Tag Archives: Egyptians

Is Mubarak Dying?

Confusion Over Mubarak Adds to Tension in Egypt 

By  and 

CAIRO — Egyptian officials maintained a conspicuous silence about former President Hosni Mubarak’s health on Wednesday, a day after the state news agency reported that his condition was so grave that he had to be transferred from the prison where he is serving a life sentence to a military hospital.

Officials said that Mr. Mubarak’s health deteriorated rapidly on Tuesday, and that he went into cardiac arrest and suffered a stroke before his transfer.

After those reports, his lawyers andEgypt’s ruling military generals said Mr. Mubarak was in critical condition, but alive. On Wednesday, security officials said that Mr. Mubarak was alive and breathing on his own. They described his condition as nearly stable.

The former president’s health has been a source of constant speculation and suspicion since his imprisonment. Mr. Mubarak has had health problems for years, but the flood of reports and scares in recent weeks led many Egyptians to believe that the military rulers, determined to move Mr. Mubarak out of a notorious prison, were using those accounts to prepare the public for such a move.

Low ranking security officers, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, speculated that the previous night’s reports that Mr. Mubarak was on the edge of death were part of a scheme to transport him out of Egypt for care. Indeed, many Egyptians on Wednesday wondered if the state news agency reports of his near death were all a morbid hoax.

Security outside the hospital where Mr. Mubarak was said to be staying was light for a facility housing the former head of state. Civilians came and went freely through a side door of the hospital on Wednesday, and two people leaving the grounds said they noticed no change in the hospital’s operations or security.

Mr. Mubarak had been in a prison medical ward since the beginning of the month, when he was given a life sentence in connection with the killings of demonstrators during the 18 days of protests that ended his rule.

The news of his failing health spread quickly through Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the uprising, where tens of thousands of people were protesting the military council governing Egypt. In recent days, the generals had moved to seize the kind of uncontested authority that the former president wielded during his nearly three decades in power.

The confusion over Mr. Mubarak’s health injected new volatility into the country’s growing political and constitutional crisis, even as the two candidates to replace Mr. Mubarak as president both declared themselves the winners of the weekend’s election.

Analysts marveled that Mr. Mubarak had lost consciousness at the climactic moment of the struggle over the future of the system he had defined for so long, and just two days after the vote to choose his successor.

“It is very Shakespearean,” said Diaa Rashwan, an analyst at Al Ahram Center, a state-financed research institute. “To himself, he is eternal. There can be nobody after him. He does not want to hear the name of his successor.”

On Monday, Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader, said he had won Egypt’s first competitive presidential election, beating Ahmed Shafik, Mr. Mubarak’s last prime minister, with 52 percent of the vote.

The votes were counted publicly at the polling stations, and Egyptian state news media reported the same count as the Brotherhood. Official vote results are expected to be announced this week, but on Tuesday, Mr. Shafik disputed several of the tallies, including those reported in the state news media, that forecast Mr. Morsi as the winner.

A spokesman for Mr. Shafik, Ahmad Sarhan, said without explanation that he had won with 51.5 percent of the vote. But that announcement seemed another tactic in a battle that began before voters went to the polls.

Last week, the generals dissolved Parliament, which was dominated by the Brotherhood, saying the move was justified because of a decision by a court of judges appointed by Mr. Mubarak. The generals also proceeded to issue their own interim constitution, entrenching their power while all but eviscerating the authority of the new president.

The interim constitution also provided the generals and the Mubarak-appointed judiciary with broad sway over the drafting of Egypt’s next permanent constitution.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/official-silence-surrounds-mubaraks-condition-in-egypt-hospital.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

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Egypt’s Generals, Protesters Moving to Open Clash

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CAIRO – Egypt‘s ruling military and protesters seeking greater and faster change are moving into an outright collision, as the generals try to strip away public support for the movement while cozying up to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

Youth activists are not backing down, betting that Egyptians‘ dissatisfaction with the military’s running of the country will grow.

The generals, in power since the February ouster of longtime leaderHosni Mubarak, have launched an intensified media campaign against the protest activists, depicting them as a troublemaking minority and agents paid by foreign governments to grab power in an apparent attempt to turn the public against them. The message could have some appeal among Egyptians growing tired of continued unrest and fragile security.

At the same time, the military is cultivating ties with the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, which joined liberal and leftist youth in the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak but has since split with them on multiple issues. By cultivating the Brotherhood, the generals can take advantage of their large popular support base to counter the young protesters’ influence.

Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Assar, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the body of generals that have taken over from Mubarak, praised the Brotherhood on Monday, saying they were playing a constructive role in post-Mubarak Egypt.

“Day by day, the Brotherhood are changing and are getting on a more moderate track,” he said in a speech in Washington at the United States Institute of Peace. “They have the willingness to share in the political life … they are sharing in good ways.”

The generals have also encouraged street protests by pro-military groups. Dozens of army supporters have held daily rallies the past two weeks in a square in northeastern Cairo, getting heavy TV coverage, aimed at counterbalancing a tent camp by the youth activists at Tahrir Square, the center of the anti-Mubarak uprising.

If the tension between the two camps boils over, it could plunge Egypt deeper into chaos, even sparking clashes. That could derail the country’s transition to democratic rule, a failure that could have wider implications on a region that is looking to Egypt to provide a role model for pro-democracy uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world.

A sign of the dangers came Saturday, when thousands of protesters made a peaceful march on the Defense Ministry in Cairo to push demands that police officers responsible for the killing of some 850 protesters during anti-Mubarak uprising be brought to justice and that military trials of civilian protesters be stopped. They were attacked by bands of men armed with sticks, knives and firebombs.

Hundreds of military police backed by anti-riot policemen stood by without intervening as the two sides fought for several hours. At least 300 people were wounded in the clashes.

The protest movement began to hike up pressure on the military earlier this month, launching their sit-in protest in Tahrir. One of their top demands is that the killers of protesters be brought to justice, but they also complain that the generals have mismanaged the transition to democratic rule, operating without transparency and dragging their feet in weeding out Mubarak loyalists from the judiciary, the civil service and the police force. Their ultimate fear is that the military will allow much of Mubarak’s authoritarian regime to stay in place.

The generals have countered by doing some revision of history, aiming to restore their longtime status as the ultimate authority in Egypt. For example, they have sought to depict themselves as equal partners with the Tahrir protesters in the popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s 29-year regime.

Over the weekend, the military took its rhetoric against the protesters into a dramatically higher gear. A military statement over the weekend accused a key youth group, April 6, of driving a wedge between the armed forces and Egyptians and of receiving foreign funding and training.

It also criticized “Kifaya,” or “Enough!”, a movement that emerged in 2004 and was the first in Egypt to publicly call for Mubarak’s removal and to oppose plans for his son Gamal to succeed him. One general said Kifaya was an “imported” movement, suggesting that it was created, financed and controlled by foreign powers.

Columnist Wael Kandil criticized the military’s comments Monday in the independent daily Al-Shorouq, warning that “we are now in the phase of burning the revolution.”

“The only thing left is to bring a tailor to take Mubarak’s measurements to make him a new set of suits for his triumphant return,” he wrote.

Activists from April 6 and Kifaya denied the military charges, accusing the generals of using Mubarak-era tactics.

The military has also been making a major media push. Numerous retired army generals have appeared on TV political talk shows as commentators in recent days, promoting the military council’s line.

This week, the host of one popular show, Dina Abdel-Rahman, was fired after repeated criticism of the military, including a sharp debate with one of the retired generals who called in to her show defending the military council.

Gamal Eid, a human rights lawyer, said her firing was a warning to others.

“Fear of the military is still great,” he said.

“I expect a clash between the two sides,” said analyst Hala Mustafa. “There exists a huge gap in their vision and tempo. Unlike the revolutionaries, the generals want to reform the system from within while they want to bring it down and build a new one in its place.”

A senior Brotherhood figure, Essam el-Erian, said the youth activists protesting against the military were trying to dominate Egypt’s politics but have failed to convince the majority of Egyptians.

He denied any growing ties between the Brotherhood and the military, saying they agree only on one issue — that elections should be held to transfer power to the people. The military has called for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held later this year, and the Brotherhood is expected to do well in the voting.

El-Erian warned that the alternative is a military coup.

“The military would tell us, ‘You go back home’, and they will manage the country. That would be a coup,” he told The Associated Press.

In the other camp, Mustafa Shawki, a key youth activist, acknowledged that smaller numbers have been showing up for Tahrir Square rallies. But he said the military’s continued mismanaging of the transition will fuel public discontent.

“We are at the end of the second wave of the revolution,” he said. “What will bring about the third wave of the revolution is the failure of the military council to bring about social justice. That will win back support for the revolutionaries that has currently been lost.”

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/07/25/world/middleeast/AP-ML-Egypt.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=world


The fear of Hunger….

Egyptians face food hardship after protests

By Sherine El Madany

CAIRO (Reuters) – Electrician Hassan Ibrahim, a father of three, hopes Egypt‘s revolution will speed the day he no longer lives in fear that his family will go hungry.

On January 28, he joined millions of protesters on streets acrossEgypt, home to one of the world’s fastest food inflation rates, in an uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

For now, Ibrahim finds life even harder than before.

Days of rejoicing followed Mubarak’s resignation last week but now Egyptians replenishing their food supplies are finding empty shelves or hugely inflated prices.

Prices of food and drink already soared 18 percent year-on-year last month while Ibrahim’s salary stagnated.

As protestors chanted for Mubarak’s removal, other Egyptians could be seen piling up shopping carts with emergency provisions and heaving bags full of the country’s staple brown beans home from markets before a nighttime curfew.

“Prices rose even higher through the days of protests as everyone has been stocking up during the curfew,” said Ibrahim.

This is an extra headache for authorities eager to restore confidence in an economy hit by strikes and bank closures.

The pressure to guarantee food supplies is great given Egypt’s history of sporadic bread riots which led the army to intervene on occasions to ensure calm or distribute supplies.

Egypt relies on imports for at least half of domestic consumption and the revolution came as global food prices, as tracked by a U.N. agency, hit their highest on record in January.

Shoppers said the latest price surge came amid panic buying of essential goods on fears of future shortages. Merchants also blame a rise in the cost of transport.

“Prices have gone up for both merchants and buyers,” said Omm Mahmoud, who sells fruit and vegetables in a Cairo suburb. “It now costs me more to have my goods transported from the farms to the city, and I have to pass on those costs.”

If prices aren’t a problem, then supplies are.

“In state-run shops grocery prices are reasonable but supply is not enough,” said 53-year old housewife Magda Hussein. “They run out of items quickly, so I have to purchase the rest of my groceries from stores that charge about double the price.”

Like other protesters, Ibrahim blames higher living costs on Mubarak, who ruled a country where a fifth of the population lives on less than $2 a day, according to the United Nations.

Ibrahim brought his children to Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the heart of the revolution in Cairo, several times to learn about the value of democracy.

“I know that living costs and unemployment could rise, but that is a price I am willing to pay for the success of the revolution. I want my children to live in a free country,” he said.

PAIN TO LAST

John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi, said Mubarak fell due to rising inequality, high unemployment and very high inflation. “Food inflation will continue to be the biggest concern,” he said. “People … will not maybe buy a car but they will still have to eat.”

Global prices are set to stay high after a massive snowstorm in the United States and floods in Australia.

Beltone investment bank indicated the suffering in Egypt was likely to continue. “This spike in prices is set to continue into February and perhaps subsequent months, although this will largely depend on the unfolding political situation,” it said in a research note.

Sfakianakis expects Egypt’s food inflation to continue rising in 2011 to reach about 20 percent year-on-year, and said it would be difficult for Egypt to curb prices because globally they are likely to remain high this year.

The situation won’t be helped by a drop in the Egyptian pound that makes imported goods even dearer and adds further strain to the government’s import subsidy bill.

“We … believe that global food prices will add to upward inflationary pressures, although the government will continue to increase subsidies when required on basic goods to keep prices stable,” said investment bank EFG-Hermes.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/egyptians-face-food-hardship-protests-20110217-104733-908.html


The next steps for Egypt….???

Behind White House applause for Egypt’s protesters, unanswered questions, uncertain future

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The United States faces an intensely uncertain future in Egypt, a stalwart ally of decades in the volatile Middle East, where key tenets of American foreign policy are now thrown into doubt.

Behind President Barack Obama’s praise for Egypt’s protesters and the outcome they achieved lie major unanswered questions about what will come next now that President Hosni Mubarak has been overthrown after 30 years of authoritarian rule. For many people in Egypt, they were years of oppression, corruption and poverty; but for the U.S., Mubarak was an anchor of stability at the helm of the world’s largest Arab nation, enforcing a peace treaty with Israel and protecting vital U.S. interests, including passage for oil through the Suez Canal.

For now, the military is in charge, but whether, when or how a transition will be made to the kind of democratic society that meets the protesters’ demands remains unknown. Speaking at the White House on Friday, Obama acknowledged difficult days ahead and unanswered questions but expressed confidence that the answers will be found.

Most tellingly, as the U.S. warily eyes the days ahead, Obama singled out the Egyptian military for praise in the restraint it showed through more than two weeks of largely peaceful protests. But the president emphasized the military’s role as a “caretaker” leading up to elections now set for September and said it must now “ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people.”

He said that means lifting Egypt’s hated 30-year-old “emergency” police powers laws, protecting the rights of citizens, revising the country’s law and constitution “to make this change irreversible and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free.”

But just as the U.S. had limited influence during the uprising that seemed to spring almost out of nowhere to overtake Egypt, it has limited influence over what happens next. The U.S. provides some $1.5 billion a year in aid to Egypt, the vast majority of it to the military, and has a good relationship with the Egyptian military, which often sends officers here for training. That doesn’t guarantee a commanding U.S. role.

“Do we have leverage or influence?” asked Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast adviser to six U.S. secretaries of state. “Well, did we have leverage and influence over the past few weeks? That’s highly arguable.”

Miller, now with the Woodrow Wilson Center think-tank , said it will take weeks or months to sort things out. And in the end, he said, “I think Egypt will be a far less forgiving place for American interests as democracy takes root — if in fact it does.”

Asked about the uncertainty ahead, especially with respect to the role of the military, presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs could only answer: “I don’t think we have to fear democracy.”

Beyond the question of who will end up in control in Egypt and whether the U.S. will still be able to count the country as a firm and stable ally, there are concerns over whether the unrest that brought down Mubarak will spread to other nations in the Middle East, including oil-rich autocratic neighbours.

That prospect looms even as the U.S. handling of the Egypt situation has angered some leaders in the region who thought Washington was too quick to abandon Mubarak — although Obama and his administration studiously avoided ever calling outright for the president’s ouster.

On Friday, after Mubarak’s resignation was announced, Obama was able to give fuller expression to his views.

“By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change,” Obama said, in words reminiscent of his own presidential campaign.

Of the protesters, the president said: “This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied.” He compared them to the Germans who tore down the Berlin Wall and to independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi‘s nonviolent ranks in India.

Mubarak’s resignation came less than 24 hours after he’d surprised the White House and many others by delivering a defiant speech Thursday in which he refused to step down, confounding widespread expectations that he’d do so. Obama learned of the announcement of his resignation Friday morning when an aide brought him a note during a meeting in the Oval Office.

Then he spent a few moments, along with the rest of the world, watching the joyous celebrations in Cairo on TV.

“Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence,” Obama said. “For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.”

The protests arose in a country with enormous social problems, with vast differences between the haves and the have-nots. It is a country where more than 50 per cent of the adult population is illiterate and some 40 per cent live below or close to the poverty line. Rising costs of food were among the leading factors underpinning the protests. Some of the impoverished Egyptians are beneficiaries of U.S. food aid; officials said Friday that U.S. aid to Egypt was not expected to be affected by Mubarak’s departure.

It was not clear what role Islamic militant groups such as the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood might play in the new government that emerges. Egypt’s ruling military on Saturday moved to resolve one area of uncertainty by reassuring its international allies that there would be no break in its landmark 1979 peace deal with Israel.

The top U.S. military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, will be in Israel on Sunday and Monday, with developments in Egypt expected to be at the top of the agenda. The meeting was previously scheduled. Mullen is also visiting Jordan, another Mideast ally facing the prospect of civil unrest.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/egyptians-hopeful-face-uncertain-future-military-charge-20110212-011858-751.html

 


“Revolution Of The Young”

Egyptians pray for Mubarak to go now

By Dina Zayed and Shaimaa Fayed | Reuters

CAIRO (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Egyptians prayed in Cairo’s Liberation Square on Friday for an immediate end to President Hosni Mubarak‘s 30-year rule, hoping a million more would join them in what they called the “Day of Departure”.

“Leave! Leave! Leave!” they chanted after bowing in prayer and listening to a cleric declare “We want the head of the regime removed”. He praised the “revolution of the young”.

The United States, long the ally and sponsor of the 82-year-old former general and his politically influential army, was also working behind the scenes to have him hand over power.

Mubarak says he is willing to retire but, having spent three decades portraying himself as a bulwark against radical Islam in the most populous Arab state, he has warned of chaos if he goes now.

Doubtless fuelling Western — and Israeli — concerns about the rise of the Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood in any free Egyptian election, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed what he called an “Islamic liberation movement” across the Arab world, and urged Egypt’s army to turn on Israel.

In Cairo, where protesters have come from a mix of secular and religious inspiration, many joined in repeating the Muslim rallying call on Friday of “Allahu akbar!”, or God is greatest.

Reuters TV live Tahrir Square, click http://link.reuters.com/kuf87r

Mubarak interview with ABC, click http://link.reuters.com/red87r

Protest timeline http://link.reuters.com/zyc77r

For graphics, click http://r.reuters.com/nym77r

Insider TV, click http://link.reuters.com/caw77r

In Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, the focus of protests and of violent clashes with Mubarak loyalists in the previous two days, there was a festive atmosphere, with soldiers keeping order and the veteran defence minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, paying a visit and talking to his soldiers.

“Today is the last day, today is the last day!” protesters shouted as Arabic pop songs blared from a bank of speakers and military helicopters clattered overhead. Ambulances stood by.

One banner, in English for the benefit of the international television channels beaming out live, read: “Game over.”

ARMY OUT IN FORCE

Troops, out in greater numbers than in the previous week, strung barbed wire across streets and erected checkpoints, slowing people’s ability to get to the square. Once weekly prayers end at mosques across the country, protest leaders were hoping they could declare they had put a million on the streets.

The long-banned Brotherhood has sought to allay Western and Israeli concerns about its potential to take power in a free vote. A day after Mubarak’s new vice president broke ground by saying the Brotherhood was welcome to join a national dialogue, it said it would not seek the presidency.

Iran’s anti-Western, Islamic revolution of 1979 against the repressive, U.S.-funded shah has been cited by some in Israel and the West as a possible precedent for Egypt.

Khamenei, whose non-Arab, Shi’ite clergy represent a different branch of Islam from the mainly Sunni Arabs, praised those in Tunisia and now Egypt who had wrought dramatic change in the past month on autocratic regimes typical of the Arab world.

“The awakening of the Islamic Egyptian people is an Islamic liberation movement and I, in the name of the Iranian government, salute the Egyptian people and the Tunisian people,” Khamenei told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran.

Calling himself a “brother in religion” to the Arab people, he called on the Egyptian army to back the protesters and “focus its eyes on the Zionist enemy”. Cairo’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel has been a key component of the Jewish state’s security strategy.

GENERALS’ ROLE

The demonstrators, from across Egypt’s diverse 80 million population, hope to match the unprecedented turnout on the streets of the nation’s cities that they mobilised on Tuesday.

On that evening, Mubarak announced he would step down, but only in September, when a presidential election is due.

Though many Egyptians felt that was good enough, and hoped for a return to normality after the disruption which began on Jan. 25, many want Mubarak to leave immediately. The United States and its Western allies, while refraining from saying he must quit now, have urged him to begin the transition of power and move towards elections.

The armed forces, who have a crucial role to play, appear to be weighing their options, content to let demonstrators have their say in a way never before seen in Egypt. But they have not moved directly against Mubarak, and have allowed plain clothes loyalists to range the streets and attack protesters this week.

A senior U.S. official, who declined to be named, said on Thursday Washington was discussing with Egyptians different scenarios, including one in which Mubarak resigned immediately.

“That’s one scenario,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There are a number of scenarios, but (it is) wrong to suggest we have discussed only one with the Egyptians.”

Mubarak, however, said he believed his country still needed him: “If I resign today, there will be chaos,” Mubarak, who has promised to step down in September, told U.S. television channel ABC. Commenting on the calls to resign, he said: “I don’t care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country.”

U.S. INTERVENTION

The New York Times cited U.S. officials and Arab diplomats as saying Washington was discussing a plan for Mubarak to hand over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military.

It also quoted a senior Egyptian saying the constitution did not allow this. “That’s my technical answer,” he added. “My political answer is they should mind their own business.”

Suleiman also hinted at irritation with U.S. interference in a television interview on Thursday: “There are some abnormal ways by which foreign countries have intervened through press declarations and statements. This was very strange, given the friendly relations between us and them,” he said.

Many of the protesters reject Suleiman as an alternative.

Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League and former Egyptian foreign minister, said he believed Mubarak would hold on until September’s election. Then he added cautiously: “But there are extraordinary things happening, there’s chaos and perhaps he will take another decision.”

Moussa, spoken of by some as a possible successor, told France’s Europe 1 radio that he would consider standing.

The U.N. estimates 300 people have died in the unrest which was inspired in part by protests in Tunisia which forced Tunisian strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee last month and which have since spread to other parts of the Middle East.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/egyptians-pray-mubarak-now-20110204-035048-128.html