Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Election reforms in Egypt?

blinded by his own reflectionIssandr Al Amrani has some good commentary about the recent political developments in Egypt.

Personally, I am extremely sceptical of what is happening, and I feel that those in Egypt who are very optimistic about what is happening will recognise this for a farce as soon as Mubarak is "re-elected", probably with 99.5% of the vote. If that doesn't happen then Egyptians will get the "next best thing", Gamal Mubarak. Then the ka-ka will really hit the marwaha (fan).

I think that Egypt has all the building blocks in place for making this move for real, however one has to be mad to trust the motives of the incumbent hakooma in making it. Issandr touches on this in his comments, saying that perhaps this is just another "safety valve" for the hakooma to retain power. My point exactly, the Mubarakists will stop at nothing to retain the franchise which they have set up for themselves, and if the spectacle of multi-candidate presidential elections is what's needed to appease our American creditors/masters, then they'll go ahead with it, but *only* on their inevitably convoluted terms.

I've been informed that labor unions, business associations, and others were invited to contribute to Mubarak's presidential campaign last week, at the same time the announcement was made. People are encouraged to go to the local city council and pay EGP280 to receive a poster of Mubarak. I am wondering if various licenses, permits, and other routine beurocratic procedures undertaken by businesses and individuals will now be subject to delays depending on whether one can prove having contributed to the Mubarak campaign.

Regarding Mubarak's campaign; I am sure that it has been planned in advance, taking into account all the resources the hakooma has at its disposal, including but not limited to:
- The power wielded by president-appointed governers
Intimidation tactics which have been omnipresent at all the parliamentary elections and presidential referendums
- Endless money resources
- Incomparable access to and control over media
While Mubarak's campaign has in effect already begun, other candidates simply don't have a chance - there aren't enough time or resources available to any of them to wage an effective campaign.

Of course I hope I'm wrong, and the amendment to be announced on March 12th will produce a bullet-proof election law which will revolutionise politics in Egypt. I hope that in his old age, Mubarak has decided that enough is enough, and he will resign, announcing that both he and his son are withdrawing from politics and Egypt should elect a truly representative president. I wish that we could see the nomination of candidates like Amr Moussa, Nawal Saadawi, Saad El Din Ibrahim, Ayman Nour, and Fathi Sorour. I can hope for all of this, however I am almost certain none of it will come to pass. Please let me be wrong.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Disinformation alert..

The World Tribune has this article up which claims that two Syrian fighters were downed by Israeli jets in September 2004, while giving details of an air-to-air engagement that according to prior reports, actually occurred in September 2001!

According to this article published by the Air Combat Information Group in 2003, the engagement occurred on September 14 2001, three days after the strikes on New York & Washington.

I think this might be a simple mistake since I can't think of any reason why someone would deliberately move the date of this event forward like this, other than perhaps to insinuate some kind of connection with current Syrian efforts to aquire better air defense systems from Russia.

Anyway, just remember that just because some publication says something or another happened "according to diplomatic sources", doesn't make the claim valid.

To the boys and girls at the world tribune: Do your bloody homework!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Children + War = heartbreak

I wish that I could personally strangle each and every one of the worm-like vermin that have taken little children hostage in North Ossetia. Islamic terrorism? Most of the children they are threatening to murder are muslims!

Russian soldier carries infant to safety...

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Tourist Boom pours much-needed billions into Egypt

Egypt is in the midst of a tourist boom, the likes of which it hasn't seen for quite a few years.

Hotels in Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada are booked out, and charter flights are streaming in like crazy. Flights are streaming in from unheard-of places like Lisbon, London, Amsterdam, and even Belgrade.

It seems like forever that people have been afraid to come to Egypt, perhaps the stigma of the Luxor massacre is beginning to wear off. I can hardly remember the last time I heard a Dutch or British accent around the tourist areas.

Anyway, I predict that there will be no wild Egyptian pound devaluations this summer. There are plenty of dollars and Euros to go around.

Naturally, the newly appointed tourism minister can be fully expected to claim sole responsibility for Egypt's newfound popularity as a tourist destination. That's bullshit of course, the tourism business is one of the few big businesses in the country the government doesn't really influence (other than posting cheesy adverts on CNN).

By the way, the diving is much better in Hurghada than it is in Sharm, especially if you pick a good dive center.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Presidential succession, *yawn*

The most common subject of conversation one encounters these days over dinner is, of course, the supposedly imminent succession of President Mubarak by his son Gamal. The President's recent illness, and the replacement of the stupid Prime Minister and a whole bunch of stupid ministers with a new gang of stupids, has everyone assuming that major change is about to happen.
 
I've heard wild claims, ranging from Egypt spiralling into a military dictatorship, to some kind of an economic miracle occurring.
 
I find it endearingly naive when people in Egypt think that the replacement of the President could have any kind of radical influence on life in our great fallen nation. Dear countrymen, Comrade Hosni isn't the problem, YOU are!! If people would begin to stand up and struggle independantly and interdependantly for improvement in all the things which so bother them, and if people would get off their fat asses and learn how to work, our country could feasibly be transformed. However, Egyptians are plagued by laziness, incompetence, illiteracy, narcissism, complacency and apathy. All the qualities in its citizens that a police state could wish for. Although I possess a healthy hatred of our beloved leaders, often I think that the Egyptian people are fully deserving of the pigs that govern them.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Sovereignty..

While watching ebari speak on CNN's "countdown to handover", you may want to contemplate what the dictionary says about the word "sovereignty":

sov·er·eign·ty Pronunciation Key (svr-n-t, svrn-)
n. pl. sov·er·eign·ties
1. Supremacy of authority or rule as exercised by a sovereign or sovereign state.
2. Royal rank, authority, or power.
3. Complete independence and self-government.
4. A territory existing as an independent state.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Space for the rest of us (in a few years anyway)

Spaceship OneScaled Composites has announced plans to launch the world's first privately funded manned spaceflight, on June 21st. Their little spaceplane, "Spaceship One", has already flown at mach 2.5, at over 200,000 feet, and the June 21st flight will be at 100km altitude. Looks like Burt Rutan will win the X-prize after all. And I had such hopes for Armadillo Aerospace.

I am starting a space agency. I will call it "ASASA" (Arab Street Aeronautics & Space Association), and our goal will be to launch selected individuals on one-way trips to space. People currently on the VIP priority list include Ariel Sharon, GW Bush, Yasser Arafat, Hosni Mubarak, Osama Bin Laden, and Donald Rumsfeld. If you want to participate in or contribute to this important space effort please email me at arabstreetbum@hotmail.com

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Secular Islam

Raed Jarrar had some thoughts on secular Islam:

Islam for me, as a secular leftist, is more than a mere religion
Islam is my cultural heritage that I will protect and maintain until the last moment of my existence.

Islam is the small ornaments in my architecture, the small details of the doors of Al-Mustansiryya school in Baghdad, the arches of the Abbasi palace, the domes of Al-Kathum shrine and the wooden windows of my grandfathers’ courtyard house.

Islam is the small kids playing in the narrow streets of the crowded neighborhoods in Baghdad and Cairo, it is the charming smell of the mosques of Najaf and Karbala, the spicy taste of the Iraqi Dolma, the colorful pigeons flying at the time of dawn in Al-Hamedyyah market in Damascus, the warm palm trees surrounding Shatt Al-Arab in Basra.

Islam is the genius poetry of Quran every morning, the strong voice of Um-Kalthum every evening, the soft sound of Athan every sunrise.

Islam is the shy smile of my woman.

Friday, May 28, 2004

The war rages on..

I've gotten some criticism from readers who say I neglected the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, while giving attention to the case of Nicholas Berg. Sometimes it takes a while to be able to put a thought into coherent words, sometimes it's impossible. The goings on at Abu Ghraib is a strong example. I simply am speechless regarding this story.

While I am naturally furious at those who created the environment in which this could happen, I am also slightly sympathetic to what is obviously a public relations disaster for US foreign policy. The stain of the sins committed at Abu Ghraib and other American prisons will remain forever, and any remote chance Americans had of doing any good in the middle east is gone.

Even Nick Berg's murderers failed to overshadow the prisoner abuse scandal.

Meanwhile battles rage between US troops and the Mahdi army boogeymen, and holy mosques have been damaged in the crossfire. And Sadr's fighters have been declared heretics by the Ayatollah Sistani. I wonder if shiite muslims in Iraq will join with Sistani in blaming Muqtada al Sadr for this, or follow logic and blame the Americans (who were the ones shooting at the mosque after all).

What is really annoying me is the war of lies that happens each time some incident occurs. With all the wild accusations flying in either direction it is impossible for me to believe anything I read. Who's to know, REALLY, if it was a wedding party that was attacked by American forces, or a rebel camp? And how am I to surmise whether US forces had a hand in Nick Berg's death or not?

You can't fool everyone all the time, but you can certainly bewilder them. I am currently in a state of growing bewilderment regarding the war in Iraq. Oh, and I can't wait to see Michael Moore's movie, "Farenheit 911"

Raed has been making some great posts lately. I like his fighting and analytical style. Raed's posts come across to me as heartfelt and balanced.