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Middle East

Interview in LHV News: Egypt's future - Chile, Haiti or Indonesia?

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'Army, pro-Saudi Salafis pressured Morsi to back rebels in Syria'

LHVnews: Morsi’s removal by army has angered his supporters and created deep division in the country. Hundreds have been killed and thousands have been injured in recent weeks, either in clashes between opposing protesters or in clashes between protesters and Egyptian army.

How did Egypt get to this point? Why was Morsi removed? Who’s protesting, and why?

Walberg: The 25 January 2011 revolution, a spontaneous revulsion by both devout Muslims and young secularists with Egypt’s version of western-imposed modernity, resulted in the collapse of the seemingly impregnable Mubarakite order in 2011. The uprising resulted in a benign ‘modern’ coup, with grim generals on TV and soldiers in tanks, pushing the geriatric corrupt president out. This finally opened the road for Egypt to seek its destiny as a devout Islamic society, as confirmed the next year when Islamists, led by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its Freedom and Justice Party, gained 2/3 of the seats in the most democratic elections in recent history—anywhere.

This alarming situation (for secularists and the old elite) led to the second, ‘postmodern’ coup, meaning one which the world can be convinced is not really a coup at all. Before the 2012 presidential election, de facto president Field Marshall Mohamed Tantawi disbanded the newly elected (Islamist) parliament, stripped the incumbent (Islamist) President Mohamed Morsi of most of his powers, and presented him with a neoliberal budget as a fait accompli. The military were then able to discretely ‘retire’ (though Tantawi initially remained as minister of defense). The hamstrung Morsi was sure to fail, so the logic went, discrediting the Islamists, and paving the way for a return to ‘business as usual’.

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Egypt: Coups Modern and Postmodern

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Already the early enthusiasm for Egypt’s 3 July coup is waning, as EU leaders demand President Morsi’s release and US President Obama prevaricates. Senator John McCain, who soon after the coup called for an end to US military funding as stipulated by law, arrived in Cairo Monday to mediate. As a kind of cruel joke, the new ‘president’ Adly Mansour, who is also president of the Supreme Constitutional Court, has scheduled a trial 25 August of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and his deputies, including Khairat el-Shater, who are accused of killing protesters, though it is the Egyptian coupmakers who since 2011 have killed hundreds of unarmed Egyptians with impunity.

This situation, both tragic and absurd, recalls Pakistan’s coupmaker Zia ul-Haq, who overthrew and proceeded to execute his democratically-elected predecessor Zulfikar Bhutto on trumped-up charges in 1979. Take heed, Sisi and Obama. A short decade later, Zia died in a mysterious plane crash, along with US Ambassador Raphel, and Bhutto’s daughter Benazir Bhutto became prime minister.

Coup #1

Egypt has in fact had three coups since the 25 January 2011 revolution—one per year, ending in the bloody, unfinished 2013 coup. The collapse of the seemingly impregnable Mubarakite order in 2011 resulted in the first coup, a benign ‘modern’ coup, with grim generals on TV and soldiers in tanks, pushing the geriatric corrupt president out when a spontaneous revulsion with Egypt’s version of western-imposed modernity erupted.

This finally opened the road for Egypt to seek its destiny as a devout Islamic society, as confirmed the next year when Islamists, led by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its Freedom and Justice Party, gained 2/3 of the seats in the most democratic elections in recent history—anywhere.

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Interview on No Lies Radio (Egypt, Eric's new book)

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No Lies Radio interview with Kevin Barrett

We discuss the July coup in Egypt and my new book From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization


Egypt's revolution betrayed: Fuel for al-Qaeda fires

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During the past few months, dozens of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members have been murdered and their offices sacked and burned. The police openly refuse to protect them. Rather than ordering the opposition to drop their demand that Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, resign, and negotiate reasonably with his government, the army gave him a Hobson's Choice: resign or be ousted. As General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced the army's coup Wednesday, President Mohammed Morsi released a video on the president’s website denouncing the ouster. “I am the elected president of Egypt. The revolution is being stolen from us.” Minutes later, the website was shut down, the video disappeared, and the president and 300 MB leaders were put under arrest, including the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, a step that not even Mubarak dared to take.

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‘Made in Gaza’: Breaking the siege

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The builders of Gaza’s Ark hope to bring Gazan goods to the world. The latest plan to try to break the illegal siege of Gaza, according to organizer Michael Coleman at Sunday’s press conference in the port of Gaza, is to refurbish their very second-hand fishing boat, fill it with Gazan products (date products, embroidery, craft items and more) and sail to another Mediterranean port, like any normal exporter.

Though this would hardly be earth-shattering news in any other coastal area, it is hoped that this time Israel will blink, and not scuttle this modest attempt to help beleaguered Palestinians in Gaza stand on their own feet. “Israel always claimed that the blockade was meant to prevent the smuggling of illegal weapons into Gaza. In that case, it should have no problem with a boat leaving the Gaza Strip,” said Mahfouz Kabariti, head of Gaza’s fishing and marine sport association.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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