theatlantic:

Egypt: A Tinderbox Waiting for a Spark

Nearly six months after the mass uprising-cum-coup that toppled Mohammed Morsi, the key cleavages of Egypt’s domestic political conflict are not only unresolved, but unresolvable. The generals who removed Morsi are engaged in an existential struggle with the Muslim Brotherhood: They believe they must destroy the Brotherhood—by, for instance, designating it a terrorist organization—or else the Brotherhood will return to power and destroy them. Meanwhile, Sinai-based jihadists have used Morsi’s removal as a pretext for intensifying their violence, and have increasingly hit targets west of the Suez Canal. Even the Brotherhood’s fiercest opponents are fighting among themselves: the coalition of entrenched state institutions and leftist political parties that rebelled against Morsi is fraying, and the youth activists who backed Morsi’s ouster in July are now protesting against the military-backed government, which has responded by arresting their leaders.
So despite the fact that Egypt’s post-Morsi transition is technically moving forward, with a new draft constitution expected to pass via referendum in mid-January and elections to follow shortly thereafter, the country is a tinderbox that could ignite with any spark, entirely derailing the political process and converting Egypt’s episodic tumult into severe instability. What might that spark be?
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

theatlantic:

Egypt: A Tinderbox Waiting for a Spark

Nearly six months after the mass uprising-cum-coup that toppled Mohammed Morsi, the key cleavages of Egypt’s domestic political conflict are not only unresolved, but unresolvable. The generals who removed Morsi are engaged in an existential struggle with the Muslim Brotherhood: They believe they must destroy the Brotherhood—by, for instance, designating it a terrorist organization—or else the Brotherhood will return to power and destroy them. Meanwhile, Sinai-based jihadists have used Morsi’s removal as a pretext for intensifying their violence, and have increasingly hit targets west of the Suez Canal. Even the Brotherhood’s fiercest opponents are fighting among themselves: the coalition of entrenched state institutions and leftist political parties that rebelled against Morsi is fraying, and the youth activists who backed Morsi’s ouster in July are now protesting against the military-backed government, which has responded by arresting their leaders.

So despite the fact that Egypt’s post-Morsi transition is technically moving forward, with a new draft constitution expected to pass via referendum in mid-January and elections to follow shortly thereafter, the country is a tinderbox that could ignite with any spark, entirely derailing the political process and converting Egypt’s episodic tumult into severe instability. What might that spark be?

Read more. [Image: Reuters]


What is new about these neo-colonial developments is the presence of and support from global governance institutions. As much of the land grabbing literature attests, and as this case confirms, international finance institutions in particular have been critical to the growth of large-scale acquisitions of land and other resources in Southern countries following the 2007-2008 crisis. Citadel Capital’s farm in South Sudan (Concord) will produce and transport staples for the South Sudanese army and the UN World Food Programme through lucrative contracts. The World Bank’s IFI and other finance institutions like the African Development Bank have been principle co-investors with Citadel Capital in its ‘green’ investments.

Rather than leading to anything that may be called ‘development’, partnerships between investors and global governance institutions represent greater control over vital resources and distribution routes for private wealth accumulation. Citadel Capital’s ‘gold corridor’ sheds light on these partnerships as not simply speculative in nature but as paths of capital accumulation in the medium term. In these ‘risky’ times, with (fears of) political instability in revolutionary Egypt and in other investor originating countries (e.g. Saudi Arabia), Citadel Capital is converting from a private equity firm, with short-term interests, to an investment bank with principle longer-term interests. Such a shift reveals quite convincingly anticipation of continued chronic food insecurity (as the firm renews continually its contract with the World Food Programme to transport food aid throughout the region) and corporate consolidation of agri-food systems (as it attempts to expand and integrate its market shares regionally – and other investors develop and expand their acquisitions in the region as well).


Whosoever contracts with violent means for whatever ends—and every politician does—is exposed to its specific consequences. This holds especially for the crusader, religious and revolutionary alike. Let us confidently take the present as an example. He who wants to establish absolute justice on earth by force requires a following, a human ‘machine.’ He must hold out the necessary internal and external premiums, heavenly or worldly reward, to this ‘machine’ or else the machine will not function. Under the conditions of the modern class struggle, the internal premiums consist of the satisfying of hatred and the craving for revenge; above all, resentment and the need for pseudo-ethical self-righteousness: the opponents must be slandered and accused of heresy. The external rewards are adventure, victory, booty, power, and spoils. The leader and his success are completely dependent upon the functioning of his machine and hence not on his own motives. Therefore he also depends upon whether or not the premiums can be permanently granted to the following, that is, to the Red Guard, the informers, the agitators, whom he needs. What he actually attains under the conditions of his work is therefore not in his hand, but is prescribed to him by the following’s motives, which, if viewed ethically, are predominantly base. The following can be harnessed only so long as an honest belief in his person and his cause inspires at least part of the following, probably never on earth even the majority. This belief, even when subjectively sincere, is in a very great number of cases really no more than an ethical ‘legitimation of cravings for revenge, power, booty, and spoils. We shall not be deceived about this by verbiage; the materialist interpretation of history is no cab to be taken at will; it does not stop short of the promoters of revolutions. Emotional revolutionism is followed by the traditionalist routine of everyday life; the crusading leader and the faith itself fade away, or, what is even more effective, the faith becomes part of the conventional phraseology of political Philistines and banausic technicians. This development is especially rapid with struggles of faith because they are usually led or inspired by genuine leaders, that is, prophets of revolution. For here, as with every leader’s machine, one of the conditions for success is the depersonalization and routinization, in short, the psychic proletarianization, in the interests of discipline. After coming to power the following of a crusader usually degenerates very easily into a quite common stratum of spoilsmen.


What it all means is that we may now be at a historic turning point in the Arab Spring—what is effectively the end of it, at least for now. Assad, says Syria expert Joshua Landis, is surely taking on board the lessons of the last few weeks: If the United States wasn’t going to intervene or even protest very loudly over the killing of mildly radical Muslim Brotherhood supporters, it’s certainly not going to take a firmer hand against Assad’s slaughter of even more radical anti-U.S. groups. “With a thousand people dead or close to it, and America still debating whether to cut off aid, and how and when, that’s got to give comfort to Assad,” says Landis, a professor at the University of Oklahoma. “The Egyptians brushed off the United States and said…. Well, we don’t want to end up like Syria. And America blinked. And Israel and the Gulf states were in there telling them to hit the protesters hard.”

What began, in the U.S. interpretation, as an inspiring drive for democracy and freedom from dictators and public corruption has now become, for Washington, a coldly realpolitik calculation. As the Obama administration sees it, the military in Egypt is doing the dirty work of confronting radical political Islam, if harshly. In Syria, the main antagonists are both declared enemies of the United States, with Bashar al-Assad and Iran-supported Hezbollah aligning against al-Qaida-linked Islamist militias. Why shouldn’t Washington’s policy be to allow them to engage each other, thinning the ranks of each?


Mr Hague said what is happening now in the Middle East was “the most important event so far of the 21st century, even compared to the financial crisis we have been through and its impact on world affairs”.

"I think it will take years, maybe decades, to play out, and through that we have to keep our nerve in clearly supporting democracy, democratic institutions, promoting dialogue and there will be many setbacks in doing that and we should be surprised when they take place."


Unarmed Protester getting shot in Egypt @ 0:40

The footage was uploaded to YouTube and appears to have been shot on August 16. The caption reads “The army shoots on peaceful protesters in Ismailyia”—a city in northeastern Egypt.

Beyond that, context for the footage was thin. An NBC News reporter tweeted that the news agency Storyful had confirmed the video’s veracity. A second YouTube video of the shooting, taken from a different angle, was also posted to YouTube.

(via Huffington Post)


Smell of death lingers in Cairo’s Iman mosque - Al Jazeera
One day after Cairo police cleared two sit-ins held in support of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, the capital city was slow to wake.
Hours after the state-of-emergency curfew was lifted, traffic and signs of life began to appear by late morning on Thursday.
But in some quarters, life was not going back to normal after at least 525 people were killed in the clearings in Cairo and ensuing clashes here and across the country.
[…]
Wrapped in shrouds and kept cool with blocks of ice, most of the bodies bore gunshot wounds, but a number were charred, making them hard to identify for family members.
Smell of death lingers in Cairo’s Iman mosque - Al Jazeera

One day after Cairo police cleared two sit-ins held in support of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, the capital city was slow to wake.

Hours after the state-of-emergency curfew was lifted, traffic and signs of life began to appear by late morning on Thursday.

But in some quarters, life was not going back to normal after at least 525 people were killed in the clearings in Cairo and ensuing clashes here and across the country.

[…]

Wrapped in shrouds and kept cool with blocks of ice, most of the bodies bore gunshot wounds, but a number were charred, making them hard to identify for family members.


Ethiopia, though ignored and even scorned for the past two centuries, is the source of 80% of the Nile’s waters and now intends to impose its own vision for the river and a different division of its waters. Egypt, having been the dominant power in the region for 200 years, is still reeling from recent political upheavals, economic weakness and the interruption of its development — all of which reduce it to the status of one Nile state among many, without the capacity for action.

[…]

China’s arrival in the region has freed Ethiopia from having to observe conditions imposed by the US and international financial institutions, including the need to seek agreement from all the countries with territorial water rights — especially Egypt — before receiving funding for major hydraulic projects on the river and its Ethiopian sources.


The conflict has become so entrenched that the country appears ungovernable, and an intense struggle for Egypt’s very identity has emerged. One side believes that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to force its beliefs onto the country. The Islamists accuse the liberals of seeking to do the same.

[…] The atmosphere has become so heated that people have begun demanding that perfect strangers show their colors. Clothes are interpreted to determine who belongs to which camp. Bearded men are presumed to be followers of Morsi, whereas women in T-shirts are immediately branded as being pro-military. Scuffles have become more common.


This is a typical dialogue between a patriarchal husband and a hysterical wife, you know. The wife complains, of course in a confused way, and the standard male chauvinist answer is, “say clearly what do you want?” This is of course oppression at its purest. It means “either shut up or formulate it in my terms.”