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Egypt’s constitution to grant immunity to military

Press TV – November 30, 2013

Egypt’s constitution-drafting committee has agreed to an article that grants immunity to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

According to a draft published in Egypt’s state media on Thursday, the new constitution would grant more powers to the SCAF and could ban Islamic parties completely.

The 50-member assembly is scheduled to finish the draft of the constitution this week. The constitution will then be put to a referendum in December.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the army chief and minister of defense, had been seeking immunity for the military council for a period of five to ten years.

It has also been leaked that he asked for a media campaign to lobby for a specific clause to be included in the constitution. The clause would allow Sisi to retain his post as defense minister in the event he loses in the presidential election.

The military representatives of the committee also called for the constitution to allow the military to name the defense minister during the next two presidential terms. The move has been widely criticized by legal experts, who say this would give the military more power than the president.

Egypt has been experiencing unrelenting violence since July 3, when the army ousted President Mohamed Morsi’s government, suspended the constitution, and dissolved the parliament. It also appointed the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, as the new interim president.

The government of Mansour has launched a bloody crackdown on Morsi supporters and arrested more than 2,000 Muslim Brotherhood members, including the party’s leader, Mohamed Badie, who was detained on August 20.

About 1,000 people were killed in a week of violence between Morsi supporters and security forces after police dispersed their protest camps in a deadly operation on August 14. The massacre sparked international condemnation and prompted world bodies to call for an independent investigation into the violence.

November 30, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Egypt declares 70 army generals retired: Report

Press TV – September 4, 2012

A report says the Egyptian government has announced the retirement of 70 army generals, weeks after President Mohamed Morsi replaced Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi as defense minister with Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The new defense minister made the announcement, adding that six members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) have also been dismissed, according to a report by the Egyptian daily al-Shorouk.

The six SCAF members will however remain in the armed forces, the paper said.

On August 12, Morsi dismissed Tantawi from his post, canceling a constitutional declaration issued by the military that restricted presidential powers.

Tantawi was Egypt’s defense minister for nearly two decades under former dictator Hosni Mubarak. He headed Egypt’s SCAF, which took power in February 2011 after Egyptians launched a revolution against Mubarak’s regime in January, which eventually brought an end to the dictatorship.

Morsi also ordered the retirement of the military chief of staff, Sami Anan, replacing him with Sedqi Sobhi Sayyid Ahmed.

On August 22, Egyptian lawyer Assem Kandil filed the first legal complaint against several officials in the African state including Tantawi.

“I did so because I accuse them all of killing protesters during the series of bloody protests in Egypt following last year’s uprising along with wasting public money in the state’s spending on the parliamentary election,” the lawyer said.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Comments Off on Egypt declares 70 army generals retired: Report

Egyptian court freezes Mursi decree

Al Akhbar |  July 10, 2012

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Tuesday froze a decree issued by President Mohamed Mursi reinstating the Islamist-led parliament, a judicial source said.

The decision is expected to raise tensions between Mursi, the top court and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which handed over power to the new president at the end of June.

“The court ordered the freeze of the president’s decree,” the source said.

On Sunday, just eight days after taking office, Mursi, a former member of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, ordered the lower house to reconvene.

His move highlighted the power struggle between the president and the Supreme Constitutional Court which last month said certain articles in the law governing the parliament elections were invalid, annulling the lower house.

The judicial source added: “The court ordered that its previous ruling (invalidating the elections and annulling the lower house) be implemented.”

The latest announcement came hours only after the dissolved parliament convened on Tuesday in defiance of the powerful SCAF and the judiciary.

“We are gathered today to review the court rulings, the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court,” which ordered the house invalid, speaker Saad al-Katatni said.

“I want to stress, we are not contradicting the ruling, but looking at a mechanism for the implementation of the ruling of the respected court. There is no other agenda today,” he added.

SCAF, which ruled Egypt after dictator Hosni Mubarak was ousted in last year’s popular uprising, dissolved the house and took legislative control using a document granting it supreme powers.

On Monday, the Supreme Constitutional Court rejected Mursi’s decree, saying that all of its rulings were binding.

“All the rulings and decisions of the Supreme Constitutional Court are final and not subject to appeal…and are binding for all state institutions,” it said.

And the military echoed it with a statement late on Monday saying the constitution and the law must be upheld.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

July 10, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Comments Off on Egyptian court freezes Mursi decree

Egypt People’s Assemby refers own fate back to the Judiciary

Egypt’s reinstated lower house, the People’s Assembly resumes its sessions only to end them in minutes, referring its own fate back to the courts, possibly staving off a serious confrontation with the military

Ahram Online |  July 10, 2012

Within just minutes of starting, Egypt’s People’s Assembly speaker Saad El-Katatni ended the first session of the reinstated legislative body.

On 15 June, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ordered the dissolution of parliament based on a High Constitutional Court (HCC) ruling which rendered parliamentary elections law unconstitutional.

By presidential decree, the newly-inaugurated President Mohamed Morsi reinstated parliament on Sunday.

The parliament session opened Tuesday at 10:20am, with El-Katatni arguing that President Mohamed Morsi had not violated the HCC’s decision by reinstating parliament.

El-Katatni declared he will refer the HCC decision to the Appeal Court, saying parliament is aware of both its rights and responsibilities.

The People’s assembly sessions will not resume until the Appeal Court gives its verdict on the standing of members of the lower and upper houses of parliament based on Article 40 of the 30 March 2011 Constitutional Declaration which was issued by the SCAF.

The decision by the reinstated Islamist-dominated People’s Assembly to refer its fate to the courts is seen as a possible compromise between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Military Council, thus staving off what looked to be a serious constitutional and political crisis.

The Muslim Brotherhood called for a million-march for Tuesday on the group’s Twitter account linked to their official website Ikhwanweb to support President Mohamed Morsi’s decree.

Leftist and liberal party MP’s, including the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Tagammu Party, Wafd Party and Free Egyptians, boycotted the parliament session on Tuesday.

The prestigious Judge’s Club threatened on Monday to bring legal action against Morsi for “defying court orders.”

Clashes erupted outside of the People’s Assembly (lower house) as MPs deliberated for a total of 12 minutes.

The supporters of Mohamed Morsi’s presidential decree that gives parliament authority to continue its work chanted “The people and the president are one hand.”

Meanwhile, opponents of the decree chanted “Down with the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule.”

A melee broke out amidst the tension between the two sides.

Tuesday, the High Constitutional Court (HCC), Egypt’s highest judiciary body, is reviewing four cases challenging Morsi’s presidential decree.

The HCC released a statement on Monday saying it is not party to political conflicts and that its decisions are “binding on all state institutions,” in reference to its mid-June ruling on consitutionality of parliamentary elections law.

July 10, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Egypt People’s Assemby refers own fate back to the Judiciary

Egyptian parliament dissolution “binding”

Al Akhbar | July 9, 2012

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court said on Monday that all of its rulings were “binding,” in response to a presidential decree reinstating parliament after the court ruled the house invalid.

“All the rulings and decisions of the Supreme Constitutional Court are final and not subject to appeal…and are binding for all state institutions,” the court said in a statement.

The court also stressed that it was “not a part of any political conflict… but the limit of its sacred duty is the protection of the texts of the constitution.”

The court had said certain articles in the law governing parliamentary elections were invalid, annulling the Islamist-led house.

President Mohammed Mursi had on Sunday annulled the decision, putting himself on a collision course with the judiciary and the military that enforced the ruling when it was in power.

Parliamentary Speaker Saad al-Katatni announced that the body’s next meeting would be on Tuesday, but that is likely to be delayed following the court ruling.

Activists have accused the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) of organizing a coup to increase their power.

The differing rulings of Mursi and the court illustrate the divides between SCAF and the president as Egypt negotiates its path towards democracy.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

July 9, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | Comments Off on Egyptian parliament dissolution “binding”

Egypt’s military council to hold 2nd meeting on Morsi’s decision

Police have surrounded the area around the parliament

Press TV – July 9, 2012

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court is expected to decide in a meeting on President Mohamed Morsi’s order to reconvene the dissolved parliament.

Shortly after the announcement of Morsi’s order on Sunday, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) held an emergency meeting, but it did not take any concrete action.

The military authorities are set to convene once again to discuss the consequences of the decree by the newly-elected president.

The Egyptian president ordered the country’s dissolved parliament to resume its legislative work, rejecting the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court’s ruling that said the country’s parliamentary elections about 7 months ago were unconstitutional.

The Egyptian president also called for holding new parliamentary elections within 60 days of the ratification of the new constitution for the North African state.

Protests have been going on since the junta dissolved the country’s parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s junta also took control of the state budget and gave itself veto power on a new constitution, making the new president almost powerless through a recent constitutional declaration.

Despite Morsi’s calls for resumption of parliament’s legislative work, police have surrounded the area around the parliament , making the entrance to the parliament building almost impossible for lawmakers.

July 9, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on Egypt’s military council to hold 2nd meeting on Morsi’s decision

Morsi reinstates Egypt’s dissolved lower house; SCAF holds emergency meeting

Parliament Speaker Katatni to issue statement Sunday evening

By Nada Hussein Rashwan | Ahram Online | July 8, 2012

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi issued a decision Sunday afternoon calling for the dissolved People’s Assembly (the lower house of Egypt’s parliament) to resume its legislative activities. He also called for fresh parliamentary polls to be held within 60 days of the ratification of a new national constitution.

Ahram Online’s correspondent close to the military council said that Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was currently holding an emergency meeting to discuss the surprise development.

Egypt’s military council had dissolved parliament’s freely-elected, Islamist-led lower house in mid-June, based on a High Constitutional Court (HCC) ruling that found Egypt’s parliamentary elections law – which regulated last year’s legislative polls – to be unconstitutional.

Morsi’s presidential decree, however, overturned the military council’s decision to dissolve the assembly and ordered the assembly to resume legislative activities. The president further declared that new parliamentary elections would be held within 60 days of the ratification of the country’s new national charter.

Morsi’s decision comes only one day before the HCC was scheduled to deliver a verdict on an appeal filed by members of the dissolved lower house challenging the decision to dissolve the People’s Assembly.

Mohamed El-Katatni, speaker of the parliament, will be giving a statement on the issue Sunday evening.

Only days after the dissolution of the lower house last month, the military council issued a ‘constitutional addendum’ giving the military full legislative authority until fresh parliament elections could be held.

The constitutional addendum also stipulated that new parliamentary elections be held one month after a new constitution is approved by popular referendum, expected sometime before the end of the current year.

Legal experts, meanwhile, have challenged the decision to dissolve parliament, saying that the HCC verdict only justified the dissolution of one third of the seats in the People’s Assembly.

Last week, Morsi took his oath of office before the HCC, which critics say represented the president’s tacit recognition of the controversial addendum.

July 8, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Comments Off on Morsi reinstates Egypt’s dissolved lower house; SCAF holds emergency meeting

US to control Egypt through SCAF

Press TV – June 24, 2012

Press TV has interviewed Hisham Tillawi, journalist and political commentator from Lafayette, Louisiana about the movements of US and Western influence through SCAF that has transformed a popular Egyptian uprising to a contentious civil election while the US keeps control of Egypt’s foreign policy. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Why don’t you tell us what you think about this. This situation where the votes were supposed to be announced on Monday (6 days past), what is going on with all the different announcements by SCAF in terms of consolidating their grip on power with that Declaration stripping powers from the presidency along with the dissolution of parliament – dissolving the parliament, obviously it shows on the surface that they don’t want to give up that power do they?

Tillawi: You reap what you sow and so whomever planted this revolution will reap the fruit. Now, if this revolution was planted by the people and designed by the people then the people will reap the fruit, but if it was designed by the West then the West is going to reap the fruit.

From the beginning in the first interview that I had with you on this Arab Spring thing, I made a statement that what is required now is total chaos in the Middle East in the Arab countries. It does not want to give stability and democracy etc, etc and this is not a friend that we are witnessing, it is a foe.

Now, having said that this is not how democracy works. Let’s assume that actually Ahmed Shafiq had won – let’s just assume that… and if Ahmed Shafiq won I guarantee you that the country will go down into a dark alley of chaos, total chaos, violent chaos.

And if Ahmed Shafiq won and the Military Council is afraid that they are going to have chaos in the country now that Ahmed Shafiq won and actually decides to keep stability and gives it to Mohamed Morsi, then that’s not democracy.

And it’s not democracy to send your people into the Square to demand that Morsi becomes the next president. That’s not how democracy works.

I remember the first time George Bush stole the election in the US, even though he did not win the election and it was clear that he did not win the election, but he was appointed by the Supreme Court in a vote of 5 to 4 and everybody in the country accepted that Supreme Court vote of 5 to 4. We did not see people in the street demanding this and going into breakdown… that is what we’re going to see in Egypt if Morsi is not the next president of Egypt.

And if Ahmed Shafiq is the president then we know that the West won because we know that the West won when they installed the Military Supreme Council. This is a group of people the US have put in power and they give them so much authority that they can even dissolve a parliament.

So now it is in the hands of the Western powers. Everything that is going on in Egypt is in the hands of the Western powers and whoever gives the Western powers a deal will be the next government and the next power in Egypt.

Press TV: When we look at what has happened in the past year or so, since the revolution took place there was plenty of time for SCAF especially after the parliamentary elections to try to get a deal together with the Muslim Brotherhood given that they had the majority.

Of course we heard then when there were some new appointments to the Upper and Lower House of parliament that there was an even divide in terms of representation. Was that all? Did that not yield any results for them to come out with these statements and motions recently such as dissolving the parliament and the Declaration stripping the president of its powers?

Tillawi: We have to look at Egypt not just as in Egypt only, but the forces that are assisting what is going on in Egypt from the outside. Now, there was a deal made between the Supreme Council and the US and this deal was… the US pressured the Supreme Council that actually the form of government that they would like to see in Egypt is not the democracy that is in the US, but they wanted something similar to the Pakistani model.

They wanted a strong Military Council that can sit in anytime and decide actually when to go to war, when to do this and when to do that; and they wanted a president who’s going to handle basically domestic issues and run the government.

That’s the deal that was made with the US so the Military Council… now let’s not forget that the US still pays 3 billion dollars to Egypt; still pays a billion and a half to the military – so it’s a money issue here.

They are putting pressure on the Military Council and the Military Council cannot really change the formula that they have agreed on with the Americans. The formula is for a strong military council to rule, that could be in the background, while you have a president and a government.

That’s the model that the US wants to see in Egypt. Now, is this going to work in Egypt? Well, you have powers from the outside wanting this; you have powers on the inside wanting true democracy.

Now we are going to wait and see who is going to win. Is it going to be the Western powers with the Military Council’s model; or is it going to be the people where the president would have the total power where all power has been transferred and transformed from the Military Council to civilian power.

That, the US would actually have to decide that and I know why the US is going to go with it, they want to keep the Military Council power.

Press TV: Well, who are they going to go with – what do you mean – do you have an answer to that?

Tillawi: If you’re talking about Shafiq or Morsi… well, it doesn’t really matter. As long as the Military Council is in power they have total power. They can change… they can come up with laws; they can change the formula anytime they want, so it doesn’t really matter. But it matters to the Egyptian street about who the president is.

To America, the US, it doesn’t matter because you have the Military Council in power, but to the Egyptian street, if Shafiq is the president then you’re going to see total chaos and violence and maybe civil war in Egypt; if it’s Morsi then that’s OK as long as – and that’s OK with the US, they don’t care – as long as the Military Council is in power because the Military Council is the one that is going to decide the foreign policy for Israel for the West…

So for the US it doesn’t really matter if it is Morsi or Shafiq, but to the Egyptian street it does matter and to the future of Egypt it does matter… if it’s Shafiq, we’re going to have total chaos in Egypt.

Press TV: But there are a couple of problems there don’t you think, if we want to look at the loopholes here: a) you have all these Egyptians who are against the Military Council having a grip on power and of course that’s something you’re saying it doesn’t matter who the faces are, it’s based on America’s influence – but that’s not something the Egyptians are going to go for.

And second of all – who’s to say the Muslim Brotherhood is going to settle for a position that does not give them any type of authority really. In essence they have to bow to the SCAF for in general exercising any type of power in whatever jurisdiction or whatever area that has to do with Egypt and I would think that is to include foreign policy.

Tillawi: Well, let’s not forget that the Muslim Brotherhood did make some deals with the US, too. I mean, we know about those deals even when Mubarak was still in power – there were deals made with the Muslim Brotherhood before the revolution.

So the Muslim Brotherhood and the US, they’re not enemies, they can make deals and in the end, like we have seen in Yemen, like we have seen in many other places, the US will be the major player and they will play all these forces according to their best interests.

Now, … the people have power, but the people also are receiving 3 billion dollars that they cannot do without from the US. So let’s not just concentrate on what the people power and what the people want because if the people got what they want then we would not see all these regimes in the Arab world that we’ve seen for the last forty years.
What the people want and what they can do, it all depends on the Western powers if they are going to be on the street to stir the street up, then you’re going to see the people actually moving up.

Let’s just not say, well, the Egyptian don’t want this. Well, it’s not up to the Egyptians. Like I said, my first statement was – he who starts will reap what he sews so whoever planted this will reap the fruits of this – let’s not forget that. If it was the US or the West actually that stirred this all up in the Middle East then they’re going to reap that.

People don’t like to hear that, people like to hear revolutions and Arab Springs; well unfortunately it’s not what it looks like.

Press TV: You spoke at length the direction that the foreign policy is going to be heading, which behind the scenes obviously the US is the contributor to that 1.3 billion dollars in aid – Tell us then what the US has in mind? From what I understood from you, they don’t particularly care about what is going on inside Egypt as long as they’re in control of the institution that is running Egypt and that would be SCAF.

So are we looking at for example, the peace treaty still being in place; are we still looking at the situation with Gaza for example and Palestinians to still be the same as it was when Mubarak was in power?

Tillawi: To firstly answer the question you asked your correspondent – yes it is true that it’s split in the middle – half the voters voted for Shafiq and half voted for Morsi. That is true so the Egyptian street is split right in the middle on those two presidential candidates.

Press TV: Do you really believe that after seeing what goes on every week in Tahrir Square or is Tahrir Square not the representation?

Tillawi: Well, Tahrir Square is the representation for one party for one side… you have many millions of Egyptians out there and yes from the numbers that we have seen i.e. the numbers that came out of all these polling stations it is almost split in half between both of them.

Press TV: Yes but you have 50 percent of the population that lives below two dollars a day; you have people who have not seen Ahmed Shafiq campaigning in their neighborhoods aside from the Muslim Brotherhood to have gone there. There are those that the Muslim Brotherhood took care of for all these years, not Ahmed Shafiq who is a former remnant. I mean, is that not the way it is?

Tillawi: Sure definitely. You have to keep in mind that not everyone that can vote went and voted. And many of these people you’re talking about living on less than 2 dollars a day, many of them probably did not go to vote unless they are connected with the Muslim Brotherhood or any other organization.

But you have to understand that what is going on in Egypt… you asked me about the US and the peace treaty, the Muslim Brotherhood already said they will keep the peace treaty. They cannot afford not to keep the peace treaty with Israel…

Press TV: Why can’t they afford that? Why is that?

Tillawi: Because they’re getting 4 billion dollars into their economy from the West. Had the Egyptians replaced their foreign aid with money from their country then they can tell the US to go to hell. But as long as there are controls over money, there are controls of many things from the West, you know, he who feeds you gets to control you.

What are the Egyptians going to do? If they tell the US look we’re not going to do anything with you… what’s going to happen?

Press TV: That’s not what I’m saying… Egypt itself has resources, they have gas, they have a textile industry, they have tourism, and they have enough resources to run their country. Why do they have to get that aid in terms of their army? That should be coming out from within their country if they hadn’t controlled the wealth through Mubarak and the upper class. That’s the part that I don’t understand?

Tillawi: I don’t think you can look at it that way because the control from Mubarak through Sadat… these are successional ideas. You’ve got to look at the real thing that is going on.

You have unemployment in Egypt is extremely high, the economy in Egypt is in a disastrous situation. Now, if you can come up with a revolution that was not started by the West; if this revolution was started by the people on the street, by the people who make less than 2 dollars a day, then I can tell you yes they can tell the US to go to hell…

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , , | Comments Off on US to control Egypt through SCAF

The Future Direction of Egypt’s Revolution

By ESAM AL-AMIN | CounterPunch | June 19, 2012

Against all odds the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) candidate, Dr. Muhammad Mursi won Egypt’s first presidential election since the ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak… but barely. Although the official results will not be announced until Thursday, the final tally shows that Mursi received 13.3 million votes (52 percent) while Mubarak’s last prime minister and the candidate of the military and the regime remnants, Gen. Ahmad Shafiq, garnered 12.4 million votes (48 percent).

It should never have been that close. Countless people wonder how a popular revolution that united millions of Egyptians against a corrupt regime and earned the world’s admiration, could have resulted in that same loathed regime on the brink of reclaiming power after little more than a year. Of course, the direct answer to this question is the ominous role played by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took control of the country after Mubarak’s downfall, as well as the institutions of Egypt’s deep security state.

Their tactics included the direct manipulations of the elections process, the inexplicably favorable decisions by the Mubarak-era Presidential Elections Commission, the use of state media as well as private media outlets controlled by Mubarak-era corrupt businessmen to frighten the public about the specter of an impending theocracy, the clever ability to play the pro-revolution groups against each other, and the SCAF-appointed government’s deliberate disruption of the daily lives of ordinary Egyptians through the constriction of key staples and a lack of security in the street.  Soon the public associated the revolution with instability, shortages and chaos. Dejected, many wished for the days of the old regime.

Throughout last year and aided by the Muslim Brotherhood’s missteps and behind-the-scenes dalliances with the generals, SCAF was able to create acute alienation and sow real mistrust between the MB, the country’s largest organized movement, and the rest of the pro-revolution and youth groups. By the end of March 2012, SCAF felt so emboldened by the success of its plan that it began to openly challenge and threaten the now alienated MB, despite the fact that the group was by that time firmly in charge of both chambers of parliament.

By the end of the first round of the presidential elections, SCAF succeeded in propelling its preferred candidate to second place behind the MB candidate. Ironically, both sides calculated that their chances of capturing the presidency would be greatly enhanced if they faced each other. The military’s candidate believed that he would then reinvent the old regime by presenting to the confused and frightened public with the stark choices between the civil state represented by himself and a menacing religious state epitomized by his opponent. On the other hand, the MB believed that its best chance would be to face a candidate from the loathed Mubarak era so as to force the pro-revolution groups to support its candidate despite the ill feelings generated towards the Islamic group (especially when it abandoned the youth groups during their confrontations with SCAF during much of last year).

After the first round of the presidential elections, the pro-revolution groups garnered almost 15 million votes (with Mursi receiving 5.8 million). On the other hand, Mubarak-era affiliated candidates received 8 million votes (led by Shafiq’s 5.5 million votes.) But the two major (though defeated) candidates supported by the pro-revolution groups in the first round were Hamdein Sabahi and Dr. Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, receiving 4.8M and 4.1M votes respectively.

Although Abol Fotouh promptly threw his support behind Mursi, citing the threat to the revolution if the military man won, Sabahi asked his supporters to invalidate their votes or boycott the elections, hoping to create a dynamic where both candidates could somehow lose in the court of public opinion.  This would set the stage for his comeback as the pro-revolution and pro-civil state candidate. Quietly, SCAF’s candidate hoped that enough of Sabahi’s supporters would boycott the elections or invalidate their votes so that the numerical advantage of the pro-revolution groups would be neutralized.

As the military’s scheme was in full force relying on media offensive, bribes, and scare tactics, several polls conducted by state-sponsored institutions confirmed to SCAF that Shafiq had the momentum. The support of the military and the institutions of the deep state became even bolder, so much so that many political analysts thought the elections were practically over. To push this sentiment of inevitability, SCAF threw caution to the wind and committed a major error in judgment.  In fact, it might have actually cost Shafiq the election.

Since the standoff between SCAF and the MB in March, it was widely known that SCAF could push for the dissolution of the elected parliament at any time in order to check the MB’s rise to power. The argument advanced by many pro-revolution groups that had reservations in supporting Mursi was that they did not want the MB to have unchecked control over both branches of government, the legislative and the executive. So when the High Constitutional Court dissolved the parliament two days before the elections, this brazen act of disregard for the electoral will of the Egyptian people actually backfired. A major segment of the Egyptian electorate, who intended to boycott or invalidate their votes, were so infuriated that they decided to vote for Mursi even if they initially did not intend to cast a vote at all (in the final count, less than 1 percent of the electorate invalidated their votes by checking both names on the ballot). Had a half million people out of over 25 million votes cast flipped their votes, the military’s candidate would have won.)

Last winter, in a moment of candor President Jimmy Carter said after meeting with SCAF’s leaders that the military had no intention of relinquishing power. In recent weeks it became quite clear what that observation meant. First, SCAF would utilize the instruments of power of the deep state to install its candidate. If such a scheme did not materialize, SCAF had a back-up plan. In such a case, it would not only take several actions that strip the real powers of the elected president (if he comes from the revolutionary camp), but also usurp all the legislative and executive powers from the newly empowered groups.

Many political figures including former presidential candidate Abol Fotouh called SCAF’s blatant acts “a soft military coup d’état.” Here are a few examples of the power grab measures taken by SCAF in a matter of days:

1)    On June 14, SCAF sent the army to occupy the parliamentary building in anticipation of the dissolution of parliament by the High Court. Within days it issued its own decree to dissolve the parliament and reclaimed all legislative powers to itself. Typically when the parliament is dissolved, the president would be granted temporary legislative powers, to be reviewed later by the parliament when it is reconstituted.

2)    On the same day the Justice Minister made a mockery of the repealed martial laws by effectively restoring the emergency laws and empowering the military and security agencies to arrest and detain anyone indefinitely, as well as to try in military courts any person deemed a threat to public order.

3)    Within two hours of the closing of the polls on June 17, SCAF unilaterally issued a sweeping amended constitutional declaration that effectively transferred much of the presidential powers to itself. For example, it stripped the president of his role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and gave it to SCAF’s top general, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi. It prevented the president from promoting or dismissing any military personnel. It also granted itself veto power over any decision by the president related to any military matter including the declaration of war or any domestic use of the armed forces.

Now instead of the military working under the country’s president, the new declaration places the democratically elected president under the thumb of the military. It must be noted that such incredible measures are not dissimilar to the infamous and disastrous 1997 Turkish military coup d’état against the late Prime Minister Necmttin Erbakan.

4)    SCAF stripped the president and the executive branch from any matters related to the state budget. It even declared its own budget secret and not subject to any accountability while providing itself total immunity.

5)    Further, SCAF imposed its will on the new president by effectively retaining for itself the appointment of the most senior cabinet positions such as defense, foreign, and interior ministries, police, finance, justice, and intelligence.

6)    SCAF also started the process of dissolving the one-hundred member constitution-writing committee, appointed delicately by the parliament last week from across all the spectrum of Egyptian political and civil society. In the new constitutional declaration, SCAF gave itself the right to reappoint the one-hundred committee members in a direct violation of the constitutional amendments passed by the people in the March 2011 referendum.

Moreover, if that committee refused to give the military its coveted special status in the new constitution, SCAF claimed a veto power over any articles written in the draft. If the committee then overrides SCAF’s veto, the declaration empowers Mubarak’s appointed judges in the High Court to decide the dispute between the two parties, in an incredible attempt to impose the military’s dictates on the country.

7)    One day after the elections, as it became apparent that SCAF’s candidate was defeated, SCAF issued another decree that revived the National Defense Council (NDC), a body that has been dormant since the late 1980s.  The function of this council is to make decisions on all strategic, defense, and national security matters. In another affront to the first-ever civilian (not to mention democratically elected) president, the NDC’s members comprise eleven generals (all from SCAF) and only five civilians, including the president. It decides all matters by a majority vote, thus tying the hands of the president regardless of where he stands on a particular issue.

8)    Not content with its sweeping power grab, SCAF’s head, Tantawi, then issued another decree appointing one of his assistants, another military general, as the chief of staff of the new elected president to act as the eyes and ears of SCAF over the new president before he even took office. In the eyes of the military the new (read puppet) president would not even be allowed to appoint his own chief of staff.

As expected this wholesale usurpation of power by the military was universally condemned not only by the new elected president, the MB, and the rest of the revolutionary groups, but also by most civil society groups and public figures. Meanwhile, counting on a business as usual with the MB, SCAF has quietly started another tactic to pressure the MB into submission. It revived a court case seeking the dissolution of the MB, declaring it an illegal group and confiscating its assets. A decision on the matter is expected soon.

One of the reasons that SCAF hopes to get its way this time is because it relies on its experience during the last year of making behind-the-scenes deals with the MB. In fact, just a week before the elections, MB deputy leader and strongman Khairat El-Shater met with senior SCAF leaders, offering them a deal that would have granted the military generals many (but not all) of their requests in return for an accommodation of the MB candidate. SCAF’s response was cold and aloof, believing that their candidate was a shoe-in in the elections without the need to compromise.  Little did El-Shater know, they were in fact preparing not only to defeat the Islamic candidate but also to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood-led parliament.

But after the dissolution of parliament and the anticipated disbanding of the constitution-writing committee, as well as the usurpation of legislative and executive powers by SCAF, the MB decided to re-join the other pro-revolution and civil society groups in challenging the military’s suffocating control over the country, taking to the streets in massive numbers in all of this week.

This showdown between SCAF and the deep state on one hand, and the pro-revolution forces (newly empowered by the defeat of the military’s candidate) promises to engulf the country for the days and weeks ahead. If the Islamic parties led by the MB and the other pro-revolution supporters led by the youth groups, as well as many respected judges across the country such as Judge Husam El-Gheryani (head of the Supreme Judiciary Council as well as the chairman of the constitution-writing committee) join together and take a firm stand against the military, then it might be very difficult for SCAF to have its way.

The demands of the revolutionary groups should be clear: the return of the military to its barracks without any interference of the political or civilian affairs of the state. SCAF must immediately rescind its unconstitutional declaration usurping the legislative and executive powers from the democratically elected parliament and president. It should also cease all efforts to dissolve the constitution-writing committee and allow the political process as negotiated by all various political parties to take place. It should finally halt its behind-the-scenes manipulation of the judiciary to interfere in political matters.

The pro-revolution forces have fortunately dodged a bullet by defeating the military’s candidate. But the struggle to reclaim their revolution must continue to persist. This time all pro-revolution and pro-democracy groups must realize that they will have to swim or drown together as they face the last battle to dismantle the military and security state. No more making behind-closed-doors deals or giving the benefit of the doubt in a tacit understanding between the military and some political groups. The MB must realize that it gained more than 7.5M votes (for a total of 13.3M) from the pro-revolution forces in the second round, after reaching its peak in the first round with 5.8M votes. It must show respect and offer real partnership to these groups.

Hall of fame baseball player Yogi Berra once said, “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice there is.” In theory, pro-revolution supporters should put all their disagreements aside and unite until their remarkable revolution prevails as all counter-revolutionary elements within the state are purged and all the obstacles to its ultimate success are eradicated. It is indeed prudent to think that all such groups could set aside their differences (whether perceived or real) once they realize how hard and to what extent their opponents are determined to break their spirit for real change.

Revolutions are ultimately about the simultaneous act of a great number of people who decide to stand up for the greater good of society over self-interest. Such selfless conduct is often accompanied with the willingness to sacrifice whatever it takes to fulfill the genuine desire for public good and human progress.

Esam Al-Amin can be contacted at alamin1919@gmail.com

June 20, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Comments Off on The Future Direction of Egypt’s Revolution

Muslim Brotherhood Announces Mursi’s Victory in Elections

Al-Manar | June 18, 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood declared early Monday that its candidate, Mohammed Mursi, won Egypt’s presidential election over Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmad Shafiq.

But the military handed itself the lion’s share power over the new president, sharpening the possibility of confrontation. With parliament dissolved and martial law effectively in force, the generals issued an interim constitution granting themselves sweeping authorities that ensure their hold on the state and subordinate the president.

The Muslim Brotherhood said Sunday it did not recognize the dissolution of parliament, where it was the largest party. It also rejected the military’s right to issue an interim constitution and oversee the drafting of a new one.

Official final results are not due until Thursday, and Shafiq’s campaign challenged the Brotherhood claim, which was based on the group’s compilation of election officials’ returns from nearly all polling centers nationwide.

But at their campaign headquarters, the Brotherhood officials and supporters were ebullient over the turn of fate.

In a victory speech at the headquarters, Mursi said he seeks “stability, love and brotherhood for the Egyptian civil, national, democratic, constitutional and modern state”.

“Thank God, who successfully led us to this blessed revolution. Thank God, who guided the people of Egypt to this correct path, the road of freedom, democracy,” the 60-year-old U.S.-educated engineer declared.

He vowed to all Egyptians, “men, women, mothers, sisters … all political factions, the Muslims, the Christians” to be “a servant for all of them.” “We are not about taking revenge or settling scores. We are all brothers of this nation, we own it together, and we are equal in rights and duties.”

“Down with military rule,” the supporters chanted at the headquarters.

“The next phase is more difficult. We must all unite against the oppressive rule of the military council,” MB founder Ahmed Maher said.

By the group’s count, Mursi took 13.2 million votes, or 51.8 percent, to Shafiq’s 48.1 percent out of 25.5 million votes with more than 99 percent of the more than 13,000 poll centers counted.

The Brotherhood’s early, partial counts proved generally accurate in last month’s first round vote.

The Shafiq campaign accused the Brotherhood of “deceiving the people” by declaring victory. A campaign spokesman on the independent ONTV channel said counting was still going on with Shafiq slightly ahead so far.

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | Comments Off on Muslim Brotherhood Announces Mursi’s Victory in Elections

The True Face of Egypt’s Military

By ESAM AL-AMIN | CounterPunch | June 15, 2012

The masks dropped. The cards are shown.

For over a year, Egyptians have wondered who was leading the efforts to frustrate and obliterate their nascent revolution, or what was dubbed in the local media as the “third party” or the “hidden bandit.”

But the mystery is no more.

It was none other than the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the same body that took power from deposed president Hosni Mubarak under the guise of leading the transitional period towards democracy. It was a masterful work of political art.

The final act was on display on Thursday, June 14, 2012, when Egypt’s High Constitutional Court (HCC) not only ruled against banning the military’s candidate and Mubarak’s last Prime Minister, Gen. Ahmad Shafiq, but also dissolved parliament, the only institution that represented the political will of the people in post-revolutionary Egypt. It is important to note that all the justices on the HCC were appointed by Mubarak, and that most if not all are considered regime loyalists.

Incidentally, last March, Parliamentary Speaker and MB leader, Dr. Saad Katatni, said that he was told, in the presence of SCAF’s deputy commander, Gen. Sami Anan, by SCAF’s appointed Prime Minister Dr. Kamal Ganzouri, that the order to dissolve the parliament was in the drawer but would come at the appropriate time.

This dramatic announcement was therefore followed by the parliament passing a law banning most of the former senior officials of the Mubarak regime (including Shafiq) from politics on the grounds of corrupting Egypt’s political life and institutions for decades. Nevertheless, Shafiq was shortly reinstated by the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) even though it had no jurisdiction on the matter. It is perhaps important to note that the head of the PEC is also the Chief Justice of the HCC. He declared on the same day that the parliamentary elections’ law (that resulted in the victory of the Islamic parties, led by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), winning seventy five percent of the seats) was unconstitutional. It was the same law that several of the same justices assured all political parties last summer that it passed constitutional muster.

With this brazen act of thwarting the political will of the Egyptian people, the emerging Islamic and revolutionary parties have now been totally stripped of their political ascendency, less than five months after their rise to power. This was accomplished simply by utilizing the institutions of the deep state crafted by a regime that was controlled for decades by corrupt officials, senior military officers, and intelligence agencies. Further, a Mubarak era military man is now on the verge of being “elected” president using the assorted tools of the democratic process.

One of the major demands of the revolution was to end the three-decade old emergency law that allowed the security agencies and the military to arbitrarily arrest and abuse the civil and human rights of any activist at will. But under tremendous public pressure throughout last year, these laws were repealed at the end of last May. But what was kicked out of the door crawled back through the window. Egypt’s Justice Minister announced this week, less than two weeks after the repeal went into effect, that he was empowering all military officers and intelligence personnel to arrest indefinitely any person deemed a security threat to public order.

In a transparently coordinated fashion, before parliament could react to this shameless challenge to the essence of the revolution, it was dissolved within 24 hours by the High Court. Further, within minutes of the decision to dissolve the parliament, hundreds of military and security officers occupied its buildings, preventing any member to enter or even clear their offices. In short, Egypt has come a full circle, the transition to democracy was aborted, the process hijacked, and its remarkable revolution put on life support.

The final act of quietly killing the hopes of Egypt’s youth and the aspirations of its people is coming this Sunday when the presidential elections end in the declaration of a Shafiq presidency. The other candidate in this charade is represented by the MB’s Dr. Muhammad Mursi. For weeks, the MB has been warning against elections fraud perpetrated by the institutions of the deep state and led by its security and intelligence services.

For example, the Elections Commission has refused to hand over the voter lists, which it had no problem doing last winter during the parliamentary elections. But the problem is that these same lists have now increased by a whopping 4.5 million voters, raising suspicions of multiple registrations of regime loyalists who might vote multiple times in different provinces over the two-day elections process (for example 200 thousand regime loyalists voting in twenty different precincts.) Furthermore, elections officials announced that they would refuse to allow elections’ monitors to stay in the same rooms where the ballot boxes are left unattended for 12 hours between the first and the second days of the elections, although they were allowed to stay in and watch the boxes overnight in the previous parliamentary elections last winter.

In addition, the government announced that it is giving all its 6 million employees a two-day vacation and free public transportation to boost participation (an indirect prodding of government employees and their families to vote for Shafiq). In a blatant violation of elections’ laws, hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on media propaganda to boost SCAF’s candidate, as well as payments to local officials especially in the delta region, to secure the peasants’ votes.

In a nutshell, the intense involvement of the security state is now in the open. But most Egyptians are frustrated and feel that they have been robbed of making a choice consistent with their sixteen-month popular uprising. Before their own eyes they see how the Mubarak regime is slowly being re-invented with the full backing of state institutions under the direction of SCAF, the same military that promised to fulfill the objectives of the revolution.

Most pro-revolution groups, activists, and public intellectuals have called on MB’s candidate Mursi to withdraw from the presidential elections so as to deny the military’s candidate any claim of legitimacy once he is “elected.” But in its desperate attempt to show any achievement in its one-year dalliance with SCAF, it appears that the MB is pressing ahead with the elections. Once again the Islamic group has demonstrated its inability to join in, let alone lead, any revolutionary path, even though its leaders understand fully the determination of SCAF and the state institutions to manipulate the elections and force their candidate on the rest of the people.

During his final interview before the elections, Mursi understood the stakes and his long electoral odds as the elections are being manipulated. Although he believed that he would easily win in free and fair elections, he admitted that elections’ fraud were certain to take place. He further said that he was recently told by President Jimmy Carter that Mubarak was for decades “sleeping in Israel’s bed,” and that “Shafiq would follow in his footsteps.” The former president, who raised many concerns about the first round elections, had earlier stated that he did not believe that the military would hand over power to civilian rule.

Meanwhile, Shafiq, who does not deny his admiration for Mubarak and considers him a role model, has brazenly declared that his first state visit would be to the U.S. in order to signal that he was its preferred candidate. He also said that he would not only keep the peace treaty with Israel, but would also deepen it.

Thus, the MB’s delusion that SCAF will allow it to contest power will soon be exposed. Sooner or later the group will realize that it simply can neither outmaneuver nor win against the military or the deep security state on its own. It will have to fundamentally change its strategic choices and genuinely adopt the revolutionary path in order to defeat the entrenched interests of the deep state. Even if by some miracle their candidate wins the election, the past year has demonstrated that in every state-controlled institution, including the judiciary, no real change will take place unless all the counter-revolutionary elements are purged, a concept that is lost on the MB’s leadership that is used to slow approach reforms or behind-the-scenes questionable deals to preserve its interests.

Disappointed, yet again, with the MB’s attitude to ignore their consensus, most of the revolutionary groups have vowed to press on with their revolution that has been deeply, but not yet gravely, wounded. Former presidential candidate Dr. Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, a favorite among many revolutionary and youth groups, has declared that the latest decisions by the High Court allowing the candidacy of Shafiq and the dissolution of parliament were nothing short of a soft coup d’état orchestrated by the military. He called for the immediate establishment of a revolutionary leadership council comprised of all pro-revolution groups and leaders to challenge the military hold on power and Shafiq’s inevitable presidency.

Sensing these threats dozens of such groups that have sacrificed so much since the early days of the revolution, have vowed to join in and continue the difficult struggle to dislodge the military and achieve the main objective of the revolution in establishing a true democratic civil state and ending the culture of the deep security state. Thousands have taken to the streets, while hundreds started a sit-in in Tahrir Square.

They now quietly admit that a hard lesson has been learned. This time their slogan is not “the people and the army are one.” Rather their cry is: “This time we are serious, we will not leave it (the revolution) to anyone.”

Esam Al-Amin can be contacted at alamin1919@gmail.com

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , | Comments Off on The True Face of Egypt’s Military