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31 January 2012

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Matthew

Col: The French had Tallyrand. The Egyptians have Moussa.

JimboLuke

What sort of constitutution do you thiunk these "squirrels" are going to write?

A constitution that reflects their own culture?

turcopolier

Jimboluke

You are yet another of the naifs I have had to deal with for a long time. You would probably reject a description of you as an "Orientalist" but that is what you are. People with your fixations believe that only the most extreme and anti-western elements in a population in the East are "genuine." For you, those who embrace modernity in a society influenced by the West have no right to a decent life. pl

William R. Cumming

Do the 10 million Coptic Christians have any seats? Of the almost 60 sects of Islam what is the proportion of each in Egypt? Wahabies [sic]e.g.? Salafists?

r whitman

The most important part to the USA is what kind of relationship we will have with them in the future, not what is written in their constitution. Countries, including ours, ignore or find a way around the inconvenient parts of constitutions.

JimboLuke

those who embrace modernity in a society influenced by the West

The modernity that you speak highly of, is a White European cultural concept and is heavily influenced by Christianity. You will never be able to export it to none-white countries no matter how hard you try.

I believe Muslims should stay in their own counties and live according to their own customs. They should stay out of our country and we should stay out of theirs.

Why is that such a bad idea?

WP

"The Salafist Nour Party will head the Education and Scientific Research Committee, with MP Shabaan Ahmed Abdel El-Alim elected to its chair."

Does anyone have any clear indication of what this means for education in Egypt, and particularly, for the education of women?

mo

Colonel,
The MB were voted in because of the support of the Egyptians living in squalor in the villages and on the fringes of Egyptian society. They weren't voted in because of any anti-Western backlash but because these Egyptians felt that they may get at least an iota of equitable and just treatment from those that claim to adhere to the Muslim faith. These are the people that Mubarak sold down the river when he agreed to buy all of Egypts wheat from the US and priced them out of the market and their livelihood and these are the people that only ever had the MB for support.

I don't know what constitution you expect them to write or want them to write but if we take them at their word it is to include the freedom of the press, freedom of criticism and thought, freedom of peaceful demonstrations, freedom of assembly, and the dismantling of all exceptional courts and the annulment of all exceptional laws, establishing the independence of the judiciary.

On the other hand they want to introduce segregation and ban dancing - Ban dancing in Egypt of all places!

But from what I know and have seen and heard from them, I expect the change of laws to be a reasonable comprimise rather than an extreme heavy handed attack on civil freedoms.

And lest we forget, there is in Egypt, the not so small matter of the army acting as a check on behalf of the more liberal city folk.

As for Nur, we can only thank our Saudi friends for their rise to power as they were funded to the hilt by Saudi Arabia in the elections in its constant drive to push Wahabism down the throat (or through the bank accounts) of the rest of the Arab world.

But if you (and we) really want to worry about Salafism, its Syria that really ought to have everyone worried. The Salafists there are the most dangerous mix of all: Extreme in their views but seemingly easily bought. If they come up top of the heap as is the plan of the GCC, God help us with what happens after that.

Of course the greatest irony here is that the extremist state that the West so dearly wants to avoid seeing in the Arab world is being pushed by the very people the West considers its "friends".

JohnH

It's not clear that the Egyptian parliament will get to run anything but the Egyptian parliament.

Not too long ago, SCAF announced that the freely elected parliament was "not sufficiently representative" to write a constitution.

Moreover, Islamic activists have been chastened by their recent experience as targets of GWOT and not keen to stick their heads up very far. They remember Algeria, where the military started a civil war rather than let Islamic parties kick them out of power after a free and fair election in the 1990s. And then there is the case of Hamas...

The behind the scenes maneuvering will be mightily Machiavellian, as the US and its friends in the Egyptian military seek to marginalize the parliament while preserving the illusion of democracy.

turcopolier

mo

Let me summarize my beliefs about Islamists, any Islamists. I don't believe anything they say about "compromise." To true believers in anything
"compromise" is a dirty word. It is not possible for a person of virtue who knows the truth to compromise the truth.I will say it again. Islamists want two things. 1- Gain total power and 2- Create a sharia state. All else is tactics. And don't feed me the baloney about the downtrodden masses. Egypt would be a reasonably prosperous country if they would take up birth control. Mubarak didn't steal anything from them that they could have been given, but they are going to have theor "vengeance" (tha'r) on him anyway. pl

Vior swensen

I wish their new gov't well, and hope they can put a good face on more modern arabic ways to rule.

Middle East peace is much needed.

turcopolier

rwhitman

True, but what sort of constitution they write will be a clue as to what sort of government it will be. pl

turcopolier

Vior Swenson

I too, but you can wish in one hand and poop in the other and see which is filled faster. pl

mo

Colonel,
I dont really understand your soft spot for Mubarak but saying he didnt do deals in return for American support to the detriment of his people is not borne out by the facts.

In the 1960's Egypt was able to export 87% of its agricultural products. It is now the single biggest importer of wheat in the world. He forced farmers out of business by forcing them to sell produce to the state and levied taxes on those sales that were many times higher than anywhere in the world. And the produce he imported was so subsidised that even without these taxes, the Egyptian farmer was never going to be able to compete.

He sold gas to israel at 75 cents per million BTUs when the market price was $6.

Yes, of course population control is a big challenge for Egypt, but we can't pretend that Mubarak was totally faultless in taking money from the coffers (that for example could have been used for population control programs).

And why are the poor of Egypt baloney? Does the level of poverty ive seen in Egypt exist to the extent it does in Egypt anywhere else in the Arab world in your knowledge? I havent seen it.

In regards to your beliefs in Islamists, well in Egypt only time will tell. Trying to turn Egypt into a state as repressed as Saudi or Iran is I think a policy that is doomed to failure.

Yes, they want a state run on Sharia, and frankly they wouldnt be great Muslims if they didnt, but even that can mean many many things. As you know better than I, even the early Caliphs implemented Sharia law in different ways.
As for total control? You need to be looking at the GCC for that mindset. The Islamists in the more westernised countrys I think have progressed beyond that kind of naievte (to the extent where the likes of Hizballah have surrendered nearly all control politically to their non-Islamist allies, including the CHristians).

Of course, there is every chance that their intentions are exactly as you say but I hope the MB in Egypt can act in a mature manner and act as pragmatically as they talk for the sake of a nation that deserves better that it has had of late.

turcopolier

mo

"saying he didnt do deals in return for American support to the detriment of his people is not borne out by the facts." This kind of thing is often said in the Arab World. The problem is that you don't really understand the scale of things. The US government does not support governments in return for commercial contracts. European countries do that because hey are much smaller afairs and their countries are highly dependent on the largesse of petty tyrants. The US Government does things with countries like Egypt because of the strategic delusions of the foreign policy clique. I remember taking an Arab client who insisted to confer with L----d in NYC. He wanted to borrow some money for an enterprise. He wanted 10 or 15 million. They fed us lunch somewhere in their four or five floors of 30 Rock and listened. Then they explained that if he had wanted 150 million or more they might have been interested, but could not be bothered with the trouble for such a small amount. They explained that the previous year they had handled money from the Gulf that exceeded the total of the economies of the countries in the Gulf. They said that they would recommend to a "boutique" house that it look into his need. It was a revelation for him. As for Mubarak I never liked the man but he is not a great villain. He is merely a villain typical of the region. The Egyptians are poor and will remain poor. THEY are the problem not villains like Mubarak. If you pack as many people as they have in Egypt into as little livable land in other countries you will have equivalent poverty. pl

turcopolier

mo

Anticipating your response - I imagine it will be that Americans made money in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, but they made it in the opportunity space created by the foreign policy obsessed and the political fanatics of the neocon movement. They made a lot of money, but the US Government lost a hell of a lot more for no material advantage at all. Walrus has it right when he says that we Americans suffer from an absence of the kind of hard hearted empaths that the British Empire bred in its glory days. BTW, where are the billions that Mubarak "stole?" pl

GregB

Col. Lang,

Word has it that Mubarak lost all of his rumored ill gotten money after investing in a pyramid scheme.

Hope all is well.

turcopolier

GrebB

Imhotep has it. pl

mo

Colonel,
I didn't mean to imply that the deals were for commercial gain and for me its clear they were more about leverage than anything else. I didnt accuse Mubarak of lining his pockets directly (although were it to turn out that he did not have a few bucks hidden away in Switzerland I would be surprised). But stealing from the people is stealing whether you actually take the money or whether you sell the countrys silver at less than a sixth of its actual worth.

Poverty and population growth have always gone hand in hand in my experience. The wealthier the nation the less children they seem to have. So while saying population growth is what makes people poor is absolutely correct, it is also true to say that keeping people poor results in a bigger population. Mubarak may not have made Egypt poor but his policies did nothing to help them either.

turcopolier

mo

This is getting more and more interesting. "The deals?" What "deals?" Egypt has natural gas that it sells to Israel. I understand that "Merhav" and other deal making Israeli companies may have made some interesting arrangements in Egypt, but that is not US commerce. Nor is it the US government. Egypt also has tourism. It seems intent on making tourism into a shrinking asset. What has any of this to do with the US? The US has given
Egypt vast amounts of money for its armed forces in an attempt to keep the country aligned with US political goals in the ME concerning Israel and the chimera of PEACE. This has cost us billions of dollars. We have also provided a lot of money through USAID for such projcects as the complete re-build of sewer systems in Alexandria, Cairo and other cities. What did we "get" out of that? As for Mubarak, did he make Egyptians have so many children? You know that he did not. In his time Cairo's transportation was completely re-built, trash collection became a reality and a new air terminal built that replaced the nightmare that was before. Does he not get credit for any of that? And where IS the money that he supposedly stole from the Egyptian people and through that theft made them poor? pl

mo

Colonel,
I think we are at crossed wires here. I am focusing on Mubarak not the US. Therefore I am not associating his selling gas to Israel at a fraction of the market price as a representation of US action but of Mubaraks. The only mention of the US i introduced was that of the wheat.

But selling gas at at 75cents when the market price is $6 is theft whichever way you look at it. He may not have been pocketing the money but he was costing the country, the country he had put under considerable debt, over $5 per million BTUs of gas.

What the US got for its billions of dollars was a leader willing to act constantly and consistently with Israel against the Palestinians - and allowing Israel to use its forces without having to worry about its Egyptian border.

In his time a lot of reconstruction was done. He probably doesnt get much credit for it because in his time the Emergency law was used to centralize all aspects of bureaucracy, because corruption shot up, because the gap between the rich and poor grew considerably and because the number of arbitrary arrests and the general absue of power of the security services rose substantially. Or its because he put the country under considerable debt to achieve these projects and then frittered away assets in cut price gas deals.

As I said earlier, I have no idea if he did or didn't personally enrich himself. Yasser Arafat lived quite a frugal life a yet recieved millions; But Arafat used that money to make sure people stayed "loyal" to him and him alone.

turcopolier

mo

"He may not have been pocketing the money but he was costing the country,"

Interesting. Why did he do that? Let us suppose that Israeli business interests bribed to get the deal they got. Where is the money? It had to be a lot of money. Was it used for the same purposes that Arafat used his money? pl

Morocco Bama

Any news on whether, or not, the peace treaty with Israel has been nullified yet? I know the MB was threatening this several weeks prior, but I haven't heard anything since. That would be an interesting turn of events. It would give Israel the green light to retake the Sinai at some future undisclosed date.

As for Mubarak's alleged stolen wealth, rumor has it he lost it all with the collapse of MF Global and it's now in the hands of the Anunnaki....well, at least what we mere mortals think of as hands.

mo

I dont know if the incentive was even necessarily financial; There are many other aspects that could have been of use. As an example, Israeli help in garnering American support for his son to take over.
But then at this depth of diplomatic back channels, you are better placed than the majority of us to know why.

Matthew

I have this image in my head. You were told this by a drill master at the Citidal many moons ago?

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