Below is a summary of the above video of Egypt's Minister of Defense / military leader Abdelfattah al-Sisi addressing officers about Egypt's current situation yesterday.
Al-Sisi started off saying that he called for talks between the MB and the opposition back in November. The SCAF was not interested in leading these talks, they only called for them out of fear that "the disagreement between the elders would eventually trickle down to the Egyptian people, (leading) to deep polarization. (That's why) we said sit down and talk it out.
"I never failed, and I never hesitated to, give the president sincere and honest advice throughout this whole year," he said, enunciating every word. However, no one's vision of a state includes a siege of the constitutional court, or a siege of the Media Production City.
"No," he said, laughing to himself. "There is a great, patriotic army here. Do remember my words, when I said that the Egyptian army is patriotic. A patriotic army. An army for Egypt and Egyptians, not for someone else." He went on to say that the people's freedom of choice should not be subject to religious manipulation.
"(No one) can say: it's sharia or something else. No. It's a experiment of governance, if it succeeded, then you succeeded, and if it failed, then you failed. You can't say that this is religion (referring to Morsi's rule) and that those (meaning the opposition) are people who are fighting religion," he elaborated.
Egypt is at a crossroads, he said, we must choose and no one can dictate to us our actions and no one can force anything on us. The SCAF acted on behalf of the people, but it is not their guardian and it can not dictate them, he added.
"Even though the circumstances have forced the SCAF to get close to the political process, it only did so because the people called for it," he said. The people did so after realizing that "their army" is capable of putting Egypt on the right track.
"The SCAF never sought out this mission and it never asked for it. It preferred, and still does, to stay faithful to its beliefs and principles with the people and stay committed to its role," without overreaching or overstepping, he went on to say that the place of the armed forces is now known and clear in the modern world and no party has the right to drag into complications, which might prove to be too much to handle.
"We have no reservations. We only ask for one thing. That those who protest to protest peacefully and not resort to violence or harm others," he added, before specifically telling someone in the audience that "when you are one side, and there is someone on the other side, don't forget that the other side has rights, which you need to keep in mind, regardless of whether or not you approve their practices."
By minute five, a slightly chubby soldier stood up to compliment the Gen. for his statement on July 3, which made Egyptians very happy. "They have needed that happiness for years and months," he concluded before they cut to another soldier, who wanted to express the pride he feels every day in the knowledge that he is a soldier and that Gen. al-Sisi is in charge. Then another soldier got up to reaffirm the soldiers' dedication to defend Egypt with him.
The video then cuts to al-Sisi pointing a finger and saying: "If you don't find a way to neutralize your opposition force, as a leader; then step down."
He went on to address Morsi personally: "You have entered into a conflict with the judiciary, and you have entered into a conflict with the media, and you have entered into a conflict with the civilian police, and you have entered into a conflict with public opinion, and you also entered into a conflict with the SCAF, and you are some of them (referring to the audience) and you can withstand fire, and withstand iron...but (you) get hurt by words. You get insulted, and insults in the Egyptian military is an affront to the national pride. We can't take it," he explained.
He ended his speech with a smile, saying: "Egypt is the mother of the world and it will be as big as the world."
The above map of from Eric Schewe's blog, which has some great analysis of the presidential election and much else. It's a great blog for Egypt nerds. He writes of the map and the data behind it:
The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood count from June 18 and the official state count were so close gives me confidence that, while votes may have been illegitimately influenced by actions outside the polling booth, that the polls themselves were relatively fairly conducted. This means this body of data is the first reliable indication ever of Egyptians’ preferences over a very stark binary choice for the direction of the state: Islamism or “Feloul” (old-regime) revanchism. Obviously, many Egyptians went out to vote AGAINST either choice, but the geographical distribution of the result shows very strong regional tendencies, raising interesting questions about voters’ overall motives.
Getting this kind of data and spreading will lead, over time, in a quantum leap in how we understand Egyptian politics. Of course it needs to be combined with new data added over time and knowledge of local-level dynamics. But at long last, we have a base based on an electoral process that was reasonably free and fair.
Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the first round of the presidential election, surfs the crowds gathered to protest the Mubarak trial verdict.
Found through Betsy Hiel — we don't know who the photographer is. (Update: Reader Tine Lavent writes in - "According to al Masry al Youm photographer Virginie Nguyen, the photo of Hamdeen Sabahi was taken by Mohammed Salem for REUTERS.")
I also love this one by Hossam El-Hamalawy, which is actually from last September, but very a propos. The sign says, "Down with the next president."
Google has a nice doodle today celebrating the 138th birthday of Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb of King Tut and other goodies.
This mural was painted a few days ago on the wall blocking Sheikh Rihan Street, at the corner of the American University in Cairo. There are still at least half a dozen cinder-block barriers cutting off streets in Downtown Cairo -- most notably the major artery of Kasr Al Aini Street. Many of the walls block the way to the Ministry of Interior (after clashes between demonstrators trying to reach the ministry and police). Others just block the way to Tahrir Square, create enormous traffic jams, and seem part of the ruling generals' general passive-aggressive strategy of making life in Egypt as uncomfortable as possible right now ("how do you like that whole revolution thing now?"). No one knows, but at this point it looks likely that the streets will remain closed until after the presidential elections. They are a spectacularly apt metaphor for the short-sighted heavy-handedness and senseless obstruction that has characterized the military leadership's handling of the transition.
And this artwork is a sweet reminder that the current barriers won't last forever.
My former neighbor, Miguel Angel Sanchez, is featured by the NYT's photography blog. I've been talking to Miguel about his project for years, and stupidly have not yet taken up his offer of a portrait. Check out the slideshow here.
On the right, Amm Rabia, a super-friendly bawaab on our street, now immortalized.
Miguel will be exhibiting the photos starting next week — here are the details:
Date:Sunday,December 11, 2011 Time: 7 PM
Venue: Palace of Arts, Cairo Opera House
Exhibition will be running from December 11, 2011 until January 9, 2012
This picture is circulating on Facebook. Sometimes it takes a disaster to move people to take a stance against injustice.