Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

A New Voice In Egypt: Open Thread

The Egyptian Parliament is dissolved.  The Constitution – violated in spirit for thirty years – is void. The Egyptian Army announced today the formation of a counsel to draft a new Constitution and stated that it will remain in charge for six months or until elections happen – whichever comes first.

“If the Egyptian people can create a democracy in the heart of the Arab world, it will be a more significant contribution to civilization than the great pyramids,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

Egypt is providing a window to many Americans into an Middle Eastern world they never knew existed. Many can be forgiven, perhaps, for understanding so poorly what resides in the hearts of people in the Middle East, when the blaring brass horns of ostentatious oil barons and violent extremists so nearly drowned out the stifled murmurs of millions. Many truly believed that “this is the way they are over there”, many others wrote into the story their own fears.

Like believing an abusive father who declares, “I know these kids, they need a strong hand”, we took for granted the notion that ‘over there’ people only understood force.

But, just like here, the wild-eyed extremists and bloated pompous wealthy are rare. We never heard the rest, because they were never free to speak.

We hear them now.

The voices we hear are all so… reasonable! They sound so much like me!

Hassan, a man who took part in the protests, spoke with Jane Watkinson, a sociology student at Leeds University. Like all of the other voices bursting out of Egypt, he sounds more like a sociology student from Leeds than the Oil Sheik or Taliban that has been branded on Western minds.

Many know why the protests happened, but can you explain in your own words the reasons for why you took part?

Well, the corruption of the government has been intolerable. Its incompetence and indifference has been ruining the country in every way.

Economically, Egypt has many natural resources, fertile lands and a huge unused area. We have well educated andcompetent people that are ready to run businesses and scientific research as well. There was absolutely no justified reason for the economic situation. But the government doesn’t help or even allow most attempts made by anyone for any real improvement. This made Egypt import many products, which is a big waste of money. At the same time many people could not find any job opportunities.

Poverty was reaching a whole new level. The prices of most products have at least tripled in the past 10 years, yet the salaries have barely increased. In 2009 only, the prices increased by 20% while governmental salaries had only increased by 9%. And this was the biggest increase in salaries that the government had made in the past 20 years.

No talk of “Great Satan”. No business deals in Dubai. Just cogent clarity about socioeconomic problems. This could have been a statement from anyone from Kansas City to Kyoto.

Like the children of a brutal father – the only real truth in Mubarak’s condescending Throne Speech – the people in many countries in the Middle East have been banished to the back of the house and hidden from view. We deplore the vicious inhumanity of Kim Jung Il and pity his subject victims, but we accept as truth the harsh bonhomie of similar rulers of Muslim lands. Suffering of people in Zimbabwe tugs at our souls, but we allow that the rulers of Syria and Iran may be right about their citizens need of an iron hand.

No human being needs to be born and live under the iron hand of another.

As we try to wrap our minds around the changes wrought in Tunisia and Egypt we are just starting to try to squint intensely into the fog ahead. Could it be that the “system of checks and balances” that we have all (on every side of every line) always taken for granted is coming apart? Could the “Free Pass” given to certain countries to maintain autocratic and often brutal regimes be expiring?

Utopian futurists (like me) have long used the authorial cheat of skipping over the near-term details to focus on long-term vision. The common complaint is always that “Human Nature Doesn’t Work That Way”. That we will always be at each other’s throats, repeating ancient cycles. But events throughout my life refute that. We no longer threaten to sterilize our planet, the police states of the Iron Curtain era are essentially gone. India is more likely to supply services than need aid and China won’t likely go to war with us but they might well buy Las Vegas.

So, is the Middle East about to throw off its shackles as a whole? If so, how long until the West gets fully behind it?

Or am I still just too optimistic for words?


126 comments

  1. What do you hope will happen after the downfall of Mubarak?



    Well, our demands have been clear from the beginning, and now that the first one has been achieved, I hope the rest will follow as well. To summarize our most important demands:

    1. The cancellation of the so-called Emergency Law which allows the police to arrest anyone (especially political activists and journalists) and throw them in jail without a trial.

    2. The dissolution of the current parliament (which consists of The People’s Assembly and the Consultative Council) as most (if not everyone) of the people in them have been elected in fake elections.

    3. Forming an elected committee to form a new constitution. The people have been very clear about not wanting to simply change some amendments in the current constitution, but wanting to write a whole new one. The next step is to hold new elections for a new parliament that will vote on the new constitution.

    4. Juridical and maybe even foreign supervision on all future elections.

    5. The release of every so-called political prisoner, and more freedom of speech in Egypt.

    That’s pretty clear. Anyone still think the Egyptian revolution was an unfocused mob, or (god help me for repeating this) a plot by amerisocialistsandislamofascists?

    In other words, the people demand a real civilized and democratic country.

    Can’t get much more basic than that.

  2. sricki

    I feel like a really great moment in history has largely passed me by. Last few weeks, I’ve been so caught up in personal matters that I’ve let the rest of the world fall by the wayside. Last week I felt that I couldn’t justify reading anything much but schoolwork (and a few comments/diaries here and there on the Moose of course). I’ve also got some sort of eye condition which has been driving me nuts off and on, and which I’ve finally discovered the name for (“Recurrent Corneal Erosion”), and am finally getting treatment. And as soon as my test was over with, I got hit with a big personal issue which, while not exactly tragic, has nevertheless exhausted me emotionally and drained my intellectual reserves.

    So I have followed the revolution in Egypt only loosely. I know only enough to know that it is a great victory for the people, and that the Middle East will never be quite the same. It is an event to be celebrated far and wide, in Egypt and across the globe. My greatest admiration goes out to the people of Egypt, who accomplished greatness through peaceful protest and set an example for the whole world.

    My best wishes for all of them. I hope that the standard they have set will endure.

  3. Shaun Appleby

    Is awakening again.


    Emruz News also reported that in the meeting of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Revolutionary Guard commander, has expressed concern that the Guard’s rank and file may disobey the orders of their superiors, if directed to employ violence against marchers. Given that the Egyptian army did not open fire on the demonstrators in Cairo, a violent crackdown on Monday’s marches may completely destroy the credibility of the force with the people. Thus, he proposed that the police be made responsible for imposing order Monday marches, instead of Basij and Guard forces.

    Muhammed Suhami – The Call to Rally/Latest Updates: Guard Chief Reported Unsure of Troops Tehran Bureau 14 Feb 11

    Crowds reported gathering in Tehran and other cities right now.

  4. HappyinVT

    Protesters have called for a “Day of Rage” to be observed on Monday, inspired by anti-government uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

    snip

    The Bahraini ruling family had offered cash payouts in the run-up to the protest to prevent Shia discontent from bubbling over as popular revolts spread in the Arab world.

    Diplomats say Bahrain’s demonstrations, organised on the social media websites Facebook and Twitter, will be a gauge of whether a larger base of Shias can be drawn on to the streets. The big test will be if demonstrations take hold in Manama, where demonstrations are rare.

    Shias account for 70 per cent of the population but they allege discrimination at the hands of Bahrain’s Sunni rulers.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/n

  5. Rashaverak

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories

    Smith: Did they hit you?

    Ghonim: Yeah, but it was not systematic. Like, it was individual based, and it was not from the officers. It was actually from the soldiers. And I forgive them, I have to say. I forgive them, because one thing is that they were convinced that I was harming the country. These are simple people, not educated. I cannot carry a conversation with them. So, you know, for him, I’m sort of like a traitor. I’m de-stabilizing the country. So when he hits me, he doesn’t hit me because, you know, he’s a bad guy. He’s hitting me because he thinks he’s a good guy. I’ll tell you a funny story: At the end of the last day, you know, I removed my…blindfold. And I said, ‘Hi,’ and kissed every one of them. All of the soldiers. And, you know, it was good. I was sending them a message.

    Smith: People who watch this say, ‘Okay, well, this miracle happened in Egypt. But it won’t be like that a month or a year or five years from now. Life isn’t like that.’ Do you believe the ideals that were so well-displayed over the last two and a half weeks are the pavement or the foundation for the country?

    Ghonim: Yeah, that’s actually our responsibility. We’re now meeting a lot. Because…this momentum, whatever that just happened right now, needs to be capitalized on now.

    Smith: Did the Mubarak regime underestimate, or do you even think it understood, the power of the social network?

    Ghonim: They don’t understand the social networking part. But they underestimate the power of the people. And, you know, at the end of the day, I want to say my final word is, ‘Thanks, thanks, thanks to the stupid regime. You have done us the best thing ever. You have woke up 80 million Egyptians.’

    Smith: So if you’re an autocrat, or if you’re a dictator, and you watch what happened in Egypt over the last several weeks, what lesson do you think…?

    Ghonim: He should freak out. He seriously should freak out.

  6. Rashaverak

    Revolution 2.0 in #Egypt was the first revolution in the history of mankind to pre-announce the time and location. 🙂

    about 11 hours ago via web

    My message to the dictators of the world: You should at least freak out. Block Facebook and cancel Fridays. #Jan25 #SidiBouzid #WhatsNext

    about 11 hours ago via web

    DinaMedhat 16117 call center for reporting any kind of corruption either financial or administrative #betteregypt

    about 14 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

    Retweeted by Ghonim and 100+ others

    All the details of our meeting with the supreme council of the armed forces will be written in a note ASAP #Jan25

    about 15 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

    Got approval from the army to start the 100 Billion Pounds campaign to reconstruct Egypt and help the families of martyrs & injured #Jan25

    about 15 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

    Egypt changed, 8 young guys setting with 2 generals from the higher council of the armed forces and freely exchanging our opinions #Jan25

    about 16 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

    Great 🙂 RT @catiewilso: @Ghonim will be in sharm on the 26 th”

    about 17 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

    In a meeting with two generals from the higher council of the armed forces. Really great insights that I will share later. #Jan25

    about 18 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

    I am in Tahrir square and can’t believe the scene. Its amazingly clean! Am proud to be Egyptian #Jan25

    about 20 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

  7. sricki

    There are reports in social media sites and non-state Iranian news sites of clashes between protesters and security forces in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

    Thousands of demonstrators were marching on Monday on Enghelab and Azadi streets [which connect and create a straight path through the city centre], with a heavy presence in Enghelab Square and Vali-Asr Street, according to these reports.

    Several clashes have been reported on Twitter, the micro-blogging site, with claims of some demonstrators being teargassed and others beaten and arrested.

    Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, in Tehran, confirmed reports that security forces used tear gas, pepper spray and batons against the protesters.

    Al Jazeera

  8. Rashaverak

    http://www.multichannel.com/ar

    ====

    [….]

    While Republicans for years have tried to cut or zero out funding to a service they view as a liberal platform, the issue got new currency when NPR fired commentator Juan Williams for comments about being nervous around people in airports wearing Muslim garb. NPR took heat for the decision, followed up with an internal report and Ellen Weiss, the NPR executive who made the call, resigned.

    Longtime public broadcasting supporter Ed Markey (D-Mass.) also decried the move, saying it was a case of Big Bird being robbed to pay Big Oil. “By putting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Pell Grants on the chopping block, Republicans are denying our youngest children and our neediest students the excellence of educational, cultural and informational resources and opportunities both in their homes and in classrooms throughout the nation,” he said.

    [….]

    =======

  9. jsfox

    enough time over DKos4 to say FAIL.

    There is nothing elegant or intuitive about it. In fact I find the new site so f’ing over-thought and so full of bells and whistles as to be border line unusable.

  10. Stipes

    Romney: 40%

    Giuliani: 10%

    Pawlenty: 7%

    Huckabee: 7%

    Gingrich: 6%

    Palin: 6%

    Paul: 5%

    Trump: 3%

    Santorum: 1%

    Barbour: 1%

    NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

    WHERE IS THE BARF ALERT?????????

    Invalid poll…

    Bachman and West are not on it.

    Romney can go to hell. I will not hold my nose and vote (R) again like I did for McLame.

    I will leave the GOP and push for a 3rd party.

    NO MORE RINOS!

    I would rather have the stinky kenyan dung beetle for another 4 years than mittens.

    Behold what the Tea Party has wrought.

  11. Stipes

    51 percent of likely primary voters nationwide think President Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

    http://www.publicpolicypolling

    A few other tidbits from that poll:

    Among those who don’t think he was born in U.S., Sarah Palin has 83 percent favorability ratings

         â€˘ Mike Huckabee follows with 64 percent favorability among birthers

    • But Huck wins a birther primary with 24 percent of the vote (Palin 19 percent, Gingrich 14 percent)

    • A slightly greater proportion of women are birthers (53 percent)

    • A higher proportion of voters 18 to 29 and older than 65 are birthers

  12. fogiv

    terrible:

    On Friday February 11, the day Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS correspondent Lara Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a 60 MINUTES story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy.

    In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently in the hospital recovering.

    There will be no further comment from CBS News and Correspondent Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

  13. HappyinVT

    anti-state’s rights overreach?

       Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan said Thursday that the city has been awarded a $5 million federal grant to hire firefighters over the next two years.

       The grant will fund 15 to 26 firefighter jobs, according to his spokeswoman Sarah Erkmann. Firefighter union president Rod Harris said the money will let the department fill positions left vacant because of supposed budget shortfalls.

    Apparently, the mayor with outstretched hand, is pleased to take some assistance.  And please note the above reference to “supposed” budget shortfalls. Turns out that the mayor recently found about $20 million in the city’s other pants. And, of course, he is not taxing city residents to the level they voted was OK with them. So, despite his best efforts to manufacture a shortfall and use this fantasy as the rationale to cut city services, we still have a surplus. And now, a grant from FEMA because we qualify on a national level as less than “adequate.”

    http://www.themudflats.net/201

  14. HappyinVT

    Everyday, in the evenings, one of the last processes I do at work involves our advertising.  I do it every day and it usually takes at most an 1 1/2.  I was off Thursday and Friday last week so this process didn’t get done.  I started it on Saturday but didn’t get to finish.  I continued it yesterday but got booted off the system.  So, this evening I have five days’ worth to do to get caught up.

    Of course, because I am so far behind, they had trouble running the back-up so I didn’t get started until almost 9:00 (when I’m supposed to be leaving work) and the system is running sooooooooooooooooooooo slow I have only (in an hour) done one step on one day.

    I joked to my IT boss (I have two bosses ’cause I’m special) that I was going to be here until I was caught up even if it meant staying all night.  I swear, though, I was joking.

  15. Rashaverak

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/48v

    Debbie Schlussel: I Hope Lara Logan Enjoyed Her “Liberation”

    ====

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/6hf

    Jim Hoft:

    Lara Logan is lucky she’s alive.

    Her liberal belief system almost got her killed on Friday. This talented reporter will never be the same.

    Why did this attractive blonde female reporter wander into Tahrir Square last Friday? Why would she think this was a good idea? Did she not see the violence in the square the last three weeks? Did she not see the rock throwing? Did she miss the camels? Did her colleagues tell her about the Western journalists who were viciously assaulted on the Square? Did she forget about the taunts from the Egyptian thugs the day before? What was she thinking? Was it her political correctness that about got her killed? Did she think things would be different for her?

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