Egyptian Writer Views `Change` in US Policy Toward Islamists` Rule in Egypt
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article by Khayri Umar, an “Egyptian writer”: “US Policy and Transformations of the Crisis in Egypt”
Over the past weeks, US policy has adopted some positions toward Egypt, which were mostly meant to reassess its attitude toward the ruling regime, led by the Muslim Brotherhood/Justice and Freedom (Party). This thinking is based on the political repercussions Egypt has witnessed in the period that followed the announcement of the results of the referendum on the constitution. This requires analyzing the views of the United States of the course taken by the political scene and its developments in the future, especially in light of the awareness that the US role is one of the important factors in influencing political trends in the Middle East region and the US aspiration for the continuation of regional equations without a change.
Perhaps, the start of the announcement of change in the US position toward conditions in Egypt was at a hearing in front of the Senate`s Foreign Relations Committee on 23 January. Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a reference to the dangers of terrorism in North Africa and how much this reflects on US interests in that region. She also spoke about the perception of US policy of the post-revolution conditions in Egypt. The report of the secretary of state said that the institutions that emerged are fragile and weak and that the new political elite lacks the necessary experience to run a complicated state that is witnessing extreme tensions.
In assessing the Arab revolutions, Clinton`s testimony noted that the Arab revolutions have confused the dynamics of authority and torn apart the security forces throughout the region in a way that creates opportunities for the growth of violence and terrorism on the level of the Middle East region and the unstable areas in Africa. Here, we can look at the assessment of the US State Department from the perspective that the US policy is now focusing on the fragility of the new regimes in maintaining security. In light of the growth of domestic crises, these regimes will lose the ability to prevent the disintegration of political establishments. The report concludes that US policy is based on two aspects: Fighting extremism and terrorism and helping emerging democracies in Egypt and other Arab countries.
The United States takes into consideration what it calls the geopolitical vacuum in Egypt and the Arab region in the wake of the fall of dictatorships. It thinks that the new regimes have not filled the political vacuum. Therefore, Washington seeks to monitor the development of these new regimes to be more attached to its interests. It is noticeable that US policy makes a distinction between military cooperation and economic cooperation. This distinction is based on making a choice between strengthening the military establishment to maintain the cohesion of the state and supporting the political authority--Islamists make up the majority of the components of this authority. The features of US policy appeared when Congress approved the continuation of military assistance, although it still refuses to release economic aid, be it aid related to the peace agreement or pledged by the US Administration to mitigate the economic crisis in Egypt.
In general, the US focus on military cooperation with Egypt is consistent with its vision of the post-revolution repercussions. It thinks that political stability will be through strengthening the military establishment as a guarantor for the trends of the state and for the dimensions of national security to remain unchanged, especially in relation to the Camp David Accord. Perhaps, the importance of the aircraft deal (20 F-16 aircraft) is that it comes within the context of the US commitment to military assistance in accordance with the peace accord between Egypt and Israel. This assistance comes within the context of the deterioration in the performance of state institutions and the aggravation of security problems. The support for the military establishment could be necessary to carry out the duty of maintaining internal security if ther e is a necessity and to develop national security missions, as well as what is related to the joint security policy with the United States in Sinai and the borders with Israel. However, the political conditions will lead to the consolidation of the political role of the military establishment if the United States continues to prefer military assistance to economic assistance.
The conduct of Washington betrays a trend to revisit the position of the US Administration toward the Egyptian Government. This review is based on the fact that the growing political violence in Egypt will abort political reform and halt economic reform. In general, the US political rhetoric is inclined toward holding President Muhammad Mursi responsible for the confusion of the political situation in Egypt, while avoiding any reference to the violence of the opposition and the violent protest against the authority and the institutions of the state. These protests have witnessed profound changes toward violence since 25 January 2013.
By February, the US criticisms have become clearer. US Ambassador Anne Patterson spoke at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce in Alexandria about the role of US government institutions in supporting the Egyptian private sector. The United States adopts economic support for NGOs, which is a continuation of the US policy of empowering the capitalist system, based on small and medium enterprises and expanding the role of civil society. At the same time, the United States ruled out providing funding to the state to alleviate the monetary crisis in light of the growing political crisis in Egypt and the lack of dramatic solutions to it. This trend agrees with the halt of economic aid to Egypt and postponing negotiations with the IMF indefinitely in spite of the deterioration of the Egyptian economy over the past two years. Direct foreign investment has sharply declined since the eruption of the revolution.
In light of the drop in the cash reserves held by the Central Bank to $13.6 billion in early February, which covers imports for three months, negotiations over the loan for Egypt ($4.8 billion) have been postponed. This poses a great challenge to Egypt`s monetary policy and reflects negatively on the economic policy. The decision of the IMF is based on a number of reasons, mainly the sharp political dispute between the authority and the opposition and the delay in implementing the conditions related to the loan, especially in relation to raising taxes on a number of goods. This creates a political crisis for the government with its opponents and with society.
If there is agreement with the monetary policy of the IMF in addressing the monetary policy and its problems, linking the approval of the loan to a conducive political climate and resolving differences between the opposition and authority is an additional restriction on Egypt. The existence of this condition will make the dispute and division between the two sides continue, especially in light of the overlap of political and economic conditions in a complicated environment.
The Warning and Its Effects
Under these circumstances, the US State Department issued a warning to its citizens against traveling to Cairo until May 2013. Irrespective of the damage done to some economic sectors as a result of this policy, other effects are equally important. The travel advisory has warned against the travel of Americans to Egypt for three months. This advisory was issued in light of the rise of the violent opposition and the raging political crisis. Determining this period means that the US estimates are that the security situation in Egypt is likely to deteriorate in the coming period although there is no clear threat to the Americans. This decision might reflect the poor confidence of the United States in the abilities of the Egyptian authority. This will have negative effects on political stability.
Here, the pivot of the political crisis in Egypt is rapidly declining toward halting the current transitional political track and replacing it with a track that rearranges the situation. The demands and initiatives proposed by the political parties as of the end of last week include the demand for removing the institutions created over the past transitional period, early presidential elections, replacing the attorney general, and cancelling the constitution or introducing substantive amendments to its key articles provided that the discussions take place in the presence of the military establishment.
Faced with the features of a change in US policy, the challenge that faces the United States has to do with how much it accepts the incorporation or participation of Islamists, in their various shades, in the political process. Perhaps the importance of this challenge lies in that the sharp struggle between Islamists, liberals, and socialists in Egypt and other countries might prompt the United States to think about reassessing the strategy of political support and if it is possible to divide it between Islamists and others. In other words, the US acceptance of the continuation of Islamists in authority will remain one of the determinants of the policy of US support for the new regimes in the Middle East.
(Description of Source: London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic -- Website of influential Saudi-owned London pan-Arab daily. URL: http://www.daralhayat.com)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.
Pakistan: Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Says Arab Spring Fall of US Citadel
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Interview with Syed Munawar Hasan, chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, by Tariq Masood; place and date not given: “Taliban Are Our Own People, There Should Be No Delay in Talks with Them”
Syed Munawar Hasan is the chief of Jamaat-e-Islami and a learned politician. He comes from a respectable family of Delhi that migrated at the time of creation of Pakistan and settled in Karachi. Very few people know that early in his life, Hasan had powerful communist ideas in his mind. This is the reason why he was elected the president of the National Students Federation that was blooming under the communist views in 1959. But soon he experienced a revolutionary change inside and in 1960 he joined Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (Islamic Students` Assembly). Meanwhile, he was elected president of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba in the University of Karachi. He has been serving on different positions and in different party offices since then to this day and he performed unrivalled services, on the ideological front, for his country and the nation. Hasan has a very positive mindset with regard to the country. Daily Khabrain arranged a special conversation with him. Few excerpts from the interview are mentioned below for readers:
Question: According to your political vision, do you see the general elections taking place in time? Moreover, tell us what could be the possible damages in case of any kind of delay in the elections.
Syed Munawar Hasan: Currently, under the situation that the nation is passing through there are many questions to which no one has answers. However, we can say a few things keeping in view the present scenario and circumstances as an attempt for analysis but it is considerably difficult to say something with conviction and rationality. However elections in any society are far better than no elections. Even if the elections are lame and flawed but still they are good enough than no elections.
It is correct that elections do not lead to solution of the problems for instance the election process cannot resolve the issues of inflation, unrest or law and order issues but it is worth-mentioning that absence of election leads to promotion of hatred in the society and a vast gulf comes out among the humans of a society. In the absence of elections, an artificial leadership enters the scene and the entire situation eventually leads to chaos and disharmony.
Not that the different parties will stop talking about the seats for the preservation of their seats and to take their candidates to victory for this must happen. However, law and constitution also say that elections resolve certain problems and for this reason the elections should take place in time and in a transparent manner at every cost. We all, according to our capacity, should move forward to ensure elections.
Debates and discussions should take place for ideal elections but we should make use of the available resources and the present situation. The biggest issue today is that if some forces are making attempts to delay the elections we should take legal, constitutional, and political steps to stop such forces. On the face of it, respective elements are active in both ways. Since we are going through a specific panorama therefore some of the apprehensions emerge in our country in the form of monster proportion.
Question: Allama Tahirul Qadri demonstrated the show of public power and then he approached the court also. In your opinion, who is behind this entire episode and what is the actual mission?
Syed Munawar Hasan: If you look you will notice that Tahirul Qadri is fledgling in this field and he is facing all those problems that a novice must confront. He has so far displayed a political produce in this entire matter. He covered so many aspects only in one sitting which is actually hard to encompass. However, regarding the issues of Pakistan, I believe that our biggest problem is the US intervention in our affairs. The United States wants to force Pakistan for obedience of whatever it likes. Therefore, the similar US element appears at the back of Qadri also. However, one thing is certain that we do not want to give too much importance to Qadri. As for the mission assigned t o him, I believe that Qadri does not have enough capability to successfully accomplish any mission or achieve his goal.
Question: You do not give importance to Qadri but everyone has witnessed that he fully demonstrated his powers in federal capital. How do you see that?
Syed Munawar Hasan: At least this credit goes to Qadri that he gathered thousands of people. As for the point that he gathered the people of his educational institutes, still gathering students, teachers, and other staff is not an easy task. However, people gathered because there is anxiety and concern among the people and they also desire for change but sometimes some people begin running to a mirage owing to their bereavements.
Question: If we look in the past, we will see that Jamaat-e-Islami has also been doing what Qadri is doing now. Do not you think that your party ought to have done what Qadri is doing at the moment?
Syed Munawar Hasan: I have repeatedly expressed this and I had reiterated the same at the Raiwind meeting that the political parties should form a grand alliance. I have also been saying that elections should be held in time. We have long ago wanted that the entire political parties should reach consensus over one point agenda. To this effect, we can say that Qadri has made a massive attempt to produce this opportunity.
Question: Some people want the reconstitution of election commission. What is your take on this?
Syed Munawar Hasan: I believe that the people who are demanding for the reconstitution of the election commission are indeed seeking postponement of elections, consciously or unconsciously. We must discourage such people on every cost so that the elections could take place on the appointed hour.
Question: Do you believe that the upcoming elections are likely to produce change on a large scale?
Syed Munawar Hasan: See today there is lot of buzz about the wave of change. It will be premature to say what direction the wave of change will assume. However, we see piles and piles of estimates and analyses for and against the change. Nonetheless, we believe that there is no single party in the country that could claim to prove itself the majority party even in one province. There is similar situation in the entire provinces. No party can form government in Sindh without the support of the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement). The same is situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Balochistan. Not only this, but a party will have to make seat adjustments with several other parties. This will result in the formation of political alliances. Now, the ruling parties have set up their alliance that consists of a group of four or five parties. But other parties cannot manifest this kind of unity in the country. With the election drawing closer and the announcement of exact date, the situation will start emerging more clear and vivid.
Question: Do you believe the upcoming elections and their results will be a source of reduction of US intervention?
Syed Munawar Hasan: It depends on the government that will come to power as a result of these elections. Now what we have to see is that how this new setup will be formed.
Question: We can infer from your response that the United States will continue to oppress Pakistan like rest of the Muslim world?
Syed Munawar Hasan: The United States can drop an atom bomb to kill even one person and then the United States will give full arguments in favor of its steps. Today the Islamic governments have come to power in six countries as a result of different movements. Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, and Malaysia are among them. In fact, the Arab spring is the name of fall of US citadel.
Question: How do you see the Taliban`s demands regarding talks and guarantees?
Syed Munawar Hasan: In fact, the entire nation is waiting for the explanation from the Taliban as to what kind of guarantee they are seeking. Second, it has been quite long since the peace talk offer was made and the government should accept the offer. I believe that establishment of law and order should be the top priority of any government. Now today we need to create an atmosphere where the reservations of the Taliban could be removed. For the success in this situation, media should also play its role.
On the one side, we are putting up with the United States and tolerating its excesses. But the Taliban are our own people and we should not delay talks with them. We should sit together with the Taliban leaders and take immediate steps to improve the circumstances.
(Description of Source: Islamabad Khabrain Online in Urdu Website of the News, a sensationalist daily, published by Liberty Papers Ltd., generally critical of Pakistan People`s Party; known for its access to government and military sources of information. The same group owns The Post in English, Naya Akhbar in Urdu and Channel 5 TV. Circulation of 30,000; URL: www.khabrain.com)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.