Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Tahrir Squares

“Egyptians held back by neo-liberalism, not religion”: Isn’t what I said?

President Morsi claims the opposition is an anti-Islamist elite. 

President Morsi is in fact trying to protect the interests of an entrenched elite at the expense of everyone else.

And Morsi is losing support because of his economic policies

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters have tried to frame the current crisis in religious terms, casting opposition to their speedily drafted constitution as the petulance of an anti-Islamist, liberal elite. Media analysis has often replicated this theme:

1. In one corner stands Brotherhood-propelled President Mohamed Morsi who has the supposed blessings of a religious population.

2. And in the other corner, the “secular” opposition, banging on about small details of a constitution that isn’t that bad. (It is very bad, bad, bad…https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/amnesty-international-egypts-constitution-limits-fundamental-freedoms-and-ignores-the-rights-of-women/)

Such wrongheaded analysis prompted Egypt expert Dr HA Hellyer from the Brookings Institution to politely request that western media “knock it off“.

 published in The Guardian, on Dec. 21, 2012 under: “Egyptians are being held back by neoliberalism, not religion…”

“The result of Egypt’s first referendum on the constitution (a second referendum takes place this Saturday, in districts that have yet to vote) has exposed some of the real sticking points.

The referendum had to be split into two stages because so few Egyptian judges agreed to supervise it. And for all its legendary mobilizing powers of the votes cast, the Brotherhood wasn’t able to get more than 57% for its constitution.

Not long ago, the Brotherhood could rely on voter support reaching over 70%. And less than a third of the electorate turned out – though that might be because of the long queues and the difficulty in voting. In an atmosphere of mistrust and mismanagement, allegations of vote-rigging are rife.

Mohamed Morsi

Photograph: Mohammed Hossam/AFP/Getty Images

But if Egyptians are, as results indicate, losing faith in the Brotherhood, it isn’t because the organisation is Islamist, but because it has so far been rubbish at ruling. Many believe the Brotherhood has kept its promises to power, but not to the people.

Crucially, President Morsi’s economic policy has deepened the neo-liberalism that brought so much misery during the Mubarak era and was a key component of the uprising against him.

This economic stamp is all over Morsi’s policies, both before and as a part of the proposed constitution – which was completed in a one-day marathon, by an Islamist-dominated assembly: The Christian, liberal and female members walked out from the assembly.

In early December Morsi announced an end to fuel subsidies – so household bills for gas cylinders and electricity, for example, are set to spike.

Meanwhile, an IMF loan of $4.8bn currently being negotiated is conditioned on what has been described as the biggest wave of austerity cuts since 1977 – when subsidies on staple foods were removed in one crippling hit, prompting the “bread riots“.

Today the plan is to reduce public spending, cut subsidies, increase tax on basic goods, and devalue the Egyptian pound. This package was delayed because of the current turmoil. But why should Egyptians swallow such a Shock Doctrine-style deal, when one of the key tenets of the revolution was a call for social justice?

Meanwhile, the proposed constitution reveals more of the Brotherhood’s conservative economics.

It has a clause that pegs wages to productivity. (In the public sectors?)

It stipulates that only “peaceful” strikes are allowed. (Whatever that means)

It keeps military interests intact and invisible to public scrutiny – in a country where the army is thought to own anything from 10% to 45% of the national economy (nobody knows for sure because it’s all so secret).

It is all more evident that Morsi is not, as he claims, trying to “protect the revolution”, but wants to protect the interests of an entrenched elite at the expense of everyone else.

Indeed, this year a Bloomberg report referred to the wealthy, controlling echelons of this Islamist group as the “Brothers of the 1%“.

Small wonder that the factory-dense city of Mahalla declared itself an independent state, in protest at Morsi’s anti-union laws. Since Morsi came to power there has been a wave of strikes; not just factory stoppages but also health worker strikes and consumer protests at eroding public services.

And Egypt’s rapidly growing independent unions have been mobilising nationally against the constitution, using its trampling of social justices as the hook.

All these concerns have come on top of the constitution-driven attempts to erode personal freedoms, especially for women and minorities, and give religious clerics the final say over legal rulings – all through a process that disdains plurality and vital consensus-building.

These economic blunders, rather than any knee-jerk hostility to Islamists in power, is what prompted such large and widespread protest across Egypt. But while his economic policy makes Morsi unpopular on the streets, it is precisely what makes him acceptable to the west: power-serving economics coupled with a foreign policy that doesn’t rock any regional boats, crucially with Israel.

Using standard paternalistic filters, the US is banking on the idea that the Brotherhood’s religious credibility will underwrite its reactionary politics, thereby maintaining the status quo. In this sense, the American administration doesn’t really care if it’s a Mubarak or a Morsi in power, as long as these interests are preserved.

It is true, of course, that the Brotherhood still won majority support in the first referendum – although that might be as much about public desire to put an end to this constitutional crisis.

But the drop in support for the Islamist group shows that Egyptians won’t be fobbed off any more – and therein lies the power of the revolution. Post-uprising polls reveal that Egyptians are more concerned with work, housing, health, security and public services than with the pantomime identity politics of Muslim Brotherhood versus the liberals.

The results of the referendum show that the opposition, as it grows more focused and more organised, might be able turn popular concern for these issues into real political mobilisation, which could gain momentum in the parliamentary elections slated for early next year.

Then the Brotherhood might find out that with such disregard for the Egyptian people, its credibility, garnered during those hard, repressive years in opposition, can easily be squandered.” end of article

Latest news:

1. The vice president resigned on the eve of the second phase of the referendum, on the ground that his culture as a judge does not match the needed “political skills”

2. The opposition is keeping a black list on judges who resume monitoring the referendum

Note:  Arab renaissance is not linked to interpretation of any religious book…https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/no-connection-with-interpeting-holy-booksarab-renaissance-demands-frequent-mass-meetings-in-tahrir-squares/

No connection with interpreting “Holy Books”: Arab Renaissance demands other mass meetings in Tahrir Squares…

I keep reading the same broken records where consequences are switched for the causes of Renaissance in many periods of history.  The recurring proposal is: “Renaissance were consequent to religious Books being permitted to be interpreted…”

For example, authors keep repeating that Europe Renaissance in the 15th century was consequent to the Protestant schisms against the dominant Catholic Church exclusive interpretation of the Bible…

Facts are that Protestantism in Europe generated dozen of rigid sects with much stricter religious dogma that refused any interpretations of their Bibles and harvested many victims and acted worse than the Catholic Church of the period…

Wrong deduction, of how the renaissance of people spirit emerges.

Renaissance is a period of affluence, of generated wealth, of openness to outside wealth and cultures, dynamic trading with the others in economic and cultural terms, secured by a climate of free expression and free gathering…In a Renaissance period, the spirit of the people is up and ready to get engaged and acquire more knowledge and wealth.  In this environment, the clerics are pressured to retreat and converse among themselves and re-interpret the religious books to match this rebellious mood of the people for more happiness, pleasure and zest for life.

The Arabic Empires in the East and West (Spain) experienced several renaissance periods of affluence and explosion in scientific research and economic development: One of the consequences was a frantic re-interpretation of the Coran (Koran) to suit the spirit of the period…

It is during periods of dire miseries, famine, military operations…when people are down and feeling crushed that the religious clerics, supported by the monarchs and califat, revert to rigid comprehension of the religious Books “word for word, descending from God and even written by God…”

Renaissance in the Arab World is getting together en mass in various Tahrir Squares and demanding: “We are hungry and want to eat, we are sick and want to heal, we are oppressed and we want to participate in life, we are educated and we want jobs, we are poor and we want free education to all…”

Renaissance in the Arab World is getting together en mass in various Tahrir Squares and chanting: “We are isolated and want to communicate with other people and cultures, we are crushed and we want to connect with other civilizations, we are confronted with obsolete mentalities and we want to be freed and open to the wide world…”

Renaissance in the Arab World is getting together en mass in various Tahrir Squares and proclaiming: “We didn’t revolt so that clerics rule us, we didn’t resist dictators and the brutal forces of oppression so that we are submitted to the rules of antiquated and obsolete Books, we didn’t lose an eye, been beaten, physically handicapped, and many of us killed…so that we are hoarded into more obscure prisons of the mind and dealt with archaic judicial system of the bedouin period…”

We don’t want the girls to be re-educated to the family customs and traditions of the Wahhabi sect

Arab Renaissance has nothing to do with the re-interpretation of outdated and obsolete Books that teaches nothing of any value to learn and live in our present and be part of mankind progress…

Arab Renaissance is getting liberated from centuries of constraints and re-learning to read the current world with fresh eyes and young heart and larger mind..

Arab Renaissance will come when one city, anywhere in the Arab World, experiences a period of affluence, sustained economic wealth, direct interactions with foreign cultures and civilizations, and the people feeling secured in their freedom of expression, freedom to gather, freedom to interact with the other (regardless of genders, race,religion, class status….

Renaissance has nothing to do with interpretation of any Holy Book.

The Arab revolutionary spirit is being fooled to wait for the re-interpretation of the Coran…as if the Coran was not reinterpreted several times…

As if the living is waiting for the clerics to give the green light for the modern Arab Renaissance

Go back to Tahrir Squares and discuss Arab Renaissance, and avoid discussing religious abstract notions that no one will ever know, and no one will ever experience.

What’s going on in Syria?  What is “Moratorium on dictators and absolute monarchs”?

Suddenly, since this Friday, mass upheavals are spreading in Syria; from the city of Daraa by the borders with Jordan, to Banyas, Tartous, Homs, and way to the north in the Kurdish region.  Last week, there were a couple of shy demonstrations localized in Damascus demanding the liberation of political prisoners.  Four demonstrators were killed in Daraa.

President Bashar Assad sent two official delegates to pay condolence to the bereaved families of the dead citizens in Dera3a.  As they finished their visit, the two delegates had three more casualties on hand. Worse, internal security agents rounded up a few adolescents, less than 13 of age, for painting on walls “Down with Bashar“.

The youths were tortured, finger nails pulled, and savagely beaten.  Bashar demanded the release of the youths, but they had to be hospitalized first before handing them to their families.  By the time the tortured youths were returned to their families, the revolt was in full swing.

The Syrian government blamed “infiltrators” disguised in internal security outfit who shot live ammunition on peaceful marchers.  The infiltrators also burned the headquarter of the one-party Baath regime and the court of justice in the city of Dar3a.  You have to admit that the “infiltrators” are awfully skilled:  The government security specialists have proven to be no match to infiltrators.

The President Bashar Assad had decreed last week the liberation of most prisoners, political and non political, those over 70 years, and the terminally sick…Maybe it was just a promise?

As all promises that the people have been hearing for 4 decades? I guess Bashar forgot to mention that the political system needed to be reformed and that the Assad regime, father to son, since 1971, has to make rooms for democratic succession and away from a “one-party” rule.

Syria has grown to over 20 million in population.  Amid the turmoil in the Middle-East, Syria of the Assad socialist regime managed to bring sort of stability and security: it maintained a steady currency and invested in decent infrastructure and schooling for all.

Invariably, oligarchic regimes ends up getting involved in widespread corruptions and considering the State Treasury as family holdings.

Syria is described as a “steadfast” regime against the meddling of western powers in its internal affairs and in Lebanon; and Syria is one of the last regimes bordering Israel that didn’t sign any “peace treaty” with the enemy Israel.

Obviously, Israel occupies the Golan Heights since 1967 and the USA refuses to pressure Israel to return occupied lands according to the UN resolution.

Syria waged a good war in 1973 against Israel with the coordination of Egypt, and managed to reconquer the Golan Heights, only to lose it again when Sadat of Egypt agreed on a cease-fire without the consultation with Syria and the US transporting military hardware to Israel by “an air bridge“. Since 1973, the occupied Golan Heights is one of the most peaceful region:  Syria never attempted to disturb the peace!

Syria of Hafez Assad, the father who grabbed power by a military coup in 1971, sided with Iran of Khomeini against his nemesis Saddam Hussein of Iraq (another leader of the Baath faction) in the decade long war (1980-1989).  Syria also cooperated with the US alliance and send an army to kick Saddam out of Kuwait in 1991.

In return, the US gave Syria mandated power over Lebanon that lasted till 2005, after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri PM.

Bashar succeeded to his father in 2000.  Israel unilaterally retreated from south Lebanon in 2000.  Instead of announcing a timetable for the retreat of Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2000, the new Syrian President got immersed resolving side problems and affirming his power.

The Assad regime is based on the minority Alawi sect (15% of population), a kind of Shia sect. The Alawis got most of the sensitive positions in the army and internal security system, and thus are in the hands of the extended family members.

The Syria Baath party made alliance with a few political parties for the Parliament, but there is a deep sense that the structure of this regime is fundamentally an oligarchic system.

The Syrian regime masterfully kept diplomatic dialogue with the US  Administrations and reached many tacit agreements in cooperating with the US in Iraq, even though Syria is included in the “black list” as a “rogue State” not entirely supporting the US policies.

Syria maintained a strong alliance with Iran for three decades and currently extended firm alliance with Turkey.  The regimes of Mubarak of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan kept the squeeze on Syria by orders from the USA for two decades.  Syria had close ties with Libya of Qadhafi and is still supporting Qadhafi with jet pilots, until the “No Fly Zone” was established.

Two days ago, Syria announced its support to the expeditionary Saudi forces in Bahrain on the premises that these forces were legitimate since they were demanded by the King of Bahrain!  In the meanwhile, Iran vehemently denounced these incursions into Bahrain and is against Qadhafi.  Thus, Syria flaunted Iran’s policies in the region twice in less than two days.

Syria is wooing the alliance of Egypt and Saudi Arabia in order to ward off the current mass Arab uprising everywhere.  Maybe Syria made a hasty move away from Iran before securing its internal stability with new political reforms.

It is obvious that no foreign alliances can withstand the new wrath of the people for everlasting regimes of dictators, one-party regimes, and absolute monarchies.  Lebanon youths have been demonstrating for a secular political structure.  The monarchy in Morocco is witnessing mass upheavals in 40 cities.  Time for outraged is not going to subside any time soon.

People in the Arab States are clear in their demands: “We want a Moratorium on dictators and absolute monarchs.  We want to try democratic systems for a change.  We demand a restoration of our dignity as individual citizens with full human rights…”

Note 1:  The growing squeeze on Bashar al Assad cannot be effective militarily.  The regime might be ripe to collapse financially, but its economy is self-sufficient for basic survival foodstuff.  The irony is that the regime will destroy whatever economic development it managed to install in the last three decades, just to maintain its hold on power.

Note 2: This was my first article on the Syria problems, and it was followed by a dozen other posts as the situation unfolded. Mind you that in the first phase of the uprising, the Syrian wanted to emulate the other Tahrir Squares (Liberation) in Egypt and Tunisia: Out with the dictator regime that lasted 40 years!


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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