Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 24th, 2013

I want clarifications: On this Orthodox election law proposed to Lebanon

The one “reform” item that always get passed in the successive lukewarm and never serious election law reforms, every 4 years, is the increase of the number of deputies in the Parliament.

The trend is a 10% cumulative increase of deputies, every decade. And the reason is never a population explosion: Lebanon “citizens” immigration rate exceeds the rate of eligible voters of 21 year-old…

The political leaders view Parliament as the easiest and fastest elevator to power and accumulate wealth for their progeny.

The Parliament of tiny Lebanon (a State smaller than New Jersey) and a voting base of barely 2 million voters, is bound to jump to 134 deputies, from the current number of 128.

I badly need a link that directs me to the details and mechanism of this Orthodox alternative election law.

All that I could understand from these “long months” of negotiating a “valid and acceptable” law are the followings:

1. Every eligible voter of a religious sect, of the 18 officially recognized sects, can vote for only the candidates representing his sect.

2. The law is proportional, a first since 1943? I guess it means that, if a list of candidates surpass a cut-off rate of votes, then it will be represented commensurate to the percentage of votes it received…

3. The law considers Lebanon as a single district, instead of the 13 or 15 districts…

4. The dozen “Christian” sects representing barely 30% of Lebanon’s population will be able to be represented by 50% of the deputies…

5. The half dozen of “Moslem” sects representing 70% of the population will vote in 50% of the deputies.

Beyond these pieces of intelligence I am in the blank.

I can only conjecture, if logic and rational thinking is a valid basis in this political domain of Lebanon,

1. Does this law means that if I am an eligible voter of a very minority sect that can be represented by only 2 deputies, then I am entitled to vote for only 2 deputies from the list of 134 candidates? And the other 132 deputies can be from Mars and it is none of my business?

2. If  I am an eligible voter from the Moslem Shiaa sect (representing at least 45% of the total population) then I might be able to vote for maybe 30 deputies (less than 20% of the Parliament)… And the remaining candidates may come from Jupiter and I am not supposed to care in any reasonable way?

3. Do you think the vote of a minority sect has the same weight and value as the vote of a majority sect? Some dignity, please.

4. Does this law intends to propose that I can vote from anywhere in Lebanon, and not be restricted to pay a visit to the village my family is registered in?

Even within ridiculously absurd law, there can be a few improvements:

1. A minority sect, and only during election period, can opt to join another sect or a coalition of sects, so that my vote acquires a higher value or weight in the election process. This alternative will give me more incentive to go to the voting booth

2. Allow youth of 18 years to be eligible to vote

3. Allow soldiers and internal security officers to vote ( In other countries they vote before the ordinary citizen voting day)

4. The youth and military votes will not significantly alter the outcome in this system, but the increased “image” of higher democratic representation will play the catalyst for later pragmatic a real reforms to this archaic political/social structure.

Some dignity, please.

Note 1: You might be wondering how come “Christians” in the Middle-East are entitled to 50% of all public positions, the President of the Republic, the Chief of the Army….

It was a tacit agreement, not in the Constitution, among the religious sects in 1943 to split public functions and high positions among the various main majority sects. Actually, the mandated power of France created Lebanon in 1920 after the Paris Peace Treaty among the WWI warring nations. Lebanon was to be an “oasis” entity for the Christian Maronite sect.

This tacit contract is still suitable since all the surrounding States are sectarian, theocratic (including Israel), or one party regimes. The States with Moslem majority have in their constitutions items such as:

1. Islam is the religion of the nation

2. The Chariaa is the main source for civil laws

3. The main and key public positions are to be held by Moslems…

Note 2: A hilarious article? https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/the-onion-to-sue-lebanon-political-system-far-beyond-the-reach-of-satire/

Do Egypt Moslem Brothers have established a State within a State?

Is Egypt’s Brotherhood still operating secretively?

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaks publicly of firsthand knowledge of a meeting where opponents allegedly plotted against him.

A few months earlier, the most powerful man in his Muslim Brotherhood group, Khairat el-Shater, says he has access to recordings of former military rulers and electoral officials engineering his disqualification from last year’s presidential race.

HAMZA HENDAWI posted this Feb. 21, 2013 

In Egypt, those statements are seen by security officials, former members of the Islamist group and independent media as strong hints that the Brotherhood might be running its own intelligence-gathering network outside of government security agencies and official channels.

Such concerns dovetail the Brotherhood, which has a long history of operating clandestinely, to suspicion that it remains a shadowy group with operations that may overlap with the normal functions of a state.

Brotherhood supporters also demonstrated militia-like capabilities at anti-Morsi protests in December.

Another oft-heard charge comes from the Foreign Ministry, where officials complain that the president relies more on trusted Brotherhood advisers than those inside the ministry in formulating foreign policy.

The Brotherhood emerged from Egypt’s 2011 uprising as the country’s dominant political group and Morsi was elected president in June of last year as the group’s candidate.

The motive for setting up parallel operations could be rooted in the fact that many government bodies, such as security agencies and the judiciary, are still dominated by appointees of the ousted regime of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak or anti-Islamists with long-held suspicions of the Brotherhood.

The perception that such agencies are hostile to the country’s new Islamist leaders lends their rule an embattled aspect despite a string of electoral victories.

“The problem with the Brotherhood is that they came to power but are still dealing with the nation as they did when they were in the opposition,” said Abdel-Jalil el-Sharnoubi, former editor-in-chief of the group’s website who left the Brotherhood in May 2011.

“Because they cannot trust the state, they have created their own,” he added.

The notion of a state within a state has precedents elsewhere in the Arab world. In Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah is the de facto government in much of the south and east of the country and has its own army and telephone network.

To a lesser extent, followers of Iraq’s anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are de facto administrators of Shiite districts in Baghdad and in parts of the mostly Shiite south.

In Egypt, the situation reflects a chasm that has emerged since the uprising over the nation’s future. In one camp is the Brotherhood, their Islamist allies and a fairly large segment of the population that is conservative and passively inclined toward the ideas of Islam as a way of life.

Arrayed against them is a bloc of comparable size that includes not only those who served under Mubarak in the state and security structures but also moderate Muslims, liberals, secularists, women and Christians who account for about 10 percent of the population.

The Brotherhood denies that any of its activities are illegal or amount to a state within a state.

“The Brotherhood is targeted by a defamation campaign, but will always protect its reputation and these immoral battles will never change that,” said spokesman Ahmed Aref, alluding to claims that the group was running a parallel state.

“There is still an elite in Egypt that remains captive to Mubarak’s own view of the Brotherhood,” he added.

For most of the 85 years since its inception, the Brotherhood operated secretively as an outlawed group, working underground and often repressed by governments.

But even after its political success, the group is still suspected of secretive operations.

The Brotherhood counters that it has legitimacy on its side, having consistently won at the ballot box since Mubarak’s ouster. And they accuse the opposition of conspiring with former regime members in an attempt to overthrow a democratically elected administration.

The two most powerful Brotherhood figures, wealthy businessman el-Shater and spiritual leader Mohamed Badie, are seen by many in Egypt as the real source of power — wielding massive influence over Morsi and his government.

El-Shater, according to the former Brotherhood members and security officials, is suspected of running an information gathering operation capable of eavesdropping on telephones and email.

He was the Brotherhood’s first choice for presidential candidate in last year’s election but was disqualified over a Mubarak-era conviction.

Following his disqualification, he publicly said last summer that he had access to recordings of telephone conversations between members of the election commission and the military council that ruled Egypt for nearly 17 months after Mubarak’s ouster.

The conversations, he claimed, were to engineer throwing him out of the race. He did not say how he knew of the contacts or their contents.

Again in December, he suggested that he had access to information gathered clandestinely.

Addressing Islamists in a televised meeting, he said he has “detected from various sources” that there were meetings of people allegedly plotting to destabilize Morsi’s rule.

He did not identify the alleged plotters nor say how he had learned of the meetings.

A spokesman for the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, said at the time when asked for comment that it was to be expected from a group as big as the Brotherhood to have its own “resources.” That was taken as virtual confirmation of a parallel intelligence gathering operation.

Morsi was also seen as suggesting that the Brotherhood was spying on critics when he spoke to supporters outside his presidential palace in November. He said he had firsthand knowledge of what transpired in a meeting of several of his critics.

“They think that they can hide away from me,” he said.

The words of El-Shater and Morsi were taken as strong hints that the Brotherhood has its own intelligence gathering operation. But in a country fed on a steady diet of conspiracy theories, no hard evidence has come to light, only suspicion and talk.

A former Brotherhood member, Mohammed el-Gebbah, claimed the group had 6 “mini intelligence centers,” including one housed in its headquarters in the Cairo district of Moqqatam.

He did not provide evidence to back his claim and another Brotherhood spokesman, Murad Ali, denied that the group has such capability.

In an off-the-cuff remark, Brotherhood stalwart Essam el-Aryan said last October that Morsi’s presidential palace secretly records all “incoming and outgoing communications.” The president’s spokesman swiftly denied it.

But it only fed the notion of a Brotherhood parallel intelligence gathering operation with Morsi’s support and cooperation.

Another concern that has arisen is whether the Brotherhood might be running its own militias outside of government security agencies.

That fear arose from a wave of mass protests that turned violent in December. Protesters for and against Morsi faced off over decrees, since rescinded, that gave the president near absolute powers.

In early December, the Brotherhood posted a “general alert” on its official Facebook page and the next day, groups of armed Brotherhood supporters attacked opposition protesters staging a sit-in outside Morsi’s palace.

Thousands of Morsi supporters and opponents poured into the area and street fighting continued well into the night.

Video clips later posted on social networks showed Brotherhood supporters stripping and torturing protesters in makeshift “detention centers” set up just outside the palace gates, partly to extract confessions that they were on the opposition’s payroll.

On-camera testimonies by victims to rights groups spoke of police and palace workers standing by and watching as they were being abused by Brotherhood supporters.

At least 10 people were killed and 700 injured in the clashes on Dec. 5.

The next morning, groups of Morsi supporters staged military-style drills in residential areas near the palace.

Ali, the group’s spokesman, denied the existence of any kind of militias.

“We have no military or non-military formations. None whatsoever,” he said.

Aref, the other spokesman, disputed the version of events outside Morsi’s palace on Dec. 5, saying 11 of the group’s supporters were killed by thugs and nearly 1,500 injured, including 132 who were shot.

“The facts of that day were turned upside down to mislead public opinion and the victims became the culprit,” he said.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

February 2013
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