On The Caliphate

The word caliphate, or khilafa in Islamic political theory, has been bandied around a lot over the past two years by opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood and sister movements of political Islam. Whether the Brotherhood would like to recreate this political institution or not is one issue, but the term itself needs some clarification since it is being misused, in often hysterical tones, to suggest a theocratic system along the lines of the Shi’ite innovation in Iran since 1979. Continue reading On The Caliphate

‘Corrective Revolution’ Descends Into Bloodshed

Hundreds of thousands were out in Tahrir Square and hundreds of thousands more, perhaps millions, were in the streets by the presidential palace. State television played rousing patriotic music. Military aircraft hovered above, in protective fatherly fashion, as protesters playfully flickered their green lasers in the sky. Huge Egyptian flags were strung out over ecstatic protesters’ heads for maybe 20 metres or more. Hawkers displayed a range of trinkets and souvenirs bearing the soft-features of charismatic army leader and saviour of the republic Abdulfattah al-Sisi. Continue reading ‘Corrective Revolution’ Descends Into Bloodshed

Sisi – Too sexy for his military fatigues (Get that man a presidency)


A forewarning about the extent of Idolization of Field Marshal Abdulfattah al-Sisi came to me on Wednesday night, after the Egyptian defence minister and supreme commander of Egypt’s armed forces issued his call for mass protests to give the military a mandate to confront violence on the streets of Egypt. A friend messaged me: “I’m in love with Sisi. What a strong guy! Eh dah! Finally someone I respect.” Continue reading Sisi – Too sexy for his military fatigues (Get that man a presidency)

Egypt’s Military State – Democracy in Stages

In 1952 the Egyptian military decided they had had enough of the monarchy and they quickly concluded they had had enough of party politics too. Mohammed Naguib became first president in 1953 after the monarchy was formally abolished and a republic declared, and the next year he was deposed by Nasser over his desire for the military to return to the barracks and return the country to civilian rule. Continue reading Egypt’s Military State – Democracy in Stages

High Drama on the Nile – Military vs Brotherhood Brinkmanship

For all the (misplaced) talk of mass Islamist violence and civil war over the past three weeks, it is the military junta (or military-security complex, or ‘deep state’, or government, if you will) that will be tempted more and more to use the tried and tested street violence of the Mubarak era – thuggery – to break up Brotherhood protests. The longer the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters camp out on the streets of the capital and elsewhere, the more the military may feel pressured to stop them. This is a game of nerves. Continue reading High Drama on the Nile – Military vs Brotherhood Brinkmanship

Violence in Egypt: Neither Algeria nor Syria

Whenever the spectre of a new rupture between the Egyptian ‘deep state’ and the Islamists comes up, the Algerian comparison inevitably rears its head. On the surface it makes sense, especially this time round: a mass Islamist movement is deprived of governing – a right it won through the standard democratic process – by a military and entrenched interests who cannot stomach the idea of such a change of order. The Islamists would cry foul and take to the hills vowing they will be back to wreak their terrible revenge. Continue reading Violence in Egypt: Neither Algeria nor Syria

Egypt army, Hamas and blaming Palestinians

More evidence that the Egyptian generals had been building a case against Mursi for a long time – and that their action last week was hardly a mere temporal response to the June 30 protests. A retired general told BBC World Service (English) that in the army’s view Mursi had collaborated with Hamas against Egypt, something the army noted since the August 2012 attack on an Egyptian border post in Sinai that left 16 dead. Brigadier General Ayman Salama said Mursi’s crime was to prevent the army releasing names of suspects at the time and resist army efforts to block and flood tunnels that allow Gaza to survive the Israeli blockade. The army’s view is that the tunnels must be blocked to stop jihadists and their weapons getting into Sinai. Continue reading Egypt army, Hamas and blaming Palestinians

On Egypt, how wrong we were

I was just thinking of how unforeseen the twists and turns of events in Egypt have been in the past two years. Some pundits might have guessed at some things, but generally I think people didn’t see much of this coming. Such as:

– The military wouldn’t step in and remove Mursi via a coup because the Brotherhood had made a deal with the military that neutralized them as antagonistic force Continue reading On Egypt, how wrong we were

Street politics and manipulation in Egypt

Street politics is an inherently unstable and risky affair. Bypassing normal rules of political engagement, it can bring great dividends and or it can be an arena for sinister manipulation. Fortunately nothing has emerged from the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings of 2011 to suggest there was any of the kind of foul play involved in the street protests of 1953 in Iran against elected prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh, now widely regarded as part of a CIA-orchestrated coup. Continue reading Street politics and manipulation in Egypt