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Posts Tagged ‘Egypt

Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi prepares for first trip to U.S. as president

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Egypt is keen to strengthen its “strategic relations” with the US, and work is currently underway to prepare for the first official visit by President Mohamed Morsi to Washington, the Egyptian ambassador to the US, Mohamed Tawfik, told Ahram Online.

In an interview given to Ahram Online by phone from his office in the US capital, Tawfik, who took up his ambassadorial post in September, said that the recent re-election of US President Barack Obama could ” help keep a good pace for the upgrading of relations between the two countries” given that the current US administration, despite expected changes, is well aware of the details of Cairo-Washington ties and of the demands that Egypt has made to the US.

“Ultimately Egypt and the US do have strategic ties and ultimately it is in the interest of the US as a world power and Egypt as the central Arab state to pursue cooperation on issues of common interest; but certainly continuity is useful at this point in time,” said Tawfik.

Cairo, according to its ambassador in Washington, is going to pursue the immediate processing of an economic aid package that the US promised in the first quarter of 2011.

“The transfer of an aid package of $450 million is a priority that we are currently working on; this is the first instalment of a wider aid package that the US has promised,” Tawfik said. He added that action is already being taken and that the US administration is working with the US Congress to finalise the matter soon…

However, as Tawfik stresses, there is more than simply aid at stake.

“Upgrading trade relations, especially through granting Egyptian products better access to American markets, and encouraging direct US investment in Egypt, are also matters that we would like to pursue actively with the US,” he added.

Economy, Tawfik insisted, is a top priority in Egyptian-American relations, given that it is clearly a priority for the Egyptian state at this point in time. But this economic interest, he added, does not undermine the political cooperation between Cairo and Washington, especially in relation to regional issues – the Arab-Israeli issue being a permanent priority.

Xenophobes, the whole range of nutballs that spawned birthers in the Republican Party will suffer exploding bowels over a visit from Egypt’s new president. Democratic elections have little or nothing to do with their ideology. Middle Eastern nations that have their first democratic election in decades are still expected to rejoice over Israeli’s apartheid politics, stand hat-in-hand waiting patiently for whatever largesse Congress deems appropriate.

The new era of global relationships, in fact, isn’t run as an exclusive American-controlled club. There are dozens of other free and independent nations waiting for the United States to participate in commerce as equals – or get out of the way.

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Written by Ed Campbell

November 13, 2012 at 8:00 am

Mohamed Morsi issues wholesale pardon for political protesters

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Egyptian protesters detained and tried in incidents relating to the country’s uprising have received a blanket pardon from the president, Mohamed Morsi, to mark his first 100 days in office.

All felony convictions or attempted crimes “committed to support the revolution and its goals” were to be pardoned, the decree stated, with the exception of murder cases.

The pardon covers the period from the onset of the revolt against the regime of Hosni Mubarak on 25 January 2011 through the army-led transitional period that ended on 30 June 2012, when Morsi assumed office.

…”He might sincerely see that the people he is pardoning did a lot to bring him to power. Without the revolution there wasn’t a chance that Morsi would be president, and it wouldn’t have happened without the support and participation of the Egyptian people,” said Elijah Zarwan…

…The pardon will not extend to those detained during the clashes at the US embassy in September when irate protesters breached the embassy walls after the release of a film in the US deemed offensive to Islam and the prophet Muhammad…

Good politics, good sense and a good start to a new era. Let’s hope Egypt can continue on a course to democracy and progress.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 10, 2012 at 6:00 am

Palestine is the number one global issue says President Morsi

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Egypt’s new president on Wednesday hit out at Israel over its veiled threats to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and the deadlock in the Middle East peace process.

President Mohamed Morsi received a rousing ovation for his first speech to the 193-member UN General Assembly since becoming Egypt’s first civilian, democratically elected leader in June.

Without specifically mentioning Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal, Morsi said the Middle East “no longer tolerates” any country’s refusal to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty “especially if this is coupled with irresponsible policies or arbitrary threats.”

“The acceptance by the international community of the principle of pre-emptiveness or the attempt to legitimize it is in itself a serious matter and must be firmly confronted to avoid the prevalence of the law of the jungle,” Morsi said…

Morsi also put the Israel-Palestinian conflict ahead of the Syria war in the list of priorities he laid out before the General Assembly.

“The first issue which the world must exert all its efforts in resolving, on the basis of justice and dignity, is the Palestinian cause,” Morsi said.

He said that UN resolutions on the conflict had not been implemented and that Palestinians “must also taste the fruits of freedom and dignity” that other countries in the Arab region have won in the past year.

“It is shameful that the free world accepts, regardless of the justifications provided, that a member of the international community continues to deny the rights of a nation that has been longing for decades for independence,” Morsi said.

“It is also disgraceful that settlement activities continue on the territories of these people.”

The Palestinians have refused to hold direct talks with Israel for the past two years because of Israel’s refusal to halt settlement activities in the occupied territories.

It’s election time in the United States; so, the mindset of our out-of-date politicians demands statements and a belief that American Jews will vote in a bloc on questions regarding Israel. I don’t think that has been true for decades.

Given that our foreign policy hasn’t strayed from the side of dictatorships, lebensraum for Israel, guaranteed profits for Big Oil since the late 1940′s — I don’t expect principled changes from Congress or the White House anytime soon. Arm-twisting from American citizens is as necessary here as it ever has been for peace and civil rights.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Mohamed Morsi explains new terms for US-Arab relations

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On the eve of his first trip to the United States as Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi said the United States needed to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values and helping build a Palestinian state, if it hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger.

We see right out of the gate what is politically correct for Washington flunkies. Morsi has made it clear that he represents a broader constituency than his Muslim background – yet, the TIMES sticks to the War-on-Terror mantra calling him Islamist.

A former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mr. Morsi sought in a 90-minute interview with The New York Times to introduce himself to the American public and to revise the terms of relations between his country and the United States after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, an autocratic but reliable ally.

He said it was up to Washington to repair relations with the Arab world and to revitalize the alliance with Egypt, long a cornerstone of regional stability.

If Washington is asking Egypt to honor its treaty with Israel, he said, Washington should also live up to its own Camp David commitment to Palestinian self-rule. He said the United States must respect the Arab world’s history and culture, even when that conflicts with Western values.

And he dismissed criticism from the White House that he did not move fast enough to condemn protesters who recently climbed over the United States Embassy wall and burned the American flag in anger over a video that mocked the Prophet Muhammad.

“We took our time” in responding to avoid an explosive backlash, he said, but then dealt “decisively” with the small, violent element among the demonstrators.

“We can never condone this kind of violence, but we need to deal with the situation wisely,” he said, noting that the embassy employees were never in danger…

Mr. Morsi…said the United States should not expect Egypt to live by its rules…“If you want to judge the performance of the Egyptian people by the standards of German or Chinese or American culture, then there is no room for judgment,” he said. “When the Egyptians decide something, probably it is not appropriate for the U.S. When the Americans decide something, this, of course, is not appropriate for Egypt.”

He suggested that Egypt would not be hostile to the West, but would not be as compliant as Mr. Mubarak either.

“Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region,” he said, by backing dictatorial governments over popular opposition and supporting Israel over the Palestinians…

A view of history shared by almost all of the educated world, Western or otherwise. Including those who think it should be so.

“The president of the Arab Republic of Egypt is the commander of the armed forces, full stop. Egypt now is a real civil state. It is not theocratic, it is not military. It is democratic, free, constitutional, lawful and modern.”

He added, “We are behaving according to the Egyptian people’s choice and will, nothing else — is it clear..?”

I’m not any more confident about Barack Obama adopting an objective world view or turning American foreign policy towards democracy and fairness – than I would be over Romney and the Kool Aid Party. Imperial greed and arrogance have been central to our foreign policy since we supported the last ditch efforts of British and French colonialism right after World War 2. We continued that criminal behavior from Iran and Guatemala through VietNam to Iraq. Neither of our political parties missed a beat. Nor do I expect them to do so until and unless our elected officials are qualitatively changed.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 24, 2012 at 2:00 am

Egypt’s President Mursi “retires” 70 generals

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Seventy generals in the Egyptian armed forces are to be retired, the government has announced.

The move comes weeks after President Mohammed Mursi replaced the defence minister and the chief of staff…However, six of the generals will keep their positions on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Some analysts say Mr Mursi is asserting his authority over the army. There has so far been little adverse reaction from the military establishment.

Defence Minister Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who was appointed in President Mursi’s military reshuffle last month, announced the changes…

In July, SCAF formally handed over power to Mr Mursi, Egypt’s first ever democratically elected president.

At the same time as the reshuffle, Mr Mursi issued a decree voiding an interim constitutional declaration from June that gave SCAF broad executive and legislative powers…

It’s a beginning. Not unusual – except in that it succeeded. The act speaks well for President Mursi and, hopefully, it speaks well for the generals who appear to have cooperated with the decision.

Nothing cynical about recognizing the number of times nations reaching out for democracy and liberty have been frustrated by generals who officially cooperate – and then takeover via military coup.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Mohamed Morsi defies Egypt’s military in a fiery speech before tens of thousands in Tahrir Square

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Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president-elect, took a symbolic oath of office during a rousing speech in Cairo, promising dignity and social justice to a crowd of tens of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square.

Morsi opened his speech by addressing himself to “the Muslims and Christians of Egypt,” and promised to preserve a civil state.

“We will complete the journey in a civil state, a nationalist state, a constitutional state, a modern state,” he told the crowd, to applause and cheers.

Morsi, a former Muslim Brotherhood official, promised to end torture and discrimination, and to deliver social justice for millions of Egyptians.

He insisted that “no institution will be above the people,” critiquing an army which has sought to shield itself from parliamentary oversight. “You are the source of authority,” he told the crowd…

He will take office amidst a great deal of political uncertainty. He swore to uphold the constitution, but Egypt still does not have a permanent constitution, only a series of “constitutional declarations” issued by the ruling generals.

The SCAF generals and their tame high court dissolved parliament before the recent election. Under civil conditions that would be where Morsi would be sworn in as president. Instead the official swearing-in ceremony will be before that high court. Mohamed Morsi made it clear he doesn’t recognize either the shutdown of Parliament or the quasi-private ceremony.

He took his own ceremony to the people in Tahrir Square where so much of Egypt’s uprising against Hosni Mubarak was centered. And the people of Egypt responded in the tens of thousands to cheer the peoples’ version of the swearing-in of their new president.

Written by Ed Campbell

June 30, 2012 at 6:00 am

Two candidates lead the final stretch for presidency of Egypt

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Amr Mousa election posters
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Egypt enters the last stage of its first democratic presidential race on Monday with its field narrowing to a two-horse race between the urbane former head of the Arab League and a charismatic Islamist medic jailed for years under Hosni Mubarak.

A poll published in state-run al-Ahram daily on Monday showed veteran diplomat Amr Moussa in the lead, followed by Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, who has emerged in recent days as the leading Islamist candidate after securing the support of the ultra-conservative Salafist movement.

Both men are well ahead of 11 other candidates and, for now, look the most likely to face each other in a second round. That would give Egyptians a stark choice about the future of the Arab world’s most populous state.

Moussa, 75, served for a decade as Mubarak’s foreign minister before taking over the leadership of the Arab League, and must win over voters skeptical of the old elite.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ed Campbell

May 1, 2012 at 6:00 am

Egypt’s first elections absent Mubarak peaceful, high turnout

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Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Egyptians voted Monday in the first election since a popular revolt toppled Hosni Mubarak’s one-man rule, showing new-found faith in the ballot box that may sweep long-banned Islamists into parliament even as army generals cling to power…

The ruling army council, which has already extended polling to a second day, kept voting stations open an extra two hours until 9 p.m. “to accommodate the high voter turnout…”

Parliament’s lower house will be Egypt’s first nationally elected body since Mubarak’s fall and those credentials alone may enable it to dilute the military’s monopoly of power.

A high turnout throughout the election would give it legitimacy. Despite a host of reported electoral violations and lax supervision exploited by some groups, election monitors reported no systematic Mubarak-style campaign to rig the polls…

Oppressed under Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties have stood aloof from those challenging army rule in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere, unwilling to let anything obstruct a vote that may bring them closer to power…

Nevertheless, the Brotherhood has formidable advantages that include a disciplined organization, name recognition among a welter of little-known parties and years of opposing Mubarak…

Many voters engaged in lively political debate as they waited patiently in long queues…

The world is closely watching the election, keen for stability in Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel, owns the Suez Canal linking Europe and Asia, and which in Mubarak’s time was an ally in countering Islamist militants in the region…

Individual winners are to be announced Wednesday, but many contests will go to a run-off vote on December 5. List results will not be declared until after the election ends on January 11…

Egyptians seemed enthused by the novelty of a vote where the outcome was, for a change, not a foregone conclusion…

The army council has promised civilian rule by July after the parliamentary vote and a presidential poll, now expected in June — much sooner than previously envisaged.

It’s reasonable that many of those who fought to push Mubarak out the door are impatient about getting to a modern secular democracy. Perhaps they supported a boycott – as some did – because they felt the military was still too strong. Or perhaps they worried over their own inability to marshall an electoral struggle that would result in an appreciable voice in the new parliament. Not such a great reason.

As I’ve noted here in recent weeks, winning the revolution after the revolution is a lot more demanding than tearing down the walls of dictatorship. It may be less dangerous. It ain’t easier. The grunt work of building a democratic base is not only required – it’s how you guarantee democracy.

Written by Ed Campbell

November 28, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Egypt and Ethiopia review collaboration on Nile river dam

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Meles Zenawi and Essam Sharaf
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed to review the impact of a planned $4.8 billion Nile river dam, which Addis Ababa announced in March, in a bid to open a “new chapter” in once-strained relations.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his Egyptian counterpart, Essam Sharaf, made the announcement at a joint news conference following talks in Cairo on Saturday. “We have agreed to quickly establish a tripartite team of technical experts to review the impact of the dam that is being built in Ethiopia,” Zenawi said. Experts from Sudan will also be part of the team.

Sharaf said Ethiopia’s planned construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam “could be a source of benefit” – an apparent change in tone by Egypt’s new rulers on what has been a highly contentious issue.

We can make the issue of the Grand Renaissance Dam something useful,” Sharaf said. “This dam, in conjunction with the other dams, can be a path for development and construction between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt…”

Zenawi’s visit to Cairo was the first by an Ethiopian official since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising in February…

The dam is planned for the Blue Nile river in northwestern Ethiopia, a few kilometres from the Ethiopia–Sudan border.

The dam is designed to have an installed capacity of 5250 MW, which is threefold of the 1885.8 MW installed capacity of the 12 currently operational hydro-power plants of the nation.

Bravo. It ain’t easy – it ain’t ever easy to negotiate treaties over natural resources especially water rights. Cripes, we’re still governed by water rights here in New Mexico that go back to Spanish colonial times. Technically, it’s against New Mexico law to collect rainwater after it falls from the skies — unless used by a farmer.

That these nations are willing to discuss and consider collaboration is a step forward.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 18, 2011 at 6:00 am

Egyptians clear the way for elections, approve amendments

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Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
Judge Mahmoud Attiya

Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved proposed constitutional amendments that pave the way for parliamentary elections in June, according to the head of the judicial committee overseeing the referendum.

“We are proud of the Egyptian people for deciding their own destiny,” Judge Mahmoud Attiya said Sunday. “We assure the world that the March 19 referendum was fair and transparent at all stages.”

Of the 18,366,764 ballots cast Saturday, there were 14,192,577 “yes” votes and 4,174,187 “no” votes, Atiya said…

The proposed amendments included limiting the president to two four-year terms, capping emergency laws to six months unless they are extended by public referendum, and placing elections under judicial oversight…

Presidential candidate and head of the Arab League Amre Moussa, who urged a “no” vote, lauded the referendum as “the first official step towards the democracy called for in the January 25 movements.”

“‘Yes’ or ‘no’ is not the issue — that Egyptians are participating and voting today is what’s important,” he said Saturday.

Attiya told CNN that the next step in the transition to a civilian government is for the military to move forward with parliamentary elections in June.

Hey – it’s a start.

One of the joys of a constitutional democracy is that there can be – hopefully, will be – opportunities for further discussion and referendums if needed. The essential point is that the Egyptian people have had a first chance at an election that wasn’t rigged by a despot.

Written by Ed Campbell

March 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm

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