Junta-Style Transition in Egypt
by Stephen Lendman
Events remain fluid. They’re fast-moving. Interim President Adly Mansour appointed Hazem Beblawi prime minister. He’s a technocrat. He’s an economics PhD. He and Mansour are pro-Western stooges.
From 1965 – 1980, Beblawi held academic positions at the University of Alexandria and elsewhere. From 1980 – 1983, he was an Industrial Bank of Kuwait manager.
From 1983 – 1995, he was Export Development Bank in Egypt chairman and CEO. From 1995 – 2000, he was UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) executive secretary.
From 2001 – 2011, he served as an Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund advisor. After Mubarak’s ouster, he was an Egyptian Social Democratic Party founding member. Democracy in Egypt is verboten.
In July 2011, Beblawi was appointed deputy prime minister for economic affairs and finance minister. He succeeded Samir Radwan. After four months he resigned. He did so after security forces killed Coptic Christians.
SCAF pressured him to stay. He did so until December. Momtaz Saeed suceeded him. On July 6, state media announced Mohamed ElBaradei as new prime minister.
On July 7, transition hit a speed bump. Egypt’s Salafist Nour party rejected his appointment. Two days later, Beblawi’s was announced. ElBaradei was appointed vice president for foreign relations.
A previous article profiled him. He’s safe. He’s pro-Western, anti-populist, business as usual neoliberal. He and Beblawi assure continuity.
SCAF General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi warned against disrupting Egypt’s “difficult and complex” transition.
“The future of the nation is too important and sacred for maneuvers or hindrance, whatever the justifications,” he added.
Discussions are underway to select new ministers and complicit apparachiks. Subservient pro-Western ones alone are considered.
Mansour said he stands by his constitutional decree. It was prepared secretly. It represents junta power. It reflects despotism writ large, It has 33 articles.
It usurps unchecked power. It does so irresponsibly. It does by diktat. It includes a sharia law provision strongly opposed when Islamists proposed it last year.
It dictates constitutional amendment procedures and what’s proposed. It gives regime leaders virtual total authority. SCAF has final say. Mansour serves at its pleasure. So do Beblawi, ElBaradei, appointed ministers, and complicit apparachiks.
Mansour and Beblawi will announce what generals decree. They take orders from Washington.
A state of emergency exists. On expiration, it’ll be extended three months. It’s renewable. It’s potentially indefinite.
SCAF’s word is final. It’s beholden to Washington. Strings are pulled there. Democracy’s a convenient fiction. It’s nowhere in sight.
Mansour’s declaration decrees a constitutional referendum in about four and a half months. Parliamentary elections are supposed to follow around six weeks later. Presidential elections will be about six months from now.
Schedules are fluid. SCAF has final say. So-called transition can be interminable. Rogue states operate that way.
Mansour heads a separate National Defense Council. He’ll oversee security, Egypt’s military budget, and laws relating to its armed forces. Doing so assures junta power rule. It bears repeating. Democracy’s a convenient fiction.
Al-Ahram is Egypt’s leading broadsheet. It’s state controlled. It quoted White House spokesman Jay Carney saying:
“We are cautiously encouraged by the announcement by the interim government that it (has) a potential plan for moving forward with a democratic process and elections, both parliamentary and presidential.”
“We call on all parties to engage in a dialogue about that process and not to, you know, refuse to participate.”
Al-Ahram said Obama “reached out to several key leaders in the region, calling Qatar’s new emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan.”
“(H)e urged (them) to use their influence in Egypt to press each side in the political standoff to avoid violence and to hasten the return of a democratic government.”
Muslim Brotherhood officials reject constitutional changes. They’re against SCAF’s timetable. They call Morsi’s ouster illegitimate. New elections bring Egypt “back to zero,” they said.
MB denounced Beblawi’s selection. Spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said he represents traditional elitist rule. MB officials call Tuesday’s appointments and others to follow illegitimate actions of unelected leaders.
Freedom and Justice party member Hamza Zawbaa said what happened is “not our business. We have nothing to do with that.”
“It’s a military coup, and we don’t negotiate with military leaders.”
Beblawi’s selection shows SCAF’s true agenda. It’s “anti-revolution enshrined by a military coup.”
MB member Bassem Ouda was ousted as supply and internal trade minister. He was surprised about Beblawi’s appointment. In 2011, he resigned from Egypt’s rocky transition. He rejected Morsi’s premier offer.
Nour party hardliners approved Beblawi. They rejected ElBaradei for premier. They’re considering his vice presidential appointment. They’ll say when ready whether or not they approve.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged billions of dollars in emergency aid. Washington’s aid will continue. It comes with strings. So does Saudi and UAE money.
Beblawi’s first order of business requires pain. Most Egyptians reject it.
Bread and butter issues matter most. Protests reflect what’s ignored. Widespread poverty, unemployment and extreme deprivation enrage people. They want long neglected issues addressed.
Beblawi assures greater neoliberal harshness. Convincing people won’t be easy. He’s got “sour medicine” in mind. Morsi didn’t have “guts” enough to go as far as he wants.
Doing so assures no honeymoon. Egyptians oppose business as usual. They’re tired of sacrifices they alone make. Beblawi’s dismissive.
“The thing is we have a situation whereby we have to tighten the belt,” he said. “And this means we have to pay a price.”
“And it is difficult to ask people to sacrifice, particularly after the ‘revolution,’ where everyone was expecting to get rewards for past experiences.”
Beblawi’s notion of “sacrifice” matches Obama’s. Ordinary people alone are burdened. Robbing poor Peter to benefit rich Paul is policy. Western diktats demand it.
Beblawi and ElBaradei appointments reflect business as usual. Inflicting more pain when help’s badly needed assures greater public outrage.
Most anti-Morsi National Salvation Front (NSF) members reject what’s proposed. So do Tamarod campaign supporters. Their leaders weren’t consulted.
A twitter comment said it’s “impossible to accept (Mansour’s decree) because it founds a new dictatorship. We will hand over to the (military-installed interim) president our amendments to the declaration.”
MB officials remain undaunted. They’ll challenge what they call illegitimate. They urged “an uprising against those who want to steal the revolution with tanks.”
Senior advisor Jihad Haddad said they’ll put their lives on the line. “If our blood is the price that is needed for this country’s conscience to wake up or for the rest of the world’s conscience to wake up, we would be gladly giving it,” he said.
No one wants another Syria. Avoiding it remains to be seen. More blood on the streets looks certain. At issue is how much for how long.
A Final Comment
Broken clocks are right twice daily. Give credit when deserved. Media scoundrels rarely merit it. Washington Post editors are no exceptions.
On July 9, they headlined “Egypt’s generals, President Obama double down on failed policies.”
Long-suffering Egyptians deserve much better. Worse ahead is planned. Democracy’s a convenient fiction. Generals have final say.
They’re “repeating the same abuses and authoritarian practices that preceded the rise to power of the Islamist government they ousted.”
“(B)rute force” shows it. A “little-known judge (was) appointed president.” Doing so was illegitimate.
Mansour “issued a constitutional decree.” It was “prepared in secretâ€¦.without the agreement of (other) political forces.”
“The governing document contains the worst elements of the constitution the military suspended, and adds more.”
It usurps “unchecked power.”
“Egypt desperately needs a political compromise to avoid further violence, not another diktat.”
Morsi and other Freedom and Justice party members are under house arrest. Secret deals are arranged. People have no say.
“This crude and counterproductive behavior should come as no surprise to Egyptians.” It’s been de rigueur for decades.
“The Obama administration is doubling down on its own failures.”
“During 2011 and 2012, it refused to respond to the military’s abuses by reducing or suspending aid.”
“For the past year, it remained publicly silent and passive while the Morsi government abused its powers.”
“Now it is contending that a cutoff of US aid – required by law following any ouster of an elected government in which the military plays a decisive role – would not be in the US interest.”
“By refusing to follow the law even after the military’s brutal and autocratic actions, the administration is sending the message that nothing – short of war with Israel – will lead to a rupture with the Egyptian armed forces.”
“That will merely encourage the generals to continue their reckless and counterproductive behavior.”
Too bad all WaPo editorials, commentaries and articles aren’t this candid. Rare ones deserve credit. Maybe they’ll encourage more.
Doing the right thing is its own reward. So is good journalism. An open letter to New York Times editors urged trying it sometime and see.
It said try publishing “All the News That’s Fit to Print” for real. Doing so may encourage never another way. That’s how things are supposed to be.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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