Opinion – Daily News Egypt http://www.dailynewsegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Mon, 27 Feb 2017 20:30:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Asian ports: pitfalls of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/26/asian-ports-pitfalls-chinas-one-belt-one-road-initiative/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/26/asian-ports-pitfalls-chinas-one-belt-one-road-initiative/#respond Sun, 26 Feb 2017 10:00:43 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616307 Troubled ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, envisioned as part of China’s string of pearls linking the Eurasian heartland to the Middle Kingdom, exemplify political pitfalls that threaten Beijing’s ambitious One Belt, One Road project. Political violence over the past decade has stopped Pakistan’s Gwadar port from emerging as a major trans-shipment hub in Chinese …

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Troubled ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, envisioned as part of China’s string of pearls linking the Eurasian heartland to the Middle Kingdom, exemplify political pitfalls that threaten Beijing’s ambitious One Belt, One Road project.

Political violence over the past decade has stopped Pakistan’s Gwadar port from emerging as a major trans-shipment hub in Chinese trade and energy supplies while turmoil in Sri Lanka threatens to dissuade Chinese investors from sinking billions into the country’s struggling Hambantota port and planned economic hub.

The problems of the two ports serve as pointers to simmering discontent and potential resistance to China’s ploy for dominance through cross-continental infrastructure linkage across a swath of land that is restive and ripe for political change.

Chinese, Pakistani, and Russian officials warned in December that militant groups in Afghanistan, including the Islamic State (IS) had stepped up operations in Afghanistan. IS, in cooperation with the Pakistani Taliban, launched two months later a wave of attacks that has targeted government, law-enforcement agencies, the military, and minorities and has killed hundreds of people.

China is investing $51bn in Pakistan’s infrastructure and energy, including Gwadar port in the troubled province of Balochistan, which is struggling to attract business nine years after it was initially inaugurated. The government announced this week that it had deployed 15,000 troops to protect China’s investment in Pakistan, a massive project dubbed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

For Gwadar to become truly viable, Pakistan will have to not only address Baluch grievances that have prompted militancy and calls for greater self-rule, if not independence, but also ensure that Baluchistan does not become a playground in the bitter struggle for regional hegemony between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

To do so, Pakistan will have to either crack down on militant Afghan groups with the Taliban in the lead, who operate with official acquiescence out of the Baluch capital of Quetta or successfully facilitate an end to conflict in Afghanistan itself.

That is a tall order that, in effect, would require changes in longstanding Pakistani policies. Gwadar’s record so far bears this out. Phase II of Gwadar was completed in 2008, yet few ships anchor there and little freight is handled.

Success would also require a break with long-standing Chinese foreign and defence policy that propagates non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries. China has pledged $70m in military aid to Afghanistan, is training its police force, and has proposed a four-nation security bloc that would include Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.

A mere 70 kilometres farther west of Gwadar lies Iran’s southernmost port city of Chabahar that has become the focal point of Indian efforts to circumvent Pakistan in its access to energy-rich Central Asia and serve as India’s Eurasian hub by linking it to a north-south corridor that would connect Iran and Russia. Investment in Chabahar is turning it into Iran’s major deep water port outside the Strait of Hormuz that is populated by Gulf states hostile to the Islamic republic. Chabahar would also allow Afghanistan to break Pakistan’s regional maritime monopoly.

Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa warned Chinese officials in December that public protests would erupt if plans proceeded to build in Hambantota a 6,000-hectare economic zone that would buffet a $1.5bn-deep sea port, a $209m international airport, a world-class cricket stadium, a convention centre, and new roads. Protests a month later against the zone turned violent. Similar protests against Chinese investment have also erupted in recent years in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan.

In Sri Lanka, the government has delayed the signing of agreements with China on the port and the economic zone after the protests catapulted the controversy onto the national agenda with opposition politicians and trade unions railing against them. A Sri Lankan opposition member of parliament moreover initiated legal proceedings to stop a debt-for-equity deal with China.

China’s ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yi Xianliang, warned that the protests and opposition could persuade Chinese companies to walk away from the $5bn project. “We either go ahead or we stop here,” Yi said.

“The Hambantota fiasco is sending a clear message to Beijing: showing up with bags of money alone is not enough to win a new Silk Road,” commented Wade Shepard, author of a forthcoming book on China’s One Belt, One Road initiative.

Adding to China’s problems is its apparent willingness to, at times, persuade its partners to circumvent or flout international standards of doing business. A European Union investigation into a Chinese-funded $2.9bn rail link between the Hungarian capital of Budapest and the Serbian capital of Belgrade could punch a hole into Chinese plans to extend its planned Asian transportation network into Europe. The investigation is looking at whether the deal seemingly granted to Chinese companies violated EU laws stipulating that contracts for large transportation projects must be awarded through public tenders.

The total sum of problems China is encountering across Eurasia highlights a disconnect between grandiose promises of development and improved standards of living and the core of Chinese policy: an insistence that economics offer solutions to deep-seated conflicts, local aspirations, and a narrowing of the gap between often mutually exclusive worldviews. It also suggests that China believes that it can bend, if not rewrite rules, when it serves its purpose.

To be sure, protests in Sri Lanka and Central Asia are as much about China as they are expressions of domestic political rivalries that at times are fought at China’s expense. Even so, they suggest that for China to succeed, it will not only have to engage with local populations, but also become a player rather than position itself as an economic sugar daddy that hides behind the principle of non-interference and a flawed economic win-win proposition.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and a forthcoming book, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa

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Women’s gyms lay bare limits of Saudi reforms http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/20/womens-gyms-lay-bare-limits-saudi-reforms/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/20/womens-gyms-lay-bare-limits-saudi-reforms/#respond Mon, 20 Feb 2017 09:30:04 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=615798 A Saudi decision to license within weeks the kingdom’s first women-only gyms constitutes progress in a country in which women’s rights are severely curtailed. It also lays bare the limitations of Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s plan for social and economic reforms that would rationalise and diversify the kingdom’s economy. Restrictions on what activities …

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A Saudi decision to license within weeks the kingdom’s first women-only gyms constitutes progress in a country in which women’s rights are severely curtailed. It also lays bare the limitations of Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s plan for social and economic reforms that would rationalise and diversify the kingdom’s economy.

Restrictions on what activities the gyms will be allowed to offer reflects the power of an ultra-conservative religious establishment and segment of society critical of the long overdue reforms that became inevitable as a result of sharply reduced oil revenues and the need to enhance Saudi competitiveness in a 21st century knowledge-driven global economy.

At least two years in the making, the licensing rules announced by Princess Reema bint Bandar, vice president for women’s affairs of the General Authority of Sports, the kingdom’s sports czar, focus on Prince Mohamed’s plans laid out in a document titled Vision 2030. The plans involve streamlining government expenditure, including public health costs in a country that boasts one of the world’s highest rates of obesity and diabetes.

“It is not my role to convince the society, but my role is limited to opening the doors for our girls to live a healthy lifestyle away from diseases that result from obesity and lack of movement,” Princess Reema said in announcing the licensing.

Princess Reema, the kingdom’s first ever women’s sports official, hopes to open gyms in every district and neighbourhood in the kingdom. The move constitutes progress in a country that has yet to introduce sports in public girls’ schools and has no public facilities for women’s sports.

Commercially run gyms catering primarily to upper and upper-middle class women as well as privately organised women’s sports teams have been operating in the kingdom in a legal nether land for several years.

Princess Reema indicated that gyms would be licensed to focus on activities such as swimming, running, and bodybuilding, but not for sports such as football, volleyball, basketball, and tennis.

The licensing rules are in line with a policy articulated in 2014 by Mohammed al-Mishal, the secretary-general of Saudi Arabia’s Olympic Committee. At the time, Mr. Al-Mishal, responding to pressure by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said women would only be allowed to compete in disciplines that were “accepted culturally and religiously in Saudi Arabia” and conform to a literal interpretation of the Qur’an. Mr. Al-Mishal identified such sports as equestrian, fencing, shooting, and archery.

They are also in line with unrealistic hopes abandoned several years ago to emphasise individual rather than team sports in a men’s only national sports plan. The idea to de-emphasise team sports was intended to limit the potential of football becoming a venue of anti-government protests as it had in Egypt and elsewhere during the 2011 popular Arab revolts. It proved unrealistic given that Saudi Arabia, like most nations in the region, is football-crazy. Saudi Arabia announced earlier this month that it would privatise five of the kingdom’s top football clubs.

Women’s sports is one litmus test of Saudi Arabia’s ability to tackle its social, political, and economic challenges head on and move forward with Prince Mohammed’s outline of how the government hopes to diversify the economy, streamline its bloated bureaucracy, and safeguard the Al Saud’s grip on power.

Vision 2030 identifies sports “as a mainstay of a healthy and balanced lifestyle and promises to encourage widespread and regular participation in sports and athletic activities.”

The licensing of women’s gyms is occurring even though Vision 2030 made no reference to facilities for women. The document also failed to even implicitly address demands by the IOC and human rights groups that women be allowed to compete freely in all athletic disciplines rather than only ones mentioned in the Qur’an.

The Washington-based Institute of Gulf Affairs, headed by Saudi dissident Ali al-Ahmed, reported in 2014 that up to 74 percent of adults and 40 percent of children are believed to be overweight or obese.

“Women in Saudi Arabia are being killed softly by their government. Not by public executions or brutal rapes and beatings, but by day-to-day restrictions imposed on them by their government … It must be understood that restrictions on women sports and physical activity have nothing to do with culture or religion, but rather, are fuelled by the ruling elite as a means to control the population. As long as the Saudi government continues to claim that such bans are a result of cultural and personal practices, women will continue to suffer a decline in physical and mental health, as well as their social, economic, and political status,” the report asserted.

It said that the restrictions amounted to “an almost completely sedentary lifestyle forced on women by the government through a de facto ban on physical education and sports participation for women that stems from the Wahhabi imperative of ‘keeping women unseen.’”

Saudi media have reported that lack of exposure to sun had led to vitamin D deficiency among 80 percent of Saudi women.

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report concluded last year that “inside Saudi Arabia, widespread discrimination still hampers access to sports for Saudi women and girls, including in public education.”

The group noted that Saudi women were denied access to state sports infrastructure and barred from participating in national tournaments and state-organised sports leagues as well as attending men’s national team matches as spectators. Women have difficulty accessing the 150 clubs that are regulated by the general authority, which organises tournaments only for men.

Human Rights Watch called on the Saudi government to demonstrate its sincerity by making physical education for girls mandatory in all state schools; ensuring that women can train to teach physical education in schools; establishing sports federations for women and allows them to compete domestically and internationally; supporting women who want to compete in international sporting competitions on an equal footing with men; and allowing women to attend sporting events involving men’s national teams.

“Saudi authorities need to address gender discrimination in sports, not just because it is required by international human rights law, but because it could have lasting benefits for the health and wellbeing of the next generation of Saudi girls,” Human Rights Watch director of global initiatives Minky Worden said at the time.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and a forthcoming book, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa

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Questioning the rigid application of the Goldwater Rule  http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/20/questioning-rigid-application-goldwater-rule/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/20/questioning-rigid-application-goldwater-rule/#respond Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:30:27 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=615794 In 1964, the magazine Fact published the article “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater.” The article included the results of a poll among psychiatrists questioning them if then senator Barry Goldwater was fit to be president. Of the 2,147 who responded, 657 said that he was fit and 1,189 …

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In 1964, the magazine Fact published the article “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater.” The article included the results of a poll among psychiatrists questioning them if then senator Barry Goldwater was fit to be president. Of the 2,147 who responded, 657 said that he was fit and 1,189 said that he was not.

In addition to the responses to the question about Goldwater, the article included a series of quotations from the respondents, various facts, and observations about Goldwater. Goldwater sued the editor and publisher of the magazine, Ralph Ginzburg, who had edited some of the quotations from articles and even from some of the psychiatrists interviewed. Goldwater sued him and won $75,000 in damages, since the judge found that Ginzburg had acted with malicious intent.

Before the publication of the article, the medical director of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) had warned Ginzburg that the responses were not valid without a “thorough clinical examination” of Goldwater, according to Jonathan D. Moreno, an American philosopher and historian.

In 1973, the APA made that policy official and established what became known as the “Goldwater Rule.” The rule, which appeared in the first edition of the APA’s code of ethics and is still in effect nowadays, says: “on occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”

Although there are some positive aspects to the Goldwater Rule, it presents some conflicting issues. The rule still prevents the unethical misuse of the psychiatric profession: i.e. it may be tempting to come to a diagnostic conclusion on a public figure when politically convenient, even in the face of a paucity of data. The rule should allow, however, for psychiatrists and other health-related professionals to voice their concerns regarding the mental stability of high office holders.

In our culture we need a psychological clearance for people working in intelligence, in the FBI, in the police. Should we not demand a clean bill of mental health for the person who is going to literally control our lives? For as long as such needed regulation does not exist, should responsible professionals remain silent, obediently abiding by a rule that in this case protects what many consider a manifestly dangerous character at the helm of the world? One should also consider the ethical obligations to protect public health imposed by the psychiatric profession.

In a letter to the New York Times; 37 psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers rang the alarm bells on the dangers imposed by president Donald Trump’s mental health status. According to these professionals, the silence imposed by the Goldwater Rule “…has resulted in a failure to lend our expertise to worried journalists and members of congress at this critical time.” And they conclude, “we believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and action makes him incapable of serving safely as president.”

Professional impressions could be mild or strong but they are not the same as diagnosis; they can still warn and educate the public preventing potential harm. Such rule should be applied wisely and judiciously but not at the expense of similarly important ethical obligations imposed by the psychiatric profession.

 

Orlando Garcia, MD Psychiatrist

Cesar Chelala International public health consultant

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Supreme Court nomination crisis http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/16/615592/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/16/615592/#respond Thu, 16 Feb 2017 09:30:37 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=615592 The battle of US president Donald Trump—who has selected judge Neil Gorsuch as his choice to fill late Antonin Scalia’s seat at the US Supreme Court—is a conflict of utmost importance. In February 2016, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Antonin Scalia died, leaving a vacancy at the highest federal court of the United States. …

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The battle of US president Donald Trump—who has selected judge Neil Gorsuch as his choice to fill late Antonin Scalia’s seat at the US Supreme Court—is a conflict of utmost importance.

In February 2016, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Antonin Scalia died, leaving a vacancy at the highest federal court of the United States. Antonin had been nominated by the former Republican president Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Since that date, former president Barack Obama tried to nominate a candidate more than once, but the Republican majority in the Senate has always been eager to block Democratic governance choices, which preferred the liberal judge Merrick Garland. The requirement to be accepted is a majority of 60 votes out of a total of 100 members of the senate, a circumstance which has caused a delay in the appointment of a new Supreme Court judge. The position remains vacant, with president Donald Trump recently announcing his selection of judge Neil Gorsuch.

Neil Gorsuch, a 50-year-old federal appeals court judge on the 10th circuit, was born in DenverColorado. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University. He graduated from Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctor degree and his Master’s degree from University College, Oxford.

He has been known for his penchant of conservative interpretation of the US constitution. He issued numerous provisions in favour of companies against workers and against the expansion of women’s rights.

The Supreme Court consists of nine members: the chief justice of the United States and eight associate justices. They have no retirement age as they remain in service for life. The US constitution requires the US president to nominate a candidate upon the death of one of the members to be confirmed by the senate.

Following the nomination, the candidate presents himself in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to be personally interviewed in a special session. The committee then reports the nomination to the senate for voting, which is expected to commence in February. Once the committee reports the nomination, the full senate considers it, and the candidate becomes a member of the Supreme Court for life if they are elected, or, if they are rejected, the president nominates a different candidate to undergo the same procedures.

The current senate has a Republican majority of 52 seats, which may settle the battle in their favour. However, the judges of the Supreme Court need to receive 60 votes in favour. This is an issue, as the minority leader of the senate in his interview with CNN this morning stated that they will stand firmly against the appointment of the current candidate, judge Neil Gorsuch.

Why this conflict and what is its importance?

There are three essential elements defining the importance of the conflict:

The first element is that the Supreme Court judge remains in office for life, and if we take into account the young age of the current candidate—50 years—he would remain in court for a very long time as to enhance the Republican conservative dominance on the court’s directions.

The second element is that the Supreme Court has very broad powers, both at the legal level and in the political role of its provisions, so if we gathered together the Supreme Constitutional Court, the Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court and added up all of their powers, they would merely equal the US Supreme Court’s powers. I would recommend the wonderful book for Neil Tate “Global expansion of Judicial Power,” which discusses this topic further.

The third element is that the US constitution is very short, owed to the circumstances of its creation and in order to grant the necessary flexibility and balance between the federal legal system and the different systems of the fifty states. This leaves most of the legal norms to practices and trends of jurisprudence, upon which the American judicial and legal system is based.

This means that the personal, intellectual, and legal trends of the judges will have a major impact on sentencing and interpreting the constitution.

Mohamed Samir is a lecturer on political regimes and Comparative Constitutional Law. He is also a visiting professor at several American universities.

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Political complexities http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/16/political-complexities/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/16/political-complexities/#respond Thu, 16 Feb 2017 08:30:26 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=615587 The local and international relations between different political forces are always controlled by power centres. States are no longer the only international political entities; today, large corporations and international non-governmental organisations—usually backed by powerful countries—also have international influence because of their huge financial capabilities, some of which easily exceed numerous countries’ budgets and GDPs. This …

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The local and international relations between different political forces are always controlled by power centres. States are no longer the only international political entities; today, large corporations and international non-governmental organisations—usually backed by powerful countries—also have international influence because of their huge financial capabilities, some of which easily exceed numerous countries’ budgets and GDPs. This gain of influence always comes in favour of larger entities and on the expense of smaller entities.

The methods employed by a certain political force to influence others do not necessarily cause the same effect if it was used by another. The impact of new mass media differs according to the number of its users, the nature and awareness of societies, the knowledge and ability of those users to check the credibility of information, and the strength of the forces using the media.

There is no political force or method with absolute influence on a certain society, as it is always controlled by the interaction between various forces and the internal situation.

For instance, in a society witnessing a state of permanent conflict, strong political forces often attract smaller and less influential ones so that the former can dominate and control. It is clear in the current Egyptian parliament that the dominant bloc has attracted a number of Free Egyptians Party members due to internal division, caused by changing the agreed upon positions before entering parliament in favour of the powerful parliamentary bloc.

This political game is a frequent occurrence in history.

In the case of the Egyptian parliament, the presence of a large force in it requires the fragmentation of smaller forces, unless they grow and form a strong opposition to the current dominating force led by the speaker of parliament Ali Abdul Aal. The dominant force always tries to keep the “25-30 Coalition” as a small group in number by restraining them from time to time—until they get tired.

The same happens on the international level. The situation in Syria is only a proxy war. Saudi Arabia has always been in a strong conflict with Iran, both of which want to spread their influence on the region; with Saudi Arabia blaming Bashar Al-Assad for the Iranian presence in Syria. From its side, Iran wants to extend its political influence through forming an alliance of the Shiite faction in the region. This Iranian-Saudi conflict will continue as long as the national division in the Middle East exists. Iran and Saudi Arabia are the main players in that game. Iran supports Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen, and the Iraqi government; Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, supports Sunni forces in Lebanon and Syria, as well as its permanent ally Jordan.

If we look carefully at such political positions, we will understand the importance of national unity and the integration of minorities. The problems that emerged in Syria came as a result of internal division, outrage of many Syrian people, and political oppression.

It is expected that Russia and Turkey will propose a national reconciliation that achieves their interests, as Russia aims to maintain its presence in the Mediterranean Sea, and Turkey wants to avoid any threats of the Kurdish presence in northern Syria. But would this reconciliation solve the Syrian crisis? I believe the country’s problems will remain unsolved; however, there will be a temporary truce between most parties, until new problems emerge.

Saudi Arabia and Iran should hold long-term talks to reach a deal that will protect both their interests. Further conflict between the two nations will increase the current crisis and harm the interests of both countries, perhaps even extending to other parties in the region.

Sharif Rizk Researcher in International Relations 

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Media message in Egypt http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/14/615399/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/14/615399/#respond Tue, 14 Feb 2017 08:00:12 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=615399 There is no doubt the talk about media in Egypt at this time is very difficult, and the reason is that there is a fierce attack on the oppressed/unjust media. The media is made up of presenters and journalists working in a television channel, radio station, newspaper, or website. Media also includes recipients of people …

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There is no doubt the talk about media in Egypt at this time is very difficult, and the reason is that there is a fierce attack on the oppressed/unjust media.

The media is made up of presenters and journalists working in a television channel, radio station, newspaper, or website. Media also includes recipients of people and various state institutions.

You may wonder why I said “oppressed/unjust.” The media is oppressed because it works hard, helps correct news on the 25 January Revolution, and assists in the restoration of the true Egyptian identity, after many people attempt to blur the cultural and civil identity of Egypt following the revolution.

On the other hand, the media is unjust because its content has become very weak, and mostly according to the owners’ views. Unfortunately, we only see the same content in most media, except for a few. Some media also address public issues and problems in isolation from what is going on from a fierce war on the Egyptian state internally and externally—as if we are in normal circumstances to call for economic and social requirements that are difficult to achieve.

I have wondered how some officials attack the media, because—from their perspective—it does not support the state. I say to all officials in Egypt that their institutions and ministries must provide the media with accurate and proper information as well as severe transparency in making decisions and transactions and to accept the criticism, aiming for the benefit of the Egyptian state.

And I say to officials in Egypt that there is a difference between supporting the Egyptian state—which is a right and a duty upon us—and between supporting an official as if it is the state; and this is unacceptable, especially if that person is aimless, in which case he must accept the objective criticism of the media and correct his mistakes.

There is also no doubt that the Czech attempts in any achievements are unacceptable from any type of media, but anger should never be a response. Thus, the media should use a pragmatic response by filming these achievements so that experts would explain it to sceptics.

And as a researcher in media, I would like to clarify some important issues for the Arab Information Charter of Honour and the freedom of media. The general principles of the Arab Information Charter of Honour held at Casablanca on 15 September, 1965, stated that it should emphasise religious and moral values and the accumulated supreme principles of human legacies. It should search for the plain truth that could serve justice and virtue. It should strengthen relations and deepen understanding, material and moral reactions, and exchange among the Arab world community … etc.

It has become universally accepted that the media became the fourth power of every government after the legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

The Arab Information Charter of Honour has aimed to provide the optimum picture for media and how it should be. But, unfortunately, we find that the media message at the present time has been almost emptied of its substance, becoming the mouthpiece to owners of the money or owners of domination, control, and influence. Media now praise and applause in accordance with the overall policy and the ruling directions without regard for the ethics of the profession and without commitment to the Charter of Honour.

This resulted in some exotic terms on this profession, such as disinformation, media blackout, crossfire media, media filter, and yellow journalism, in addition to other terms that tarnished the image of the media among citizens.

One of the serious problems afflicting the media is mixing roles and functions in the presenters’ minds, where the presenters live the role of the broadcaster, the hero, the critic, the cultured leader, the instigator, the judge, and the decision maker. But what they tend to forget is that they are just a tool to transport, interpret, clarify, and discuss, and to preach, judge, or lead.

There is a bad concept of freedom of information, which in media means not to impose restrictions on the profession or its presenters and not to withhold information from them or to provide them with distorted or truncated information. In contrast, the media presenter must be at the same distance as much as possible from all parties without bias, taking into account the etiquette and ethics of the profession as much as possible.

However, the concept of media freedom is often misunderstood or misused:

– Under the name of freedom of information, we find that this freedom has been launched to trace and broadcast rumours and expose more accurate personal details of the life of community icons, which is defamatory and narrowing to them.

– Under the name of freedom of information, we find profanity and exotic scenes that do not conform to values.

– And under the name of freedom of information, we find insults on the symbols of the nation without fear of accountability.

– Over and above, under the name of freedom of information, we find eavesdropping on opponents, keeping track of their news, and being sceptic in their activities, values, and principles, or even the constitution and law.

We all need to pause, and we want to request the media or state officials to provide freedom, accurate information, and transparency, and not to forget that they are supposed to serve the people of Egypt. We, as the people of Egypt, do not accept whoever does not accept the objective criticism that aims to benefit the Egyptian state.

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A Psychological Portrait of President Trump http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/13/615285/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/13/615285/#respond Mon, 13 Feb 2017 09:00:59 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=615285 Last October, before Donald Trump was elected as the US president, I, among others, put forward the hypothesis that Mr. Trump is a narcissist. I based my interpretation on the fact that he fulfilled practically all the criteria included in the classification of narcissism established by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). …

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Last October, before Donald Trump was elected as the US president, I, among others, put forward the hypothesis that Mr. Trump is a narcissist. I based my interpretation on the fact that he fulfilled practically all the criteria included in the classification of narcissism established by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in many countries all over the world.

The symptoms of this syndrome include the following: grandiosity, fantasies of power and personal attractiveness, self-perception of being unique, needing constant admiration from others, sense of entitlement, exploitation of others for personal gain, being intensely envious of others, and pompous and arrogant demeanour. His behaviour at the time, which became even more evident since becoming president, only confirmed this hypothesis.

More recently, however, John D. Garner, a practicing psychotherapist who advised psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, went a step further and stated that Trump has “malignant narcissism,” which is different from narcissistic personality disorder and which is incurable. “We have seen enough public behaviour by Donald Trump now that we can make this diagnosis indisputable,” says Garner.

Not everybody agrees with this assumption, however. Rep. Chuck Fleishmann, R-Tenn., states that Trump is “passionate” and “vocal” in his approach to the presidency. According to Fleishmann, “many traditional politicians get elected with one persona and one set of values and rhetoric, before getting here and morphing into something else,” which is not the case with Trump, he concludes.

Shrinks don’t generally analyse public figures. During Barry Goldwater’s 1964 run for presidency, Fact magazine published a special issue titled “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A special issue on the mind of Barry Goldwater.” The article prompted the American Psychiatric Association to issue what it called the “Goldwater Rule,” which says that “it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination.”

Although many psychologists and psychiatrists accept that their work could never be done without direct contact with the subject of their analysis, there are enough manifestations of Trump’s public persona and character to allow for his psychological characterisation, one that is of deep concern for everyone.

In that regard, one could say that Trump’s psychological characteristics are consistent with that of a person with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), which is characterised by a pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. Also apparent in this disorder is a history of legal problems and of impulsive and aggressive behaviour.

Individuals with this disorder generally have no compunction in exploiting others in harmful ways for their own gain and pleasure. They frequently manipulate and deceive other people through a façade of wit and superficial charm, or even through intimidation and violence.

What makes this disorder particularly dangerous is that among its other characteristics, those who have it are often reckless and impulsive, and fail to consider the consequences of their actions. In addition, they are often aggressive and manifest a lopsided temper, lashing out with violence to whatever they perceive as a provocation.

Robert Caro, president Lyndon Johnson’s great biographer, said that “although the cliché says that power always corrupts, what is seldom said … is that power always reveals.” Anyone who has observed president Trump’s actions since assuming the presidency cannot help but notice his increasingly impulsive decisions, his notable frustration at not receiving the response that he expected, and his failure to admit that he has been wrong or to apologise when harming others.

What we have is a situation where the most powerful person in the world is tainted by personality characteristics that can be of serious harm to world peace. The extent to which these harmful characteristics can be controlled may well decide the future of the world.

 

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant and a winner of several journalism awards.

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Trump pressured to confront Pakistan on support for militants http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/13/trump-pressured-confront-pakistan-support-militants/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/13/trump-pressured-confront-pakistan-support-militants/#respond Mon, 13 Feb 2017 08:00:43 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=615283 Pressure on the Trump administration is mounting to adopt a tougher position towards Pakistani support of militants in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan itself. The pressure comes from a chorus of voices that include the US military, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, and influential Washington-based think-tanks. The calls for a …

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Pressure on the Trump administration is mounting to adopt a tougher position towards Pakistani support of militants in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan itself. The pressure comes from a chorus of voices that include the US military, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, and influential Washington-based think-tanks.

The calls for a harder line were issued despite a Pakistani crackdown on militants in recent months that many see as half-hearted. It also comes days after China, at Pakistan’s behest, blocked the United Nations Security Council from listing a prominent Pakistani militant as a globally designated terrorist.

Pakistani officials hope that some of Mr. Trump’s key aides such as defence secretary James Mattis and national security advisor Michael Flynn, both of whom have had long standing dealings with Pakistan during their military careers, may act as buffers. They argue that the two men appreciate Pakistan’s problems and believe that trust between the United States and Pakistan needs to be rebuilt. Mr. Mattis argued in his senate confirmation hearing that the United States needed to remain engaged with Pakistan.

Pakistani media reported that Mr. Mattis had expressed support for the Pakistani military’s role in combating terrorism during a 20-minute telephone conversation this week with newly appointed Pakistan army chief general Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Military and congressional support for a tougher approach was expressed this week in a US Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan during which general John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, noted that 20 of the 98 groups designated by the United States as well as “three violent, extremist organisations” operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “That is the highest concentration of violent, extremist groups in the world,” gen. Nicholson said.

In testimony to the committee, general Nicholson called for “a holistic review” of US relations with Pakistan, arguing that the Taliban and the Haqqani network had “no incentive to reconcile,” as long as they enjoyed a safe haven in Pakistan.

“An external safe haven and support in Pakistan increases the cost to the United States in terms of lives, time, and money, and it advantages the enemy with the strategic initiative, allowing them to determine the pace and venue of conflict from sanctuary,” gen. Nicholson stated.

The general’s words were echoed by committee chairpersons, Republican senator John McCain and his Democrat counterpart, Jack Reed.

“Success in Afghanistan will require a candid evaluation of our relationship with Pakistan. The fact remains that numerous terrorist groups remain active in Pakistan, attack its neighbours, and kill US forces. Put simply: our mission in Afghanistan is immeasurably more difficult, if not impossible, while our enemies retain a safe haven in Pakistan. These sanctuaries must be eliminated,” Mr. McCain said.

Mr. Reed added that “Pakistani support for extremist groups operating in Afghanistan must end if we and Afghanistan are to achieve the necessary levels of security.”

The pronouncements in the committee hearing gave added significance to policy recommendations made by a group of prominent experts, including former Pakistani ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, and former CIA official and advisor to four US presidents Bruce Riedel, associated with, among others, The Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Middle East Institute, the New America Foundation, and Georgetown University.

“The US must stop chasing the mirage of securing change in Pakistan’s strategic direction by giving it additional aid or military equipment. It must be acknowledged that Pakistan is unlikely to change its current policies through inducements alone. The US must also recognise that its efforts over several decades to strengthen Pakistan militarily have only encouraged those elements in Pakistan that hope someday to wrest Kashmir from India through force. The Trump administration must be ready to adopt tougher measures towards Islamabad that involve taking risks in an effort to evoke different Pakistani responses,” the experts said in their report.

The experts suggested that the Trump administration should wait a year with designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism while it takes steps to convince Pakistan to fundamentally alter its policies.

Such steps would include warning Pakistan that it could lose its status as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA); prioritising engagement with Pakistan’s civilian leaders rather than with the military and intelligence services; imposing counterterrorism conditions on US military aid and reimbursements to Pakistan; and establishing a sequence and timeline for specific actions Pakistan should take against militants responsible for attacks outside Pakistan.

There is little to suggest a reversal of policy in recent Pakistani measures to crack down on militants, including imposing house arrest on Muhammad Hafez Saeed and other leaders of Jama’at-ud-Dawa (JuD), widely viewed as a front for the proscribed group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and the freezing of accounts of some 2,000 militants.

Apparently pre-warned that action may be taken against him, Mr. Saeed suggested during a press conference in Islamabad in mid-January that JuD may operate under a new name, a practice frequently adopted by militant groups with government acquiescence. Mr. Saeed said the new name was Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir (Kashmir Freedom Movement). The Indian Express reported that JuD/LeT continued, after Mr. Saeed’s house arrest, to operate training camps in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

Various militants and analysts said the accounts targeted were not where funds were kept. Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhyvani, a leader of the virulently anti-Shiite group Ahle Sunnat Wal Juma’at, a successor of Sipah-e-Sabaha, said in an interview that there were a mere 500,000 rupees ($4,772) in his frozen account.

Persuading Pakistan to alter its ways is likely to prove no mean task. The government, military, and intelligence believe that the US favours Indian dominance in the region and has allowed India to gain influence in Afghanistan. Gen. Nicholson went out of his way in his testimony to thank India for billions of dollars in aid it was granting Afghanistan. Many, particularly in the military and intelligence, see the militants as useful proxies against India.

More vexing is likely the fact that military and intelligence support for Saudi-like and at times Saudi-backed violent and non-violent groups with an ultra-conservative, religiously inspired world view has become part of the fabric of key branches of the state and the government as well as significant segments of society.

Cracking down on militants, particularly if it is seen to be on behest of the United States, could provoke as many problems as it offers solutions. Mounting pressure in Washington on the Trump administration amounts to the writings on the wall. Pakistani leaders are likely to be caught in a catch-22.

The solution might lie in Beijing. Many in Pakistan have their hopes for economic development pinned on China’s planned $46 million investment in Pakistani infrastructure and energy. China, despite having so far shielded a Pakistani militant in the UN Security Council, is exerting pressure of its own on Pakistan to mend its ways. As a result, Pakistan is one area where China and the US could find a common cause.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and a forthcoming book, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa

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#StopFGM http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/12/615203/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/12/615203/#respond Sun, 12 Feb 2017 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=615203 The world celebrated the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Monday. It is a day meant to display our collective resistance to the crime of female genital mutilation (FGM), which is in the sixth of February every year. The fact is that this heinous crime still assassinates the innocence of many girls, casting …

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The world celebrated the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Monday. It is a day meant to display our collective resistance to the crime of female genital mutilation (FGM), which is in the sixth of February every year.

The fact is that this heinous crime still assassinates the innocence of many girls, casting its long shadow over developing nations. This crime requires more than criminalisation and developed legislation.

From a historical angle, until 2007 there was no real legislation that criminalised FGM, which contributed to the dramatic spread of FGM. Some agencies have estimated that FGM rates in Egpt could be as high as 90%.

In 2007, the Minister of Health issued decision No. 271 banning the practice of FGM.

The legislative criminalisation of FGM started in 2008 as a result of Egypt ‘s ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The legislative amendment of Law No. 126 added a paragraph on Article 242 of the Penal Code which stipulates that perpetrators face “punishment by imprisonment of no less than three months and not exceeding two years, or a fine of not less than EGP 1,000 and not exceeding EGP 5,000 for whoever carries out the FGM surgery.”

This provision is too soft and does not outlaw FGM itself or hold other people involved responsible for it, such as the father or the mother, and it only criminalised the wound caused by FGM. The same law has been challenged before the Supreme Constitutional Court on grounds of it being unconstitutional. Despite the law being contrary to the principles of Islamic law, which is the main source of legislation in accordance with the Constitution, the Supreme Constitutional Court verdict rejected the case.

Since then, and despite the criminalisation of FGM in the Egyptian legal system, no one has been imprisoned for this crime. Some people will say that there are two famous cases of FGM taken note of by public opinion in which the accused was punished.

The first case revolves around the 13-year-old Sohier Elbatee’i from Daqahleya. She died in 2013 after her father took her to a clinic to have the operation carried out. The Misdemeanor Court acquitted both, the physician and the father, of the crime, but the prosecution appealed the ruling and the court resumed its verdict to punish the doctor. The doctor was sentenced to two years in prison, with a conviction of manslaughter, and for three months for conducting an illegal operation.

The court rejected the civil suit submitted by the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), but the doctor was only held for three months because he managed to reconcile with the victim’s father.

Mohamed Samir
Mohamed Samir

The second case revolves around the 17-year-old Mayar from Suez. Mayar died in 2016 as a result of an FGM operation which was carried out after she and her sister were taken to a clinic by their mother. The Suez court punished both, the mother and the doctor who conducted the surgery, and the anaesthesiologist, with a one year suspended sentence. The doctor and the anaesthesiologist were fined EGP 5,000, while the mother was fined EGP 1,000.

The only reason these two murders were in the media spotlight is because these girls died, not because of FGM.

At the end of 2016, the criminal legislation was amended again to include harsher penalties for FGM, to extend imprisonment to five to seven years. The amendments reclassified FGM from a misdemeanour to a felony, and extended the punishment to 15 years if it led to permanent disability or death. Accomplices to the act, such as those who take someone to have the operation carried out, can face one to three years imprisonment.

This direction is to ensure the criminalisation of those who escort the child to have FGM surgery. There are two points which I have mentioned already: 1) The girl is considered a victim, whether alive or dead, under the jurisdiction of the state represented by the public prosecution, which will hinder the way of any reconciliation attempts between the criminals to impunity. 2) There should be a penalty with the force of the law. Once a doctor commits FGM and receives a criminal verdict, they should have their medical licence permanently revoked and their membership in the Egyptian Medical Syndicate removed.

But legislation alone cannot end this practice. Legislation is a surgical intervention on the doctor; the most important stage is to prevent the crime from happening in the first place, which requires many actions be taken:

1) The main factor behind the prevalence of FGM is the fact that it is ritualistic, and a deeply rooted cultural practice. This should be addressed, and all links to religion should be refuted and discredited. We should not rely on statements here or there, but we should spread awareness on all levels, including mosque sermons and the media.

2) Medical outreach based on sound scientific underpinnings that explain to the public the devastating psychological and physical effects that accompany such a crime. The girl will not understand the enormity of what has happened to her, so awareness programmes must involve both the father and the mother who have a daughter—they should not receive a birth certificate for the newborn until they attend the awareness session in this regard.

3) Educate law enforcement authorities and the various state authorities; legislative, executive, and judicial authorities, on the seriousness of the effects of the crime and ways of detecting and dealing with the victims humanely and legally.

Mohamed Samir is a lecturer on political regimes and Comparative Constitutional Law. He is also a visiting professor at several American universities.

 

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The Egyptian point of view, the Saudi point of view http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/09/egyptian-point-view-saudi-point-view/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/09/egyptian-point-view-saudi-point-view/#respond Thu, 09 Feb 2017 11:00:14 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=614982 In political science and international relations, among the approaches used in analysing human relations from the individual to the national level is what is known as “political communication.” Supporters of this approach say that many of the internal and external tensions of political life arise from the absence, weakness, or deformation of communication between the …

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In political science and international relations, among the approaches used in analysing human relations from the individual to the national level is what is known as “political communication.”

Supporters of this approach say that many of the internal and external tensions of political life arise from the absence, weakness, or deformation of communication between the different parties.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are now in a similar situation, which reflects a state of diplomatic imbalance—and diplomacy is considered the single most important mechanism of communication between states.

So let’s put ourselves in Saudi Arabia’s shoes to understand its perspective and the ways in which they see relations with Egypt.

First, Saudi Arabia believes Egyptian media (both traditional and social media) constantly attacks Saudi Arabia, the Wahhabi school of thought, and even King Salman himself, all of which are done under the consent or approval of the Egyptian administration.

On the other side, if I put myself in Egypt’s shoes, I shall find that the Egyptian administration is not entirely in control of the media, based on the head of state’s complaints about how the media often exaggerates and transmits inaccurate news, effectually disturbing Egyptian relations with other countries. Often do we find the media attacking the Egyptian administration, a trend that seems to be more pronounced in social media, which is creative in distorting facts.

Second, if we put ourselves in Saudi Arabia’s shoes to understand how they see the issue of the two islands Tiran and Sanafir, we will realise that they believe the Egyptian government does not want the agreement to proceed for two reasons. First, the Egyptian government took eight months before sending the agreement to parliament. Second, the Egyptian administration instructed the administrative judiciary to invalidate the agreement.

However, once again, the Egyptian administration’s point of view is totally different. The public reaction to the agreement was unexpected for both administrations, the Egyptian and Saudi. Besides, many Egyptian military personnel and officials asserted that the two islands have been under the Egyptian administration and not sovereignty, claiming that this matter is clear to a broad sector of the public. It was important to coordinate with the UN, the US, and Israel because the Egyptian administration inherited a peace treaty with Israel, which detailed the status of the two islands and Israel’s right of navigation in the Gulf of Aqaba.

As for the situation in Syria, Saudi Arabia supports the Syrian people and wishes that Bashar Al-Assad would fall. The Saudi administration justified its position that Bashar Al-Assad’s regime is a spearhead to the Iranian one in the north-west of the Saudi Kingdom. Furthermore, Al-Assad had previously insulted the family of Saudi Arabia and King Abdullah personally. To that effect, when Egypt voted in favour of the French and Russian programmes regarding Syria, without sufficient coordination with Saudi, the Saudi administration believed that Egypt abandoned its Arab commitment and now adopts the Russian and Iranian position, and this puts Egypt in Bashar Al-Assad’s side.

The Egyptian administration strategy, on the other hand, says that the issue is not about Al-Assad or his regime. Its view is that the experience of Somalia, Iraq, and Libya suggests that the collapse of the Syrian regime (regardless of our views on Al-Assad) would result in the disintegration of the country and community into independent militias, mini-communities, and denominations.

Egypt wants the central government to survive even for a transitional period so that Syria does not fall forever.

Fourth, the situation in Yemen: From the point of view of the Saudis, the kingdom took the words of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi “we will be right there” to mean that the Egyptian military would arrive immediately to regions posing a threat to any country in the Gulf. When the threat came from the Iranian side in the north and the kingdom’s south was threatened in the wake of the Yemeni Civil War, it seemed that Egypt did not fulfil its commitment towards Saudi.

If we put ourselves in the Egyptian administration’s shoes, its perspective indicates that Egypt did its best by sending naval forces and soldiers in the Yemeni quagmire, despite the high price Egypt paid in 1967. This makes it as if the Egyptian administration does not learn from history, especially that the situation now is worsened by the fact that Egypt is now surrounded with militias from all directions.

This is besides that the cost of the war is very high, at $300m a day, according to The Economist. The Egyptian administration says, “If you wanted obedience, proceed with what is possible.”

These are four issues. Others are yet to come.

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Tackling Iran: Trump fuels the fire http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/07/tackling-iran-trump-fuels-fire/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/07/tackling-iran-trump-fuels-fire/#respond Tue, 07 Feb 2017 08:30:32 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=614582 The Trump administration risks fuelling sectarianism across the Muslim world and exacerbating multiple conflicts that are ripping the Middle East and North Africa apart by singling out Iran rather than tackling root causes. Iran moved into president Donald J. Trump’s firing line when his national security advisor, Michael Flynn, an anti-Iran hawk, put the Islamic …

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The Trump administration risks fuelling sectarianism across the Muslim world and exacerbating multiple conflicts that are ripping the Middle East and North Africa apart by singling out Iran rather than tackling root causes.

Iran moved into president Donald J. Trump’s firing line when his national security advisor, Michael Flynn, an anti-Iran hawk, put the Islamic republic “on notice” for testing a ballistic missile. The test was likely a provocative probing of US policy towards Iran, one of seven countries whose nationals are temporarily banned from travel to the United States. Trump has repeatedly denounced the nuclear agreement concluded by the United States and other world powers with Iran as a bad deal.

It remains unclear what Mr. Flynn’s notification entails. A resolution circulated in the House of Representatives before Mr. Trump’s inauguration that would authorise US military action against Iran if the president believes it is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Most analysts, including supporters of Trump, believe that Iran has largely honoured the international agreement curbing the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme, making an immediate military response to the missile test unlikely.

Gulf states alongside Israel have moreover urged Trump to adopt a tough approach towards what they see as belligerent Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries and support for terrorism, but to stop short of annulling the agreement. Trump is expected to move away from his campaign pledges to tear up the agreement, but with Mr. Flynn’s warning Trump appears to be adopting the advice of US allies.

A Saudi read out of a phone conversation last weekend between King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Trump said the two leaders agreed to counter “those who seek to undermine security and stability in the region and interfere in the affairs of other states.” The White House said they also had a meeting of the minds on the “importance of rigorously enforcing” the nuclear deal.

The consensus notwithstanding Trump’s travel ban, despite including Iran, puts Salman in a bind, as he balances the kingdom’s foreign policy objectives with its self-proclaimed leadership of the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia has so far refrained from commenting on the ban despite pressure from some of its allies to do so.

Saudi Arabia’s predicament and it’s welcoming of the rise of Trump in the expectation that he will fight some of the kingdom’s battles creates the opportunity for the new president to put disruption to constructive use.

It could allow Trump to tackle not only Iran but also Saudi Arabia on a fundamental issue that drives volatility, sectarianism and political violence in the Muslim world in general and Iranian and Saudi policies specifically: the rise of supremacist, intolerant, anti-pluralistic ultra-conservatism.

Supporters of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani have already hinted at the opportunity. “Iran has every interest in reducing tension with Saudi Arabia at a time when the Trump presidency in the United States is creating new uncertainties,” said an editorial in the pro-Rouhani Entekhab daily.

The opportunity that arises is not limited to Iran and Saudi Arabia. Leaving aside the ethics of banning travel on the basis of religion or nationality, Trump’s ban, as well as his intention to  focus US counter-terrorism exclusively on Islam rather than on all forms of political extremism, including far-right supremacism, would also allow him to pressure other countries where divisive ultra-conservatism has been allowed to fester.

This is evident in efforts by the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia to stay out of Trump’s firing line by refraining from criticising the ban. Both Malaysia and Indonesia, the latter being the world’s most populous Muslim nation, have witnessed the rise of ultra-conservative intolerance towards non-Muslim and Muslim minorities such as Shiites and Ahmadis, a sect widely viewed by conservative followers of the faith as heretics, that are informed by Saudi-backed puritan interpretations of Islam.

There is little to suggest that Trump recognises the opportunity. A failure to exploit the opportunity and exclusively target Iran is, however, likely to backfire, embolden Saudi policies that create problems rather than offer solutions, and fuel sectarian and other cycles of violence.

While Iran has refrained from promoting a supremacist world view of its own, there is little doubt that it implements its ultra-conservatism with the application of medieval, punitive measures of Islamic law, including amputation and stoning. It has also reshaped the politics, as well as the very integrity, of Arab countries like Lebanon, where it supports the Shiite militia Hezbollah, Syria that has been torn apart by a vicious civil war, the creation of Shiite militias in Iraq, and Yemen, where Iran has come to the aid of the Houthis. The problem is that so have Saudi Arabia and its allies, or in other words: there are no nice guys in this fight.

A four-decade long, $100bn global Saudi effort to box in, if not undermine, a post-1979 revolution Iranian system of government that it sees as an existential threat to the autocratic rule of the Al Saud family by funding ultra-conservative political and religious groups has contributed to the rise of supremacism, intolerance and anti-pluralism across the Muslim world and created potential breeding grounds of extremism.

The rise of ultra-conservatism has fuelled sectarianism and violence against Shiites and Ahmadis; hardened attitudes towards women and alternative lifestyles; and curbed fundamental freedoms under the guise of blasphemy.

Iranian interference in the affairs of other countries stems as much from long-fading revolutionary zeal in the wake of the 1979 revolution as it constitutes a response to the Saudi-led Sunni campaign that involved not only support for non-violent, ultra-conservative groups, but also the funding of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s devastating eight-year long war against Iran in the 1980s, as well as virulently anti-Shiite and anti-Ahmadi forces in Pakistan that are responsible for the deaths of thousands, and militant groups in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.

At the bottom line, Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been locked in a struggle for dominance in the Muslim world that has fuelled violence, created breeding grounds for extremism, and brought the Middle East and North Africa to the edge of an abyss. Tackling symptoms or only specific players rather than root causes threatens to fuel the fire rather than extinguish it.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and a forthcoming book, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa

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 When does the scam come to light? http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/07/614544/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/07/614544/#respond Tue, 07 Feb 2017 07:30:39 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=614544 Talking about announcing the new automotive strategy has become like a scam. We have been talking for three years about the government’s strategy for the auto industry; many meetings and seminars were held to discuss its features. Despite the non-existence of an auto industry law in any country, the strategy later turned out to be …

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Talking about announcing the new automotive strategy has become like a scam. We have been talking for three years about the government’s strategy for the auto industry; many meetings and seminars were held to discuss its features.

Despite the non-existence of an auto industry law in any country, the strategy later turned out to be one. We accepted the idea and defined it as a law strategy. It doesn’t matter what we call it, as we need that scam to see the light.

Suddenly, the government submitted that scam – I mean the strategy – to the House of Representatives, and the Industry Committee started the discussion and held hearing sessions with a number of industry representatives to understand their point of view on the strategy, which is completely acceptable. However, many workers at the sector found out that many of the items of the strategy had been customised and prepared in accordance with the vision of one of the largest producers in the auto industry.

The ambiguity that surrounds the strategy is a way to prevent any amendments that are inconsistent with the largest producer in the industry. Wishing to establish a strong export industry, the state hides the preparatory steps of the strategy or the manufacturing rules from manufacturers. This doesn’t make sense.

We understand that the auto industry includes incentives and investment concessions, specifications, locations, proportions of the targeted local component, feeding industries, and its targeted export markets.

Compare the countries that started their auto industry around the same time as Egypt did, such as India and South Korea, and others that started ten years later such as South Africa, Iran, and Morocco. Still waiting for that illusive strategy, we can only assume its results will be similar to that of the Egyptian-manufactured dream car, which died because of our delay.

Gentlemen, there is no time for this humour and procrastination. Do we want to establish an auto industry or not? Rules and incentives are already in place in other countries. We are not inventing the wheel or coming up with something supernatural or obscure. All we have to do is be devoted and tell people the truth. We need to avoid rumours, divisions, or conflicts inside the auto sector.

From our end, we have discussed the draft strategy since the first session of the automotive conference until the third session last month. We have discussed that strategy in the presence of the Minister of Industry, members of parliament (MPs), and representatives of the sector. We also held seminars before the Egypt Automotive Summit. Do we need all these years, discussions, seminars and conferences to set a strategy for the automotive industry in the country? Other countries’ auto industry started without any strategies or laws; it relied solely on determination.

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Donald Trump v the arts http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/06/614306/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/06/614306/#respond Mon, 06 Feb 2017 06:30:33 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=614306 Among the victims of president Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries is Kinan Azmeh, a noted Syrian clarinettist and composer. Presently, Azmeh is stuck in Beirut, even though he has an EB-1 “alien with extraordinary abilities” visa and has lived in New York for the past 16 years. The US government’s prohibition for Azmeh …

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Among the victims of president Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries is Kinan Azmeh, a noted Syrian clarinettist and composer. Presently, Azmeh is stuck in Beirut, even though he has an EB-1 “alien with extraordinary abilities” visa and has lived in New York for the past 16 years. The US government’s prohibition for Azmeh (and for thousands of others) to return to his own home is a cruel and unnecessary measure that does a disservice to culture and the arts.

Azmeh is currently in Beirut, and planned to return to the US this weekend, but he doesn’t know if he will be allowed to enter the US because of the ban. “Our America is big, it is free, and it is open to dreamers of all races, all countries, and all religions. Our vision of America is directly antithetical to that of president Trump. I want to specifically reject his vision tonight and affirm that America has to be better than that,” declared John Legend, the famous American musician and actor when he spoke at the Producers Guild of America awards.

For many observers, Trump’s executive orders feel like a vendetta, a revenge against all those who are demonstrating against him, as well as those who didn’t vote for him. Trump is clearly oblivious of the dozens of protests around the country against his government and constantly uses Twitter as a weapon of war against those that oppose him.

For example, after protesters at the University of California in Berkeley smashed windows and set fires to show their indignation at the scheduled speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right Breitbart News editor, Trump tweeted: “If UC Berkeley does not allow free speech and practises violence on innocent people with a different point of view—NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

Should Azmeh not be allowed to enter the US, it will be one more show of the Trump government’s intolerance; one that is not based on real facts, not “alternative facts” as claimed in her ungracious words by Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump. Azmeh is not only a musician but also a human rights activist, whose talent has received international acclaim.

Kinan Azmeh, who was born in Damascus to Syrian parents, was the first Arab to win the first prize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition in Moscow. Kinan is a graduate of New York’s prestigious Juilliard School of music, where he was a student of Charles Neidich, a world famous American clarinettist, composer, and conductor. He is also a graduate of Damascus High Institute of Music and Damascus University. He earned his doctorate in music from the City University of New York.

Kinan has appeared as a soloist, composer, and improviser in several prestigious places around the world such as: Opera Bastille in Paris, Tchaikovsky Grand Hall in Moscow, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Royal Albert Hall in London, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Philharmonie in Berlin, the US Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the Salzburg Mozarteum, and the Damascus Opera House.

He has been a soloist with the Bavarian radio orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan orchestra founded by Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim, the Kiev Camerata, the Izmir State Opera Orchestra, the New York Juilliard Ensemble, the Syrian Symphony Orchestra among many others. His compositions include works for solo, orchestra, and chamber music and he is a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble.

Kinan doesn’t know if he will be allowed to return home and, even if he does return home, he does not know if he won’t face further difficulties from a government who has shown considerable intolerance to foreigners, particularly from Arab countries. If Kinan is not allowed to return to his home in New York and perform with total freedom, it will be one more stain on a government who has managed to antagonise big sectors of the population in the US, and is a source of almost universal scorn.

Cesar Chelala, an international public health consultant and writer, is a winner of several journalism awards.

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The “Trump” virus takes over the American system http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/05/trump-virus-takes-american-system/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/05/trump-virus-takes-american-system/#respond Sun, 05 Feb 2017 20:30:20 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=614310 An individual in the face of an institution is one of the most prominent dilemmas in politics. With an individual’s decisions, creativity, and innovative solutions come, and may be resisted by institutions. With an individual’s decisions, wrong decisions that must be limited by institutions may also come. Institutionalism means the multiplicity of decision-making authorities and …

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An individual in the face of an institution is one of the most prominent dilemmas in politics.

With an individual’s decisions, creativity, and innovative solutions come, and may be resisted by institutions. With an individual’s decisions, wrong decisions that must be limited by institutions may also come.

Institutionalism means the multiplicity of decision-making authorities and their balance as well as not concentrating decisions in the hands of a specific person who orders while the rest obey without room for opposition. Institutionalism has become one of the main characteristics of modern societies because it means rationalisation in decision making and preventing giving priority to an individual’s interest over the public interest.

Some Muslim scholars considered “consultation” necessary, as decision-making should be made by an entire institution rather than a single individual.

To make the picture clearer, a leading individual in underdeveloped societies (non-industrial, non-democratic, and non-institutional), is like someone sailing a ship to the east, the west, the north, or the south without any restrictions on his decision.

Examples are plenty. Let’s start with former president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who took a socialist path and redistributed incomes through nationalisation, confiscation, identification of agricultural holdings, and the establishment of the public sector, with investments in companies and factories owned by the state. He also eliminated political parties, nationalised the political life, and took complete control over the civil society institutions. Whether this was wrong or right is irrelevant here. What if Abdel Nasser chose the opposite path; would anyone have been able to stop him? The answer is a certain no.

This is exactly what former president Anwar El-Sadat did. Egypt turned from an ally of the Soviet Union into an ally to the west. From socialism to openness; from a one-party system to an apparent multi-party system; from an enemy of Israel to a state of peace with it; from Arab nationalism into an isolation from Arabs; from complete estrangement with the Muslim Brotherhood to taking them out of prison and allowing them to spread and expand, and so forth. Whether this is considered wrong or right, would something have been able to stop El-Sadat if he chose to go down the opposite path?

In countries with well-established democracies (consolidated democracies), rulers are more like drivers of trains who drive down a specific road with a range that is approved in advance. He can either speed up or slow down, to stop at a station or pass it. Even if he takes a different path, he has to make other train tracks, and if he can’t stay on the same path, there will be elections where rulers become the ruled and the opposite is true.

Trump is different. He wants to sail a ship that is actually a train meant to be driven down a certain railway. He challenges constants and sees himself as the interrupter, the person who came to eliminate the usual policies in Washington. He believes that those who elected him chose him for this responsibility.

He is like a virus in the US operating system, and now there is a great test to see how resistant the American system is to unilateralism in power.

Trump has issued 20 decrees in 10 days, and fired anyone who differed with any of his decisions. He does not even take into consideration the established traditions in addressing presidents of other countries. He issues threats as though he is making a promise, and does not care about American policies such as human rights, the American dream, and giving everybody a chance. He has no trouble making racist and sectarian judgments on many non-white Americans.

He announces proudly that his daughter and her husband, as well as his other daughter and her fiancé are Jewish. The US is giving up, in his era, the idea of the peace passenger which it used to announce without actual implementation in the Middle East.

He is not a capitalist in the traditional sense of American capitalism. His sources of income are mostly from brokerage, entertainment, building hotels, casinos, beauty pageants, and TV and radio programmes

He is the closest he can be to an adventurer who seeks to break the rules and be different without predictability because he thinks he is smarter than everybody else. Part of his personality analysis suggests that he has personality disorders type “B”, a dramatic narcissist personality.

In underdeveloped countries, political psychology which takes special interest in the leader’s personality, childhood, and personal complexes is major, because if you recognise what the leader wants, you will understand major political interactions in the country.

Trump is a case where taking interest in his personality is no less important than studying institutions because he put himself above these institutions, and institutions either triumph or are defeated.

The password is “representatives of the Republican party” who now occupy the majority of the congress. They either win for the democratic traditions or they win for Trump’s rowdiness.

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Trump, racism, and other stuff http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/05/trump-racism-stuff/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/05/trump-racism-stuff/#respond Sun, 05 Feb 2017 11:00:38 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=614209 International and local media, as well as social networks, circulated the executive order issued by US president Donald Trump which banned people from numerous Muslim-majority countries to enter the US. Many tried to analyse the decision and came up with different results, while no one has bothered to read the decision itself or analyse it …

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International and local media, as well as social networks, circulated the executive order issued by US president Donald Trump which banned people from numerous Muslim-majority countries to enter the US. Many tried to analyse the decision and came up with different results, while no one has bothered to read the decision itself or analyse it objectively away from political polarisation.

In the following lines, I will discuss the decision from my point of view.

First: is Trump racist? The answer would be yes. In my opinion, he is racist against non-US citizens and foreigners in general. He is racist against people of colour and sexist towards women, including American women. Trump’s racism has been readily apparent starting from his presidential election campaign until his inauguration.

Secondly, I do not defend Trump or anyone else. In my opinion, there is no one worse than Trump, except Hillary Clinton.

Now, let us discuss the decision.

In 2015, former president Barack Obama’s administration issued a decision that banned the travel of “terrorists” and labelled Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, and Iran as “Countries of Particular Concern” based on CIA and FBI reports at the time. Trump has just reactivated this previous decision, although he has retroactively expanded the application of the ban.

The decision did not ban Muslims particularly from entering the US, as the Democratic party and its media claimed, notably the CNN satellite channel. Actually, the decision postponed the entry of citizens from the seven Muslim-majority countries to the US for a 90-day period and 120-day period for refugees, so as to examine each case carefully, with the exception of Syria which has no specific limit on the ban. The decision aims to create an integrated database for all visa applicants from these countries in accordance with the third item of the resolution. The decision also provided some exceptions, including diplomats who hold diplomatic passports, NATO employees, politicians, and state officials, as well as all employees in international organisations who hold the G1, G2, G3, G4, and G5 visas.

There are many Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Nigeria, and others which were not listed in the decision. Actually, Trump’s decision did not name any country specifically other than Syria. It only made mention of the countries of particular concern set by the Obama administration in 2015.

How did we not hear of this resolution from the previous administration?

It is because of two main reasons; the first is the global media that supported the policies of the Obama administration at the time. The second reason is that the Obama administration did not apply the resolution to those who received permanent residence; it targeted people who were applying after the resolution was issued in 2015.

Trump decided to apply the resolution retroactively even to those who already received their visas and permanent residences before the issuance of the resolution and even expanded it to those who have dual nationalities. While US citizens with dual nationalities were spared, it has nevertheless created a crisis for a lot of families, and even for international airports in the US.

The federal court’s decision to partially ignore this resolution was mainly due to the retroactive application, as the resolution violates the fifth amendment of the US constitution. The federal court is scheduled to hold a hearing session later this month.

The media reported German chancellor Angela Merkel’s request to president Trump to respect the Geneva Convention, and here I must clarify a legal point. The concept of state sovereignty in accordance with the rules of international law states that the state has the absolute right to accept or refuse the entry of any foreigner to its territory without giving reasons. No international treaty or agreement is contrary to this concept. The Geneva Convention includes the need to treat war-zone refugees humanely and to provide possible assistance without addressing any way to force any state to accept their entry into its territory against its will.

Merkel’s policies have been met with fierce opposition because her decision to open German borders to a large number of refugees has been met with hate crimes and peculiar behaviours in German society.

Finally, before criticising Trump’s racism and the rights of refugees, we must ask ourselves an important question: who made these people refugees and why do we shape the vast majority of refugees in the world while we are the sons of the richest area on the globe? The answer lies in our racism, our wars, and our unwillingness to accept each other as we are, to live together or have the minimum amount of tolerance for one another.

The Democratic party’s policies and the rule of Obama over the last eight years has brought the entire region to where we are now.

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Corruption with the force of the law…Where to get it and for how much? http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/05/corruption-force-law-get-much/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/05/corruption-force-law-get-much/#respond Sun, 05 Feb 2017 10:30:13 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=614199 The most difficult kind of corruption is the kind whose perpetrator acts legally according to the law and the constitution in a way that leaves no room for doubt, unless people around him are experts. The kind of corruption that is a drain on public funds in a way that does not violate the law …

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The most difficult kind of corruption is the kind whose perpetrator acts legally according to the law and the constitution in a way that leaves no room for doubt, unless people around him are experts. The kind of corruption that is a drain on public funds in a way that does not violate the law but rather the human conscience, especially if it was the management’s decision to scrap things that are fit and working, just because they are not this year’s trend, or increase the wages of senior officials in a country whose officials announce to its poor that their country is poor.

There is no doubt that we are still living in a strange state in Egypt, where one thing and its opposite happen at the same time, and maybe that is why we are still in a transitional stage that has no end in sight.

In this article, I will quote some words said by president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, which are “where to get it and for how much?” The reason for this is that I want to explain, in simple terms, several matters which we will be looking at in this article.

First: the cabinet has requested from the parliament an increase in the wages of ministers and their representatives. This happens at a time where all segments of Egyptian society are suffering from stagnating wages since the Egyptian pound was floated in November 2016. Is the government concerned with surviving the sinking of the pound and do they not care about the Egyptian people as they fall into the flames of the burning prices? Where do we get some of that, prime minister, and for how much?

Second: the cars of the head of the parliament and the mistrust in the report issued by the general secretariat of the council of the Egyptian parliament. It is a report that may be believed by some. Why? Because I was a member of the former parliament and we had the same problem with Saad Al Katatny, former head of the parliament, and we refused to purchase new cars because it may be considered a waste of public money. We are a very poor country and I assure you that the cars we already have are in good condition and scrapping cars purposely, to satisfy the head of the parliament, Ali Abdel Aal, is not right. We have Mercedes and BMWs in very good condition, owned by the consultative council and the House of Representatives. The question here remains: where do we get that and for how much, parliament?

Concerning the same issue, a report by the general secretariat of the council of the Egyptian parliament was issued, containing serious information that require investigations and legal accountability concerning the content. This was stressed in a letter from representative Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat to parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel Aal, in response to the report about purchasing cars for the council worth EGP 22m. El-Sadat noted the following:

First: the report issued by the general secretariat of the council of the parliament said that the cabinet, by the end of 2015, during its financial and administrative management of the parliament’s affairs, in the absence of a parliament, said that the armoured car that is especially allocated to the head of the parliament was transferred to the cabinet, which is a violation of the parliament’s funds.

How can anyone have temporary authority to transfer funds and assets owned by another authority that is financially and administratively independent from it without anything in exchange? This is considered a clear waste of the property owned by parliament, and it must take the necessary measures to recover the cars and compensation for the value of their use during a period of two years, or at least recover the full value of the cars and report those responsible for the issue to the public prosecution in order for legal action to be taken against them.

We wonder about the fate of the armoured cars of the consultative council which the parliament was meant to own, based on the constitution. Where are these cars? Why not use them instead of purchasing new ones?

Second: the general secretariat’s report said that during the absence of the parliament, those who managed its affairs have scrapped 25 passenger cars. We can only wonder about the models of those cars and the condition they were in, as well as the price and their date of selling, in addition to many other questions in order to understand whether it was a wise decision or not.

The report said that the value of the cars sold was transferred to the state’s budget as assets and properties of the parliament; however, there was no clear mention of the amount in the final account statement.

In the absence of the parliament, those who managed its affairs have demanded an increase in the budget, in order to purchase new cars. This makes us wonder about the reason for this extravagance at the same time Egyptians are required to adhere to austerity and withstand the harsh economic measures.

Thirdly: the statement issued by the parliament’s general secretariat said that they did not receive any cars so far, even though the cars were contracted in February 2016 after the parliament’s session and fully paid for, according to the 2015/2016 parliamentary budget report.

I wonder where the cars are and what actions have been taken against the Ministry of Defence, which is responsible for supplying the cars. Is it possible to cancel the contract? How is it that the full value of these cars has been paid for, but no shipment has been forthcoming?

Fourthly: the general secretariat said that the Ministry of Defence is responsible for this situation in an attempt to deflect financial accountability for the purchase. Such behaviour is irresponsible because the Ministry of Defence is one of the strictest and most decisive ministries and such accusations should not be thrown around lightly.

This indicates that these offenses fall under the classification of ‘an excuse uglier than guilt.’

Lastly I had hoped that the famous undeclared state-owned group of channels that have been launched recently would carry with them a clear, meaningful, and informative message for Egyptian citizens.

I wish that instead of such duplicated and monotonous programmes, which aim to distract citizens from diabetes, blood pressure, and the dollar crisis, these channels would focus on saving and developing the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU).

It’s not difficult, all we need is a three-year structural plan to reduce the number of professional working groups and technicians through an optional early pension plan, and to launch five or six channels that benefit from the potential that the ERTU holds.

The question then remains; how much would it cost and from where should we gather the money for it.

Long live Egypt, if we truly love it.

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The Muslim world: liberals pay the price for Trump and Saudi-supported illiberalism http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/02/613841/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/02/613841/#respond Thu, 02 Feb 2017 11:00:41 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=613841 US president Donald Trump’s fuelling of Islamophobia with his newly imposed travel ban, as well as his war on the mainstream media, feed an increasing trend towards supremacism and intolerance as well as restrictions on freedom of expression, media, and religion across the Muslim world. In doing so, the president’s moves complicate rather than fortify …

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US president Donald Trump’s fuelling of Islamophobia with his newly imposed travel ban, as well as his war on the mainstream media, feed an increasing trend towards supremacism and intolerance as well as restrictions on freedom of expression, media, and religion across the Muslim world.

In doing so, the president’s moves complicate rather than fortify efforts to counter political violence by giving credence to ultra-conservative and jihadist narratives of war being waged by the west on Islam. The moves strengthen forces that propagate supremacist interpretations of the faith that are intolerant of non-Muslims and alternative Islamic worldviews.

The ultra-conservative alliance, buoyed by Trump’s policies, includes Saudi-backed ultra-conservative ideologies and governments that are beneficiaries of Saudi largess and opportunistically play politics with religion, as well as anti-Saudi jihadists.

Saudi largesse is part of a massively funded, decades-long soft power play by the kingdom designed to box-in Iran by globally promoting an ultra-conservative, supremacist, intolerant strand of Islam. Trump and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud discussed on Sunday the need to counter “Iran’s destabilising regional activities.” A Saudi readout of the call said the two men had identical views on the fight against terrorism.

Saudi-inspired ultra-conservatism as well as Iranian support for Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad and sectarian groups elsewhere in the Middle East has fuelled widespread sectarianism, intolerance towards Muslim and non-Muslim minorities, and conservative rejection of alternative lifestyles and basic freedoms. The trend sparks a turn towards ultra-conservative piety among the discontented and elites alike in various Sunni Muslim majority countries.

Moreover, Trump’s effort to create an alternative reality and the advice to the media of his far-right strategic advisor, Steve Bannon, to “shut up,” beyond feeding the narrative of a western war on Islam, reinforces efforts by the Saudis and others to restrict unfettered debate, particularly about sensitive religious issues, a cornerstone of any attempt to counter radicalism.

As a result, Trump is lending, perhaps unwittingly, greater credence to increasingly influential and long-standing notions propagated by Saudi Arabia and other Muslim governments, as well as militant jihadist and non-jihadist groups that seek to criminalise blasphemy.

The fallout is evident in Saudi Arabia as well as elsewhere in the Muslim world. The kingdom imposes severe penalties on those that question its narrow interpretation of Islam. Secular bloggers in Bangladesh risk being hacked to death while jihadists slaughter those they think have deviated from the true path. The governor of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, a Christian of Chinese descent, has been charged with blasphemy for allegedly misquoting the Quran. Malaysia has banned distribution of Shi’a texts.

The electronic media regulator in Pakistan took two television shows off the air last year during Ramadan for discussing the country’s draconic blasphemy laws as well as the persecution of Ahmadis, a Muslim sect widely viewed as heretics. Writing in Dawn newspaper, Pakistani researcher Nazish Brohi warned that “the issue of blasphemy is destroying whatever strands of pluralism remain.”

The Saudi-backed effort to influence laws governing blasphemy and freedom of expression and religion in individual countries has culminated in a campaign by Saudi Arabia, and other Muslim nations have long sought to criminalise blasphemy in international law.

In the process, the effort has become part of the kingdom’s response to rising anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia in the wake of attacks organised or inspired by the Islamic State in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States, as well as mounting criticism of Saudi Arabia’s austere interpretation of Islam and massive violations of human rights.

The success of Saudi-inspired ultra-conservatism, which feeds on like-minded worldviews such as Deobandism in South Asia and the opportunism of politicians and governments, is evident in the degree to which its core pillars of intolerance have become part of the fabric of key branches of government and the state in various Muslim nations.

The recent disappearance of five Pakistani social media activists, including a Singapore-based Pakistani IT worker on a visit home, is a case in point. The five, despite government denials, were widely believed to have been abducted with at least the connivance elements of the state. The abductions were the latest blasphemy-related incidents to rock Pakistan in recent years.

The abductions’ relationship to elements of government was seemingly confirmed when two of the five phoned home in recent days to say that they were in good health and that the police could be contacted for more details. One of the five, an activist, poet, and university lecturer by the name of Salman Haider, was released a day later with no details about where and by whom he had been held. “The disappearances themselves were not unusual—the net has been widening for a while and unreported, hushed-up incidents tend to lead to more. The disappeared who return become the silenced,” quipped prominent Pakistani columnist Cyril Almeida in an op-ed in Dawn.

Al Jazeera reported that Ahmed Raza Naseer, one of the activists, was sitting with his brother at their shop in a small village just outside the central Pakistani town of Nankana Sahib, when a nondescript man holding a mobile phone to his ear walked in. He spent some time looking at their wares—mobile phones—before asking the brothers their names. After they answered, he asked which of them used a particular mobile phone number. When Ahmed replied that he did, he was told to stand up. The 27-year-old struggled to his feet—he has had polio in his right leg since he was a boy. “The man tells him to take his phone and come and sit in the car outside, where a sahab [important man] is sitting who wants to ask you some questions,” his younger brother Tahir, who was ordered to stay inside, told Al Jazeera. That was the last time his family saw Ahmed.

Ahmed and the four others have since been accused by TV show hosts with close ties to intelligence and the military, pro-military and intelligence activists, and ultra-conservative Islamic scholars of having committed blasphemy.

Abdullah Cheema, an activist who identified himself as a member of a banned group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, spokesperson for a group calling itself Civil Society of Pakistan, and an associate of Pakistan Defence, a pro-military and intelligence Facebook page that with 7.5 million followers advertises itself as an “authoritative platform for Pakistani military and international defense,” associated the disappeared with another Facebook page, Bhensa, that he asserted had published blasphemous materials.

A group calling itself the Elite Cyber Force of Pakistan has since taken control of the page, saying that “all blasphemous and offensive material has been removed.” Civil Society of Pakistan chairperson Muhammed Tahir filed blasphemy charges against the five after they had been abducted.

Citing Pakistan Defence as the source of the blasphemy charges, Cheema was supported on Neo News by Orya Maqbool Jan, a former government official, conservative talk show host, Urdu-language columnist, and director of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) projects for children’s’ rights and women’s development. “These (Facebook) pages … are extremely insulting to the Prophet, the Quran, Allah, and Islam. They have made a joke out of this… Speaking in support of such criminals is a crime in itself,” Cheema said on Jan’s show.

Speaking to The Pakistan Daily, Cheema asserted that “we firmly believe in freedom of expression but these blasphemous pages did not intend to initiate intellectual dialogues but deliberately posted hate and abuse against the Prophet Muhammad.” His words were echoed by Muslim scholar Khadim Hussain Rizvi, wearing a black turban that identifies him as a descendant of the Prophet, in a sermon uploaded on YouTube on which he cited from a Quran lying in front of him.

“The bloggers’ disappearance is its own issue. They should definitely be found, but no one should try and hide their crimes, and their crimes are so heinous that no one should … say that they suffered injustice,” added Aamir Liaquat, one of Pakistan’s most well-known talk show hosts.

Pakistan’s media regulator, in a display of apparent contradictory trends within the Pakistan government, has since banned Liaquat on charges of “hate speech” and “incitement to violence.”

The regulator’s action, however, constitutes a needle in a hay stack in a world in which the likes of Trump and far-right European politicians fuel Islamophobia to the benefit of Saudi-backed ultra-conservative interpretations of Islam as well as their anti-Saudi jihadist offshoots. Even if silenced, the activists who were abducted bear witness to a vicious circle that aggravates rather than solves problems both in the west and across the Muslim world.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccerblog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and a forthcoming book, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa.

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Egypt’s economy over 6 years http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/02/613833/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/02/613833/#respond Thu, 02 Feb 2017 10:00:26 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=613833 There are three variables in any economy which need to be reduced: inflation, unemployment, and debt; and three others which must be increased, including investment, growth, and export. There are also some intermediate variables that contribute to achieve those six goals, such as increasing the savings which help boosting investment and fighting poverty through reducing …

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There are three variables in any economy which need to be reduced: inflation, unemployment, and debt; and three others which must be increased, including investment, growth, and export. There are also some intermediate variables that contribute to achieve those six goals, such as increasing the savings which help boosting investment and fighting poverty through reducing the unemployment rate, inflation, and so on.

There is no doubt that the Egyptian economy has suffered after the revolution. The following statistics were taken from a report aired on a programme on CNBC Arabiya. The presenter of the programme said that this report is based on data provided by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Emirates NBD.

Egypt achieved an economic growth rate of 4% in 2016 compared to 5.3% in 2010.

Inflation amounted to 24.4% in 2016 compared 13.6% in 2010.

The unemployment rate reached 12.8% in 2016 compared to 9% in 2010.

The external debt in US dollars reached nearly $60bn in 2016 compared to $35bn in 2010.

The domestic debt in Egyptian pounds reached EGP 2.7tn in 2016 compared to EGP 875bn in 2010.

The gross debt of GDP reached 100%, which means that Egypt’s total debt is equal to the total local production of Egypt. This is a very negative indicator.

Egypt’s balance of payments

Egyptian exports amounted to $24bn in 2010 compared to $20bn in 2016.

Egyptian imports reached $57bn in 2016 compared to $49bn in 2010.

Foreign exchange reserves registered $24bn in 2016 compared to $38bn in 2010.

Tourism revenues reached $3.4bn in 2016 compared to $11bn in 2010.

The US dollar exchange rate against the Egyptian pound recorded EGP 5.8 in 2010 compared to EGP 19 in 2016.

The poverty rate reached 25% in 2016 compared to 28% in 2010.

Egypt’s credit rating

Standard & Poor’s credit rating for Egypt stands at B- with stable outlook in 2016 and BB in 2010. Moody’s credit rating for Egypt was last set at B3 with stable outlook in 2016 and Ba2 in 2010. Fitch’s credit rating for Egypt was last reported at B with stable outlook in 2016 and BB+ in 2010.

According to the aforementioned data, we find that Egypt’s economy has declined compared to the previous period before the revolution.

This decline is normal because we are like a worker whose machine has stopped for maintenance.

These indicators witnessed a gradual improvement after the revolution.

The Egyptian situation is similar to other countries which have developed their economy after experiencing worse situations.

Egypt faces huge challenges, but we can overcome all the obstacles with hope and work which are the key factors of success on both personal and public levels.

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The president in the White House http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/30/president-white-house/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/30/president-white-house/#respond Mon, 30 Jan 2017 12:13:57 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=613428 The phone call between the two presidents, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Donald Trump, and most importantly, the awaited visit by Al-Sisi to Washington both have several reasons that can be categorised into two segments. First, the regional perspective. This is a phase in which lobbyists use all their methods of influence to serve countries and …

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The phone call between the two presidents, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Donald Trump, and most importantly, the awaited visit by Al-Sisi to Washington both have several reasons that can be categorised into two segments.

First, the regional perspective. This is a phase in which lobbyists use all their methods of influence to serve countries and groups which the former work for, in order to put specific causes in the agenda of the American president. This is what was done by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he asked to visit the White House after the president’s inauguration.

Arab countries must have their own word especially that they have become an arena for regional non-Arab conflicts. From the point of view of the United States, Egypt is considered the main partner in the region, and the American president must hear directly from the leaders of the region their views about solving the region’s issues.

Egypt and its current leadership have proven that they are more realistic in terms of its solutions compared to many surrounding countries; hence, it is necessary not to leave the arena to Israel or two countries that prefer their national interests over the region’s general stability.

Moreover, Egypt needs international support to maintain its water security and receive proper support in its war on terrorism, especially seeing that the American president seems to be understanding of the dilemma of religion trade in the region.

The Arab-Israeli conflict will enter a dangerous phase if the American president fulfilled his promise to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The possibility of, specifically this president compared to any other American president, actually making this happen is very high. Because this president does not see himself as a partisan one, he rather disavows republican leadership and declares overtly that he will do what he thinks is in the country’s best interest, despite those who claim that the they are experts who know what should be done for America’s best interest.

There is a possibility that this man would make the decision to move the embassy the way he strongly condemned the US for refraining from voting in the UN security council vote condemning Israeli settlement expansion.

It is better for everyone if that man does not move the embassy, and we must make the dangers of this decision clear to him given the impact it will have on Palestine, the Arab world, and internationally.

The only gain for us Arabs from such a decision would be for Trump to declare that he will move the embassy to West Jerusalem, while admitting that East Jerusalem is an occupied land. This way, we will have taken a small step on the path of American recognition, then an international one, of the fact that it is not Israel’s right to join East Jerusalem to Israel in accordance with many international decisions in this regard.

The second segment is from a local perspective. Egypt is a country that is economically ambitious and requires from the US financial and material support, whether through modern technology, allocating more grants, injecting more investments, or even removing the travel warning for Americans visiting Egypt.

Egypt has one of the strongest armies in the region with armament deals that are mostly without American manufacturing, which means that the US has lost its military partnership with Egypt after the US stopped providing aid to Egypt prior to Trump’s victory and the resumption of aid.

There is a large responsibility on Al-Sisi to provide an integrated Egyptian vision for the problems of the region to the new resident of the White House.

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Tough choices http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/29/613254/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/29/613254/#respond Sun, 29 Jan 2017 20:30:09 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=613254 At a time in which the Egyptian people are wondering where the Egyptian government is, what is the parliament doing to control the markets, and who will save them from these crazy prices? While no one is answering these questions, and no one is thinking of the people amidst all our current crises, we were …

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At a time in which the Egyptian people are wondering where the Egyptian government is, what is the parliament doing to control the markets, and who will save them from these crazy prices?

While no one is answering these questions, and no one is thinking of the people amidst all our current crises, we were surprised that there are statements being made about a cabinet reshuffle. This is an outdated trick used to distract people with an irrelevant issue.

Everyone, whether they are the president or the parliament, knows that the issue is bigger than simply changing a few ministers. The issue needs a prime minister with an economic and political background. Someone who is young and able to change the course of things based on their deep faith and strong will for change. With all due respect to the current prime minister, he is qualified as an office manager because the only thing he is, is organised. This arbitrary manner of picking the ministers is no longer working.

We are all aware that there are standards for selection in any respectable country in the world. If they want to select an official, the criteria start with the person’s knowledge, and are followed by political experience and efficiency. More importantly, the selected person should have a vision and be capable of making the right decision at the right time. These countries developed because they implement the principle of reward and punishment, but unfortunately in our country, we read news that says the prime minister and the concerned bodies are facing difficulty in forming a new government, due to the many and successive refusals of people who could actually do the job.

All of the world’s developed countries have databases of people ranked by their educational standards, competences, and experiences, upon which the selections are based.

When the people who have been said to be suitable for the posts reject them in that manner, it means that they turned their back on the country. It also means that the government has failed because it has lost trust and credibility. Its performance has fallen below the needed capacity to face circumstances and it is no longer able to solve the crises and cope with the difficult conditions the country is going through. That is why I believe that darning and patching is no longer useful and it is better to form a government (similar to a ministry of war) that consists of a very small number of ministers.

That government needs to be given a timeframe to accomplish its mission, and to prioritise security and economy in its agenda. In that way, the large number of unnecessary ministries will be merged, at least for the time being. For example, the ministries of industry, trade, and investment can turn into only one ministry and representatives of the merged ministries can be appointed. The same goes for the ministries of education and higher education, ministries of electricity, petroleum, and environment, ministries of aviation and tourism, ministries of irrigation and agriculture, ministries of manpower and immigration, ministries of foreign affairs and international cooperation, etc.

Let us start with current Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and thank him. You did what you had to do but please, it is enough. You have your excuse; present it to the president. Tell him that it is for health reasons. Today, the citizen has become a victim of a dead conscience, non-existent control, and unjustified, sky-rocketing prices. Nobody can deny that we have qualified people. Where is Dr. Mahmoud Mohie El-Din and others? Qualified people who unfortunately work outside Egypt, while Egypt is in dire need of them being by its side. Egypt is in a situation of a real war and we must be as responsible as the situation requires. It has become a necessity to change the ministers of health, antiquities, investment, agriculture, immigration, manpower, environment, education, culture, legal affairs, tourism, irrigation, supply, and public business sector. May God give success to everyone. Long live Egypt.

Abdallah Al-Moghazy is the former assistant to both Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and former prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb. He previously served as the spokesperson for President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s electoral campaign. He also held a position on the Youth Advisory Council for the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, and was a spokesperson for the Al-Wafd Party.

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Needed: a new national export policy  http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/29/needed-new-national-export-policy/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/29/needed-new-national-export-policy/#respond Sun, 29 Jan 2017 11:00:15 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=613155 The Donald Trump administration aims to lower imports in order to rebalance, after decades of neglecting economic relationships around the world. Doing so should not only be done by applying the stick of import reductions, but also by having as its second major claw of strength and refinement the principal tool of export promotion. Exports …

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The Donald Trump administration aims to lower imports in order to rebalance, after decades of neglecting economic relationships around the world. Doing so should not only be done by applying the stick of import reductions, but also by having as its second major claw of strength and refinement the principal tool of export promotion.

Exports make a firm’s markets grow and change its home nation’s currency value. When US exports increase, the US dollar typically goes up in value. Shrinking exports tend to weaken the dollar. Exports also shape public opinion of globalisation and offer the opportunity for economies of scale. Higher production volume often means a lower cost of production.

Since high exports also make imports cheaper, a firm may achieve lower costs and higher profits both at home and abroad through exports. Exporting also allows firms to learn from their competition and improve their ability to survive in a changing environment.

Firms typically have a domestic advantage in their home countries, due to familiarity, connection, and local government support, whereas firms from abroad typically have a disadvantage. Any firm which survives the burden of foreignness already has demonstrated exceptional performance.

Finally, exporting may well lead to additional international corporate strategies, such as joint ventures, franchising, or licensing. All these strategies together contribute to the economic strength and security of a nation.

The US has many exporters. Thousands of smaller-sized US firms send a growing proportion of US GDP abroad. They do so because of their new ability to compete. In the past, government perhaps was able to help with the profitability of exporting. But the contemporary buyer abroad considers not only price when making a purchase decision. Consumers also expect an excellent product fit, high levels of corporate responsiveness, full integration into the global value chain, a substantial service orientation, and unrelenting corporate commitment and responsibility.

New and growing firms must offer direct lines of accountability and be more responsive throughout the ribs and fabric of the merchant umbrella. Most importantly, small firm owners are more committed and integrated once they go international. Increasingly, millennial means global awareness, interest, and understanding.

Yet, there are also substantial export problems for US firms, particularly the small- and medium-sized ones. Logistics are a big concern, particularly reverse channel activities, to cope with consumer complaints, product adjustments, and returns. Legal procedures and government red tape are also of concern, where there are substantial differences in government restraint of innovation. The servicing of exports is also complex, where the firm needs to provide parts availability, fit into a supply chain, and offer forward looking technical advice. Foreign market intelligence is another problem area, which covers information on trade restrictions and competition overseas. These obstacles, both real and perceived, often slow down export efforts.

As US firms are on the path to export, they encounter rising risk accompanied by decreasing profitability. There is a market gap typically for small firms, where you spend more but earn less, which is unattractive for managers who either do not start to export or stop doing so. Export assistance by the government can help firms bridge this gap by getting them over the hump to a stage where profits increase and risk heads down.

Export assistance must either reduce the risk to the firm or increase its profitability from export operations. For example, government negotiations to open markets abroad are likely to decrease the risk of the firm. Offering low-cost credit is likely to increase profitability.

Our new export assistance needs clarity of purpose, including what export assistance needs to achieve and in what timeframe.

Export assistance needs to achieve either a reduction of risk or an increase in profits for firms. It should be concentrated in those areas where profits and risk inconsistencies cause market gaps.

Export assistance must be closely linked to domestic industries to ensure US benefits for US negotiations. Negotiators must pivot around government strengths, such as contract renegotiation and prowess in opening doors abroad. All this requires boldness of vision: today is the time to ensure that things are done right and to check whether one can do more of the right things.

Professor Michael R. Czinkota works both at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent at Canterbury. He served as deputy assistant secretary for trade under presidents Reagan and Bush. His key book is International Marketing, 10th ed., CENGAGE.

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Donald Trump’s concerning views on torture http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/29/donald-trumps-concerning-views-torture/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/29/donald-trumps-concerning-views-torture/#respond Sun, 29 Jan 2017 10:00:25 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=613148 US president Donald Trump has repeatedly stated his belief in the usefulness of torture and waterboarding, raising concern among human rights advocates. When asked if the US should use waterboarding to extract confessions from prisoners, Trump said: “I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough.” It was a worrisome statement by the new US …

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US president Donald Trump has repeatedly stated his belief in the usefulness of torture and waterboarding, raising concern among human rights advocates. When asked if the US should use waterboarding to extract confessions from prisoners, Trump said: “I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough.” It was a worrisome statement by the new US president.

Waterboarding is a form of torture in which water is poured over a cloth covering the face and breathing passages of a person, causing the individual to experience the sensation of drowning. It causes not only extreme pain, but also damages the lungs and the brain due to oxygen deprivation. In addition, it may cause lasting psychological damage and death. It is among the cruellest forms of torture.

In May 2008, British-American journalist Christopher Hitchens decided to undergo waterboarding by veterans of the special forces, to test on himself if it could be considered torture. He was pinioned by his wrists and he was cut off from the sunlight by a black hood. Afterwards he was turned around several times to disorient him and placed onto a sloping board and positioned with his head lower than his heart.

“You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it ‘simulates’ the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning, or rather being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy of those who are applying the pressure. The ‘board’ is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered…

“In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honour of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face…

“Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the prearranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted…,” wrote Hitchens. He had the procedure repeated on himself, with equally terrifying results and concluded, “Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.”

In a two-year study, the Constitution Project, a US independent group, concluded that it was indisputable that US forces had employed torture as well as “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” treatment in many interrogations; that “the nation’s most senior officials” bear ultimate responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of these techniques; and that there is substantial evidence that information obtained by these methods was neither useful nor reliable.

The US supreme court has held since the 1890s that punishments that involve torture are prohibited under the eighth amendment, which says: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

In addition, the US is a party to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which originated in the United Nations general assembly on 10 December 1984, and that was signed by president Ronald Reagan in 1988 and ratified by the senate on 27 October 1990.

The US is also a party to the following conventions that prohibit torture: the American Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights signed in 1977 and ratified in 1992.

Trump’s stand on the use of torture disrespects the US constitution, the country’s laws, and its proclaimed stand on human rights. He should have the courage—as Christopher Hitchens did—of undergoing waterboarding before giving his careless opinion on this most serious issue.

 

Dr. Cesar Chelala, MD, PhD, is an international public health consultant. 

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Blockchain can pull trade into the digital age http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/29/blockchain-can-pull-trade-digital-age/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/29/blockchain-can-pull-trade-digital-age/#respond Sun, 29 Jan 2017 07:30:33 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=613091 Blockchain technology could revolutionise trade—making it cheaper, quicker, and simpler for businesses to trade internationally. From letters of credit to bills of lading, merchandise trade today is heavily reliant on paper documents. In our digital, connected world, there is a growing need to modernise trade’s many paper-based processes. Digitisation would reduce bureaucracy, improve security, minimise …

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Blockchain technology could revolutionise trade—making it cheaper, quicker, and simpler for businesses to trade internationally.

From letters of credit to bills of lading, merchandise trade today is heavily reliant on paper documents. In our digital, connected world, there is a growing need to modernise trade’s many paper-based processes. Digitisation would reduce bureaucracy, improve security, minimise errors, and make it easier to amend documents, ultimately saving time and money.

Dozens of financial services organisations are exploring how blockchain—which records transactions in blocks and then forms chains of permanent data—could be applied to trade as well other key processes. Each time someone enters a new transaction, a “block” of information is added to a “chain” of existing data. Other people within the network can see the information in the database and verify new transactions as they come in. This creates a permanent, chronological record of each transaction. Technical progress has been rapid. And over the past year, there have been a series of announcements from organisations demonstrating how blockchain technology could, in theory, be used.

HSBC, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, for example, have published a proof of concept showing how blockchain technology could be applied to letters of credit. More than $2tn of trade currently depends on the physical exchange of letters of credit, which are issued by banks and used by importers and exporters to reduce the risk of trading with each other and give suppliers certainty over payment.

In November, HSBC and Reliance Industries completed the first electronic exchange of letters of credit in India. In fast-growing countries such as India, where non-tariff barriers, such as paperwork requirements, represent a potential drag on trade, a switch to online technologies could help to reduce delays, cost, and uncertainty.

But there are other areas of trade that could also benefit from adopting blockchain technology. It could, for example, be used to digitise bills of lading, the documentation that details what cargo is aboard and where goods or commodities are being shipped.

Testing the theory behind blockchain is one thing, but the real work is in creating a scalable, legally compliant platform that exporters and importers want to use. There are significant hurdles to clear in terms of the legal and regulatory environment—trade may be global but each country has its own laws and regulations so getting policymakers onboard is essential. It will also require significant investment.

Within three to five years, however, we believe it would be possible to use blockchain technology on a “closed network” basis—whereby transactions are visible only to registered participants, including buyers and sellers. But this can only happen if there is collaboration on a global scale.

Banks and others must continue to talk to each other as they experiment and test ideas. At the same time, companies involved in trade also need to engage in the process, outlining how blockchain technology can work for them. It is only by working together that we will create a platform that all those involved in trade want to use, from banks, exporters, and shippers to regulators and lawmakers.

Innovation in banking is about understanding what customers want and need and using new technology to deliver it to them. Trade needs to find a 21st century answer to an age-old problem. Blockchain could provide at least part of the solution.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, an electronic database that continuously records and verifies blocks of information in a digital format. Each time someone enters a new transaction, a “block” of information is added to a “chain” of existing data. Other people within the network can see the information in the database and verify new transactions as they come in. This creates a permanent, chronological record of each transaction.

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Trump’s presidency bolsters autocrats as Egypt designates soccer icon a terrorist http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/28/trumps-presidency-bolsters-autocrats-egypt-designates-soccer-icon-terrorist/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/28/trumps-presidency-bolsters-autocrats-egypt-designates-soccer-icon-terrorist/#respond Sat, 28 Jan 2017 20:30:26 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=613141 An Egyptian government decision to designate soccer icon Mohammed Aboutrika as a terrorist coupled with the recent arrest of more than 30 militant football fans puts to bed any hopes that general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi sees the game’s supporters as a way to reach out to his opponents. Al-Sisi’s intent to maintain his brutal crackdown …

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An Egyptian government decision to designate soccer icon Mohammed Aboutrika as a terrorist coupled with the recent arrest of more than 30 militant football fans puts to bed any hopes that general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi sees the game’s supporters as a way to reach out to his opponents.

Al-Sisi’s intent to maintain his brutal crackdown on dissidents was likely bolstered by a perceived change of attitude of the United States with the rise of president Donald Trump, who is expected to prioritise counter-terrorism over respect for human rights.

In a telephone conversation this week, Trump promised Al-Sisi, who met the president in New York in September and was the first Muslim head of state to congratulate him on his election victory, that the US was committed to supporting Egypt in its fight against political violence.

“The US president also expressed during the call his looking forward to the president’s awaited visit to Washington which is being prepared for through diplomatic channels,” Al-Sisi’s spokesperson, Alaa Youssef, said in a statement.

The designation of Aboutrika, who is a retired four-time African Footballer of the Year nicknamed the magician, the arrest of the 20 fans of storied Cairo club Al-Zamalek SC for attempting to force their way into a training session of their team, and clashes with supporters of Zamalek’s arch rival Al-Ahli SC in which two police concripts were injured after authorities detained 13 Al-Ahli fans for attempting to force their way into a training session of their team, came as part of a wider crackdown.

The 20 Zamalek fans were detained for demanding during an Egypt-Tunisia match the prosecution of club president Mortada Mansour. The fans raised a banner saying “311 days since the massacre at the Air Defence stadium, prosecute Mortada Mansour,” a reference to clashes with security forces in February last year in which some 20 Zamalek fans were killed.

A larger than life member of parliament, Mansour, who unsuccessfully campaigned for the banning of militant soccer fan groups as terrorist organisations, justified the deaths claiming that he had requested security forces to act against what he termed members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian stadia have been closed to the public with the exception of controlled and limited access to international matches for much of the last six years in a bid to prevent them from again becoming platforms for anti-government protest.

Aboutrika, a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood whose assets were frozen last year on charges that he had funded the outlawed group, was one of 1,500 public figures designated last week by a Cairo court.

Aboutrika drew the ire of authorities for supporting militant fans in the wake of suspected tacit military and security force association with a brawl in a Port Said stadium in 2012 in which 72 Al-Ahli supporters died.

The former midfielder, who captained Egypt’s national team during a decade in which it won three African titles, also expressed support for Brotherhood demonstrators, hundreds of whom were killed in a brutal crackdown on Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adaweya square following the 2013 uprising in which Al-Sisi toppled Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member and Egypt’s first and only democratically elected president.

Aboutrika, who is based in Qatar, has denied being a member of the Brotherhood and has said he would appeal his designation.

Egypt has listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation and jailed thousands of its supporters since Al-Sisi removed Morsi from office following mass protests against his rule.

A 1986 research paper by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) cautioned that “a weakened Brotherhood…is likely to strengthen Islamic extremists who are even less accommodating to the US,” an expression of concern that a repressive regime’s suppression of the Brotherhood would fuel radicalisation.

The designation of the 1,500 people and the arrests coincided with the detention of nine alleged leaders of the Brotherhood on charges of planning to “disrupt order and security” on the anniversary of the 2011 popular revolt that forced president Hosni Mubarak to resign after 30 years in office. Militant, highly politicised soccer fans played a key role in the revolt.

The Interior Ministry asserted that the men had “aimed at provoking public opinion by exploiting the economic situation the country is going through and coordinating with extremist entities.” Al-Sisi has seen his popularity drop in recent months amid intermittent protests against the pain of a deteriorating economy, sharply rising prices, commodity shortages, and austerity measures designed to rein in unsustainable spending on subsidies and allow Egypt’s currency to float freely.

The designation of Aboutrika and the arrests signals an end to intermittent attempts by Al-Sisi to reach out to the fans, and through them to frustrated Egyptian youth.

In an unprecedented gesture, Al-Sisi reached out last year to Ultras Ahlawy, the militant, street-battle hardened support group of Al-Ahli. In a first recognition of the potential power of the fans, Al-Sisi phoned in to a television programme on the fourth anniversary of the Port Said incident to invite militant fans to appoint 10 of their members to independently investigate the incident.

It was the first time Al-Sisi had reached out to his opponents, many of whom have been killed by the Interior Ministry’s security forces, forced underground or into exile, or are lingering in prisons where they risk abuse and torture. Ultras Ahlawy declined the invitation saying it could not be accuser and judge at the same time, but kept the door to a dialogue open.

With soccer fans having been at the core of mass student protests against Al-Sisi in 2013 and 2014 that were brutally crushed by security forces who turned universities into fortresses, the government accelerated the move of government offices, including the general prosecutor’s office, state security, judicial bodies, and a new police academy.

“The security situation is connected to the targeting of these institutions by a number of protesters centred in downtown Cairo. They seek to spread chaos throughout the country… They’re attempting to break the aura of authority around state institutions by putting them under siege, covering their walls with graffiti of vulgar images and language degrading to those who work there… The security challenges the country is going through have forced the ministry to accelerate its construction plans,” said general Ahmad Al-Badry, the former head of the police academy, at last year’s inauguration of the new academy.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccerblog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and a forthcoming book, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa.

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The defects in Egypt’s decision-making processes http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/24/defects-egypts-decision-making-processes/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/24/defects-egypts-decision-making-processes/#respond Tue, 24 Jan 2017 08:15:18 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=612308 Facing one crisis after the other has led many Egyptians to believe that overcoming our challenges is beyond our capabilities. This belief is reinforced by the illusion of a conspiracy theory that is espoused by many Egyptians who are convinced that other countries are plotting against us. These two factors have hampered our thought patterns …

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Facing one crisis after the other has led many Egyptians to believe that overcoming our challenges is beyond our capabilities. This belief is reinforced by the illusion of a conspiracy theory that is espoused by many Egyptians who are convinced that other countries are plotting against us. These two factors have hampered our thought patterns and prevented us from realising that our problems, and all their consequences, could be the result of our inept decision-making and policy articulation—and are completely unrelated to any conspiracies.

Unfortunately, we Egyptians tend to view our challenges from a very particular, narrow perspective. This usually means seeing a single solution for every problem, resulting in a focus on immediate results and a failure to notice their consequences and effects—completely undermining the many alternative options that could better resolve our challenges and frequently overlooking indirect factors that could affect our process of reasoning. Our thoughts are often shaped by certain ingrained behaviours, such as constantly praising our leaders’ decisions, which keeps us from identifying their mistakes and discourages the rest of society from developing ideas that contradict their views.

The real dilemma in Egypt is that we live in a machine that consumes us mentally and physically, and whose actual output is not sufficient to meet our basic needs and obviously does not provide a satisfactory quality of life. Unsurprisingly, our adherence to the same mindsets and tools, in addition to our unprofessional inputs, has led us to the same failures that we experienced previously. Furthermore, after decades of use, the machine itself is becoming outdated, consuming the entire nation’s cumulative energy—and yielding inadequate outputs.

Some argue that most advanced nations deploy their citizens in similar machines, wherein people work hard to pay their monthly bills. This is true. However, their machines are operating quite well; they function properly and are renovated often, while our machine benefits only a small number of people who receive substantial outputs, is greedy with the majority, and has a negative impact on the entire society.

“I have carefully examined the problem,” proclaim many Egyptian politicians when encountered by ideas that contradict their own. In essence, ideas are intimately linked to their initiators’ capacities—and many officials may not have an accurate vision of the challenges we face. In fact, not listening to other citizens’ perspectives is in itself a critical shortcoming. Furthermore, the assumption that growth is the most important economic factor has driven the entire society to systemically concentrate on natural growth at the expense of national development.

Concerning Egypt’s crucial decision-making process; it is affected by large numbers of people, most of whom have no idea what they are talking about—yet, the state often includes them in the decision-making process due to their power, derived from corruption. Additionally, the Egyptian media that substantially influences the nation’s mindset (including that of the state) has a completely unethical agenda that works on gaining increasing popularity at the expense of informing the public and promoting citizens’ knowledge of the truth.

We often think about developing and expanding our infrastructure, but we do not exert the same amount of effort to expand citizens’ minds by providing better quality education and offering access to knowledge that is relevant to the challenges we face. Expanding road networks won’t, on its own, lead to economic growth; relevant economic policies and clear investment incentives will serve to maximise traffic on these roads and deliver the real fruits of infrastructure development. The Egyptian state does not only need to better study its policies prior to their application; it also needs to stop sending out ambiguous signals that could be misinterpreted by its citizens.

Our country’s true challenge is in our inability to visualise our problems accurately, combined with our misplacement of available resources. Being constantly under the impression that others are working against us won’t help us address our challenges sensibly. Periodically changing government executives while maintaining the exact same mindset can only have one result: living with our problems for a longer period. We need to change our “thinking mechanism” completely—as well as the people and tools that have been operating this mechanism.

Mohammed Nosseir was a member of the Higher Committee, and headed the International Relations of the Democratic Front Party from 2008 to 2012.

 

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Future impact of superpower and regional power states’ national security strategies on the Middle East http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/23/future-impact-superpower-regional-power-states-national-security-strategies-middle-east/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/23/future-impact-superpower-regional-power-states-national-security-strategies-middle-east/#respond Mon, 23 Jan 2017 20:30:41 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=612312 After looking at the different national security strategies in superpower and regional states, it is time to see how those will impact the Middle East by evaluating current global and regional situation in 2015 and 2016. Spread of terrorist groups and conflicts in the region Sixty-seven international organisations and groups are proscribed as terrorist elements, …

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After looking at the different national security strategies in superpower and regional states, it is time to see how those will impact the Middle East by evaluating current global and regional situation in 2015 and 2016.

Spread of terrorist groups and conflicts in the region

Sixty-seven international organisations and groups are proscribed as terrorist elements, in addition to other terrorist groups proscribed by specific regions. The Islamic State (IS) is the most common international threat and Boko Haram is the largest threat in terms of deaths caused. Thirty-one terrorist groups are in the Middle East, 17 of which were proscribed after 2014. Several terrorist groups have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), declaring their areas Islamic states.

International military coalitions and interventions against IS and Houthis

There was an international coalition against IS on 7 August 2014, the “Decisive Storm” coalition on 26 March 2015, and the first Russian military intervention in Syria on 1 November 2015.

New Silk Road to link China and the Middle East

In October 2013, China announced the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR), also known as The Belt and Road, One Belt One Road, or the Belt and Road Initiative. It is a development strategy and framework, proposed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia. It consists of two main components: the land-based SREB and the oceangoing MSR. The strategy underlines China’s push to take a bigger role in global affairs, and its need for capacity cooperation in areas such as steel manufacturing.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – July 2015

The five permanent member states of the UN security council; China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany, in addition to the European Union (EU) and Iran reached a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to ensure that Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful.

Defence budgets and armament race December 2015

The international defence budget increased in 2015 by 1% to reach $1.6tn, a reference to the growth in spending by eastern European countries, Asia, and the Middle East, and a slowdown in western budgets. However; it decreased again in 2016.

India and Pakistan became member states in Shanghai Cooperation Organization – June 2016

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental international organisation founded in Shanghai with the membership of six countries: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; adding the two member states India and Pakistan, to become eight members with half the world’s population, and four observer states: Iran, Mongolia, Belarus, and Afghanistan, in addition to five dialogue partners, which are Armenia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Cambodia.

Gas agreements 2015/2016

The Energy Triangle and Gas Agreement in the Middle East 2015–2016 was established, including Greece, Cyprus, and Israel to liquefy their gas in Egypt and export their products to Europe. It was signed in 2015 and is faced by the Turk-Stream Agreement signed in October 2016 between Russia and Turkey to export Russian gas to Turkey and facilitate the Russian gas to Europe as well.

Increase of annual US military aids to Israel in September 2016

The United States will give Israel $38bn in military assistance over the next decade, the largest aid package in US history.

UK is back to the Middle East

The UK decided to follow through with the Brexit and continued its military expansion with military bases in the Middle East.

So what impact would these factors have on the global and regional scale?

Possible global impact

All these factors could lead to strong Chinese efforts and unsuccessful Russian efforts seeking a multi-polled world, as well as a temporary understanding between the US and Russia with a serious counter US strategy against the global Chinese economic influence. They may also spread a wider ideology of “Security at the expense of human rights” which may lead to more conflicts and more terrorism actions. They may also increase the growing role of information warfare, especially advanced “cybernetic and psychological warfare” in next wars against developed personnel and developed technologies. In this case, nuclear weapons will be a deterrent weapon to unresolved results if necessary. These factors may also imply a serious but slow capacity development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in political, economic, and security aspects, in order to achieve parity in front of NATO.

Possible international or regional impact

These factors could also be the start of escalating competition between the Russian-Turkish gas agreement axis and the Greece, Cyprus, Israel gas agreement axis. Russia may work hard on Syria, possibly to seize the opportunity when the Syrian conflict gets to the safe side. Then, Russia would aim to persuade China to bring Syria into the fold of the Shanghai Organization. On the other hand, it is likely that the NATO will try to bring other countries into the alliance more formally, such as Ukraine, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia in eastern Europe, in addition to other countries from the Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Co-operation Initiative. The factors may also lead to a possible international and regional increase of regional conflicts and terrorism activities.

Possible impact on the Middle East

The developments over the past year may lead to a possible increase of sectarian and ethnic dividing attempts in Syria and Iraq, and possible increasing efforts for the unification of Yemen and Libya, despite the difficulty of the Libyan situation. The increasing existence of international military forces may help deter any Iranian military activities in the region, but Iran may attempt to continue building its nuclear programmes on the long-term, with possible growth of an armament race. Israel may try to play the role of the Middle East backbone against Turkey who is trying to play the same role, with the increasing likelihood of a two-state solution (Israel and the Palestinian state), despite intensive Egyptian-Saudi attempts.

Sayed Ghoneim an International Security visiting scholar to NATO Defense College in Rome, National Defense University in Taiwan, and to the American University in Emirates. His fellowship degree of Strategic Defense & Security is from Nasser Higher Military Academy, and his Masters of Military Science Security Studies from Command & Staff College, Egypt and RMCS, Cranfield University, UK.

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Protecting the Vulnerable During Egypt’s Economic Reform http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/21/611408/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/21/611408/#respond Sat, 21 Jan 2017 14:57:27 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=611408 Restoring economic stability is not easy, as Egypt’s President Sisi has said many times. The country faces three interlinked problems: an urgent balance of payments problem—which means more foreign currency has been going out the door than coming in—rising public debt, as well as low growth and high unemployment. With help from the IMF, Egypt has …

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Restoring economic stability is not easy, as Egypt’s President Sisi has said many times.

The country faces three interlinked problems: an urgent balance of payments problem—which means more foreign currency has been going out the door than coming in—rising public debt, as

well as low growth and high unemployment. With help from the IMF, Egypt has designed a reform plan to address these problems, which affect Egyptians every day, especially the most

vulnerable in society. The goal is to help people through the difficult economic transition and give people a shared stake in Egypt’s future.

How social protection helps economic reforms 

All of the economic  problems  that Egypt faces  can be solved, and the reforms the government has made in recent months

— introducing the value added tax (VAT), floating the pound, and cutting fuel subsidies —will In the long term help all Egyptians. The reforms will help the middle class as well as the vulnerable by raising growth and creating jobs. But there are also short-term costs.

In daily life, imports cost more in pounds because it takes more pounds to buy a dollar. Some people will pay more taxes. Fuel costs more as subsidies are cut. So the government and the IMF

are determined that as little as possible of the costs should fall on those least able to afford them. For this reason, the government has committed to spend a minimum of an additional 33 billion

pounds, about 1 percentage point of GDP, to increase social spending.

Social protection measures 

There are different programs put in place and in the phase of implementation that are mainly targeted to help the most vulnerable groups. These programs include increased food subsidies, and reforms to the social pension budget. Here are some details:

Increased food subsidies by raising the value of the subsidy offered through food smart cards from 15 to 21 Egyptian pounds per person.

Expanded Takaful and Karama to reach 1.7 million households and 7.3 million beneficiaries.

Expanded social pension budget to reach another 1.7 million households, and the general pension will be increased.

There are smaller programs targeted to specific vulnerable groups, such as more free school meals, and new gas connections for poor districts. The government will increase subsidies for infant milk and children’s medicines, and will preserve or increase

vocational training for young people.

Social structural reforms include efforts to raise the participation of women in the workforce. This will have important social effects, as well as contribute to economic growth. About 250 million Egyptian pounds more will be spent on public nurseries, and the government will study how to make public transportation safer and more accessible for women.

More growth means more jobs

The program also addresses economic and structural constraints. With sound implementation of planned policies, Egypt’s growth could rise to 6 percent over the medium term, which would be

comparable to the period from 2005 to 2010 when annual growth averaged 5.9 percent.

The medium-term objective for the program is to bring the Egyptian economy to its full potential and achieve high growth rates. This will help create jobs to absorb Egypt’s young population entering the job market. The IMF projects that unemployment will fall to 10 percent by the final year of the program, compared to 12.7 percent last year, and will fall further into single digits after this.

The economic reform program is in its early stages and throughout the process both the government and the IMF are committed to supporting social protection. Both the structural

reforms and social protection measures are critical to achieve the program’s goals and will be used as markers to measure progress. The authorities are committed to implement them by end of June 2017.

The plan was developed by the Egyptian government for the Egyptian people. The economic reform program draws on the growth experiences of many countries that have successfully

sustained social and economic progress. It takes careful account of Egypt’s specific and unique characteristics to ensure that it creates the best chance of success for the Egyptian people.

Implementation will at times be difficult, but Egypt can move forward with confidence knowing that economic reform is not just about growing national income, but also protecting and improving the prospects of its poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

 

Chris Jarvis is the mission chief for Egypt and an Advisor at the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia Department. He was previously in the IMF’s European Department where he led missions to Belarus and then Ukraine; and before that he was a

speechwriter for Rodrigo de Rato and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former Managing Directors at the IMF. Mr. Jarvis has over twenty years experience as an IMF economist, working mostly on

emerging economies. He is a U.K. national and before joining the IMF, he was at the U.K. Treasury. Mr. Jarvis was educated at Keble College, Oxford, Nuffield College, Oxford, and Yale University.

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Without further discussion, Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/18/without-discussion-tiran-sanafir-egyptian/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/18/without-discussion-tiran-sanafir-egyptian/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 11:24:07 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=611008 State Council judges have penned a new line in the honour of the Egyptian judicial record. One of the council’s judges said the decisively final word in the conflict between the Egyptian government and a major segment of the community on the sovereignty of the Tiran and Sanafir islands. Supporters and opponents shared different opinions …

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State Council judges have penned a new line in the honour of the Egyptian judicial record. One of the council’s judges said the decisively final word in the conflict between the Egyptian government and a major segment of the community on the sovereignty of the Tiran and Sanafir islands.

Supporters and opponents shared different opinions on the agreement that the government signed with Saudi Arabia. Both sides accused the other of things like betrayal and treason.

Things escalated to the level that the president said in a speech that he does not want further discussions regarding the matter.

The judiciary, law, and history triumphed for Egyptians, bringing them their rightful sovereignty over the islands. This was nothing new to this place, for it has earlier seen a similar victory for Egyptians against exporting gas to Israel.

Although I do not understand the state’s decision to give up on a precious piece of land, it is even stranger that the Egyptian government has pushed so hard to prove the islands were Saudi—as if it was the only way out of a bottleneck.

But the session was over, and victory was for the people. The more important question remains: what is the future of Egyptian-Saudi relations? Will there be a new dispute, or will Saudi Arabia understand that the current situation should spare any further damage in relations between allies?

Saudi Arabia fears the Shi’a tide, as well as Egypt. Saudi Arabia does not—or so I believe—want Islamic State to expand, as well as Egypt. Saudi Arabia wants to end the current wars in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Libya, and so does Egypt. Saudi Arabia wants to put an end to revolutions, and so does the Egyptian regime.

Hence, there are points of convergence between the two countries. Of course, there are many controversial points, such as leaving Syrian Bashar Al-Assad or ridding him, as well as the two islands—that if we believe that Saudi Arabia itself believes that they are their own.

But the question here becomes: why stir a dispute if it does not really exist?

Cannot our brother in the Grand Mosque in Mecca see that the Egyptian army is the guarantee to stability? Did someone trick him into believing that he can buy a key to the region’s leadership? Did he think that the US and Israel would give up on the alliance with Egypt and put their hands in his?

I find it foolish to imagine that any country in the region believe they could compete with the Egyptian army.

Political civility demands middle grounds and joining forces to support the Egyptian army, so that foreign powers would not control the fate of Arab governments and people. The bill, then, would be expensive. It would be paid by those fearful in the Gulf. I see that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf governments should put their hands together with the Arab Maghreb countries. Together, they should support Egypt to bring about a balance of power with the western powers that lie on Arab lands, saying they protect global stability. Once Arabs find their path to stability, then they could look into the sovereignty of the islands, which are 100% Egyptians.

The Egyptian government too should stop messing with the popular will and be more alert to its internal crises that warn an uprising that could rid it. The parliament also should cut all strings that move it around as a puppet.

Egyptian public anger is never fueled by a day of events, but accumulates over time. Should it reach a boiling point, it becomes unpredictable.

Everyone must abide by the words of the president—with minor amendments.

“Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian—I do not want further discussions regarding the matter.”

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Viridiana: destroying the alliance of religion, authority, and capital http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/18/610799/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/18/610799/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:00:31 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=610799 Viridiana is directed Luis Buñuel

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The hidden corridors of the human soul have secrets that are unheard of. And when death approaches, the truth is exposed in front of us, leading us to bounce back in amazement.  And how couldn’t we know this before?

Only cinema exposes humans, and in the niche of cameras, removes the masks. Spanish director Luis Buñuel did just this in his 1961 masterpiece Viridiana, exposing everything and reassessing it.

This film is considered to be the peak of this veteran director’s work during his revolutionary cinematic years. In this film, his revolutionary ideas and resentment towards the tripartite of authority, religion, and capital are laid bare.

Buñuel rebels against the church and the bourgeoisie, returning the impoverished class to its origins, and revealing the falsity of the human soul. He also sympathised with Jesus Christ, who was crucified by hateful people.

Viridiana of the White Cross

Buñuel starts his masterpiece with scenes in the courtyards of a Catholic convent, where his female protagonist Viridiana (played by Silvia Pinal), is preparing to start her life as a nun. However, she is invited to visit the husband of her dead aunt, to express gratitude to him for financially supporting her before she commits to the monastery. Here, Buñuel exposes one of the very secrets of the human psyche, which is greed. The older relative, who Viridiana looks up to as a father, craves her sexually, and asks her to stay to become his wife instead.

Jesus who was crucified for us

From the contradictions of the human soul in which good and evil have been fighting since the beginning of time is guilt. The elder relative feels guilt towards Viridiana, who decides to return to the convent after he tells her he had raped her the night before after she was drugged. When she refused to stay with him, he confesses that he did not rape her, but wished she would stay. As she is leaving, she is stopped by a police officer at the bus stop who informs her that her uncle has taken his own life. Veridiana inherits his estate, and chooses to return to the estate racked with guilt. The same guilt which prevents her from returning to the monastery.

The futility of religion and its naivety through the lens of Buñuel

Viridiana couldn’t sit tight practicing charity, something she was born for, without being crucified on the cross of God a thousand times. Pure as she is, she rushed to host the poor and needy in the house which her dead relative left her. She reaches out to the blind, the lepers, and the prostitutes. Believing that all those with a disability are in need, she pursed with her religious naivety to equate between all those poor individuals who are oppressed by disease and poverty. She tries to find jobs for each according to their ability, in a clear reference to the naivety of religious rule, and its strategy towards poverty: to adapt with the poverty of the poor, not eliminate the causes of poverty.

Jesus was crucified only because he was polite to the rude

This happened to Viridiana, after hosting those in need and helping them. However, the illegitimate son of her dead relative comes back, confessing his hate towards his father. He not only clashes with Viridiana, this strange neighbour who is feeding the impoverished, but is also attracted to her, like his father. The son, Georgy, is a symbol to the capitalist class, which despises the poor. The director also argues that the poor can hate among themselves, and hate those that give them help and shelter. One of the characters, an impoverished man who was kicked out of his community as they feared he would spread disease, was welcomed by Viridiana but ends up hating her. In one scene, where dinner is served for the poor, symbolising the last supper, two of the beggars rape Virdiana, with the help of the diseased impoverished man. He helped in the crucifying of Jesus, or Viridiana, after she helped him.

Viridiana is not just a film, and Buñueli is not just a director of this humanistic ballad who is disaffected with everything. Viridiana is a story about tormented humanity, about Christ who was crucified due to excessive politeness, and about other repulsive humans. Here, Buñuel used the camera to be a prophet to this suffering of humanity with all its scars.

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A short take on Youssef Chahine’s Bab Al-Hadid http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/17/610798/ http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/01/17/610798/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 20:30:35 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=610798 Bab Al-Hadid is directed by late director Youssef Chahine

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In the second part of Youssef Chahine’s autobiographical series Hadoota Masreya (An Egyptian Story,1982), his character (played by Nour El-Sherif) tells his producer and father-in-law (played by Tawfiq Al-Dikn) that his new film Bab Al-Hadid will include many “sex” scenes and will garner EGP 1m.

Bab Al-Hadid (The Iron Door) is Chahine’s 11th film, acting as a brilliantly awkward and well-made piece of art in the director’s career. The film showed a clear and radical growth in Chahine’s skills as a filmmaker, while combining Egyptian social realism (a wave Chahine spearheaded), the French Nouvelle Vague, and Russian (rather the Eisensteinian) editing techniques. Keeping all these styles in mind, Chahine couldn’t ignore his passion for American cinema and gave it a Hollywood-tailored plot.

Compared to previous films, such as the 1954 Struggle in the Valley and Struggle in the Pier, both of which portrayed straightforward classist confrontations whether between a feudal lord and farmers or between a pasha and a quasi-sailors leader, Bab Al-Hadid’s noir plot takes a wider and more critical look on the very sophisticated and disrupting Cairo train station.

The neorealist approach in Bab Al-Hadid diversified its characters from oppressed porters who are struggling for unionism and a physically challenged and frustrated newspaper vendor, to female vendors trying to escape the monopoly of the buffet manager, strangely enough a lover waiting for her boyfriend, and a lost, naive upper Egyptian traveller stuck in the lanes of the station.

Each character deserves a study on its own, highlighting its history and significance to the plot. Each of them uniquely and unilaterally participated in creating the crescendo of the film’s conclusion. Two of the most interesting are Abu Sri (played Farid Shawqi) and Qinawi (played by Chahine himself).

Abu Sri’s unionist and Leninist inclination not only marks Chahine’s political inclinations, but shows his belief in a one-man-solution to a dispersed and unorganised group of labourers. He believes that the government-controlled Labour Office will create a union to handle the workers’ misfortunes. However, their consciousness needs a spearhead to teach and raise awareness against the reactionary old guard. The masculine macho character is filmed from bottom-up as he is spreading wisdom to the workers, in compositions captured by Alevise Orfanelli.

Abu Sri attracts the station’s most sexy and erotic poor girl Hanouma (played by Hend Roustom). In an unforgettable scene, he roughly makes love to her, as frustrated Qinawi watches in despair. The shot is cut to show a close-up on the train running along the track way.

Qinawi’s character manages, despite its repulsiveness, to draw some sympathy from the viewer. His love is unrequited but pure, violent but tender. His eyes, presented through close-ups, show his eagerness to have Hanouma. Angered by her rejection, he turns wild, unfolding the thriller sequence in the film.

Between the rusty rooms, sweaty characters, and noisy background, Chahine delivered the chaos and panic in the one and only Cairo train station, which the narrator describes at the beginning of the film as “the heart of the capital. Every minute a train leaves and another one arrives. Thousands meet to say goodbye, people from the North and the South, natives and foreigners, employed and unemployed.”

In Egypt in 1958, the new republic witnessed a King being toppled, a general being ousted by a colonel, and a new social system being enforced. Chahine’s decision to focus on the very low of the lumpen proletariat, as well as its noir atmosphere was unheard of on the silver screen, resulting in poor reviews from the public, and positive ones from critics.

The film didn’t include “sex scenes” and didn’t earn EGP 1m, but the masterpiece proved that    Chahine, as he said in Hadoota Masreya, that he “always did what he saw as decent.” This perfectly applies to Bab Al-Hadid.

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