Friday, 24 August 2012

Syria: The End Game

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After 18 months of fighting the al-Assad regime, the end game, by Allah’s grace in now in sight. The whole Ummah has watched with astonishment at not just the brutality of al-Assad but the mixed messages from the West, which played a key role in the slaughter, by giving al-Assad ample time to end the uprising.

 وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُون

أَلا إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْمُفْسِدُونَ وَلَـكِن لاَّ يَشْعُرُونَ


And when it is said to them: make not mischief in the earth, they say: We are only peace makers. No, they are mischief makers but they perceive it not. (TMQ 2:11-12)

When the uprising initially began in early 2011, both Britain and France immediately called for intervention whilst the US called for giving al-Assad time, as he was a reformer. As pictures were beamed around the world of al-Assad’s slaughter, the US changed tact and began calling for his removal, whilst not actually doing anything. When this position became untenable and the massacres continued, the US faced a dilemma, the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Local Coordination Committee (LCC) failed to coalesce into a unified movement. The US hoped to possibly replace al-Assad with a new breed of loyalists, however undermined by internal squabbling and power struggles and having little credibility in the eyes of the people the US turned towards the UN to buy itself time.

Various proposals were put forward with regards to Syria from sanctions to UN observer missions and a resolution condemning the Syrian leadership with vague prospects of intervention. This action i.e. the involvement of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the resolution to the Syrian crisis, effectively placed the solution to the Syrian crisis in the hands of the superpowers, who themselves were all competing with each other.

The Kofi Annan plan, allowed the regime time and space to commit arguably its worst atrocities. The UN observers were as impotent as the earlier Arab league observer mission was and were at times complicit with the regime. The task of the observers was to inform the international community of the unacceptable actions of those they had under observation. The international community was fully aware of the violence. The issue in Syria was not that the world was unaware of the violence, but that it was not willing to take steps to end it.

End Game

In June 2012 a flurry of statements by US officials such as Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of staff, US Defence Secretary, the Secretary of State and the President himself began to ratchet up calls for military intervention. This after calling for everything short of intervention since the uprising began. This was due to the progress the Ummah in Syria was making against al-Assad. The Assad regime to quell the uprisings in Homs, Hama, Idlib and the stand-off has reached Aleppo as well as districts of Damascus – the seat of the regime. This worried the US as well as the al-Assad regime who then resorted to massacres such as Qubair and Houla as the people of Syria were not going to allow foreign powers to replace Assad with another puppet.

The magnitude of al Assad’s problems became clear July 6 2012 when the influential Tlass clan publicly broke ties with the al-Assads. This signalled the unravelling of the Sunni patronage networks that have helped sustain the minority Alawite-dominated regime for more than four decades. The next blow came July 18th 2012 with a bombing at the National Security headquarters in Damascus which eliminated several of the regime’s top security bosses. There have since been a string of defections, most recently that of the Prime Minister of Syria Riyad Hijab on August 6th 2012.

The Syrian military faces a countrywide insurgency, with rebel pockets forming in most of the key governorates. Given al-Assad’s finite resources, the regime prioritized its operations. Whilst the military has not ceded any district to the opposition and continues to go on offensives aimed at destroying rebel pockets in critical areas, large swaths of the countryside have effectively been ceded to the rebels as the government focuses on amassing enough personnel and firepower to maintain solid control over critical cities and supply lines. This is now cracking.

With the end game in Syria in sight there are a whole host of issues the Muslims of Syria will need to contend with in order to ensure their uprising is not hijacked by those with their own agendas. With this in mind we present the key strategic issues which the Ummah of Syria will need to contend with.

Security

No nation is independent unless it controls its own security. Sovereignty does not exist unless a nation can secure its borders and is self-sufficient in this. Whilst much has been made of Syria’s chemical weapons, which in reality is a pretext for possible foreign intervention, the Ummah of Syria will need to take over the country and bring the countries heavy industry and weapons arsenal under its control. This will be essential in the case of military intervention by foreign powers and also for the wider Islamic aim of reunification with the wider Muslim world.  In overcoming these challenges we make the following recommendations:
  • The Al-Assad regime is now on its last legs and is entirely reliant on military loyalty. The entire command structure of the Syrian military should be encouraged to defect and join the opposition. There is no need for more sons and daughters of the brave Syrian people to suffer for the sake of the butcher Bashar. The forces amassed around Aleppo should defect en masse to the opposition and this would deal a dramatic and irreversible blow to the al-Assad regime and accelerate the inevitable conclusion with minimal further bloodshed. The military are a vital part of Syrian society and should defend their people, not destroy them. All possible measures should be undertaken by the Syrian opposition to facilitate the defections.
  • The new leadership could then consolidate and secure the nation’s military and weapons; and secure its borders in order to deter those with designs on the nation. Currently the nation has 215,000 soldiers with a similar number in the reserves. This includes eight armoured divisions and three mechanised divisions, these will need to be brought under the new leaderships authority. Their equipment includes 4,700 tanks, 4,500 armoured personnel carriers, 850 surface-to-air missiles, and 4,000 anti-aircraft guns. The air force has 611 combat planes.
  • Syria possesses 130 surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries. These have had significant resources devoted to them in terms of maintenance and upgrade and would complicate any potential foreign intervention. These batteries will need to be secured after the overthrow of al-Assad.
  • The security services in the Arab world are notorious for their brutal methods of torture, often being the only line of defence for the rulers of the region. Syria’s Military Intelligence Directorate – Makhabarat, plays a major role in the region and not just in Syria. The role of the secret service should be changed to protecting the people from external threats, rather than internal policing. They should also be paid a wage commensurate to this, to weed out corruption.
Internal Cohesion 

Internal cohesion was maintained in the country by successive rulers through the secret service permeating every facet of society. Whilst much has been made of civil war and sectarianism, non-Muslims make up less than 25% of the country’s population. Unifying Syria into a cohesive society is one of the biggest challenges the new leadership will face, especially as foreign powers have designs on the nation. In overcoming these challenges we make the following recommendations:
  • The adoption of a new constitution – A constitution should be adopted that enshrines the relationship between state and society and defines the organs of state and how accountability can take place. The Ummah of Syria need to change the basis of the nation from a vague concept of Arab nationalism and al-Assad to Islam. This is because the truth underpins Islam and Islam is indigenous to the nation so it will provide it with a coherent and consistent system to organise state and society.
  • As the basis of Islam is the Qur’an and Sunnah a new constitution that outlines the detailed Islamic position on the economy, social system, accountability and judiciary should be drawn up and made public so every citizen can understand the laws that will govern the state, the society and the individual. This will create a coherent society, create unity among the people and provide a framework through which people can work to achieve their personal, political or religious goals.
  • The constitution should clearly state the obligation of political parties and the establishment of the Majlis of the Ummah (the people’s house), which will have the power to impose certain restriction on the ruler. This mechanism will allow for accountability to take place in an institutionalised manner. This will allow for a close relationship between the ruler and ruled and create a society which cannot be penetrated from the outside as changes can be brought and discrepancies can be raised directly through this domestic institution.
  • The constitution should also clearly outline the rights of all citizens in the state Muslim and non-Muslim. The Alawite and Christian minorities must understand clearly that the constitution of the state, with its Islamic foundation, will enshrine the rights of all of the people of Syria into law as demanded in Islamic Fiqh regardless of denomination.
Foreign interference 

Syria was an artificial creation by the deal made by the French and British in the Sykes-Picot agreement in 1918. Whilst European influence was replaced by the US after WW2, the West ensured the minority demographic ruled over the majority, who would always need foreign help to remain in power. Successive rulers remained loyal to the West protecting their interests in the region, which ensured military hardware kept flowing into the country. Stratfor outlined its view on the post Assad scenario: “Foreign diplomacy surrounding the conflict, rather than the rebels fighting within Syria, will determine what the endgame looks like. Stratfor expects a scramble among the foreign stakeholders in Syria to protect their interests and emerge from the growing chaos with some degree of leverage.” In order to deal with foreign interference the following recommendations should be pursued:
  • Removing US interference will be central to the future of the Muslim world as well as Syria. To achieve this US tools for this need to be eliminated. Since the US came to the Muslim lands it has used agent rulers, economic aid, investment for infrastructure and military sales as key tools in keeping influence in the region. Each of these will need to be deconstructed and removed.
  • Former members of the al-Assad regime need to be put on trial for the crimes they have committed. Justice needs to be brought to the millions who suffered at their hands. These trials should be completely public, comprehensive and just. Similarly members of the Syrian National Council (SNC) should be not be permitted to return to the country as they are close to the West and  their loyalty to a new Syria cannot be guaranteed.
  • No arbitrary limits should be placed on the requirement for appropriate weapons to deter attack. Islam in origin forbids the use of weapons that indiscriminately destroy. However, it allows Muslims to possess such weapons to be used reciprocally for the purpose of deterrence only. Appropriate weapons development programmes should seek to secure the state from foreign invasion.
  • The “rogue state” label has been developed in the Capitals of the West to justify interference in the Muslim lands and to subvert any call for the return of Islam. The West has engaged in many heinous crimes without any accountability. This includes their lies concerning WMD in Iraq and their cosy relationship with Ben Ali, Gaddafi and Mubarak amongst others. Syria’s new leadership should expose the wars, repression and poverty that have been a direct consequence of Western foreign policy. The main protagonists have watched the world suffer while they reaped many benefits. The negative and destructive nature of Western foreign policy has destabilised the world and they should be, in a diplomatic sense at the very least, be held accountable for this internationally.
  • The Ummah’s best defence is reunifying the Muslim world. By uniting and expanding very quickly, any foreign aggressor will be dealing with a much larger area, with more resources, economic and military power opposing them. As Afghanistan and Iraq has shown, long supply lines weaken the front lines. It should also be borne in mind that the US makes use of a number of military bases that have been provided to them by rulers of Muslim countries, cutting such supply lines will severely hinder US capabilities.
Conclusions

The beginning of the end has started in Syria and Russia, Britain, France and the US are all attempting to arrange the end game in Syria with something that suits their interests. The West has been unable to create a new breed of loyalists who will serve their agenda and have been caught short as the Ummah took her destiny into her own hands. With many in Syria openly calling for Khilafah inshallah the game is about to end for the West. (Adnan Khan)

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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Yemen: Enduring Conflicts, Threatened Transition

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Flawed as it is, Yemen’s political settlement avoided a potentially devastating civil war and secured President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s resignation, but now the challenge is to address longstanding political and economic grievances. 

Yemen: Enduring Conflicts, Threatened Transition, a new report from the International Crisis Group, proposes ways for the government to win back society’s confidence, tackle political infighting and distance itself from the leadership and practices of the past. It warns that the democratic transition remains messy and incomplete and that any failure to address the challenges soon will weigh heavily on an already divided and increasingly impoverished society.

“Theoretically, the settlement offers an opportunity to include marginalised groups, reform institutions and address longstanding conflicts through dialogue”, says April Longley Alley, Crisis Group Senior Analyst for the Arabian Peninsula. “That said, the nation so far essentially has witnessed a political game of musical chairs, with one faction of the elite swapping places with the other but remaining at loggerheads. As politicians squabble in Sanaa, urgent national problems await”. 

The political transition, sparked by protests more than eighteen months ago, cracked the regime’s foundations, while making it possible to imagine new rules of the game.  Still, much remains in doubt, notably the scope and direction of change. Key parts of society – the Huthis in the North, the southern Hiraak and some independent youth groups – feel left out. Al-Qaeda and other militants are thriving in a security vacuum, with the army divided and tribal militias still operating in urban areas.

A successful transition requires significant steps from various parties, including: 
  •  In order to improve the security situation, the government needs to restructure the military-security apparatus, while the army should respect the orders of President Hadi and the defence minister; moreover, all forces should return to barracks, as stipulated by the settlement.

  •  In order to improve the political situation, the government should distance itself from Saleh and other divisive elite figures who threw their weight behind the uprising; these individuals, for their part, ought to respect the new president’s authority and step away from the public limelight. The government also should rigorously enforce existing laws, including the civil service law.

  •  In order to build confidence with marginalised groups, the government should immediately take steps to secure the meaningful participation in the forthcoming national dialogue of the Huthis, the Hiraak and independent youth. These could include, inter alia, apologising for injustices committed against the Huthis and the Hiraak, increasing humanitarian aid to displaced people, releasing all political prisoners and beginning to address issues of transitional justice.
International actors need to ensure that the UN continues to lead efforts to support the national dialogue. They must talk to all parties and openly criticise any individual or group that fails to respect their commitments.

“The transition remains on shaky ground”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director. “The only way forward is through national dialogue. But if it is not inclusive or fails to address the political challenges, violence is likely to intensify.  The result would be more instability and a deepened humanitarian crisis”.

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As messy as it has been and unfinished as it remains, Yemen’s transition accomplished two critical goals: avoiding a potentially devastating civil war and securing the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled the impoverished country for over three decades. It also cracked the regime’s foundations, while making it possible to imagine new rules of the game. Still, much remains in doubt, notably the scope and direction of change. The nation essentially has witnessed a political game of musical chairs, one elite faction swapping places with the other but remaining at loggerheads. Important constituencies – northern Huthi, southern Hiraak, some independent youth movements – feel excluded and view the transition agreement with scepticism, if not distain. Al-Qaeda and other militants are taking advantage of a security vacuum. Socio-economic needs remain unmet. The new government must rapidly show tangible progress (security, economic, political) to contain centrifugal forces pulling Yemen apart, while reaching out to stakeholders and preparing the political environment for inclusive national dialogue.
On 23 November 2011, following eleven months of popular protest, Saleh signed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative and an accompanying set of implementation mechanisms. Boiled down to its essentials, the GCC initiative provided the former president domestic immunity from prosecution in return for his stepping down. The UN-backed implementation document added flesh to the bones, providing valuable details on the mechanics and timetable of the transition roadmap.
The agreement outlined a two-phase process. In the first, Saleh delegated powers to his vice president, Abdo Robo Mansour Hadi. Feuding politicians then formed an opposition-led national consensus government with cabinet portfolios split equally between the former ruling party, the General People’s Congress (GPC), and the opposition bloc, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). The president established a military committee tasked with reducing tensions and divisions within the armed forces, which had split between pro- and anti-Saleh factions during the uprising. Phase one ended with early presidential elections, on 21 February 2012, in which Hadi was the uncontested, consensus candidate.
In phase two, Hadi and the government are given two years to, among other things, restructure the military-secu­rity apparatus, address issues of transitional justice and launch an inclusive National Dialogue Conference with the goal of revising the constitution before new elections in February 2014. It is a laudatory program, but also plainly an ambitious one. Already the scorecard is mixed, as implementation has fallen short.
Indeed, although much has changed, a considerable amount remains the same. Begin with the most important: the settlement failed to resolve the highly personalised conflict between Saleh and his family on the one hand, and General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, as well as, the powerful al-Ahmar family, on the other. As both camps seek to protect their interests and undermine their rivals, the contours of their struggle have changed but not its fundamental nature or the identity of its protagonists. Likewise, the underlying political economy of corruption has remained virtually untouched. The same families retain control of most of the country’s resources while relying on patronage networks and dominating decision-making in the government, military and political parties.
For frustrated independent activists, the struggle at the top amounts to little more than a political see-saw between two camps that have dominated the country for some 33 years, a reshuffling of the political deck that has, at the party level, hurt the GPC and helped the JMP. This has serious policy implications. As politicians squabble in Sanaa, urgent national problems await. Humanitarian conditions have worsened dramatically since the uprising, with hunger and malnutrition levels growing at an alarming rate. A year of political turmoil has resulted in severe shortages of basic commodities; aggravated already high poverty and unemployment rates; and brought economic activity to a virtual halt.
The army is still divided, with warring commanders escaping the president’s full authority. Armed factions and tribal groups loyal to Saleh, Ali Mohsen or the Al-Ahmars remain in the capital; elsewhere the situation is far worse. The government’s writ over the periphery, already tenuous before the uprising, has contracted sharply since. In the North, the Huthis have vastly expanded their territorial control. In the South, the government must contend with challenges from the Hiraak and its affiliated armed groups. Most worrisome is the spread of Ansar Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), a murky mix of al-Qaeda militants and young local recruits, many of whom appear motivated by economic rewards more than by ideological conviction. The government, fighting alongside local popular committees, has recaptured territories in the South, but the battle with al-Qaeda is far from over.
Yet, despite these multiple crises, partisan politics and jockeying for the most part persists in the capital. Encumbered by infighting and lacking capacity, the new government has yet to articulate or put forward a political and economic vision for the transitional period. What is more, it has done too little to bring in long-marginalised groups and is sticking to a largely Sanaa-centric approach. Reformers are concerned that vested interests in both the GPC and JMP are seeking to maintain a highly centralised, corrupt state that favours northern tribal and Islamist leaders, thus further deepening the divide with the rest of the country.
Securing Saleh’s peaceful exit from the presidency was hard enough; implementing the remainder of the agreement will be harder still. Neutralising potential spoilers – competing elites associated with the old regime as well as the divided military/security apparatus – is a priority. This cannot be done too abruptly or in a way that privileges one side over the other, lest it trigger violent resistance from the losing side. Instead, Hadi should gradually remove or rotate powerful commanders in a politically even-handed fashion and end their control over individual army units, while forcing them to demonstrate respect for the military chain of command under the president and defence minister. In like manner, the influence of powerful political parties and interest groups should be diluted in a way that ensures no single one finds itself in a position to dominate the transitional process. Equally important, the national dialogue needs to be broadly inclusive, requiring immediate confidence-building measures and continued outreach efforts toward sidelined groups: the youth, the Huthis and the Hiraak.
Implementation also is suffering from its overall opaqueness. No one – not the government, parliament, or military committee – has publicly kept score so as to shed light on who is violating the agreement and how. Nor has Hadi formed the interpretation committee, even though it is mandated by the agreement, and even though it could usefully settle disputes over the meaning of the initiative and its implementation mechanisms.
The political settlement has numerous flaws. It was an elite compromise that excluded many original protesters as well as marginalised constituencies. It failed to adequately address issues of justice, and it kept in power leaders and parties at least partially responsible for the country’s woes. But, at a minimum, it offers the chance for a different future. If politicians in Sanaa fail to resolve, or at least contain, the ongoing elite confrontation and move forward with an inclusive dialogue, the country risks experiencing further violence and fragmentation. Yemen has long run away from critical decisions. It should run no more.
RECOMMENDATIONS 
To the Yemeni Armed Forces: 
 01.  Respect and fully implement President Hadi’s and the defence minister’s orders, notably regarding military rotations, retirements and appointments, and return all military forces to their barracks as specified by the agreement and by the military committee, unless ordered otherwise by the defence minister.
To Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the al-Ahmar family and allies in Islah:
 02.  Remove all militias from urban areas as well as troops from areas surrounding protest squares as mandated by the initiative and by order of the military council.
In order to improve the political situation

To the Yemeni Government:
03.  Ensure that existing laws, especially the civil service law, are rigorously implemented during the transitional period.
04.  Maintain distance during the transitional period from divisive political figures such as former President Saleh, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and Hamid al-Ahmar.

To all Signatories and Supporters of the GCC Initiative and the Implementation Mechanism:
05.  Implement the agreement and notably the national dialogue without preconditions and halt inflammatory press statements targeting political adversaries.

To President Hadi:
06.  Establish and empower immediately the interpretation committee as mandated by the agreement.
07.  Avoid to the extent possible regionally-based appointments and communicate transparently with relevant stakeholders and the public on issues pertaining to major civilian and military rotations, forced retirements and appointments.

To the General People’s Congress Party (GPC):
08.  Renovate the party, notably by
a) organising internal elections for a new leadership; and
b) reaching out to youth activists and empowering them within its decision-making apparatus.
To the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP):
09.  Minimise the role of divisive figures such as Hamid al-Ahmar and Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar during the transitional period.
10.  In the case of Islah, hold internal elections to renew party leadership, allow new voices to be heard and intensify outreach to other coalition members to ensure broad and adequate consultation on decisions related to the transitional process and notably the national dialogue.

To President Saleh and his family:
11.  Respect and honour Hadi’s orders and presidential authority fully.
12.  Allow GPC internal reform by encouraging Hadi to head the party and acquiescing in Saleh moving to an advisory role.
13.  Support the spirit of the initiative by disengaging from politics and assuming a less prominent role during the transitional period.
To Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and Hamid al-Ahmar:
14.  Support the spirit of the initiative and encourage reconciliation by playing a less prominent role in the transitional period and, in the case of Ali Mohsen, reaffirming unconditional commitment to retire from the military by doing so when Hadi sees fit.
In order to ensure inclusion of marginalised groups

To the Government of Yemen:
15.  Carry out confidence-building measures immediately to ensure meaningful participation in the national dialogue of independent youth groups, Huthis and the Hiraak, possibly to include, inter alia:
a) publicly apologising for injustices committed against the Huthis and the Hiraak;
b) releasing all political prisoners;
c) increasing humanitarian assistance and access to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North and in the Abyan and Aden governorates;
d) establishing and empowering a land dispute committee and/or employment committee in the South to investigate and mediate longstanding grievances; and
e) addressing issues of transitional justice and national reconciliation by investigating acts of violence related to the 2011 uprising and compensating victims, while assuring citizens that these issues will be further debated and discussed during the national dialogue.
To non-signatories who reject the initiative including some independent youth groups,
the Huthis and the Hiraak:
16.  Participate in the preparatory stage of the national dialogue by communicating with and eventually taking part in relevant government-established committees.
17.  Refrain from placing preconditions on the national dialogue and instead present realistic requests aimed at improving the political environment;
In order to maximise international support for Yemen’s transition

To international actors supportive of the GCC Initiative and Implementation Mechanisms (including the UN Special Envoy, Security Council, EU, GCC, IMF, and World Bank, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey and Japan):
18.  Continue to support the Yemeni government’s efforts to implement the agreement with technical, diplomatic and financial assistance and ensure the UN maintains a leading role in facilitating national dialogue.
19.  Avoid the reality or appearance of taking sides in local political disputes, notably by:
a) expressing willingness to talk to all parties;
b) identifying and criticising openly any signatory that fails to honour the agreement; and
c) promoting local oversight of implementation by pressing for establishment of the interpretation committee and encouraging civil society and youth organisations to assume an oversight role.
To the Government of Iran:
20.  Support the UN-sponsored national dialogue to resolve longstanding political challenges in Sadaa and the South and encourage the Huthis and the Hiraak to participate.(ICG)

Read full report from here>>>

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Sunday, 1 July 2012

The monumental challenges awaiting Dr Mohamed Morsi

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The images of jubilant crowds in Tahrir Square following the election of Dr Mohamed Morsi are an understandable reaction; given that this the most open election in the history of modern Egypt.

There can be little doubt that by electing him, the people of Egypt have continued a trend – seen before in Tunisia, Morocco and elsewhere – of voting in candidates who were known for their Islamic background and who had campaigned over many years for Islamic policies and governance. To that extent, this is a welcome sign of support for Islam in the Muslim world.

Dr Morsi would surely have known that his words would appeal to the Islamic people of Egypt when he echoed the first speech of the first Caliph of Islam, Sayyiduna Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra), in his victory speech when he said, “as long as I obey God in your affairs. If I don’t do so, and I disobey God and I do not adhere to what I promised, you are not obliged to obey me”. He rightly paid tribute to the brave people of Egypt, especially the martyrs, and in doing so reminded us of the heavy weight of expectation on him.

So, at this critical juncture, it is important to look at the challenges awaiting Egypt under its new President. Whilst Dr Morsi mentioned some obvious challenges in his speech – such as needing to unite the population – it is worth considering the following points, which are no small matters:

01.     The new President, unlike his predecessors, has no real power. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] have appointed many powers to themselves, along with allowing the judiciary to dissolve parliament and trying to dominate by influencing the writing of the new constitution.

02.     It must be recognized that a man of upright and moral character is not the same as a state that is just and righteous. Egypt is still the same state, but with a new President; and this new President will find it hard to fulfill his much needed pledge that the ‘revolution will continue until it realises all its objectives’ now that his office has been neutered, and if he works in such a way so as to keep SCAF or America happy.

03.     Dr Morsi restated his desire to be faithful to Islam saying “that I will never betray Allah in your affairs, or disobey Him in the affairs of my nation”. Yet this statement is almost impossible to reconcile with other statements in his speech. For example, to say “we will respect the international treaties and conventions we signed” would be incompatible with obedience and loyalty to Allah if it included the Camp David Accord, as well as some other treaties and conventions.

To really show his loyalty to Allah, His Messenger (saw) and his people, Dr Morsi would have to set Egypt on a path independent of American interests; he would work to absolutely remove the blockade and sanctions on Gaza; he would work to end the disastrous capitalist casino economy and establish a real economy to bring jobs and prosperity; he would free up capital by ending the haemorrhage of wealth by ending debt interest payments; and he would only be satisfied with a real Islamic constitution to bring justice to Egypt.

04.     Slogans such as ‘social justice, freedom and human dignity’ for all citizens would be welcomed by many, as well as promises to ‘establish justice and righteousness’. But the challenge for the Islamic politician is to show how the laws of the Shar’iah, derived from Quran and Sunnah, secure these goals – and do so better than any other system.

The challenge for Dr Morsi is to resist the pressures from Western colonial governments and the secular military leadership, who each serve their own interests, yet who would all portray Islamic government, based on Quran & Sunnah alone, as ‘extremist’. We have seen Islamic politicians in power before, such as in Turkey – which also has a secular army that ensures that Islam is not referred to in government.

What Egypt really needs is the application of the Islamic system of government. The challenge for Dr Morsi is how to make that a reality, so that neither Allah, His Messenger nor the Muslims are betrayed in this matter of ruling.

We pray that Allah guides us and guides Dr Morsi so that he avoids making the same mistakes as his predecessors, in Turkey, Sudan and in Egypt – or indeed for that matter in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where secular constitutions bear the superficial slogans of Islam.

He has laid out the standard by which people will surely hold him to account. If the people whose Islamic sentiments he appealed to in the electoral campaign and victory speech pick up on some of the contradictory messages mentioned so far, they should surely scrutinize his term in office very closely from his first day – as the best traditions of Islam demand. (HTB)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Aid and Conflict in Pakistan



Despite many billions of dollars, international assistance to Pakistan, particularly from the U.S., its largest donor, is neither improving the government’s performance against jihadi groups nor stabilising its nascent democracy.  

Aid and Conflict in Pakistan, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines how the U.S. focus on military funding has failed to deliver counter-terrorism dividends, instead entrenching the military’s control over state institutions and delaying reforms. In order to help stabilise a fragile country in a conflict-prone region, it concludes, the U.S. and other donors should focus instead on long-term civilian assistance to improve the quality of state services, in cooperation with local civil society organisations, NGOs with proven track records and national and provincial legislatures.

Since 2002, U.S. funding has been heavily lopsided: $15.8 billion for security purposes, compared to $7.8 billion in economic aid. Because U.S.-Pakistan ties continue to be narrowly defined by counter-terrorism imperatives, many Pakistanis believe that Washington is only interested in short-term security objectives.
“U.S. support for long-term democracy and civilian capacity building is the best way to guarantee the West’s and Pakistan’s interests in a dangerous region”, said Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s South Asia Project Director. “But aid policies must be better targeted, designed and implemented”. 

Because of strained U.S.-Pakistan relations, particularly since the May 2011 U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden near a major military academy in Abbottabad, donors and their implementing partners face increasingly difficult conditions. Along with bureaucratic and military restrictions on NGO staff and activities, rising security threats, particularly kidnappings-for-ransom, also impede aid delivery. 

The Obama administration’s aid policy, which limits U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and NGO input into program designs and strategies and stipulates an abundance of rules and reporting requirements, constrains the capabilities of USAID and its implementing partners. Short-sighted policies aimed at winning hearts-and-minds through high visibility “signature” development projects are often mired in a sluggish and unaccountable bureaucracy. Instead of measuring success as a bricks and mortar game, economic aid should focus on supporting democratic strengthening, capacity building for better delivery of services, economic growth and civilian law enforcement. 

All military funding should be rigorously monitored, and the administration should apply congressional certification requirements that the Pakistan military has ended its support to jihadi groups, holds human rights violators to account and does not subvert the democratic process. Above all, Congress and the administration should not allow frustrations with the military to restrict economic assistance and support for the democratic transition.

“Without a change of course, U.S. aid to Pakistan since 2001 will leave a legacy of failure”, said Paul Quinn-Judge, acting Asia Program Director. “In Pakistan, it will be remembered for failing to provide effective support for democratisation, and in the U.S. for failing to deliver on stability and counter-radicalisation”.


International, particularly U.S., military and civilian aid has failed to improve Pakistan’s performance against jihadi groups operating on its soil or to help stabilise its nascent democracy. Lopsided focus on security aid after the 11 September 2001 attacks has not delivered counter-terrorism dividends, but entrenched the military’s control over state institutions and policy, delaying reforms and aggravating Pakistani public perceptions that the U.S. is only interested in investing in a security client. Almost two-thirds of U.S. funding since 2002 ($15.8 billion) has been security-related, double the $7.8 billion of economic aid. Under an elected government, and with civilian aid levels at their highest in decades, the U.S. and other donors can still play a major part in improving service delivery, supporting key reforms and strengthening a fragile political transition vital to internal and regional stability. Re-orientation of funding from military security purposes to long-term democracy and capacity building support is the best way to guarantee the West’s and Pakistan’s long-term interests in a dangerous region. But aid policies must be better targeted, designed and executed.

Historically, Pakistan’s aid experience has been characterised by steep increases and sudden cut-offs around specific geo-strategic events, such as the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan during the 1980s. That experience still informs Pakistani perceptions of U.S. assistance. As the end of 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan approaches, U.S. relations with the military are at an all-time low because of Afghan safe havens in Pakistan’s tribal borderlands, as well as the closure of the NATO pipeline after the November 2011 attack on a Pakistani border post in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Many Pakistani stakeholders fear that the U.S. – responding to the military’s actions and policies – will again abandon its partnership with the people, and the civilian aid pipeline will be cut off.

These concerns come less than three years after the U.S. Congress passed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act in October 2009, authorising a tripling of civilian assistance to $7.5 billion over five years. The bill’s underlying goal, supported by the Obama administration, was to broaden engagement beyond a narrow relationship with the military in order to support civilian institutions and democracy. But Islamabad and Washington will have to overcome the policy divide that has defined their relationship particularly since the 2 May 2011 U.S. raid that led to the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The goal to provide $1.5 billion annually for five years has fallen short by $414 million in fiscal year (FY) 2011 and an estimated $500 million in FY2012. Instead of scaling up its operations in Pakistan, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is trying to reduce expectations, programs and projects. As relations deteriorate, the Pakistani military, with the civilian bureaucracy’s support, has intensified oversight of and interference in aid delivery. Implementing partners, particularly international NGOs, face constant harassment, threats of closure and visa delays and refusals for staff. This has severely impacted all aspects of their operations, from hiring to program implementation. Strained bilateral relations have hampered aid delivery even in areas outside the military’s control. Most prominently, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N)-led Punjab government has refused to accept U.S. assis-tance, suspending government-to-government programs in Pakistan’s largest province.

Evolving security threats, in particular kidnappings-for-ransom, have further hampered activities and staff movements, compelling some international organisations to recall staff and scale down and in some cases close operations. In the most prominent case, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), after the beheading of a kidnapped expatriate worker in Balochistan’s provincial capital, Quetta, closed offices in Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi.

The space for USAID and the international NGOs (IN-GOs) and Pakistani NGOs it funds is also shrinking as a result of the Obama administration’s aid policy. These organisations have limited input into program designs and strategies, and their work is constrained by an abundance of rules, regulations and reporting requirements. The decision to channel significantly more funding through Pakistani government institutions is understandable, since building the state’s capacity to deliver is vital to democratic transition. So, too, is the effort to go directly to local NGOs. However, the U.S. must partner with a broader range of NGOs that have proven, credible records but lack a presence in Islamabad or the provincial capitals. The U.S. should also consider extending successful INGO-led programs. Maintaining a balance and finding ways to utilise INGO expertise is vital to fill in gaps in local capacity and would also be useful in helping train and support local government and non-governmental organisations with limited capacity. As that capacity develops, INGOs should be incrementally phased out and their projects turned over to government institutions and local NGOs.

The U.S. administration’s focus on large, “signature” infrastructure projects as the top priority of its civilian assistance program has similarly limited USAID’s options. The policy is based less on development goals than a bid to win over the Pakistani public through projects that have high visibility and leave an enduring legacy. It depends, however, on a sluggish bureaucracy characterised by opaque, dysfunctional public procurement processes, official corruption and lack of accountability. As a result, appropriated funds get stuck in the pipeline, with USAID consequently coming under intense pressure from Congress to disburse large, unspent funds elsewhere, which risks greater waste. While Pakistan desperately needs water, electricity, roads and telecommunications, projects have to be well designed and should be balanced with support for democratic strengthening, capacity building, public education and civilian law enforcement.

Since building state capacity is vital to the democratic transition, the U.S. and other international partners should not reduce their measures of impact to a bricks and mortars game, but instead focus on improving the state’s ability to deliver not just more but better quality services. In formulating policy with major ramifications for aid delivery, they should also consult key stakeholders, including local civil society organisations and Pakistani and international NGOs with a solid track record, as well as the national and provincial legislatures.

Congress has rightly expressed strong disapproval of some of the Pakistan military’s actions. It has placed conditions on security-related assistance in existing and proposed legislation, requiring the secretary of state’s certification that the military does not subvert political and judicial processes, has ceased support to extremist groups and brings personnel responsible for human rights violations to account. Unfortunately, the administration has yet to apply such conditions rigorously. Its ability to rubber-stamp certifications in the future may, however, be limited given increasing Congressional scrutiny. It would be well served to follow the legislature’s lead by rigorously applying restrictions on military aid. Rather than throwing good money after bad in an attempt to cajole an unreliable partner into cooperating, it should shift the focus of its counter-terrorism strategy to civilian law enforcement agencies, which could deliver significant results if properly authorised and equipped by the civilian government.

For its part, Congress should not allow frustrations with the Pakistani military to affect either civilian assistance or more general engagement with the elected government and representative institutions. It should realise that willingness to spend money on Pakistan on the one hand but a reluctance to explore creative alternatives to existing programs on the other sends confused signals to the Pakistani as well as American publics. It also limits results. Civilian aid levels are still high, despite bilateral tensions, but if programming is guided by short-term security goals, the intended beneficiaries are likely to view the U.S. as at best oblivious and at worst hostile to their needs. Strengthening democratic institutions should not be seen solely as a political goal, but also as the means to stabilise a fragile country, addressing development priorities and shoring up peace in a conflict-prone region.


RECOMMENDATIONS 

To make explicit, in policy and implementation, a re-orientation of aid from military to long-term support for civilian institutions, with a focus on democratic strengthening, capacity building, economic growth and civilian law enforcement

To the U.S. Government:

01.  Apply existing conditions on military assistance and refrain from penalising civilian assistance due to the Pakistani military’s actions and policies. 

02.  Give USAID a greater say in devising foreign policy development goals and on key decisions with regard to implementation, including aid delivery and measures of impact.

03.  Give implementing partners significantly more ownership over USAID projects, including meaningful participation in designing programs, determining priorities and assessing realistic timetables and measures of performance.

04.  Reset the priorities of civilian assistance to focus on democratic strengthening, capacity building, economic growth and civilian law enforcement. 

05.  Improve aid effectiveness and limit wastage by:
a) working, alongside Pakistani institutions, with local and international NGOs with a proven and credible track record in Pakistan;
b) assuring that investments in large infrastructure projects have strong local and national support so as to reduce the chance that their implementation will be delayed or blocked;
c) developing accountable management tools (by adapting lessons learned in democratic transition elsewhere) so as to increase the number of small grants that reach smaller community-based NGOs;
d) emphasising impact assessments that measure institutional strengthening and are not a simple numbers game focused on output;
e) supporting public-private partnerships, many already in existence, under which the national and/or provincial governments enter into long-term contracts for service delivery with local NGOs that have a good track record;
f) enhancing monitoring and oversight mechanisms by adopting a multi-tiered process incorporating local civil society organisations and national and provincial parliamentary public accounts and relevant standing committees; and
g) conditioning FATA aid on reform of the region’s corrupt and dysfunctional bureaucracy, including abolition of the FATA secretariat and the office of the political agent and transfer of their powers to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) secretariat, relevant provincial line ministries and district departments.
06.  Enhance the state’s ability to deliver services and manage projects by:
a) building the capacity of civil service training institutions by providing instructors and teaching materials on best international practices of public policy, fiscal policy, financial management, infrastructure development, human resource management, energy and agriculture; and
b) leveraging assistance to stimulate dialogue on vital fiscal, energy sector and education reforms.
07.  Refrain from efforts to publicise U.S. assistance that undermine rather than improve the U.S. image in Pakistan; and allow local implementing organisations more leeway in determining whether USAID branding would bolster or jeopardise individual programs, including assessments of the security of and community response to services and supplies carrying the USAID logo.

08.  Terminate any funding to influence the opinions of Pakistani clerics and end any support to the madrasa sector, shifting those resources to the public education system.

09.  Enhance rule of law programs by:
a) shifting the focus of security assistance to making Pakistan a strong criminal justice partner, through support for civilian law enforcement agencies and criminal prosecution;
b) supporting the modernisation and enhancing the counter-terrorism capacity of the police and civilian law enforcement agencies;
c) balancing funding to the police with a robust policy dialogue on modernising the penal code, criminal procedure code and evidence act;
d) urging national and provincial legislatures to pass promised police reforms to ensure operational autonomy and empower oversight bodies such as the national, provincial and district public safety commissions and the National Police Management Board;
e) refraining from providing any support to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, instead focusing resources on improving the formal justice system’s capacity to dispense justice; and
f) sending unambiguous signals to the military that illegal detentions, extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the name of counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency are unacceptable, by conditioning military aid on credible efforts by the leadership to hold any persons found committing such acts to account and by vigorously implementing the Leahy Amendment with respect to units alleged to have committed human rights abuse.
To facilitate implementation of projects, particularly by removing bureaucratic and military constraints on the activities of local and international NGOs 

To the National and Provincial Governments of Pakistan:

10.  Send clear signals that they want to continue a relationship with international partners, by:
a) removing restrictions on NGOs and their staff and resuming registration of INGOs;
b) ending the 11th Army Corps’ right to approve no-objection certificates (NOCs) for NGOs and their staff;
c) directing the civil bureaucracy to reduce and ultimately phase out NOC requirements for INGOs; and
d) easing the process for foreign NGO workers to obtain residence and visit visas.
11.  Honour the spirit of the eighteenth amendment to the constitution by:
a) ending the role of the finance ministry’s Economic Affairs Division (EAD) to oversee and regulate foreign donors and transferring those responsibilities to the Council of Common Interests (CCI), which is constitutionally authorised to deal with foreign assistance; and
b) prioritising the devolution of resources to provincial governments and line departments, in accordance with the eighteenth amendment, so that resources match responsibilities.
12.  Develop in all four provinces coherent development strategies that include far greater government investment in health, education and social welfare.

13.  Initiate a national dialogue, under the CCI’s lead, about fiscal, energy and water sector reforms and present a reform package in parliament.

14.  Strengthen efforts to bring FATA into the Pakistani mainstream by abolishing the FATA secretariat and the office of the political agent and transferring their authority to the KPK secretariat, relevant provincial line ministries and district departments; implementing the August 2011 FATA reforms properly; and continuing the process of incorporating FATA into the federal constitutional framework, with full political, economic and human rights. (ICG)

Read Full Report from here>>>

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Egyptian election & First Freely Elected President

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The announcement that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Morsi won Egypt’s presidential election has been widely hailed as a turning point in the country’s history. The international media has described Morsi as, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, Egypt’s “first freely elected president.”

Egypt’s own press was even more euphoric, with the daily Al-Shorouk carrying the banner headline, “Morsi president on orders from the people: The revolution reaches the presidential palace.”

These claims turn reality on its head. Egypt’s workers, students and oppressed masses cannot afford to lend the slightest credence to such fabrications.

It is now nearly 17 months since mass demonstrations and, above all, a widening wave of mass strikes forced out Egypt’s US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak. This eruption of revolutionary struggle was a high point of the response of the international working class to the assault on its jobs, living standards and basic rights carried out in the wake of the worldwide financial meltdown of September 2008.

Egyptian workers rose up seeking an end to conditions of poverty, exploitation, social inequality and political repression. They fought heroically against the Mubarak regime’s security forces and thugs—armed and backed by US imperialism—sacrificing some 1,000 martyrs in the course of the struggle that culminated in Mubarak’s ouster on February 11, 2011.

Nearly a year-and-a-half later, however, none of the demands of Egyptian workers for improved living standards, jobs, social equality and democracy have been met. Instead, the repressive capitalist state apparatus and the domination of the country by imperialism remain intact, minus the odious figure of Mubarak himself, who was recently transferred from Tora Prison to a Cairo hospital.

The installation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi in the presidential palace does not change this reality. It is the end result not of a “free and fair” election, but a vote that was held under conditions of military rule and boycotted by half the registered voters, followed by a sordid backroom deal between the right-wing Islamist party and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) military junta.

In the midst of the run-off between Morsi and his opponent, the former Air Force commander and Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, the SCAF carried out a political coup, disbanding the Islamist-dominated parliament, arrogating to itself control over the writing of a new constitution, and clearing the way for a new round of repression and torture by decreeing the right of the military and state intelligence agencies to arrest civilians. It issued a further constitutional “addendum” assuming all legislative and budgetary powers of the disbanded parliament and formally establishing the complete autonomy of the armed forces from civilian control.

The decision to call the election for Morsi, rather than Shafik, one of the military’s own, followed intense negotiations between the military command and the Brotherhood that continued through the weekend. The precise terms arrived at in the course of these talks, held behind the backs of the Egyptian people, will become clearer in the days and weeks to come. One thing is certain: any deal worked out between the Brotherhood and the SCAF can only produce a counterrevolutionary government whose main aim will be the smashing of the revolutionary struggles of the working class.

That this is recognized within ruling circles in both Egypt and the imperialist centers was made clear as the Egyptian stock market registered its biggest one-day rise on record in the wake of the election announcement. The Wall Street Journal reported that US diplomats, who held “private talks” with the Brotherhood’s leadership and its economic team, said the organization’s “representatives have reassured the US by saying ‘all the right things on the economic side.’”

One of the immediate aims of the SCAF-Brotherhood regime is reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on an emergency $3.2 billion loan. This will be tied to the implementation of so-called economic “reforms,” i.e., drastic austerity measures that will further degrade the conditions of life for the working class in a country where 40 percent of the population subsists on $2 or less a day.

It is vital that Egyptian workers and youth draw a balance sheet of the past year and a half and examine the political forces and programs that brought them from heroic strikes and mass struggles to the installation of the counterrevolutionary SCAF-Muslim Brotherhood regime. In particular, the closest examination is warranted of the role of the pseudo-left organizations, which despite calling themselves “revolutionary” and even “socialist,” represent not the strivings of the working class to put an end to capitalism, but those of more affluent sections of the middle class to carve out a greater role for themselves within the existing social and political setup.

Typifying this layer is the misnamed group Revolutionary Socialists (RS), which opposed the demand raised by workers for a “second revolution,” seeking instead to legitimize the lie that the SCAF military command was the vehicle of a “democratic transition.” In May of last year, the RS asserted that the SCAF “aims to reform the political and economic system, allowing it to become more democratic and less oppressive.”

Later, when popular opposition to the SCAF mounted in response to mass arrests and military trials of workers and youth, the RS promoted the Muslim Brotherhood as an alternative to the generals, brushing aside the role of the Brotherhood in collaborating with the military regime. They did so in order to head off the development of an independent movement of the working class.

In the second round of the presidential election, the RS threw its support to the Brotherhood, claiming that a vote for Morsi was a vote against “counterrevolution” and “fascism.”

In an interview posted June 25 on socialistworker.org, the web site of the RS’s American counterpart, the International Socialist Organization, RS leader Mostafa Ali gives an indication of the illusions that his organization is attempting to promote about the Brotherhood, which he credits with stopping the military’s coup.

He poses a series of questions: “Will the Muslim Brotherhood leadership once again compromise with the SCAF? Will they betray the mass mobilization in the square? Will they accept the terms of the deal that has been set by the SCAF?”

In the interview, given on June 22, Ali suggests that the answer is no. The Brotherhood, he states, despite its “wavering and vacillation,” has “to draw a line in the sand in order to stop the coup.” Within two days, this assessment proved completely bankrupt.

The task of the “revolutionary left,” he continued, is to “build a united front of all revolutionary forces against the coup,” in which he clearly includes the Muslim Brotherhood and other bourgeois political forces. Within this “united front,” he states, “the Egyptian working class would be a significant part of a struggle that could combine both democratic political demands and economic demands in weeks to come.”

Thus, the aim of this so-called “left” party is to subordinate the working class to the bourgeois Muslim Brotherhood, which has in turn agreed to serve as a figurehead for the SCAF junta. This is a formula for binding the Egyptian workers hand and foot and delivering them to their mortal enemies.

The only way forward for the workers of Egypt lies in a decisive rejection of this type of counterrevolutionary petty-bourgeois politics. The unpostponable task is to organize a new revolutionary leadership based on an international socialist perspective to mobilize the independent strength of the working class in the struggle for power and the overthrow of capitalist rule. This means building an Egyptian section of the International Committee of the Fourth International. (WSWS)

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 Media Release: Egypt
 
Celebrated by millions of Egyptians, yesterday’s announcement that Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, has won the presidential election undoubtedly marks a milestone in the country's history.  Still, this event does little to resolve the fundamental problems that existed beforehand: eighteen months after the uprising that led to President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, the political system is paralysed, no institutions enjoy the required legitimacy or credibility to break the logjam, all political actors have been discredited to varying degrees, and societal polarisation has reached new heights.  To salvage the transition and lay the foundation for a more stable polity, political actors need to do today what they ought to have done in February 2011: seek agreement on a set of principles that would respect all sides' vital interests while ensuring a peaceful democratic transition.

The deteriorating situation is the culmination of a mismanaged process that, from the very beginning, has lacked clear direction and agreed rules of the game. Political players -- including the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the Muslim Brotherhood and more liberal, secular forces -- are proceeding in the dark, unaccustomed to the new environment, distrustful of one another and quick to resort to extra-institutional means, whether issuance of arbitrary decisions or street politics, to bolster their respective positions.

The result is clear for all to see.  With the recent SCAF measures -- restoring a form of martial law that allows the military to arrest civilians without judicial warrant; establishing a military-dominated National Defence Council; and promulgating a Supplementary Constitutional Declaration that enlarges its executive powers, awards it legislative authority and grants it considerable latitude over the drafting of a new constitution -- and the Supreme Constitutional Court's (SCC) invalidation of parliamentary elections, the transition risks coming full circle. 

The outcome of the three rounds of voting, the first democratic ballots in modern Egyptian history, has been nullified or seriously questioned.   The constitutional changes have in effect repealed the March 2011 constitutional referendum, both substantively and procedurally.  The parliamentary dissolution has erased the legislative elections in which 30 million participated.  And the presidential election was mired in controversy both before it was held (disputes over the disqualification of some candidates and qualification of others) and after (competing claims of victory, accompanied by charges of fraud and capped by delays in the announcement of the result).  In this context, serious questions remain as to whether the promised transfer of power from the military to elected civilian authorities will occur by the end of June.

For now, the prospect remains of duelling constitutional principles with no constitution; duelling understandings of how to create the constituent assembly; duelling legislative bodies (the dissolved parliament and the SCAF); duelling conceptions of SCAF prerogatives (eg, whether it can dissolve parliament or issue constitutional rules); duelling perceptions of executive authority; duelling mass demonstrations setting one Egypt against the other; and no agreed mechanism or legitimate arbiter to settle these disputes.  Divisions reach deeper, pitting army against civilians, Islamists against secularists and Muslims against Coptic Christians.  Add an economic crisis (60 per cent decline in foreign currency reserves, massive budget deficit, soaring unemployment, stagflation, near junk-status credit rating) that cannot be tackled in the absence of political stability and consensus and this is a recipe for persisting conflict and a possible trigger to escalating violence.

The behaviour of the various parties to date hardly inspires confidence.  Viewed by many as responsible for brutal violence against protesters, as seeking to protect its interests by reviving the old regime's networks and as claiming for itself the roles of judge and party, the SCAF has squandered much of its legitimacy.   Yet, it continues to believe otherwise, attempting to muscle through critical political decisions by relying on superior force and invoking its assumed greater knowledge of what is best for the country. Little wonder that many in Egypt suspect it of conducting a soft coup.

For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood has appeared to place all its bets on its electoral strength, shunning serious efforts to reassure key constituencies. It has antagonised the military, turned its back on the revolutionary movement, failed to reach out to secular forces, made insufficient gestures toward the Coptic Christian minority, threatened supporters of the old regime and repeatedly reneged on its pledges. In recent days, it has taken some steps to extend a hand to others in the opposition but far more is needed after eighteen months of snubbing them.  Overall, although it enjoys formal democratic legitimacy, the Brotherhood has rallied against itself too broad and too determined a section of society for electoral mathematics alone to be decisive. 

As for the revolutionary movement, disdainful of politics yet facing overwhelming popular fatigue at the prospect of renewed protests, it is distrustful of the SCAF but fearful of the Islamists.  This makes its members at times flirt with the idea of sacrificing their democratic principles on the altar of their secular faith -- thus turning them into easy prey for the military's divide-and-conquer tactics, which seek to set them against the Islamists so that the two faces of the opposition do not unite behind an expeditious transition.  All of which threatens to marginalize the revolutionary movement and render it increasingly irrelevant.

There is little mystery about the better way forward.  Key political actors need to negotiate a set of understandings governing the transition, including a clear timetable, allocation of interim powers, constitution-drafting principles and core interests that the final document must protect. Movement should be swift.  Morsi is due to be sworn in on 1 July and, already, crises loom: over whether parliament will convene and whether the president will take his oath before parliament (consistent with the March 2011 constitutional amendments approved by referendum) or before the Supreme Constitutional Court (consistent with the SCAF's supplementary principles).  Suggested ideas for these understandings include:
  • Formation by president-elect Morsi of a national unity government, led by a credible independent figure, and selection of a vice president reflecting Egypt’s ideological and sectarian diversity;

  • the SCAF's agreement not to dissolve the existing constituent assembly and name another; in return, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists would form a more broadly representative body, substituting respected independents and legal experts for some Islamists;

  • agreement to rerun the one third of parliamentary seats elected via individual candidacies that the SCC ruled unconstitutional, as opposed to dissolving the entire parliament;

  • cancellation of the justice ministry decree enabling the military to arrest and detain civilians without a warrant;

  • annulment of those provisions in the supplementary constitutional declaration that contradict full transfer of power to civilians and would usurp powers of the president and legislature;

  • the SCAF's commitment to fully disengage from the political arena once the constitution has been written and ratified through a popular referendum; and

  • the Muslim Brotherhood's agreement to seek its legalisation and make its finances fully transparent.
Responsibility lies squarely with the SCAF and the Brotherhood.  By respecting the wishes of a majority of Egyptians with regard to the presidential elections, the military has shown that it can act wisely.  But it should not view this as a concession giving it a free hand to delay a full transition.   Morsi's victory speech aimed at being reassuring and consensual, but the Islamists must do far more and resist the temptation of triumphalism that has marked virtually all of their prior successes.

Throughout this process, the international community -- and notably the West -- has been caught between the need to support a democratic transition and the enormous suspicions that continue to taint its actions due to a chequered history of excessive interference and support for authoritarian rule.  Achieving a proper balance between pressuring the SCAF without triggering widespread hostility will not be easy, especially at a time of heightened xenophobia and mistrust of anything coming from the outside.

At a minimum, the international community should express a strong commitment to helping the economy through what inevitably will be a trying period once it is clear the country is on a path to a genuine democratic transition.  Assistance would include the International Monetary Fund's substantial soft loan package; financial aid from various countries; and encouragement of foreign direct investment.  At the same time, key outside actors ought to unambiguously condemn attempts to undermine democratically-elected civilian institutions.


Considering the stakes, the historical rupture embodied in the uprising and the fears of so many core constituencies, what is most surprising, arguably, is that there has not been more violence -- that Egyptians, by and large, have engaged in spirited debate, taken to the streets peacefully and participated in electoral politics.  Morsi's victory, though a bitter disappointment to a large number of Egyptians, is a signal of a continued transition. Yet all this is enormously fragile, a brittle reality at the mercy of a single significant misstep.  To right the course of this perilous transition will require different and wiser steering from all who, for the past eighteen months, have had a hand in it. (ICG)

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Egypt's farcical presidential election makes a mockery of the sacrifices of the revolution and strengthens America's control over Egypt!

Almost eighteen months after the downfall of Mubarak, America through her loyal agents in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has effectively scuttled the Egyptian revolution and disarmed the Muslim brotherhood. By doing so, the US has successfully managed to keep the regime intact minus a few missing faces. This is similar to the much coveted Yemeni model, where the West was able to keep Salah's regime in power without him. In the present Egyptian regime, the only outward casualty of any prominence is Mubarak. Set against this background the claims of a Morsi victory in the presidential elections by supporters of the Muslim brotherhood not only sound increasingly hollow but are extremely naïve indeed.

Over the past year or so, SCAF a vestige of the Nasserite period has adroitly hoodwinked the Egyptian people and tamed the divided opposition to retain absolute control over Egyptian affairs and continue with America's hegemony in the region. The nomination of Shafiq's candidature to the presidency, acquittal of Mubarak's sons, and the declaration by the Supreme Court to dissolve parliament are just some of the glaring measures enacted by the army generals to ensure that SCAF retains its grip on power. But perhaps the most daring of all political maneuvers instigated by SCAF was its decree to limit the powers of the President.

Such an act bestows full control to the army general over all civilian and legislative matters. In summary it is a carte blanche to write the country's constitutions in the army's image. SCAF is free to appoint assembly members to write the constitution, interfere in the drafting of the articles and veto any proposed canons that are deemed against the interests of the army generals.

SCAF could not have mustered the courage to take such a bold military coup against the Egyptian people if it was not for the antics of the Islamic opposition. The Islamic opposition never spoke with one voice and repeatedly contradicted itself by trying to please the West, the army, the Egyptian Muslims and the rest. The Islamic parties were unable to express unambiguous opinions on Egypt's relations with America and Israel, the role of Shariah in society, the system of ruling and the treatment of non-Muslims. In their quest to appease the West they forgot to fear Allah (SWT) and sought to assuage the apprehensions of His (SWT) creation. Allah says:

"Oh you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except as Muslims." [Al-Imran: 102]

"Oh you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and always speak the truth. He will direct you to do righteous deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, has indeed achieved a great achievement." [Al-Ahzaab: 70-71]

In their desire to appear more liberal to the West, the Islamic opposition lost the confidence of ordinary Egyptians, many of whom increasingly saw hypocrisy in their actions and began to turn away from them. Ordinary Muslims were not the only ones who were disappointed. The rank and file of these movements, especially the young, challenged the stance adopted by their leaders. They found it very difficult to digest Islam's domination by Taghoot. Allah says:

"Have you seen those who claim to believe in the revelation revealed to you and the revelation revealed earlier? They seek the ruling of taghoot (non-Islam) although they have been ordered to disbelieve in it." [TMQ An-Nisa: 60].

However, what made matters worse for the Islamic opposition was their blind adherence to the democratic election process while remaining silent on the actions of SCAF. Islamic parties in Egypt must understand that it is impossible to bring Islam through either participation or negotiations with the systems of Kufr. Our modern history is replete with examples where Islamic parties have failed miserably to bring about Islam through engagement with Kufr. The dismissal of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in Algeria in 1991 and the exploitation of the Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) by Musharraf in 2002 are two such striking examples.

The only way for Muslims of Egypt to escape from the tyranny of the West and the rule of their agents is through the re-establishment of the Islamic state. Islamic parties must join forces with Muslims of Egypt and collaborate with sincere officers in the Egyptian army to re-establish Khliafah Rashida by giving baya to the Khaleefah who will rule according to the Quran and Sunnah.

"Verily, Allah will help those who help His (cause)." [Al-Hajj: 40] (Islamic Revival)

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