Adonis Diaries

Back to Hosni Mubarak’s election/censure-kinds? Are Egyptian military ever to leave the political scene?

Posted on: December 9, 2011

Back to Hosni Mubarak’s election/censure-kinds?  Are Egyptian military ever to leave the political scene?

The story is that Egypt’s newest English-language weekly newspaper  “Egypt Independent”, published in the final two paragraphs of an opinion piece about Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who became de facto president after the demise of Hosni Mubarak in February, suggested the leader of the governing Military Council could go to prison…

The offending article was headlined:  “Is Tantawi reading the public pulse correctly?” and written by the American historian Dr Robert Springborg.  The article suggested that many in the military believed their reputation was being abused. It read: “The military institution could remove (Tantawi) to save itself… a group of discontented officers might decide that a “coup within the coup” was the best way to deal with Tantawi”. The piece went as far as mentioned a possible contender for the Field Marshal’s post. Naming “The present rumblings of discontent among junior officers demonstrate that Chief of Staff General Sami Anan’s greater popularity than the Field Marshal in the military and among Egyptians as a whole, and intensified pressure from the US could all result in the Field Marshal sharing President Mubarak’s fate… ”

Question: If you were de-facto President, and an American publish an article sending the strong signal that the US prefers General Sami Anan’s as a successor powerful leader in the military…What could be your reactions?  Would you 1) censure just the offending paragraphs in the article, 2) ordered to shelve an entire print run of 20,000 copies, or 3) let the article takes its way to distribution? 

For example, if you know that 60% of the Egyptians are illiterate, that those who can read English most probably will not read the article and might focus on the sport or news sections…, that most of the Egyptians in the countryside barely read any Arabic print, that most non-educated Egyptians prefer the oral transfer of stories (probably biased by the disseminaters…), would you care one way or another if a lousy 20,000 copies were distributed and no more than 2,000 will be sold? 

Whether General Tantawi censures offending paragraph or order to kill the daily issue, do you think the article will not be posted on social platforms, and that the curious and engaged citizen will be ticked to know more about what the article said?

Maybe the problem is not in the dissemination of the US message for replacing Tantawi with Anan, since the message can be sent in many ways to reaching the targeted audience, but it is essentially a stand by the current General Tantawi in power that says: “No to US interference in Egypt political complex problems…Egypt wants to be left alone to deciding what is best after sustained mass demonstrations…The Egyptian are far more aware and more concerned about their political and social problems than what any stupid US Administration could ever know or comprehend…”  That sort of implicit counter-signals.

Actually, General Anan is the US Man in Egypt: He was following a special program in the US when the revolution broke out. Anan was dispatched to Egypt, hurriedly by the US, when things deteriorated against its interest in order to take control of the next phase.

The Editorial staff had cleared the article for printing last Wednesday. As the presses were rolling, the paper received a phone call from Magdi el-Galad, editor of “Al-Masry Al-Youm” (Egypt Today), the Arabic-language sister publication of the Egypt Independent.  Magdi has overall editorial control of both publications, and he ordered the staff to desist from distributing the paper.

“Nobody’s happy about this,” said one source with detailed knowledge of what transpired. “They feel that to be censored politically is not acceptable.”

Employees at the Egypt Independent were told the latest edition could not be distributed.  It is another blow for those who have raised concerns about the direction of Egypt’s revolution, with critics alleging that the country’s top brass appear intent on undermining the popular uprising to preserve their decades-old networks of power.

One source close to Mr el-Galad said he had developed close ties to the military and security services over the years. The “Egypt Independent” approached El-Galad for a response, but he declined to comment. “Nobody’s happy about this,” said one source with detailed knowledge of what transpired. “The (employees) feel that to be censored politically is not acceptable.”

The intervention by Mr el-Galad, which left the publication in crisis after only its second week of circulation, is especially significant as he was recently offered the post of Information Minister in Egypt’s new cabinet. Mr el-Galad refused, citing work commitments, but his attempt to muzzle mention of army discord raises questions. The censorship row came as official results from the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections showed that Islamist parties had captured nearly two-third of the votes with “The Muslim Brotherhood” taking the lead and the Wahhabi (Saudi Arabia brand) ultra-conservative salafist Muslim party capturing nearly 25%.

The Muslim Brotherhood took 36.6 per cent of the 9.7 million votes cast, but it was the success of the ultra-conservative Al-Nour Party that startled many Egyptians. Candidates for the party, which draws support from hardline Salafi Muslims and advocates strict curbs on art and personal freedoms, polled nearly 25 per cent.

The election process is very complicated.  Do you think a complicated election process favors the common Egyptians, with 60% of illiteracy rate?  Whom do you think a complicated election law ultimately is biased to?  Maybe those political parties receiving financial and organizational support from foreign powers, and the military that captures one-third of the Egyptian economy and cash in over $One billion  a year from the US?

Is ordering a paper to stop distributing its issue the main blow for those who have raised concerns about the direction of Egypt’s revolution, with critics alleging that the country’s top brass appear intent on undermining the popular uprising to preserve their decades-old networks of power?

Or is it the complicated election law that prohibited the common Egyptian from expressing his real wishes and hopes?

Do you think it was General Tantawi who ordered not to distribute the issue of the paper, or it was General Anan working behind the scene to dislodge his superior, by disseminating the image of an impotent Tantawi to taking control of “Law and Order”?

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December 2011

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