Reuters blog archive
from The Great Debate UK:
There was widespread dismay at a recent survey that ranked Egypt as the worst Arab country to be a woman. The poll, conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, found that an astonishingly high 99% of women and girls experience sexual harassment, and worst of all the perpetrators of this abuse often go unpunished. Egypt scored poorly in every category of the poll including violence against women, reproductive rights and their inclusion in politics and the economy.
The poll surveyed 366 respondents – aid and healthcare workers, policy makers, journalists, academics and lawyers – and asked their opinion on women across Arab League countries. Although this is a perception poll, it is useful to get an idea of how the outside world view women’s role in society, politics and the economy. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that three out of five Arab Spring countries were ranked at the bottom of the pile. Discouragingly, it looks like revolution has not brought women the freedom they campaigned for in Tahrir Square in 2011.
Instead of bringing greater freedom, openness and giving power back to the people, the experts have noticed that since he Arab Spring patriarchal norms have been reinforced, in addition there has been an increase in violence generally, instability, political corruption and bribery and a lack of security. This is not the type of environment where women see their rights improve and their position in society respected and solidified.
Women are 50% of the population, and if they can’t get their voice heard, find a job, or even walk down the street without the threat of being attacked or harassed then an economy cannot thrive. Unless the situation improves, then Egypt will not be able to see economic, political and societal improvements that were at the heart of the Arab Spring protests.
from John Lloyd:
CAIRO -- Alaa al-Aswany, one of Egypt’s most famous novelists, talks to visitors in a dental surgery room. Aswany, 56, was (and still is) a dentist by trade before, in middle age, rising to fame and controversy as a writer both of novels (The Yacoubian Building and Chicago) and opinion (long running columns in the independent and opposition press). He was dressed in a grey jacket and black shirt and, unusually for a dentist, smoked throughout the interview we conducted over the weekend.
Genial and expansive, he’s also angry -- most of all at the Muslim Brotherhood, whose year-long government was, to his joy, cut short by the army last month. But he’s also fuming at the West, especially the U.S.: he thinks America has “no credibility left” in the Middle East’s most populous country because of its hypocrisy and naiveté.
from Ian Bremmer:
After Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech about Syria’s chemical warfare yesterday, it’s clear that the U.S. is going to attack Syria. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says U.S. forces are “ready to go.” Envoys are telling rebels that Western forces “could attack Syria within days,” per Reuters.
But even as the United States prepares to strike, Syria is not really the heart of the issue. As Kerry said in his speech, “The meaning of [Assad’s chemical weapon] attack goes beyond the conflict in Syria itself.” The goal will not be to tilt the scales in Syria’s civil war or to put an end to the violence; rather, the U.S. wants to retaliate against an affront to its credibility, and the unambiguous breaching of an international norm. But there is danger. What begins as a limited military strike to punish Assad could quickly devolve into deeper engagement in Syria, or it could scuttle America’s top regional priorities like its nuclear discussions with Iran.
from John Lloyd:
CAIRO -- The man who presently rules Egypt, General Abdel Fattah Said al-Sisi, is an enigma. He’s even more inscrutable because he is not -- to misquote Churchill -- an enigma wrapped in a dogma. He's too slippery to be filed under any kind of label. Depending on where you sit, that’s either alarming or reassuring.
A devout Muslim, he deposed a devoutly Muslim president. The boss of a military that slaughtered some 1,000 Egyptians in the past few days, he gave a speech on Sunday in which he said there was "room for everyone" in Egypt. Having smashed the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, he appeals in the same speech for its supporters to "help rebuild democracy.” He isn't even officially the ruler of Egypt -- he retains his old post as defense minister, and is “only” first deputy prime minister. But the president, Adly Mansour, is “acting,” and the prime minister, Hazem al-Beblawi, is “interim.” Sisi put them there, sustains them there and as head of the armed forces, he's as close as you can get to permanence. He's the government Egypt has.
from David Rohde:
Amman, Jordan -- After the Egyptian army toppled President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the U.S. Congress expressed the sentiment of many in Washington.
“The army is the only stable institution in the country,” he said.
In the Western media, Arab Spring post-mortems proliferated, including a 15-page special report in The Economist that asked, “Has the Arab Spring failed?” The answer: “That view is at best premature, at worst wrong.”
from John Lloyd:
Egypt now lives in a political and constitutional vacuum. The present military rulers have dissolved the sole national level representative assembly, the Shura Council, and rescinded the constitution. Both, to be sure, were self-interested creations of the Muslim Brotherhood administration. But nothing has been put in their place.
There is only the military and its choice as president, the constitutional lawyer Adly Mansour. Nothing else remains. But if further tragedy -- perhaps, as Russian President Vladimir Putin forecast, a civil war -- is to be averted, the vacuum must soon be filled.
By Una Galani
(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own)
Egypt is entering a dangerous period. The ousting of President Mohamed Mursi – the country’s first freely-elected leader – and the Muslim Brotherhood after just one year in power cements divisions and confirms the army’s role as kingmaker. A swift return to civilian democratic rule is critical but the path is fraught with social and economic risks.
from The Great Debate:
It was not supposed to turn out this way: Only a year after Egyptians freely elected Mohamed Mursi as their president for a four-year term, he was removed by a military decree. This sets in motion a “road map” for a new transitional period leading to another experiment akin to the period following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The ambivalence was hard to miss. The sheikh of Al-Azhar Mosque, Egypt’s storied and influential institution, was there to lend legitimacy to the military decree. But his words told the story. He was compelled by sharia, he said, to choose the lesser of two evils in supporting early elections. But the ambivalence of the thousands of liberals who joined together in the protests at Tahrir Square and other public squares was even greater.
from John Lloyd:
I’ve spent the past few days walking beside and watching the largely youthful demonstrators in Egypt, and I’ve been struck with admiration that’s quickly drowned in despair. I admire them for the way they’ve rejected the creeping authoritarianism of an incompetent Muslim Brotherhood government whose only accomplishment is inserting its members or sympathizers into every part of Egyptian life that it could.
But my despair is greater than my admiration. There is no good outcome to the Egyptian “second revolution,” as the opposition wishes it to be called. The army has taken control, and may -- as it says it wishes -- hold the ring only until a temporary constitution is agreed upon and another election called. The Muslim Brotherhood, whose government is led by President Mohamed Mursi, may, with reluctance, acquiesce in this -- though many of its member are furious over the coup, as they rightly call it. The opposition forces may abstain from ramming what they will see as a “victory” too hard down the Brothers’ throats. These “mays” are, as this is written, be unlikely when set against various degrees of escalating conflict. But they are possible.
from John Lloyd:
CAIRO—This week marks the one year anniversary since an Egyptian government run by the Muslim Brotherhood and led by Mohamed Mursi was formed.
In that year, the economy has slumped, in part because tourism -- a staple of a state that has little to export except an experience of its storied past and fabulous monuments -- has all but disappeared. Disconsolate restaurateurs lean on their doorposts, beckoning a foreigner in to empty tables.