperation Council leaders summit in Kuwait will be to witness the interaction between the young Sheikh Tamim and the other Gulf leaders who are at least twice his age.

    The prospect of elections 

    Many viewed the recent events in Qatar as a positive development, but there is one caveat that should be highlighted. Back in November 2011 the former Emir Sheikh Hamad delivered a speech in which he announced that Qatar would be holding its first legislative council elections in the second half of 2013. “These steps are necessary,” the Emir said in an address to the appointed Shoura Council “to build the modern state of Qatar”. At around the time of the abdication Qataris were expecting to learn more about the previously announced legislative elections, such as who qualifies to stand as a candidate and how many elected MPs will there be? However, a day before abdicating, Qatar’s Emir issued a decree that extended the Shoura Council by an additional three years yet again. According to Doha News the current advisory council’s term was previously extended in 2010.

    This is not the first time legislative elections have been postponed. Back in the 1970’s the Shoura Council term was extended repeatedly. More recently, a popular referendum was held in April 2003 that included a clause to elect a legislative council. The elections were first postponed until 2008 and continuously pushed back. In February 2011 Qatar’s Prime Minister said that legislative polls would be held in the “near future”. I asked for clarification from an appointed member of Qatar’s Shoura Council active on Twitter and he informed me that just under half of the members of the Shoura Council were changed back in 2004.

    Early in 1992, 53 Qataris petitioned the then Emir Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad (who was deposed by his son Sheikh Hamad in 1995) to hold legislative elections. In what seems to be a Gulf political tradition some of those who signed the petition were called into the police for questioning, detained or arrested while others were banned from travelling according to the New York Times.

    That is not to say that Qatar hasn’t held any elections. In fact Qatar has successfully held four municipal elections, something I have been calling for my own country, the UAE, to hold for years. Elsewhere in the Gulf, Kuwait and Bahrain were the only two states with active elected parliaments. Sadly today both countries’ parliaments, as well as their wider politics, have fallen into disarray and are used as an example to warn Gulf citizens of the “dangers” of politics.

    Today the Gulf States have reached a political stalemate. Political Islam, playing right into the hands of the governments, has caused damage to the cause of secular reformists throughout the region. Gulf reformists are desperately in need of a post-Arab uprisings political breakthrough in the region. Qatar’s young Emir has a golden chance to usher in a new age of political development in the Gulf. Releasing the jailed poet Mohammed al-Ajami, advancing the legislative elections for a change and giving citizens a say in running their country would truly be a Black Swan event.

    A letter from Cairo: support Egypt and Egyptians today and tomorrow

    By Heba F. El-Shazli

    The time is now to end the debate whether what happened in Egypt from June 30 - July 3 was a military coup or not.  What cannot be argued is that the will of the Egyptian people has clearly been spoken and clearly heard. Morsi was given much opportunity to govern democratically and inclusively for all Egyptians, but it appears that was never his true intentions.  Egyptians have soundly rejected Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood’s medieval style of rule.  Likewise, enough of the accusations that "we are drunk with euphoria and now have to deal with the hang-over afterwards or falling for and being blinded by the mass protest euphoria."  Are these detractors suggesting an armed insurrection would have been preferable?  

    Let me focus on today and tomorrow, because that is what counts.  First, immediate work on drafting a new constitution by constitutional legal experts with an inclusive all representative council composed of all segments of Egyptians including Islamists.

    Second, create the laws and procedures for holding presidential and parliamentary elections within the year.  Governors of the provinces should be elected by the people of that province.  When passions cool, it will be time to organize grassroots electoral campaigns especially in the rural areas. There is a great need for work on civic education, the meaning of citizenship, rights, responsibilities and democratic practices.

     Third, Egypt's new civilian government needs to immediately focus on the economy!  The cost of living has skyrocketed.  The government needs to increase wages for the public sector; set a minimum and maximum wage/salary in order to meet citizen’s basic needs.  Create a tripartite government/ business/ labour (independent unions) council to meet, set priorities and plan of what can be done quickly to get the economy back on a healthy course.

     Fourth, address the issue of security on the streets.  This will lead to the return of tourism and create more opportunities for businesses to thrive again. 

    Finally, enough listening to backseat driving by political pundits from the US and elsewhere.  Their gloom and doom advice and warnings of demise and peril are not helpful. Actually, predictions can only get us into trouble and cause regret in the future so enough of the intellectual bullying.

    Egyptians are hopeful people.  Demonstrating on June 30 in the face of widespread threats of physical violence and condemnation from within and abroad surely proves this.  We will work hard to reconcile our community and rebuild a nation of respect for human rights and rule of law. 

     A friend who was very active in Central and Eastern Europe’s democracy movements pre and post 1989, sent me the following message: "Congratulations! The events have been confusing for some democrats here who do not understand the idea that elections alone do not define democracy. Governance is what maintains legitimacy. Governance against the will of the people is what delegitimizes an elected regime. We are witnessing a revolution not only against incompetence (which is insufficient reason) but also against the authoritarian actions of an elected president who believed he had the right to do anything he wanted without consent of the people simply because he was elected. It is a remarkable phenomenon that I don't believe we have witnessed in our lifetime. First, an elected leader who has so quickly delegitimized his own rule through authoritarian actions (and incompetence); second, the will of the people demonstrated peacefully twice in two years. But it is a key moment: things could go dramatically wrong or right depending on the leadership shown by the military and political leaders. Instituting democratic processes that can achieve stable political institutions representing the people's will and interests is the only program. Non-violence remains the only strategy to every action, as previously. Peace remains the essential slogan. We are with you."  A perfect explanation of the situation in Egypt!

     A final note regarding the violence that is taking place in some of the streets of Cairo and in other cities around the country. Yesterday (July 5), the Brotherhood's Guide i.e. leader (*I cannot continue to write Muslim before Brotherhood since for me they do not have any connection to Islam) called on their supporters to kill and spill blood for Morsi and their legitimacy. No more blood to be spilled.

    Pray that calmer minds will prevail and pray for those who have given their lives for this great nation.... they will never ever be forgotten.  Their sacrifice today will empower us for tomorrow and beyond.


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