Last update: 00:00 am Friday ,15 Jun 2012 - Updated daily except Saturday and Sunday
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Minerva's owl flies at dusk: A quick reading of Egypt's presidential vote

Others | 15 June 2012
For many Egyptians it is the worst case scenario. Coming to work this morning my cab driver is seething: "They're as bad as each other, I won't be voting," he pledged, referring to the final runoff election between the two front-runners, due to take place in mid-June. He lamented the relatively slim-margin defeat of leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, "he got Cairo and Alexandria and, God bless the Prophet, Port Said." .. More

The rise of the 'man in the pullover'

Others | 14 June 2012
All of a sudden, “the man in the pullover,” or Ahmed Shafiq — who is satirically described as such due to his initial media appearance in casual attire — has come back into the spotlight. Once disdained by friends and foes alike, Shafiq is now widely acclaimed as the country’s savior from the ludicrousness of “traders of religion” and the frivolity of the “immature revolutionaries.” How did Omar Suleiman's "substitute" and Amr Moussa's "distorted replica" become the right man for the current stage? .. More

How can we save the state bureaucracy?

Others | 13 June 2012
Following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's chances of undergoing meaningful democratisation considerably depend on the restructuring of the state bureaucracy. A functioning democratic system requires an autonomous, professional and accountable state apparatus that abides by the rule of law and protects human rights. Autonomy refers to the protection of the state administrative apparatus from the whims of political leadership, so it can preserve its political neutrality. Professionalisation indicates the formulation and observing of rational rules and regulations that guarantee institutional competence, efficiency and cohesion. .. More

The third way

Others | 12 June 2012
As for the social and economic elites, after they had succeeded in regrouping from within the state institutions in the mid-19th century, they tried hard to curb the power of the modern Egyptian state. However, three factors stood in the way of controlling this leviathan. First was the British occupation, which dissipated nationalist efforts between struggling for independence and striving for constitutionalism. Then there was the Arab-Israeli conflict, used by some to postpone necessary domestic political reforms. Third was the curse of oil-bolstered reactionary regimes in the region, including Mubarak’s regime, and allowed them ample breathing space and extended their lives far beyond their expiry dates. .. More

Copts: Between a rock and a hard place

Others | 11 June 2012
The first round of the Egyptian presidential election resulted in a runoff between Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy, who won 25 percent of the votes (about 5.8 million), and Ahmed Shafiq — a former prime minister and symbol of the Hosni Mubarak regime — who won 24 percent (about 5.5 million votes). The question now is how Egyptian Coptic Christians will vote in the upcoming runoff between these two candidates. .. More

The Tao of #EgyPresElections

Others | 8 June 2012
The wisdom of the Tao has been demonstrated time and again in post-25 Jan Egypt. Doing something about a seemingly sticky situation isn't always going to make it less sticky. This was especially relevant to the supposed urgent need for a president but few realised that until it was too late. The error began with the referendum on constitutional amendments. The yes vote ignored the deeper implications of the triumph of the revolution for the military core of the incompetent regime overthrown in the course of it. It also ignored the hyena-like readiness of the Muslim Brotherhood — nee the opposition — to pounce on the opportunity thus presented for replacing said regime, not through offering up the kind of sacrifices that eventually forced Mubarak to step down, but by fondling the selfsame military core. It was disgusting. .. More

What do Egyptians expect from justice?

Others | 7 June 2012
When it comes to delivering justice, authorities should not underestimate the Egyptian public. Responses to the Hosni Mubarak trial verdicts demonstrate that people’s understanding of what constitutes justice is varied, nuanced and sophisticated. Of course, Egyptians want to see guilty verdicts for those who abused power over the past 30 years, violently attacked peaceful protesters or lined their pockets with public money. But if accountability is not achieved through trials that meet reasonable legal standards and expose deeper truths about the past, many Egyptians will remain unsatisfied. .. More

Egypt and the fear of authoritarian relapse

Others | 6 June 2012
As Egypt’s presidential election enters its run-off phase, the campaign of Mohamed Morsy has adopted a new slogan: “Our Strength is in Our Unity.” There is great irony in this rhetorical turn, as Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood is one of the major culprits responsible for this political fragmentation that has haunted Egypt’s transition and doomed ambitious designs for revolutionary change. Much of this fragmentation reflects divergent beliefs. Equally important, however, has been the spectacular failure of political leadership since the fall of the former regime. With all sides excessively focused on short-term electoral outcomes, the country’s political leaders eschewed the complicated task of forging unified demands, advocating for change in concerted fashion, and creating a political system before fighting over its control. This inability to prioritize essential steps obscured the shared challenges that faced the various political forces that participated and propelled the Egyptian uprising. .. More

Egyptian revolution: death and rebirth

Others | 5 June 2012
People wanted elections for the sake of stability. Yet there is nothing vaguer than the word “stability." It is in all fascist leaders’ vocabulary, specifically in order to maintain control of the people. The economy and security are the predicates that define this so-called stability. Progress in these two areas is said to bring more comfort to some people, and the bare minimum to others: bread. I remember that during the 18 days of the uprising in Egypt, an outraged friend said, “Some people in the square are screaming ‘Awzeen aysh!' (We want bread), but this is not why we are there, we want freedom!” The rest would follow, I imagine he meant. In 1977, under Sadat, a revolt for “bread” occurred in Egypt when subsidies for certain foods were cancelled. The country suffered another bread crisis in 2008. But when bread is given to people, it acts as a sleeping pill. Bread is not enough to satisfy people’s needs; it is just enough to calm their passions, at least for a while. .. More

Boycotting the runoff: For the revolution, not my conscience

Others | 4 June 2012
Concerning the debate about boycotting the runoffs of the presidential elections, I would like to share here what I have decided after continuous deliberation and discussion with a large number of colleagues. This is in addition to following the news and statements made by the various political Islamist currents. And most importantly, I base my thoughts on discussions with a number of my neighbors and relatives who voted for Hamdeen Sabbahi and who are not affiliated with any political currents, not to mention my colleagues’ notes in which they reminded us of the moments in which the Muslim Brotherhood turned their back on us. .. More

Egypt’s presidential election: The sins of the Muslim Brotherhood

Others | 1 June 2012
Next month, Egyptians have to make a tough choice in the second round of the presidential election, June 3-9 for expatriates and June 16 and 17 for those in the country. The choice is between.. More

A quick reading of Egypt's presidential vote

Others | 31 May 2012
For many Egyptians it is the worst case scenario. Coming to work this morning my cab driver is seething: "They're as bad as each other, I won't be voting," he pledged, referring to the final runoff election between the two front-runners, due to take place in mid-June. He lamented the relatively slim-margin defeat of leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, "he got Cairo and Alexandria and, God bless the Prophet, Port Said." .. More

The 5 surprises of the presidential election's first round

Others | 30 May 2012
For the first time our generation experienced the bitterness of the 1967 Naksa (defeat in the Arab-Israeli War). I am now able to understand what it is like to have high hopes and then see them get dashed, and how harsh it is to feel that while your demands are right, the power to achieve them is in someone else’s hands. .. More

Egypt’s three-horned bull

Others | 29 May 2012
Being a non-smoker in Cairo is a tiring experience, never mind the inhalation of suffocating fumes from vehicle exhausts and hovering industrial smog or the annual mass combustion rice grains that sends a colossal billowing cloud over the city. Never mind the lack of concern and consideration for clean air .. More

Abul-Fotouh and recalibrating the Islamist condition

Others | 28 May 2012
Away from the the presidential race, one can view Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh as a key to understanding the Islamist condition in Egypt after the revolution. .. More

Egypt elects its president while in crisis (Part 2)

Others | 25 May 2012
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is attempting to rebuild the state’s structures; however, its ambition to maintain its networks is gradually declining following its failure to reproduce the chaos scenario on a level that would lead to a general panic. This is, of course, in addition to the state security system’s loss of all direction, save for the preservation of some of its privileges. .. More

Egypt elects its president while in crisis (Part 1)

Others | 24 May 2012
One cannot say that most Egyptians sense a political crisis. However, large sectors of activists from across the political spectrum feel the existence of a crisis in Egypt’s political scene. That is why the presidential race is intensely competitive in a manner perhaps incommensurate with the importance of the election itself. .. More

The presidential race: A game of Egyptian roulette

Others | 23 May 2012
Before going to bed, I decided I was going to write an article on the presidential election first thing in the morning. I closed my eyes and before falling into a deep sleep I wondered if there was any use to add to the unbearably noisy pool of voices debating the elections. .. More

The pragmatic spirit of Egypt's civil forces

Others | 22 May 2012
Civil forces are transforming, developing and changing. If the Islamic current itself – a conservative force – is changing, then it is not unnatural that civil forces, too, are transforming and, therefore, today are divided about the best presidential candidate between Amr Moussa, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Khaled Ali – or even those who support Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futouh in the belief that his victory would serve civil forces in the long run. .. More

It is all political when it comes to Sharia

Others | 21 May 2012
The issue of requiring the principles of Islamic Sharia to be the main, and sometimes the sole, source of legislation in Egypt arose immediately after the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces suspended the 1971 constitution. This issue is expected to surface again by the time the new constitution is drafted. I will examine the ramifications of this insistence on making Sharia the main source of legislation on Egypt’s political arena. .. More

Watermelon republic

Others | 18 May 2012
In the last few weeks cyber politicising has centred on the presidential elections. Apart from a few smallish boycott campaigns on Facebook, few have discussed the significance of what—were it not for the Washington-blessed military-and-Islamist pincers holding political reality in place—would have been the most significant event in Egyptian history since 1953. .. More