The Big Pharaoh: 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004
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Saturday, October 30, 2004

A Party is born

The Egyptian shura council approved the formation of a new party called Al Ghad or Tomorrow party. The party's demand to be legalized was rejected three times before but this time it was accepted to become the third party to be legalized in about 25 years. This shura council is a council of prominent individuals who give advice to the government. The National Democratic Party, the president's party, overwhelmingly dominates this council and the people's parliament and so both houses merely carry out what the government wants.

Two other parties were not as lucky as Al Ghad, they got rejected because the first was composed of extreme Arab nationalists and the other had hardcore Islamist backgrounds. The approval for Al Ghad raised speculations somehow that there was a deal between the government and the party that runs on a liberal platform.

I was impressed when I looked at the members of Al Ghad. Its leader said that his party is liberal and is geared towards the young. Over 30% of the members are women and about 22% are Copts (Christian Egyptians). The remaining members are businessmen, lawyers, and blue collar workers. I might take an unusual step in the life of an average Egyptian and join this party! Over 95% of Egyptians don't even bother to vote in any elections whatsoever. I'll still have to watch this party so closely and see where it is heading.

I just want to seize the opportunity and briefly give you an overview of the different political streams in Egypt:

Nasserites: They are the remnants of the Gamal Abdul Nasser era. They are socialist Arab nationalist who worship Nasser right after God (some place him before the deity). They ruled Egypt from 1952 until Nasser's death in 1970. They turned against Nasser's successor Sadat because he altered many of Nasser's policies. Today they remained opposed to the government. They are ferociously anti-America.

The secular Nasserites are constantly loosing appeal and so they joined forces many times with those who took their place: the Islamists. This is a very awkward marriage because Nasser literally wiped the Muslim Brotherhood from Egyptian history during his tenure. He arrested, tortured, and executed scores of Islamists when he was alive. Today Nasserites and Islamists are united by their opposition to the government and anti-Americanism.

Islamists: They are very well organized and financed. I am not sure however about the amount of support they have from the Egyptian public. They try to convince Egyptians that they are the answer to their problems after the failure of Nasser's socialism and Sadat's capitalism. Their slogan is "Islam is the answer." (Does Iran's Khomeini ring a bell?)

Sometimes I believe that Egypt needs 21 years of Muslim Brotherhood rule! Like their Iranian counterparts, the next Egyptian generation will see how those Islamists are just as corrupt as any politician is and they tend to use religion for their political purposes.
Islamists are the government's main enemy. They are the number one opposition entity. I'd rather have 1000 years of Mubarak rule than 1 day of living under the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been saying lately that they accept western style democracy and want to enter the political stream as any political entity. I am personally very skeptical for two reasons. First, never trust an Islamist, never. Second, the Muslims Brotherhood itself is undemocratic. They don't have elections within their party and their "spiritual leader" remains until he dies. Currently there is a power struggle between the "old guard" and the new generation of Muslims Brotherhood members. Ummmm, that doesn't look democratic to me.

Liberals: I'd rather call them progressives. They are the weakest among them all. Egypt had a tremendous community of progressives before the 1952 revolution. However, they picked up some voice after September 11. There are two types of progressives: those who demand 100% secularism and those who might be willing to accept the participation of Islamists in the political system as long as they adhere to democracy.

I dream of the day when progressives gain strength and form a large base in Egypt.





"It never occurred to us that the commander in chief of the American forces (Bush) would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone at a time when they most needed him because he thought listening to a child discussing her goat and its ramming was more important than the planes and their ramming of the skyscrapers. This had given us three times the time needed to carry out the operations, thanks be to God" Osama Bin Laden

Correct me if I'm work, I think Michael Moore was the first one to say those words. Kerry later picked them up. Now that is a clear direct interferance in the US elections by Bin Laden. The guy who is hiding in some cave on the Pakistani-Afghani borders is playing politics. Funny this "hey he spent time listening to the goat story" thing makes the US appear as if it is a banana republic that functions only by orders from the dictator in the White House. I think the USA does have countless state level institutions that can function on its own without resorting to DC. Plus, don't forget that it was Rudy Guliani who ran to the twin towers before anybody else.

The point is, will Americans make the right choice on November 2? Will they give terrorists and US haters a reason to draw a silly grin on their faces just like their Spanish counterparts did?

Friday, October 29, 2004

To all English speakers around the world

To all depressed and mislead Americans, British, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders

Your redemption has come

Your salvation is near

Your days of sorrow are over

Rejoice, Rejoice, Rejoice

Sound the alarm

Have a party

Let your heart be filled with gladness

Let your mouth be filled with endless laughter

Let joy overwhelm you

Let all your days be filled with unspeakable joy

Congratulations, Congratulations

This message is for YOU






Sunday, October 24, 2004

Fadfada

Fadfada is an Egyptian slang word that means to "unload your burden to someone else." When you lay down on a psychiatrist bed and just relief yourself from a burden by speaking to him then you're doing fadfada to the doctor. Well, this blog has offered me an excellent chance to "fadfad" and share my deep emotions with someone else. I want to do just that now.

The Wahabi/Salafi animals in Iraq showed us today a new way to display the different kinds of demons they have inside. They kidnapped over 50 young police recruits on their way from training and ordered them to lie down on the ground. They neatly organized their preys in rows of 12 and made them put their hands behind their heads. The animals then stood in front of each victim and placed a single bullet in his head.

That was a new show by the Wahabi/Salafi animals in Iraq. First they shocked the world by broadcasting their videos that showed Nicholas Berg being slaughtered. Today, these "slaughtering videos" are not blockbusters anymore, we got used to them. The Wahabi/Salafi animals like to innovate, they are creative people. Today they showed us a new thing. Organize young police recruits in rows of 12 then place a single bullet in their heads. How neat.

A few weeks ago I decided to do something crazy. I logged on a website and viewed almost all the "slaughtering videos" that the animals produced. I couldn't watch Bigley's video because I just can't see an old man getting slaughtered. Anyway, their recent killing of an Iraqi man accused of delivering beverages to US forces was so creative. They placed the man on his back and cut his throat but did not dismantle the head. Then they turned him over to let blood drain out like water from a fountain. At the background, a man was calmly chanting "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is Great)

No, No, I am not bloodthirsty. I just watched the videos to fill my heart with anger and to get a clearer picture of who those people are. I made a mistake. The whole thing backfired. Now I am filled with rage yet I feel so powerless. You know this feeling? When you want to do something yet you cannot, you feel tied, you feel paralyzed. For the first time in my life I feel that I can in fact kill someone. I just feel that if I saw a Wahabi/Salafi in front of me, I can easily grab a gun (no, a semi automatic machine gun would do more justice) and shoot the guy with a grin on my face.

I am not just angry at the animals. I am angry at many people.

I am angry at Arabs who are silent. I am angry at Sunni religious leaders who are silent. I am angry at Al Azhar (the largest Sunnis Islamic institute) right here in Cairo for staying silent. I am angry at our media that cries "massacre, war crimes" when American warplanes mistakenly kill a teeny weenie number of civilians while trying to stop the mass slaughter in Iraq yet millions of Arabs will receive the death of those 50 police recruits with absolute normality, in fact, multitudes will consider this legitimate resistance.

I am angry at Iraqis for being so good in holding demonstrations to ask for jobs yet a minority of them demonstrat against those animals.

Sometimes I feel John Kerry had some truth in what he said. Don't get me wrong, this is not the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. I feel that this was a wrong war FOR THE WRONG PEOPLE. Hundreds of their own citizens are massacred everyday by Salafi/Wahabi animals yet they manage to exhibit an irritating sense of carelessness. Sometimes I feel that Iraqis, and all Arabs, deserve nothing but ruthless dictators who can hold them together and march them like an idiotic herd of goats.

How did I know that? I knew that by finding myself wishing for only single day out of Saddam Hussein's days. I remember a month ago while watching those young illiterate Shia men who were willing to sacrifice their lives for someone with such dirty teeth, I turned to my dad and told him "dad, how I wish Saddam returns for only one day. Two helicopters and a number of jeeps would end it all. A mass grave would be dug and everyone will return home and enjoy the weekend."

I wish things improve. I wish God can turn the tide over and make it looks as if the animals are losing.



Friday, October 22, 2004

Bush Just Cannot Lose

Russian President Putin recently said that if Bush lost then terrorists "will celebrate a victory over America and over the entire anti-terror coalition. In that case, this would give an additional impulse to international terrorists and to their activities, and could lead to the spread of terrorism to other parts of the world." He then went on to reiterate that he would respect "any choice by the American people."

Now that is a direct endorsement of President Bush by the Russian leader. Putin is a very clever politician and there are many reasons why he wants Bush to win on November 2. However, there is a lot of truth in what he said.

George W. Bush, without knowing or intending it, became the symbol of fighting terrorism around the world. The global fight against terror became associated with George W. Bush simply because he was the first to instigate it right after 911. Bush to the fight against terror is what Bill Gates is to Microsoft Corporation. They are both symbols of things they started.

If Bush lost then all what America had done over the past 3 and half years will be in vain. The liberating war of Iraq will look as if it was all a huge fiasco and all those who sacrificed their lives to plant a decent country within the Middle East sacrificed it for nothing. How do I know that? I knew that by listening to how John Kerry heinously played with Iraq just to reach the White House. Mr. Kerry had a lot to play with: taxes, health care, gay rights, stem cell research, and even the Bush administration post war planning. Yet he chose to raise doubts about going to Iraq after watching the perceived mess there and seeing how Howard Dean capitalized on that during the primaries.

There are no words to describe how Iraq is so crucial. America must win in Iraq just as it won in South Korea. Iraq is America's most important foreign enterprise ever since world war two and it is the region's most important "attempt to create something decent" ever since Napoleon invaded the shores of Egypt in 1798. This is the reason why terrorists are doing everything on top of God's earth to make Iraq fail.

I would have swallowed John Kerry if he focused his attacks on legitimate targets such as the economy and the post war planning, but to attack the entire war (after voting for it!!!) shows what kind of politician he is. He is not Joe Lieberman and he is not John McCain. He doesn't know what is at stake in Iraq.

Did the Bush administration commit terrible foreseeable mistakes after major combat ended? Yes. Do these mistakes provide enough reasons to remove Bush and place an ultra-liberal flip-flopping opportunist instead? The answer is a definite NO.

I hope Americans see this truth when they enter the polling stations on November 2nd. I hope Americans will not let me down.

N.B. This is powerful

I'm sorry if I upset some Kerry supporters. I was just offering my opinion about something that does involve the region I live in. This blog was never about American politics and it will never be simply because I only spent 1 month in the US!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

70,000 Corpses and Zero Photos

A human rights organization in Israel reported that 1,500 unarmed Palestinian civilians were killed in the 5 years old uprising or intifada. An Arab League committee copied the same figure in its periodical report. This number is so depressing simply because we should all regret any loss of innocent life whether on the Palestinian or the Israeli side.

To tell you the truth, I was quite surprised at the 1,500 number. I thought it would have been much higher given the immense media coverage this conflict gets in our media and given the 5 years duration of the intifada. The Israeli human rights organization divided the number of Palestinian casualties between unarmed civilians and fighters (armed militants, Hamas leaders, etc.).

Now the UN reported another number, the number of Darfurians killed in the fighting that erupted a number of months ago. The number was 70,000 civilians killed. Yes you heard me, 70,000 people were killed in East Sudan not so long ago. 1,500 unarmed Palestinians killed in 5 years and 70,000 Darfurians killed in a number of months. 70,000 and I still didn’t see a single picture of a dead child or woman. 70,000 and I still didn’t hear Darfurians cursing the Arab rulers in Khartoum in our media, all what I hear on Al Jazerah and read in Al Ahram are Arabs cursing Israel and America.

I have seen too many dead Palestinians. I have seen too many pictures of wounded Palestinian children in hospitals. I have seen too many pictures of wounded Iraqi children in Fallujah’s hospital. Yet I’m still waiting to see a single picture of a Darfurian woman crying over her dead boy, or a picture of villagers trying to escape after the government backed militia decided to remove it from Sudan’s map.

Want a little tip when reading Egypt’s number one newspaper? Whenever you see a picture of an injured Iraqi child, it will always be a US missile or bullet. Terrorists have bombed so many police stations, government buildings, cars, and yet it seems that NOT A SINGLE CHILD was around when the bombs exploded!!! How do I know? Al Ahram never publishes photos of kids who were killed or maimed as a result of a lunatic suicide bomber who sacrificed his life just to kill a few poor Iraqi policemen.

Darfur is full of misery, full of dead babies, full of angry men, full of weeping mothers, yet Al Jazerah never ventures there. Why? Because they are just cheap black Africans. Their news is not juicy lucy and they are the victims of an Arab regime. The Arab media places a huge price tag on a corpse that has an Israeli or an American bullet inside, that price reaches zero when that corpse has an Arab Sudanese bullet inside or when that Iraqi abdomen was torn apart by TNT belonging to Arab Wahabi/Salafi animals.

Dear Americans,

Ever wondered why we hate you so much? Well, you just read my post.



Tuesday, October 19, 2004

My Blog in Al Hayat Newspaper!

Today a journalist at the Al Hayat newspaper wrote an article about blogs in Egypt. She mentioned my blog and described me as “one of the most popular Egyptian bloggers”. This is my very first media exposure! I guess I need to improve my blog to look much better.

Al Hayat is an OK newspaper. It is Lebanese but based in London with a circulation covering almost the entire Arab world. They are reasonably balanced and host some good pro-new Iraq columnists, but I still prefer Al Sharq Al Awsat. Here is a translation of what was written about me and my blog:

“Big Pharaoh is considered to be one of the most popular Egyptian bloggers. He identifies himself as someone from Egypt and mentions that he is writing his first blog to make his voice heard. It seems that the interests of Big Pharaoh are mostly about politics. Most of his posts describes what he sees on Al Jazerah channel which he hates so much. He then comments by attacking the channel’s officials and Arab leaders in the English language.”

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Friedman and I

Frequent readers of my posts might have noticed that I quote New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman quite frequently. I personally like how the guy looks at the situation in the Middle East and the Islamic world and his words helped me to better articulate my thoughts and write better posts on my blog. One of the major things I like about Friedman is his willingness to forget political convictions and support “Bush’s war” (a war that received tremendous bipartisan support by the way) in Iraq. There is no doubt that Friedman is a liberal democrat but he, like many of his fellow democrats, were willing to forsake their party allegiances to see Iraq succeed. I respect Friedman so much for that the same way I respect Senator Lieberman for taking the same position.

However, upon his return from a 3 month holiday, Thomas Friedman embarked on a crystal clear crusade to make Bush lose on November 2. He lambasted Bush in those columns without offering any comments on Kerry’s record of flip-flopping over the Iraq issue. I have no problem whatsoever with criticizing Bush on post-war issues, I have done the same thing, however, Friedman should have at least discussed the alternative (i.e Kerry’s record visa vie Iraq and terrorism) since we’re in an election period. This is the reason why I have decided to comment on his latest column (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/14/opinion/14friedman.html?hp)and send this post to him and the NY Times. Friedman’s words are in the quotes.

“I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear the president and vice president slamming John Kerry for saying that he hopes America can eventually get back to a place where "terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance."

It is me who do not know whether to laugh or cry when I hear such words coming from a Middle East expert. Terrorism was a nuisance to America on 9/10, and guess what happened? America got hit in extremely sensitive areas. Before 9/11, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush considered Bin Laden to be a “nuisance” and he surprised them on 9/11. Besides, I don’t think Spain, Australia, Turkey, and all the other countries that were hit are willing to consider terror as “nuisance”!

“That's why Mr. Kerry was actually touching something many Americans are worried about - that this war on terrorism is transforming us and our society, when it was supposed to be about uprooting the terrorists and transforming their societies.”

OK, I’ll go along with you. Now, can you kindly tell us what did Kerry say about how he will make Americans feel that terrorism is just a nuisance? Just tell us what YOU THINK should be done so that terror becomes another nuisance such as gambling and prostitution!

“But it is precisely this exploitation of 9/11 that has gotten him and the country off-track, because it has not only created a wedge between Republicans and Democrats, it's also created a wedge between America and the rest of the world”

9/11 did not create the wedge between America and the rest of the world, it was the Iraq war. You and I believe that the Iraq war is an integral factor in the war on terror, Europeans and many others disagree with us both. Please get your facts right Mr. Friedman. There are French and Canadian troops in Afghanistan. The wedge happened when Bush and the vast majority of the US senate decided to remove Saddam Hussein.

“By exploiting the emotions around 9/11, Mr. Bush took a far-right agenda on taxes, the environment and social issues”

Massive tax cuts were before 9/11, dropping out of the Kyoto Protocol was before 9/11, social issues, ummmm what social issues you have in mind??!! Mr. Friedman stop using politically motivated vague comments.

“After failing to find any W.M.D. in Iraq, he became so dependent on justifying the Iraq war as the response to 9/11 - a campaign to bring freedom and democracy to the Arab-Muslim world - that he refused to see reality in Iraq.”

Not true. You mentioned only one reason that Bush stated for going in Iraq. The other reason was that he saw a threat. John Kerry saw a threat. The vast majority of congress saw a threat.

“The Bush team has turned this country into "The United States of Fighting Terrorism."

Oh, and in 1940 there was “The United States of Fighting Nazism” and in 1945 there was “The United States of Fighting Communism”!!! The US was obsessed with fighting Nazis and it was obsessed with fighting communists, I believe it will become more obsessed with fighting an enemy that, unlike Nazism and Communism, hit the USA in ITS HEART!

"His whole focus is on an America whose role in the world is to negate the negation of the terrorists. But America has always been about the affirmation of something positive. That is missing today. Beyond Afghanistan, they've been much better at destruction than construction."

Oh, how nice of you Mr. Cohen (Stephen Cohen whom Friedman quotes in his article), but this is better said than done. I don’t think you can focus so much of positive things when you don’t know when terrorists will unleash a dirty bomb in your city. Welcome to the post-911 world.
Mr. Cohen, I don’t think you can blame the Bush team for being “much better at destruction than construction” when you have terrorists blowing up oil pipelines in Iraq, blowing up the Red Cross, and doing just everything to prevent “Bush’s construction in Iraq”. In other words, blame the right people sir!

“I wish Mr. Kerry were better able to articulate how America is going to get its groove back. But the point he was raising about wanting to put terrorism back into perspective is correct.”

Since you admitted that you don’t know how Kerry will get America’s groove back, and since YOU didn’t even bother to say how you think it should be done, that proves how pathetic your politically motivated column is.




Sunday, October 10, 2004

An Antidote to Terrorism

Last spring I was enjoying the sun in Sharm El Sheikh, the most important resort on the Red Sea Riviera. As I was walking along the long golden bay, I turned to my mom and told her "mom, do you know what a main antidote to terrorism is? Sharm El Sheikh."

Sharm El Sheikh, or Sharm as Egyptians and other Sinai lovers love to call it, is a huge compound inhabited by tourists from all over the world and Egyptians working frantically to put a smile on their faces (and get paid for that!). You can find all sorts of Egyptians in Sharm, from the poor spices seller who hails from southern Egypt, to the waiter at the Four Seasons, to the multimillionaire who just opened a discothèque overseeing the Red Sea. Tourists dive, sunbath, and relax. Egyptians work, work, and work (not mentioning befriending Russian beauties at the end of the day!)

I remember looking at the face of a waiter while I was having a midnight dinner. He was having hard time forcing his eye lids to remain open. A short conversation with him revealed that he works two consecutive shifts in a row. I don't think the young man was complaining, millions of young unemployed Egyptians dream to be in his place.

The reason Sharm is an important antidote to terrorism is that it gives some hope and dignity to young Egyptians. Salaries are OK in Sharm and they feel proud to tell their friends back home that they found a job in the Italian/Russian colony on the Red Sea. In addition to that, they don't have time to go and listen to the crazy cleric preaching in the mosque downtown. They don't have time to switch on Al Jazeera and check out Qaradawi's latest fatwa (religious edict).

Terrorism is not caused by poverty but it thrives in it. Terrorism is caused by the barbaric Wahabi/Salafi version of Islam, period. However, Osama Bin Laden and Co. are just like bacteria, they need a suitable environment to survive in. One of those environments is the HPU cocktail: Hopelessness, Poverty, and Unemployment.



Saturday, October 09, 2004

Thank you President Bush, thank you America, thank you Tony Blair, thank you for everyone who made this possible.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Terror Hits Home

Let me first tell you a little bit about Taba. It is a small magnificent resort located on the Egypt-Israel border. I've been there once and it is one of the most beautiful areas I've ever been too. The resort itself is pretty small and the beautiful Hilton hotel there is its only major destination, yet what is so special about Taba is that it enables you to see 4 countries while you're sunbathing on the beach. From Taba you can see Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and of course Egypt. Whenever I hear the word Taba I always remember my dad pointing his finger to the lands far away and telling me their names.

Well, the terrorist attack will have terrible effects in Egypt, most notably the effect on tourism, Egypt's number one source of hard currency. I really pray that the effect won't be devastating. Luckily, the attacks were not in major Sinai resorts like Sharm El Sheikh. It is clear that Israeli tourists were the main target because they usually frequent the three locations (Taba, Nuiba, Ras Al Shaytan) where the attacks occurred.

Now who did it? I don't believe it was the 2 main Palestinian groups (Hamas and Jihad). Those groups have relations with the Egyptian government that maintains a line of communication with them. They won't jeopardize this relation by carrying out a terrorist attack on Egyptian soil.

I also do not believe it was the works of Egypt's 2 main homegrown terror groups (Jihad and Gamaa Islamiya). These 2 groups were severely hurt by Egypt's ruthless anti-terrorism security forces and they declared sometime ago that they would cease using violence.

My only estimation is Al-Qaeda with the help of Egyptian and/or Palestinian terrorists who do not belong to the organizations we know. However, the level of organization and technicality that this attack required indicate that the attackers were indeed sophisticated.

Well, why am I surprised? Is Egypt better than Madrid, Bali, Istanbul, Riyadh, and New York?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

History 101

I feel that I want to write a little bit about the history of Egypt in the past 200 years. I believe you will gain some insights into how the Arab world developed to be in the shape it is today. As an Arab country with enormous influence, Egypt can be taken as an example of the several evolutions that Arab nations went through throughout the past 2 centuries.

In 1798 the French General Napoleon Bonaparte and his French army landed in Egypt. The French expedition in Egypt lasted for only 3 years but it left a drastic effect on the region. First, the French invasion literally shocked the Muslim world because this was the first time that a country from Christendom managed to invade a land in the heart of the Muslim empire with such unexpected ease. What was more dramatic though was the fact that only the power of another Western nation, Great Britain, managed to force the French out of Egypt. The Egyptian's resistance to the French occupation was not enough to liberate Egypt.

The French invasion had another massive effect on the Arab/Muslim psyche. For the first very time Muslims asked questions such as: what went wrong? How did those infidel Christians manage to advance to such a degree?

After the French withdrew from Egypt, the country descended into anarchy as rival factions began to compete for power. A group of Egyptian noblemen approached a general sent by the Ottoman Sultan (Egypt was an Ottoman province) and asked him to rule over Egypt. The General's name was Muhammad Ali.

Instead of enveloping the country against "vile western developments", Muhammad Ali chose to incorporate things from the west and created what we call in Egypt "the modern period". He sent student delegations to France and imported military advisors from the west to shape the Egyptian army based upon the modern western standards.

In 1882 the British fleet lands in Egypt and the British colonization of Egypt begins. When World War 1 erupted, the British declared Egypt to be a "British protectorate" and thus exerted full control over Egypt. In 1922 Britain grants Egypt nominal independence. The ruler at that time was King Fouad, a descendent of Muhammad Ali, who had to balance between the aspirations of the nationalists and the influence of Great Britain over Egypt.

In this period, Egypt flourished in almost everyway. The first secular university was built and Egypt literally became a bridge between the east and the west. It became the center of entertainment and culture in the Arab world. Egypt's monarchy was considered to be one of the most important in the world.

To counter the "western influence" that was evident in Egypt, a man by the name of Hasan Al Bana started an organization called "The Muslim Brotherhood". It was first a social entity with the aim of convincing Egyptians that they should return to the original puritanical form of Islam, but sooner the organization became a paramilitary and was involved in several political assassinations.

In 1948 the state of Israel was born. Egypt and several Arab countries waged war against the newly born state and they lost. The defeat at the hands of an army of immigrants shocked the Arab world and it paved the way for the Arab nationalist revolution in 1952 that overthrew the monarchy.

The revolution was headed by an Egyptian officer called Gamal Abdul Nasser. Nasser and his colleagues teamed up with all opposition entities to start this revolution, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood.

Alarmed by Nasser's overly secular Pan-Arabism rhetoric and his attempt to sideline them, the Muslim Brotherhood turned against him and tried to assassinate him. Nasser responded by literally wiping out this organization from Egypt's political scene. He arrested and executed scores of them (one of the very few good things he has done!).

Nasser was considered to be the symbol of Pan-Arabism in the Arab world and its ideology in the Arab world. It was characterized by its anti-Western sentiments and its closeness to the soviets.

In 1967 Israel launched a 6 days war that enable it to occupy lands "or buffer zones" from 3 Arab countries. The swift Israeli victories humiliated the Arabs and shock their confidence in Pan-Arabism. Islamists seized the opportunity and declared that since Pan-Arabism and Naser's socialist agenda brought defeat to Egypt then the only answer is Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood's slogan was "Islam is the answer".

I consider the 1967 defeat to be the date when Islamists stood tall and provided their agenda as an alternative.

Nasser died in 1970 and his vice Anwar Sadat took over. Sadat along with Syria's Assad launched the 1973 war that erased some of the humiliation that Arabs felt in 1967. I personally believe that even though the 1973 war was not a total military victory for Egypt, Sadat proved that Egypt's military is to be reckoned with. The war also enabled both Sadat and his Israeli partner to have a peace agreement.

Sadat's fatal mistake was that he opened the door for Islamists to counter the opposition coming from communists and other Nasser era socialists. He freed them from their jails and brought back their exiles. Sadat paid a huge price for opening the cage's mice, they assassinated him in 1981.

Sadat was not the only one who did this fatal mistake. Israel helped Hamas at the beginning of its inception to try to counter Arafat's secular nationalist movement. The Shah of Iran focused all his attention on communists instead of Islamists and it later appeared that the Islamists had more power than the communists. The US financed Islamic militants and other Afghan freedom fighters in Afghanistan in their war against the soviets in the 80s. US allies such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia did the same thing. The US got 911 in the end.

Sadat, the Shah, the US, and pro-western governments were busy fighting the Red. Now let us welcome our new enemy: the Green.

I hope the above short account gave you an idea about how things evolved here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

AFGHANISTAN DECIDES

Elections in Afghanistan is riding a roller coaster. With only 4 days remaining, the three main candidates are holding rallies to try and turnout the vote. The 3 main candidates are incumbent president Hamid Karzai, Yunis Qanuni, and General Abdul Rashid Dostum. President Karzai left Kabul and for the first time held a rally outside the capital. The animals on the Afghanistan-Pakistan borders are trying to disrupt the elections and kill the incumbent candidate. This is why his rallies were mainly confined to Kabul. This recent outside Kabul rally had 10,000 Karzai supporters. Mr. Qanuni and Mr. Dostum also held rallies and thousands of their supporters cheered for them as well.

I’m sure you all know of the dramatic success in getting Afghans to register. In addition, there will be millions of absentee ballots as well (the Afghan refugees living in Pakistan).

Afghanistan also has a “marginal candidate”. A woman is running for president. I don’t think she’ll be a “spoiler” a la Ralph Nader!

The campaign did turn negative. Mr. Qanuni accused Mr. Karzai of “intimidating his supporters.” Mr. Karzai didn’t pay attention to his rival, he is just focused on willing. “When I see this number of people, in their thousands, I’m delighted and I’m sure I will win”

Wait a minute!!! Campaign, incumbent candidate, rally, absentee votes, campaign turns negative,….. does that sound a little bit like the Bush vs. Kerry vs Nader elections!!!! Hehehehehehehehe


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