Voices from Russia

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Does Being a Rubbish President Invalidate Democracy?

00 Egypt. Coup 2013. Anti-Morsi. 07.07.13


I haven’t smoked enough crack in my life to believe that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is a force for good in this world. Call me crazy, but I just can’t get down with that whole Jew/gay/woman/Christian/etc-oppressing vibe. Unlike the Brothers, I like the separation of religion and politics… I think that it’s one of the great ideas of Western civilisation. Even so, I felt a bit sorry for Mohamed Morsi last week, as he suddenly discovered, much to his surprise, that he wasn’t only an ex-president, but under arrest. I understand why the army locked him up… it’d be very dangerous to have the rightfully-elected President of Egypt running around, denouncing their coup. Nevertheless, try as I might, I couldn’t think of anything he’d done wrong… other than being a rubbish president, of course. Yet, that isn’t a crime.

There was always something hapless about Morsi. He wasn’t even the Brotherhood’s first choice, but rather a back-up president they wheeled out when their favoured candidate was disqualified from running for election. Once he was in power, he ruled like a back-up president, ham-fisted and stupid, doing all the usual authoritarian things… putting comedians on trial and banging on about ideology when millions of his people had no money, no work, and little food. Morsi didn’t seem to grasp that money matters, and that Egypt gets much of its cash from infidels coming over to lie half-naked on beaches, ride camels, and stare at triangular piles of bricks containing dead people. He was so oblivious… or indifferent… to this fact that, last month, he appointed a member of the political arm of a terrorist group responsible for the murder of 58 tourists in the popular tourist destination of Luxor in 1997 as governor… of Luxor. This was political incompetence as performance art.

It was obvious, then, that neither Morsi nor his advisors in the Brotherhood were very wise. Their goal was to Islamise Egypt, but they were going about it entirely the wrong way. They’d read too much Sayyid Qutb, and not enough Lenin. The Bolsheviks didn’t leap to collectivism overnight; they lied, obfuscated, and advanced gradually. Lenin even allowed limited capitalism for a few years; he knew that if you boil a frog slowly enough, it wouldn’t jump out of the water. The Brothers, they just blundered about, pushing for a massive cultural revolution overnight, but without the requisite willingness to butcher their opponents and terrify the masses into submission. Indeed, it was almost as if… as if they really meant to give this democracy thing a go, as if Morsi really did believe that the most important qualification in a governor was his devotion to God, and, after that, the rest would take care of itself.

Meanwhile, his supporters are justifiably appalled… the Brotherhood won the vote honestly, and, now, men with tanks cancelled the results. Morsi really was a duffer, but so was Jimmy Carter, so was Britain’s Gordon Brown, and they were only ever overthrown at the ballot box. That’s how you do it in a democracy. Of course, the USA under Carter and the UK under Brown weren’t tumbling into the abyss as Egypt is today, so, the comparison’s moot. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, but there’s no saying that these particular extraordinary measures will fix Egypt’s problems. The army’s already talking about holding new elections soon, but what if a sadist wins next time instead of an incompetent? On the other hand, what if he’s a raving lunatic? Germany was a democracy, yet, the Nazis came to power.

When I was a student, I’d get angry when I read economists argue that some countries aren’t ready for democracy. They were usually talking about China. The simple fairness of allowing people to choose their own leaders was self-evident to me. Twenty years later, and increasingly uncertain about many things I used to know for sure, I see their point. After all, it’s not as if democracy appeared in Europe overnight. It emerged over a couple of thousand years, mixed up with lots of other good ideas such as freedom of speech, the separation of church and state, the rights of man, etc. Therefore, I wonder if extracting one of these ideas and inserting it suddenly into a radically different context is really all that clever. I mean, Egypt is about 5,000 years old, and until last June the country never had a freely-elected leader. Maybe, it would’ve been good to think and plan a bit first, rather than rush into a vote when the only functioning organisations in the impoverished country were the army and a few groups of radical beardy types.

I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers. Nevertheless, although he was clearly wrong about many things, I still can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Morsi. He played the game, he tried his best; he just wasn’t any good… we’ve all been there. However, very few of us wound up under house arrest as a result.

10 July 2013

Daniel Kalder




Sunday, 7 July 2013

Putin sez Egypt on Verge of Civil War

00 Egypt. Coup 2013. Anti-Morsi. 07.07.13


On Sunday, President Vladimir Putin said that Egypt is on the verge of a civil war, as tensions continued to escalate in the North African country between the supporters and opponents of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi Isa al-Ayyat. During a working visit to Kazakhstan, Putin said, “Syria’s already engulfed in a civil war; no matter how sad it may sound, Egypt’s also moving in the same direction. It’d be good if the Egyptian people avoided this fate”. On Wednesday, the Egyptian armed forces deposed Morsi and suspended the country’s constitution, Egyptian Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said in a televised address to the nation. He said that the head of Egypt’s Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, would be interim president during a transition period until there’s an early presidential election. Reportedly, since Morsi’s ouster from power, clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents across the country killed dozens and injured hundreds more.

7 July 2013




Thursday, 4 July 2013

Egyptian Army Cans Morsi, Suspends Constitution

04c Egypt 15.02.11


On Wednesday, Egyptian Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said in a televised address to the nation that the armed forces deposed President Mohamed Morsi and suspended the constitution. He added that a panel would review and amend the constitution in accordance with the people’s demands. He said that Adly Mahmud Mansour, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, would be the interim head of state during a transition period until there’s an early presidential election. A RIA-Novosti correspondent reported that millions of Egyptians took to the streets across the country welcoming the armed forces’ statement. Al Jazeera reported that Mansour would be sworn in on Thursday.

The Qatar-based broadcaster reported that Islamist supporters of deposed President Moḥamed Morsi Isa al-Ayyat gathered in a Cairo suburb, reacting angrily to the army’s announcement, with some of them breaking up paving stones and forming piles of rocks. Egyptian news portal Ahram Online said, “Ex-President Mohamed Morsi issued a statement on his official Facebook page saying the Wednesday military announcement amounts to a coup. The procedures announced by the general command of the armed forces represents a full coup d’état that’s completely unacceptable”.

Earlier on Wednesday, Muslim Brotherhood leader Morsi proposed forming a coalition government to pave the way to parliamentary elections in a bid to end the current standoff. The presidential office said that Morsi also proposed setting up an independent commission to introduce amendments to the country’s constitution, saying in a Facebook statement, “The presidency envisions the formation of a consensus coalition government to oversee the next parliamentary election”. Morsi’s statement came as the deadline passed Wednesday afternoon on the army’s ultimatum asking him to meet the people’s demands and put an end to huge protests against his rule or face a military takeover.

The move to oust the president followed four days of mass demonstrations against Morsi across Egypt starting Sunday. On Sunday, the first anniversary of his presidency, millions of protesters gathered across the country demanding Morsi’s ouster. Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered outside the presidential palace in Cairo and in Tahrir Square, the focus of the 2011 revolution and the key venue of many opposition rallies. Reportedly, since Sunday, clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents killed dozens and injured hundreds more. Al Jazeera said that many believe that the overthrown leader is holed up at a Republican Guard barracks in the capital Cairo, surrounded by barbed wire, barriers, and troops. It was unclear if he was under arrest. The AP reported that the US Department of State ordered nonessential American diplomats and the families of all US Embassy personnel to leave Egypt.

4 July 2013



Tuesday, 2 July 2013

2 July 2013. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Egyptian Resorts: Sun and Sights

00 Sergei Yolkin. Egyptian Resorts. Sun and Sights. 2013

Egyptian Resorts: Sun and Sights

Sergei Yolkin



Yolkin makes a barbed comment on Russia’s oligarch class with this one. I don’t think that you need a degree in rocket science to discern his attitude to the Russian greedsters.



Tourist resorts weren’t  affected by the current protests in Egypt. Although massive, they were localised, which should please Sergei Yolkin.

2 July 2013

Sergei Yolkin



Click here for more on the unrest in Egypt

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