Saturday, January 28, 2012

Small-Minded Defeatism of Washington

It is understandable, if not terribly illuminating, to see some uninformed, unorthodox and outright silly analysis of a normally relatively sedate topic, once the matter becomes publicized at the highest level by this highly politicized White House.  As such, much of the wacky views about what to do with Egypt -- ranging from tying the country to a global jihad to sugar-coating clearly anti-modern Islamists as Jeffersonian democrats -- can be dismissed as part of the expected Beltway reaction. 

What is far less acceptable, however, is when leading experts of Egypt policy in Washington can offer so little in terms of a constructive approach for putting Egypt on a modernist path of reform in this time of transformation.  The central assumption of the CSIS's Egypt in Transition:  Insights and Options for U.S. Policy is that the United States has a very limited role in Egypt and, as such, can basically not do much apart from watching on the sidelines and occasionally making a point here or there.  The assumption is inaccurate and leads to a dangerous conclusion of inaction. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The World Cup Mission and the Revolution

Egypt has qualified to participate in just one World Cup soccer tournament since 1934.  This, notwithstanding the country having a highly talented player pool, one of the oldest soccer federations, largest populations  and most passionate fan bases on the continent.  The reasons for this failure are educational in observing the ebbs and flows of events in Egypt since last January. 
Awaiting greatness 
Like the mass demonstrations of Tahrir, there is real energy, passion and potential in Egyptian football that can make an impact, but there is also chronically haphazard organization, unstable leadership and a tendency to allow emotions to overtake performance holding things back.  There is always a "what-if" feeling about how some young star or group of players could have been great, but for being ill-nurtured by the surrounding chaos.  The forty day league stoppages to allow a group of junior players to prepare to play a friendly match, ad-hoc club decisions to pull out of tournaments, nutty decisions to grant “exclusive” licenses to televise matches to half a dozen stations, and players bowing in prayer after scoring goals on handballs or breaking down into uncontrollable bouts of tears after an adverse decision or insult from the even more emotional crowd, have all contributed to a record of underachievement. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ammu Kamal

Today, Egypt lost one of its good souls.  May the good Lord reward him for his life of generosity and kindness. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The IMF and Egypt - Helping Egypt Help Itself

In all of the desperate grasping for how Egypt can be saved from the abyss of an impoverished, Islamist tyranny, the long overdue turn of the Egyptian government to the International Monetary Fund presents an opportunity for the world to help Egypt help itself. Apart from plugging a hole in the country’s finances – caused largely by haphazard decision and indecision of the successive interim governments over the past year – IMF-linked structural reforms offer an avenue for sustained change in Egypt.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rabbis Not Welcome: From Abu Hasira to Jesus to Tyranny

Another Jewish Rabbi in Egypt
The decision to cancel the annual celebration in the Nile Delta of the 19th century Jewish rabbi Abu Hasira is troubling.  Though there are certain, justifiable concerns with securing an event attended by a few hundred orthodox Jews in an obscure location (even if those concerns are exaggerated, given the long-standing presence of the festival and participation of Muslim Egyptians in it), the fact of the decision being driven by, and celebrated as a victory for, the "revolutionaries" speaks volumes about the motivations of the purported national liberators.  All concerned with freedom of religion and thought, should take note. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Obama's Egypt: An Exclusionary Christmas

Even when he tries to appear accommodating to a Christian community whom he has dangerously undermined through his wrong-headed policies, he gets it wrong.  In offering Christmas greetings to Coptic Orthodox Christians, President Obama is specifically excluding all non-Orthodox Copts also celebrating Christmas on January 7, and reinforcing the very prejudices that he claims to want to help Egypt overcome.  Copts are Egyptians, and Egyptians are Copts, not just Orthodox, and not even just Christians.  All are celebrating the birth of Jesus.  

Who is advising this guy?