Geopolitics

Egypt: Why Leftist Protesters And Muslim Brotherhood Need Each Other

Analysis: The Egyptian army is trying to reassert its control as leftist protesters have returned to the streets. The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, assured by its electoral success, needs to ally with the protesters to show it isn't only after pow

Sheikh Rihan Street, near Tahrir Square on December 19, 2011 (Gigi Ibrahim)
Sheikh Rihan Street, near Tahrir Square on December 19, 2011 (Gigi Ibrahim)
Mohamed Gabr

CAIRO - Nearly a year after the January 25 revolution, Egypt is in the midst of turmoil. On the brink of civil unrest and economic collapse, there seems to be no end in sight. A nation full of hope, seemingly on the road to democracy and prosperity during the early weeks following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, is now plagued with doubts.

Much of the blame has been placed on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for its erratic rule, which resulted in the complete mismanagement of the transitional period until the election of the parliament and the president. However, many Egyptians believe that the radicalism of the revolutionary youth is to blame for the outbursts of violent confrontation, and, in spite of mounting evidence of serious human rights violations by the military, Egyptian society is torn between pragmatic denial or apathy and the honorable confrontation of the truth.

It has become apparent that the SCAF is not willing to completely let go of power as it tries desperately to ensure that the interests of the military are protected either de facto or through special provisions in the new constitution. This has been met with resistance from Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, as they seek to cautiously rise to power in the wake of their resounding success in the parliamentary elections. Tensions between the SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood are bound to surface as their future interests collide.

It sometimes appears that the SCAF and the Brotherhood are acting in concert; however, this convergence of interests is temporary. The SCAF is keen on organizing an efficient elections process to improve its reputation and solidify its position internally and internationally. The Brotherhood is adamant that the elections proceed at any cost in order for them to secure a parliamentary majority and at last achieve the legitimacy that has eluded the organization for nearly 80 years. However, as this process draws to a close, without a tacit agreement to split power with a mutually agreeable president acting as a buffer between those two significant players in Egyptian politics, confrontation is inevitable.

Back in the streets

Doubtful that the SCAF will willingly handover power, disgusted at the practices of the SCAF — especially violence and human rights violations — and frustrated that the electoral process has left them without a real say in Egypt's future, the revolutionary youths are now back in the streets. However, this time around, the youths are unable to secure meaningful support from the masses. In fact, it is undeniable that the majority of Egyptians are either indifferent or opposed to the demonstrations, even sometimes choosing to turn a blind eye to obvious atrocities by the military.

Mubarak's regime, which lasted almost 30 years, managed to wrong so many Egyptians that the possibility of ousting him ignited hope for change among millions of Egyptians, crossing geographic, class, political and religious boundaries. For many people, the SCAF, on the other hand, is equivalent to the military, the cornerstone of the Egyptian state, and the last somewhat-properly functioning state-run institution.

Amid fears of a failed state and a fragmented society, many Egyptians are willing to tolerate transgressions and even atrocities by the SCAF. In this type of environment, the revolutionary youths, mostly liberal and leaning to the left in a far more conservative society, are becoming more and more condemned to the fate of Sisyphus, compelled to roll a huge rock up a hill, only to watch it roll back down. Sadly, this has entailed suffering death, injury, persecution, military trial, brutality — especially against females — and worst of all, character assassination.

Strikingly, due to ideological differences and built-up mutual doubts, the revolutionary youths and the Islamists are involved in bitter media battles, with the youth accusing the Islamists of betraying the cause of the revolution, especially the Brotherhood, and the Islamists countering by accusing the demonstrators of undermining stability and democracy. These mutual doubts, and the resulting bitterness and frustration, defy logic, as any neutral observer would conclude that the youths ignited the revolution while the Brotherhood, informally and then formally joining the cause, ensured it was not crushed.

In short, the youths need the support of the Islamists to corner the SCAF, while the Islamists need the support of the youths to make their fight about democracy and not about power. Both parties should reach a mutual understanding, with the Islamists tolerating the more radical approach of the revolutionary youths, and the latter recognizing that the Brotherhood, in particular, cannot ignore political considerations. Otherwise, the SCAF is likely to crush the revolution, and then concentrate on strangling the nascent democracy and solidifying its power by marking the Islamists as a power-hungry ideological threat to stability.

Mohamed Gabr is a lawyer and member of Adl Party.

Read the article in full from Al-Masry Al-Youm

Photo - Gigi Ibrahim

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Preparing a COVID-19 vaccine booster in Huzhou, China.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Ciao!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Brazil's senate backs "crimes against humanity" charges against Jair Bolsonaro, the UN has a grim new climate report and Dune gets a sequel. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt explores "Xi Jinping Thought," which is now being made part of Chinese schools' curriculum.

[*Italian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Senators back Bolsonaro criminal charges: A Brazilian Senate panel has backed a report that supports charging President Jair Bolsonaro with crimes against humanity, for his alleged responsibility in the country's 600,000-plus COVID-19 deaths.

• Gas crisis in Moldova following Russian retaliation: Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has for the first time challenged Russia's Gazprom following a price increase and failed contract negotiations, purchasing instead from Poland. In response, Russia has threatened to halt sales to the Eastern European country, which has previously acquired all of its gas from Gazprom.

• New UN climate report finds planned emission cuts fall short: The Emissions Gap Report 2021 concludes that country pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aren't large enough to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 °C degrees this century. The UN Environment Program predicts a 2.7 °C increase, with significant environmental impacts, but there is still hope that longer term net-zero goals will curtail some temperature rise.

• COVID update: As part of its long-awaited reopening, Australia will officially allow its citizens to travel abroad without a government waiver for the first time in more than 18 months. Bulgaria, meanwhile, hits record daily high COVID-19 cases as the Eastern European's hotel and restaurant association is planning protests over the implementation of the vaccination "green pass." In the U.S., a panel of government medical advisors backed the use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-olds.

• U.S. appeals decision to block Julian Assange extradition: The United States said it was "extremely disappointed" in a UK judge's ruling that Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, would be a suicide risk of he traveled across the Atlantic. In the U.S., he faces 18 charges related to the 2010 release of 500,000 secret files related to U.S. military activity.

• Deposed Sudan prime minister released: Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been released from custody, though remains under heavy guard after Sudan's military coup. Protests against the coup have continued in the capital Khartoum, as Hamdok has called for the release of other detained governmental officials.

Dune Part 2 confirmed: The world will get to see Timothée Chalamet ride a sandworm: The second installment of the sci-fi epic and global box office hit has officially been greenlit, set to hit the screens in 2023.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Front page of the National Post's October 27 front page

Canadian daily National Post reports on the nomination of Steven Guilbeault, a former Greenpeace activist, as the country's new Environment minister. He had been arrested in 2001 for scaling Toronto's CN Tower to unfurl a banner for Greenpeace, which he left in 2008.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Chinese students now required to learn to think like Xi Jinping

"Xi Jinping Thought" ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university, reports Maximilian Kalkhof in German daily Die Welt.

🇨🇳 It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader. Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself.

📚 Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

⚠️ But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation? The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I'm a footballer and I'm gay."

— Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo said in a video accompanying a tweet in which he revealed his homosexuality, becoming the first top-flight male professional player in the world to do so. The 21-year-old said he was tired of living "this double life" and hoped his decision to come out would help other "players living in silence."

🇸🇩💥  IN OTHER NEWS

Why this Sudan coup d'état is different

Three days since the military coup was set in motion in Sudan, the situation on the ground continues to be fluid. Reuters reports this morning that workers at the state petroleum company Sudapet are joining a nationwide civil disobedience movement called by trade unions in response to the generals' overthrow of the government. Doctors have also announced a strike.

Generals in suits At the same time, the military appears firmly in control, with deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok allowed to return home today after being held by the coup leaders. How did we get here? That's the question that David E. Kiwuwa, a professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham, takes on in The Conversation:

"Since the revolution that deposed Omar el-Bashir in 2019, the military have fancied themselves as generals in suits. They have continued to wield enough power to almost run a parallel government in tension with the prime minister. This was evident when the military continued to have the say on security and foreign affairs.

Economy as alibi For their part, civilian officials concentrated on rejuvenating the economy and mobilizing international support for the transitional council. This didn't stop the military from accusing the civilian leadership of failing to resuscitate the country's ailing economy.

True, the economy has continued to struggle from high inflation, low industrial output and dwindling foreign direct investment. As in all economies, conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19. Sudan's weakened economy is, however, not sufficient reason for the military intervention. Clearly this is merely an excuse."

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

471 million euros

Rome's Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, better known as Villa Aurora, will be put up for auction in January for 471 million euros ($547 million). The over-the-top price tag is thanks to the villa having the only known ceiling painting by Renaissance master Caravaggio.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Who wants to start the bidding on the Caravaggio villa? Otherwise, let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world! info@worldcrunch.com!

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