Amid the horrors of the Syrian conflict, the humanitarian response by Turkey has been nothing short of heroic. While Europe has largely closed its borders to Syria’s refugees, Turkey has presented an open door, reflecting its “zero problems with neighbours” policy and its obligation to the universal principle of non-refoulement. Turkey has also spent $2.5 billion on “five star” refugee camps, equipped with schools, clinics and community centres. As a result, Turkey has soared from 59th to 10th in the United Nations index of hospitality towards refugees.
Tag Archives | Freedom and Justice Party
Since Prime Minister Erdoğan is once again in the news for all the wrong reasons and since my previous Erdoğan news quiz was one of my all-time favorite posts to write, it’s time for another news quiz centered around everyone’s favorite opinionated world leader.
Unlike the last one, where readers were asked to identify which absurd story was in fact true, this one is a straight old-fashioned multiple question game.
Turkey is reeling over a tragic loss of human life following an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, with the death toll up to 238 as of this writing and at least 120 miners still trapped. The government has declared three days of public mourning, and Turks are wearing coal mining outfits and spelunking helmets in the streets in solidarity with the families of those who perished. So what does the government have to do with any of this? As has so often been the case under the AKP and Prime Minister Erdoğan, the damage comes in the government’s response to events outside of its control and makes a bad situation that much worse.
Workplace disasters happen all the time, and this is particularly so when it comes to mining, which is an extremely dangerous profession that takes places under volatile conditions. This past Monday, two coal miners died in a mine in West Virginia, and 29 died at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia in 2010. As Erdoğan said in opening his press conference today, accidents happen. In this case, however, there is the extremely inconvenient fact that only two weeks ago, the AKP rejected a motion in the Grand National Assembly brought by the opposition CHP – and supported by the MHP and BDP – calling for an investigation into the legion of mine accidents in Soma.
Since the revolutions that swept across the Middle East in 2011, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has arrested dozens of Emirati and Egyptian nationals allegedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Declaring the MB a threat to the UAE’s ruling order, social fabric, and economic prosperity, Emirati authorities have since 2011 waged a crackdown on Al-Islah (AI), a MB-influenced group. Throughout the Arab Awakening movement, Abu Dhabi has deepened partnerships with other states determined to eradicate the MB. Given that the UAE and Kuwait support Saudi Arabia’s efforts to establish the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as an MB-free zone, shared hostility toward this Sunni movement appears to unite the GCC members more effectively than fears of Shi’ite Iran.
The MB’s activity in the UAE dates back to the 1960s when scores of Egyptian MB members fled Nasser’s Egypt to take haven in the Gulf. These Egyptians were sophisticated, educated, upwardly mobile, and they gained high-ranking posts in the UAE’s public and private sectors, playing an important role in the nation’s judicial and education systems. The Egyptian MB followers influenced scores of conservative UAE nationals who founded AI, which became an official NGO in 1974.
The U.S. is going ahead with plans to deliver four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt despite the political unrest in the country, senior American officials say.
It comes as Washington is continuing to evaluate last week’s overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi by the army. U.S. massive military aid to Cairo would have to be cut by law if the removal of the Islamist leader is determined by Washington to have been a coup. The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, is demanding his reinstatement. Its supporters have been staging mass protests near Cairo’s barracks, where he is believed to be being held. On Monday, more than 50 Brotherhood loyalists were killed in clashes with the army. The new authorities have not said where Morsi it, but a foreign ministry spokesman said he was in a “safe place” and being treated in a “very dignified manner.”
The U.S. officials say Washington will deliver four F-16 fighter jets in the next few weeks. They are part of an already agreed bigger order of 20 planes - eight of which were sent to Egypt in January. The final eight are expected to be shipped later this year. White House spokesman Jay Carney on Wednesday reiterated that it would not be “in the best interests of the United States to make immediate changes to our assistance programmes.” He added that the administration would take its time to consider the implications of removing Morsi from power. U.S. military aid to Egypt is estimated to be $1.3bn (£860m) each year. President Barack Obama has been careful not to use the word “coup” in relation to events in Egypt, the BBC’s Katy Watson in Washington reports, as doing so would trigger the legal requirement to cut off aid.
Egypt is imploding. The old revolutionary groups are at each other’s throats. The unity of purpose displayed during the incredible eighteen revolutionary days in early 2011 is not only long gone, but it has been replaced with mistrust, acrimony, and hostility.
Almost immediately after their success in ousting the despised dictator Hosni Mubarak, the groups that carried the revolution on their shoulders parted ways on ideological grounds. At one end of the political spectrum are the Islamist groups led by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) movement and its political affiliate, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). Since the revolution these groups have grown to more than 30 political parties ranging from the conservative Salafist parties such as Al-Noor, Al-Watan, Al-Raya, and the Salafist Front, to Jihadi turned political groups such as the Building and Growth Party, the political arm of the Islamic Group (IG), to moderate ones such as Al-Wasat (Center) and Al-Nahdha (Renaissance) parties.
On the other end are the secular and liberal parties which include the traditional Al-Wafd Party, as well as dozens of others such Al-Dustoor (Constitution) led by former IAEA head, Dr. Muhammad ElBaradei, the Congress Party led by former Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Mousa, the Popular Current led by former presidential candidate Hamdein Sabbahi, and Free Egyptians Party founded by billionaire and Egyptian Copt, Naguib Sawiris.
December 8 was the day President Mohammed Morsi had chosen two nights earlier during his address to the nation. In his speech, he called for an open dialogue with the opposition and other political parties as they tackled the political crisis engulfing the country since he issued his controversial constitutional declaration of November 22.
With the exception of Al-Ghad Party, all leaders of the National Salvation Front (NSF), the main opposition coalition that includes most secular parties, refused to attend the meeting with the president, insisting first on the annulment of the constitutional declaration and the cancellation of the referendum scheduled for December 15. The NSF’s main leaders, including former presidential candidates Amr Moussa, Hamdein Sabbahi, and Dr. Mohammad ElBaradei, not only boycotted the gathering but also issued a stern warning that if the president did not accede to their demands they would escalate their protests by calling for general strikes and civil disobedience.
Other revolutionary youth groups such as the April 6 Movement also refused to attend the meeting, charging that it was a ploy by the besieged president in his attempt to placate the opposition. Former presidential candidate and moderate Islamist Dr. Abdelmoneim Abol Fotouh, of the Strong Egypt Party, also boycotted the meeting on the grounds that the president had not demonstrated seriousness in trying to resolve the political dispute.
By the time President Mohammed Morsi issued his Constitutional Decree on November 22, the political battle lines in Egypt had been clearly drawn.
One side, mostly comprised the forces of political Islam led by the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). But it also included the conservative Salafi groups such as Al-Noor (Light) and Building and Development Parties, as well as other moderate ones such as Al-Wasat (Center), Al-Hadara (Civilization) and Al-Asalah (Authenticity).
The other side encompassed an array of groups and parties from the far left to the far right: those who represented traditional liberal, socialist, and nationalist forces as well as the Coptic Christian church. Ironically, they also included some of the most active revolutionary youth groups such as the April 6 Movement, as well as powerful remnants of the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak, whom the revolutionaries had vowed to bring down and put on trial for corruption and repression.
On Thursday June 14, the High Constitutional Court in Egypt will rule on two pending motions that may radically change the future course of Egypt and determine the fate of its remarkable – but unfinished – revolution.
The two motions are the constitutionality of the political ban on the former regime senior officials, such as Gen. Ahmad Shafiq, the undeclared military’s candidate for president, and the constitutionality of last winter’s parliamentary elections. Each decision might drastically alter the power structure in the country, and possibly propel another revolution whose fate remains unclear. But how did we get to this point of complete uncertainty?
History will show that the unity displayed by the Egyptian people during the eighteen revolutionary days in early 2011 was decisive in convincing the Egyptian military to dump Mubarak and side with the people. Although the revolution was initially called for and led by the youth groups on January 25, soon after most political and social movements, religious and secular, and civil society groups including labor unions, professional syndicates, students, as well as the common man and woman in the street were demonstrating across Egypt by the millions, demanding the ouster of their dictator and the end of his corrupt regime.
“President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from his position as president of the republic.” Uttered by former Vice President Omar Suleiman on the evening of February 11, 2011, these words set in motion jubilations by millions of Egyptians celebrating the ultimate triumph of their will over the obstinate dictator.
Although the previous eighteen tumultuous days had united the overwhelming majority of Egyptians regardless of political orientation, religious persuasion, economic class or social strata, the ultimate victory of the revolution was not inevitable. The massive demonstrations that started on January 25, were originally called for by groups dominated by youth activists such as the April 6 Movement and “We are All Khaled Said,” in reference to the young blogger who was murdered by state security agents. Most established political parties and social movements including the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) did not initially support the calls to protest in anticipation of the security crackdown, though they did not discourage their members from participation.
Within days the demonstrations escalated and it became clear that the security forces were not able to stop the growing protests. By January 28, the protesters called for a Day of Rage, and all genuine opposition parties, led by the MB, took to the streets calling for the ouster of Mubarak. Within two weeks, the regime was ousted and the military, under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which refused to back Mubarak and violently disperse the demonstrators, assumed political control, promising a peaceful transfer of power to a democratically elected civilian government within six months.
January 25 marked the one-year anniversary of the inception of Egypt’s revolution against the dictatorship of the Mubarak regime, eleven days after the success of the Tunisian revolution, when its former president Ben Ali fled the country.
Within weeks of the brisk success of these two revolutions (28 days for Tunisia and 18 days in the case of Egypt), the Arab peoples across the region launched their own simultaneous revolts to rid themselves of their decades-long dictatorships, especially in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain. So what is the current status of the Arab Spring? And what are the likely scenarios? In late October, nearly ninety percent of Tunisians cast their votes in historic democratic elections. With an impressive victory, the Islamist Ennahdha party received the largest share of votes (42 per cent). It not only displayed the discipline of a political party with sophisticated machinery, but it also demonstrated sensitivity to the concerns of the public, as half of its elected officials were women, thus shattering the myth of being an anti-women party by virtue of its religious affiliation.
Furthermore, it was able to form a coalition with the leftist-leaning and nationalist-liberal parties. The three blocs claimed the top three positions in government, with the General Secretary of Ennahdha, Hamadi Jebali becoming the head of government or Prime Minister, while the other two junior partners occupying the seats of head of state and speaker of parliament, respectively.