On this podcast, journalists Ursula Lindsey and Ashraf Khalil speak to Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson about the greatest threats to human rights across the region, and about how to defend human rights in the midst of Egypt's "war on terrorism" and its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Arabist podcast is back after a long summer break, hosted by regulars Ursula Lindsey and Ashraf Khalil and featuring Lina Attalah, editor of Mada Masr. We discuss terrorism and military operations in the Sinai peninsula; the Egyptian media's cheering of the army; and the shortcomings of Egypt's new constitution.
Our latest podcast went up yesterday after a too-long absence. Ursula, Ashraf and I talked about the Dubai art scene and censorship in the Gulf, the UAE and Qatar's soft power, how Islamist governments are doing in Tunisia and Egypt, and then we zero in for a long discussion of the Egyptian opposition's strategy, or absence thereof, and what might need to be changed.
Remember you can always get the podcast first on iTunes.
More chaos and mayhem in Egypt over the weekend on the second anniversary of the January, 25 2011 uprising. Is Egypt becoming ungovernorable? What do the protestors want, can the opposition come up with a credible position, is the Muslim Brotherhood even interested in negotiating? Has the polarization created in late 2012 over the new constitution and Morsi's decree created an irreversible dynamic towards more repression, chaos, and instability? So many questions, so few clear answers — but we give it our best shot.
- The surprising priorities of Egypt’s public - fairness of judiciary a #1 priority for Egyptians, according to poll
- Two days of protests and violence leave Egypt on edge - Ahram Online
- Thugs, misleading media and opposition behind Friday turmoil: Brotherhood - Ahram Online
- Egypt's National Defence Council 'reserves right to declare state of emergency' - Ahram Online
- Protesters killed in Suez shot from behind and at close range: Head of forensics - Ahram Online
- MB and FJP Leaders Condemn Political Parties Justifying Violence - Ikhwanweb
The first round of Egypt's referendum on the draft constitution rushed through by Islamist forces has taken place, resulting in a narrow win for Islamists in early results. Our guest Hossam Bahgat, Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, helps us decode the trends, processes, and politics of the current crisis and how it might unfold.
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- Why The "MB Militias" Are Not An Exaggeration
- The Best Thing You'll Read Today On Egypt - our post on Ellis Goldberg's piece on the MB's over-reach.
- Analysis of Round 1 of December 2012 Constitutional Referendum by Ducoht.org
- Issandr's interview on NPR
Here is Part 2 of this week’s podcast. This was an experiment: Christopher Lydon of Radio Open Source is in town (with collaborator Mark Fonseca Rendeiro) and we invited them to join us and gathered some of our accomplished friends to discuss a topic that is close to all of our hearts: the city of Cairo and the shape it’s in today. Our conversation with architect and urban planner Omar El Nagati, blogger Mohamed El Shahed and writer/curator Sara Rifki was as rich, dense and meandering as the city itself.
We discussed the meaning and potential of Cairo’s reigning informality; how to find a balance between local initiative and state planning and regulation; whether the Muslim Brotherhood has a different urban development vision than the Mubarak regime; and the many exciting ways that Egyptians are laying claim to public space today.
- Radio Open Source
- Beirut art and exhibition space
- Citizen Reporter
- Ursula on the urban divides in Cairo, back in 2010
- A critique of the Cairo 2050 master plan
- Tim Mitchell’s Rule of Experts
- Once Again, Qursaya Residents Fight for their Land
A friend here in Cairo recently told me she felt history was repeating itself all around her: a new Egyptian train tragedy; bodies of Palestinian children being dug out of the rubble of Gaza as Israel carries out yet another bombardment; protesters and police facing off again, on year later, in Mohamed Mahmoud Street.
On Thursday evening President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree that involved some repetitions of its own: he sacked the corrupt public prosecutor (again, after a first failed attempt); he ordered the re-trial of policemen and former regime figures. Most strikingly, he gave himself and the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly immunity from all judicial challenges. “Don’t worry” Morsi repeated half a dozen times during a speech on Friday — the sweeping new powers he has given himself (which include the power to take any necessary action to defend the revolution and national security) are only temporary, and will not be misused, he said. But the thousands of protesters who had already come out and those who had attacked several offices of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party were indeed worried, and fuming, at their sense that history is repeating itself: Morsi is an elected president, but he has given himself more powers than even Mubarak had.
In the first installment of a two-part podcast (we had planned one on a different topic before the crisis), Issandr and Ashraf discuss the weekend’s events. The second part will be up soon.
- Ashraf on Egypt’s role in the Gaza crisis
- TIME magazine article: Body Language and the Ceasefire
- English text of Morsi’s constitutional declaration
- Nathan Brown on Morsi’s decree
- Issandr on Morsi’s move
The long promised podcast on everything you wanted to know about the new Arab constitutions but were afraid to ask is here. We sit with guest Zaid al-Ali, a member of the team that advised on the Iraqi constitution in 2005 and now advisor to IDEA on constitution-writing, who has been monitoring the constitution-drafting processes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
We start with Libya, where things are just getting started and the big questions are about federalism and sharing the revenues from the oil sector. Then we look at Tunisia, where the process is humming along despite some hiccups and the new constitution should be adopted by the middle of next year. And finally we take a wide-ranging look at the contents of Egypt's constitution-writing process, just as the controversy pitting Islamists vs. secularists is heating up. What are the real problems with the drafts published so far? Al-Ali's first take is that, perhaps most importantly, that is no revolutionary constitution: it's mostly an adaptation of the previous one, and the divides often exaggerated by a badly managed process.
Grab a beverage and get ready to make use of your pause and rewind buttons: this is a dense one, ranging from Sharia and women's right to the future of civil-military relations.
- Libya's interim constitution.
- Protests in Benghazi for autonomy for east Libya under future constitution.
- No blasphemy clause in new Tunisia constitution: speaker — Daily Star.
- Ennahda Accused of Pushing Shariah for Tunisia Constitution —al-Monitor.
- Tunisia trumps Egypt again — report from Daily News Egypt on draft Tunisian constitution.
- Egypt's draft constitution: an analysis | International IDEA — Zaid al-Ali's latest analysis of the draft Egyptian constitution.
- Tunisia ruling coalition agrees to hold elections next June — Reuters.
- Latest draft of Egyptian constitution (Arabic)
- Egypt 14 October draft constitution, in translation (not latest draft)
- AP: Egypt's new pope opposes religious constitution
- The Sharia as the Main Source of Legislation? —a new book on the debate over Sharia in Egypt's constitution.
Back for another podcast! Ashraf tells us about his ordeal in Tahrir Square, where secularists gathered against Muslim Brotherhood domination. We take a look at the political dynamics of the fight over Egypt's constitution, and the possible scenarios it could lead to. And finally we discuss the last US presidential debate, or at least the bits that have to do with the Middle East, and wonder at the lack of big ideas on either side.
- France 24 journalist Sonia Dridi attacked in Tahrir Square | World news | The Guardian
- Dangerous Tahrir: The Vicious Circles in the Square | TIME.com
- Egyptian women organise 'Catch a Harasser' to demand respect during Eid - Egypt - Ahram Online
- Egypt's constitutional tussle rules out any compromise - The National
- Complete Third Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy 2012: Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney Oct 22, 2012 - YouTube
- Fact Sheet: Mitt Romney's Strategy To Ensure An American Century
We're back in Cairo and devote most of this episode to the US embassy riots: how they started, what they represent, the culture wars they involve, the MB-Salafi battle for who is the biggest defender of Islam, and much more. Also, we ask, what was Morsi thinking, and how might he make it up in his first visit to the US as president of Egypt.
- Rights group: New police powers law recreates Mubarak-era emergency regime (on project for anti-protest after the recent riots)
- Cairo Protests: What They Reveal About Egypt Without Mubarak | World | TIME.com (Ashraf's piece)
- Rights groups condemn detention of atheist on blasphemy charges | Egypt Independent (on the Albert Saber case)
- In Translation: Salafis vs Ikhwan - Blog - The Arabist
- Egyptian Leader Mohamed Morsi Spells Out Terms for U.S.-Arab Ties - NYTimes.com (Morsi's pre-US visit interview)
- Now in power, rifts emerge within Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - latimes.com (story featuring Hassan Malek's surprising talk of rifts between MB and Morsi)
- Arab League eyes blasphemy bill, Syria solution | Egypt Independent (on the crappy idea of an international treaty against blasphemy)
We interrupt our break from the podcast to discuss the latest in Egyptian politics: Morsi asserting his presidential powers on August 12, the changes in the Egyptian military and the new generation of officers now in charge, where Egypt's foreign policy might go from here, Sinai and Israel. And domestically, we look at early worrrying signs about press freedom in Morsi's Egypt, and whether the opposition can counter-balance to the Muslim Brothers' strength — if it is even capable of agreeing on anything in the first place — ahead of tomorrow's planned protests.
- Robert Springborg's article about military impatience with Tantawy and the fallout for Egypt Independent
- New Minister of Defense El-Sisi's past record on virginity tests
- Our post on Chief of Staff Sobhy Sedky's Masters thesis
- Morsi's trip to Iran
- The offending editorial in al-Dostour
- RSF alarmed on press freedoms in Egypt
- Why socialist activist Wael Khalil won't join Morsi's staff
It's never a dull day in Egypt. Your exhausted podcasters explain the week that turned Egypt's flailing transition into a full-blown military coup, breaking down the steps: the Supreme Constitutional Court verdicts, SCAF's new constitutional declaration, the dual claims for the presidency, Mubarak's night of the living dead, and more. It's as if Egypt's politics have entered a quantum state, where every possibility is true and false at the same time. Fasten your seatbelts, turbulence ahead.
From the blog:
- The clock is ticking... for Washington
- No matter which way you look at it, trouble ahead
- President Morsi?
- In Translation: The SCC's verdicts
- An instant analysis of Egypt's new constitution
- The sadness of Egypt's presidential election
The usual three are joined by Ustaz Doktor Josh Stacher to discuss the upcoming second round of Egypt’s presidential election, judicial shenanigans and SCAF’s plotting, what kinds of powers the next president will and won’t have, US-Egypt relations, Salafi sex scandals and of course the infamous public service announcement warning against foreign spies that has been airing on Egyptian TV.
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If you have feedback, suggestions, questions or complaints, then get in touch with us at email@example.com and we’ll address your mail in the next episode.
- Excerpt of Josh Stacher’s Adaptable Autocrats.
- Short post on the court decisions that could impact the elections.
- MERIP editorial on Egypt-US relations: Into Egypt’s Uncharted Territory, Feb. 2011.
- Pete More’s MERIP article: Washington’s Bahrain in the Levant.
- Jason Brownlee’s article: The Transnational Challenge to Arab Freedom [PDF].
- Toby Jones’ article: America, Oil, and War in the Middle East.
- The infamous spy video.
- AP: Police accuse Egypt lawmaker of indecency.
- Ahram: Egypt’s revolution is in ‘intensive care’, says ElBaradei.
- AP: Official: Egypt’s Mubarak in critical condition.
In this edition of the Arabist Podcast, the first since the presidential election, we talk about the results, how the various candidates ranked, the dilemma facing the one-half of voters who did not vote for Morsi and Shafiq, and the negotiations underway for endorsements. In a break from Egypt, we discuss the terrible massacre at Houla, Syria and its consequences on the debate on international intervention. And we examine today's verdict from the Mubarak trial, what it means and how angry people are about it — and how it might influence the electoral calculus of the next two weeks.
- Sandmonkey - Don’t Blame the Copts!
- Sarah Carr - Behind the Sun | Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
The first round of Egypt's presidential elections are upon us. This week the regular gang is joined by two guests: former Arabist contributor Charles Levinson, who now is a Middle East correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, and Italian-Egyptian journalist Rolla Scolari — both of whom are old Egypt hands.
We've talked in previous podcasts about why the context for the election is flawed for multiple reasons. Now we focus about the pure politics: who's ahead, who's trailing, what we think will happen, and what the country can handle — and give an anti-endorsement.
There's 15 days left to the Egyptian presidential elections. We examine the insurgent campaign of Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, ask whether the Muslim Brothers are dangerously off-balance as they try to catch up, look at Amr Moussa's claim that he's the only candidate ready to be president on day one, and wonder whether the Abbaseya clashes and other factors contributing to Egypt's political instability could derail the elections or might simply continue even if there's a president.
- Aboul Fotouh stands up to Sadat
- David Kirkpatrick in NYT: "Candidates in Egypt Work to Mollify the Military"
- Amr Ezzat on residents versus revolutionaries
Sorry we've been away for so long: travel, work, and sheer confusion and mental exhaustion over the state of Egypt's politics prevented us from getting together sooner. But we're now back with a new podcast, catching up on Egypt's shaky transition and looking at the latest presidential election news — the disqualification of leading candidates, the ones who remain, and what it might take to win the race.
Do check out Ashraf Khalil's recent piece on the Muslim Brothers and Ursula Lindsey's look at Hazem Abu Ismail for The World. I wrote about the disqualification of the leading candidates for The National, with more comments in this blog post. Steve Negus has a smart take on the Brothers' loss in popularity in recent months here. And just a note to say that Syria is on our minds, even if professionally we've been focusing on Egypt. We hope to tackle that thorny subject soon.
Ashraf Khalil is back from his long book-promoting sojourn in Amreeka, and joins Ursula Lindsey and I to talk about the aftermath of the NGO crisis, politics and dissent in the United Arab Emirates, and the launch of presidential election season in Egypt. Sorry for the echoey sound as we're adjusting to new facilities.
We're back after an unexpectedly long absence (we moved Arabist HQ to a new secret location last week.) Our special guest in this episode, Aalam Wassef, was an underground guerrilla video artist and activist who went by the pseudonym Ahmed Sherif. He continues to make videos and launch activist projects under his real name, except now the target is SCAF rather than Mubarak. We discuss his work, the call for a general strike to boot SCAF out, Egypt's military-industrial complex and the NGO crisis between Cairo and Washington. I really think it's a fantastic episode.
- AalamWassef's Channel - YouTube
- Peer Evaluation : Home page
- Egypt's Military-Industrial Complex Exposed
- Egypt's Military Inc. & Privileges - Call for an open general strike - YouTube
- About Mosireen | مُصِرّين
- And remember to get your copy of Ashraf Khalil's Liberation Square!
In this episode, we discuss Mohamed ElBaradei's decision not to run for president Egypt, the preparations for Egypt's new parliament and for the anniversary of the January 25 uprising, which has divided those who want more revolution and those who favor stability. All through the lens of Ashraf Khalil's new book, Liberation Square.
Remember, you can send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org, and donate to keep this podcast going here.
- Issandr's posts and articles on ElBaradei: here and here
- Diaa Rashwan on ElBaradei
- Get Ashraf Khalil's Liberation Square on Amazon