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NDP

Tag Archives | NDP

Sacrificing Mubarak to Save His Regime

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Protesters marching on Egypt’s High Court. Photo: Al Hussainy Mohamed

Protesters marching on Egypt’s High Court. Photo: Al Hussainy Mohamed

When deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his sons were indicted in April 2011, legal observers cynically noted that the charges were not only politically motivated in order to quiet the massive demonstrations demanding their trial, but also that they were so weak that the trial might have been designed to end in acquittals. Initially, eleven people were indicted on two sets of charges. The first batch included Mubarak, his two sons, and his old friend and former intelligence officer turned businessman, Hussein Salem. Salem came to prominence after the peace treaty with Israel was signed in 1979, when he became the point man in Egypt for the American aid that poured in as a result of the Camp David accords.

At the time, Hussein was acting as a private contractor, receiving tens of millions of dollars in commissions related to the American military and economic aid. By the mid 1980s, the Pentagon was so concerned with his financial corruption and over billing that it threatened to indict him unless he was removed from the process. He was subsequently barred from entering the U.S.

Hussein then focused on domestic business ventures, constructing massive tourist resorts on the Red Sea, especially at Sharm Al-Sheikh, attracting European and American tourists. In exchange for getting prime land from the state for his projects on the cheap, he gave Mubarak and his sons five villas at practically no cost. This transaction that took place in the 1990s was the basis of the first set of charges against the Mubarak family for corruption and exchanging influence for financial gain. It should also be mentioned that it was Hussein that owned the private company that bought Egyptian natural gas and sold it to Israel at significantly below market prices, pocketing tens of millions of dollars as a result. Several former Mubarak aids believe that his sons were also silent partners on this incredible deal. For many years the Mubarak regime protected this inequitable transaction before it was scrapped this year under public pressure.

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Egypt’s Presidential Election Results: The Sacking of a Revolution

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Egyptian voters in Cairo. Photo: Jonathan Rashad

Fifteen months after millions of Egyptians - led by the revolutionary youth - were united in their demand to end a corrupt and suffocating dictatorship, they were now divided as they headed to the polls in the last two days in order to elect a new president.

Egyptian voters in Cairo. Photo: Jonathan Rashad

During this transitional period the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has ruled the country since Mubarak was deposed in February 2011, failed to uphold its promise of honoring the goals of the revolution by uprooting the corrupt elements of the former regime. The unofficial results of the presidential elections show that the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Dr. Muhammad Mursi is headed to a runoff with Mubarak’s last Prime Minister and the anti-revolution candidate, Gen. Ahmad Shafiq. They received 24 and 23 percent of the votes, respectively. Meanwhile the two candidates supported by the revolutionary groups, Dr. Abdelmoneim Abol Fotouh and Hamdein Sabahi received 17 and 20 percent respectively, while former foreign minister Amr Moussa was a distant fifth with less than 11 percent. So what happened and how can one understand these results?

There is no doubt that the failure of the revolutionary groups to unify their ranks and field a single candidate or a presidential ticket has cost them the chance to come out on top in this round and head for a runoff. Combined, both candidates received 37 percent, which would have guaranteed them victory in the first round had they run as president and vice president. But despite many efforts towards that end, both candidates refused to concede. Abol Fotouh argued that the country’s electorate has been favoring a candidate with an Islamist background, and thus he represented that consensus candidate who could bridge the divide between the Islamists and the secularists. Sabahi, on the other hand, argued that the country did not need another Islamist candidate after the results of the parliamentary elections, in which Islamists took 75 percent of the seats.

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The ABC of Egypt and Western Hegemony

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A young protester, his face painted with the Egyptian flag, stands in Tahrir with a banner: "No to injustice... No to Corruption...No to the Field Marshal (Tantawi)...No to the Military Council".  Photo: Hossam el-Hamalawy

Since the popular uprising of 25 January, 2011, protestors have not just challenged the figureheads of the old regime, but the very fundamental power structure upon which Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship had been built.

A young protester, his face painted with the Egyptian flag, stands in Tahrir with a banner: “No to injustice…No to Corruption…No to the Field Marshal (Tantawi)…No to the Military Council”. Photo: Hossam el-Hamalawy

For thirty years, the army, bureaucrats and capitalists collectively formed an oppressive alliance against any kind of social justice, economic equality and political freedom for ordinary people. Alongside the military’s collaboration with the ruling classes at home, its strategic alliance and subservience to the US crucially facilitated the dictatorship with economic and political survival. Protestors and activists continuing to revolt against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, (SCAF) are not just challenging the authority of the military junta. In reality, they are directly confronting the whole state apparatus - the army, the corrupt bureaucrats, the rule of capital and US hegemony alike. The underlying power structure still being used by the current regime to preserve both its own economic and political privileges and those of its neo-colonial masters is being violently shaken to the core.

The revolutionary voices being expressed in political discourses, informal forums, in slogans, on placards, banners and even in the graffiti sprawled across the cities clearly illustrates how protestor’s aims go beyond electoral reform and parliamentary democracy. People are also seeking social reform: improved healthcare and housing, better education, equal employment opportunities, labour rights, independent trade unions and a higher minimum wage which has not changed for twenty-seven years. People want judicial reform, constitutional changes, an end to military tribunals and the trial and conviction of those guilty of crimes both under the former dictatorship and the current regime. They are pushing for press freedom and an independent media. They want changes in foreign policy such as a renegotiation of the 1979 Peace Treaty with Israel.

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Islamic Parties win 75 percent of Seats in Egypt’s Elections

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Ever since the fall of deposed president Hosni Mubarak last Feb. 11, the unity the Egyptian people had displayed during the previous 18 days has been slowly eroding and this fracture began to emerge during the nationwide referendum on March 19.

Parliament members Ziyad Olaimy and Bassem Kamel outside the People’s Assembly. Photo: Jonathan Rashad

Shortly after assuming power, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) formed a committee of constitutional scholars to propose a roadmap towards the transition to democracy. Within two weeks, the committee drafted a popular referendum that proposed to hold parliamentary elections, empowered the new parliament to select a hundred-person assembly to write the new constitution, to be followed by presidential elections.

Almost immediately, Egyptian society was sharply divided into two main camps. One was led by the Islamist forces, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which embraced this plan. Meanwhile, the liberal and secular forces opposed it for fear that their Islamist rivals were better organized and better positioned to dictate the composition of the constitution-writing assembly. This “elections or constitution first” approach – as dubbed in the press — was settled when Egyptians overwhelmingly voted in favor of the March referendum with 77 per cent support. Having been defeated at the polls, the secular and liberal forces have since been attempting to circumvent this process by pressuring SCAF to limit the authority of the future parliament.

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