Geopolitics

Why The Egyptian Army's Crackdown On Islamists Spells Death For Democracy

The liberal arm of the anti-Muslim Brotherhood movement is unlikely to survive the army's bloody attack on supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi.

Why The Egyptian Army's Crackdown On Islamists Spells Death For Democracy
Christophe Ayad

-Analysis-

CAIRO — Islamists are not the sole victims of Wednesday’s security forces’ assault on two sit-ins organized by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi that left more than 500 people dead, according to the latest official estimates. The choice of “total security” has also killed the political credibility of the liberals. Interim Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei got it right by resigning midafternoon Wednesday.

Until the end, the 2005 Nobel Prize winner strived to convince the interim government — set up after the Islamist Morsi was ousted by the army — to solve the issue through peaceful means. But the “securitarian” clan, embodied by the Army Chief and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, won.

A step backward

It is a terrible step backward, starting with the return of perhaps the worst symbol of the Hosni Mubarak era: the state of emergency, imposed during the former president's 30-year reign, that was re-established for one month on Wednesday. It gives the army the right to apprehend and imprison citizens without a trial. It reverses all the gains of the January 2011 revolution.

ElBaradei’s resignation will force most of the liberals in the government to leave, or else they will be condoning a blind and cynical crackdown. If they stay, they know that their voices will cease to count any longer. Islamists hate them for their support and even their role in the army’s return to power. The general public, incited by the nationalist and anti-Muslim Brotherhood media propaganda, see them at best as “cowards,” at worst as “traitors.”

After the unprecedented violence launched this week on the camps at Rabiya Al-Adawiya and Al-Nahda squares — churches, police offices and Copt citizens were attacked — the state of emergency is unlikely to be lifted anytime soon.

Egypt is about to enter a murderous cycle similar to the unrest during the 1990s. Authorities took six years, between 1992 and 1998, to crush the far smaller uprising of the insurgents of al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, who regularly attacked policemen, Copts and tourists, first in Cairo and then in Upper Egypt, in an effort to overthrow the Egyptian government. Calm returned, but only after the imprisonment of some 90,000 people, massive human rights violations and a complete absence of democracy.

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Green

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.


It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park

Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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