Mohamed Morsi “chooses infamy”

Egypt_peril

Egypt in peril? Taken from a previous Economist cover

 

Sober analysis of the past week’s events in Egypt from The Economist.

It makes the point that the country’s draft constitution – which will now go to a referendum in mid-December – lacks legitimacy as a result of being rushed through the constituent assembly this week.

There is also criticism of the manner in which Morsi has emasculated the judiciary through the recent presidential decree.

While sparing no rebuke for the nation’s judges – who the magazine says have “petulantly” obstructed the president over the past six months – the piece argues that by “declaring himself above any law, [Morsi] raised the spectre of a return to dictatorship”.

An authoritative precis of the current crisis.

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Morsi’s power grab should be no surprise

Muslim Brotherhood supporters and relatives carry the body of 15-year-old Islam Massoud during his funeral in the Egyptian town of Damanhour (photo by REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)

 

Here is a neat dissection of the current political mess in Egypt, by blogger Nervana Mahmoud.

Published at Al-monitor.com, Mahmoud argues that the crisis was “an inevitable outcome in a country that is still seduced by selfish politics that aim for dominance rather than unity”.

She pushes the point that the Muslim Brotherhood’s modus operandi is partly a result of decades of oppression under successive regimes. Mohamed Morsi, she adds, sees Egypt as a “malfunctioning machine that must be restored back to its factory settings with Islamic instruction”.

Offering a four point analysis of the Brotherhood’s political failings, Mahmoud contends that “pragmatism” and “ambiguity” are used as tools to advance the group’s Islamic agenda.

Many might argue that the Brotherhood is not alone in this. Surely the Tories or Labour in the UK – or their American, European or any other counterparts – are just as capable of exploiting political elusiveness in their search for power? Is it fair to lambast the Brothers on this score?

A nice offering on the debate about what is making the Muslim Brothers tick.

 

 

Is the US repeating its mistakes in Egypt?

Mohamed Morsi and Hillary Clinton during a recent meeting

 

More thoughts on Morsi’s power grab last week, this time from The Big Pharaoh blog.

The post ruminates over America’s influence on Morsi, and asks whether the president felt he could get away with his decree because of the lavish praise heaped on him by Washington following the Gaza ceasefire.

 

 

VIDEO: Clashes in northern Egypt

 

A worrying clip from Damanhur, a town in northern Egypt close to Alexandria.

It shows fighting on Saturday between members of the Muslim Brotherhood and anti-Morsi protesters which followed the Egyptian president’s constitutional decree last week.

One boy was killed and many more injured during the violence.

A second man was confirmed dead yesterday following the rioting which hit Cairo last week and spread throughout the country after Morsi’s announcement.

Egyptians are hoping Damanhur is not a sign of more cataclysmic divisions ahead.

Psychology of a dictatorship

Liberty Leading the People - a bare-breasted depiction you probably won't find at Muslim Brotherhood HQ

Liberty Leading the People – a bare-breasted depiction you probably won’t find at the headquarters of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

 

The outsider’s perspective on the crisis enveloping Egypt – from my occasional drinking buddy Koert Debeuf.

He raises the twin spectres of Lenin and and the Jacobins in reference to the problems faced by Mohamed Morsi.

I’m pretty sure we’re not there quite yet, but DeBeuf nevertheless has some interesting points to make about life inside the political goldfish bowl.

Spice Bazaar reopens after a year long hiatus

 

Spice Bazaar is back again – but with a slight difference.

After a year long break, this site will now attempt to collate some of the most interesting news and writing currently shaping the Middle East.

I hope it will serve as a useful window onto an endlessly fascinating region.

Egypt’s No.1 industry still struggling

Before the tourists: David Roberts's 19th Century view of the Sphinx - as it was and as it will never be again

 

Originally published at majalla.com, 21 September 2011

Tour guide Zaki Sultan knows as well as anyone how much Egyptians rely on the steady flow of tourists streaming into their country.

The 44-year-old, who scrapes a living from the tens of thousands of travelers who flock to see the Giza Pyramids each year, was hit hard by the tourism crash in the aftermath of the Egyptian uprising.

Back then, when foreigners shunned the country after being fed a nightly diet of violent clashes on the evening news, the situation got so bad that cash-strapped tour guides could not even feed their animals.

The grisly images of decomposing horses and camels lying just a short distance from the Pyramids became a terrible metaphor for a dying tourist industry.

According to Zaki, the situation now is not as bad as six months ago. Speaking to The Majalla just after taking some visitors on a tour around the Pyramids, he said things had improved. “There are around 25 percent of people compared to last year,” he said. “But compared to after the uprising it is getting better.”

However, official statistics released last week suggest that for the millions of Egyptians who, like Zaki, rely on tourism to make a living, the future is not looking rosy.

In the second quarter of the month there was a 35 percent drop in the numbers of foreigners visiting the country.

The shortfall amounted to well over one million fewer tourists coming to Egypt compared to 2010—a development which has been blamed on the instability following the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak in March.

In total last year, Egypt received around 15 million visitors—a figure which shows why tourism is one of the country’s biggest industries, worth around £7.3billion and employing approximately 12 percent of the nation’s workforce.

All of which makes the latest figures so worrying, particularly given how Egypt’s tourist minister predicted in June that by September the flow of foreigners arriving in the country would be back up to pre-revolution levels.

Speaking to a Kuwaiti newspaper, Mounir Fakhri Abdel Nour had said: “Data suggests that tourist activities are being restored to pre-revolution rates.”

Judging by the most recent statistics, he should probably sack his number crunchers.

And it’s all very well blaming the Egyptian uprising for the recent tourist turmoil. But how long will it continue for?

Right after the fall of Mubarak, there were numerous flare-ups which might have deterred even the most adventurous of travelers. After all, who wants to take happy snaps of the Sphinx when protesters are bleeding to death in the street nearby?

Yet there will be more problems. Parliamentary elections are due to be held in November, followed by a presidential poll next year. In between and afterwards there will inevitably be further bloodshed.

With the Luxor travel agent brochures gathering dust as a result, Egypt’s tourist industry will continue to flounder.

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