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Jimmy Carter and Fotouh

Former US President Jimmy Carter told reporters during his visit to Cairo that “all of the parties involved (in the election) have expressed eagerness to continue with the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.”

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Tahrir Square celebration 2011

As the first anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution on January 25 creeps ever closer, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the revolutionary groups have locked horns over control for the public perception of the popular uprising that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak and began the great Egyptian experiment in democracy. Whereas the SCAF, steward of the transitional period and self-perceived partner in the revolution, prefers to see the day as cause for national celebration of the unity forged between all Egyptians, the revolutionaries hope to issue a rallying cry to recapture the spirit of the revolution and reinvigorate calls for accountability and an immediate transfer to a civilian government.

Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi issued a decree on Wednesday declaring January 25 an official national holiday. Major General Ismail Etman, director of the Department of Morale Affairs, likened the holiday to October 6 (in commemoration of the Yom Kippur War) and July 23 (the day of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952). He announced three separate celebrations: one for the revolutionary youth in Tahrir square to be allowed without interference from the military or security forces, a formal ceremonial procession, and “a musical concert to honor the revolution and its martyrs.” Although not explicitly stated, activists noted the stage constructed in Tahrir Square for this event.

Many activists have expressed disdain for the planned celebrations. Al Ahram Online quoted rights campaigner Nazly Hussein, saying, “The SCAF leads the counterrevolution… There’s no reason to celebrate the 25 January anniversary because there have been no improvements this year, especially in terms of social justice and freedoms.” Muhammad Radwan, activist for the revolution and blogger told the Atlantic Council, “The SCAF is trying to turn January 25 into a party and distract from the true goals of the revolution. They’re just trying to put people to sleep.” Youth groups have called for a separate march, dubbed “Friday of the Martyr's Dreams,” in honor of those who gave their lives for the revolution on the Friday before January 25. They also plan to hold talks to educate the public of the reason why protests continue and to raise awareness of the coordinated smear campaign launched against them by the SCAF.

The ongoing information war between the revolutionaries and the SCAF over the January 25 anniversary presents yet another chapter in the fight for the hearts and minds of the Egyptian people. The SCAF previously utilized the crackdown on NGOs to suggest covert foreign manipulation, the arrest and military trials of prominent activists to sully their reputation, and the use of state media to label protesters as “thugs” in an attempt to assert its political autonomy and escape accountability. And these tactics have worked. The smear campaign has won over ordinary Egyptians, many of whom experience “revolution fatigue.” Activists, however, have not remained silent. Most recently, the Kazeboon (or “Liars”) campaign directly challenges the claims of SCAF officials in relation to crackdowns and violence against protesters.

The online-to-offline Kazeboon campaign, comprised of many different revolutionary groups such as the April 6th Movement and Mosireen (“We Insist”) to name a few, held rallies in different parts of Cairo and across the country since the beginning of this year. Campaigners pass out anti-SCAF informational flyers and screen independent documentation of military and security forces’ abuses against protesters that state media would not show and flies in the face of the SCAF’s public stance. (The name derives from the cover story published in Tahrir newspaper showing the picture of military officers beating the “blue bra girl” that shocked the world after Prime Minister Ganzouri promised violence would not be used against protesters.)

Revolutionary groups view the SCAF’s attempt to claim the iconic Tahrir Square as part of its celebration as disingenuous, at best, and blatantly antagonistic, at worst. With both groups competing over the message that the anniversary should deliver to the Egyptian people, the move will undoubtedly increase the potential for violence.

Tarek Radwan is an Egyptian human rights activist specializing in international law and conflict resolution. He has worked for Human Rights Watch's MENA division and the United Nations mission (UNAMID) in Darfur as a Human Rights Officer. He currently provides consulting services on civilian protection and Middle East issues.

Photo Credit: Reuters

Tahrir Square celebration 2011

 As the first anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution on January 25 creeps ever closer, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the revolutionary groups have locked horns over control for the public perception of the popular uprising that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak and began the great Egyptian experiment in democracy. Whereas the SCAF, steward of the transitional period and self-perceived partner in the revolution, prefers to see the day as cause for national celebration of the unity forged between all Egyptians, the revolutionaries hope to issue a rallying cry to recapture the spirit of the revolution and reinvigorate calls for accountability and an immediate transfer to a civilian government.

Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi issued a decree on Wednesday declaring January 25 an official national holiday. Major General Ismail Etman, director of the Department of Morale Affairs, likened the holiday to October 6 (in commemoration of the Yom Kippur War) and July 23 (the day of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952). He announced three separate celebrations: one for the revolutionary youth in Tahrir square to be allowed without interference from the military or security forces, a formal ceremonial procession, and “a musical concert to honor the revolution and its martyrs.” Although not explicitly stated, activists noted the stage constructed in Tahrir Square for this event.
Many activists have expressed disdain for the planned celebrations. Al Ahram Online quoted rights campaigner Nazly Hussein, saying, “The SCAF leads the counterrevolution… There’s no reason to celebrate the 25 January anniversary because there have been no improvements this year, especially in terms of social justice and freedoms.” Muhammad Radwan, activist for the revolution and blogger told the Atlantic Council, “The SCAF is trying to turn January 25 into a party and distract from the true goals of the revolution. They’re just trying to put people to sleep.” Youth groups have called for a separate march, dubbed “Friday of the Martyr's Dreams,” in honor of those who gave their lives for the revolution on the Friday before January 25. They also plan to hold talks to educate the public of the reason why protests continue and to raise awareness of the coordinated smear campaign launched against them by the SCAF.
The ongoing information war between the revolutionaries and the SCAF over the January 25 anniversary presents yet another chapter in the fight for the hearts and minds of the Egyptian people. The SCAF previously utilized the crackdown on NGOs to suggest covert foreign manipulation, the arrest and military trials of prominent activists to sully their reputation, and the use of state media to label protesters as “thugs” in an attempt to assert its political autonomy and escape accountability. And these tactics have worked. The smear campaign has won over ordinary Egyptians, many of whom experience “revolution fatigue.” Activists, however, have not remained silent. Most recently, the Kazeboon (or “Liars”) campaign directly challenges the claims of SCAF officials in relation to crackdowns and violence against protesters.
The online-to-offline Kazeboon campaign, comprised of many different revolutionary groups such as the April 6th Movement and Mosireen (“We Insist”) to name a few, held rallies in different parts of Cairo and across the country since the beginning of this year. Campaigners pass out anti-SCAF informational flyers and screen independent documentation of military and security forces’ abuses against protesters that state media would not show and flies in the face of the SCAF’s public stance. (The name derives from the cover story published in Tahrir newspaper showing the picture of military officers beating the “blue bra girl” that shocked the world after Prime Minister Ganzouri promised violence would not be used against protesters.)
Revolutionary groups view the SCAF’s attempt to claim the iconic Tahrir Square as part of its celebration as disingenuous, at best, and blatantly antagonistic, at worst. With both groups competing over the message that the anniversary should deliver to the Egyptian people, the move will undoubtedly increase the potential for violence.
 
Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood and the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will never see eye-to-eye on core issue such as the emergency law and human rights, but as long as they remain the two unrivaled power-brokers in the post-Mubarak system, these strange bedfellows have a strategic interest in cooperating to design the blueprint for a new political system that each of them hopes to dominate. 

At the moment, neither party seems interested in provoking an Islamist-military confrontation that would further destabilize an already fragile political environment.  As the two dominant players in the new Egypt, the SCAF and the Brotherhood have a lot to gain from the post-authoritarian political order, and stand to lose the most if it crumbles.

But while the Brotherhood has repeatedly affirmed support for the transitional roadmap proposed by the SCAF – through which the military would surrender its executive powers to an elected civilian president in June 2012 – the one flashpoint that could unravel this alliance is the process of drafting Egypt’s new constitution.  The 100-member parliament-appointed assembly that will be tasked with drafting the new charter will need to confront competing visions for a reconfigured balance of power in the new political system. 

While the Islamist majority in parliament has an interest in curbing the powers of the military establishment and executive branch to enhance the relative weight of the legislature, the SCAF has repeatedly signaled that it expects Egypt’s new constitution to protect the military’s privileged political status. In late December, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party issued a statement insisting that the new constitution cannot be legitimate unless it reflects consensus among all social and political forces represented in parliament. For the FJP, the constitution is the bottom line of its vision for the new Egypt and the juncture at which its strategic interests diverge sharply from the SCAF’s.  The Brotherhood has clearly defined the constitution as a SCAF-free zone, and any attempt by the military to trespass on this minefield could detonate a major confrontation over the future of Egypt’s legal framework.  

For the time being, the on-again off-again alliance between the Brotherhood and SCAF is on solid ground, as evidenced by the former’s recent string of conciliatory gestures toward the military:

  • Suggestions – later denied – that the Brotherhood might grant the SCAF immunity from legal and criminal accountability for its actions during and after the revolution
     
  • Agreeing to the SCAF’s timeline for a presidential election by June 2012 and rejecting calls from liberal and revolutionary political forces for a radically expedited power transfer with an election as early as January 25
     
  • Backing down from earlier statements asserting the right of the People’s Assembly to appoint a new cabinet representative of the political forces in parliament, and agreeing to support the current interim technocratic cabinet led by Kamal Ganzouri for another six months until July, by which time a new president will be in office.
     
  • Scaling back its previously stated aspirations for replacing Egypt’s presidential system – traditionally dominated by the executive branch – with a pure parliamentary system in which the president would functions largely as a symbolic figurehead.  Dropping earlier calls for a parliament-heavy system, the Brotherhood now claims that a “mixed presidential-parliamentary system is best for Egypt,” a watered-down proposal that will be far less worrisome to a military leadership that would like to retain its political privileges for as long as possible.

These concessions signal the FJP’s desire to promote dialogue and compromise between competing political forces in the lead-up to the first session of the People’s Assembly on January 23, as well as reassure US and European leaders of the party’s moderate and democratic credentials. In the highest level meeting on record between the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and visiting US Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, FJP leader Mohamed Morsy said the party would work to cooperate with other political forces in the new parliament and restore security and political stability, essential to reviving Egypt’s ailing economy and creating a climate attractive to foreign investment.  With a near or possibly outright majority in the new parliament, the Brotherhood will bear the burden of reversing Egypt’s economic tailspin and seems to recognize that its ambitious political agenda will be impossible to implement without a steady stream of international support.  The Brotherhood is perfectly willing to play by the rules of the political game defined by the SCAF, as long as its winning streak continues.

But the one flashpoint on the horizon that seems capable of igniting a confrontation between the SCAF and Brotherhood over the future of Egypt’s political system is the debate over the new constitution, which has been overshadowed in recent months by the frenzy over parliamentary elections and persistent anti-military demonstrations. Initially, the SCAF and Brotherhood had both insisted that the constitution be written before the presidential election, purportedly to prevent Egypt’s next leader from wielding unchecked executive powers. But on December 10, the Brotherhood abruptly shifted its stance on the sequence of the constitutional process, urging the SCAF to conduct presidential elections as the 100-member constituent assembly is formed, implying that the new charter will not be drafted until after the inauguration of Egypt’s next leader. The SCAF, however, continues to lobby for the “constitution first” sequence, perhaps concerned that a civilian president would thwart the military’s efforts to legally codify a privileged political role for the military in the text of the charter. 

Despite dropping a controversial proposal for supra-constitutional principles in November that was slammed by the Brotherhood and other political forces as an effort to legally hardwire the military’s political and economic privileges in the new political system, the military still sees the constitution as the key to control of the political playing field and will likely seek new mechanisms to influence its content. For the Brotherhood, the SCAF’s interference in the constitutional process was the red line that brought its members back to Tahrir Square for mass demonstrations in November.  The Brotherhood has since been willing to scale back its ambitions in other areas, such as backing down from an earlier threat to dissolve the interim cabinet after parliamentary elections, but the constitution is one area where it will not easily yield any ground. 

For the Brotherhood, the constitution represents the legal blueprint for the post-Mubarak Egypt and the key to transforming its political project into an institutional reality. In a January 10 interview, senior FJP member Essam al-Erian identified the constitution as the single greatest challenge facing Egypt’s new government. “To have a democracy in the Arab world, to make compatibility between our Arab Islamic culture and democratic values, democratic principles … this is our huge burden,” he said. And the Brotherhood has made it perfectly clear that it intends to carry that burden without unwanted assistance from the SCAF. During his meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, FJP leader Mohamed Morsy claimed that there is a consensus among political forces on the first four articles of Egypt’s constitution concerning political freedoms and the rights of citizens, but not on the fifth, dealing with the powers of the president, the structure of the political system and the role of the military establishment.

The military’s role is the new political system will become an increasingly volatile fault line as debates over the new constitution begin in earnest. On January 10, al-Azhar issued a draft bill of rights intended to form the framework for Egypt’s new charter. In affirming basic freedoms of belief, equal opportunity and preventing sectarian strife, the document is clearly aimed at promoting a moderate interpretation of Islam over more conservative movements such as the Salafis, who advocate a strict literalist reading of the Koran and Islamic jurisprudence. Although the draft, which reflects a consensus among a broad ideological spectrum of liberal, secular and Islamist political forces, deals extensively with basic rights and liberties, the document steers clear of a far more controversial issue: If and how the constitution should reconfigure the balance of power between the military establishment, the president and the legislature in the future political system.

During a visit to Cairo on January 11, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter identified the military’s future powers and privileges – as defined by an amended legal framework – as “the basic question that has not yet been resolved.” In meetings with Carter, SCAF members were confident that the next constitution will reflect a “harmonious agreement” between the military and elected civilians.

But will the Islamists and the powerful al-Azhar religious establishment accept a legal framework that gives the military any formalized role in the political process?  Based on al-Azhar’s official statement on January 11 demanding a transfer of power to civilian leadership “on schedule and without delay,” any efforts by the SCAF to codify its privileges will likely be met with stiff opposition.  The Muslim Brotherhood and al-Azhar aren’t alone in their efforts to keep the military out of Egypt’s constitution. Al-Azhar is working to build consensus on its constitution vision among a broad spectrum of religious and political forces by hosting a major dialogue conference attended by Christian leaders, presidential candidates, as well as liberal and Islamist political parties, who endorsed a joint statement urging the military “to return to its natural role of defending the country’s borders.”

While the FJP has indicated its willingness to cooperate with the SCAF to maintain stability for the remainder of the transitional period, if the military tries to perpetuate its political powers by codifying them in the constitution, Egypt’s two major power-brokers are headed for a fiery fallout. The FJP may be willing to compromise on other political demands, at least in the short-term, but the party has clearly staked out the constitutional process as a SCAF-free domain. Any attempt to trespass on the Brotherhood’s territorial claim over the country’s future legal framework could turn the constitution into Egypt’s next battleground.    

Mara Revkin is the assistant director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and editor of EgyptSource. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photo Credit: MPR

Egypt

Rafiq Habib, Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Vice President, indicated that the party will not seek to dissolve Prime Minister Ganzouri’s cabinet when the People’s Assembly comes into session. According to Habib, “The fate of Ganzouri government is in the hands of SCAF” for the remainder of the interim period.

RUN-OFF ELECTIONS:

1) The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is claiming a lead in all districts following the close of runoff voting on January 11. Based on preliminary results from 9 governorates indicate that the FJP has won at least 26 individual seats so far, followed by the Nour Party in second place.  Egyptians in Assiyut boycotted the run-off round to protest local shortages of bread and butane gas. [al-Ahram, English, 1/12/2012] [FJP official Twitter, English, 1/12/2012][al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 1/12/2012]

2) The liberal-oriented Egyptian Bloc coalition denied reports that it will not seek to form a coalition with the FJP in the new parliament to appoint the speaker of parliament, who will be chosen by a majority vote. The FJP is reportedly considering nominating Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater for the post.  [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 1/12/2012] [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 1/11/2012]

JANUARY 25 ANNIVERSARY:

3) Activists claim that the SCAF’s decision to declare January 25 a national holiday will not dampen calls for mass demonstrations against the military. Members of the Kefaya Movement, Union of Revolutionary  Youths, Revolutionary Youth Coalition and the National Assembly for Change are urging citizens to demonstrate peacefully on the anniversary and accusing the military of inappropriately turning the day into a celebration of the armed forces. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 1/12/2012]

4) Activists are planning national wide marches for a national day of mourning on January 20, calling it “Friday of the Martyr's Dreams.” All Cairo marches will converge on Tahrir Square. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 1/12/2012]

ISLAMISTS:

5) Rafiq Habib, Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Vice President, indicated that the party will not seek to dissolve Prime Minister Ganzouri’s cabinet when the People’s Assembly comes into session. According to Habib, “The fate of Ganzouri government is in the hands of SCAF” for the remainder of the interim period. However, he acknowledged that the parliament may seek to influence the composition of the cabinet after a new constitution is drafted. "After the new constitution is drawn up, based on the presidential/parliamentary system model, it is more likely that the responsibility for the formation of the government will be vested in the parliament.” [FJPOnline, English, 1/11/2012]

6) The Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party will participate in official celebrations marking the anniversary of the January 25 revolution, according to the FJP’s official Twitter feed.

7) A controversial hardline Islamist Facebook group modeled on Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice announced that it has purchased 1000 tazers to help its members defend themselves as they “promote virtue” in Egypt. The group announced that it will hold its first “training session” on January 12. The Salafi Nour Party has official denied links to the Facebook group launched in December, although the Nour Party “likes” the Committee’s official Facebook page and its logo is featured on the Committee’s statements. [al-Ahram, English, 12/28/2011] [al-Ahram, English, 1/12/2012]

US-EGYPT RELATIONS:

8) State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Deputy Secretary of State William Burns’ meeting with Brotherhood leaders on January 11 was a chance to reinforce U.S. expectations that Egypt’s parties will support human rights, women’s rights and religious tolerance.  During the meeting, FJP head Mohammed Morsi said that there is a consensus among political forces on civic freedoms and rights for the new constitution (articles 1-4) but not on article 5, dealing with the powers of the president, the structure of the political system and the role of the military establishment.   [al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 1/1/2012] [Washington Post, English, 1/11/2012]

9) Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri met with the Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on January 12 to discuss Egypt's economic challenges, as well as US support for Egyptian democracy and civil society. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 1/12/2012]

10) Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Mahmoud Issa is scheduled to hold talks with officials in the US next week over Egypt’s economic crisis. Issa claimed that the US has not sent Egypt humanitarian aid since the outbreak of the revolution, although American officials had promised to assist transitioning countries, especially in the fields of investment and trade. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 1/12/2012]

SECTARIAN ISSUES:

11) Egypt's three major churches and the Maspero Youth Union have come out in support of Al-Azhar's proposed basic freedoms document, which lays out a basic framework for respecting freedom of belief and expression in Egypt. On January 10, al-Azhar released a draft document drafted over the past three months in the lead-up to the writing of Egypt’s new constitution, which aims to elevate moderate Islam over more conservative Islamist movements. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 1/12/2012]

Photo Credit: Official Facebook page of Egypt's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice

 

Egyptian bread protest

"Bread, freedom and social justice,” was one of the slogans chanted in Tahrir square and elsewhere in Egypt during the January 2011 revolution. The slogan captures the economic, political and social aspiration of the Egyptians, after decades of deprivation and authoritarianism.

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Campaign poster

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has decided to support keeping the caretaker prime minister and cabinet appointed by the ruling military council in office for the next six months.

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Egyptian Salafis

Before Marianne Shukri, a resident of Awlad Saqr in the Sharqiyya governorate of Egypt, could cast her vote, she had to call the state-run Egyptian Communications Company to determine the location of her polling station.Download the PDF

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Field Marshal Tantawi with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

Despite congressional backing for new restrictions on future military aid to Egypt -- contingent on respect for human rights and progress toward a transfer of power to civilian leadership -- the Obama administration is still hoping to allocate Egypt's full $1.3 billion assistance package, according to Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, who was interviewed by the Egyptian independent newspaper al-Masry al-Youm in Cairo on January 6 (full text here). 

The bright side of Feltman's remarks was his clear statement of support for NGOs and civil society. "We want to help create the space for civil society to be able to operate freely," Feltman said.  But what the statement failed to acknowledge is that (1) supporting civil society while (2) continuing military aid to a leadership that will not tolerate dissent or criticism are contradictory imperatives.  The recent crackdown on NGOs leaves little doubt that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is waging a domestic war on civil society.  If the United States is genuinely committed to supporting a free and democratic society, it's clear that the administration's policy of unqualified assistance to Egypt's military must end. 

Congress has taken steps to restrict military aid to Egypt in the new spending bill, but so far the White House has pushed back on the proposal over concerns that conditions on assistance would "threaten the foreign policy prerogatives of the president.”

In order to allocate the aid earmarked for Egypt's military this year, the administration will need to meet tough new conditions imposed by Congress: Under the terms of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2012, none of the military aid earmarked for Egypt can be allocated until the Secretary of State has certified that its government is "supporting the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion; and due process of law" in addition to upholding the 1979 peace treaty with Israel (see pages 1092-93 of HR3671).

When asked how soon the U.S. will be able to allocate the 2012 military aid package, Feltman appeared certain that the State Department will eventually be able to cerifty Egypt's compliance with the conditions for this year's assistance budget. Suggesting that the outcome of the certification process is a foregone conclusion, Feltman seemed confident that the State Department will be able to fulfill the certification requirement  "in order to release the funding, which we intend to do and we will do."

In the excerpt below, Feltman also urged "Egyptian visitors" to visit Washington "so that they can help address the concerns that the Congress may have about Egypt’s transition to democracy," directly inviting Egyptian military lobbyists to help make the administration's case for continued military assistance:

  • QUESTION: Can the U.S. cut the military aid to Egypt?

  • A/S FELTMAN: In the United States, the Administration proposes a budget to Congress and Congress is also the one that appropriates the budget back to the Administration. So the Administration has to make its case to the Congress every year about our budget requests, whether it’s for operations or whether it’s for foreign assistance. I can’t speak for Congress; I’m not in the House of Representatives or the Senate, but what I can say is that the Administration has continued to make a very strong case for our assistance to Egypt. And we were pleased that the Congress has ultimately given us the authority for our full funding for the military assistance to the Egyptian military. This is a demonstration, in our view, of the partnership we have between the GOE and the United States. But again, the Senate and the House of Representatives play an important role in the budget process, and they have questions that we have to answer. And we always encourage Egyptian visitors to Washington to spend time on Capitol Hill to meet with Congressional representatives and their staffs so that they can help address the concerns that the Congress may have about Egypt’s transition to democracy.

  • QUESTION: When will Egypt receive the military assistance?

  • A/S FELTMAN: I’m not sure when exactly. There is now in the legislation a certification requirement. The Administration will have to work with Congress to fulfill this. So while we have the authority for the full funding, in order to release the funding, which we intend to do and we will do, there is a certain certification process that we’ll have to work on with Congress. So this will take some time. I don’t have a prediction of when the military financing will come through. But I repeat the fact that the Administration continues to make the case that full funding of our request for assistance to the Egyptian military is important to our partnership.

Mara Revkin is the assistant director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and editor of EgyptSource. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photo Credit: AP

 

 

mhmwd_khld9.jpg.jpg

As the anniversary of the January 25 uprising approaches, activists and political figures are divided over two different proposals for a transfer of power to civilians.

PROTESTS:

 1) As the anniversary of the January 25 uprising approaches, activists and political figures are divided over two different proposals for a transfer of power to civilians. One suggests that the military hand over power to the speaker of parliament once elections are completed in January. Another proposal, backed by 56 parties and movements led by April 6, is to hold presidential elections in April, earlier than originally planned, and open the door for presidential nominees on January 25. Elected MPs Amr Hamzawy and Mostafa al-Naggar, are also calling for presidential elections in April. The second proposal also calls for an inclusive and representative provisional assembly that will draft a constitution that accurately reflects Egyptian society and creates a semi-presidential system. Skeptics have dismissed both proposals as politically unfeasible, and fear that compressing the transition timeline further could provoke a crisis. The FJP has repeatedly rejected proposals to expedite a transfer of power and insists that the SCAF’s proposed timeline for a presidential election in July be respected. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 1/10/2012] [al-Ahram, English, 1/10/2012]

2) The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) issued a statement demanded that the government recognize January 25 as a national day of tribute to the revolution, in addition to paying compensation to the martyrs’ families. In the statement, the FJP called on the SCAF to respect the timetable announced in the constitutional declaration and hold the presidential election immediately after the first joint session of the People’s Assembly and Shura Council. [al-Ahram, English, 1/10/2012]

ELECTIONS

3) Runoff voting began on January 10 for individual candidacy seats that were not decided in the third round, as well as for districts where voting was previously suspended by court rulings. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Salafi  Nour Party lists are continuing their electoral rivalry in the runoffs, with the FJP competing for 30 seats and Nour for 29. Supporters of the rival Islamist parties clashed in Dakhaliya while competing to sway voters, forcing police to intervene to restore security.  [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 1/10/2012] [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 1/10/2012]

4) The Muslim Brotherhood announced on January 7 that it had won at least 41 percent of the seats in the People’s Assembly, with Islamist parties collectively winning almost two thirds of the seats so far. The FJP won 35.2 percent of the party lists votes in round three, followed by the Salafi Nour Party with 27.5 percent, Wafd with 9.8 percent and the liberal Egyptian Bloc at 5.6 percent. Official results are expected after a runoff round for undecided individual candidate races on January 10-11. Partial results issued by the Muslim Brotherhood indicate that non-Islamist parties will not have strong representation in the new parliament: An estimated 9 percent of the seats will go to the liberal Egyptian Bloc, 9 percent to  the Wafd Party, 4 percent to former NDP members, and only 2 percent to the Revolution Continues coalition. The moderate Islamist Wasast Party also won 2 percent of the seats, while the rest were taken by independents. [The Daily News Egypt, English, 1/9/2012]

5) The liberal-oriented Free Egyptians party announced that it will boycott the Shura Council elections (scheduled to start on January 29), over the HEC’s failure to follow up on electoral violations, particularly the use of religious slogans in campaign propaganda. [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 1/9/2012]

AL-AZHAR:

6) Al-Azhar has issued a controversial draft bill, which younger clerics view as an effort to consolidate the control of senior clerics over the institution. The proposal aims to reinstate the Senior Scholars Authority and grant it the authority to elect al-Azhar’s Grand Sheikh, ending the tradition of presidentially appointed Sheikhs. The Senior Scholars Authority would replace the state-controlled Islamic Research Academy. Last week, al-Azhar’s senior clerics discussed the proposal and agreed to set a retirement age (80 years) for the Grand Sheikh, although younger imams had argued for a lower retirement age. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 1/10/2012]

INVESTIGATIONS:

7) The trial of former President Hosni Mubarak will continue into February, delaying a verdict until after the anniversary of the January 25 uprising. Omar Suleiman and Field Marshal Tantawi are now facing perjury charges. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 1/10/2012]

8) Egyptian Ambassador Sameh Shoukry claimed that the government supports “the valuable role” played by NGOs and cautioned against calls from Congress to suspend military aid. [Bloomberg, English, 1/6/2012]

9) Naguib Sawiris, founder of the Free Egyptians Party, has been summoned to appear in court on January 14 on charges of contempt for religion after he published a controversial cartoon of Mickey Mouse sporting a beard and Minnie Mouse wearing a niqab on Twitter. [al-Ahram, English, 1/9/2012]

10) Presidential candidate Ayman Nour and the leading activists Mamdouh Hamza were summoned for questioning in connection with the clashes outside of the Cabinet building on December 19. Both are accused of inciting violence against the military. [al-Ahram, English, 1/9/2012]

ECONOMY:

11) An IMF delegation will visit Cairo on January 15 to restart negotiations on a $3.2 billion loan package, which the Egyptian government initially rejected last June. [al-Ahram, English, 1/9/2012]

Photo Credit: al-Masry al-Youm