Think Egypt

Egypt Influence

Circle of Peace at the Great Pyramid

The small British school, NCBIS, brought together 53 nationalities around the Great Pyramid to create the first ever Circle of Peace in Egypt.
Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Lesotho, Namibia, Japan and Australia were among the many nations represented by the beautiful national costumes the children wore. A helicopter captured this spectacular moment to record a new generation expressing peace among such diversified cultures. Hisham Abbas sang a special dedicated song for this moment. A day we will all remember and share with the rest of the world. ‘We’ve made our Mark in History’


Egypt is an Opportunity

By Herbert E. Meyer

The lid has finally blown off the pressure cooker in Cairo.  And as the Director of National Intelligence is apparently just now starting to notice, there are a few more pressure cookers on the stove that are beginning to make odd noises.
Alas, in the real world there is no rewind button.  So while it’s tempting to dwell on how ineptly the President and his team have coped with the unfolding revolution in Egypt — and God knows it’s fun, given the breathtaking combination of arrogance and stupidity this administration has displayed — our nation’s security requires that we focus on the future.  More precisely:
  • Where are we now, in Egypt and more broadly in the Mideast?
  • What is likely to happen next, and then down the road, in this volatile and vital region?
  • What do we want to happen?
  • How can we tip the odds in our favor?
Where We Are Now
Managing a revolution is like leaping across a chasm; it’s best to reach the other side in one hop.  When the old regime falls and is immediately replaced by a popular new regime — which is what happened in countries including Poland and Czechoslovakia at the end of the Cold War — that country’s future usually is stable.  But when the old regime falls and isn’t immediately replaced by a new regime capable of quickly forging a new political structure, that country’s future is up for grabs.  This is what happened in Russia in 1917, when in February the Czar was overthrown and replaced by Kerensky and his (fairly decent) Social Democrats, who then fumbled in the Duma and lost control in October to Lenin and his (murderous) Bolsheviks.
In Egypt the House of Mubarak has collapsed, and the country’s army is dutifully holding things together until a new political structure can be erected.  So while the jubilation in Cairo’s Tahrir Square is understandable, Egypt hasn’t had a revolution.  It’s had half a revolution, which means the country’s future is in play.
What Lies Ahead in the Mideast
In today’s world of mass communication and social networking, the uprising in Egypt is likely to spread throughout the region.  Indeed, the uprising in Egypt itself was triggered, at least in part, by the recent popular uprising in Tunisia.  And now there may well be popular uprisings in Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and perhaps Iran. There could be popular uprisings in Lebanon, Syria, and even in Gaza and the West Bank.  And since information moves around the globe literally at the speed of light, it wouldn’t be surprising to wake up one morning, turn on the television, and see scenes of mass unrest in Havana.  (And if we do see a popular uprising in Cuba, wouldn’t it be nice if the CIA got its act together — fast — and tossed a few banana peels under the Castro brothers’ feet….)
In short, we have suddenly entered one of those rare moments in history when the world is about to be remade.
Source: American Thinker

What Egypt Can Teach America


It’s a new day in the Arab world — and, let’s hope, in American relations to the Arab world.

The truth is that the United States has been behind the curve not only in Tunisia and Egypt for the last few weeks, but in the entire Middle East for decades. We supported corrupt autocrats as long as they kept oil flowing and weren’t too aggressive toward Israel. Even in the last month, we sometimes seemed as out of touch with the region’s youth as a Ben Ali or a Mubarak. Recognizing that crafting foreign policy is 1,000 times harder than it looks, let me suggest four lessons to draw from our mistakes:

1.) Stop treating Islamic fundamentalism as a bogyman and allowing it to drive American foreign policy. American paranoia about Islamism has done as much damage as Muslim fundamentalism itself.

In Somalia, it led the U.S. to wink at a 2006 Ethiopian invasion that was catastrophic for Somalis and resulted in more Islamic extremism there. And in Egypt, our foreboding about Islamism paralyzed us and put us on the wrong side of history.

We tie ourselves in knots when we act as if democracy is good for the United States and Israel but not for the Arab world. For far too long, we’ve treated the Arab world as just an oil field.

Too many Americans bought into a lazy stereotype that Arab countries were inhospitable for democracy, or that the beneficiaries of popular rule would be extremists like Osama bin Laden. Tunisians and Egyptians have shattered that stereotype, and the biggest loser will be Al Qaeda. We don’t know what lies ahead for Egypt — and there is a considerable risk that those in power will attempt to preserve Mubarakism without Mr. Mubarak — but already Egyptians have demonstrated the power of nonviolence in a way that undermines the entire extremist narrative. It will be fascinating to see whether more Palestinians embrace mass nonviolent protests in the West Bank as a strategy to confront illegal Israeli settlements and land grabs.

2.) We need better intelligence, the kind that is derived not from intercepting a president’s phone calls to his mistress but from hanging out with the powerless. After the 1979 Iranian revolution, there was a painful post-mortem about why the intelligence community missed so many signals, and I think we need the same today.

In fairness, we in the journalistic community suffered the same shortcoming: we didn’t adequately convey the anger toward Hosni Mubarak. Egypt is a reminder not to be suckered into the narrative that a place is stable because it is static.

3.) New technologies have lubricated the mechanisms of revolt. Facebook and Twitter make it easier for dissidents to network. Mobile phones mean that government brutality is more likely to end up on YouTube, raising the costs of repression. The International Criminal Court encourages dictators to think twice before ordering troops to open fire.

Maybe the most critical technology — and this is tough for a scribbler like myself to admit — is television. It was Arab satellite television broadcasts like those of Al Jazeera that broke the government monopoly on information in Egypt. Too often, Americans scorn Al Jazeera (and its English service is on few cable systems), but it played a greater role in promoting democracy in the Arab world than anything the United States did.

We should invest more in these information technologies. The best way to nurture changes in Iran, North Korea and Cuba will involve broadcasts, mobile phones and proxy servers to leap over Internet barriers. Congress has allocated small sums to promote global Internet freedom, and this initiative could be a much more powerful tool in our foreign policy arsenal.

4.) Let’s live our values. We pursued a Middle East realpolitik that failed us. Condi Rice had it right when she said in Egypt in 2005: “For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither.”

I don’t know which country is the next Egypt. Some say it’s Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Syria or Saudi Arabia. Others suggest Cuba or China are vulnerable. But we know that in many places there is deep-seated discontent and a profound yearning for greater political participation. And the lesson of history from 1848 to 1989 is that uprisings go viral and ricochet from nation to nation. Next time, let’s not sit on the fence.

After a long wishy-washy stage, President Obama got it pitch-perfect on Friday when he spoke after the fall of Mr. Mubarak. He forthrightly backed people power, while making clear that the future is for Egyptians to decide. Let’s hope that reflects a new start not only for Egypt but also for American policy toward the Arab world. Inshallah.

Source: (The New York Times)

The Egyptian People Have Changed the World – It’s Their Turn to Lead

I hope that somehow, through the vast network we call social media, this gets to you in Tahrir Square, even on this momentous Friday.

You have changed the world. And what you have done has just begun. But now that you have won the hearts of the world, and signaled what your generation intends to do about democracy, the voices of the establishments, in both your country and mine, wish you would declare victory, go home and let them work out the details of “transition.” Please don’t do that. The leadership of both our countries have preferred “stability” to “democracy” for a very long time, and they do whatever is necessary to protect the former, even at the cost of the latter. To let them manage how democracy will come to Egypt is to risk it not coming at all, or only on their terms.

Remember, the United States was not talking about democracy in Egypt, not advocating it, not saying a transition is necessary and urgent, UNTIL you risked your security, safety and lives for the sake of democracy. You changed the conversation, and the conversation would be the same as it has been for decades if you hadn’t done what you did. Your generational peers are now watching what you are doing in countries across the Arab world, and beyond. This is the moment for you and for us. Don’t turn the “transition” to democracy over to the managers, who have avoided democracy for the sake of their stability for a long time now.

You represent a new generation, a new leadership, and a new hope for the possibility of real democracy. Keep leading. My government, which still calls itself the beacon of freedom, has sacrificed democracy in your region of the world (and many other places) for American “interests.” And our foreign policy around the globe has put our interests before our principles. But they are not really the interests of the American people, but of oil companies, big banks and corporations, and rich and powerful people. Their interest in stability is very different from ours in democracy. So don’t be fooled, don’t listen to the so-called “wise” voices that have been part of the old reality and want to now thank you for your service to democracy, but are offering to take it from here.

Don’t let them. Keep demanding democracy — real democracy. Because, for the rest of us, democracy is the best defense of our “interests,” and the best path to genuine “stability.” And, for our part, we will do our best to stand with you. That will likely take sacrifice from all of us, because real change always does.

Jim Wallis

Source: Huffington Post.