Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

I can't believe it's 2006 already. It feels strange just looking at the figure. Let's begin this new year on a lighter note. This was a great article written in the Sunday Times about the head of Egypt's "Supreme Council of Antiquities", Mr. Zahi Hawass.

If the name does not ring a bell, just think of the Egyptian Indiana Jones you have probably seen on the Discovery or National Geographic channels, in almost every program they ever aired about ancient Egypt. In my opinion, this not-so-attentive guardian of our antiquities needs to go even before our minister of interior - field marshal of new year's battle of helpless refugees.

The blog just hit 100 page views with the new year:-) Kind of pathetic but it's a start...can any of the (few) readers participate and share their opinions? Thanks.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Irony of it All...

It is interesting that this latest story should be directly related to my previous post about the theatrics of Ayman Nour.

After his sentence was announced in court, among the things that Nour shouted out was a call for his supporters to join in civil disobedience these Sudanese refugees who had been squatting for months in this spot in Cairo (Although they are protesting for different reasons, namely the UNHCR and not the Egyptian government - all the more reason why the responsible authorities should resign, for their crime of callous stupidity). The thought of Egyptians turning into some form of mass civil disobedience must have put the authorities into a panic, causing them to order a final crackdown and removal of these camping refugees from this central spot in Cairo.

I thought this was a good thought on the part of Ayman Nour, but it is something he should have acted on while he was a free person and not something he should simply shout out only after his sentence is announced and he is being led to prison.

Sudanese Refugees Killed in Clashes with Police

This is absolutely horrible. The minister of interior must resign over this.

List of things that happened under his watch: Taba bombing, Sharm el Sheikh bombing, Public sexual harrassment of women protesters by "camouflaged" state security thugs, Shooting and killing of Egyptian voters in parliamentary elections, and now the killing of Sudanese refugees. Who is next on his list, old women in wheelchairs?

It's like he's screaming for a reason to be fired, and lucky for him we are in minister-changing season as our Prime Minister is now appointing his new government. The last three actions demonstrate just complete and utter stupidity, multiplying because of their innecessity. If he is not responsible for these decisions, then whoever was must resign. Otherwise I don't see why the government is keeping such a huge and rising liability on its hands.

The justification from the CNN report:

The Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesman said the Sudanese who died in the scuffles were "old and sick," adding that refugees pelted security forces with "bottles of alcohol."

Just for the stupidity of this statement the ministry should resign.

Read Freedom for Egyptians' commentary on this.

(I previously wrote that the police shot the refugees, however the reports I read don't mention any shooting so I fixed the mistake. Some of them may have died from beating, others from stampeding, but the situation is still as tragic as it is.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Inappropriate Theatrics

This is why I never supported Ayman Nour.

My heart dropped when I woke up this morning to see this front page of Al Ghad's newspaper.

The bold headlines read:

"After the sentence of Al Ghad's president to 5 years

Assassination of Ayman Nour

Black Day in the History of Democracy

Nour's last words: "God nah nah nah (intranslatable, i.e: his protest to God)...history won't forgive them."

So I unfold the front page and my eye searchingly follows down to his editorial column...

His usual picture is there, but his column space is left blank.

I immediately look at the front page of the other newspapers. No news of Ayman Nour's death. As I presumed, this turned out to be just another stunt that Ayman decided to pull off from behind bars.

Ayman Nour always came off to me as some sort of theatrical clown than a responsible leader capable of guiding Egypt through a critical chapter of its history that would lead to its democratization.

So Ayman, your sham trial and sentence were unfair...but c'mon yaani, we are on the same boat as you don't have to give us heart attacks as well.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Political Tribunals: Will they ever end?

Although I was never a supporter of the presidential candidacy of Ayman Nour, and I still am not, I have no choice but to join the condemnation against his imprisonment.

I haven't been following his trial and I don't know whether he did commit this fraud which he is charged with or not...but as one commentator in a newspaper put it: if he should be tried for committing fraud, then the ruling regime should be put under trial for committing fraud for the past 24 years. But since obviously this isn't happening, then this is all the proof needed that this is a politically motivated case.

In the fifties and sixties of this last century, Egyptian intellectuals and activists were sent to prison by Mahkemit el Digwi, or the Digwi Tribunal, named after the government-sponsored "judge" who presided over their hearings. Theirs was a sure sentence. Back then the leftists among them were accused of being Soviet lackeys. Today, Nour is sent to prison by the same judge who previously sentenced Saad el Din Ibrahim, who was eventually acquitted by another court after spending considerable time in prison. These last two are smeared today as "Western lackeys".

So much has changed since then and yet so little has changed. As long as Egyptian citizens don't feel protected by a legal system which will protect them from political tribunals and personal vendettas from higher authorities, then I don't see a reason why anybody should feel safe expressing his opinion in this country. Until then nobody can solidly feel that things have really changed.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Anwar el-Sadat (1918-81)

This December the 25th , Christmas day, marks the birthday of our late president Anwar el-Sadat who would have turned 87 this Sunday, had he still been living with us today.

We have come a long way since his death, 24 years this last October to be exact, and yet so little has been done to take advantage of the peace he paid for with his life to achieve. Let's take a quick look at what has since become of those players who posed themselves as his valiant revolutionary enemies during his lifetime, and who played a prominent role in expediting his death:

Yasser Arafat: Spent his last years sacrificing Palestinian children in exchange for television air time, while he hid himself in a bunker. Billions of dollars worth of money he had extorted for the Palestinian cause is still lost between secret Swiss bank accounts and his wife.

Hafez al Assad: Proceeded to massacre tens of thousands of Syrian civilians in Hama. Coweringly entered secret negotiations with Israel for a deal on the Golan, but failed. Died with his seat still in power, but impotently, with his country still occupied. His successor, Assad Jr.!, seems to be engaged in an incestuous campaign against younger sister Lebanon's dating of other men.

Saddam Hussein: The tyrannical sponsor of the illustrious guerrilla Arafat, took on the United States twice with a bluff...he was eventually found hiding in a spider hole under the ground like a rat. Is now under trial for many crimes against humanity.

Moammar Qaddafi: After watching these developments on television, took the easy way out and happily donated his program of WMD to the United States. Ok, I will not say anything bad about Qaddafi because he does genuinely make me laugh. But his role in sponsoring our president's assassins is unforgivable nonetheless.

The Soviet Union: Soviet who?

The Islamic Republic of Iran: Well, AJ is doing a great job speaking for himself! LOL. He is the last nail in the regime's coffin, as BP said.

The common saying in the media that Sadat negotiated a separate peace deal with Israel and left out the Palestinians is the biggest nurtured lie, which seems to have taken a life of its own. Take a good look at this document from the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty which Sadat got Begin to concede...(Begin!). And keep in mind that he untiringly negotiated for this settlement under the most difficult circumstances while Arafat and the afore-mentioned gang of organized criminals were on the airwaves inciting for his death day and night.

So it is a cleaner, more peaceful version of what Arafat secretly went on to accept, years after Sadat's death. Except without all the bloodshed, the settlements, and the lost - still lost - years of hope. And yet neither Arafat nor the "architects of Oslo", ever apologized for what they had done.

I would finally like to use this occasion to address the Egyptian Left:

Don't you think it is finally time for you to drop your grudge against Sadat? His vision held sway among the Egyptian masses during his lifetime, while yours did not. His actions have, by the test of time, proven to be the most correct ones, while yours have proven wrong. Don't you think it is now finally time for you to concede that he was right, and you were - and obviously still are - wrong?

The Egyptian Left are ridiculed by some liberal Egyptian writers as suffering from sadism or the kidnappers' syndrome. Their members, followers and leaders were subjected to the most brutal campaign of imprisonment and torture by Nasser during the 1950's and 60's, an episode which many of its survivors had compared to Nazi concentration camps, minus the gas chambers...yet they somehow until now have managed to preserve a sense of deep respect for Nasser...while reserving all their hatred and vitriol, accumulating with all the years, against Sadat!

The only arrests that Sadat carried out were in September 1981, which was the last resort he took to put an end to the incitement of civil strife which he feared would give Israel an excuse to delay its scheduled handover of the rest of Sinai. Unlike Nasser, Sadat ordered for them to be treated with respect, and planned to release them in April 1982 when the liberation of Sinai would be complete...which is exactly what happened afterwards, except with Sadat already gone from the scene.

Yet I am confident that there is a dividing line that separates the good people of the Left from the radical Nasserists that have honestly tarnished their lot. And I will make it my Christmas wish that these brave people will come to their senses and finally divorce themselves from their fascist partners, and put their respected selves in the lot of liberal patriots who, like themselves, genuinely care about the future of our country. We are all socialists in heart - as in seeking for the benefit of society - although we may disagree on how this can best be achieved.

Don't you think it's high time that we build a statue of Sadat in Sinai, one worthy of this most brave and heroic man?

God bless you Sadat, happy birthday and merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Kudos to Abdel-Nour

Liberal politician Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour gave the following interview to Al Ahram weekly last week:

In the wake of the Wafd Party's poor showing in both the presidential and parliamentary elections, some of the party's leading members have been demanding an intense process of internal party reform. Their goal is no less than regaining the Wafd's standing as the nation's strongest opposition party. The key to that, they say, is replacing party chairman Noaman Gomaa.

Why did your differences with Noaman Gomaa only surface after you lost your parliamentary seat?

We have been very critical of the way Noaman Gomaa has been managing the party for quite a long time; it's just the situation reached its peak following the presidential elections. He had promised, several times earlier, to amend the party's statutes to limit the chairman's power. In fact, he has made that same promise since 2000. So that's the core of the problem -- the balance of power within the party itself.

It seems ironic that a liberal party should have that kind of dynamic...

We probably made a huge mistake by not stopping him from having unlimited control of the party and its mouthpiece. We weren't scared to stop him; it's just that we were trying to preserve the party's unity and maintain its strength. We were wrong.

Weren't you against the party taking part in the presidential elections?

I was always against the idea, although I voted for it [during the party's higher committee meeting] because I was convinced that it was an opportunity to unite the party. And it did, in fact; we appeared to be a strong and united group. I also thought it was a chance to show that the party has a clear ideology, and that it would help boost our chances during the parliamentary elections. I still maintain my position, had it been played correctly.

Why wasn't it?

Our candidate appeared weak, lacked charisma, and -- more importantly -- lacked commitment.

Why didn't the party choose someone else to run? Some people wanted deputy chairman Mahmoud Abaza.

[Gomaa] would not allow it. He said that if it weren't him, it wouldn't be anybody. He didn't do his homework, and he took it lightly.

Maybe he took it lightly because everyone knew who the winner would be...

Candidates running for presidential elections around the world might know they will lose, but they still run to represent their party. He failed, and he failed us. Ironically, after losing, he blamed party members for making him do something he didn't want to do; he said we were part of a conspiracy to undermine him, that we had links to the NDP, and were promised rewards in return. After the elections, we had a very good higher committee meeting. Most of those who spoke asked for reform. I was the most outspoken; I asked that the younger generation [take on leading positions] in the party. He did not like that at all, and later criticised me. After that, all my concentration went into the parliamentary elections, and I was very busy. He did not call me once, or support me. I was told that Al-Wafd journalists were given firm instructions not to mention anything about me or cover my campaigning. After I lost, he did not call me; more importantly, I found out that he was happy that I lost. I didn't utter a word.

But you did say, on satellite TV, that Gomaa was preventing the party from reforming; he considered that an insult, and that was why you were dismissed...

I did not attack him. I blamed the party's leadership for what happened to both the Wafd, and Egyptian politics in general, which is in dire need of a true liberal party. I also said that he was happy that I lost, and that is a fact. I then left for France; while there, I found out that he had [demoted] me from deputy chairman to party counselor. He deals with the party like he owns it, like it's a party with no statutes. I told [independent newspaper] Al-Fagr that the decision was null and void, and that at this point dealing with him is impossible. That it was either he or I in the party. So he fired me.

So what is your plan?

My plan is very simple: to work on reforming the Wafd Party, which cannot take place unless Gomaa leaves. A majority of the party's members support me, and are fed up with Gomaa. The reform will be real, meaning the door will be open to Wafdists who have been kicked out, and others who escaped Gomaa's dictatorship, as well as all believers in democracy and liberalism. I am giving myself until the end of 2005 to kick him out; so yes, you can say I am in a hurry. If I fail, I will call for the formation of a new party that will fill a huge gap in the political map. I will ask all the reformists to join the party.

Isn't this what Ayman Nour tried to do when he started the Ghad Party, after trying and failing to kick Gomaa out of the Wafd?

I will not make the mistakes that he did.

Nasserist mouthpiece Al-Arabi claimed that the US was offering to give you a huge amount of money if you ousted Gomaa...

That is a completely fabricated story. Gomaa always accuses anyone who opposes him of being an agent and a traitor. It is ridiculous to say that the US will give me $130 million if I kick him out. The US will not pay $130 dollars to oust Gomaa, because he is not a threat to them. I am not ashamed that I have good relations with everybody; I am open to all ideas, and to everyone.

Where does the party stand now?

The party is at a crossroads. It can either play a fantastic role by reforming itself and filling an obvious gap on the Egyptian political map, or else it can become a party of the past.

As a Copt, are you concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood's strong showing in the parliamentary polls?

There is a fear amongst liberals, socialists, intellectuals, women, Copts and others. The fear is based on a feeling that the Brotherhood could curtail people's freedoms, or put citizenship rights into question. Their position towards Copts is not very clear. We should call on the Brotherhood to clarify their position towards a whole series of issues including the constitution, democracy, the role of women, the position of Copts, tourism, banking, the arts, etc. They are not clear, which raises concerns and fears.

In spite of all the violations, they won 88 seats; if there hadn't been intervention, they would have probably won much more. The results no doubt indicate that it is the most well organised political group. They only fielded about 150 candidates, and 88 won. Next time the number will be much, much bigger -- unless all the other parties consider this a wake up call.

A few days ago Abdel Nour was re-instated back to his position in the Wafd party by the reformers of its high council committee, which also stripped No'man Gomaa of his despotic powers which he has abused over the years to the effective alienation of all sympathizers to the history and ideals of the Wafd.

However I don't think this re-instatement will spell any benefits to the Egyptian political scene since No'man is still clinching on to the party's chair with his teeth...and there will be no progress as long as he effectively leads the party, because he is by no means a liberal to begin with. So progress will only be seen when he is voted out in the next party elections...but this is an unfortunate waste of time. So maybe Abdel Nour's re-instatement was a step taken to derail him from forming an effective liberal party, and therefore a ploy to derail the emergence of a liberal party in general for the time being. [Which makes Gomaa, at worst, a crony willing to be freely used by the government, or, at best; just one incredibly dictatorial bastard.]

The MB's strong showing was indeed a wake-up call to Egypt's parties and politicians, including himself, who before the elections did not concede that the parties had a problem and instead only focused his criticisms on the ruling regime. Better to learn than never at all.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bye, Bye Sinai...Bye, Bye Egypt?

Let me begin this letter by saying that I am not the only Egyptian who has been raising eyebrows of alarm over the latest series of decisions that our government has been taking over this past year, and in particular during these last few months.

Let's begin by talking about Sinai. In August of this year, the government of Israel – after political calculations of its national security interests, and after holding a nation-wide referendum on its planned withdrawal – unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza strip. Good for Israel, and good for the freedom of the Palestinians. But what is not good for us is that immediately after the withdrawal, thousands of Palestinians broke down the Egyptian-Palestinian border at Rafah (formerly the secure Egyptian-Israeli border), and it is estimated that 100,000 Palestinians flooded the Egyptian territories in that ensuing period, and thousands of Palestinians and Egyptians continued to cross between both sides of Rafah for a week or so as if there were no border at all. The situation was left uncontrollable until the government of Egypt, initially caught off guard, reached a deal with Israel to increase the number of security personnel needed to secure our borders and it was finally closed when the new Egyptian border guards took their positions by the latter half of September.

Then finally in late November we learned from the news that the Egyptian government and the Palestinian Authority were holding a ceremony for the official and permanent re-opening of the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza. All we learned from the news was that the border would operate at a capacity facilitating 4000 border crossings a day, and that Palestinians of the age-groups of over 40 and under 18 years of age can enter Egypt without a visa.

Not one columnist in the government-owned papers, for wanting to toe the government line, expressed any doubts about what had just happened. And not one columnist that I am aware of from the opposition even mentioned the matter - for they in turn want to appear more Catholic than the Pope, and more Arabist than the Arab. And yet most Egyptians that I have spoken to about this expressed concern and confusion about what had just taken place. Something is obviously wrong here.

The Israeli premier's cabinet was probably having a field day over the embarrassment caused to our government by the breakdown of the Rafah border and the chaos that ensued. And it probably deliberately meant to catch our government off guard with its withdrawal, as a way of putting foot-in-mouth of our government spokesmen who have been so unequivocally criticising Israel over the years - when it bombs and when it is bombed. And it is not so far-fetched to imagine that the expected influx of Palestinians into the Sinai was one of the ulterior motives behind the sudden Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip...And yet the question is: How could Egypt have not expected this?

There is a difference between using rhetoric as a tactical means to achieve political ends, and between inflating rhetoric until it becomes so big, that it develops a life of its own and its own speaker becomes afraid to confront it. And yet the key thing to know here is that, despite appearances, it does not really develop a life of its own: it's only a balloon, inflated further and further only by the authors' fear to confront it. And it becomes so big until it obstructs their vision from seeing what is actually happening on the ground; in this case, the influx of Palestinians into Sinai and the threat to Egyptian national security that this represents.

One of Israel's age-old arguments since its foundation has been that the Arab world is so big that it can afford to settle the occupied and stateless Palestinians in its own territories - in this case among them, the Sinai - and in so doing, ending the 'Palestinian question' and the trouble resulting from its occupation. And perhaps the biggest reason for its withdrawal is its leaders' realistic recognition of its long-term inability to cope with the growing problems of overpopulation and poverty in Gaza. And yet while Israel confronted this situation by cutting its losses and withdrawing, the Egyptian government seems to have incoherently responded by opening its border full swing. Unlike the Israelis, we Egyptians were neither given a referendum to ask our opinion over the details of the matter, nor given a clue about what is going on - even a month after the border was officially inaugurated on the 25th of November. We do not know for sure how many Palestinians crossed into Sinai, and we do not have an idea of how many still remain on this side and have settled with their kin. We do not know what the border deal entails...again, we were told in the news that the Rafah border will be the gate of the Palestinians to the outside world, but we were told nothing about what this for Egypt particularly means.

I am sure Egyptians can only be happy for the new prospects this may entail for Palestinians, from newfound ability to travel abroad, to attracting foreign investment and wealth to the Gaza strip and creating new job opportunities for its inhabitants. But Egypt, whose unemployed population runs at 10.9 % of its labour force (and I think is a moderate estimate), or 2.25 million people, towers over Gaza’s total population of 1.3 million as a whole, and cannot afford to sacrifice critically needed jobs to its neighbours. And our neighbours of the overpopulated Gaza strip, whose borders are now freely open to Egypt, are now geographically closer and may find it easier to make it to the tourist and the less dense population centres in Sinai than can the bulk of the Egyptian population of the Nile Valley, who ironically have to go through a hell of their own of security checkpoints just to make it into Sinai themselves. Will all this in the long term spell a demographic, and even political, change in the future of the Sinai? The opaqueness of the Egyptian political process and the absurdity of both the governmental press and that of the opposition have left us in the dark over matters that are of utmost importance to the country's national security...And I, for one, am dumfounded and confused. There are probably strong immigration laws in place in Egypt to prevent such scenarios from happening, but can the bribery of local officials and Bedouin-facilitated human trafficking find their way around them? It is a tough border to control after all, as Israel failed to locate all the tunnels used to smuggle weapons across the border.

In the end I must say that I reserve my right to be wrong about these speculations, because I am left stumbling in the dark...and this anxiety of opaqueness is the biggest problem after all.

We next come to the domestic political situation in Egypt. I was recently offered the idea to meet a visiting Italian journalist and be interviewed as a normal Egyptian citizen about what I thought of our current situation in Egypt. The meeting never materialized, but I imagine if I had met her that this is what I would have said: Imagine you are living in Italy under the mercy of a government bureaucracy that is laden with cronyism and corruption from A to Z. The only available opposition party is an organization of Christian fundamentalists who aim to turn the Bible into the country's source of legislation, and establish the Vatican as the ruling power of Italy instead of the civilian democratic society in Rome. They intend to eventually do away with this concept of democracy when they come to power, because it was not mentioned in the scriptures. The (newly appointed) Pope and his High Council of Clerics will rule over all. They will effectively return Italy to the Middle Ages, and the Papal President of the Vatican will consider himself the "Prince of the Faithful", president of the Christians – not of the citizens of Italy, this absurd modern invention.

The other vocal opposition group that exists besides this one is a fascist party among the northern Alpine people of Italy, which runs under the banner of "Solidarity of the Alpine Nation of Europe". They aim not to separate their small group from the rest of Italy as you would expect, no...they intend to rule over the whole of Italy which, by the way, they would not mind renaming, as their late strongman who overthrew civilian government had done once before, when he tried and eventually failed to unite Italy with Austria because of the totalitarianism of his rule: "The United Alpine Republic" will be the new name of your country. As for the rest of you 99% + of Italians who feel your identity, history and culture is left out by the strange agenda of their doctrine, forget about expressing your reservations about this to your fellow Italians in your local press. For although their fascist party had fallen out of power over thirty years ago, with the divine demise of its leader, individuals indoctrinated with their ideology of Alpine Solidarity are miraculously still situated over, and control, every outlet of government-run press and that of the opposition. If this situation bothers you, you odd Italian-thinking individual, well tough luck can die of your sorrows for all they care...Now, as a modern progressive Italian woman living in Italy under these conditions, how would you feel??

The sinister thing to know about this is that the government is probably laying back and laughing at your unenviable situation, as you are left no other choice than its own rule – the way it is, with all its cronyism, whether you like it or not – or between the existing political parties of the opposition; the dual flanks of religious and ethnic fascism that it has carefully bred on leashes to become just big enough to scare us into wisely accepting the warmth of its comparable mercy. As for a third liberal alternative, it does not exist, nor does such an outlet to express such a dirty idea.

This brings us back to the strange series of decisions that the government has been making lately. My main reason for opposing the idea of Ayman Nour becoming the next president of Egypt, was his open flirtation with the Nasserists and the Brotherhood, and my impression – based on his election campaign – that his election would only be a short transitional period that would leave the door open for the takeover of the Muslim Brotherhood, as he expressed no reservation for letting them run in the next elections (Sure this can happen in the future, but not in our current circumstances where our general state of education is razed to the ground, and where we have no solid civil society, or worked-out guarantees that the MB would not overthrow it if it comes to power). Yet it appears that it is the government, and not Ayman Nour, which is doing everything it can to strengthen the Brotherhood.

The only reason why the Brotherhood did so well in these elections is because people have no other alternative to vote for than the corruption they are seeing in the government. We have no liberal party or press in Egypt. From the stifling of liberal opinions in the media, I would say that the government has done everything it can to stop such a political current from existing. In such a situation it is only expected that the Brotherhood would grow so strong. Maybe the government strategists were not as stupid as they appear, and knew that the Brotherhood would naturally score the way they did when the field would be left so open to them with no opposition[1]. Here is the catch, and keep in mind here that so far I am giving the government the benefit of doubt, and assuming that it really isn't as stupid as it seems, but instead carefully plotting its deeds with selfish Machiavellian cleverness: the government thought it would be hitting two birds with one stone: It would not only destroy a liberal candidate and make an example out of him...but by the consequential showing of the brotherhood it would also scare Egypt's liberals and the United States into line, by demonstrating to them that the Islamic state is the only other alternative[2].

Yet here is the Catch 22, and the funny part which inadvertently demonstrates the stupidity of the government, even when we initially assumed that it was clever: In the end, the government's short sighted game with the Brotherhood only 'let the genie out of the box', 'opened a can of worms' many of the rest of these saying go. And to demonstrate further its ineptness, during the third round of parliamentary elections it only further inflamed the fire it started instead of carefully trying to put it out, as it opened fire on voters it had blockaded from reaching polling stations, killing eight. Obviously this is not the correct solution to putting the genie back in the box because this will only create sympathy for the brotherhood as an opposition group, even among those who would not support them in different circumstances.

The government should know that it is making it increasingly difficult for even those who want to support it, or at least support the goals that it claims it wants to achieve, to do so, because what it is doing is by all means indefensible and leading to quiet the opposite of its stated goals – from maintaining a secular state, to upholding Muslim-Christian unity, to even these latest unprecedented blunders on matters of national security. I think the (new?) government strategists who had been taking these latest series of uncharacteristic decisions over this past year should probably resign, as they have fully demonstrated their recklessness, and I for one am honestly worried about what they will do next if they continue in their sensitive positions for much longer. And finally a liberal and nationalist party and press must be allowed to come into being as this will be the only hope to counter the two beasts of political Islamism and radical Arabism which the government has sponsored as its scare pets for so long.

So far in this democratic process, our government has been acting like a spoiled child playing with a toy. One who would rather throw away the toy in the river Nile than share it with the other kids. But it is time for our government to act more maturely than this and realize that our country is not a toy that should be played with in this dangerous manner, nor is it exclusively its own. And it should wake up to the realization that the only hope for us to save this country is for it to start working with more honest and sincere people who genuinely care about where Egypt is going. Most of such people really don't care about who is ruling Egypt for the time being; as long as it is being governed to the potential of this country and its people, you can easily have our votes. But when this structure - the only alternative we have, with no base to fall back on - is by all means not functioning properly, and beginning to crack under its own weight, then this is when we all have to begin to worry.

[1] And there is no need to ask why the "banned" Islamist group is so freely running in the elections in the first place, while one liberal presidential candidate is now running for his life in prison.

[2] Come to think of it, maybe this is why the authorities never did anything to prevent the banned group's famous banner of "Islam is the Solution" from ringing loud and clear in its rallies and election campaigns of its candidates. The government was sending its own clear message to the United States, that political Islamism is the only other solution.