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Egypt

Prepare For The ‘Pakistanization’ Of Egypt

Analysis: As crackdowns continue against pro-democracy protesters, a closer look at recent events shows that Egypt’s military powers and other key players are taking their cues from the old Pakistan model rather than the new Turkish one.

Tahrir square, June 2, 2012 (glichfield)
Security forces on the streets of Cairo (Gigi Ibrahim)
Maamoun Fendi

CAIRO – Observing the recent actions of three major players on the Egyptian political scene ― the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the US Embassy and Islamists ― suggests that Egypt may soon come to resemble Pakistan.

But why Pakistan and not Turkey? Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling SCAF, worked as a military attache in Pakistan, and has made no secret of his admiration for civil-military relationship there. In Pakistan, he believes, politics is the job of politicians but the military maintains the right to change the power equation whenever it wants.

Over the last 40 or so years, Pakistan has seen military coups led by generals Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf. In the Pakistani power equation, the army is the compass.

US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson is also experienced in Pakistani affairs, following years of work there at a time when political tensions between the two countries ― in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Islamists in Afghanistan and Pakistan ― were at their peak.

Patterson is prepared to implement a similar plan in Egypt ― a currently unstable country that has important military and religious waves that need to be tamed to incorporate US interests into their agendas. Having successfully led a similar process in Pakistan, Patterson is the right woman for an Egypt that is transforming into another Pakistan, with the rise of the Salafi-led Nour and the Muslim Brotherhood-led Freedom and Justice parties to power.

Signs have emerged that the US is changing its stance toward rising Islamists. First, the US moved Patterson from Pakistan to Egypt. Then, US officials, including Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, expressed trust in the Brotherhood before the conduct of elections.

The normal process would be for Islamic ideas to spread from Arab countries ― the owners of the Arabic language and jurisprudence ― to non-Arabic-speaking countries, and not the opposite. Oddly enough, though, political Islamism originated in the Indian subcontinent and spread to Arab countries.

We should therefore brace ourselves for the ‘pakistanization" of Egypt, rather than wasting our time preparing for a Turkish model that will never arrive.

Read the full article at Al-Masry Al-Youm

Photo - Gigi Ibrahim

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Society

Tour Of Istanbul's Ancient Yedikule Gardens, At Risk With Urban Restoration

The six-hectare gardens in the center of Istanbul, which are more than 1,500 years old, have helped feed the city's residents over the centuries and are connected with its religious history. But current city management has a restoration project that could disrupt a unique urban ecosystem.

Photo of Muslims performing Friday prayer in the garden of Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul.

Last March, Muslims performing Friday prayer in the garden of Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul.

Tolga Ildun via ZUMA Press Wire
Canan Coşkun

ISTANBUL — The historic urban gardens of Yedikule in Istanbul are at risk of destruction once again. After damage in 2013 caused by the neighborhood municipality of Fatih, the gardens are now facing further disruption and possible damage as the greater Istanbul municipality plans more "restoration" work.

The six-hectare gardens are more than 1,500 years old, dating back to the city's Byzantine era. They were first farmed by Greeks and Albanians, then people from the northern city of Kastamonu, near the Black Sea. Now, a wide variety of seasonal produce grows in the garden, including herbs, varieties of lettuce and other greens, red turnip, green onion, cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, pepper, corn, mullberry, fig and pomegranate.

Yedikule is unique among urban gardens around the world, says Cemal Kafadar, a historian and professor of Turkish Studies at Harvard University.

“There are (urban gardens) that are older than Istanbul gardens, such as those in Rome, but there is no other that has maintained continuity all this time with its techniques and specific craft," Kafadar says. "What makes Yedikule unique is that it still provides crops. You might have eaten (from these gardens) with or without knowing about it."

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