Thursday, May 16, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
Egypt appears a changing place. Beards are growing bushier, head coverings are becoming longer, language is becoming more Arabized, politics are becoming more politicized. There is a niggling sense of uncertainty that unsettles many, if not most, of an ever-stressed population that is tested on everything from their religious beliefs to crossing the street. Many -- far too many -- have been driven out of the country altogether, whether out of economic desperation, a random judicial system or otherwise.
But through it all, Egyptians have been, are, and will remain, Egyptians. No matter how large the standard zebiba, or stern the airport official or shrill the street demonstration, Egypt will get through it, because Egypt is embedded deep into the hearts, minds and souls of Egyptians anywhere and everywhere. Rational or irrational, it an unshakable truism underpinning Egyptian society.
You can take the Egyptian out of Egypt, but you can never take Egypt out of the Egyptian.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Twitter might be a convenient platform for passing along quick thoughts or building up one's vanity, as the case may be. It is not the appropriate way to run U.S. foreign policy. The Obama twits need to grow up.
|From the Monroe Doctrine to 140 characters or less|
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Monday, February 11, 2013
|Bringing back the good times!|
Apparently having nothing else to do given the prevailing safety and security Egypt enjoys these days, the Egyptian military has decided to have its production arm restart manufacturing of the country's very own crap-mobile, El Nasr. If anything exemplifies the utter failings of Nasserist economic policies, it is the junk car produced by the state-owned El Nasr Automotive Manufacturing Company (NASCO). Notwithstanding the advantages of massive tariff barriers, subsidized production and an effective monopoly on the domestic market for over two decades, NASCO was forced to mothball production lines in 2009, as finicky consumers turned to better produced and cheaper cars.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Coach Bob Bradley has done an admirable job sticking with Egyptian football through all of the challenges he has faced since taking the reigns in 2011. He appears astute (even if somewhat overly tactical) in game planning, and all reports are that he gets along well with the federation, players and fans, a feat that should not be underestimated given their chaotic natures. However, his myopic focus on Ahly and external leagues for the national team's player selection is putting the World Cup 2014 qualification objective at risk.
True as it is that the scouting process has been made more difficult because of the stoppage of the domestic league for twelve months (and major kuddos to all for getting it re-started, even if without fans), a goalkeeper as poor as Sherif Ekramy simply has no place on the team. He is bad with Ahly, and he is bad with Egypt. Mohamed Abou Treika's aging legs sunk Egypt in the decisive qualifier versus Algeria in 2010, and three years on, he is not getting any better, nor will he by summer 2014. Same goes for the likes of Wael Gomaa and Sayed Moawad. And who is Adam El Abd? No one had heard of the guy before, and for good reason since he is terrible, but Bradley constantly picks a sluggish defender playing on a provincial side in England, seemingly only because he is playing on a provincial side in England.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Continuing the auspicious trend of revolutionary superheroes promising to save the day, the mysterious Black Bloc has swooped onto the means streets of Egypt. Unfortunately, they have not quite yet figured how to outfit themselves. A helpful tip on how to wear black socks can be found below:
|And it's missing a "k"|
Monday, January 28, 2013
Egypt's "liberal" (John Locke would beg to differ with the identification) opposition movement is a failure. The National Salvation Front's grandiose name does nothing to hide its gross limitations. This is a group that, notwithstanding the epic shortcomings of the ruling Islamists and the widespread disillusion of Egyptians of all types, is unable to make itself matter. It cynically expresses horror after recklessly egging on mayhem on the streets. It finds political value in every passing tragedy, from Port Said to Cairo and back again. Its media outlets rejoice in disaster and loss, headlining each down day on the stock market (which, incidentally, increased by over 50% year-on-year in 2012) and tsk-tsking the inability of Egypt to find consensus in the face of their driven divisiveness. Its inept leaders are ever so brave in saying no, and utter cowards in ever saying yes to anything that does not fit into their zero sum political calculations.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Egypt has outdone its pathetic self and found a new low. In a vain, politicized, chaotic and cowardly decision, the Egyptian "justice system" has concluded that twenty-one more fans must die. This is how justice is served for the seventy-two (or seventy-four...even the number of dead from the Masry-Ahly debacle is not known, but such minor details needn't interfere with getting on with things). The exigencies of chalking up a victory for the incompetent prosecution, throwing a bone to the dogs barking for accountability for the sixty years of the raping of the country, the legitimizing of conspiracy narratives, quieting the court-room mayhem and giving a sense of satisfaction to the self-identified revolutionary heroes of Tahrir, made throwing away twenty-one irrelevant lives from provincial Port Said an easy call.
Friday, January 25, 2013
|Need more Happy Meals|
There have been endless, mostly bad ideas from in and around the small-minded Obama Administration on how to deal with the chaos that is Egypt today. From fateful resignation, to enthusiastic support, to demands for aggressive confrontation, such approaches are at best insufficient, and are more likely to be counterproductive to the goal of a stable Egypt emerging from the foggy aftermath of January 25, 2011. A concise way forward is offered by the editors of Bloomberg (who somehow are more attuned to an effective foreign policy and the circumstances in Egypt than the phalanx of "experts" in Washington and Cairo). The call for active but measured U.S. engagement that can steer Egypt toward fuller integration with the modern world -- through such things as a free trade agreement and an IMF loan package -- is right for the United States and right for Egypt.
Friday, January 18, 2013
Bassem Youssef's El Bernameg is well-produced, witty and topical. It is good in its own right, and especially good relative to the tired standards of feigned seriousness, pumped up shouting matches and bad drama for comparable shows on Egyptian and pan-Arab television. Bassem Youssef, however, has become too big for his own good.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
|James Madison...Egyptian style|
Egyptians pride themselves in being unique, and all the more so in a post-January 25 era. In the interest of jump-starting discussions on a founding document befitting of its people in these exciting times, here are some specific proposals for Egypt's Revolutionary Constitution:
Thursday, December 6, 2012
|"S" is for Salafi!|
Of the many idiotic explanations for the mess transpiring these days in Egypt, one of the most incongruous is that this is all America's fault. U.S. policy toward Egypt under Obama has been far from perfect, especially in too eagerly accommodating, and hence legitimizing, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. But to assign all, most or even any significant part the chaos of the last twenty-three months to the United States, amounts to little more than a limp attempt to shift the blame for Egypt's demise since January 25. From the outset, and unfortunately still continuing, the self-proclaimed revolutionary vanguard that triggered the events leading to the present has been lacking in vision, leadership, organization, responsibility, accountability, and credibility, even if being full of energy and passion. The ensuring takeover by the Islamists was as much a victory by default as it was anything else.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Monday, November 26, 2012
In these trying times, Egypt is in need of a man in whom its desperate and divided populace can place its trust, a man who provides a sense of reassurance and integrity, a man who has his priorities straight, a selfless, modest and non-attention hungry man whose very face restores belief in all that is good. While there may have been one or two teeny doubts of his track record, Egypt's revolutionary vanguard has found its new savior:
Thursday, November 22, 2012
|Heaping praises on El Dictator|
What the President of the United States thinks matters. It matters because the United States is the world's sole superpower, and it has, does and will continue to dominate in the Middle East generally, and in Egypt specifically. Unfortunately, this president has managed to convince himself early on that Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood can be accommodating partners, whether because he really believes so, or because he lowered the standard so much as to make the concept of partnership nearly irrelevant, or some of both. Whatever the case, Morsi has taken note of the air cover, and the ground offensive is now in full swing.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Egypt today can seem a depressing place. Discourse seems to only revolve around price hikes, fuel shortages, tragic train and road accidents, attacks on innocent girls and scary plans by scary-looking people to take the country back to the stone ages. Anything and everything is cited as yet another piece of damning proof of the incompetence and danger of the Islamists, feeding into a spiraling cycle of depravity that can only be broken by a full fledged coup d'etat by mystical heroic figures who will intervene to save the day.
The principal proponents of this desperate outlook are very same "progressive" idealists who initiated the overthrowal of Mubarak's rule, and who now look longingly to an era where traffic was apparently less chaotic, where tragic accidents were apparently less horrific, where the educational system was apparently less awful, where people and religions were apparently less uncivil, where Gaza was apparently less incendiary, and on and on and on. And apparently forgotten and forgiven are the cynical and stifling politics, cultural atrophy, failed war and foreign policy, stagnant economy and mass corruption emblematic of the military state.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
The current state of Egypt's court system is an unmitigated disaster. A toxic blend of populism, Islamism, corruption and outright idiocy is steadily chipping away at what little credibility remains in a post-January 2011 Egypt. Though the Muslim Brotherhood and their Salafi cohorts, as well as the military establishment and its systemic oppression, represent clear and present dangers at the constitutional, presidential, parliamentary and administrative levels, those risks are checked by at least of modicum of transparency and opposition that is entirely lacking with the self-serving, activist judiciary.
Impossibly wide claims, fabricated evidence and reversals of the burden of proof leave defendants with virtually no chance of success. In one recent, high-profile decision against a foreign gold mining company, Centamin, an administrative court ordered the cancellation of a concession (which was once cited as a case study of Egypt's economic successes), because the revenue-share allocation to the state was deemed insufficient. In proclaiming victory after the decision, the lead prosecutor noted that:
[t]he government has pumped about 200,000 litres of diesel each day to help the company's operations over the last 10 years, that alone is worth $800 million.
|Golden no more|
Even taking the unlikely assumption that the fuel inputs were offered free of consideration, that would implausibly price government procured diesel at over $4 per gallon. Other high-profile decisions have ordered re-nationalizations of publicly-traded companies, voided billion dollar investments stretching over the course of a decade in a cement plant employing 3,000 people, plus taking various actions against property developers based on a repricing of once barren and undeveloped lands at current market, post-development values. And these are just the headline cases. Dozens upon dozens of other dossiers are in the dockets, with the overwhelming presumption of guilt driving away precious capital and even more precious brainpower.