The ghosts of 9/11 and the art of management by crises

I write this reflecting on the tumultuous events of September 9 and its aftermath in Egypt. Those events and their repercussions occurred around  the anniversary of the cowardly attack on the US that occurred 10 year ago. Though my focus is strictly on Egypt’s struggle for freedom and democracy, I can not but feel the ghosts of that catastrophic event still haunt us. Perhaps “haunt” is not the right word, one gets the sense that there are actives and intentional force from this dimension of existences that are pulling certain strings to push towards certain outcomes.

Prelude to the September 9 demonstrations in Egypt
Popular discontent has been on rise for a while, key factors are:
  1. Twelve thousands civilians have been tried before military courts and issued summary verdicts without proper due process. 
  2. A sizable fraction of those thousands were put in prison for being in demonstrations, or for expressing there opinion in a manner not to the likely of the country’s leadership. 
  3. No clear schedule for the elections or a clear plan for handover of powers to democratic forces. 
  4. Many of the economic demands of the revolution have either been ignored, or unfulfilled promises have been made. 
  5. Reported cases of continued  abuses of power by the ministry of interior (MOI), and no clear plans for reform of the ministry that most people regard as a instrument of political repression. 
  6. The events of September 7 where many thousands of football fans where brutally attacked, chased through the streets and many incarcerated for chanting against the police during a match. 
  7. The trial of Mubarak and his buddies that seem to be proceeding at a snail’s pace. This stands in sharp contrast with civilians being given summary justice and sentences to long prison terms. 
  8. Curbs of freedom of expression and the media.
  9. The killing of five Egyptian soldiers at our borders in Sinai by Israeli forces who were engaged in hunting down terrorists involved in a attack on there soil. The Israeli gunships violated Egyptian airspace and killed our men. If this were to happen anywhere, it would be considered an act of war, with serious repercussions. The ruling SCAF treated the whole situation as a non-event, and were content with Israel’s expression of regret (it was too much, it seems, for Israeli officials to offer an apology).This was quite injurious to Egyptian national pride and started a number of protest outside the Embassy. SCAF completely ignored this demonstration (as is becoming the fashion of late). The reporting of these events by the NYTimes leaves much to be desired
The ghosts of 9/11 in Tahrir
The atmosphere in the early hours of Friday in Tahrir could be described as jubilant. The people have managed to reclaim the favorite square after and month long occupation by the combined forces of MOI’s central security forces and military police. That Friday was given the title of “The Friday of Path Correction”. There was plenty of discussions taking place in the square about what needs to be done to bring about democratic transitions. Many were unhappy with SCAF’s management of affairs. 
After the Friday prayers, I was shocked to hear the preacher make plea for SCAF to release the Omar Abdel-Rahman from US prison. Abdel-Rahman played a significant role in inciting hate and providing religious sanction to acts to of terror. Very few payed much attention to that preacher. However, half an hour later somebody gave me free copy of a dinky newspaper known as al-sha3b with have on its front page a banner add calling for the release of Abdel-Rahman. My friends and I were wondering, who the hell is calling for this on day should not be about Egypt and it future and not about that awful historical drag. Who is trying to advance this a revolutionary demand?  and who is paying for all of this?

Embassy storming and aftermath
Later in the day the Israeli embassy was stormed. There were very few troops around to protect it, the troops were pulled out that day from around the embassy, and a few tens of protesters entered the building. After the storming their was brutal attack on the protester around the area by the police, it left one thousand injured and three dead. It is hard to believe that SCAF tried and failed to prevent the storming. There is growing belief that  it must have been a way of sending some message to either the US and Israel. Those violent events further gave rise to the following:

  1. Beefing up the emergency law is Egypt with to give the state almost unlimited powers to detain anyone
  2. Terminating Al-Jazeera’s local channel operation.  
  3. Further restrictions on media and journalists and fostering and general sense of fear and foreboding in state owned media. 

SCAF is trying to shape the political landscape to serve its interests. Their are worrying signs that it wants to stay in power for much longer than it had declared. The setup for the next election seems to be designed in push for old NDP figures or their close relation. 

Neo-Mamelukism unraveling 

    The SCAF seem to many to be manufacturing crises after the next to gain legitimacy as the sole protector and preserver of order. It is essential saying the people “it is either me or chaos”. They can not keep playing that game for long and eventually they have to scramble for a face-saving exist. Since last Friday, there has been a growing tsunami of strikes that were taking place despite the beefed up emergency law and all the dire warning that are being announced by SCAF. Egyptian are declaring “you can detain us, torture us, kill us, but you can not scare us into submission anymore”. Tomorrow, I will be back in Tahrir with many thousands, we will be protesting the emergency status and Draconian laws.

    The Revolution continues….

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