A day at Cairo’s clashes

Protesters fighting close to the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters

Protesters fighting close to the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters

 

A little bit late this one – a piece from the excellent Egypt Independent on the worrying clashes which erupted near the Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo-based headquarters a week ago last Friday.

It gives a vivid sense of the mutual loathing which often now characterises relations between supporters of the Brotherhood – the organisation to which President Mohamed Morsi belongs – and their opponents.

A similar bout of fighting broke out in November last year close to Mr Morsi’s Presidential Palace. Back then thousands of protesters engaged in an all night battle  after members of the Brotherhood had forcibly evicted a sit-in taking place near the palace.

The clashes in Moqattam took a similar turn, and offers a depressing glimpse of what could potentially unfold if Egyptians fall back on violence in order to fill the current political void.

The coming crisis

1984

Will the economic crisis result in a renewed period of authoritarianism?

A sobering article from the Egypt Independent on the current economic mess.

Amr Adly argues that Egypt is in for a stormy ride, but says that the opposition National Salvation Front are in no position to benefit.

  • “The powers composing the NSF have taken different economic stances,” writes Adly. “Whereas the Nasserists have shown populist leanings that are hardly sustainable, the liberals preferred to keep silent on austerity measures and the IMF loan [agreed by Morsi].”
  • “Given the limitations of the NSF, any socioeconomic explosion is not likely to yield direct political gains to the anti-Brotherhood opposition, despite the fact that the Brothers are in an extremely bad situation. There is a fair chance that Egypt will witness a new wave of sociopolitical violence similar to that of January 1977.”

In a bleak closing passage, Adly raises the prospect of further unrest leading to the creation of a “proto-fascist” regime in order to counteract the violence. Worrying stuff.

The Republic of Port Said

Port Said has been the scene of severe unrest this week

Port Said has been the scene of severe unrest this week

 

Thoughtful analysis from Evan Hill about the current situation in Port Said.

Kicking off with some vivid frontline reporting from this week’s gun battles in the city, Hill illustrates why the city which rejected Morsi during the 2012 presidential elections is becoming a law unto itself.

 

 

VIDEO: IDF soldier use live ammunition on unarmed teen

 

Here is a video taken by B’Tselem, the Israeli NGO which works to expose human rights abuses in occupied Palestine.

It shows Palestinian youths taunting and  attacking IDF soldiers with stones in the West Bank. Eventually the cameraman pans away to the left, where an Israeli soldier on a hill can be seen taking a pot shot at the youngsters.

The footage then shows a teenager being hauled away by his friends, while the IDF gunmen is quickly pushed away from the scene by his colleague.

Egypt’s opposition needs to start playing politics

How will Egypt's opposition face the coming challenges?

A voter casts her ballot during the constitutional referendum

 

Another thoughtful piece from The Economist on Egypt’s constitutional woes.

The magazine notes the low turnout in the first round of last week’s referendum, and cautions the Muslim Brotherhood against reacting to their apparently waning support by seeking an ever tighter grip on power.

But there are also stern words for the National Salvation Front, the country’s main opposition group:

“The opposition, for its part, should start relying more on negotiation and less on demonstration. Street protests were a force for good before democracy prevailed—they toppled Mr Mubarak, after all—but if they become a routine way to change the law and remove governments, then Egypt will never learn how to reconcile interests and settle disputes through everyday politics.”

“The non-Islamist opposition, which is coming together for the first time in a broad front, should concentrate on preparing for the imminent general election. To compete with Islamists at a local level, they must start tackling the urgent bread-and-butter concerns of poor people.”

It has been a criticism routinely leveled at Egypt’s liberal, secular and leftist opposition since the toppling of Mubarak – that they are out of touch with the concerns of ‘ordinary voters’.

With fresh parliamentary elections rapidly approaching, the Economist argues that now is the time to start undermining that unhelpful perception.

Inside Egypt’s Salafists

Islamists rallying last month In Egypt

Islamists rallying last month In Egypt

 

For those with enough time on their hands, here is an in depth look at Egypt’s fundamentalist Salafi movements.

Written by Stephane Lacroix, an expert on the subject, it examines the electoral success of hardline Islamists and offers some context about the history of Al Nour, the main Salafi party in Egypt.

Given the religious divisions creating fissures at the ballot box, it makes for a fascinating read.

Egypt’s constitutional conundrum

Members of the assembly which drafted the new constitution

Members of the assembly which drafted the new constitution

 

Somewhat belatedly, here is a lucid, even-handed account of the crisis surrounding Egypt’s constitution – from the seemingly omnipresent Nathan Brown.

He questions whether Egypt’s fragile institutions are ready for the majoritarian democratic principles of the Muslim Brotherhood, though suggests that many among the liberal opposition have not always acted in good faith during their dealings with Egypt’s Islamists.

“The Islamists have pressed ahead,” he writes, “willing to throw some concessions to their rivals but not enough to truly bring them along. Even had [they] been willing to give more, it is not clear that there was any good-faith bargain to be had, since some members of the opposition have simply rejected earlier electoral outcomes as “unrepresentative.”

A detailed analysis of the problems which have been thrown up over the past few weeks.

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