Friday, August 30, 2013

The Little Green Man in Cairo

Informed security sources have spotted an armed, little green man in various gatherings across Cairo. He is reported to have entered Egyptian soil from the Rafah border crossing carrying either an Israeli, U.S., Qatari or Turkish passport, or possibly a combination of all four, and is considered a mortal risk to the integrity of the state and unity of Egyptians. Military and police units have been instructed to use live fire to attack the little green man and any and all whom are suspected of being his supporters.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rehabilitating Egypt's Global Image

Egypt's image in the world has taken a battering. From the fully discredited people-power moment of January 2011, to a rocky experience with an Islamist-dominated democracy to the violent re-imposition of the status quo ex ante, Egypt has been on the headlines for too long and for all the wrong reasons. Virtually any mention of the country these days is in relation to unfavorable comparisons to other banana republics, Orwellian repression, religious pogroms, emptying tourist resorts, fleeing investors, rampant xenophobia and impending civil war. 

The state-sponsored response has been as impotent as it has been furious. A noxious mix of jingoist drivel, tall-tailed conspiracy and preachy paternalism has done nothing to endear. Eager efforts of independent and semi-independent supporters have been similarly ineffective, other than to reinforce the same beliefs among the same circle of believers. English language slogans and simulcasts of shrill Egyptian TV talk shows, frenzied use of social media spreading the views of fringe Western analysts and indignant letters to the closet-terrorist president of the United States, come across as more than a little paranoid. To the extent there has been damage control, most of it has been thanks to an Israeli lobby fretting of a unstable neighbor, rather than any indigenous efforts.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Ralph Peters Echo Chamber

Terrorist lovers
Ralph Peters has become an overnight cult hero in Egypt. An interview of the retired US army officer on Fox News criticizing the Obama Administration's alleged softness toward the Muslim Brotherhood made the rounds over and over and over again among Egypt's self-defined liberals. Never mind that Mr. Peters is but one obscure voice with little or no tangible influence in the United States, nor that he is a commentator on right wing US media with views that might make many Egyptians squirm. The fact that he has presented an opinion consistent with what the Ministry of Truth espouses as truth deems him a knowledgeable expert, as opposed to the ignoramuses in the rest of the world media who are under the Brotherhood's nefarious spell.

CNN is biased for not reporting as fact that 20 million or 33 million (informed sources say it was 77,321,754) Egyptians on June 30 took to the streets protesting against the Muslim Brotherhood and in favor of military rule (clearly, the two must go hand in hand). BBC gives too much face-time to the terrorist barbarians faking their deaths whom a month ago were the country's elected leaders. And, of course, Al Jazeera is simply beyond reproach. Egyptian state media once derided as hopelessly biased is now the benchmark of gravitas, because it hosts serious-looking men who can explain the epic US, European, Israeli, Palestinian, Qatari, Turkish, Iranian, Syrian, Ethiopian, Indonesian, Malaysian conspiracy against the mighty Egyptian military. Talking heads in the "independent" Egyptian media repeat and repackage everything that state media says to further underline the sole and unique truth. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

It's All America's Fault

  • Mama Nagwa retarding an entire generation of Egyptians:  Maybe not America's fault

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Same shit, different day

The powers that be (naturally, that would not include the president, vice president, cabinet, any political parties or, of course, any say from the people) have selected a new roster of governors for Egypt. Military or police rank is the chief (or only) qualifying criteria among the vast majority of the appointees, another clear sign of the country's stunted democratic development. A few braved the prevailing fascist climate to oppose the announcements. Such voices were immediately drowned out by the contemporaneous decision to break-up the Muslim Brotherhood protest camps, creating an overwhelming news story and self-fulfilling justification for the return to the overt militarization of local government.

New governors and little palm trees

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fanila Fantasy - The Case of Omar Effendi

As Egypt's political soap opera lingers on, a recent decision of an economic administrative court carries potentially far more lasting consequences to the lives of ordinary Egyptians. The affirmation of the annulment of the privatization of Omar Effendi -- a heavily indebted, overstaffed and low-quality department store chain sold to a Gulf investor in 2006 -- sends out a troubling signal to the market over the direction of Egyptian economic policy making.

Deeply flawed on procedural and substantive grounds, the Omar Effendi case has became a rallying point for the retrograde revolutionary activists promising a return of the Egyptian economy to its illusory socialist hey-day. The fact the all-powerful rulers allowed for this decision to be rendered is revealing of their control-and-command mentality, the same mentality that set the country so far back for sixty years. A security-first instinct mixing with interventionist populism is unwinding the tepid market-based reforms undertaken in Egypt over the last decade, further setting back the cause of reform.

Egyptians cannot afford more of these delusions, no matter the excuses and no matter how many stop-gap grants the country bribes out of the world. There are no shortcuts to market reforms; the longer Egypt waits, the harder they will be to implement.