The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged maps
Another update to football protests map

I went down to the area near the Ministry of Interior this morning (on both the protestors' side and the police's side) to see the new fortifications built in the last day or two. Two whole new concrete block walls have been built on Nubar St. and Mansour St., the main sites of confrontation in the last few days, but there were still a few hundred protestors shouting slogans against SCAF on Mohammed Mahmoud St. That makes it a total of four concrete walls blocking major Cairo thoroughfares, not counting the one on Mohammed Mahmoud St. that was destroyed a few days ago.

Above is the wall on Nubar St., where a nearby computer mall has its windows broken and its equipment gone (probably removed by the owners.)

This is the wall on Mansour St. which saw some of the most intense fighting. 

As this Ahram article notes, the police have gained the upper hand and returned the fighting to Mohamed Mahmoud, where it is faily contained. Of course large swathes of Downtown Cairo now look pretty apocalyptic, and local residents are not happy. I was talking to some people this morning and an elderly bearded man came who was pretty unhappy, and accused journalists like of making money off the pictures we take of all the fighting (which I suppose is true in a literal sense, but he meant it in terms of we're being paid to sully Egypt's image). I got out of there pretty quickly. No surprise that things are tense, and I'm sure the residents of Downtown Cairo think the protestors are hooligans.

This morning it was basically back to the situation in this last pic, taken two days ago, with uneasy tension between the police on the eastern side of Mohammed Mahmoud St. and the protestors from the Western side, leading to Tahrir. There have been multiple attempts at mediation that could still work, but I suspect it's not until we see some major political developments that the protests will ease. There are indications this is coming:

  • The Council of Advisors to SCAF is calling for early presidential elections and some of its members have resigned
  • MPs are increasingly also calling for early presidential elections, and signs of dissent on the issue have started among the FJP MPs – perhaps forcing the hand of the Muslim Brothers
  • An early presidential election should mean that the writing of the constitution will be for after the election, again removing some SCAF influence from the process
  • SCAF is making panicked moves that only seem to confirm its mistakes: moving Mubarak to a regular prison, separating the political prisoners from the former regime, imposing travel bans on personalities seen as close to the Mubaraks, etc.

The bottom line to all this is that SCAF appears to be losing credibility in the general public's eye – this is what an early presidential elections means – and hence its bargaining power is quite constrained. That's the case even if people will tire of protests. The danger at this point is that SCAF uses other issues, such as the prosecution of foreign NGOs, in order to divert attention away or even foment the conspiracy theory of a foreign hand being behind all the troubles. I don't think that Sam LaHood is about to be accused of being behind the Port Said stadium disaster, but unfortunately there is a lot of conspiracy theorizing on all sides – as if the football fans were not at least partly responsible for the disaster themselves, and only SCAF/regime remnants/invisible hands can be held responsible for things. This passing of the buck is a worrying aspect of the mentality of Egyptians on both sides of the revolution/stability divide, unfortunately. 

Map of Mansour St. protest (updated)

Speaking of the geography of the current street protests in Cairo, and my observations from this morning and this afternoon, here's a quick map that shows much of the city is now cordoned off.

Update: I've corrected some errors on the original map and added a couple of more details. See also this latest post on the fighting moving to Nubar Street, and some history of the names of these streets.

 

District-level Egypt referendum results

 

 

This a map of the results of the 19 March 2011 referendum by district. Some of the most populated governorates and districts of Egypt are the smallest, and these are the ones which tended to vote the most no. I put the file on Prezi so that you can zoom in and see the smaller districts easily. More maps and results will be available soon.
A New Map of Yemen?

In an attempt appease anti-government protestors Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has called for the drafting of a new constitution. Saleh has already announced he will step down in 2013. Reuters reports that Saleh has also announced a plan to "regroup Yemen's 22 provinces into larger regional blocs…this would allow wealthier provinces to support poorer ones." The move is in keeping with Saleh's interest in infrastructure development. Saleh has earned the moniker Ali al-Tariq or "Ali of the Road" for his drive to build new roads and other infrastructure projects  in Yemen. The anti-government opposition reacted negatively to this announcement seeing it as political gerrymandering. A map of Yemen's airports and coasts suggest that only four provinces currently are both landlocked and do not contain an airport. Two them are northern provinces where the Houthi rebellion against Saleh's government is located.

From an economic perspective Saleh's idea is an interesting one. Global development expert Paul Collier in his book The Bottom Billion notes that being a landlocked country is a poverty trap. The poorest countries in South America, Africa, and Asia are all landlocked. The problem also appears on domestic level as well. In the United States the landlocked states are poorer than the coastal ones. None of the Arab League members are ofcourse entirely landlocked. Saddam Hussein launched the Iran-Iraq war in part to ensure Iraq's continued access to the sea.  Yemen has remapped its provinces before ofcourse and it is not the only Arab state with landlocked provinces as this map makes clear.

Malice in the Palace

Above, the Three Stooges in "Malice in the Palace," in which they play waiters at the Café Casbah Bah, in some unnamed place in a fictional Middle East — a place called "Starvania". The map of this pseudo-Middle East is below, along with commentary from Strange Maps:

The map, shown briefly in the film, is of a continentful of countries with strange names and odd shapes, clearly designed to look and sound ‘foreign’. What does this ‘Map of Starvania’, designed merely for the purpose of unsophisticated comedy, unconsciously reveal of mid-20th-century America’s attitudes towards the exotic, the un-American?

Firstly, the name: Starvania. It continues the tradition of using vaguely latinate toponyms as shorthand for exotism. Previous examples include Ruritania, others are Syldavia and Borduria (all mentioned in #461). Intriguingly, by referring to ‘starvation’, this toponym may demonstrate a mental equation made by Americans between distance from their Land of Plenty and the incidence of famine (the greater the former, the likelier the latter). Considering that the Second World War had only recently ended, this might have indeed been a prevalent attitude in the US at the time.

Secondly, the shapes: The Great Mitten floating around to the left of the main continent is of course a reference to Michigan’s lower peninsula (see also #454). Maybe not foreign, but at least a funny shape. The main continent is a profile facing left, attached to the bottom is an Italy-shaped boot called Hot Foot. Italy being the Old Country of so many Americans must have figured prominently in any brain-storming session on ‘foreignness’.

Some of the foreign-looking names actually sound quite familiar; these are wordplays such as Isle Asker (“I’ll ask her”), Rubid-Din (“rub it in”), Cant Sea (“can’t see”) and the aforementioned Giva Dam (“give a damn”). Other plays on words, sounding less foreign, are Bay of Window (“bay window”), Corkscrew Strai(gh)ts (a corkscrew being the opposite of straight), and Hot Sea and Tot Sea (“hotsie totsie”, for something or someone pretty).

Other names are extended riffs on actual foreign toponyms: I-ran, He-ran, She-ran, They-ran and  Also-ran. Another set consists of Egypt, You-gypt and We-gypt (on the left, partly outside this image). The first set works a bit better than the second one, but both reflect an unfamiliarity with these foreign placenames.

starvania.png

Links for 07.18.09 to 07.20.09
Gambling with peace: how US bingo dollars are funding Israeli settlements | World news | The Guardian | More Moskowitz. There should be an international financial blockade against any institution involved in the settlements.
'U.S. tells Israel to halt East Jerusalem building' - Haaretz - Israel News | More on Irving Moskowitz's settlement plans.
Asma Al Assad: Syria's First Lady And All-Natural Beauty (SLIDESHOW) | HuffPo celebrates the beauty of Asma al-Assad. Never mind her hubby being a dictator and all...
WaPo bows cravenly to pro-Israel lobby | WaPo publishes inaccurate "correction" on Gilo settlement.
De “Freej” à “Hamdoon” : le dessin cartonne aux Emirats | On the spread of homegrown cartoon characters in the UAE.
French agents kidnapped in Somalia | Security trainers were posing as journalists and staying at journalists' hotel — can't say I feel any sympathy for them.
Publier ici votre bilan des dix de règne - Comme une bouteille jetée à la mer! | Larbi, one of the best Moroccan bloggers, is inviting readers to send in their assessment of the first 10 years of Muhammad VI's reign.
Breaking the silence | Soldiers’ Testimonies from Operation Cast Lead, Gaza 2009
Al-Ahram Weekly | Egypt | Cementing the rift via dialogue | Update on Egypt-brokered Palestinian reconciliation talks after Ramallah meeting, takes the position that Fatah is sabotaging talks for electoral purposes. But does not acknowledge Egypt's acquiescence in this plan.
The freegans' creed: waste not, want not | Environment | The Observer | Article on freeganism, i.e. eating free food that's been thrown away. Clearly only possible as a lifestyle in the first world.
Somaliland's addict economy | GlobalPost | About Qat (also spelled Khat, the drug) in Somaliland.
EGYPT: Poet accused of insulting Mubarak awaits final verdict | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times | Ridiculous.
OpenStreetMap | Not bad alternative to Google Maps. For Cairo not bad, but Google is more detailed and in Arabic. Still, good effort that might improve, and does not lock us in to the G-Man.
Revisiting Obama's Riyadh meeting | The Cable | So the idea that Obama came out empty-handed out of his pre-Cairo Speech meeting with Saudi King Abdullah is gaining ground. But it is ridiculous to imagine that Abdullah would pre-emptively agree to concessions before the Israelis have made even a single concession.
Egyptian chronicles: Ahmed Rushdie-Barely-Speaks For The First Time | Very interesting post on former Egyptian minister of interior Ahmed Rushdie, described here as the only minister of the Mubarak era to have resigned and the only interior minister who was respected. (I don't know how true this is, but it's interesting!)
International Crisis Group - 152 Sudan: Justice, Peace and the ICC | New ICG report on Sudan warns of laying off pressure on Khartoum over Darfur as focus shifts to the south and the CPA again. Among key recommendations to the ruling party is that Bashir should step down as soon as possible.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman Talks to Asharq Al-Awsat | Sharq al-Awsat interview, mostly on Syria. The Obama administration sure loves Saudi media.
Palestinians aim for massive pastry record Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | I'm all for building the world's largest ball of twine or baking the biggest kunafa, but the reporting on this is over the top.
Taboo Topics on Contemporary Foreign Policy Discourse | Stephen M. Walt | Excellent post on the Ten Commandments of foreign policy wonks. You could add plenty more, but I would add (as far as Egypt is concerned) "Thou shall greet yesterday's oppressor as today's reformer, or vice versa if appropriate." Walt makes so many good points it's hard to choose a favorite, although #9 is up there.