Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Egyptian State Enigma

Mr. Monkey's insightful article The weak state  about the "state" is actually a good overview of the Egyptian governance and explains quite a lot. However; all the like minded analysts fail to explain the fundamental reasons behind this enigma of "Egyptian State" and tend to deal with it according to the legal definition of "State", hence the the belief that we actually have one.
The explanation of the Enigma lies in long Egyptian history. Since the days of the Pharaohs, there has always been the duality of the rulers and the people. The rulers included the King and the high ranking generals, Ministers/ High ranking Bureaucrats and Priests, these tribes were always rich. The People were always relatively poor and were divided into two parts, a minority of low ranking bureaucrats/government employees and the rest were soldiers, peasants and labour, middle class has always been marginal and ineffective.
Since Egypt became and stayed occupied for over two thousand years, The Rulers and Generals and even the soldiers were foreign, but they can't rule a densely populated country without the local expertise in the form of Bureaucrats and Priests, over the years, a silent pact was made between them and the rest of the people. The people will farm the lands and pay taxes that pays for their salaries -and they were welcome to milk the "State" as much as they can - and in return (since they were both The People and on the same side as fellow Egyptians) make the ruler believe that he actually rules, they will do their best to sabotage his rule and limit his control on the rest of the people so that they can go on their lives and "do their thing". 
When Mohamed Ali came to rule Egypt, he understood this setup and broke it up completely and started a new "State". He marginalized "Priests" redistributed wealth, And after several failed attempts to create a foreign army, he used the natives. Started an educated middle class for a new disciplined bureaucracy (Whom he tended to punish severely when they started their usual grafting and usurping the state authority). His successors varied in their degree of strength and political savvy, but the rules were set and actually things improved over the years, Europeans came to Egypt to live, work and start businesses. 
No matter how you view the British occupation of Egypt, no one can deny that they were the final step in making the country a Modern State and everything had standards and became organized. Post office, Police station, fire brigade and hydrants everywhere, streets and sidewalks, license and permits for any public or business activity and most importantly Official Education and a controlled bureaucracy. Naturally; middle class grew and became prosperous, "The people" were becoming more secular and "Civilized". It sure backfired in their faces later. No matter what the political conditions were, Egypt The State and more Egyptians were becoming Educated and doing quite well, with quasi liberal democracy, the path was set for better days. But....alas.
Nasser came and reinstated the old setup of the Ruler (Ministers and key political positions)/Generals (Army officers in all important jobs) /Priest (Confiscated awqaf and nationalized Azhar. Mosques were run by government and religious figures became government employees) + the usual High Ranking Bureaucrats. The rich had to come from one of these tribes; In the meantime, he annihilated the established middle class by nationalizing private businesses and making bureaucrats out of all the educated. Egypt was on the skidrow.
The Sadat experience was not completed, he was a secretive sneaky person and nobody actually predicted his next move, the country was in shambles but there was hope that things will get better and change was coming. The people were motivated, there was a budding private business, a new bourgeois class and private education for the well to do's new generation since the official education was totally useless and ineffective. A new tribe was becoming rich outside the usual setup. It seems that near the end, he realized that he had mishandled his political dual game of Extreme Religious Right pitted against the old "Leftist/Big Government" setup. I can only conclude that when it became apparent to the old regime that he planned to dismantle the old setup, the old tribes conspired for his assassination. 
Mubarak -dim witted as he is- ruled under the old terms and with the approval of the "establishment", a quick overview of his era shows that the country was back to the old habbits of when it was occupied, a ruling class that has all the privileges and nobody outside the (usual tribes) is to become rich without the establishment's approval. The People were back to being small government employees that carried on with their usual grafting and milking the "State" for maximum gain while making the Ruler believe that he actually runs the country! the rest of the people went on doing "their thing" of solving their own problems their own way, building homes wherever they pleased, driving as they saw damn fit, paying for private lessons, creating fantastic new ways to make money like street vendors and "Parking Assistants", private cars that work as public transport, all under the eyes government, and the government doesn't mind as long as the people pay graft and help to cover the government's failure to provide the minimum of statehood.
Again, Mubarak was overthrown by the very same "establishment" that assassinated Sadat and for exactly the same reasons. Gamal and his cronies were going to disturb the old setup. Police was becoming more important than the army. Important religious figures were not the Grand Imam Shiekh Azhar & The Mofty, but other parasite Evangelists, mostly, controlled by the State Security. Graft was not distributed properly. 
The Muslim Brotherhood were stupid enough to believe that since they have infiltrated the "establishment" they can rearrange matters and actually control the government and redistribute privileges. Predictably, they were overthrown and major corrections are being made with the "Amended constitution" to ensure the survival of the establishment.
I will not elaborate on the past three years here, as this post is way longer than intended. Perhaps i will do so in a follow up post to munch over these hilarious acts in the play we have been witnessing, but rest assured that concessions will have to be made, or nothing will be left to nobody and "The Establishment" will be the biggest loser.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

الخروج من المأزق. المقاطعة ليست الحل.

 أولا: أنا ليبرالي وبالرغم من ذلك فأنا واحد من قلة القلة الذين صوتوا لخالد علي اليساري جدا والذي بدا لي ساذجا في كلامه الاقتصادي  ولكن صادقا في نية محاربة الفساد وكذلك انه  ليس من محترفي السياسة الذين أرى ان كلهم فاسدون بدرجة أو أخرى وفي اعتقادي كذلك إنهم السبب الرئيسي في تخريب جهود البرادعي والقلة المخلصة لاستكمال إنجازات الثورة. إن فسادهم وغدرهم هو السبب الأساسي في عدم تمكنه من العمل معهم واتجاهه للعمل مع الشباب لانهم لم يلوثوا بعد بطول العمل بالسياسة. أنا شخصيا ارى ان البرادعي يجب  ان يتعلم ان يتعامل مع فساد شعب بأكمله بما في ذلك الشباب , ويكفي ان نرى كيف ان الكثير منهم تم شراؤه وافساده بمنتهى السهولة.

طبعا لم يكن عندي أي اوهام بإمكان فوز خالد علي بالرئاسة, ولكن منطقي كان إنه إذا حصل على نسبة معقولة من الاصوات , سيجعل ذلك موقفه كمناضل حقوقي أقوى بكثير في محاربة الفساد, واعداده لان يكونا منافس فعلي على الانتخابات القادمة 2016 أو فتح الباب لمن يكون في مثل سنه وخلفيته السياسية.

بالتأكيد أصابتني نتيجة انتخابات الرئاسة بحالة إحباط شديدة, ليس فقط بالنسبة الهزيلة التي حصل عليها خالد, ولكن بسلوك الشعب واختياراته وكذلك تقاعسه عن التصويت بنفس نسبة الاستفتاء أو مجلس الشعب. وأنا متأكد ان بعيدا عن مؤيدي الدقنجية والشفاشق ان الباقي (النسبة الأكبر) يشاركني نفس الاحباط. وخاصة ان الاعادة بين انثنين لايمكن باي حال ان أوافق على أي منهم. واليكم اسبابي باختصار:
  • شفيق: واحد من أكبر الفاسدين المتصلين بصلة نسب إلى مبارك واتباعه بجانب خلفيته العسكرية (وبالمناسبة, الجيش مؤسسة فاسدة جدا, وأي فرد خدم فيه يعرف ذلك). تلك الخلفية التي يجب ان تكون عيب وليس  ميزة تضاف إلى شخص في الادارة,. أنا شخصيا لي تجارب مريرة مع عقلياتهم في العمل المدني والادارة. حتى في أعمال مثل مديري أمن أو مايمكن ان يكون من المفترض ان يكون في مجال خبراتهم. يضاف إلى ذلك هذا الكم من قضايا الفساد الذي تم الطرمخه عليها بواسطة العسكر , وهذا طبعا يعطينا فكرة عن مستوى الفساد المتوقع في حالة فوزه والتنكيل بالثوار والمعارضه بجميع اشكالها.
  • أما الاخوان فلا اجد لهم أي تشبيه إلا السرطان. إنها خلايا من نفس الجسم, تتحول وتستولى على دمه وتبدأ في مهاجمة جميع اعضاوه حتى تتمكن من الجسم كله. فـإذا لم يتمكن أي من الأنظمة السابقة من استئصال هذا الورم في جسد الشعب -بل بالعكس, قاموا بتغذيته وتقويته لاستعماله  ضد الاخرين - فـعلى الاقل يجب السيطرة على نموه والعمل على عدم انتشاره. وأنا لا اتحدث هنا عن القمع باي صورة ولكن باعادة الوعي إلى الشعب. لانه سيبقى دائما فئة متطرفة في أي مجموع ولكن بالحجم الفعلي وعدم تحويل شعب بأكمله إلى مهاويس مثل الألمان في عهد هتلر.

 والان كيف نخرج من هذا المأزقفي رأي المتواضع يجب ان نعمل بقدر الامكان على رفع نسبة حضور المحبطين مثلي  لانتخابات الاعادة وابطال اصواتنا باعداد كبيرةمع رسائل سياسية على ورقة الاقتراع واستعمال ذلك بكثافة في الميديا. ذلك سيضعف بشدة شرعية أي فائز في هذه الانتخابات وخاصةً أمام الرأي العام المحلي و العالمي.  
ضعف نسب الحضور سيفتح المجال للتلاعب في الانتخابات مع خفوت صوت المعترضين على المرشحين الاثنين. وإذا سارت الامور بنفس المنوال , فـطبعا سيتم تزوير النتيجة لصالح شفيق. أما إذا كان هناك اعتراض شديد على المرشحين فـذلك سيقوي المعارضة الحرة ويضع الفائز في موقف حرج في حال بدأ في قمعها.
في اضعف الأحوال, وإذا رأى أي فرد إنه يجب ان ينتخب, فـأن ترجيح كفه شفيق سيجبر الاخوان على الاصطفاف مع المعارضه وهنا يمكن استغلالهم كما تعودوا هم ان يستغلوا أي وضع. أنا اعرف ان هذا كلام براجماتي حقير, أنا نفسي احتقر براجماتية الاخوان بشدة, ولكني لم اتعود على تلقي الضربات منبطحا. أنا إنسان مسالم بطبعي ولكن لا تضعني في ركن وتنتظر مني الاستسلام ببساطة. فاذا لم يفلح اي حل سياسي للأزمه, فالعوده للشارع هي الحل.

المقاطعة ليست الحل. الثورة مستمرة

Monday, July 4, 2011

Are we there yet?

The past few days have been full of seemingly disjointed events, but - in my opinion- they simply confirm my earlier suspicions that our current state is not a revolution, but merely the stage of strong protests. What has not been done far outweighs what was achieved.

Of course most will say that it is normal to be frustrated at this stage and all that other pep-talk, I understand pep-talk and support it wholeheartedly. I give it all the time when talking to frustrated people in Tahrir, the office and the street. But personally I strongly oppose the opinion that it takes 50 years for a revolution to be finished, this was good in the 19th. century and don't bring up Eastern Europe or Latin America examples also, that was last century over and above the fact that these countries needed to change everything political and economic. We do not need to do all that, we need to make Deep and Drastic reforms to an existing system.

The core of the current non-achievement is our chronic disastrous mismanagement of  revolutionary resources as well as other affairs. I'm biased towards management since I have been doing it for half my life, and this is how I analyse any situation. There is an inherent resistance to change in all establishments, bring a new manager in and see what happens. Everybody will do their utmost to make the new manager perform like the old -even hated- one. Change has to be swift, well conducted and consistent. Otherwise; you end up with a mediocre solution to any major problem. and this is exactly where we are at; "Mediocre". We did not even change the management! Our Cabinet is 90%  "Establishment"!  Jul8 8th. is trying to patch up the leaking pipe of public support with the duct tape of demands of minimum wage, swift fair trials of the murderers and some corrupted members of the "Current" regime, which has not been changed

Let's look at July 8th. planned sit-in demands, they are the same demands of Feb. 12th. (If not fewer) My expectation is that it's going to be a strong message, but certainly not as strong as it should, Why? simply because we have lost the most important asset -The Media- which is the strongest and most counter revolutionary weapon. All the support of the masses has been left to the same old propaganda machine to manipulate and distort public opinion. While now the major focus is on the Interior Ministry, a futile and effort consuming battle with little results. Apply the media pressure on any "Establishment" and see what happens. It's not enough to have a few hawling reporters in very few semi-independent newspapers and TV channels, while there are over 30 TV channels and 50 newspapers and magazines bombarding people with pure propaganda.

We have also lost the momentum needed to overhaul the media machine, we do not have a strong cause now to demand that needed overhaul and we will not get it. If we write a small piece of parallel history, and the media was truly purged and controlled by the people instead of the "Establishment"  in 6 months we would have had -at least- a half reformed police force and judiciary system, not to mention avoided other extremely harmful things like leaving Zakaria Azmy to freely "do his thing" in the presidential palace for a whole month!  . Political whores like the "MBs", Salafis and other "Parties" would have been very careful who to align their selves with and the SCAF would also not dare to be performing against people's wishes, instead; now they are the masters and manipulators. We certainly would not have this farcical argument about Constitution or elections come first and our economy would be in a much better shape.

There is a lot of talk about the appearance of the Tahrir people now and how the "Quality" of people has changed! This observation is correct. The people who have started on January 25th. have mostly withdrawn, feeling that they have performed their role and others simply gotten bored or frustrated while the activists have gotten fragmented into opposing coalitions and parties. Only the "Simple" sincere people remained hardcore and dedicated to the cause. Without getting accused of  being "Bourgeois" or other fancy terms, these "Simple" people come from environments that hold physical prowess in high esteem and macho is manifested in a generally violent attitude and loud voice, (as a matter of fact it's a part of our culture and has nothing to do with your financial abilities or class, observe how so called "Classy" people behave in any traffic accident). These "Simple" people were the foot soldiers of the revolution and they still are. It's the "Generals" who have failed.

I See July 8th. as an attempt to salvage the situation, Of course we will go on getting some things done in our own meandering way, but it will take much more sacrifices and longer than it should have had.

I once argued -and still believe- that Tahrir should have formed committees for each demand instead of these useless coalitions, each committee should be commissioned with only one job. One for Media, another for MOI, a third for Judiciary, Education, Martyrs Rights, Injured Rights and so on and so forth. I'm going to try and push this idea the coming few days and hope to get some people convinced.

See you all in Tahrir July 08.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Interesting Forwarded Emails: Save the Village

Interesting Forwarded Emails: Save the Village: " Sardarji is studying in the West as he is calling his mom: Sardarji: Mom, I have bad news for you; I have AIDS. Mother: Don't c..."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is this Intimidation?

Today is the day for blogging about Military Tribunals, Trials, Court Martials, name it as you please. The whole practice is against the law and human rights.

Why against the law? because we are not under Martial Law, no decree was issued to apply martial law, the constitutional declaration did not include it and we are currently ruled by Emergency State, which - although has been the tool for all past violations - entails due process. and is not being used as declared against criminals.

The most serious problem we have encountered since Jan 28th. and the complete withdrawal of Police Force along with letting loose the prisoners and all other conspiracies aimed at destabilizing security for the purpose of enticing fear and later to use this chaotic state  to clamp down on civilians under the pretext of restoring security.

Looking at what happened on March 9th. at the Egyptian Museum to Tahrir square protesters by MP. beatings, insults, electrocution and the outrageous "Virginity Tests" performed on Females! Isn't this intimidation?

Again, April 9th. Tahrir Square and the MP. but more serious this time with chasing protesters and using Live Ammunition! Does anybody know what really happened to the army officers arrested that day? did they have a fair trial? did they receive legal council? Was the law applied? same questions apply to civilians arrested that same day. More intimidation.

The lowest number estimated of civilians to have undergone military trials is well over five thousand! Most of them rounded up from the streets and jailed on trumped up charges. Nothing was actually done about security . Most of the real criminals are still out on the streets intimidating people and instilling fear, While people like Michael Nabil - a blogger - was sentenced five years for writing against SCAF! isn't this intimidation?

We have heard the word "Red Line" used in conjunction with criticizing SCAF often enough, especially by the official Media Machine; topped with Generals calling talk shows and practically chastising guests for overstepping "The Line". Bothaina Kamel was summoned for "Coffee" in the aftermath of her TV interview, later MP arresting civilians for distributing leaflets and hanging posters!  most recently Reem Maged, Hossam El Hamalway and Nabil Sharaf Eldin were also summoned for more "Coffee" at the Military prosecutor's office, more reporters are in line for these "Coffee" summons! All for the same reason of discussing the actions & decisions of SCAF or the outrageous violations by the MP and military trials. Obvious Intimidation.

The whole series of events leads to only one conclusion and that is "Intimidation" to all Activists, Reporters and in turn civilians that eventually support any civil movement. SCAF have a plan and they do not want Civilians middling with that. They will only tolerate mild criticism and will occasionally comply with a "Public Demand" as long as it does not interfere with the master plan.
The only effective tool the people (us) you and me; is public pressure, results are immediate before the promise of Big Friday protests. Activists in front of Military prosecutor's office and most importantly the few independent journalists and reporters that can carry the people's message across. We have no alternative but to keep up the pressure if we wish to see our country a free and democratic state and we have a long way to go, revolution is not even halfway there yet.

Power to the people.

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