Monday, February 28, 2005
I still cannot comprehend what compelled president Mubarak to take this step. Yesterday the Egyptian media went on a crusade to inflate the president and comment on how history will remember him as the first president who introduced a new way of electing the countryâ€™s president. Even though Mubarakâ€™s decision was a huge surprise, I think many outside factors forced his hand.
Before this decision was announced, Mubarak and his party ruled out the fact that the constitution can be amended to allow more than one candidate to run for office. His party, the National Democratic Party, summoned nearly all legal opposition parties and they reached a decision to postpone the oppositionâ€™s demand for this amendment. Mubarak also arrested the liberal Ayman Nour 2 days after the former met with Madeline Albright in Cairo. Albright was on a fact finding mission on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations. So what forced Mubarak?
Mubarak is a very smart politician who knows where the wind is blowing. He is not stupid like the dictator of Damascus and Beirut. Mubarak knows very well that Bush has a very stubborn head and he is bloody serious about reform in the Middle East. Condi Riceâ€™s decision to cancel a trip to Egypt was another indication that the US will not play by pre-911 rules.
He is also very sensitive to foreign media. Whenever the Washington Post or the New York Times writes an editorial that is critical of the Egyptian government, state employed journalists start to babble about how the â€œJewish Zionist lobby forced the Zionist owned New York Times to publish an anti-Egypt editorialâ€?! After the arrest of Ayman Nour, the western media aimed at Egypt and this made him uncomfortable. Weâ€™ll still have to wait and see if Nour will be released. In addition, the western media and Arab satellite channels have focused on the small demonstrations that demanded a constitution amendment. Even though I would never want the type of people who went to the rally to rule my country, the media attention they got elevated their demand in front of the world.
Hafez Asad’s Statue Pulled Down!
A group of Lebanese pulled down the statue of the late Syrian president Hafez Assad. The statue was in Lebanon!
This reminded me of another statue that fell in April 9, 2003!
Coptic Riots Again!
A thousand Coptic Christians held a peaceful demonstration inside a church. They claimed that 2 young girls were “kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam”. Well, I don’t believe them this time. I believe the 2 girls might have willfully converted to Islam as a result of one of these scenarios:
a. The girls fell in love with 2 Muslim guys and ran away with them.
b. The girls were blackmailed by something.
c. The girls wanted to become Muslims.
d. The girls were offered money.
e. The girls wanted to escape from their daddy’s house and so decided to change their religion.
f. There are many other scenarios.
I feel so sorry for Egypt’s Christians. A Christian who becomes a Muslim for whatever reason on this crazy planet is hailed as a wonderful juicy lucy soul that was snatched out of the infidel world of Christians into the marvelous light of Islam. Here, a convert is a saint regardless of what forced him/her to become a Muslim. Mike Tayson is hailed as a brave “former Christian” who saw the light of Islam right in the middle of the darkness of the US of A. It doesn’t matter if he cut off his opponents ear with his teeth or raped a woman.
Well, what happens if an Egyptian Muslim decided to become a Christian? If he managed to stay alive, he will definitely not get the media attention that those 2 girls got nor will he get the police protection that they are enjoying right now. He’ll end up with the notorious State Security Police or if he’s lucky he’ll manage to stay ungrounded or escape to a western country.
Democracy in Egypt? BWAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
It’s gonna be a looong journey my friends.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Earthquake in Egypt!!
I never imagined what President Mubarak said today. He asked the parliament to amend the Egyptian constitution to allow multiple candidates to run for the presidency. This means that Muabark will have opponents running against him.
Now, I am not stupid nor am I living in la la land. Mubarak’s decision today came after immense pressure from the US and the current earthquakes (the purple revolution in Iraq and the Hariri revolution in Lebanon) that shook the region days ago. However, I credit US pressure as the number one reason. Condoleezza Rice cancelled a trip to Egypt scheduled for next week because of the arrest of Ayman Nour and Mubarak’s failure to “change”. Well, it seems that Bush turned out to be bloody serious about this democracy in the Middle East thing. It also seems that Bushie will in fact make it to the history books that my grandchildren will be reading at school 50 years from today. If Syria or Iran fell, Bush can rest assured that he will add his name to the Lincoln-Wilson-Roosevelt-Reagan quartet.
Well, what do I think about all this? I mentioned before that I didn’t want Egypt to rush to the ballot box. I wanted Mubarak to be pressured to open up the civil society of Egypt so that alternatives to his rule start to pop up. We simply do not know better and we needed time in order to see the alternatives and decide who is better.
Unless I am 100% sure that one of the candidates who will compete with Mubarak will be better than him, I’ll probably vote for Mubarak next October whom I believe will win because of the resources he has as the country’s sole authority.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
I Have a Dream
I have a dream. I am obsessed with this dream. Everyday I search the news for any indication that my dream will ever come true. It is my euphoria, my ecstasy. Ohhhh, how sweet is this dream. If it came true, it will resemble a massive earth quake that will shake the Middle East. I believe it will have greater effects than the purple fingers revolution in Iraq or the Hariri revolution in Lebanon.
Now, for just a couple minutes, let us forget reality and imagine if we actually saw the below sequence of headlines:
Millions march through Tehran demanding freedom
Riots all over Iran
Student protesters occupy Tehran TV station
Government of Iran losing control
CNNâ€™s Christian Annampour: These riots and demonstrations exceeds what we saw in 1979. The Revolutionary Guards of Iran fired live ammunition on the rioters to disperse them but the throngs are getting bigger and bigger.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech promising reform and free elections. Students call for the government and the cleric based council to step down.
Iranian regime falls as military takes a neutral position
Iraqi and US forces seal of Iranian borders to prevent Iranâ€™s deposed rulers from infiltrating inside Iraq
SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REGIME ESTABLISHED IN IRAN
New Iranian leaders cut aid to Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian groups.
Lebanese opposition figures travel to Iran to forge ties with new Iranian officials.
Iran demands a withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and an end to the Syrian intelligence apparatus on Lebanese soil.
Iraqâ€™s Muqtada Sadr dissolves his militia after losing his Iranian partner.
Middle East expert: the revolution in Iran is an indication of the failure of any religious based system of government.
Ohhhhh, please do not wake me from this dream. It is sooooooooo sweet. I have a dream.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
How Iraq is different
Omar presents a very interesting analysis of the difference between Saddam’s regime and several of the other Arab regimes in the region.
They’re Getting Smaller
Anti-Bush protesters in Europe are getting very very small.
How many were they?
“Belgian police fired teargas at hundreds of demonstrators protesting the visit of President Bush”
They’re not thousands.
And who were this bunch of hundreds?
“A female police officer was injured and skirmishes broke out between the leftist protesters and police.
Two previous protests against Bush’s visit Sunday and Monday passed off peacefully with relatively small crowds. “
There you go. There is even a pro-Bush demonstration waiting for him in Germany.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Hundreds Tell Mubarak “Enough”
I have to admit that I never witnessed such unprecedented demonstrations in Egypt. Here the figure of the president is revered and no one dares to cross this red line. The president in Egypt is like the pope to Catholics or the Imam to Shias, he’s infallible and he’s eternal. This is the reason why I am very surprised that the issue of Mubarak’s fifth term is actually being discussed inside and outside Egypt.
Even though I do respect the courage of today’s demonstrators, I’ll still vote for Mubarak’s fifth term next October! You all know where I stand on this issue. There are currently no alternatives to Mubarak’s regime and my president must be pressured to liberalize the political discourse in Egypt so that alternatives start to pop up and then we can be prepared to vote, and not the other way round. Today’s demonstrators were composed of leftist radicals, Islamists, and a number of liberal figures. Again, I respect their courage and initiative but they’re definitely not my cup of tea.
When people outside Egypt see such demonstrations, they think that the entire Egyptian population is asking Mubarak to step down. This is not true. While millions of Egyptians are dismayed at the state of the country, they are living in political stagnation because they’re busy striving to put food on the table. They simply don’t want troubles.
Nevertheless, something is beginning to happen in Egypt. In fact, something is beginning to happen all over the region, from the revolution of the purple fingers in Iraq to Lebanon’s anti-Syria red demonstrations today. The enemies of freedom as well know that something is happening and they are trying to stop it. They used a mentally retarded Iraqi child in order to blow up a polling station in Baghdad and they used over 300 kilos of explosives to kill the builder of Lebanon Rafik Hariri. An Egyptian columnist once wrote: “50 years from today, our history books will mention that an American president with limited intelligence managed to change the entire political landscape of the Middle East”.
UPDATE: I think it is very naive now to call Bush a man with “limited intelligence”. From what we’ve seen so far, I do not consider Bush to be the smartest US president ever nor do I consider him the most stupid. Mick in the comments column solved this dilema. He said that Bush is as stupid as a fox! Well said Mick.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
We Brought It Upon Ourselves
Two years ago I was following the aftermath of a suicide bombing in an Israeli cafÃ©. As I was watching the carnage, my mind started to ponder upon something. What if the notion of suicide bombings was exported to countries outside Israel and Palestine? I asked myself. What if groups that doesnâ€™t have anything to do with the conflict started utilizing the same weapon that we legitimize in Israel against their perceived enemies? Was our media and religious establishment opening a can of worms by justifying suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and blessing the perpetrators with martyrdom? I am afraid the answer turned out to be yes.
Suicide bombings jumped out of the Israeli and Palestinian territories and became the terroristsâ€™ most deadly weapon today. Suicide bombers were used to try and assassinate Pakistani president Musharaf and other leaders across our region. They were used to bomb Shia mosques in Pakistan, Shia mosques in Iraq, and polling lines in Iraq. A suicide bomber also blew up the Saudi ministry of interior.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am worried!
I am worried because if someone managed to convince a person to sacrifice his life just to kill a number of Iraqi Shias in a wedding party then someone else can convince another person to sacrifice his life in order to kill Egyptian movie goers. The sky is now the limit and our media and religious establishment helped in creating this limit by not rejecting all forms of suicide bombings. I am not discussing the reasons that compelled a number of Palestinians to bomb themselves or what motivated them, all what I am referring to is accepting the notion of suicide bombings to be a phenomena in our region.
Weâ€™re now reaping the harvest that our media and religious clerics helped in sowing. By the way, I want to apologize for something. I forgot to tell you that it is very probable that Rafik El Hariri was killed by a suicide bomber as well!
Monday, February 14, 2005
Joke of the Day
I have a lovely habit. Every morning I pick up my Al Ahram paper, the number one paper in Egypt, to see how they prioritize their headlines on the front page. This tends to give me an indication of what the paper wants to convey as “important” and as “not very important”.
The major headline today went to the security conference in Germany! (did anyone hear about it??). Then a headline a little bit underneath announcing the score of a major soccer game yesterday. Underneath was a headline announcing that Israel will withdraw from Jericho during this week. At the bottom of the page I read the headline about Iraq’s election results.
Ummmmm, very interesting. My dear government financed daily newspaper thinks that the security conference in Germany, the soccer game, and Israel’s decision to withdraw from ONE Palestinian town is more important than the results of the elections that rocked the world.
My mind went back to a major headline I read days before the elections. The headline that was across the front page announced that “militants threaten to fill the streets of Baghdad with the blood of votersâ€?.
When it turned out that the streets of Baghdad were not filled with blood, when it turned out that the only stain on that day was on the votersâ€™ fingers (and it was purple and not red), my dear newspaper threw Iraqâ€™s landmark elections to the bottom of its page. What a shame.
Why are they afraid of Iraqâ€™s elections? Are they afraid to show that Americaâ€™s plan might look as if it is working? Are they afraid lest people recognize that they were ranting on the wrong side ever since Saddamâ€™s statue fell? Or are they afraid to show that yesterdayâ€™s winners did not win by 99.99999%?
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Please send your condolences to Mithal
I just feel I have to do this. Please take a couple of minutes to send a message of condolence to Mithal Al Alousi, the brave Iraqi politician who lost his 2 sons as a result of a terrorist attack on them. Mithal is the type of politician who builds nations up. He faced terror, intimidation, and criticism (as a result of his visit to Israel) yet he didn’t relent nor escape. He vowed to continue his journey for his country even after losing his most precious.
His party’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org