Hollywood or bust: Politics and the Oscars

Original Post at  Al Ahram Weekly 10/3/2017

When politics enters a field where it ought not to be, the result is almost always negative. A case in point was this year’s Oscars

One of the most glamorous nights of the year for nearly nine decades, with the last three decades being televised live all across the world, the awards of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences are among the most celebrated nights all across the world. It is the annual night when people from all across the globe watch how American and other international actors, industry specialists and professionals receive the golden trophy of excellence in cinema. The show has helped to solidify the American image for decades as the land of dreams and glamour in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Despite the fact that the reality is not as glamorous as the show displays, the beauty, style and glamour of the actors and actresses attending the show left billions across the world envious of the American way of living and wishing to realise the dream to be there one day among those beautiful elites. Many non-Americans did accomplish that dream in the cinema field and managed to stand on that podium receiving their own Oscars and citing how they used to watch the show as kids, hoping one day they would be one of those glamorous people themselves. All of these experiences through the years made the Oscars meaningful not just to people in the United States but all across the world and even in different professions other than movie producing or the arts.

A MESSAGE TO THE WORLD: Mahershala Ali’s win doesn’t simply reward a magnificent and underrated actor who has been part of the Hollywood scene for years, but also sends several clear messages. Being the first Muslim to win this award as an actor, he is also an African-American who acted in a movie discussing social attitudes towards homosexuality. That choice was perfect for the academy to satisfy all the criteria needed to send a message to the US president and the world. That message is that Hollywood and the United States will remain an open place for all. A message that was recurring throughout the night of the Oscars ceremony.

Awarding the Iranian director Ashghar Farhadi his second Oscar for his movie The Salesman, knowing he will be absent in protest of Donald Trump’s ban on citizens from his country, was another message.

Today, many Americans are losing focus on what made them a great and popular nation all across the globe during the 20th century, especially in post-World War II. It is not American military strength. Rivals such as Russia have much larger stocks of devastating nuclear weapons. It is not US cars; better cars are made in Germany and the United Kingdom. It is not American clothes, because there are more fashionable clothes from France and Italy. And certainly it is not their electronics, despite great contributions in the field, as there are better electronic gadgets made in Japan and South Korea.

Along with the above respectable industries, the Americans’ real strength lies in their great cultural output, which comprises arts such as cinema, television shows, great music of all genres, news media, comics, books, painting, sculpture, magazines, Broadway theatre and other cultural outputs that the United States helped popularise all across the globe. Hardly any healthy human being living on the planet has not encountered one if not dozens of the countless products of American culture in his/her lifetime.

All these cultural outputs combined are the true strength of the United States compared to the rest of the world. Of course, the world has other great cultural outputs that contend with the United States, whether that is Egyptian, British, German, French, Italian, Greek, Russian, Chinese or Japanese. But American culture dominated the world throughout the 20th century and can do so well through the 21st century, though signs of decline can be traced now.

The fame of US President Donald Trump stemmed from his being host of a TV programme which catapulted him to the public eye, along with his lucrative multi-billion-dollar business. Ironically, that very president seems unaware of the power of American culture and treats whoever opposes him with the same aggressive behaviour he utilised during his famous TV show.

One of Trump’s latest feuds was with the world’s most accomplished actress, the legendary Meryl Streep. Streep, who criticised Trump’s behaviour making fun of a special-needs journalist, Serge Kovaleski, received a barrage of verbal attacks from the president who labelled her as “overrated”.

These kinds of antics and verbal confrontations are exactly what President Trump needs to cease, especially with high calibre celebrities such as Streep. While most of the world may not remember who the US president was in 1980, they do remember Streep receiving her first Supporting Actress Academy Award for the classic movie Kramer vs Kramer. Along her record-breaking 20 Oscar nominations and three academy wins come another 163 miscellaneous prestigious awards and over 336 nominations of all types, making her arguably the most accomplished actress that ever lived.

Accordingly, when Trump describes her as “overrated” he is either unaware of what the term means or he is simply in denial. That kind of behaviour from the president does not belittle the likes of Streep but rather him. The term “overrated” become one of ridicule, and the Oscars’ host used it as a reason to give Streep a standing ovation. It was a sign of respect to her great career and defiance towards the new US president. Presidents should have bigger fish to fry than stooping to verbal feuds that harm presidential prestige.

THE POLITICAL OSCARS: The Oscars should cease the trend of being merited on political reasons or balances among races, ethnicities or points of view. While most of the awards were based on cinematic merit, the vibe of sending political messages still dominated the speeches. A modicum of politics in the arts could enrich the art form. However, turning art and cinema into tools of propaganda to serve certain ideologies downgrades the entire experience.

The quota system that is being implemented by the academy in recent years — such as awarding a trophy for movies featuring homosexuality, another for ethnic minorities and a third for women rights — is dulling the experience and lowering the value of the Oscars. A form of art must be appraised according to its real value, regardless of the ethnicity, race and religion of its maker. A quota system for providing black actors, homosexual ones or activists among them a special quota is ruining everything. That is not to say that Mahershala Ali didn’t deserve an Oscar. Nevertheless, the essence remains that there should be no quota and awards should be strictly based on merit alone.

Last year, outcry from African American artists such as Jada Smith and Oprah Winfrey on how racist the Oscars is becoming seemed to affect the minds of the Oscar committee and placed them under pressure of nominating and awarding Black actors this year, which is what happened. But the awards for Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis were entirely warranted.

CONCLUSION: The fact that the 2017 Oscars ceremony was the least watched in nine years is maybe indicative of a trend, despite the hard efforts of show organisers. Or it could be indicative that TV series are overshadowing the cinema as the preferred means entertainment of the third millennium era.

Also, it could be indicative of a growing rift and profound divisions in American society. Many of conservatives or Trump supporters may have boycotted watching the show. All in all, the 2017 Academy Awards seemed like a political battlefield. As a result, years from now, many may ponder upon some of the award choices and treat them with less respect.

Once politics enters a domain that it is not meant for, such as religion, sports or the arts, the outcome is usually negative. The Oscars don’t seem an exception to that rule. The Oscars needs to tone down the politics and heighten the artistic and glamorous values of the motion picture industry. Keep the Oscars about Hollywood, or you will eventually break the show.

Original Post at Al Ahram Weekly

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/19856.aspx

 

 

Signs of evil: The rise of Alt-Right

Original Post at Al Ahram Weekly 3/3/2017

The resurgence of right-wing fascism in Europe and the United States is not to be underestimated or trifled with. Similar conditions in the 20th century spurred two world wars.

In the attempt to lure as many Eastern European countries to join the European Union and snatch these countries from the clutches of Soviet/Russian hegemony, the EU, represented by mainly Western European countries, lowered the bar for EU membership. This vast expansion came as a blessing for Eastern European countries, at least temporarily, who witnessed a huge influx of investment along with other economic, military, social and cultural benefits.

Those benefits received were at the hefty price of lower job opportunities for West European citizens. These citizens found themselves facing a deluge of new European Union citizens sharing their job opportunities, in most cases accepting lower wages and benefits compared to their native counterparts. Economic turmoil in Europe and the US along with the influx of more refugees and immigrants from the Middle East and Africa after the Arab Spring revolutions exacerbated an already bad situation. Meanwhile, a new wave of radicals has been amassing behind the scenes, represented in the resurgence of neo-Nazi movements and neo-fascist ones.

Neo-fascism has been existent since the end of World War II in many forms and groups, such as the New European Order established in 1951 and National Alliance established in 1974. Fascism comes in many forms and shapes, and can be diverse in terms of its nature. For example, many are under the impression that fascism is only existent in Western countries, which is false since World War II Imperial Japan was a fascist nation whose army committed incredible atrocities in China, Korea and other areas in the Pacific war theatre.

Furthermore, fascism can be religious and this is not attributed to one particular religion. For example, the Christian Klu Klux Klan, and various Crusaders’ orders are labelled as religious fascists, along with their Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist counterparts. However, a new wave of blunt and openly racist groups is forming in the United States and Europe, and among the most famous is what is called the Alternative Right.

ALTERNATIVE RIGHT (ALT-RIGHT): Alternative Right is the latest in a string of nightmares surfacing in the Western Hemisphere. Fuelled by hate towards immigration and political correctness, the new movement is garnering support among younger White males and females. They claim they want change, but they are anti-establishment movements that are hijacking power from the people.

Richard Spencer is an Alt-Right propagandist who is a blatant and proud racist, patent in his comments as well as his attitude. He is president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank, as well as Washington Summit Publishers. He attempts, through his mischievous writings, to garner more masses to the White Supremacist cause, trying to whitewash the racist movement by looking more modern. So instead of the skinhead look and Swastika tattoos that distinguished White Supremacist members’ movements in US and Europe, now he and his racist associates are attempting to appear more elegant with a more hipster look and a haircut taken from vintage photos circa the 1940s.

Spencer and his Alt-Right movement believe that the United States is a White European nation principally and it should be restored to that status. He advocates turning the United States into a homeland for what he calls a “dispossessed white race”. Also he bluntly calls for peaceful “ethnic cleansing” to halt the “deconstruction” of European culture in the United States.

The delusional and racist Spencer seems oblivious to the fact that the great American Revolution (1765 and 1783) ended any dreams of turning the United States into a European affiliate by defeating British colonialists and declaring the American Republic.

Another Alt-Right leader is Milo Yiannopoulos, a prolific British homosexual self-proclaimed conservative journalist. He professes open hatred towards Islam and all its adherents indiscriminately. He claims to be simply expressive of his own views which include radical hatred towards large sectors of society, including feminist women. Yiannopoulos’s controversial, bizarre attitudes and twisted thought patterns are not less bizarre than his attire during interviews, which reflects how that growing group of fascists in Europe and the US express themselves. Yiannopoulos questioned the legal prohibition of paedophilia, an outlook that cost him his book deal and what is left of his already obnoxious reputation.

Alt-Right has been drawing sizeable support among the frustrated, racists and others who mostly possess no more than double digit IQs. Throughout the centuries, the West has produced great thinkers and philosophers who changed the world in many positive ways. From ancient Greece’s Plato passing through the Renaissance Dutch philosopher Erasmus, all the way to the great John Locke, Jean Paul Sartre, and countless others who have enriched human knowledge like an abundant fountain of wisdom. On the other hand, the likes Richard Spencer, Milo Yiannopoulos and David Dukes, with their poisonous and sickening ideals, represent the sewage water of the great Western civilisation.

FASCISM, NATIONALISM AND THE UN: Political thinkers, pundits and analysts often mistake strong sentiments of patriotism or nationalism as forms of fascism, which is a fallacy. These aforementioned sentiments should be completely separated from any traits of fascism, racism or neo-Nazism because nationalism is the foundation of most modern states all across the world, which evolved from the theocratic states of the mediaeval ages. These states based on nationalist ideals are the principal foundation of modern civilisation and the result of over 7,000 years of recorded human evolution.

Moreover, fascists are calling the United Nations a tool of global domination by world powers and arguing that all countries should withdraw from the world’s most famous organisation. As much as the United Nations can sometimes be a useless organisation in resolving many of the world’s issues, the international organisation remains the cornerstone of world peace and the shield protecting the world from total chaos. If the shield is taken down, this world will simply be one ruled by the “survival of the fittest” motto and smaller nations will be engulfed by stronger neighbouring ones in a matter of years, which will lead to an inevitable third world war.

The United Nations and its charter is extremely necessary and a minimum requirement that guarantees some sort of world peace. Through many resolutions and recommendations, the United Nations urges all members to take necessary steps in preventing the cancerous spread of fascism and other forms of hate and tyranny. The world now is urged to cling to that United Nations Charter more than ever as the signs of evil become too glaring to ignore.

IMMIGRATION LAWS AND SOLUTIONS: Contrary to popular belief, many of those who demand stricter laws against illegal immigration are not actual fascists or racists, since hardworking and taxpaying citizens in any society have the right to protect their hard-earned gains from being diverted unwillingly to others who simply try to share in it illegally.

Nevertheless, banning immigration, anti-immigrant sentiments, or banning particular ethnic groups from entering a country falls into the category of bigotry and fascism. Instead, immigration in healthy societies must be regulated by clear laws that allow the country to benefit from great minds and hard working labour who seek new opportunities in distant lands. Great nations such as US, Canada and Australia were founded on these bases as within the immigrants and their varied cultural, scientific and educational backgrounds, countries can discover untapped opportunities brought to them by outsiders.

Moreover, one method to combat the deluge of illegal immigration is undertaking massive economic investment in Africa, the Middle East and South American countries by Western countries. These investments will yield great output, both economically and socially, for all parties involved. On one hand, the great economic yields for investors from new markets will make these investments worthwhile. On the other hand, for every job created in the Middle East and Africa, a household in Europe or North America will be guaranteed a steady income in return, and a job opportunity for a native European is secured.

These investments save Americans and Europeans huge amounts of money for not having to build housing and settlements for new immigrants. These investments are no longer a luxury but are imperative if Western powers wish to tackle the alarming immigration problems that provide popularity to fascist groups.

Furthermore, Western governments banning immigrants will have catastrophic long-term consequences if the banned countries retaliate by banning Western products and imports. These countries can substitute easily Western products for Chinese, Japanese or Indian counterparts. Developing economies can sustain themselves on a subsistence economy such as agrarian economies in Africa and South America. The Western economies will not survive major economic bans by other countries as it would end in severe drops in exports and consequently more job losses.

CONCLUSION: Fascists will continue attempting to mask themselves under clever names such as “Alternative-Right” to lure lesser intelligent humans to their twisted causes. Western fascists, similar to Islamist fascists, will continue to abuse the tools of democracy and media to increase their dominion. They will also continue to exploit economic hardships, lack of trust in the media and major political events to reach seats of power. Fascists among Muslims, Christians or of any other religion will always find a reason to hate the other. If they don’t find them in current events, they will recall historical events that took place centuries if not millennia ago to justify that hatred.

The signs of evils are crystal clear and they should never be ignored or trifled with. The obnoxious sentiments of racism, anti-foreignism and fascism resemble those that reigned the late part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century all the way to World War II. These signs of evil could be a prelude for more ominous events should they be left unchecked by European governments as well as others. World War I was ignited over one event, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but the seeds of animosity were already present. From these seeds, two consecutive world wars were fought, resulting in almost 80 million deaths in total. The assassination of Ferdinand was only a catalyst for the bloodiest events in history that followed. The groundwork was already laid.

At the moment, similar groundwork is being laid by the likes of the Alt-Right and the resurgence of a once dormant fascism in Europe and the United States. These indeed may be the signs of a greater evil to come.

Original Post at Al Ahram Weekly

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/19821.aspx

 

Those who can’t do, preach

Original Post at Al Ahram Weekly 24/2/2017

Wahhabi and Salafist fanaticism had a tremendously negative effect on Egyptian society. Only a thorough process of religion reformation can keep Egypt firmly on the right path

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”

Henry Louis Mencken, Minority Report

Once a pinnacle of modernity, multiculturalism, religious pluralism and social tolerance in the world during the early 20th century, Egyptian society has been rapidly sliding towards conservatism, backwardness and sectarianism throughout the past five decades.

This slide has been spearheaded by two main elements of that society; namely, the Muslim Brotherhood organisation and Saudi Wahhabism in Egypt labelled as the “Salafist movement”. The Salafist movement traces its modest inception to 1912 with the establishment of Al-Gamaa Al-Shareya. This was the first Salafist (Wahhabi) establishment in Egypt which even preceded the Muslim Brotherhood organisation and marked the first footsteps of Salafism in Egypt. Nevertheless, the movement didn’t gain strength until the early 1970s.

What was once among the most metropolitan and open societies in the world with an impressive cultural output to boast of has shifted gradually towards radicalism and sectarianism in the name of religion. Fuelled by the abundant financial support through the petrodollars from the Arabian Gulf states and organisations, the Salafist movement has found easy prey within the struggling Egyptian society since the late 1960s and early 1970s. During that period, Egypt was economically battered due to the long years of Egyptian-Israeli wars. It didn’t take long for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist movement to infiltrate Egyptian society and present themselves deceptively as the vanguards of the Islamic faith who will carry Egypt from its downward slope towards their promised land, which is the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate.

Throughout five decades and countless Salafist clerics, Egyptian society found itself getting radicalised by the day. Added to these phenomena, a large number of the Egyptians abroad working in Gulf States returned to Egypt with a conservative view of society, reflected in their outlook and behaviour. Accordingly, instead of carrying the torch of enlightenment and modernity to the Arabian Gulf States, many Egyptians instead brought ultra-conservative Wahhabi traits back home. These traits could be noticed in the increased misogynistic tendency towards women and sectarianism towards Christians and other religious minorities.

RISE OF SALAFIST TV STARS: From the mid-1990s and until 30 June 2013, Salafist clerics along with their Muslim Brotherhood counterparts occupied a large sector of Egyptian media. What started with a few modest shows on national Egyptian TV hosted by Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Mohamed Gebril became an outbreak that infected dozens of Egyptian satellite TV networks on a wider scale. Unlike most of the preachers in Egypt who are graduates from Al-Azhar University or similar institutions, many of these Salafi clerics conducted studies on other subjects and had other careers, but chose the more lucrative and financially rewarding career of becoming a Salafi cleric. Clerics such as Yasser Borhami, who was originally a paediatrician, and Mohamed Hassan, who was in mass communication, had no real careers in their fields and decided they were better suited to guide the nation spiritually.

Most of these Salafi preachers share and display certain common traits such as being holier than thou, sectarian and sanctimonious.

These traits eventually infected the characteristics of many Egyptians who have become consequently sectarian and judgemental towards others over recent decades. Salafi clerics such as Mohamed Hassan, Mohamed Yacoub, Yasser Borhami, Abu Ishak Al-Howeini and many others became household names who affected negatively the thought patterns of many Egyptians. Their power reached its peak during Mohamed Morsi’s reign of terror when they provided religious support and backing for the ousted Islamist president who relied on them to rally Islamists in his favour.

POPULATION BOOM AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS: Furthermore, the teachings of Salafi clerics all across the nation, especially in rural areas, are among the main reasons for population boom in Egypt in the past 40 years from 35 million to 92 million in 2017.

These preachers managed to convince the populace that every newborn comes to life with an abundance of blessings from God and thus they ought to increase the number of children to receive God’s blessings. Salafis usually quote the Prophet Mohamed’s Hadith (saying) urging Muslims to marry and reproduce. Little did they know that the Prophet Mohamed’s sayings date to when the number of Muslims didn’t exceed 50,000 people over 1,400 years ago, and not exceeding 1.8 billion as they are now worldwide.

Their lack of understanding of the core message of Islam and those who followed them like lemmings and jumped over the edge of a cliff has resulted in a population boom and economic downfall of Egypt in the past four decades where Egypt’s economy is struggling to keep up with over one million annual population growth.

SECTARIANISM AND INCITEMENT TO TERRORISM: Moreover, Salafis have been a destructive factor in the fabric of the Egyptian society as they turned many Egyptian Muslims against their Christian counterparts. Sectarian violence, which was hardly ever known in Egypt before the rise of the new Salafist movement in the early 1970s, became a common phenomenon, particularly in Upper Egypt where major concentrations of Salafism followers exist. Verbal, physical and terrorist attacks against Christians were and still are a direct result of vile incitement by Salafi clerics.

Most social and moral indicators point towards a major decline in the behaviour of Egyptians towards one another. Ethically, the moral fabric of a major sector of Egyptian society has been negatively affected by the propaganda of Islamist Salafi preachers. Many of those clerics who follow Wahhabi teachings and the ideologies of the Muslim Brotherhood have spread that rhetoric all across the Egyptian nation, and especially in rural areas where the already conservative population have shifted dramatically to different forms of sectarianism and extremism. Saudi Wahhabi outlook and attire, with long bearded men in short galabiyas and women in full veil, became a normal scene. That attire slowly replaced the traditional Egyptian galabiya and traditional women farmers’ dresses as well, and nearly reshaped the look of traditional Egyptian villages and rural areas.

Following the nearly daily fatwas (nonbinding Islamic opinion) of Yasser Borhami and his ilk, it is becoming more evident that there are milder cases of insanity locked in the mental hospital in Abbasiya district, Cairo, than the content provided by Salafi clerics on a near daily basis on satellite TV where they poison the minds of populous incessantly. These include fatwas about the righteousness or permissibility of eating jinn meat (underworld creatures), underage marriage and other insane subjects that seem to occupy their minds.

Moreover, the disruption and mayhem didn’t simply affect the moral code and ethics of Egyptians; Salafis have been systematically prohibiting nearly all facets of modern life in Egypt. These prohibitions are done on the pretext that it is forbidden by Islam despite the fact that all moderate interpretations point to the opposite. Examples are their prohibition of banking, arts, tourism and many other industries that they believe to be contradictory to the Islamic faith. These prohibitions have had a negative impact on the Egyptian economy, tourism and society.

CONCLUSION: In his historic speech in front of Al-Azhar clergymen, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi called for an initiative for religious reform in which Al-Azhar clergymen are urged to play a role, along with other sectors of Egyptian society. The reform movement still seems to be derailed as a result of Al-Azhar’s reluctance to undertake the core reforms needed to cleanse the faith of Wahhabi influence that has tainted it in the past century and particularly the past five decades. Religious reform starts by containing the phenomena of these charlatan preachers who defile the faith by spreading ignorance, hate and sectarianism in the name of religion.

The idiom “Those who can’t do, teach” resembles a factual case where many people who can’t launch successful careers in fields such as literature, music, arts and acting, end up teaching these topics in schools or academia. Similarly, it seems to be a different case in Egypt where those who failed to launch successful careers ended up preaching to people about religion. These clerics who couldn’t benefit society in other fields took it upon themselves to preach to that very society without being proper role models for society.

What seems more disastrous is that educated Egyptians have forgone their own education, upbringing and common sense and left themselves prey to these modestly educated clerics who became among the richest in Egyptian society as a result of the gullibility among many in society. Fortunately, subsequent to the 30 June 2013 Revolution, Egypt is witnessing a reversal in the trend of blind trust in Salafi clerics and clergymen in general as a result of the chaos, violence and terrorism that resulted from their negative influence on society. Salafis along with their brethren the Muslim Brotherhood have been a major source of decline and exacerbation of all social problems in Egypt.

Accordingly, only proper and thorough religious reformation, spearheaded by the Egyptian intelligentsia and moderate Islamic clerics, will salvage Egyptian society from the massive damage that Salafism caused. Time and again Salafis have proved that they could care less about saving Egyptian society and instead are power mongers who seek to rule through fear and a false portrayal of piety.

Original Post at Al Ahram Weekly

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/19722.aspx

 

 

 

 

The parallel universe of Human Rights Watch

Original Post at Al Ahram Weekly 17/2/2017

The latest report of Human Rights Watch opposing an anticipated ban on the Muslim Brotherhood by the Trump administration is built on ignorance and seditious lies

Alternative worlds or parallel universes are well known theories by scientists depicted in countless works of art, literature as well as movies and TV series. Late great scientist Carl Sagan and theoretical physicist Brian Greene suggested the possibility of the existence of alternative universes or worlds. Alternative worlds have been immortalised in great literature works such as H G Wells’ Time Machine, great movies such as the Back to the Future series, Marvel and DC Comics and TV shows such as The Fringe and The Flash.

In most of these literary depictions, the world we know has a parallel alternate whereby similar human beings exist except in different conditions, professions and alternative ways of life.

On 8 February 2017, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued one of the most bizarre statements attempting to condemn US President Trump forecasted plans to ban the Muslim Brotherhood organisation as a terrorist group — one of the most anticipated resolutions from the new US president that may be the beginning of the end of destroying the cornerstone of international terrorism.

The bizarre HRW report preposterously concludes that banning the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist organisation will stifle democracy abroad and will limit the work of other civic Muslim organisations in US. The report, titled “Don’t Target the Muslim Brotherhood”, seemed for most who read it as if was written in one of those aforementioned parallel universes and not issued from this earthly realm. The report depicts the Muslim Brotherhood as some sort of United Nations charitable organisation for Muslims and not a terrorist group with offices and cells in over 80 countries around the world.

Moreover, the delusional report goes on to describe Muslim Brotherhood activities in Egypt as “peaceful” and that these peaceful activities are met for some reason by a crackdown from Egyptian authorities. The report failed to mention that the so-called “peaceful” activities of the Muslim Brotherhood have resulted in the killing of thousands of Egyptian civilians and soldiers and security forces just in the past three years.

Since the ignition of the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, the researchers and administrators of HRW seem to have been trapped in one of these alternate universes. From that alternate universe they are issuing one report after another whereby they are turning terrorists into heroic victims while turning victims into aggressors.

If the Collins English Dictionary updated its examples for the word “oxymoron” it could pick a few examples from that report, including this classic statement: “Such a designation would also undermine the ability of the Muslim Brotherhood’s members and supporters to participate in democratic politics abroad.” The deluded report fail to mention that Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the group in 1928, denounced any democracy based on multiple political parties in his Rasael “Letters” to group members and even falsely claimed that it is prohibited to have political parties in Islam. That reports shows clear ignorance of the literature of the Brotherhood and their leaders, starting from Al-Banna and the writings of the Brotherhood Godfather of modern terrorism Sayed Qutb, who inspired the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

Democracy is an abhorred word in Muslim Brotherhood discourse as they would only utilise a free election to rise to power and then change the constitution to end any democratic practices. Striking examples of this took place in Egypt, Gaza, Turkey and Iran with Egypt being the only country that managed to topple Islamists through the 30 June 2013 Revolution.

Since the 1940s, the Muslim Brotherhood has wreaked havoc all across Egypt and has caused dozens of killings, bombings and assassinations. These assassinations included Egyptian Prime Minister Al-Noqrashi Pasha in 1948, through the assassination of President Sadat in 1981, and lately the assassination of the General Attorney Hicham Barakat in June 2015.

Another strange fallacy that HRW propagates is that the Muslim Brotherhood has revoked violence since the 1970s, which is another conclusion coming from a parallel universe. It was actually during the 1970s when the terrorist group attempted to control Egypt, abusing the freedoms granted by late president Sadat after they deceived him by declaring their renunciation of violence, as cited in HRW reports. The 1970s and early 1980s cycle of extremism and violence ended with the brutal assassination of Egypt’s war and peace hero Sadat on 6 October 1981 by Muslim Brotherhood spin off organisation Gamaa Islamiya.

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD THE CAUSE OF DISCRIMINATION

Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood organisation and other Islamists are the main obstacle facing Muslims immigrants trying to integrate within Western societies. They have kept Muslim immigrants from integrating into Western societies by forming ghetto-like secluded communities that eventually become more and more alienated from their new homes and countries. These ghettos became closed to the extent that their inhabitants demand the application of Sharia law in their districts, which exist in major European cities in the UK, France and Germany. Accordingly, Muslim Brotherhood influence has actually created more extremism and alienation within the newcomers.

Consequently, the above seclusion leads to further discrimination and stereotyping by the natives of these Western societies towards new Muslim immigrants. It is noteworthy that Muslim immigrants post-World War II and all the way to the early 1970s hardly faced major discrimination as they do now. Some discrimination is the result of the extremist rhetoric spread within immigrant groups by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organisations such as CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and terrorist designated organisations such as Hizb Al-Tahrir.

Earlier Muslim immigrants to North America and Europe hardly sought after awkward demands from their host countries, such as the application of Sharia law or any other types of religious laws. On the contrary, Muslims since the 1940s all the way to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi groups fuelled by petrodollars in the 1970s, were usually law abiding citizens who integrated peacefully in their new homelands, and some even adopted Western names.

Therefore, for the HRW report to cite that, that a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood will harm Muslim integration is purely hogwash and a fallacy propagated by Islamists themselves and parroted by the likes of HRW along with other Islamist funded think tanks. The Muslim Brotherhood is indeed a main cause of the plight of Muslims in Europe and everywhere else they landed.

Furthermore, the sanctimonious head of HRW, Kenneth Roth, has been a figure of many controversies. Roth has been acting as a neo-Orientalist whereby his attitude displays an apparent interest towards the Middle East while possessing a very shallow understanding of the depth of its problems. As a result of being the head of HRW, a sense of self-entitlement has caused him to interfere and dictate to governments and nations what he and his group of researchers believe is the correct way of governance, in his infinite wisdom.

CONCLUSION

The HRW 8 February 2017 report places the entire work of Human Rights Watch under scrutiny for its authenticity and viability. Undoubtedly, their entire line of reports is now questionable and cannot be perceived without suspicion of political motivations or hidden agendas. It certainly reflects a completely opposite picture from reality. All countries that have Muslim Brotherhood active elements working on their soil have suffered major terrorist activities, including casualties.

Should US President Trump list the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation, it will deal a massive blow to efforts to legalise and whitewash international terrorism under the pretext of integrating political Islam (Islamism) as a mainstream ideology.

Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of Muslims have suffered enough from the actions of the Muslim Brotherhood and its franchises, including the Islamic State group, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, etc, who tainted and twisted their religion from a pure faith of salvation to a weapon for global domination. True Muslims who believe in the sanctity of the faith will rejoice to see the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups finally discredited and banned.

As to Human Rights Watch, it would certainly help if those who never studied Muslim Brotherhood history or their catastrophic effect on Middle East politics, revise Brotherhood literature and review their documented long history of violence, extremist discourse and terrorism in the region. The Muslim Brotherhood’s imperialist world domination master plan for the resurrection of the Caliphate is still in effect. This master plan is featured in all their literature in Arabic and even other languages as it is the ultimate goal of the group. The plan includes the resurrection of the Islamic Caliphate from the borders of China all the way to the borders of France, including Andalucía (Spain and Portugal). The establishment of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in 2014 serves as a small demonstration of the Muslim Brotherhood’s dreams.

Human Rights Watch is now either controlled by seditious motives other than promoting human rights or is acting as “useful idiots” for Islamists and terrorist groups who usually play the discrimination or victimisation card once their real intentions are exposed. The renowned human rights organisation has overnight changed into “Terrorist Rights Watch” by citing lies and twisting the truth in favour of whitewashing the reputation of the most dangerous organisation in modern times.

If the Muslim Brotherhood has the right to express themselves freely and participate in political life to enrich democracy, as HRW claims, then it would seem only fair if neo-Nazi parties, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and ultra-right groups do the same and participate openly in political life. After all, these fascist groups have also claimed that they utilise a non-violent approach and have abandoned the use of violence. The truth remains that fascists may come in all creeds, shapes and colours, yet they will remain fascist and violent whenever necessary. Accordingly, radicalism, extremism and terrorism must be fought vehemently, regardless of the religion or race of its perpetrators.

For all intents and purposes, wolves wearing sheep clothes will never pass as sheep, even if they have HRW and its assortment of deluded researchers vouching for their innocence. Muslim Brotherhood history is soaked in blood and since their inception they have been a scourge on humanity that is paying the price of their nine decades of documented terrorist activities worldwide.

The only people who will be hurt by banning the Muslim Brotherhood will be its terrorist members all across the world and the organisations, especially think tanks and human rights organisations, that the group has already infiltrated. The banning of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood is not a threat to democracy as HRW claims, because history proved to us that the very existence of the Muslim Brotherhood is the biggest threat to freedom and democracy all over the world.

Original Post at Al Ahram Weekly

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/19673.aspx

 

Erdogan: The making of a dictator

Original Post At Al Ahram 3/2/2017

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is joining the ranks of lamentable megalomaniacs like Gaddafi and Saddam, leading Turkey on a path to ruin

The Middle East region has had its lion’s share of leaders who eventually lose a lot of their mental capacities the longer they stay in power. Dictators like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi have headlined the international press for their wacky, quirky and eccentric behaviour in public. That has never taken anything away from their crimes committed against their people, but news of these crimes was sometimes overshadowed by their complete lack of logical thinking patterns. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the latest in a long line of megalomaniac and mad dictators who have plagued the Middle East region for decades. His rise to power in 2003 as prime minister marked a turning point in the history of Turkey and the Middle East in general.

After serving from 2003-2014 as premier, Erdogan’s desire for power grew even stronger and he nominated himself for president in 2014 and won the elections. Since Turkey’s older constitution limited the powers of the president in favour of the prime minister, Erdogan decided to change the constitution to expand his powers.

Aided by Erdogan’s ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (APK), which dominates the Turkish parliament, the legislature approved Erdogan’s proposed reforms amid opposition anger. Should they be approved in the upcoming April 2017 referendum, Erdogan as president will have all the powers that were held by the prime minister and will even have the power to install and depose ministers of the cabinet. The new constitution will guarantee Erdogan’s power grab up till 2029 at least. It would also annul the position of prime minister, enabling Erdogan to be a complete dictator with unlimited powers.

RISING TERRORISM IN TURKEY: On the other hand, it was only a matter of time for Erdogan and his Islamist government to reap what they sowed in the Middle Eastern region for over a decade. By the region here one can specifically point to four countries that witnessed vicious Turkish infiltration in favour of terrorists and extremists: Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Turkey has been a point of safe passage for jihadist terrorists from across the world who cross Turkish borders to enter Syria and commit atrocities in the name of fighting for freedom. Similar scenarios occurred in Egypt, Iraq and Libya as a result of Turkish logistical, media and financial support to domestic and foreign jihadists. Consequently, Egypt recalled its ambassador from Ankara and also considered the Turkish ambassador in Cairo as persona non grata. Once flourishing Egyptian-Turkish relations came to a nosedive with the Turkish regime openly financing, aiding and abetting terrorist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and others operating from Turkey and planning attacks in Egypt.

Unfortunately for the Turkish nation, these terrorists found their way back inside Turkey’s borders after being defeated in most of the areas in which they attempted to operate, such as Syria, Iraq and Egypt. These terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State group and others have wreaked havoc on Turkish soil, creating one of the most devastating waves of terrorism the country has ever witnessed. Erdogan’s attempts to play with fire ended up burning Turkey from the inside.

The terrorist links of the Turkish president stem back to during his youth where Erdogan was photographed sitting at the feet of his mentor, the Afghani warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Nicknamed “The Butcher of Kabul”, Hekmatyar killed thousands of civilians in the Afghani capital and was the idol of Turkey’s “fearless” leader.

ERDOGAN AND MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD EXPANSION: Being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the global terrorist group seemed to be the right vessel through which Erdogan would inject his poisonous Islamist beliefs upon the subjects of these nations. Impressed by Turkey’s economic rise in the past decade, a lot of Middle Eastern nations believed that the Turkish model would offer salvation to their country and hence they temporarily believed the lie that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate group that can govern in peace. It took less than three years, following the Arab Spring, for the same people to realise how deceitful and murderous the Brotherhood and their allies are.

Furthermore, Erdogan visualised himself as the new Middle Eastern ruler, exploiting Turkey as the last Muslim Caliphate that witnessed its final days in 1920. Ever since that date all Islamists across the world, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, have dreamt of resurrecting the Caliphate on the same ground where it reached its height during the Umayyad period, from the borders of China all the way to Andalusia (Spain and Portugal). Erdogan’s dream to be caliph came even closer with the fall of several regimes, in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia, and the possible fall of the Syrian regime.

In the eyes of Erdogan and his neo-Ottoman fascists, the Middle East is their playground and its citizens should only be pawns moved to the whims of the prospective caliph in Turkey. Their air of self-entitlement to the Middle East led the likes of Erdogan to lose more friends and allies than they gained. The medieval fantasies of Erdogan have eclipsed his own ability to rationalise his ambitions. He can no longer look at the world within the context of the 21st century but only through a 15th century eye. The rude awakening to Erdogan’s expansionist dreams came faster than he and his supporters imagined when his plans to topple regimes in Egypt, Syria and Libya faced enormous difficulties as a result of these nations’ awakening and the strength of their national armies. The Turkish army also suffered major losses in its fight with Kurdish separatists in Syria, which complicated an already tense situation in Turkey.

Erdogan’s miscalculations and political adventures did cost him and the Turkish state a hefty price. He once believed that he can expand his dominion in the Syrian lands by supporting the Islamic State group and crushing the Kurdish insurgency in the process. The result was an absolute failure that ended with having the Kurds unified to fight both the Islamic State group and the Turkish government.

DECIMATING THE TURKISH ARMY: In the aftermath of the failed coup d’etat that took place in July 2016, the once powerful and professional Turkish army has been systematically decimated by Erdogan’s purge to weed out any opposition forces within army ranks. In a manner similar to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Turkish president intends to turn the professional Turkish army into his own  personal guard. Before the revolution in Iran took place, the Iranian army used to be ranked among the top five armies in the world. Decades later, the Iranian Islamic Army has become reliant on smaller militias and suicide bomber squads with mostly obsolete weapons systems. That fate could be the fate of the Turkish army if Erdogan’s plans come to full effect in the near future.

Mass arrests on account of supporting the coup attempt in 2016 along with the replacements of experienced officers and generals with Erdogan loyalists is the first step towards the total demise of the Turkish army. The world still recalls the shocking and humiliating scenes of Turkish army personnel being dragged inhumanely, stripped of their military uniforms, and tortured in the aftermath of the attempted coup.

SOLO PLAYER IN TURKISH POLITICS: As of the January constitutional amendments, Erdogan becomes the main player in the Turkish political spectrum. The Turkish AKP is slowly becoming a Turkish replica of the Baath Party of Syria where a single party is dominating the scene. The AKP is Erdogan’s partner in crime in his ambitions to turn Turkey from a modern republic into a medieval caliphate.

Moreover, it takes a high degree of delusion to pretend that the failure of the coup will help democracy flourish in Turkey, especially after the reactions of the Turkish tyrant and his government towards the opposition in all sectors of Turkish society. Turkey became the biggest prison for journalists along with countless politicians, army officers, judges and teachers, being detained on flimsy charges such as being loyalists to Erdogan’s nemesis, preacher Fethullah Gülen. The latter is being accused by Erdogan and his supporters of orchestrating the July 2016 coup along with countless other crimes, such as downing the Russian fighter jet over Syria.

Erdogan systematically grabbing all powers and threatening the execution of all alleged coup perpetrators is a sign of the tyrannical state that has been simmering for years and is now prepared to be unleashed. Erdogan is becoming a lethal hybrid of Gaddafi’s eccentricity, Saddam Hussein’s tyranny and Ayatollah Khomeini’s radicalism. The farcical part is that he considers himself a democratic president despite changing the Turkish constitution repeatedly to tailor his ambition to stay in power forever. The Turkish mad sultan is increasingly becoming the biggest threat to stability in the Middle East region, similar to that of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

CONCLUSION: Erdogan’s irrational policies is rapidly turning Turkey into a pariah state in the Middle East, detested by its neighbours for its interference and military misadventures, as well as covert operations.

In 2017, the world is witnessing a rare political phenomenon, one that hardly occurred since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. This rare phenomenon is the descent of democratic Turkey towards full scale dictatorship. Unfortunately, the shattered Turkish opposition is helping Erdogan attain his goals even faster than he expected as he never seems to face a unified front to curb his seditious ambitions.

Edogan’s Turkey is a far cry from the modern and secular Turkey established by its founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in 1923. There has never been a time in modern history when Turkey is more divided or isolated from the world than today. The dreams of the mad sultan Erdogan are to be thanked for the dismal state of affairs he has led the great Turkish nation into.

Original post At Al Ahram Weekly

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/19515.aspx

 

 

 

Obama : The Audacity Of Failure

Original Post At Al Ahram Weekly 24/1/2017

The audacity of outgoing US president Barack Obama was not simply about promising what he could not deliver, but was also about helping to create a much worse world, writes Hany Ghoraba

Outgoing US president Barack Obama spent 2,922 days in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. He was a president who had massive support domestically and internationally and had a clear mandate to change traditional Washington policies. He adopted “change” as his electoral slogan and won the 2008 presidential elections in a landslide victory with an unprecedented mandate from the American people to change US politics. Obama did indeed change some policies, but not necessarily for the better. Indeed, some of what he did has turned out to be catastrophic.

Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 almost upon showing up in office with no achievement behind him except the high hopes that had been invested in him and the anticipation of a new era of “change”. His years in the Oval Office then showed how controversial the Nobel Committee’s decision was, as Obama failures on the international scene soon became staggering.

Obama ignited fires across the Middle East through proxy wars with US funding and by arming jihadists masquerading as the “armed opposition” in Libya and Syria. In other words, he did exactly what his predecessor president George W Bush did in Afghanistan and Iraq, but instead of utilising the US military his administration funded militants to get the job done instead. As a result, chaos became rampant across the entire Middle East region, and for the first time in modern history a terrorist group under the name of the Islamic State (IS) group declared a pseudo-caliphate on the ruins of Iraqi and Syrian cities.

The Arab-Israeli conflict was not resolved as Obama promised, and in fact the conflict is now witnessing one of the worst deadlocks in recent decades as a result of the weak approach of the Obama administration and its inability to influence the conflicting parties towards reaching a peace based on a two-state solution.

The nuclear deal signed with Iran in 2015 has only granted the world a breathing space from the evident military ambitions of the Iranian regime. As a result, the regime now has an abundance of funds to support its military ambitions in the region without meaningful deterrence.

According to data provided by the US Special Operations Command, American special forces were dispatched to 138 countries, representing 70 per cent of the world’s population, in 2016 alone. This number rose from 60 countries in 2009. Moreover, according to the US Council on Foreign Relations, the US military dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016, which translates to 72 bombs per day on countries such as Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Libya.

Obama did not stop there, but also continued the feud with Russia, thus reigniting old conflicts which mostly ended with the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991. As a result, this Nobel Peace Prize winner and self-proclaimed candidate for change managed to achieve what even his warmongering predecessor Bush never dared to do, which was resurrecting the Cold War with Russia. Obama’s policies in Eastern Europe and his hostility towards the Russian president have rebounded in a massive Russian rearmament programme and an escalation of its global presence.

The Russian presence in the global theatre in 2017 is unprecedented since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Russians felt that Obama was attempting to encircle them by all means, and consequently they decided that they would not simply defend themselves but would counter-attack in many global conflicts. The latest of these was the Syrian conflict, in which Russian military intervention in favour of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has stopped the rapid expansion of IS and Al-Qaeda in Syria.

Obama spent almost the last month of his presidency booby-trapping the presidency of the new US President Donald Trump, presenting him with as many problems as he could muster. Not content with reigniting the Cold War with Russia, Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the United States on allegations of conspiracy undertaken by Russian intelligence to influence American voters towards Trump.

The attempt failed when Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to retaliate to this rushed decision with equal diplomatic measures and instead invited the families of American diplomats in Russia over for Christmas Dinner. Putin did not fall into the trap set by Obama when the latter decided to make a show of force so late in the game.

Russian weapons testing and arms sales to countries that were once regarded as US allies such as Egypt, along with military manoeuvres with them, also shows that Obama’s policies towards Russia have backfired, turning Russia into a much stronger adversary of the United States.

BROKEN PROMISES: Moreover, Obama did not keep his word in shutting down the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

This highly controversial camp was among several used by the United States to detain terrorism suspects for years without trial. Instead of closing it, Obama tried to release a few detainees in the last weeks of his presidency.

Throughout his presidency, Obama had a hard time distinguishing between Islam as a faith and Islamism and between Muslims and Islamists. This incomprehension and lack of knowledge has created an assortment of problems for the United States and the world.

Obama believed that the Muslim Brotherhood was made up of peaceful Muslims practising their religion in peace, and so for him having them as allies running countries across the Middle East might have sounded like good strategy. But neglecting the fact that jihadist terrorism across the world has been based on the deviant teaching of the Muslim Brotherhood, which later spawned the likes of Al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad and the Islamic State (IS) group, among others, has led to disaster.

Moreover, double standards while preaching democracy have characterised the eight years in power of Obama. Praising Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, visiting Cuba’s late president Fidel Castro, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along many other dictators, have been among Obama’s proudest moments.

Despite the cordial nature of Obama and his friendly attitude, personal relations and emotions have clouded his judgement and consequently American foreign policy towards many countries. An example of this has been the cold relations between Obama and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, hurting US relations and interests with international allies.

Obama has selectively settled upon allegations of human rights violations in Egypt and Russia accompanied by White House media propaganda campaigns that have criticised these countries’ fight against terrorism. Yet, the same president and his propaganda machine labelled a visit to Cuba as “historic” despite its being one of the oldest communist dictatorships in the world.

Apparently, Obama believes that Castro and his brother, who have ruled Cuba since the 1959 coup d’état are more democratic than elected President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. Hypocrisy could hardly have been more obvious than in this so-called historic visit to Cuba, which in fact marked the triumph of Cuba’s Castro over the United States after over 60 years of cold war.

The economic successes of Obama can be summarised in his policies to reduce US unemployment, revive the stock exchange and save the automobile industries. However, looking at the bigger picture, Obama, who promised to slice the US national deficit in half, has left the Oval Office with a national debt of $19.9 trillion. While managing to cut the deficit by up to two-thirds by the end of his second term in office, he also managed to nearly double the national debt, adding over $9 trillion. This debt, much of which is to China and Saudi Arabia, leaves the country’s future vulnerable to the influence of other nations that may not share American views on democracy.

Furthermore, violence and racial tensions in the United States, especially during Obama’s second term, were possibly at their worst level since the late 1960s Civil Rights movement. Violence towards African-Americans and other minorities became rampant without effective policies being adopted by the president to counter it.

Obama’s domestic political failures cast their shadow on the Democratic Party and particularly on Hillary Clinton, the presidential elections nominee. She entered the elections with the heavy baggage of her political past, mostly collected during Obama’s first term as president when she was US secretary of state.

Despite her attempts to distance herself from his policies over the last four years, the fallout of Obama’s miscalculations in Libya, Syria, Egypt and Iraq came back to haunt her during her presidential campaign like impending doom. The end result was one of the worst defeats for both Clinton and the Democratic Party in decades in the 2016 elections.

The epitome of Obama’s failure can be seen in the very fact that Donald Trump was elected US president when disgruntled American voters decided to shift towards the alternative-right policies promised by Trump instead of Obama’s lackluster policies.

Obama’s disappointing two presidential terms were the direct cause of Americans’ feelings of a lack of security, something which shifted much of the population towards the right-wing rhetoric of Donald Trump. The latter is abrasive in his rhetoric, but mimics the disgruntled feelings of a good majority of the American people.

The audacity of Obama was not simply about promising what he could not deliver as a politician or as a president, but it was also about the audacity of failing to deliver these promises while helping to create a much worse world than before he took the helm as president of the United States.

Original Post At Al Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/19320.aspx

Seasons in the abyss: January 2011-January 2017

Al Ahram Weekly on 19/1/2017

Six years have passed since the ignition of the 25 January Revolution and they have felt like 60 years for most Egyptians. There isn’t a shred of doubt that the Egypt the world knew has changed forever, for better or for worse. Since the January 2011 Revolution, Egypt has witnessed four presidents, including an interim one, Judge Adli Mansour, and one de-facto president as the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

What transpired from the January 2011 Revolution and its follow up in June 2013 will be left to historians to review and argue about for decades if not centuries to come. However, one fact remains, that no single human being, Egyptian or not living in Egypt, throughout the past six years didn’t see major changes in his or her life regardless if they are positive or negative. The events that followed January 2011 cannot be summarised in an article or even a single book.

Fall of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists: The rise and fall of the Islamists marked the end of one of the bloodiest chapters in Egypt’s modern history. That chapter began with the epic rise of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group to the highest seat of power post-January 2011, controlling both parliament and the presidency through questionable elections. Blessed by international powers such as the United States and the EU, along with the support of regional players such as Qatar and Turkey, the Islamists believed that the die was cast and Egypt was theirs for eternity. They extremely abused their power within the span of year, warranting an even bigger revolution than January 2011 on 30 June 2013.

The 30 June 2013 Revolution marked a turning point not only in the history of Egypt but the entire Middle East region. The vast political expansion of Islamists, grabbing one country after another, came to a screeching halt after being ousted by Egyptians in the biggest popular revolution in recorded history.

Years from now, the Egyptian 30 June 2013 Revolution will become of macro-historical importance in the annals of history. This revolution will be as significant as the Battle of Ain Galoot on 3 September 1260 when the Egyptian Mameluks army led by Sultan Qotoz defeated Genghis Khan’s grandson Hulago and the Mongol army led by commander Kitubga, thus dealing the Mongols their first ever defeat that consequently was the beginning of the end of the largest contiguous empire in history. Without their defeat in the battle of Ain Galoot, no one could have predicted where the Mongol empire would have reached and how many nations would have fallen into ruins. Thus Egypt’s army saved the civilised world, east and west, from a horrifying destiny.

History repeats itself, and Egyptians once again saved the world in a different way from what could have been the beginning of a vicious caliphate led by the Muslim Brotherhood to last 500 years, according to their fascist dream of domination. That dream ended in a single year, followed by arrests of the terrorist group’s leaders and the defeat of the oldest and most notorious Islamist group on the planet.

The defeat of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood was achieved at a hefty cost economically, socially, politically and most importantly, humanly. Thousands of Egyptians have been killed in terrorist attacks throughout the past six years, and particularly post-June 2013 when the notorious group declared war on the Egyptian state and people.

Despite hefty casualties, in lives and in the economy, many Egyptians do not regret having to fight this war against the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist allies. To many Egyptians, this was the last war of liberation from the tyranny of Islamism that haunted their lives for over eight decades since the inception of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 until now.

Economic troubles: Economically, the last six years has witnessed the fall of the once stable Egyptian pound to less than one third of its value pre-January 2011, which was at around LE5.5 against the US dollar, nose-diving towards nearly LE19 pounds against the dollar in January 2017. This was a direct result of terrorism, the fall in tourism revenues, ineffective economic plans followed by an unplanned and catastrophic floating of the currency.

With over 50 per cent of Egypt’s foodstuffs being imported, the brunt of the currency devaluation was felt in every Egyptian household of all levels. The record inflation that is being witnessed in Egypt, particularly in the years 2015-2016, led many Egyptians to question if it was worth it to overthrow Mubarak in the first place. For many, despite the lack of democratic practices, the country was at least stable pre-January 2011. On the other hand, many believe that the Mubarak stability was a fragile one; hence the chaos that followed his stepping down as a result of the January 2011 Revolution.

Political and military power resurgence: Politically, domestic politics is still ruled by yesteryear political forces, despite all cosmetic changes. Indeed, there has been a democratic election that took place post-June 2013 and that resulted in the election of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi for a four-year term. Also, with the election of the new Egyptian parliament in 2015, which on paper may be the finest parliament that was ever elected in Egypt’s 150-year parliamentary history. The current parliament has great representation of Christians, women, and the handicapped and is not yet dominated by any single power or party, which seems ideal on paper.

Despite the above, its lacklustre performance has disappointed most Egyptians thus far. Parliament is still incapable of tackling Egypt’s most pressing social, economic and political issues effectively. Also, parliament became a hub for applauding and condoning some unpopular and ineffective government policies that have crippled the much anticipated growth of Egypt in the past years.

Internationally, Egypt against all odds, is regaining its position as the regional political player to court with regard to resolving most of the region troubles.

The re-emergence of Egypt as a regional, continental and international player came as a blessing to most world powers where there is a staunch belief that Egypt remains the colossus of the region and that its stability is of paramount importance.

Militarily, the Egyptian army is in a stronger position than it was before January 2011. The Egyptian army is at the peak of its powers, despite the economic turmoil that Egypt has witnessed. Egypt manifested its power militarily with a massive rearmament programme that has been the envy of many in the region. Despite the war on terrorism, mainly in the turbulent governorate of North Sinai, the army is utilising less than three per cent of its power in that region and is annihilating the Islamic State group affiliated Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis terrorist outfit slowly to avoid civilian casualties. On the other hand, for the first time in Egypt’s history, Egyptians are proud of the newly inaugurated Southern Fleet as the prominent naval power in the Red Sea and the Middle East, protecting the free flow of trade across the sea and the Suez Canal.

Conclusion: The Arab Spring may have been mostly destructive in the Middle East, but it was not a total loss in some countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, as newly elected parliaments and presidents have been chosen freely by the people. Both constitutions contain ironclad clauses that limit presidential terms to only two.

The silver lining around the mess that burst forth in Egypt and the rest of the region is that the majority of citizens of the region are now completely convinced that the “caliphate” and religious systems of governance only belong to the history books and the Arabian Nights fairy tales. Moreover, now more than ever, they are convinced that only a secular system of governance can extract Egypt and the rest of the region from the abyss that it fell in.

The signs of a better life in the future are still dim, but they can be traced. However, a total reconsideration of current economic policies is imperative to place the nation back on the track to economic recovery. Egypt may still suffer for more seasons and years in the darkness that it found itself in, but if the past seven millennia of history serve as any indicator, Egypt will rebound again and reclaim its place as the leader of the region thanks to this nation’s sons and daughters. The great ability to rise from the ashes and resurrect like a phoenix has been a historical Egyptian trait. Such has always been our strength and such is our destiny.

Original Post At Al Ahram Weekly

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/19332/21/Seasons-in-the-abyss–January——January—–.aspx