Opinion – Daily News Egypt https://dailynewsegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:32:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Baheya foundation honors Hend Sabry’s latest TV shows  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/13/baheya-foundation-honors-hend-sabrys-latest-tv-shows/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/13/baheya-foundation-honors-hend-sabrys-latest-tv-shows/#respond Tue, 13 Jun 2017 10:00:25 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=628889 Actress Hend Sabry Baheya has been honoured by the Foundation for Early Detection and Treatment of Breast Cancer for her latest role in Halawyet El donia. The role spotlights the process of cancer treatment in Egypt, and raises awareness on different forms of the disease, The Sohour charity event was attended by several public figures, …

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Actress Hend Sabry Baheya has been honoured by the Foundation for Early Detection and Treatment of Breast Cancer for her latest role in Halawyet El donia. The role spotlights the process of cancer treatment in Egypt, and raises awareness on different forms of the disease,

The Sohour charity event was attended by several public figures, with the motto of the night as “Today’s Dream is Tomorrow’s Reality.”

On the TV show Sabry plays the role of Salma El- Shamaa, who goes for regular checkup shortly before her marriage only to discover that she suffers from late stage leukemia. After the initial shock she begins to reshape her life and falls into an unexpectedly love story.

The foundation has always held the event to honour the cast and crew of TV series for their roles in raising cancer awareness and supporting patients.

The series is unique in their use of an actual cancer recovery patient, Yasmin Gheith, who plays a similar role on the show. The series stars are Dhafer L’Abidine, Mostafa Fahmy, Anoushka, Hanan Motawie and Hany Adel and was directed by Hussien El Menbawy.

Since it aired Halawet Al Dounia has received wide acclaim, especially among Egyptian women. Breast cancer is considered one of the most widespread forms of cancer in Egypt. When the fourth episode aired, hashtags for Hend Sabry and Halawat Al Dounia were among the top trending hashtags on Twitter.

 

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A politicised Cannes Festival reflects on immigration crisis  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/05/politicised-cannes-festival-reflects-immigration-crisis/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/05/politicised-cannes-festival-reflects-immigration-crisis/#respond Mon, 05 Jun 2017 10:00:10 +0000 http://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=627862 Some of the films can be considered explicit messages to world leaders in hope of reconsidering policies related to refugees

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One of the heated topics that dominated debates in this year’s French elections was the refugee question. Days after the news of the winning of French president Emmanuel Macron, the Cannes Film Festival started with a politicised lineup that has attempted to tackle critical contemporary issues: women in film industry, environment, new forms of production in the cinema scene, and the immigrant crisis. However, the question of unorganised immigration and the humanitarian stories of people in this process, which is arguably the most critical and dangerous, had a lion share and was represented and deconstructed in several films and mediums during the festival.

A standout in the festival, with a braver discourse, was the debut documentary of Vanessa Redgrave, named Sea Sorrow, which directly calls upon statesmen and politicians to intervene to end the crisis by bluntly demanding to aid and foster young immigrants seeking refuge in Europe. Redgrave, an 80-year-old Academy award actor and political activist, has been a supporter of refugee rights and is using her documentary to warn of child refugees who fall victim to extremist discourse, human traffickers, or criminal activities in general.

The documentary briefly aims to survey the history of the crisis. Redgrave does not shy away from using her personal trauma as a child witnessing the Blitzkrieg in the Second World War. Sea Sorrow didn’t necessarily care about style as much as content, something that left it with little praise from critics, who argued that activism has confused the structure of the dense work.

Sea Sorrow

However, we can say that the style of the film has gone Shakespearian. Redgrave, a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, has utilised William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” to draw the connotation. In the play, the exiled Duke of Milan tells his daughter about the suffering when he escaped. For the western audience, who are showered with hard TV reports and documentaries about Syrians and Africans drowning in boats on the coast of Italy and Greece, Sea Sorrow shows a different approach of giving context to the crisis—personal, but effective.

Sometimes political rhetoric needs art to be more efficient. Sea Sorrow is an example, to deconstruct the shameful positions of governments towards the crisis that they somehow created.

In another context, two short films in the main competition tackled the question of immigration. The first was Fiona Godivier’s “Across My Land”, which brilliantly portrays the other side of the struggle by showing one night in the life of an American family at the Mexican border in their daily routine: a young girl plays with her dolls, a teenage boy is taught by his father how to assemble a machine gun, and a wife cooking dinner and sleeping in front of the TV set. The father and his boy take a trip to join other armed civilian “border watchers” to hunt down Mexican immigrants, but this backfires in a dramatic way as the film develops.

The film intends to show a normal, “stable”—even peaceful—American life, and how it can produce such antagonism and organised hatred towards another group of people.

Simplicity in Godivier’s film urges viewers to think more than to just consume the visual product of the film: why/how could such a beautiful family be part of this wider system of operation? Is it the lack of gun control? Is it white supremacy? Is it the negligence of the government? Is it the radicalism of popular culture?

But as Godivier argues, such radicalism eventually backfires, even if done unintentionally. The usage of “my land” in the film is very suitable with the ongoing calls to build walls around so-called privileged countries in order to restrict other individuals from more unfortunate countries, even if the privileged has, in many ways, caused the unfortunate to be what he is.

Another short was Mehdi Felifel’s “Drowning Man”. An unemployed and unregistered Palestinian refugee in Greece agrees (more of having no choice) to be abused, either by his fellow refugees or Greek locals. One fellow immigrant asks him to steal sneakers from a department store in return for money. The shoe is so big, so the deal is not done. The protagonist walks around with the box of shoes and faces other abuses until he gets some money to eat. Afterwards, we see footage of the box floating on the sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the camera follows the shoebox, I remember the writings of French film critic Serge Daneh about the new cinema coming out of Europe after the Second World War. Take for example Alain Resnais’ “Night and Fog” about concentration camps in Nazi Germany. The film does not show the process of killing or oppression of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Communists, opposition, and others. It, however, shows what has remained of these places: the railways, the doors, the empty bunkers where hundreds used to sleep away the pain of slavery.

The same is with Felifel’s “Drowning Man”: showing the floating shoe box in the sea is more powerful and thought provoking.

And speaking of thought provoking, we should mention Kornel Mundruczo’s “Jupiter’s Moon”, which depicts an action/drama about a Syrian refugee trying to cross the Hungarian border with his family, only to be shot by a racist cop. A doctor who works in a refugee camp, who sometimes makes profit of the immigrants’ miseries by accepting bribes to help them escape, meets the Syrian refugee who was shot, only to find that the man has special powers.

The plot escalates as the doctor abuses the powers of the refugee and manages to profit out of it. But this backfires, as the refugee gets involved in a terrorist attack, which leaves dozens dead, and is then hunted down by the police. The doctor and the refugee become wanted by the police, losing the sympathy of many people who previously helped them.

The political connotation here is very interesting. Mundruczo’s argument is that European governments (played by the doctor), filled with guilt from what is happening in the Middle East, are allowing refugees (played by the Syrian refugee) in only to benefit from them both financially and politically (referring to the superpowers of the character).

This exploitative relationship, however, eventually ends, when some of these refugees are radicalised and commit terrorist attacks. This leads to more extremist and racist forces (the security apparatus hunting down the Syrian boy), with no differentiation or sympathy, and leads also to losing the support of people who once helped refugees, after they realise that their everyday life might be endangered.

The discourse in “Jupiter’s Moon”, as director Mundruczo put it, is not just about the problem in Hungary but about the question of immigrants in Europe.

Another film was Fatih Akin’s “Aus Dem Nichts” (In the Fade), which takes on the struggle of an immigrant to seek justice and avenge her family, within the umbrella of the law or outside it. The film points out that due to the prejudice, victims of assault can be looked at as the perpetrators, only because they are immigrants.

Filmgoers and guests at Cannes were also given the opportunity to witness an extraordinary virtual reality experience. Directed by four-time Oscar-winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Carne y Arena” (Flesh and Sand) gave the audience a sense of terror of what it feels like to cross the Mexican border as an immigrant.

In the screening halls of Cannes, with the attendance of hundreds of journalists, critics, producers, filmmakers, and artists, these films among others were screened, giving space for the conversation about the immigration question worldwide in all its humane angles, not just from the oppressed point of view, and not just the Middle East crisis.

The question/hope remains whether the films can assist in raising our consciousness of our surroundings, with the attempt to create more dialogue, acceptance, solidarity, and resistance. I always remember the famous words of Communist Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci when he wrote in 1929 that he is “a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” The discussed films are brave to tackle and openly express the pessimism over the immigrant crisis, and the shameful position of world leaders towards it, but the films should also act as a starting point for more activism.

After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the rise of militancy against occupation forces, the Pentagon held a screening of “The Battle of Algiers”, with the objective of giving security officials a sense of how to counter guerrilla warfare in conflict-torn Iraq. Obviously that didn’t work and militancy has reached its highest peaks, and the occupation became more and more oppressive and violent. Some might argue that had former US president George W. Bush and his aides learned anything from the film, we might have had a different Iraq and a different Middle East.

With the Cannes films expected to be screened later in different parts of the world and to diverse audiences, which is the purpose of the very professional film festival, one can only hope that the films could also act as explicit messages to world leaders.

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Yusuf Sameh Alaraby: martyr of chaos, negligence, recklessness, and absence of law https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/04/yusuf-sameh-alaraby-martyr-chaos-negligence-recklessness-absence-law/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/04/yusuf-sameh-alaraby-martyr-chaos-negligence-recklessness-absence-law/#comments Sun, 04 Jun 2017 09:30:21 +0000 http://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=627742 "Dance him to heaven" were the sad mother’s, Marwa Kennawy, last words, lamenting her 14-year-old only child, Youssef, paying him farewell for the last time before burying him

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While Yusuf Alaraby, a 14 year-old–boy, was hanging out with his friends as usual on his way back home, suddenly, in the middle of a crowded street, he fell to the ground—a victim to a stray bullet that struck him directly in the head.

His friends, as young and innocent as him, were horrified and did not hear any gunshots in the vicinity; they only saw their little beloved friend who was just talking and laughing with them drowning in his own blood! Just like that—after a stray bullet caused him to lose consciousness! The ambulance took him to the nearest hospital to where the accident took place, “October University Hospital.”

After Youssef was transferred to the hospital and his condition had been examined, doctors told his mother, human rights activist Marwa Kennawy, that her son’s heart has completely stopped, that he was put on the ventilator after he had suffered a complete coma, and that he is waiting for a divine miracle. The mother didn’t give up hope, day and night praying to God for eleven days that her only child gets up and recover; however, sadly after the incident, the young boy, who was full of life and hope, died. All attempts to rescue him failed. Youssef died on Monday, and his funeral was held at Al-Hossari Mosque.

Well known for his patriotism, Youssef died and left his mother suffering the bitterness of his loss.

The question still remains: who guarantees that this incident will not be repeated again involving another innocent soul and destroying another family.

The sovereignty of the law and the justice in applying it on everybody is the only guarantee for a secure and stable life for all citizens.

Three of the five defendants were arrested; they confessed and admitted they were shooting bullets happily while celebrating the wedding of one of them, carelessly killing Youssef and wounding another girl who was in the vicinity as well.

One of the fugitives accused is an officer called T.M. Abu Talib, the son of major general Mohammed Amin Abu Talib, the former Beni Suef security director.

The second fugitive is the son of the current deputy secretary of the Defence and National Security Committee, general Ahmed Abdul Talawab.

We all demand promptly arresting the fugitives no matter who they are, putting them on trial, and quickly punishing them. That is the least we can do for his mother who will never see her beloved son again.

This terrible incident occurred as a result of negligence, recklessness, and misuse of weapons, with no care for the lives of people and children. For more than 12 days now, the fugitives did not turn themselves in to the authorities in charge of the case, nor were they arrested or interrogated. Therefore, we must all continue to press for this to happen and wait for justice to take its course.

Who is going to compensate this bereaved mother for her lost son? Who is going to compensate his family and friends?

Every day, innocent lives are wasted due to negligence and the feeling that some citizens are above the law. Until when will a bunch of corrupted beneficiaries wreak havoc without being accounted for their shameful actions that cause the destruction of a whole family, a whole country?

We have to press and demand fiercely through each and every media platform that Youssef’s killers be subject to trials and be convicted. We must never give up demanding justice for everybody; we should insist on purifying our country from some of the corrupted officials in charge, those who adopt the policy of negligence and the trend of being above the law. Youssef’s killers must be subjected to trial; only then can we declare that we live in a country that respect all citizens equally; only then can we feel that we repaid Youssef and every Youssef in this country their dues.

Youssef’s right will remain our debt to his mum, who will never rest until she sees justice taking its course. And until then, may Youssef’s soul rest in peace and his mother be granted patience and solace.

Sahar Qassem is a former radio announcer and news editor, and a freelance translator

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On the sidelines of “Belt and Road” https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/04/sidelines-belt-road/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/04/sidelines-belt-road/#respond Sun, 04 Jun 2017 09:00:24 +0000 http://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=627740 Egypt knocks on doors of Chinese dragon…7 steps to activate strategic partnerships

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China is better, even if it is far. This sentence is still valid, and the Chinese dragon woke up again. The dragon explored its “old cards” and restored “the Silk Road” not for nostalgia, but to win the battle of the future.

The Chinese elite want to win this battle without waging a war. Chinese president Chi Jinping has chosen the “Belt and Road” initiative to be China’s way of winning the future. Certainly, many countries in the west, especially the USA, do not believe in these moves, as Beijing probably has a different vision and style. They prefer “strategic patience” rather than “rushing”—building now to harvest in the future.

We have to remember that China was patient in restoring Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan; however, it could restore them by force. The leaders of Beijing chose to wait at the border of the river until the “bodies of their enemies” came floating to them. Hence, China chose a set of vital points in its strategy, including six vital sea lanes, most notably the Suez Canal. It also chose “strategic countries” to form an alliance that would be strengthened over time.

I think the Chinese elite is aware that Egypt is in the middle of the golden triangle of the three major continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, which was described by Soviet foreign minister Gromyko as the great prize in the Middle East! In the present time, Egypt is the leader of the Arab World and one of the coming tigers with great gas and renewable energy resources. Egypt can reach 1.6 billion people benefiting from the Free Trade Agreements. But how can we benefit from the strategic relationship with the Chinese dragon? So far, the answer is “unsatisfactory”, as China’s trade balance is not good, investments are not big, and Chinese tourism is low.

In short, the distance between desire and reality—not capacity—is still wide! I participated in the Belt and Road Forum to search for some answers to this common “desire” between the Egyptian and Chinese sides.

During the forum, Wang Gangi, the vice chairperson of the Chinese International Publishing Group, stressed the keenness of his country to cooperate with Egypt. Gangi and his colleagues asserted during the meetings their interest to cooperate with Al-Ahram Association—one of the largest publishing houses in the east. They discussed ways of cooperation, through the exchange of publications and holding exhibitions, cultural weeks, and training sessions, etc.

Calming conflicts

All what we have is just asking a question of whether China is ready to work hard on calming the conflicts, especially in the Middle East and Africa. It is a vital question that comes in response to the Chinese president’s assertion that some areas located on the old silk road are now linked to conflicts, turmoils, crises, and challenges.

Jinping said that “these conditions should not be allowed to continue.” He provided the solution to the current situation by promoting common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security, and by creating a secure environment that is built and shared by all.

“I think that the ‘Chinese recipe’ is creating common interests that are tempting to go beyond the bitterness of the past,” Jinping stated. However, the Middle East and Africa, and some of the old bitterness between Pakistan and India, overshadow the Chinese projects in Pakistan! Most likely, we should try hard, and Cairo should cooperate with Beijing in Africa.

I think that Egypt should have a “bigger share” of the trade and infrastructure networks linking Asia with Europe and Africa, because this is what it has done over the past years. It has enhanced this through the Suez Canal—Egypt’s gift to the world—and the most critical artery for international trade.

In an interview with the Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry, Tarek Kabil, he explained that Egypt is ready to receive “huge investments” and that it focuses on the engineering industries (most notably the automotive industry), chemical industries, textiles, garment industries, and building materials industry. He pointed out that Egypt wants part of the cake of the ready-made clothes and textiles that are exported outside China.

In an open statement, Kabil said that he emphasised to the Chinese side during the talks on the importance of implementing the priority projects agreed upon. These are 18 projects in the fields of energy, transportation, and industry. I think the man was clear about China’s poor investment in Egypt.

The negotiations between the Egyptian delegation, which included Kabil; Sahar Nasr, the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation; representatives of the ministries of transport and electricity; and the vice chairperson of the Suez Canal Development Authority, were encouraging.

The cooperation and dialogue should continue. The Chinese company aims to make Egypt the largest country in the world in the field of fibreglass. They also talked about investments in the construction of new cities and projects of electricity and building materials.

Meetings were busy, but what about the other aspect of the relationship, namely tourism?!

One of the most important points was attracting 10 million Chinese tourists to Egypt, and I learned that the matter is already under study at the highest levels. I know that this is being discussed with the Chinese side, because the trade balance is in China’s favour and the matter of Chinese tourism to Egypt may be one of the areas where we can boost our exports to China.

In an interview with the Egyptian journalist and a foreign expert in Xinhua News Agency, Mohamed Mazen—who has been living in Beijing for years—said, “we can do that.” However, he acknowledged the lack of Chinese knowledge of Egypt, and the dominant idea is the Pyramids only!

Mazen offered a series of measures: the establishment of an Egyptian tourist year in China, as Turkey will do next year, and the use of unconventional ideas to attract Chinese tourists .

He also suggested enhancing the cooperation with the travel agencies, because the Chinese tourist cares about the language, the cost, and visa procedures. Therefore, we should benefit from social media as a tool to attract Chinese tourists, and we must focus on popular applications, such as “Wichat”, as sharing special moments attracts friends and family, and Egypt should focus on inviting public figures and celebrities as well.

Mazen said that the Chinese president’s visit to Luxor at the beginning of the Egyptian cultural year played a role in attracting Chinese tourists to Egypt.

The most important thing is to lay the foundations for a new strategic relationship between Egypt and China, and I think there are seven bases we can start with.

First: A joint strategic dialogue is needed to formulate a future vision on major strategic interests.

Second: A common strategy to settle conflicts in the Middle East.

Third: An anti-terrorism plan to put an end to extremism that threatens the Middle East and the world.

Fourth: The relationship between Egypt and China should rely on new foundations. The historical relations are very important, but the most important now is to set new foundations that meet aspirations of the new generations. “The Battle of Development” and “The Great Revival” should be the cornerstone of Egyptian relations with any country.

Fifth: The energy supplies witness major changes. The gas market went global, similar to the oil market, so the stability of these markets and supply routes have a direct impact on global growth and prosperity.

Sixth: It is very clear that China’s trade and economic interests in the Middle East in general and Egypt in particular are very large. Hence, more talks are needed to maximise the common interests of China and Egypt.

Seventh: The relations between people is very important, so we must promote cultural exchange and achieve the dream of increasing Chinese tourists to Egypt to five million people as soon as possible.

All these plans depend on the willingness of the parties. When we have the desire, the path would inevitably exist.

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Egypt needs huge investments and 10 million tourists https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/28/egypt-needs-huge-investments-10-million-tourists/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/28/egypt-needs-huge-investments-10-million-tourists/#comments Sun, 28 May 2017 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thedailynewsegypt.com/?p=626986 During my participation in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, I have seen and heard many things that I have heard before, but the vital question here is: how could we activate the strategic relationship between Egypt and China? I think the relations of the two countries are weird. A senior Egyptian official …

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During my participation in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, I have seen and heard many things that I have heard before, but the vital question here is: how could we activate the strategic relationship between Egypt and China? I think the relations of the two countries are weird. A senior Egyptian official told me that Chinese investments in Egypt are less than Yemen’s! I told him that I was surprised to know that Thailand is the largest Asian investor in Egypt. Moreover, the number of Chinese tourists who come to Egypt does not exceed 180,000, out of 120 million Chinese tourists worldwide.

I was also surprised that there was no Arab leader at the summit held on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, which included 28 leaders, notably Vladimir Putin. I think that the Chinese side has the right to be deeply disturbed by the absence of Arabs. There was a strong debate over western confusion and the problems of the Belt and Road Initiative, as the Chinese side has been forced to change the name several times as a result of claims that “China attempts to dominate the world” or “a new way to plunder the wealth of developing countries.”

I think Beijing needs to exert more effort and increase its investments in Egypt so as to gain more friends who appreciate its efforts. Egypt is one of the first countries to join the initiative. I think that Egypt can dispel the doubts of developing countries, especially African ones, and work with Beijing in mega projects on a multilateral scale, as it does with Japan. Egypt should set a successful model as the Suez Canal is one of the six main axes of China’s project. I think that Egypt is really the “Silk Road Gate” as it was described in the Egyptian investment summit, held in Beijing on the sidelines of the forum.

I think China really understands the importance of Egypt, but it has not yet realised that Egypt changed after two revolutions and that Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is a popular leader who has an “ambitious project” and not enough time to turn his hopes into reality.

The current Egyptian situation obliges the Egyptian leadership to deal with serious investment partners, whether the United States, Japan, South Korea, or even Taiwan. There is now a long line of countries willing to establish a “fruitful partnership” with Egypt. These powers understand the importance of Egypt. The Chinese speakers from major Chinese companies and institutions in the Egyptian Investment Summit held on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum praised the historical relationship between Cairo and Beijing. They all know that Egypt is the gate of the golden triangle, which includes the countries that signed the free trade and partnership agreements with Egypt, whether in the European Union, Africa, or Arab countries. A representative of one of the largest Chinese companies said, “they do not see other powerful nations in Africa but Egypt. He asked me to keep it as a secret because his company was negotiating over the largest project ever seen on the African continent. He promised that we would meet in Cairo soon to complete our dialogue because they would be attending further negotiations in Egypt.

I think the new thing in the game is that Egypt is actually negotiating well, and the ministers do not spend their time abroad for fun, because they know very well that the Egyptian political leadership expects certain results. It may explain why only the ministers of trade, industry, and investment attended the forum, while the other six ministers that were to take part in it did not travel.

I believe that Minister of Trade Tarik Kabil revealed some messages that indicate that the Chinese side understands the situation in Egypt has changed, referring to the decline of Chinese investments in Cairo. The minister expressed Egypt’s desire to obtain a large part of the advantages of the Belt and Road initiative, mainly the spinning and weaving industry that China wants to transfer abroad because of its inability to compete.

Beautiful statements are no longer sufficient. Egypt now needs huge investments, labour-intensive projects, and millions of tourists. Egypt wants more than 10 million Chinese tourists. It is no secret that Cairo evaluates ​​its relations with others on all levels.

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Polezni Durak and the summit of Riyadh https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/28/polezni-durak-summit-riyadh/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/28/polezni-durak-summit-riyadh/#comments Sun, 28 May 2017 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.thedailynewsegypt.com/?p=626983 “Escape to the front” is one of the tactical plans known in war, politics, and economy. Tactics are flexible plans​ to achieve a partial goal that responds to the moment’s data and necessities. Tactics are also a kind of maneuver to improve one’s own position, whether it’s executed by a state, a government, or a …

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“Escape to the front” is one of the tactical plans known in war, politics, and economy. Tactics are flexible plans​ to achieve a partial goal that responds to the moment’s data and necessities. Tactics are also a kind of maneuver to improve one’s own position, whether it’s executed by a state, a government, or a president. Tactics are considered a successful method when it serves the strategy, which is a comprehensive plan to reach the final goals of deliberate and specific goals that target the future’s aspirations.

Donald Trump, in his visit to the region, is escaping to the front from the problems and complexities of US politics and internal problems that have surrounded him. He has come in danger after he sacked FBI director James Comey when he was close to implicating the US president and his men in an investigation regarding their relations with the Kremlin and Russian intelligence, who are accused of interfering in the presidential elections in November 2016.

According to the Washington Post, he revealed sensitive intelligence information about ISIS to the Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in the Oval Office. This added up with the growing accusations to Rod Jay Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general of the United States at the department of justice, to appoint Robert Mueller as a special investigator, in circumstances similar to what happened with former US president Nixon during the Watergate scandal that led to his resignation.

Perhaps these repercussions took a long time to interact in the US political and intelligence circles and struck a cordon around president Trump and his administration for the past two months, even before the visits of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to Washington.

It is also the same crisis that forced Trump to accept the resignation of his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and suspend the appointment of his White House strategist Stephen Bannon to the National Security Council.

Hence our reading of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with the leaders of the Islamic countries—along with his attempt to mobilise the region to serve his policies and help him get rid of his crises—as a tactical move to “escape to the front”, searching for free meals paid by the Gulf countries—led by  Saudi Arabia, but how?

Quoting the American newspaper headlines: “what can Trump achieve in Riyadh?”

Trump’s visit to Riyadh and the region seems ambitious in terms of geography, politics, and economics, but it will not make breakthroughs in the complicated issues, according to Simon Henderson, director of the Washington Institute’s Gulf and Energy Policy Program.

The political commentator on Israeli Channel 2, Audi Siegel, said that Trump will demand Arab rulers to lift the ban on travel of Israelis to Arab countries and allow direct flights to and from Tel Aviv, cooperate in the telecommunications sector, and open more channels of free trade, allowing Israeli sports and arts teams to participate in the international and regional events organised in the Arab countries.

On the contrary to what the Palestinian Authority leadership and the Arab rulers are betting on, the new US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, revealed that Trump, who calls for “the deal of the century”, has no plan to achieve it.

Friedman denied in an interview with the Israeli​ Hayom newspaper and its Arabic translation that Israel is required to make any concessions in order to achieve a settlement to the conflict—not even freezing the construction of the settlements.

As you see, it is a free meal for Trump and Israel at the expense of the Arabs. It is his adventure to summon Baghdad and Nuri al-Said allies under the name “Arabian Nato” to justify the consumption of the region’s potentials and the surplus of its oil revenues in a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites, which Trump and Israel would benefit from. It’s a project that we can never allow to happen.

I think that the Egyptian leadership, which has refused to enter the quagmire of Yemen or to divide Syria and change the regimes by armed force, cannot agree to revive the policy of alliances dropped by Egypt in the fifties under its then-leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. Egypt can’t agree on that today with President Al-Sisi, as we see him smarter than that.

Here is the question: If so, why did Al-Sisi participate in Trump’s meeting?

The answer is, it’s Egypt’s role and circumstances that drive it to cooperate, participate, and play its cards. It is not prudent for the president not to accept the Saudi king’s call and Trump’s telephone call last Monday expressing his interest in meeting in Riyadh.

The delegations accompanying the two sides discussed arrangements for combating terrorism.

Al-Sisi might know how to manage and use Trump’s impulsiveness to be useful in serious cooperation and shifting some of his tactics to serve the region.

Read with me what was published by the Washington Post on Wednesday about the former National Security Ageny (NSA)/Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director and current professor at George Mason University, Michael Hayden, who named Donald Trump “Polezni Durak”, or Useful Idiot in the Russian language, used during the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

Hayden used the name to refer to the vision of Russian president Vladimir Putin to use Trump’s foolishness to serve Russia’s interests in the world. Ruling America is a new experiment for Trump, and he is one of the least experienced presidents in American history.

If American specialists see their president this way, why aren’t we alerted?

Arabs should know that Trump is not a trustworthy partner and friend, and they shouldn’t invite him or his ally “Israel” for such expensive free meals that our future generations will definitely pay for, both in their present and future.

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Limitations of illusion and cheap propaganda https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/17/limitations-illusion-cheap-propaganda/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/17/limitations-illusion-cheap-propaganda/#comments Wed, 17 May 2017 08:00:09 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=625692 Give me my freedom, release my hands Indeed, I’ve given you yours and did not try to retain anything Ah, your chains have bloodied my wrists I haven’t kept them, nor have they spared me Why do I keep promises that you do not honour? When will this captivity end, when the world is before …

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Give me my freedom, release my hands
Indeed, I’ve given you yours and did not try to retain anything
Ah, your chains have bloodied my wrists
I haven’t kept them, nor have they spared me
Why do I keep promises that you do not honour?
When will this captivity end, when the world is before us?

This was how Om Kolthoum sang Ibrahim Nagy’s poem Al Atlal” (The Ruins). While I was looking at Alexandria’s angry sea, I was stunned by the words when Om Kolthoum said, “your chains have bloodied my wrists” and “why do I keep promises that you do not honour?”

Maybe she voluntarily left herself in this illusionary captivity, which she could free herself from, especially that her lover is keeping her captive without anything in return. What I found weird, though, was how she asked for her freedom instead of actually practising it. I then stopped the song.

My thinking took me to a traditional story, a paradox of the famous character, Djoha.

The stories about Djoha and his donkey are genius, probably made up by people to offer cynical humour inspired by life’s stories to criticise authorities in discreet mockery, at a time when the price of overt mockery was getting killed and imprisoned.

If you look back at the history of most of the older civilisations, you will find Djohas in Istanbul, Anatolia, Rome, Baghdad, Iran, Armenia, Bulgaria, Kurdistan, India, and China. Wherever there were tyrannical rulers, people’s wrists were tied by chains that bloodied them and spoiled their lives.

I thought of one of the stories told by people about Djoha. The story said that a farmer went to Djoha to ask him for a rope to tie his donkey in front of his house. Djoha did not have a rope, but he gave advice to the farmer, saying, “you have to make this donkey think that you tie his neck with a rope. Pretend you tied him, and this donkey will not leave his place. That is what I did several times with my donkey who eventually believed the trick.”

The farmer listened to Djoha’s advice. The next day he found his donkey right where he left him. The farmer patted the donkey and moved him to take him to the field; however, the donkey refused to move. The farmer tried relentlessly until he felt despair.

He returned to Djoha to ask for his advice. He asked him, “did you pretend untying the donkey?”

The farmer responded, “it was not a tie.”

Djoha said, “but the donkey thought he was tied.” The man returned and pretended to unfasten the rope, so the donkey moved with him deliberately.

It inspired me an unfair comparison between the chain of “Ruins” and the chains of “Djoha’s donkey”. There is no big difference between what happens in the wild and in the world of humans. We do not mean to compare the donkey to nations and people. We want to say that the people may fall under false pretenses that restrict their minds and seize their souls, bringing them despair and frustration. It happens perhaps because of wrong habits, unconsciousness, or someone who seeks every day to convince people that it is impossible to do better. The media also tells them that they are very poor and that the whole world conspires against them.

The government continues its bias towards savage capitalism through tax exemptions, financial policies, and laws formed by the parliamentarians in favour of businesspeople.

The new Investment Law returned the private free zones wasting billions of pounds of taxes and customs. Propaganda stupidly harms the regime when it fools the people and tells them that all these measures are in favour of the people, while the citizen is actually suffering from chains.

Does the media realise its crimes’ impact? Does it not know that a nation whose generations always talk about the weakness of the state and the failures of its institutions will stay desperate? Does the propaganda realise that the people know well that media tycoons get paid millions of pounds while they demand them to be patient and endure low living conditions?

Gentlemen, you should give the people hope and free them from the illusions of fear, poverty, and weakness. Egypt will never die, and you should not stigmatise the state of disintegration.

Do not compare Egypt to Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Libya, as you should compare it to Germany and Japan after World War II. You should also show some respect and appreciation for the people, and free yourselves from the restrictions and delusions of Djoha’s donkey.
Prof. Dr. Mohamed El Saadany is the Vice President for Graduate Studies & Research at Misr University.

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Egypt’s image and the country’s soft power https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/17/egypts-image-countrys-soft-power/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/17/egypts-image-countrys-soft-power/#comments Wed, 17 May 2017 07:00:21 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=625688 It is a confusing question: Who is responsible for Egypt’s image? Perhaps the mystery lies in Egypt’s “important cards”, which are capable of producing a “wonderful image”, but the new image of Egypt is usually “temporary”. The investment conference in Sharm El-Sheikh created an “attractive atmosphere”, however the Egyptian government did not complete it. The …

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It is a confusing question: Who is responsible for Egypt’s image? Perhaps the mystery lies in Egypt’s “important cards”, which are capable of producing a “wonderful image”, but the new image of Egypt is usually “temporary”.

The investment conference in Sharm El-Sheikh created an “attractive atmosphere”, however the Egyptian government did not complete it. The same thing happened with Lionel Messi when he came to Cairo to promote the treatment of Hepatitis C in Egypt. Finally, Pope Francis’ visit to Egypt shed light on Egypt’s efforts in religious tolerance. After the visit, we were very happy and exchanged congratulations, but we did not realise, as usual, that the difficult part would be in the next day. It leads us to the same question: Who is responsible for Egypt’s image?

Despite the danger of terrorist threats, they offer an opportunity for Egyptians to set a model of cohesion and coexistence. In the midst of these terrorist tragedies, the world is looking for a “light of hope.”

Recently, the Christian Science Monitor published an article about Egypt’s goodwill, in which the American newspaper pointed out that Egypt sets a model of goodwill among different religions.

It added that the coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Egypt is a result of the great efforts exerted by the two major religious leaders, Imam Ahmad al-Tayeb of Al-Azhar and Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II. The newspaper pointed out that the two leaders launched the “Egyptian Family House” body to reform the religious teachings about others. The rest of the Middle East needs similar models of religious harmony among Egyptian society, because it creates a soft and powerful weapon against the hatred and violence of terrorist organisations like the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda.

I think that Pope Francis’ II visit was successful, as international media covered it very well. Hence, it seems for me that Egypt has already adopted a “different policy” created by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi regarding the renewal of religious discourse and the comprehensive confrontation of terrorism.

Being a symbol of the state and its leader, President Al-Sisi can guarantee coexistence and harmony within the society and ensure the security of both Christians and Muslims.

We cannot forget the role of the great national institution—the Egyptian military—in protecting Egypt and its people from the terrorism threat. However, these different efforts need to be used in building something more, and in linking the internal community with foreign media and communities.

Nart Bouran, CEO of the Sky News Arabia channel, once said, “There is no international channel capable of competing with the Egyptian media in its country.” I guess he meant that we have a powerful local media.

When Bouran is besieged, “Do the Egyptian news channels live up to the international competition?”

The man said that the competition is available, but honestly I did not see any of the institutions developing a plan to compete with Sky News Arabia or any other channels. I think that the answer is clear, but the man is back to ease the harsh reality.

Competition is no longer just on TV, and Egypt is distinct and a strong competitor to international sites, but it doesn’t communicate with the world using its language to increase the impact. I think the problem is that we are talking to ourselves, and we haven’t gotten tired of self-flagellation and complaining that others do not appreciate what we are doing, or talking about the wonderful things that we have. In addition, we haven’t realised that the battlefield is outside, and that the process of making the image of Egypt is the essence of the Egyptian soft power, which has become one of the most important challenges of the Egyptian national security.

Weapons are diverse in the hands of nations, and they fight their battles with soft power—most notably media, cinema, drama, and documentaries.

In addition, science has now given us the “new media” and the means of social media communication, and it is enough to refer to the Australian film “Walk like an Egyptian” [this film is available on YouTube]. The film is about an Australian man, his fiancée, and his friends visiting Egypt as tourists, and the film has half a million views.

To be honest, its more impressive than most of the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism. We have already discussed the importance of tourism, and here we pointed to the need to work on the Chinese market and attracting 5 million Chinese tourists. Efforts come from 300 Egyptian tourism companies that attend a tourism conference to support Egyptian tourism in the Chinese market, and they are doing this under the title “The campaign of one million Chinese tourists to visit Egypt”.

I think that president Al-Sisi needs the unity of the Egyptian soft power. This unity must be formed as soon as possible, and it should work on developing perceptions and strategies for making the image of Egypt. However, the starting point is to focus on communicating with the international world and moving in three directions. The first is highlighting the Egyptian uniqueness of experience in the harmonious religious coexistence and the efforts of the president and the religious establishments in combating extremism and renewing the religious discourse.

The second point is to communicate with the foreign media as Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Malaysia do.

The third point is to highlight Egypt as a promising region with investment and serious openness to the world, and perhaps the project of the century is the “Suez Canal Economic Zone.”

These are just points, therefore all the Egyptian minds should be activated, and efforts should be coordinated.

I think that this dispute and the conflict of competencies is the last thing that needs to be resolved, and to make a stable image of Egypt, we need to cooperate with others to make the image of Egypt, not to be coordinated by the ministers themselves.

Mohamed Sabrin is a journalist at Al-Ahram

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Threat of terrorism and necessity of changing political and legal convictions https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/10/threat-terrorism-necessity-changing-political-legal-convictions/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/10/threat-terrorism-necessity-changing-political-legal-convictions/#comments Wed, 10 May 2017 10:00:12 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=624928 Terrorism hits again with its evil hand in the heart of Cairo, the Egyptian capital, targeting this time police forces stationed on the outskirts of Nasr City in a semi-desert region. The blow’s circumstances in terms of timing and method of implementation is indicative of the bankruptcy and weakness of such organisations and also a …

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Terrorism hits again with its evil hand in the heart of Cairo, the Egyptian capital, targeting this time police forces stationed on the outskirts of Nasr City in a semi-desert region. The blow’s circumstances in terms of timing and method of implementation is indicative of the bankruptcy and weakness of such organisations and also a function of the relative ability of the Egyptian security services to pre-empt successful strikes of its own. These strikes led these organisations to try to change their tactics and shift from the mechanisms of bombing, booby-trapping, and suicide operations to the mechanism of armed attacks with automatic rifles and fast vehicles.

We are not discussing the tactics and techniques of terrorist groups. There are experts who have the ability and knowledge to discuss this and to provide systematic information related to the change in these tactics, but we are talking here about the political, societal, informational, and human dimensions of this crime and its predecessors targeting the police and army forces and Christian religious institutions since the beginning of this year.

What draws attention to this aspect is the gap between the ugliness and deception of successive terrorist crimes and the great sacrifices made by law-enforcement agencies, as well as the fluidity of political and media situations (sometimes human rights) towards these attitudes.

It seems that there are those who deal with these crimes through the glasses of political affiliation and the position of the ruling power, and they mix the variable system with the nature of the democratic game and the fixed systems of the state. We find that the analysis and positions of those people is dyed with a certain political color in situations in which we should not confuse between what’s political and what’s national.

It is strange to find political figures exploiting terrorist crimes in attacking the regime, not from the standpoint of criticising security defaults or to reject the security policies—which is legitimate—but from the angle of a political practice and economic options of the regime. This angle of criticism is legitimate if it’s in a political context, not to be only used at the moment of terrorist danger and with the bodies of victims who paid their lives to counter this danger. This is unacceptable and opens the door to many questions.

The term “national alignment”, which is frequently said by many people without determining its dimensions, features, and requirements, turns into a hollow logo afterwards. If we understand the origin of the phrase, we will discover that we should look down on the political positions and ideological trenches, and separate between our position from the condemnation of terrorist crimes and violence in all its forms and our position from the ruling power and its institutions.

The term also obligates everyone to work as a harmonious and integrated team that aims at eliminating terrorism intellectually, financially, and politically. This term means that we should stop justifying terrorist crimes in any degree at any level.

Terrorism as a global criminal phenomenon that is beyond borders, political blocs, and religions can only be eliminated through a comprehensive national vision and solidarity among all parties and forces of society—governmental, political, media, legal, religious, and security—as well as the harmonious international positions that are aware of the nature and dimensions of this danger and its impact on human rights, peace, and security on the national and international levels.

In view of the current local and global scenes, we find ourselves facing many gaps that weaken our ability—as a nation and as a world—to defeat terrorism and extremism. These gaps are not made by those who sacrifice their lives in the confrontation of terrorism. Unfortunately, politicians, jurists, and international officials have only repeated meaningless statements; they haven’t exerted any effort to see the scene from all angles and discover that the danger that we face requires us to change our convictions and develop our political and legal tools.

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Social media credibility and latest trends in news reporting https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/09/social-media-credibility-latest-trends-news-reporting/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/09/social-media-credibility-latest-trends-news-reporting/#respond Tue, 09 May 2017 20:00:19 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=624930 The AUC kicked off the first-ever virtual session series at the Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism, a conference call with professor Vince Gonzales, who is an investigative journalist, professor of professional practice at the University of South California, and coordinator of the University’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s masters degree programme in …

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The AUC kicked off the first-ever virtual session series at the Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism, a conference call with professor Vince Gonzales, who is an investigative journalist, professor of professional practice at the University of South California, and coordinator of the University’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s masters degree programme in journalism. He spoke to students about credible news-making on social media. It was a great discussion titled “Critical News-Making for Social Media.” The session was moderated by professor Dr. Hussein Amin, director of the Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism, and in the presence of guest of honour Mr. Brian A. Shott, press attaché at the US embassy.

The interactive session discussed how to maintain credibility, standards, and traditions that make media organisations look great and how traditional media organizations, such as the New York Times and CNN, had to change in the presentation of themselves and in their tone of journalism.

In understanding how to reach audiences, Professor Gonzales focused on how to maintain them and how to get them to deeper content, how to thread each piece of journalism through a complex maze of different sites and applications, which fundamentally changed the way newsrooms operate.

He also explained that the essential nature of journalism has not changed and that it is still about reporting stories, about being balanced, and adding perspective and context to help explain the world. But now it is threaded through a system built for scale, speed, and revenue.

Furthermore, highlighting the integration between the news business and social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Google and how those are significantly influencing the direction and practices of journalism.

He also discussed researches that proved that people like to spend more time with longer articles on their cellphones rather than with shorter ones as they need context, perspective, and sources they can trust.

Professor Gonzales emphasised and explained the central role of audience strategists and social platform editors at the United States. On the other hand, the strategy which should be followed by reporters in using social media is to understand the most common traps and knowing what to report to people through giving them the information they need—for example, not to tell them how to vote and for whom but telling them to go to the voting booth and be a responsible citizen.

In his presentation, he also discussed targeting potential audiences and how to drive them to your broadcast, main site, or premier platform, as well as the importance of verification of what you see and read online as a fundamental step during the process of reporting, knowing when a short video can replace graphs and texts, and taking advantage of the thirst for news in breaking situations to reach new audiences.

An open discussion between Professor Vince Gonzales and AUC scholars covered several issues regarding media illiteracy in Egypt and the United States.

He explained the wide-spread belief regarding a strong political bias in the media with various notable newspapers having made endorsements of candidates in the 2016 US presidential elections and to some extent had a significant effect on shaping the voters’ views. There are organisations which now have political point of view, but 10 to 20 years ago these organisations were objective and not part of the political process. Nowadays, there is a shift in perceptions, political stances, and ways people operate in the media.

He stressed that it’s perfectly acceptable to create separate accounts for personal and professional uses. Many professionals open two accounts within the same social media site, one for each purpose. However, be aware that just because your students or audiences are connected to you through a professional account only, there is still a chance they could find and view your personal account. Sometimes when reporting on professional account, you get a response from people on your personal one. Unfortunately, when merging both professional and personal social media accounts, the pros and cons need to be considered.

Regarding the emergency law and the publishing of negative news, he said that the press’ watchdog role in monitoring the conduct of government officials is assumed to be vital for democracy. The effectiveness of this watchdog role is less clearly understood. The exact role of journalists is to examine the actions of the government and whether the government attacks them. The role of a journalist in case of emergency is not about attacking the government, but about preventing any violations or malpractices.

On a question about how to balance and promote your story, or in other words your brand, professor Gonzales asserted that they teach their students in the public diplomacy and public relations community how to present the information in a way that make their audience do not feel that they are pushing a certain message on them, but presenting it in the form of a good story.

Professor Gonzales replied to a question about the most creative way to cover the visit of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to Washington, that organisations such as CNN would not like it to be a non-traditional coverage; however, if you are just covering what everybody else is covering, that is not news. For example, Jimmy Breslin, one of the most famous columnists, wrote his most famous story by literally stepping away from what his peers were covering. For example, when the media was focusing on president John F. Kennedy’s funeral, Breslin followed Clifton Pollard, the man who dug the assassinated leader’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery, and came out with a better story than anyone else who was just covering the news. He explained that as a journalist, you have to cover the story from a different perspective and find voices which other reporters are ignoring and what deeper reporting you can do to present a very different view to the public.

Another question was raised by professor Dr. Hussein Amin on the use of visualisation in news reporting. Professor Gonzales explained that it is an important tool used in the US in which journalists are able to create their own interactive graphics and add visual components to their reports in order to engage users, to turn paragraphs into an interactive timeline with videos and photos. Some others use sound sites to augment their texts, by adding an audio for users to hear a longer version of the story.

I encourage you to watch the video of this informative presentation and discussion about the credibility of different social media platforms and latest trends in journalism and news reporting.

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The Montreux Convention of 1937: a key step towards Egyptian independence https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/08/montreux-convention-1937-key-step-towards-egyptian-independence/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/08/montreux-convention-1937-key-step-towards-egyptian-independence/#respond Mon, 08 May 2017 05:45:31 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=624622 Neutral Switzerland has been a renowned facilitator in peace negotiations and a traditional meeting place for parties in conflict. At the same time, little is known about Switzerland’s role in a historic step that helped Egypt establish sovereignty and gain full independence. Eighty years ago, on 8 May 1937, the Montreux Convention Regarding the Abolition …

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Neutral Switzerland has been a renowned facilitator in peace negotiations and a traditional meeting place for parties in conflict. At the same time, little is known about Switzerland’s role in a historic step that helped Egypt establish sovereignty and gain full independence. Eighty years ago, on 8 May 1937, the Montreux Convention Regarding the Abolition of the Capitulations in Egypt was concluded. Foreigners in Egypt were finally placed under the Egyptian legal system.

The capitulations phenomenon, started by the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, was a fundamental impediment to Egyptian sovereignty. Based on the principle of extraterritorial jurisdiction, it allowed capitulatory powers—Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United States—to manage judiciary, legislative, and fiscal issues of their nationals living on Egyptian territory. Not only did this deprive Egypt of its right to exercise self-determination, but it also resulted in unequal treatment. Any civil or commercial disagreements between foreigners and Egyptians had been handled in mixed courts, which often tended to favour nationals of capitulatory powers at the expense of Egyptians.

Following the First World War and based on the Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936, nationalism gained ground in Egypt, and the government, backed by the newly established Wafd Party, stepped up its demands to the British government—then in control of Egypt—to place foreigners under the local Egyptian legal system. On 12 April 1937, the president of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Giuseppe Motta, opened the Montreux conference. By highlighting the importance of the Anglo-Egyptian treaty, he noted that the Egyptian institutions were comparable to those in European countries and showed his support for the Egyptian request to revise the legal status of foreigners. The Egyptian delegation was headed by Mustapha El-Nahas Pasha, Egyptian president of the Council of Ministers, and president of the Egyptian delegation in Montreux. Switzerland, with no colonial past, was an obvious choice to host the conference. The participants recognised the symbolic importance of the venue. By providing a neutral platform, Switzerland offered a conducive atmosphere to these multilateral dialogues and thus enabled room for compromise.

However, due to the importance of interests at stake and the complexity of the legal issues involved, the Capitulations Conference was not an easy one. What proved to be a main stumbling block between Egypt and several capitulatory powers was the duration of the transitional period to effectively abolish mixed courts. Some delegation representatives wanted to preserve this judiciary tool of distinction between Egyptians and foreigners as long as possible, ignoring the fact that Egypt had come to Montreux to gain more independence. The last week of the conference was marked by intense negotiations and various non-official discussions between delegations. The issue on the transition phase was eventually resolved during intense talks between El-Nahas Pasha and Francois de Tessan, head of the French delegation. The following day, the transition phase was officially settled to 12 years, during which there would be a gradual “Egyptianisation” of courts, which was in accordance with the Egyptians’ initial request.

Thereupon, it was on the shore of Lake Geneva that the Capitulations Conference successfully came to an end and paved the way for Egypt to join the League of Nations. In spring 1937, El-Nahas Pasha stated in his closing speech at the conference that “the whole Orient will benefit from the outcome of the conference, since it marks the end of prejudices between the Orient and the Occident. From this day forward, the two regions are taking another step along the road to civilisation and progress.” In Egypt, the abolition of capitulations was a historic moment for the nationalist movement and a significant step towards independence.

Switzerland in general and the Lake Geneva region in particular have continued to host many important conferences and negotiations over the past decades. Today, it is the international Geneva that perhaps best symbolises Switzerland’s good offices. The city of Calvin started off as the headquarters of the League of Nations in 1920, later becoming the host of the United Nations and many other international organisations, NGOs, and academia. To this day, Geneva earns the trust of the international community by remaining true to its values of neutrality, openness, and respect. With the evolution of international relations and forms of conflicts, Switzerland’s good offices adapted to the changes by moving beyond passively offering its territory as a negotiating venue. Today, the country plays an active role as mediator and offers services such as dialogue facilitation or protection power mandates by representing diplomatic interests between two states in conflicts.

 

By Markus Leitner, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Egypt

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Between choice and inevitability https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/04/between-choice-and-inevitability/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/04/between-choice-and-inevitability/#comments Thu, 04 May 2017 10:00:47 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=624239 The law of nature is inevitability, and the law of life is choice. Humans live between the ability to choose and the inevitability of life. You might wonder “how?” and the answer is that the law of nature does not recognise exceptions. Despite the renewing nature of life, it is stable and unchangeable. The change …

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The law of nature is inevitability, and the law of life is choice. Humans live between the ability to choose and the inevitability of life. You might wonder “how?” and the answer is that the law of nature does not recognise exceptions. Despite the renewing nature of life, it is stable and unchangeable. The change of seasons is inevitable, because the sun cannot just rise from the west. It is inevitable for the sun to rise from the east. The same goes for night and day. This is the law of nature that will not let an apple float; it falls on the ground instead where there is gravity and Newton’s law that knows no exceptions. Law in nature is the rule, not a coincidence.

Everyone is subject to this law; however, despite its cohesion, it is divided into sections, with the laws of physics, chemistry, the movement of celestial bodies, gravity, tides, the science of earth layers, biology, relativity, and the theories of thermodynamics.

In the law of nature, there is a large section called “genetics science”, from which developments made in modern sciences were derived, such as biotechnology and genetic engineering, resulting in cloning and new definitions through it; however, all of this never crossed the limits and inevitability of life. The process of cloning Dolly the sheep in the Rosalin Institute resulted in cloning a sheep, not another animal. It did not result in an elephant, giraffe, deer, monkey, or cow. It is the genetics law that determines the skin colour of humans, their height, and hair colour and texture—curly or straight for example—in addition to the eye colour and the gender of the foetus.

So as to nature, body, shape, and composition, the human being is subjected to the law, which is vanquished by nature and its inevitability that he can’t choose.

The human-being’s will in life and in his career is his choice. If he is willing good, he will do good, and if he is willing evil, he will find evil.

The law of life is a choice. He who is working hard, will be rewarded. Ask and you will find an answer. Request and you will get what you want. Knock on doors and they will be opened.

In life you are the one who chooses to be successful in your study, according to your ability of studying, understanding, and achievement, along with your choice to be committed or disobedient.

It is also like choosing to be politically supportive or opposed; it’s up to you. To be a good player in the game of politics, you should be armed by science, experience, expertise, and knowledge, or stay pale without a spirit or identity or initiatives, even if you became a minister; this is also your own choice.

If you get out of the playground of life as a loser scoring zero goals, you should only blame yourself for what you have done; your work and your weak will that failed to pass the tests of life.

If you like being in the audience seats, you should not dream of a lead role in the movie of life. Then you can only watch. If this is what you actually do, then you should know that you have not heard the calls of life to get up and work. It is choice, and unfortunately, we are not very good at making choices. We tend to blame life, when we are actually the ones to be blamed. The blame is on you; you were the one who turned a blind eye to your own will and your ability to keep fighting.

You determine your own will. When you have higher ambitions, you achieve more things that you are proud of. It is your choice now to give your life a new dimension.

Read, try, learn, interact, manage your time, and ask yourself what you added to yourself, your work, and your family. What have you read or watched recently? What has affected you? Which newspaper are you keen on reading regularly? If these questions have answers in you, you are someone who really deserves to live and be. If you do not have clear answers to these questions, you have chosen to be one of the people who are distinct only by what they eat and drink, and whom they marry—according to Darwin’s evolution theory—without a value added by them to life, community, and people. This means that no one will notice you, and this is when it becomes no right of yours to give opinion about people’s affairs or ask for people’s respect. Respect is something you receive based on what you give and the impact you leave, not through superiority over commoners and the humbler people who were not able to receive good education. They are classified based on what they do. Some of them are clever craftsmen and really good at what they do. They leave their own impact.

The point is not about your profession or the nature of your job; it is about your performance. This is the standard and indicator. In all cases, the door is still open before you. You can always start working, asking, and learning.

I believe I have answered several questions by many readers. I apologise if I do not answer everybody’s questions. Days are busy and it is difficult to keep up with everything. And your energy, no matter how large, is still considered limited before the force of time and the absurdities thrown our way by people and officials every day.

You live your life and walk your path between inevitability and freedom. Your being and physical presence is inevitable. Your life, personality, decisions, and biases are your choices. It is up to you to choose.

Prof. Dr. Mohamed El Saadany is the Vice President for Graduate Studies & Research at Misr University.

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The heritage of economic citizenship: a‘refuge’ for advancement https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/04/heritage-economic-citizenship-arefuge-advancement/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/04/heritage-economic-citizenship-arefuge-advancement/#comments Thu, 04 May 2017 09:00:31 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=624230 A lot of unnecessary energy has already been expended on Egyptian television arguing over the planned reforms ofresidency and naturalisation procedures, with accusations of treason flying both ways. The idea is that you get a five-year long residency if you stash a lot money in the bank that the government will then spend and invest …

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A lot of unnecessary energy has already been expended on Egyptian television arguing over the planned reforms ofresidency and naturalisation procedures, with accusations of treason flying both ways. The idea is that you get a five-year long residency if you stash a lot money in the bank that the government will then spend and invest as it sees fit, with an IOU certificate promising to hand it all back when the residency permit expires.

Knowing the government’s record, such as old-age pensioners’ funds of workers’ syndicates, maybe this isn’t the best way of going about things. But that’s a concern for those depositing the money, not the self-righteous brigade here thatisafraid that the country will somehow be swamped by necessarily ‘evil’ foreigners who want to change the ethnic-sectarian composition of the country or spy on behalf of a foreign country. (If a Russian or a Chinaman wanted to come here to ‘invest’ in the country, say in the Suez Canal industrial zone, would anybody be up in arms against them?) This, in turn, is seen as a stepping stone towards naturalisation, since after ten years you can apply for the passport. This just goes to show how paranoid, and how ungrateful, some people are,given that places like Syria and Lebanon have always housed Egyptians in exile. Mohammad Abdu in Lebanon is the most famous case on display—somebody who was welcomed with open arms by everybody in Lebanon, Muslims and Christians alike, whohelped him and Gamal Al-Din al-Afghani set up newspapers calling for unity between Christians and Muslims and among Arabs in general.

Let’s not forget that Gamal Al-Din al-Afghani himself was the tutor of the first generation of nationalist leaders—SaadZaghloul and Qasim Amin. And Mr.al-Afghani was neither an Egyptian nor an Arab to begin with. How far we have fallen behind since then. But it just goes to show how you can create problems for yourself, intractable problems, if you don’t factor history into the equation. There are lots of solutions out there that can defuse the situation, not least in the Arab world.

In one particular Gulf Arab state—without givingnames—you have different gradesof nationality. Just having a passport doesn’t mean you’re a full citizen, with the bare minimum being a glorified travel document,which does not mean you are entitled to join the army or run for public office. Buying and selling land are allowed, but not muchmore. There’s all sorts of other restrictions too over dual citizenship, over being a member of a political party or in the armed forces of another country or having a criminal record, even somewhere else. And then there are the Bedouins who are Bedoon, ‘without’ nationality. They can come and go as they please—through designated border points—but they don’t have any social entitlements or rights to political participation.

Even in the US, a naturalised US citizen can’t run for the presidency, and there are constant ‘reviews’ of someone’s activities in the country of origin. This was true in the McCarthyism era of anti-Communist paranoia and is just as true now in the war on terror mania era. With the United Kingdom, you have special allowances made for citizens of Northern Ireland and Scotland and you have the category of British dependent state and ofCommonwealth states too.

What is more is that such arrangements have always existed from time immemorial and to great effect. In the glory days of the Roman republic, you had a layer cake of citizenship with full citizenship at the top—including running for the senate and leading the army—to a lesser state where you who could vote but not run for office, then those who could live there, buy and sell, and at the bottom those who could just live and work there but nothing more. Rome itself presided over a federation of Latin city-states that allowed it to stock up on cavalry and shipping crews, making up for key weaknesses in their otherwise impeccable army. Their allies, likewise, were organised in a senate with elected representatives. This way the Romans got the best of both worlds, earning the loyalty and the human capital of a far-flung landmass—Italy—without incurring too much in terms of costs, whether social entitlements or political risks. Can’t something like this exist in Egypt?

It can and it did. Dr. Hazem El-Biblawi, before he became prime minister, gave a talk at a conference held at the American University in Cairo back in 2012, which was organised by the Council on Foreign Relations from the US. His idea for enlivening the Arab economic situation was a kind of pan-regional citizenship, like the old Islamic caliphate, where an Arab could travel wherever he liked, take residence, own property, work, and invest, but not have political entitlements. What is more, Dr. Biblawionce pitched this idea to former president Hosni Mubarak, saying this would solve key manpower shortage problems Egypt was suffering from, mainly white collar professionals and other skilled workers. President Mubarak was willing to go along with the idea, provided that it was mutually binding—Arab countries had to open up their borders if Egypt was going to open its borders to them.

Dr. Biblawi said that was unnecessary, because Arab countries were being faced with their own shortages—people leaving for Egypt—and would be forced to open their borders in likewise fashion. Sadly, his arguments fell on deaf ears, and we’ve been stuck in the same rut ever since. Nobody denies that Egypt is an overpopulated country suffering from unemployment, but foreigners are not the cause of this unemployment.

People who want cushy desk jobs and permanent civil service posts are the problem, in addition to degree holders who don’t have any practical work skills or lack the necessary connectionseven if they do have the requisite skills. And it’s not like we don’t already have lots and lots of foreigners here, and I’m pretty sure most of them don’t have the kind of cash needed to deposit it in the trustedhands of the government. The real problem afflicting the Egyptian economy is, needless to say, bureaucracy: a six month residency is hardly long enough for proper investment planning. Butalmost as importantis the atrophied marketplace. Egypt is a ‘big’ country butit’snot that big, especially when it comes to sustaining the economies of scale demanded by the manufacturing sector—I was checking out the book market today and even the illicit books, printed on cheap photocopied paper, weren’t selling. Why? Every single bookshop had the same items in the same numbers, so people had stocked up already, leaving individual shopkeepers none the wiser. I can add an extra historical dimension here.

I once met a historian from New Zealand who specialised in Arab nationalism prior to Gamal Abdel Nasser and he told me that Saad Zaghloul and his whole generation of nationalist leaders wanted to transform the Ottoman caliphatefrom a political empire into a giant free trade zone.They even wanted to build a navy—a merchant marine, not a military armada—to connect Egypt through commerce to such far-flung places as Indonesia, a kind of prequel to the Chinese “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a new silk road.

In the process, you have the best of both worlds: political independence without economic isolation. Ah, how far we have fallen behind since then!

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Startups in the Middle East: a fun(ding) adventure https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/03/startups-middle-east-funding-adventure/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/05/03/startups-middle-east-funding-adventure/#respond Wed, 03 May 2017 08:30:01 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=624088 The Middle East is a region of great opportunity. We have a large and young population with more than its fair share of problems, and as every entrepreneur knows, every problem is an opportunity; the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. As a region, we are also one of the largest exporters of capital …

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The Middle East is a region of great opportunity. We have a large and young population with more than its fair share of problems, and as every entrepreneur knows, every problem is an opportunity; the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. As a region, we are also one of the largest exporters of capital to the world. Investors from the region own the priciest global real estates and are shareholders in the largest companies of the world. The big question facing local entrepreneurs is how to attract big regional capital into opportunities from the region, for the region. Having successfully raised multiple rounds of funding from the region, we believe the Careem’s journey has teachings that can help us solve this puzzle.

I believe external capital follows traction in a big opportunity. In the beginning, the only capital that will bet on you is your own money or that of people who trust you. As an example, we started Careem with $100,000 of our own money. In about 6-9 months when that was running out, we managed to convince our friends and family to invest. That ‘friends, family, and fools’ round comprised of old friends, ex-colleagues, and against all advice, my mother-in-law. Beyond that round, we had to earn the right to take people’s money. It boiled down to convincing investors of the bigness of the opportunity, showing solid traction week after week, building an awesome team, and just not giving up.

Big opportunity

If you want to raise institutional money, then you must be solving a big problem. Small problems and opportunities can make great lifestyle businesses that you can fund with your own capital or that of friends, but they will not get you institutional interest. Investors know that many of their investments will not succeed, so the ones that make it need to be home-runs, and the only way to have home-runs is to only bet on big opportunities. In pre-Careem 2012, when we were thinking of ideas, one of the first things we did with any idea that came up was to calculate its market size. The initial market size for Careem was $5bn, which was the amount spent on taxis in the GCC. Our current view of Careem’s market size is significantly higher since we have expanded beyond GCC and the platform is filling the mass transit void in the region. If your idea has a market size of less than a few billion dollars, you will most likely have a tough time raising external capital. Big capital is attracted to big opportunities.

Solid traction

What may seem like an obvious opportunity to you will not be so obvious to others. To the others, you need to show proof of the opportunity in the form of traction. This is your ability to grow your business week-on-week. And growth does not just happen. It is a function of deeply understanding the needs of your customers, building products that address those needs, and making sure you do whatever it takes to make customers happy. Happy customers come back and bring many others with them, and this starts showing in your growth numbers. At Careem, we have been obsessed about our customers and growth. In the early days, we would track each and every trip to make sure it went well. Every failure (of which there were many in the beginning) was an opportunity for us to understand what went wrong and to change our systems/processes to prevent the same from happening again. And we monitored our growth like a hawk! Every week, every day, every 15 minutes. As I write this post, Dubai is up 7.8% from the same time last week. For an investor, growth is the truth, it is validation, it is proof.

Awesome team

You can’t do it alone, and investors know it. You will need a team, and the better the team and the more passionate it is about the opportunity, the better are your chances of success. As an entrepreneur, it is one of your foremost responsibilities to excite people to join the mission. Inability to build a great team is a leading indicator of challenges down the road. At Careem, we did not know many things about the business we were starting, but the one thing we did know was that investing in talent and culture would take us places. And we did many things on this front. We allocated a large pool of Careem equity for our colleagues, we hired companies to get talent on board, we chased amazing people to join us even after they had turned us down, and we invested time in designing a culture based on a set of core values. Team strength is a key criterion for investment decisions. No team, no chance of success, no funding.

Not giving up

You are not going to get it right the first time, maybe not even the second time; and you will be rejected by many. They key is to not give up, keep learning, and keep improving. This is an essential trait for an entrepreneur and it is needed more in the fundraising process than in any other part of the business. In our first round, we were rejected by all venture capital funds in the region except for one (thank you STC Ventures!). Today, alhamdulillah, we have most of them on board. We kept knocking on their doors, kept showing them our growth numbers, and kept at them until we convinced them to invest. Every time you feel like giving up, know that we have all gone through it and that better times wait on the other side of perseverance.

We are blessed to be in a region with so much opportunity and significant local capital. Our regional investors have had their reasons to invest outside the region, whether it is diversification away from the region, the lack of exits, or the shortage of professional teams to back. Times are changing though. The purchase of Souq by Amazon is a landmark transaction that will make regional investors pay attention to local opportunities. When they look, let’s make sure that they find us going after big opportunities with solid traction and with awesome teams. If they decide not to invest at first, let’s not give up. It is worth our time to get them onboard, because once they start investing in local startups, the region will change forever.

 

Mudassir Sheikha, CEO and Co-Founder, Careem

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FIFA Congress: An Israeli-Palestinian battleground https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/23/622800/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/23/622800/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:00:15 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=622800 Next month’s annual congress of the world soccer body, FIFA, is likely to become the first international forum since US president Donald Trump took office to debate Israel’s controversial settlement policy in the occupied West Bank. Israeli efforts to prevent FIFA from debating and possibly censoring it for allowing soccer teams from Jewish settlements in …

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Next month’s annual congress of the world soccer body, FIFA, is likely to become the first international forum since US president Donald Trump took office to debate Israel’s controversial settlement policy in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli efforts to prevent FIFA from debating and possibly censoring it for allowing soccer teams from Jewish settlements in occupied territory since 1967 to play in Israeli leagues are further complicated by the fact that Mr. Trump has called on Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu to freeze settlement activity.

Mr. Trump has expressed unconditional support for Israel and has sharply criticised a resolution in December in the United Nations Security Council that, with acquiescence of the Obama administration, condemned the Israeli settlement policy. Mr. Trump, who has made achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace one of his foreign policy goals, nevertheless advised Mr. Netanyahu on an official visit to Washington earlier this year that settlements “don’t help the process.”

The settlement issue is likely to again occupy centre stage when Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas meets Mr. Trump in Washington in early May before the FIFA congress in Bahrain. In a rare, official Israeli visit to a Gulf state, representatives of the Israel Football Association (IFA) will be granted visas to Bahrain, a country with which Israel has no diplomatic relations, to attend the congress.

Israel has in recent years succeeded in thwarting repeated Palestinian efforts to get its membership in FIFA suspended. FIFA, in a bid to prevent a situation that would put it in a tight spot at a time that the US justice department is prosecuting a number of its senior officials on corruption charges, appointed last year South African anti-apartheid icon Tokyo Sexwale to negotiate a solution.

Mr. Sexwale proposed three options, all of which are unlikely to provide relief. Mr. Sexwale reportedly initially suggested that FIFA could take the legal risk of throwing in the towel, give Israel six months to rectify the status of the disputed clubs, or continue to attempt to achieve a negotiated solution. Mr. Sexwale, under pressure from Israel, dropped any reference to a suspension of Israeli membership. In advance of submission of Mr. Sexwale’s report to FIFA, Israel is seeking to ensure that any references to punitive action against the Jewish state are removed.

The Palestine Football Association (PFA), human rights groups, and a coalition of sports associations, trade unions, and faith based groups are pressuring FIFA to act against Israel. The groups charge that the participation of settlement teams in Israeli competitions violates FIFA rules, FIFA’s adoption of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and international law, which sees Israeli settlements as illegal. FIFA’s bylaws bar any country from setting up teams in another country’s territory, or letting such teams play in its own leagues without the other country’s consent.

The Israeli foreign ministry’s communications with its embassies abroad suggest that Israel fears that it may be able to avert the Jewish state’s suspension by FIFA, but is unlikely to completely avoid punitive measures against it.

“Our growing assessment is that the FIFA Congress is liable to make a decision on suspending six Israeli teams that play over the Green Line, or even on suspending Israel from FIFA. We urge you to contact your countries’ representatives on the FIFA Council as soon as possible to obtain their support for Israel’s position, which rejects mixing politics with sport and calls for reaching an agreed solution between the parties…and to thwart an anti-Israel decision if it is brought before the council,” the foreign ministry said in a cable. The Green Line constitutes the line dividing the West Bank from Israel proper and demarks territory occupied in Israel during the 1967 Middle East War.

Ironically, the cable spotlights the fundamental problem underlying a lack of integrity in international sports governance: the ungoverned relationship between politics and sports. International sports associations and governments maintain a fiction that sports and politics are separate, even if the two are inextricably joined at the hip. The cable serves as evidence of how governments and associations use the fiction of a separation to corrupt the integrity of sports.

The relationship of sports and politics is equally evident in Palestinian soccer. The PFA is headed by Jibril Rajoub, Palestine’s sports czar, secretary of the central council of Mr. Abbas’s ruling Al Fatah group, and a former security chief who spent 17 years in Israeli prison.

Mr. Rajoub recently weakened the PFA’s battle with the IFA by repeatedly refusing in a debate in New York with an Israeli peace negotiator to condemn Palestinian attacks on Israeli Jews. Mr. Rajoub has praised in recent years a wave of knife attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians.

FIFA may well attempt to buy time by adopting Mr. Sexwale’s option to give Israel six months to rectify the situation. A FIFA congress decision to that effect would, however, effectively constitute a defeat for Israel, because it implicitly acknowledges that allowing West Bank teams to play in Israeli leagues constitutes a violation of FIFA rules as well as international law.

While Israel is certain to reject the notion, a six-month grace period would also buy Israel time to further counter the growing Boycott, Diversification, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to penalise Israel for continued occupation of the West Bank. Israel has made countering the BDS one of its foreign policy priorities. The Netanyahu government recently emulated Mr. Trump’s disputed ban on travel to the United States from six Muslim-majority counties by banning BDS supporters from travel to Israel.

FIFA’s groping with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to serve as a bell weather of international attitudes towards Jewish settlements at a time that many members of the international community are exasperated with the policies of the Netanyahu government, the most right-wing in Israeli history. It is also likely to put the Trump administration’s support for Israel to the test.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and three forthcoming books, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa as well as Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-conservatism and China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom.

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Blame Egypt, think why later https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/21/blame-egypt-think-later/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/21/blame-egypt-think-later/#comments Fri, 21 Apr 2017 19:30:03 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=622701 In a research paper I am currently preparing, I found out that there was some kind of a decision taken by opinion-making circles in the west to blame Egypt and Egyptians every day and then look for justifications later. The presidency of Egypt is the most undermined, followed by the armed forces, the police, media, …

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In a research paper I am currently preparing, I found out that there was some kind of a decision taken by opinion-making circles in the west to blame Egypt and Egyptians every day and then look for justifications later.

The presidency of Egypt is the most undermined, followed by the armed forces, the police, media, intelligence, judiciary, and then the parliament.

Yet, the presidency is almost always blamed.

If a court ruling acquitted a defendant, western media would say the ruling was politicised and came by pressure or orders from the presidency, the government, or intelligence, at the discretion of the author.

At the same time, if some defendant is found guilty, it will also be a presidential or government decision. When the Court of Cassation acquits this same person later, the accusation is at hand: this was driven by orders issued from a security agency.

Egypt is wrong in any case, from their point of view.

We have an example showing the gap in the different assessments of the Egyptian administration. The Egyptian-American activist Aya Hegazy returned to the US after three years of pre-trial detention during a trial that accused her of human trafficking.

On Sunday, an Egyptian court acquitted Aya Hegazy and seven more from several charges, including human trafficking. The case was publicly known as the Belady Foundation case. All eight defendants were accused of human trafficking, abduction of children, abusing them sexually, and forcing them to take part in political demonstrations.

Her lawyer affirmed several times that Hegazy was only doing charity for the benefit of street children.

Hegazy is a good example of someone who does a good thing in a wrong way. She is providing a service to Egypt and Egyptians, but in line with her own standards and rules, without considering the laws and procedures [Editor’s note: her acquittal suggests that she followed the law].

She wants to help street children, but Egypt has witnessed dozens of associations that raised similar slogans and were later found to have damaged Egypt.

The court issued its decision based on the information it had.

The previous US administration had asked the Egyptian authorities to release Aya Hegazy. A statement issued by the White House in September 2016 demanded Egypt to drop all charges against her and release Hegazy.

But the Egyptian Foreign Ministry condemned the statement and hinted that some American official circles insist on disregarding the principle of the rule of law [editor’s note: the Trump White House, after her release, noted that it had intervened on Hegazy’s behalf to secure her release].

But talks about the case remained in the hallways of the Egyptian judiciary, insisting the case must be processed carefully so that Hegazy does not fall victim to injustice despite her good intentions. When she was acquitted, the court was as courageous as it was when it decided to detain her before.

I have information that she decided to return to the United States on a civilian aircraft by her own will [editor’s note: she was taken on a US military aircraft and met US president Trump on Thursday]. But what concerns me more is that she and her colleagues must understand that Egypt is witnessing exceptional circumstances. She had to make sure the procedures she followed as a civil society foundation were correct because Egypt suffered a lot from those who claimed to have good intentions but had done bad.

Hegazy’s innocence shows the size of the dilemma faced by Egypt: government and people. Many countries turned into tribes under different flags, carrying weapons on the ruins of their states.

Egypt has chosen a difficult path: keeping the state institutions, even if these institutions suffer from corruption, whether it is neglect, wasting people’s time and energy, or financial corruption. But it is important that the state is still intact and subject to reform.

In the period after the 25 January revolution and throughout the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptians used to say: if we are to be stopped for inspection, let it be the police or the army, rather than terrorists or loggers.

Egyptians want a strong state with active institutions.

Any assessment of the situation in Egypt without accounting for the current circumstances and fears is an evaluation away from reality.

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Withdrawing into the arts: a local, two-pronged strategy for fighting ISIS https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/19/withdrawing-arts-local-two-pronged-strategy-fighting-isis/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/19/withdrawing-arts-local-two-pronged-strategy-fighting-isis/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:00:38 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=622366 Just the other day, I was meeting with a Christian friend at a cafeteria on the top of a building, and he was afraid the place would fall down if a terrorist bomb targeted it. He was reacting—rightly it seems—to what had just happened in Stockholm. Now look what’s happened here: two churches were targeted …

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Just the other day, I was meeting with a Christian friend at a cafeteria on the top of a building, and he was afraid the place would fall down if a terrorist bomb targeted it. He was reacting—rightly it seems—to what had just happened in Stockholm. Now look what’s happened here: two churches were targeted on Palm Sunday, with scores dead and wounded in Alexandria and Tanta.

It’s fair to say this is all political, meant to embarrass President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in the US and kill off any chances for Egypt to rebuild its ailing tourist industry. But that doesn’t exonerate the rest of us for not doing enough to combat extremism. It is worth noting that this brand of fanatic likes to attack shrines and mortuaries, such as the shameless ransacking of the remains of the Prophet Yunus (PBUH) in Iraq. Following Sunday’s terrorist attacks, former Grand Mufti Dr. Ali Gomaa was talking about these fanatics and how they’d attacked the mortuary of Imam Al-Nawawi in Syria. I can relate a personal experience in this regard. I once got fired from a place, without naming names, with no “clear” explanation as to why. But, curiously enough, something that came up in the complaints from the administration was that I had the audacity to use a book by Wasif Boutrous Ghali in class. I don’t think the specific book I used was the issue, but just the fact that I was using a book written by a Copt.

Wouldn’t you know it, shrines and mortuaries—by pure coincidence—are characteristic of Christianity also? We’re back to the debate about iconoclasm and how extremist groups in religious history—everybody’s religions—have attacked holy places and symbols to rupture the ability of these religious institutions to pass on their beliefs to the next generation. I don’t know for a fact that ISIS is behind the Alexandria and Tanta attacks, but I can believe it.

It’s their style. They’re feeling the pinch in Iraq and Syria, so they’re lashing out elsewhere, in the not-so-far-off theatres in Egypt and Libya. And this analysis gives us an indicator as to what precisely we should be doing to combat this way of thinking. We have to expose iconoclasm for what it really is—a ploy—and settle once and for all the place of works of art and physical locations in religious practice and divinations. To cite Dr. Ali Gomaa again, one means of combating these groups is Sufism, a favourite target of Salafism and Wahabism. He quoted a religious saying calling on Muslims to withdraw themselves from the political scene in the event of the absence of an imam (meaning leader here), because taking the law in your own hands inevitably leads to bloodshed and charges of apostasy.

In those circumstances, it is better to live like a monk and focus on prayer and good deeds. I can add that good old-fashioned art is another strategic weapon we need to deploy, particularly the visual variety castigated by Salafis and Wahabis. Here’s why: I watched an Iranian movie some time ago called Son of Maryam (1998). It was a children’s movie about interfaith dialogue, telling the story of a young Muslim boy whose best friend is an old, old priest—the vicar of their village. The reason the boy loves him so much is that the priest knew the boy’s mother, who died in childbirth. He asks the priest if his mother was as pretty as the Virgin Mary, so the old man replies that all mothers are like the Virgin Mary.

The boy repeatedly goes into the church and looks at the paintings and statues. When his father objects, it’s not because he’s afraid the boy will be “seduced” by Christianity, but because he thinks the boy is wasting his time and should be working with his father, training to be a blacksmith. (It’s notable that the father makes weapons—daggers, swords, helmets.) The boy also takes care of the church when the priest has an accident, and he even heads off to town in search of the old man’s brother, a priest who got fed up of village life and went to the big city where the larger congregations were. (The boy’s village is so small, it doesn’t even have a hospital, hence his mother’s death and his desire to become a doctor, not a blacksmith like his father.)

While in the big city, the boy befriends a Christian boy who helps him out. When the hero shows the Christian boy a picture of the Kaaba, telling him it’s the house of God, the Christian boy replies that his father told him that churches were the houses of God. So what does the hero do? He says that God is everywhere. The boy hero’s name, not coincidentally, is Abdel Rahman—servant of the All-Merciful God. The upshot of all this, apart from portraying Christians as fellow believers, is self-confidence, particularly in the face of statues and images. You constantly witness scenes where Abdel Rahman takes care of himself, buying a silk scarf to pray on (a Shiite practice), buying popcorn for himself, asking for directions, etc. The boy, moreover, is a mu’azzin (one who makes the call to prayer) and has a blind Muslim friend named Dawoud (after the Prophet David, PBUH), and he takes him into the church at one point too, describing to him what he sees.

Dawoud even insists on touching the face of the Virgin Mary to see how pretty and pure she is for himself, and Abdel Rahman obliges him. Could you imagine an Egyptian movie depicting such things? People here are terrified of everything—their own shadows even—as evidenced by the re-emergence of the hubbub over Devil-worshipping heavy metal cults and “Emos”, and the Baha’is and Shiites before them, not to forget the Sufis and any odd Egyptian movie that has something good to say about them—again without naming names. People forget, or have been made to forget, that the Fatimid’s ruled Egypt for four centuries, but they failed to remake the country on a Shiite mould.

It was the Fatimids who were eventually forced to reaffirm the Sunni adhan (call to prayer) and the Sunni jurisprudential schools (Hanafi, Shafi’i, Hanbali, and Malaki), with Al-Azhar—a Fatimid creation—itself becoming a bastion of Sunni learning. So there’s nothing to be afraid of. If you look at that Iranian movie again, you find hints of dissatisfaction with the sectarian divide also, since the hero has to look for the priest’s brother at both the local Catholic and Orthodox churches. He never knew there were different kinds of Christianity.

Religious problems and antagonisms always start off as internal, and then wash up onto the doorstep of another religion. Oh, and that goes for the Americans too. They’re more responsible for this than anybody, invading and then dismembering Iraq so that George W. Bush could be a self-professed “crusader”.

So, everybody’s to blame, but that still doesn’t exonerate us from setting our own house in order first. If we wait for the Americans to mend the error of their ways, hell will freeze over in the meantime!

Emad El-Din Aysha received his PhD in International Studies from the University of Sheffield in the UK and has taught, from 2001, at the American University in Cairo, the British University in Egypt, and the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development. From 2003 he has worked in English-language journalism in Egypt, first at the Egyptian Gazette and Egyptian Mail and most recently as a staff writer with Egypt Oil and Gas.

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1952 family and the conspiracy theory (3-3) https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/19/622365/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/19/622365/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 09:00:36 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=622365 Dear readers, we will try to present one of the most important stories that summarises the meaning of the slogan “No voice is louder than the voice of battle”, with the conspiracy theory to justify the continued security control and the postponement of the democratic project. Our story begins with shocking news and images reported …

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Dear readers, we will try to present one of the most important stories that summarises the meaning of the slogan “No voice is louder than the voice of battle”, with the conspiracy theory to justify the continued security control and the postponement of the democratic project.

Our story begins with shocking news and images reported by the media about the slaughtering of a number of Christians in Al-Arish, aimed to terrorise and intimidate Christian families living there and to push them to leave their homes through forced displacement operations.

Those displaced people said that some officials in Sinai advised them to immigrate because the state cannot secure their lives. What made the state authorities, systems, and institutions in the city of Ismailia seem worse is that they were completely unable to provide decent living conditions for the displaced people.

These authorities did not move until their image was destroyed by public opinion. The official authority kept diminishing the suffering and intimidation that the Christians have experienced and kept denying that the security conditions are the reason behind their migration, which is against their will, despite President Al-Sisi’s announcements in subsequent statements that he will work on returning the Christians to their homes once security and stability return to the areas from where they were forced to leave.

In general, we can say that the slaughter of Christians and their forced displacement seemed shocking to public opinion, and the public opinion of Christians in particular, which earlier expressed the readiness to accept the tyranny and also hunger, for security.

The supporters of the authorities did not only deny this—seeming illogical to a great extent—but they preferred to describe the attack on Christians as retaliation for a great victory achieved by the armed forces after an international conspiracy has taken place in Sinai.

This revenge is an attempt by the conspirators to survive after being narrowed down and completely crushed. How did that happen?

The story that has been shared on social media pages carried the name of a person that claimed to be a colonel in the Egyptian armed forces, saying that the armed forces have succeeded in gaining control over Jabal Halal in the centre of Sinai.

According to the narrator, entering and controlling this mountain was impossible due to its rugged nature. The narrator confirmed that the mountain is a terrorist haven and the management centre of the criminal acts that are logistically supported by neighbouring countries and evil countries, led by England and America. The story confirmed that the armed forces found sophisticated weapons, operated by satellites, along with a very complicated financial network and documents that condemn local and international people and intelligence agencies of friendly and hostile countries. The documents reveal that sleeper cells operate secretly to provide terrorists with information or to receive remittances.

Egyptian figures, businessmen, and foreign investors are allegedly involved in these cells. Finally, the narrator says that it is an international scheme to unite the world against Egypt and demand the imposition of the protection Copts in North Sinai under the pretext of being targeted by terrorists, describing the matter as the inability of Egypt to protect them, therefore requiring their relocation to safer areas.

He added that they found documents, including names, positions, and locations of the conspirators, and thereby ruined their scheme, so that the traitors now claim responsibility for the forced displacement of the Copts. The story described the battle of Jabal Halal as a special military battle in modern times.

The armed forces obtained $600bn and detained intelligence officers from different nationalities, according to the story. The story of arresting intelligence officers from different nationalities was interpreted by supporters of the authorities on social media as being in context with the secret visit of the king of Jordan and the German chancellor in the same week to Cairo, where he stressed that these officers belong to several countries including Israel, England, Qatar, Turkey, America, Jordan, Germany, and Saudi Arabia, as well as to the Hamas.

The German chancellor and the king of Jordan allegedly came to Cairo to receive the officers. Other pages supporting authorities confirm that the forced displacement of Christians is to keep them safe from being targeted by an international scheme, while the traitors are working on displacing them from their areas in order to provoke the international community.

Dear reader, the list of conspirators not only includes international authorities, but also foreign businessmen and investors, along with the Egyptian figures, all of which mean that there are signs that any Egyptian figure or businessman or foreign investor is susceptible to being accused of being part of the conspiracy.

The displacement of Copts is either a lie or a claim to say that Egypt is unable to protect them, or it is a precautionary measure undertaken by the authorities to protect them. In both cases, there is a denial of the deterioration of the security situation resulting in the forced displacement. This in turn confirms that there was a conspiracy that promoted the lie that there is already a security problem or that Christians were to be harmed.

While the truth is that the displacement prevented this harm, the two stories also affirm that there are a lot of conspiring states, that the manoeuvre was aborted, that the full victory has been achieved, and that officers of these countries are in our grasp.

I think that the story of Jabal Halal is an explicit model about how to turn defeats into victories through the use of conspiracy theories in order to continue confiscating political life by using the slogan “No voice is louder than the voice of the battle”.

Whenever you look back in the history of Egypt you will find many examples about how we have been turning defeats into victories, but the battle of Jabal Halal seems much smaller than the other battles, but it expresses a lot more crudeness.

Victory in such cases has been ambiguous and sees many interpretations: whether it is a defeat or half a defeat or a setback or a great victory, but this time things are clearer and are not based on any logic.

Finally, I should mention that the official authorities did tell—or promote—these stories about the battle of Jabal Halal, and thus they are not responsible for these narratives. The story since its beginning is told by someone who wrote his trio name claiming that he was a colonel in the Egyptian army. Even if this person—who we do not know if he was an officer in the army or not—wrote a story that the army considers incorrect, the army could have denied it through official channels. We can’t believe that this story has been told by a person who belongs to the Egyptian armed forces. This means that the story is supported by the authorities whether directly or indirectly, which is so dangerous and negatively impacts the reputation of the Egyptian administration to the danger before the world.

It also impacts our good relations with countries such Germany and Jordan. Such stories will make the Egyptian public doubt the credibility of the Egyptian army due to its illogical methods. I believe that our armed forces must deny these stories as it harms its reputation, which is contrary to what people think—those who are claiming that such victories will be a source of assurance and will gather the Egyptian people around the Egyptian army.

This is can be described as the bear that killed its friend.

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Opinion: car manufacturing strategy and personal interests https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/11/621621/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/11/621621/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2017 06:00:18 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=621621 Over the past few weeks, the future of the Egyptian car manufacturing strategy, or in other words the “car law,” has returned to be amongst the hot topics after the crisis that occurred to this project during Angela Merkel’s visit. She announced her dissatisfaction of the project, which was accompanied by a letter from the …

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Over the past few weeks, the future of the Egyptian car manufacturing strategy, or in other words the “car law,” has returned to be amongst the hot topics after the crisis that occurred to this project during Angela Merkel’s visit. She announced her dissatisfaction of the project, which was accompanied by a letter from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, where their rejection of the project was also revealed. They demanded changing more than six items.

Despite the assurances of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) and the parliament to reconsider all the items of the strategy, what takes place in reality is very unfortunate.

There are secret meetings, blocs, parties, and conflicts to impose opinions. Unfortunately, everybody overtly declares that they are looking for their own interest despite the criticality of the current economic conditions in Egypt.  It does not matter who makes it or does not make it out of the trap.

We must give up on our own personal interests during this difficult time. For five years now we have been talking about the strategy of car manufacturing and not a single positive step was taken.

Unfortunately, over the past period, three coalitions appeared. One of them demanded speeding up the issuance of the strategy regardless of its items, where they could be changed later. Another one of the demands is stopping the tempering and going back to reconsidering the entire issue, while the third coalition is one of interests.

It does not make sense for this to happen in Egypt, which is the largest market in the region and the focus of foreign companies trying hard to increase their investments in the country. How long will this climate of distrust and imposing opinions continue at the expense of the country’s interest?

During the third session of Egypt Automotive, several global companies were invited. I personally was not expecting anyone to attend; however, several prominent companies did. They included Volkswagen, Peugeot, Citroen, Ford, and others. They have tried to understand the nature of the market in order to increase the volume of their investments in Egypt, in addition to the coalitions they are forming with companies to supply production needs in order to import from Egypt.

Several global companies have entered into initial negotiations with respectable companies in Egypt with a history of distinct works in producing car parts with the goal of exporting them. However, what happened in reality four months after the visit?

Unfortunately, a state of desperation has taken over these companies which are still waiting for the legal framework of investment in Egypt and the incentives they should be receiving. The companies’ representatives from Egyptian companies do not know how the law will end up. In the end, this will only contribute to the creation of the negative impression global companies have about the Egyptian market.

In other words, this simply means we reject foreign investment, even with our immense need for increasing the flow of direct foreign investment as one of the most important sources of foreign currency, only due to our inability to make a unified decision without looking at personal interests.

We are not inventing something new. Several countries around us have already set a legal framework for investments as well as incentives in the sector of cars with fierce competition to attract huge investments injected by global companies in the sector of cars. Our lack of keeping up with the world has led to us being at the very bottom of the list of countries developed in the car trade and manufacturing.

Efforts must be unified. A government intervention is necessary in the face of this crisis. A clear roadmap for the car market must be employed if we really seek to increase production and exports.

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A Story of Courage, Creativity and Survival https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/09/story-courage-creativity-survival/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/09/story-courage-creativity-survival/#respond Sun, 09 Apr 2017 11:00:37 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=621369 In 1939, the relentless Nazi bombardment of Warsaw destroyed the city’s zoo. What the Nazis didn’t know, however, is that what they had destroyed was not an ordinary zoo, but the extraordinary creation of an unusual Christian Polish couple, Jan and Antonina Zabinski. Thanks to them and their son Ryszard’s efforts, approximately 300 Jewish women, …

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In 1939, the relentless Nazi bombardment of Warsaw destroyed the city’s zoo. What the Nazis didn’t know, however, is that what they had destroyed was not an ordinary zoo, but the extraordinary creation of an unusual Christian Polish couple, Jan and Antonina Zabinski. Thanks to them and their son Ryszard’s efforts, approximately 300 Jewish women, men, and children were saved from certain death.

They were able to do it because, at different times, the zoo and the Zabinski’s home hid dozens of Jewish women, children, and men from Nazi persecution. They hid them in their home’s closets, rooms, and even in the animals’ old cages in the zoo. All while trying to maintain a normal life in very abnormal times; times of cruelty and ruthless persecution.

Jan and Antonina were a married Christian couple from Warsaw. Jan was a zoologist and zoo technician, and also a scientist, organiser, and director of the renowned Warsaw Zoo before and during World War II. He became the director of the zoo before the war broke out, and during the occupation of Poland, he held the prestigious job as superintendent of the city’s public parks.

During all that time, Antonina Zabinski and her young son Ryszard looked after the needs of the many Jews hidden in their home. Although Jan Zabinski initially paid with his own funds to feed and hide his new guests, he was later helped by Zegota (Council Aid to the Jews.) After the Nazi bombing of the zoo, Jan joined the Polish resistance, while at the same time teaching biology at an underground university. He would also bring food into the Warsaw Ghetto and use the zoo to hide arms for the resistance. A true war hero, Jan also built bombs, sabotaged trains, and poisoned meat sent to the Germans.

To hide these activities, Antonina tried to show a brave face, inviting guests, holding receptions at their home, and trying to show to the world outside a normal face even though the three of them were under the constant threat of being found out and, if so, of probable torture and death.

Both Jan and Antonina were quite different from each other. While he was a courageous risk-taker who had befriended many Jews, Antonina was often fearful, and it was her connection to the animal world that they kept in the zoo that made her aware of other beings’ suffering.

An orphan since she was nine, Antonina was a cultured woman who spoke several languages and loved animals. After marrying Jan in 1931, she raised animals in their own home, among them orphaned lynx and lion cubs. When her husband, Jan, smuggled Jews out of the ghetto where they were living, she also adopted them and brought them to their home.

The Zabinskys went through some grueling times when all this was happening. Lutz Heck, a German zoologist who took most of their animals from their zoo to the Berlin zoo decided one day to ingratiate himself with his Nazi friends and SS higher-ups. So he invited them to a private hunting party, this time in the Warsaw zoo.

When Heck and the Nazi officers arrived at the zoo wielding pistols, Antonina took her terrified son and ran indoors. From her son’s room they could see through the drawn curtains the carnage of animals taking place outside. That “sheer gratuitous slaughter” made her wonder how many human beings would later lose their lives that same cruel way.

In 1944, Jan participated in the Warsaw Uprising to liberate the city from the German forces. He was injured and became a prisoner of war. Two years later, he returned to Warsaw from the prisoner of war camp where he had been held after his arrest by the Germans.

Soon afterwards, the Zabinkis started the difficult process of rebuilding their zoo. Antonina also wrote several children’s books, all of which feature animals in the story. Before Jan died in 1971, he spoke admiringly about his wife and told a reporter how a “timid housewife” had found the strength to face brutality and hatred.

Can it surprise anybody that a movie was made of the Zabinski’s lives and that they were recognised by the State of Israel as the Polish Righteous Among the Nations for their heroic rescue of Jews during the Holocaust in occupied Poland?

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant and a winner of several journalism awards.

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The 1952 family and conspiracy theory (2-3) https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/09/621367/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/09/621367/#respond Sun, 09 Apr 2017 10:00:43 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=621367 I am wondering how the conspiracy theory is used against Egypt? In other words: why do some sides promote this theory? And against whom? We tried in the previous article to highlight one of the reasons of the use of conspiracy theories to justify the criticism against authorities in Egypt due to human rights violations. …

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I am wondering how the conspiracy theory is used against Egypt? In other words: why do some sides promote this theory? And against whom?

We tried in the previous article to highlight one of the reasons of the use of conspiracy theories to justify the criticism against authorities in Egypt due to human rights violations. For example, when the authorities deny the existence of violations, rumours start to circulate about conspiracies against Egypt. In this article, we will try to present other uses of the conspiracy theory.

Initially, this theory was always used to justify failure, defeat, or inability. For example, we hear that Egypt cannot restore tourism because of conspiracies against Egypt. The world’s public opinion also speaks about human rights violations in Egypt because of this conspiracy against Egypt. Similarly, the price of the Egyptian pound is declining against the dollar because of the same conspiracy. Therefore, conspiracies were always blamed for all of Egypt’s problems, whether they resulted from wrong policies or incapability. Strangely, the authorities do not announce the parties of the conspiracy and do not face them. The talk about the conspiracy remains limited to the regime supporters in media outlets and social media, while those in power shroud themselves in silence and in vague insinuations. So the direct and explicit confrontation of the conspiracy’s parties is not possible for unknown reasons. Some people cite the hiding of conspirators to a deep and complex political wisdom, while regime supporters assert that their trust in the president motivates them to understand the reasons of hiding these conspirators.

The question is: what can we do in this regard?

If the reason for the Egyptian economic crisis lies in the conspiracy plotted by Qatar, Turkey, and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to decrease the value of the Egyptian pound, what can we do? If the Egyptian state cannot announce this plot and confront these conspirators directly, whether through diplomacy or media, what can we do?

During the youth conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, President Al-Sisi answered this question. ِAmid the debate between speakers and audience of the conference over the causes and solutions of the economic crisis, the president said that “his refrigerator” remained empty except for water for ten years without complaining. This story seemed unrelated to the ongoing debate, and the president was criticised for it. I believe the president’s story was related to the topic, because the president knows that the real reasons for the economic crisis are different than the reasons explained by the speakers. There are two possible reasons: that God cursed Egypt—as the MB believes—or that a conspiracy, which cannot be revealed or faced, is in place and the only solution would be patience, just as the president did when his refrigerator was empty for ten years except for water.

The debate on the causes of the crisis means that there is a problem which can be solved. It also means that a certain official should be held accountable for this problem. All these things are not even possible. The economic crisis can be summarised as follows: the crisis was caused by a plot, and we should endure hunger for long years until the problem is solved whenever God wills.

The conspiracy theory is usually linked with the slogan “no sound is louder than the sound of the battle,” because the purpose of talking about the conspiracy does not only justify the crisis, but also aims to prevent any opposition. But why? Because there is a battle which requires the people to cooperate and postpone any democratic policies, as there is no time for such things in an ongoing war.

So the interruption of political life is the reason for promoting the conspiracy theory. The plot is considered a battle, but not a real battle on the ground. It becomes necessary to talk about it as an invisible war. To cut a long story short, the details of the plot are mysterious, so the battle occurs in secret, or at least a major part of this battle is taking place in secret, so that the slogan “no sound is louder than the sound of battle” retains its importance, and democracy will be delayed until we win this battle—God willing.

The real current battle is the fight against terrorism to avoid the fate of Syria. This battle is clear and happens on the ground. We cannot describe it as artificial battle, as some supporters or sympathisers of the MB claim. We really face terrorism and extremism in our country—a battle waged by a few groups of terrorists with the support of some members of the Islamic political current. They perhaps receive political support from other parties within the community for different reasons. Additionally, the policies and procedures followed by the state authorities in its management of this battle practically support these terrorist groups. Ironically, these are always presented under the slogan “no sound is louder than the sound of battle,” because this concept prohibits and criminalises any collective work to confront terrorism and extremism, and limits it to the military solution.  It is known to everyone that the community was the main factor in the ouster of the MB. These forces included civil society organisations, parties, media, and peaceful protests. Thanks to this comprehensive confrontation, the state was able to achieve a real victory in the fight against terrorism and extremism on 30 June 2013. On the contrary, we can monitor many acts taken by the state that contributed to the support of the terrorism and extremism, including the imprisonment of Islam El-Behery and Ahmed Nagy.

The size and limits of the battle have clearly decreased on the ground for the normal citizen. If we excluded what is happening in Sinai, the explosions which used to hit important and densely populated areas in many cities have decreased considerably. Generally, we can say that the people take the battle against terrorism seriously only if a bomb exploded in a church or a checkpoint in Cairo or any major city. However, we can no longer say that the fight against terrorism justifies the postponement of democracy. The current security situation in Egypt, except in the Sinai, no longer justifies the control of security agencies over the general scene. The public opinion, mainly formed by the middle class, does not feel any threat of terrorism, unless its direct interests or children are affected. The general security situation requires the state authorities to admit that the situation in Sinai is unsafe and unstable. If the authorities said so, they would open the door for the opposition to say that Al-Sisi could not accomplish what he promised. Since 3 July, the president has built his legitimacy on providing security, and did not promise to achieve economic growth or political freedom. So when the terrorist attacks in Sinai continue, leaving dozens and hundreds of members of the armed forces killed or injured, state authorities will seem weak and confused.

The conspiracy theory seems to be the perfect solution to the problem, as it will deny the fact that there is security deterioration on the ground, and make us believe that the real battle occurs in secret against conspirators. This scenario grants state authorities several advantages, because the terrorist attacks, which killed dozens of soldiers, could be described as revenge acts in response to the state’s victories in the real battle. The question is: where and when do these victories happen?! We are talking about the big battles which occur in secret against the conspirators.

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The three messages of the US strike on Syria https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/08/three-messages-us-strike-syria/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/08/three-messages-us-strike-syria/#respond Sat, 08 Apr 2017 18:30:05 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=621365 The chemical bombing of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria was a golden opportunity for Trump’s administration to convey three messages. The first message is an internal one: the US president was like a bad machine—talks much, does little. He only fulfilled a small part of his internal agenda. What he did was so little that some …

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The chemical bombing of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria was a golden opportunity for Trump’s administration to convey three messages.

The first message is an internal one: the US president was like a bad machine—talks much, does little. He only fulfilled a small part of his internal agenda. What he did was so little that some said he is following the footsteps of another US president, Herbert Hoover, known for his great speeches and hesitant acts.

This was an opportunity for Trump to tell the world he is a man of decisions and that his ability to steal the show does not mean he cannot make decisive decisions.

Trump’s approval rates were falling back, reaching as low as 35%. There is nothing better than foreign adventures to appeal to human feelings. This was the popular reading in America after the flood of photos and videos showing the impact on Khan Sheikhoun. This, along with national interests, is the key to gather hesitant citizens and frustrated Americans behind their national institutions and their president.

I expect his approval rates to go up in the coming few days.

The second message is to Russia: Trump’s administration is telling Vladimir Putin that America is there and that Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” during the election campaign would make the country impose its presence.

If Obama was hesitant after the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan that he inherited from George W. Bush—as well as the situations in Syria, Libya, and Yemen, in which he seemed clueless—Trump will not follow suit, but would rather use its strong army and effective political will.

Yet, Trump’s administration does not want to make the strike a prelude to a diplomatic or military confrontation with Russia. Hence, the US state department explained that this strike is not part of an extended confrontation.

The third message is to US’s allies: Washington’s allies considered Trump’s tenure to be the return to the principle of the Monroe Doctrine, which is based on America’s isolation and in its self-sufficiency. This divided the US allies into two teams.

Some allies fear this idea, as it means that Washington will tone down its role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is the core of Europe’s security. This would also mean that they will have to face the liberal world order and its democratic impact on politics and capitalist effects on the economy.

For instance, all German politicians, including Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, believe Trump’s move deviated from the traditional American moves that made the world less fascist with less communism. Merkel did not hide her support for Hillary Clinton, or any other candidate but Trump, out of fear of his personal orientations that do not fit within any known ideological format. However, she might now do the same thing Winston Churchill did when he “danced with joy” after learning that Germany sank a US warship in 1944, which brought the US into the war against Germany, thus saving England from an unbalanced confrontation with the Nazi army [Editor’s note: the US entered World War 2 in 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor]. Now the US is entering a state of military chaos. The country will be required to make clear stands on the issues that a divided Europe cannot bear alone. Merkel and many European politicians will dance. Those politicians were fearful the strategic vacuum that would have been left by America would put everything in the hands of Russia.

This is why Europe, Japan, Australia, Turkey, and the Gulf States all supported the US strike—though vigilantly—as it gave them hope that disposing Bashar al-Assad is still on the White House agenda.

On the other hand, many right-wing politicians welcomed US isolation under Trump. They were caught by surprise when the strike took place. For instance, the French president supported the strike but stressed that it must be within the framework of the United Nations—hence, supporting the strike, but condemning it at the same time. Right-wing candidate Marie Le Pen was one of Trump’s isolation-slogan fans, but she was hesitant commenting on the US strike. “It would have been no problem if we waited to see the results of investigations first,” she said.

Fourth message: What benefit is there for us, the Arabs?

Nothing! We went in different directions when we took different stands. The fate of Syria is yet to be determined by the decisions that will be taken away from the will of its people, and in non-Arab capitals.

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Renewable energy & socioeconomic changes https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/05/620992/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/05/620992/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2017 07:30:56 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=620992 Stepping into the era of renewable energy (RE) will bring forth big socioeconomic changes all over the world. It will introduce a new industry and new means of living to all sorts of people. Those having vocal skills will work on the projects, operations, and all supported industries, such as agriculture and transportation. But the …

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Stepping into the era of renewable energy (RE) will bring forth big socioeconomic changes all over the world. It will introduce a new industry and new means of living to all sorts of people. Those having vocal skills will work on the projects, operations, and all supported industries, such as agriculture and transportation.

But the high impact will be on the normal citizens, from whom governments will buy their energy.

Inhabitants and households could install solar panels on their roofs—or with the advanced silicon film solar panels, they can install them on their glass windows and start to generate power that could be saved on batteries and fed into the national grid. Governments will be most willingly to buy this extra clean energy at good prices all year.

These small setups are actually small solar farms which are accumulated to generate a high rate of power output that could be transferred to any part of the world through international electric grids.

So a small house in Egypt’s Sinai can generate electricity that could light a house in Siberia. This small cell of power generation could generate a humongous amount of clean and cheap energy. Besides that, it could be a mean of decent living and a source of revenue for many people from all classes.

In Germany there are full solar roof top communities .These communities achieve the power generation of a huge solar station. Now, the generation of power is decentralised and localised, with no need to connect to far central stations through cables and transformers; houses are directly plugged in to their own power generation on the roof top.

Houses export the excess power through the grid to various areas which need this excess power.

The oil market became very volatile and vulnerable because of political conflicts. Nations that are poor of fossil fuel energy are always at the mercy of OPEC countries. In other words, some nations cannot live without OPEC countries, and history has shown us how OPEC countries can use this wealth against other nations and control the market.

In order to achieve energy security, nations have to depend on their natural RE resources, which are available everywhere.

Sun, wind, biomass, and hydroelectricity are there and can generate enough power for any nation that has the will to dedicate the necessary resources.

This security will provide nations with political security as well because they can make their own decisions and choices without any outside threats or manipulations.

Eng. Hisham Farouk Mostafa is a M.Sc. of Green & Renewable Energy, Atlantic University, USA

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Jabal Al-Halal: the old stronghold of terrorism https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/03/620834/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/03/620834/#comments Mon, 03 Apr 2017 18:00:59 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=620834 I have numerous memories that date back to the end of the 1990s in Jabal Al-Halal, located 60 kilometres south of Al-Arish. We visited the mountain a few days ago after the elimination of terrorists who used to take shelter in it until mid-February. It was named “Halal” because of the camels and sheep that …

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I have numerous memories that date back to the end of the 1990s in Jabal Al-Halal, located 60 kilometres south of Al-Arish. We visited the mountain a few days ago after the elimination of terrorists who used to take shelter in it until mid-February. It was named “Halal” because of the camels and sheep that used to graze in the pastures surrounding the mountain.

I spent my military service near this mountain in the middle of Sinai, where we heard many stories about it. It was known to everyone that climbing this 1,000-metre-high mountain is very dangerous because of its extremely steep slopes and because of its rugged terrain that makes it difficult for anyone, but the experienced locals, to climb it.

Jabal Al-Halal is mainly inhabited by the Tarabin and Tiyaha tribes, who know all its paths and routes by heart and who live in huts by the mountain or in the mountain’s caves.

The initial terrorist linkage of Jabal Al-Halal

After I completed my military service and started working in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, which I co-founded, I heard again about this mountain, as it was linked to terrorist acts that targeted Taba and Sharm El-Sheikh in 2004 and 2005. Egyptian security forces raided Jabal Al-Halal for several months using helicopters, hundreds of soldiers, and heavy weapons to eliminate the terrorist elements hiding in it—it was then when myths spread about the difficulty of controlling it.

In 2012, the armed forces attacked the mountain again after the Rafah Massacre, which occurred in Ramadan, amid a wide military operation called “Eagle.” It was said that hundreds of militants were hiding there with their weapons and equipment.

The elimination of terrorists at the mountain

A few days ago, I was invited by the Department of Morale Affairs, affiliated to the armed forces, to participate in a visit to the highest point of Jabal Al-Halal, in the presence of a number of law-enforcement forces. I listened to the Egyptian soldiers, who spoke of their experience in confronting terrorists in the paths and caves of the mountain. The mount became a tourist attraction since the military operations ended the presence of terrorists at the beginning of March.

During our ride from Cairo to the Third Field Army headquarters, we talked with the Morale Affairs Department’s members, who spoke to us about the military operations carried out to take control over the mountain, as well as the importance of this step on the security and political level of Sinai. We stressed the importance of community support and solidarity with the army in the face of terrorist elements, as well as drying up the resources of terrorism and confronting the extreme thought with moderate Islamic ones. The officers asked us to deliver the accurate image of the situation in Jabal Al-Halal. They welcomed to answer any question about the military operation in the mountain. We asked them many questions, and they answered and explained the situation clearly.

It was not difficult for us to see the impact of the success of these military operations on the spirit of everyone at the third field army headquarters, where we were received by a number of military leaders who spoke about the importance of what happened in Jabal Al-Halal. They told us all about the huge efforts exerted by our fighters in the face of terrorism.

They added that terrorists could not confront our troops and that they no longer can target the military’s checkpoints in Sinai, pointing out that they used to target isolated checkpoints, but the army managed to avoid such mistakes.

Dealing with captives

The officers told us that arrested terrorists always deny their crimes, noting that they are different than Bedouins in terms of morals and beliefs. The military officers asserted that the military does not target the militant’s women and children. Actually, the army offers in-kind aid for these families, despite the army’s belief that the children who grow up at the hands of terrorists will not turn out to become good people. The officers added that, during the siege of Jabal Al-Halal, they monitored several calls between militants, which showed the decline of the militants’ morals. They added that injured militants are usually left by their colleagues to die.

The army said that more than 90% of the mountains in Sinai were completely cleared of terrorist elements, even though they may return or recruit new elements by brainwashing them or paying them money.

On the other hand, the army regularly contacts the families of martyrs and the wounded to check on their situation and provide them with the needs they require.

Major general Mohamed Raafat El-Dosh spoke about the details of Jabal Al-Halal’s military operation, noting that there is no unified plan for fighting the terrorists in Sinai.

He said that the first stage of the operations included the gathering of information about the militants’ hideouts inside the mountain, adding that Sinai’s Bedouins provided the military with enough information to control the mountain.

El-Dosh further added that the armed forces then deployed troops at several areas 5-8 km from the mountain to close all roads leading to and from the mountain. This siege was not noticed by terrorists—a move that contributed to cutting the supplies sent to the militants, resulting in arresting many of them. This siege lasted for four days.

He added that the army imposed a closer siege that lasted for six days at temperatures close to zero in mid-February. El-Dosh said that the militants were surprised and that they began to flee from the mountain. The army managed to arrest most of these, while the rest were ambushed.

Afterwards, the intrusion operations started, where nine battalions surrounded the mountain. Each group was responsible for a certain area, where they scanned it and arrested anyone who surrendered without resistance. The orders were clear: whoever points a weapon at our forces gets killed immediately.

The commander of the third field army said that the “Takfiri” elements soon realised that there is no way to escape, so they booby-trapped motorcycles and four-wheel-drive vehicles. However, the military was able to discover the booby traps and prevent them from exploding.

“We discovered places in which modern Toyota cars and motorcycles were stored, in addition to 24 caves in the mountain so that militants could hide during aerial attacks. Eight more caverns and two shooting fields, in addition to models to simulate the ambushes on the military, were discovered—in addition to a great stock of spare car parts, weapons, ammo, and materials used to prepare explosives,” the commander explained.

He added that cars mounted with guns were found, but those were seized by the forces. Uniforms with badges that read “Sinai Province” were found.

The commander explained that the criminal elements thought that the higher they went up the mountain, the harder it would be for our forces to follow them; however, the military has scanned each inch. The operation resulted in the killing of 18 terrorists and the arrest of 31 others. The forces have also eliminated large acres where narcotic plants were cultivated.

The commander told stories of fighters from the military who refused to return to the headquarters despite sustaining injuries. In fact, some of them did not even feel their injuries amid the clashes. Cooperation between field army forces will continue until Sinai is cleared of terrorists, according to the commander.

Our trip from the headquarters of the third field army to Jabal Al-Halal took several hours. We were in the company of several combat officers who explained how operations are done and how high the fighting spirits of the soldiers were. What caught my attention the most was the great technological ability that Egypt has to detect illegal positions and the identities of anyone who crossed the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel from the west to the east of the Suez Canal.

Checkpoints were numerous and very strict, but that did not affect the flow of traffic. The forces, whether from the police or army, were always alert.

Training is continuously carried out to prepare all soldiers to use all types of weapons and to improve their fighting skills, which has resulted in the great damage to terrorists.

The commander said that soldiers are now trained to use other weapons in case they lost their machine gun, such as the pistol or a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).

He revealed that all the vehicles that cross from the west to the east of the Suez Canal pass through an X-ray device.

Soon, the talk with the commander took a humane side. He revealed that he has a son and daughter who are both less than nine years old; however, he said that he does not get to see them often because of the irregular dates of holidays. He stressed that soldiers take longer holidays today than they did before. Because he lives on the ground of the confrontations with terrorism, he took us back to the talk about clearing Jabal Al-Halal. He said it took 16 days that involved several sieges, followed by attacks, scans, and clearing the mountain.

Our cars stopped at a point near the mountain. There, we boarded armoured cars and headed to the mountain, which we were curious about the whole time during out trip.

We were received by several fighters, whose features we could not recognized but whose spirits we were able to feel after they had eliminated the remnants of terror from the mountain. The groups’ leader started talking to us, saying “the good in the mountain was brought back again. The citizens of Sinai can now return with their sheep to the mountain all they want.”

The leader of the fight groups explained the siege and attack operations, saying all paths leading up to the mountain were closed, where no one and nothing could come in or out. After the terror elements were drained, physically and mentally, they were eliminated. Large amounts of explosives were found afterwards.

He concluded by saying that fighters receive constant calls from the commander-in-chief, the staff chief, and leaders of weapons and armies to check on them and improve their spirits, which helps them accomplish the mission.

The trip was filled with stories about fighters who were injured and others who died. They told us about a fighter who was injured and refused to leave his position unless he killed the group he was attacking. Another refused to let go of his weapon and continued to fight until he returned. The mother of another fighter passed away while he was in the operation, and he refused to receive condolences until after the end of the operations.

They told us a story about a soldier whose right hand was injured, so he decided to train using his left hand to continue carrying a weapon. Another one had lost the fingers of his right hand and refused to leave the army services until after the completion of the operations in Sinai.

They have stressed that the fame of Jabal Al-Halal has exaggerated things even though there are many other mountains that are far more dangerous and that were cleared from terror elements but were unheard of. Through the help of our escorts, we were able to obtain more information about the operations carried out in Jabal Al-Halal and the nature of the mountain, as well as the upcoming steps to completely clear Sinai from all terrorism.

We returned by night, but we had no  fear, thanks to the safety of Sinai that has been maintained with the efforts of the fighters, making Sinai return to being a safe homeland that can result in a huge economic transition for Egypt in the near future.

 

Photos Army Handout

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The 1952 family and conspiracy theory (1-3) https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/02/620647/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/02/620647/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 11:00:06 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=620647 The talk about conspiracy is not new. For decades, all the rulers of the 1952 school of thinking talked about conspiracy. Sometimes it was an imperial plot, sometimes it was a communist one. The funny thing about conspiracies is that supporters of the regime believe that conspiracies have expanded over the past years to include …

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The talk about conspiracy is not new. For decades, all the rulers of the 1952 school of thinking talked about conspiracy. Sometimes it was an imperial plot, sometimes it was a communist one.

The funny thing about conspiracies is that supporters of the regime believe that conspiracies have expanded over the past years to include several parties, ranging from the Islamic State (IS) to Germany, all the way through Qatar, Israel, Turkey, the US, Britain, Russia, and Italy.

The talk about conspiracies, however, does not address all the aggressive practices undertaken by the government, but rather implies that Egypt is attacked by non-government parties so that supporters of the regime can freely discuss those issues on satellite channels and newspapers. Let us ask a question in order to correctly address this: why do some governments and media channels across different countries conspire against us?

This question has been persistent for many years, and it points to the political authority as people know that the suspected attack is not directed towards Egyptians as a people. It is not racist and does not discriminate against Egyptians, believing they are not eligible for democracy. On the contrary, those who believe there is a conspiracy against Egypt are actually those who look down on Egyptians.

A large number of those taking part in the alleged “attack on Egypt” stress that they criticise some measures and practices by the government, which supposedly reflects their deep appreciation for Egyptians. Now, regardless of this, and regardless of the fact that the used expression—“attack”—is incorrect, we will try, throughout the next few lines, to accurately answer a question deemed to be important by the loyalists of the political leadership “why do some countries and media from other countries conspire against Egypt and attack us?”

Again, the official answer is “yes, there is a conspiracy on Egypt.” However, it is important for the parties who believe in this conspiracy to answer this question and prove its existence.

If you look at the answer to the question carefully, without falling for the trap of long discussions about the details of this conspiracy, you will quickly realise that the answer to the question is pointless.

If the parties involved in the so-called conspiracy, as well as its goals, were determined, the answer to the question would not really provide a realistic clear explanation. This makes it necessary to ask another question directly, and that question would be: “why is there a conspiracy on Egypt?”

We can answer this question even with just a small degree of logical thinking. We have actually sought to answer the following question: “does Egypt, or its government, represent a threat to other countries or entities in the region? Is Egypt adopting a state of aggression to any of those countries who are supposedly conspiring against it?” And what are these countries and entities anyway?

If the answer was “yes, Egypt is a threat to other countries,” we could at least be more familiar with the nature of conspirators, their identities, and their motives—and, therefore, understand their goals. However, the stories told by supporters of the state authority have different starting points. Some of them begin with identifying conspirators first, then try to understand their motives later. The stories told by these supporters differ in terms of the nature of these supporters and their identities as well.

Generally, the US, Britain, Israel, and the west as a whole, are among the conspirators, in addition to Qatar, Turkey, Iran, and Russia. Focusing on any of these countries is directly related to the criticism made by them towards the political authority in Egypt.

The authority in Egypt does not assume that there is a distance or difference between the authority of a country, its press, its political parties, or its NGOs. It considers any criticism by a TV channel, a political figure, or the government, as criticism made by the entire country towards Egypt. This is why once such criticisms are made public, supporters of the Egyptian regime rush to explain the nature of the conspiracy planned by that given country—Italy, for example.

It is noteworthy to state that there is proof of a strong relationship at all levels, whether economic, diplomatic, or political, between Egypt and Italy. It was, however, something not usually taken into consideration, when the mother of Giulio Regeni, the young man who was tortured and killed in Cairo, made a statement accusing security forces in Egypt of being involved in his killing.

To the supporters of the authority, the conspiracy is large and aims to sabotage Egypt one way or another, hence, the conspiring parties are not many, but appear to be vague and unidentified. In other words, the list of the conspiring countries is vague enough to be open and subject to more additions based on the circumstances. This resulted in the expansion of the conspiring parties recently in a way that caused great confusion.

For example, while all evidence shows that the relations between the Egyptian and Russian governments are good, some still think that Russians are part of the conspiracy. However, when criticism comes from, say, an Emirati figure, supporters of the regime keep quiet and ignore the criticism.

The parties of the conspiracy appear to be varied and continuously changing. Moreover, the goals of this conspiracy are vague and unclear, but they all agree on one goal, which is, of course, overthrowing Egypt or—more specifically—overthrowing the “ruling regime.”

In order for the idea of overthrowing an authority to be scary and looked down upon, it must be related to the idea of a foreign power trying to establish control over Egypt, which again stresses that the conspiracy is lead by the West, according to the same supporters of the regime. Some claim it is in the favour of Iran and some think it is in the favour of both the West and Iran.

The accurate reading of the parties of the conspiracy and its aims change based on which “strategic expert” is speaking or even the orientation of the figure or group supporting the regime with their statements. If this person is of “leftist-nationalist” convictions and decided to support the current regime in Egypt, he will try to prove that the conspiracy against the political authority is imperial, colonialist, and Zionist, and aims to enforce control over the political decision-making process. The conspiracy, in that case, would include the US, Britain, Italy, and Israel. A “strategic expert” adopting this belief system will work hard to avoid considering the good relations between Egypt and the US, dodging around the fact that the American leadership is granting Egypt’s armed forces the second-largest military aid in its budget—only second to Israel.

This strategic expert certainly will not see the description of the Egyptian-Israeli relations in Israeli newspapers as “perfect” and “have never been better.”

On the other hand, if the strategic expert is from the right-wing camp, he might think that there is a conspiracy to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power or even rebuild the Nasserist system. In this case, the parties involved in the conspiracy may be the brotherhood, Qatar, Turkey, and maybe even Russia.

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Egypt and China, a Bridge Not Too Far: Taha Hussein or Henry Kissinger? https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/02/620648/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/02/620648/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 10:00:37 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=620648 A very distinguished Chinese academic, Dr. Wang Jisi, just gave a talk at the American University in Cairo on China’s understanding of the international order (Tahrir Dialogue No. 64 – “Listening to and Looking Towards Asia”, Tahrir Campus, March 29, 2017). Something that came up during his talk was figuring out how Egypt looks at …

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A very distinguished Chinese academic, Dr. Wang Jisi, just gave a talk at the American University in Cairo on China’s understanding of the international order (Tahrir Dialogue No. 64 – “Listening to and Looking Towards Asia”, Tahrir Campus, March 29, 2017). Something that came up during his talk was figuring out how Egypt looks at the international order and how congruent this vision was with Chinese priorities, which were primarily local (domestic stability) and economic (trade, growth, jobs). I am glad to say the other speaker there, the very distinguished Dr. Ahmed Darwish of the Suez Canal Industrial Zone, was indeed very congruent with Chinese interests. Egypt would be part and parcel, God willing, of China’s One Belt, One Road policy of commercial and industrial integration with everything to the west of it. There were, however, other dimensions too that I will address later.

That being said, you could not help but notice the description of Dr. Jisi’s post, as a professor and head of the International Institute and Strategic Studies at ‘Peking’ University. But the capital city is no longer called Peking, but Beijing? Dr. Jisi himself, however, used the proper Chinese phrasing ‘Beijing’ during the Q&A session. Peking is a Western mispronunciation, and putting the word Beijing on the world map is a mark of China’s ability to tip the balance in favour of the developing world.

This may just have been a typo but one ‘suspects’ that Egypt is still looking at the world through foreign and, more specifically, Western-centric eyes. In Egypt, to this day, we do not refer to the English Channel as the English Channel, but use the French term, which nobody uses anywhere, except Francophiles. We also refer to Beijing as Pikeen. You need to look no further than the controversy raised by the legendary Taha Hussein in his classic “The Future of Culture in Egypt” (1938). Contrary to the criticism, Taha Hussein never advocated doing away with Egypt’s Arab identity. Culture here means ‘intellect’, with a focus on education. Instead, he wanted to do away with Egypt’s ‘Eastern’ identity altogether, albeit with the best of intentions, to sustain the liberal democratic foundations of post-independence Egypt—as he understood them.

That is, Greek rationalism, secularism, and the whole notion that modern Egypt was ‘European’ Egypt. He was particularly worried Egypt would return to the dark days of Ottoman imperialism at the behest of reactionary religious clerics at home. Hussein was quite prophetic in this regard, given Erdogan’s own self-professed Islamist ambitions, using the Muslim Brotherhood as a tool in both Syria and Egypt. Still, that is no excuse for obfuscating the facts of history. Egyptians may have nothing in common with the Chinese and Japanese, but that does not make them Westerners either. What is even more disturbing is that Taha Hussein internalised some very brazen Western readings of our history—retrospective myth making—about how ancient Egypt fought the expanding Persian empire, to supposedly stop the onslaught of the East. I’d come across an archaic history book from Britain’s own imperial heyday making the same self-serving claims. Later, Hussein praises the Arabs for taking up both Greek and Persian civilisation.

This is tragic because the West of today, particularly the power brokers and intellectual decision-makers, no longer cling to these outdated ethnocentric illusions. I once watched a former BBC newscaster, during a broadcast about the humanitarian crisis in Syria, praising Iran for being a thousand year-old civilisation still in existence that demanded respect because it could get its way in its Middle Eastern theatre of operations. More relevant still are the views of Henry Kissinger on how to deal with China, extolled in his 2014 book, “World Order”, where he explained that there was no need for a confrontation with Asia, because the word Asia itself is classical Greek (Please see Amitai Etzioni, “Kissinger’s Order”, “The Diplomat,” 16 September, 2014). Asians have never thought of themselves as a single people and have no reason to, so they have no reason to vie with the West—and vice versa.

Wouldn’t you know it; Dr. Jisi himself mentioned Kissinger’s most recent gesticulations on the matter of American-Chinese relations and how the two countries should co-evolve together. In Kissinger-speak, the US could develop a ‘Pacific’ community, on the model of the Atlantic community, and include China in it so that all could benefit instead of polarise the region round American and Chinese alliance systems. This way you could have mutual economic interests and common forums to help settle disputes.

This would mean, in turn, that the very language used to divide up the world should change accordingly. We can only hope this will take root here. Dr. Darwish gave us all hope, noting how Chinese investors were not like their European counterparts, willing to give largesse to delays and other problems on the Egyptian side, taking political relations into consideration. He also phrased the challenges and priorities of economic development in civilizational terms, noting how China had given us all hope because it was a once great civilisation that was now reviving itself. Egypt and the Arabs and Muslims were civilised once and so now have a second shot at being civilised again, if they studied their economic policies and executed them properly.

The New Suez Canal was such an example because it undercut rival plans in the immediate vicinity, without naming names, and was a must in the face of what was happening elsewhere: the Panama Canal expansions, Chinese plans to navigate the North Pole, and a possible new Pacific-Atlantic Canal in Nicaragua. Egypt could also be China’s conduit to the African marketplace because of Egypt’s free trade treaties with African and Arab North African states. ‘Made in Egypt’ means zero customs on the African continent, no matter who actually did the making.

But I’m still worried. I read an article some time ago in a local publication claiming that Egypt and Greece were two peas in a civilizational pod, because Greece’s “no” to the European Union was like Egypt’s “no” to Morsi’s tyrannical rule. Both were heirs to a glorious civilization and so stood up when they felt their independence and dignity were under threat. If Greece was so civilised, how did it fall into debt to begin with, and what has Egypt got to do with Greek civilisation anyway? Taha Hussein again.

I’d hate to replace Taha Hussein with Henry Kissinger, but the ultimate lesson of co-evolution is that you do not need to. Egypt can resist the Islamist lure of Erdogan’s Turkey without cutting itself off from all things Eastern, especially in the economic realm. And then there’s Taha Hussein’s advice on how to fix the educational system, full of even more galling prophecies. Better keep that for later!

Emad El-Din Aysha received his PhD in International Studies from the University of Sheffield in the UK and taught, from 2001, at the American University in Cairo. Since 2003 he has worked in English-language journalism in Egypt, first at The Egyptian Gazette and now as a staff writer with Egypt Oil and Gas.

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Two historical moments in Syria https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/27/two-historical-moments-syria/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/27/two-historical-moments-syria/#comments Mon, 27 Mar 2017 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=619946 The photograph is the image of desolation. In a room that seems to have been devastated by a hurricane, shattered windows and furniture, debris everywhere, and a few torn and winding curtains that remain as mute witnesses to the disaster, a man sitting on his bedroom bed smokes a pipe while listening to a record. …

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The photograph is the image of desolation. In a room that seems to have been devastated by a hurricane, shattered windows and furniture, debris everywhere, and a few torn and winding curtains that remain as mute witnesses to the disaster, a man sitting on his bedroom bed smokes a pipe while listening to a record.

The man sitting there is Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, also called Abu Omar, a 70 year-old man. The place is the al-Shaar neighbourhood in Aleppo, scene of one of the cruellest wars of recent times. His house has just been bombed and Abu Omar refuses to leave it. Instead, he lights his pipe, puts a record on the gramophone—which can work because it is manual—and is lost in his thoughts.

Abu Omar is a collector of vintage cars, most of them inherited from his father. Among them was a 1957 Mercury Montclair, a 1949 Hudson Commodore, a 1958 Chevrolet Apache truck, and a 1948 Buick, all of which would delight any serious collector. All of them, however, are destroyed, a fact which does not intimidate Abu Omar, who promised to repair them.

To a group of journalists, who visited him, Abu Omar said, “I can start from scratch. I am willing to rebuild my house, my factory, even the cars. Nothing will discourage me, destroy me, or make me surrender. You have to keep your head up.”

Paradoxically, the image of desolation conveyed in the photograph is also the image of hope and courage. An old man with all his material possessions destroyed who still wants, in the serenity of his home, to continue listening to his gramophone shows the magical redeeming power of music.

Old Syrians who were born in the 1930s and 1940s still remember the two promising main periods of western democracy the country went though. The first was 1946 to 1949 when the first military coup d’état took place, and the second from 1958 to 1961 when Syria and Egypt hastily created the United Arab Republic, headed by Gamal Abdel Nasser. During both periods, Syria was ruled by democratically elected governments.

Those periods—in addition to a very short period in 1962—were considered golden for the Syrian educated middle class to whom the old man in the photo might have belonged. At those periods, with freedom of speech and the press secured, economy had rapidly been flourishing with increasing GDP, decreasing illiteracy, improving education at all levels, and—what is most important—expanding middle class, the portion of any society leading real development.

Syria was then non-sectarian, much less religiously conservative than now, and women gained most of their rights back then. The second photo shows Shukri al-Quwatli, Syria’s president in the 1950s, with members of the Syrian women federation with the late Mrs. Rima Kurdali Al Azmeh, later president of the “Women’s Cultural Council,” established in1943. The group, where none of the women are veiled, is addressing the president, presumably asking for further equality measures for Syrian women.

 


Cesar Chelala, MD, PhD, is an international public health consultant and a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and two national journalism awards from Argentina.

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Defeating the Islamic State: A war mired in contradictions https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/27/619943/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/27/619943/#respond Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:00:38 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=619943 US president Donald J. Trump’s vow to defeat what he terms radical Islamic terrorism forces the United States to maneuver the Middle East and North Africa’s murky world of ever shifting alliances and labyrinth of power struggles within power struggles. The pitfalls are complex and multiple. They range from differences within the 68-member anti-Islamic State …

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US president Donald J. Trump’s vow to defeat what he terms radical Islamic terrorism forces the United States to maneuver the Middle East and North Africa’s murky world of ever shifting alliances and labyrinth of power struggles within power struggles.

The pitfalls are complex and multiple. They range from differences within the 68-member anti-Islamic State (IS) alliance over what constitutes terrorism, to diverging political priorities, to varying degrees of willingness to tacitly employ jihadists to pursue geopolitical goals. The pitfalls are most evident in Yemen and Syria and involve two long-standing US allies, NATO ally Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

US secretary of state Rex W. Tillerson travels to Turkey this week as US and Russian troops create separate buffers in Syria to prevent a Turkish assault on the northern town of Manbij. Manbij, located 40 kilometres from the Turkish border, is controlled by Kurdish forces, viewed by the US as a key ground force in the fight with the Islamic State.

Until a series of devastating IS suicide bombings in Turkish cities, Turkish forces appeared to concentrate on weakening the Kurds rather than the jihadists in Syria. Stepped-up Turkish action against IS has not weakened Turkey’s resolve to prevent Kurds from emerging as one of the victors in the Syrian conflict.

At the heart of US-Turkish differences over the Kurds is the age-old-adage that one man’s terrorist is another man’s liberation fighter. The US has a long history of empathy towards Kurdish cultural and national rights and enabled the emergence of a Kurdish state-in-waiting in northern Iraq. The differences also go to an equally large elephant in the room: the question whether Syria, Yemen, and Iraq will survive as nation states in a post-war era.

That may be the real issue at the core of US-Turkish differences.  Many Turks hark back in their suspicion that foreign powers are bent on breaking up the Turkish state to the 1920 Treaty of Sevre that called for a referendum in which Kurds would determine their future.

Visionary Mustafa Kemal Ataturk carved modern Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottoman empire. He mandated a unified Turkish identity that superseded identities of a nation whose population was to a large degree made up of refugees from far flung parts of the former empire and ethnic and religious minorities.

Turkey charges that Syrian Kurdish fighters are aligned with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish Kurdish group that has been fighting for Kurdish rights for more than three decades and has been designated terrorist by Turkey, the United States, and Europe.

US joint chiefs of staff chairman Joseph Dunford, Russian chief of the general staff Valery Gerasimov, and Turkish chief of the general staff Hulusi Abkar met in the southern Turkish city of Antalya in advance of Mr. Tillerson’s visit to lower tensions that threaten planned efforts to capture Raqqa, the Islamic State’s capital.

In many ways, the pitfalls are similar in Yemen, where Mr. Trump has stepped up support for Saudi Arabia’s devastating intervention that this month entered its third year and has increased attacks on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), viewed as one of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliates.

It took Al Qaeda attacks inside the kingdom in 2003-4 and jihadist operations since, as well as growing international suggestions of an ideological affinity between Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism and jihadism, for the kingdom to view Islamic militants on par with Iran, which Saudis see as an existential threat.

Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia, despite a litany of denials, has seen militant Islamists as useful tools in its proxy wars with Iran in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Sunni ultra-conservatives are frequently at the forefront of Saudi-led efforts to dislodge the Yemeni Houthis from their strongholds.

Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen has in fact given AQAP a new lease on life. Prior to the war, AQAP had been driven to near irrelevance by the rise of IS and security crackdowns. In a report in February, the International Crisis Group (ICG) concluded that AQAP was “stronger than it has ever been.”

The group “appears ever more embedded in the fabric of opposition to the Houthi/Saleh alliance …that is fighting the internationally recognised, Saudi-backed interim government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi,” the report said. It was referring to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who are aligned with former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

AQAP’s resurgence is as much a result of Saudi Arabia’s single-minded focus on the Iranian threat posed in the kingdom’s perception by the Houthis as it is potentially related to a murky web of indirect or tacit relationships with the group.

“In prosecuting the war, the Saudi-led coalition has relegated confronting AQAP and IS to a second-tier priority… Saudi-led coalition statements that fighting the group is a top priority and announcements of military victories against AQAP in the south are belied by events,” the ICG said.

The kingdom’s willingness to cooperate with Islamists such as Yemen’s Islah party, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, and its unclear attitude towards AQAP have sparked strains within the anti-Houthi coalition, particularly with the staunchly anti-Islamist United Arab Emirates (UAE).

AQAP has been able to rearm itself through the indirect acquisition of weapons from the Saudi-led coalition as well as raids on Yemeni military camps. AQAP is believed to have received advance notice and to have coordinated with the Saudis its withdrawal from the crucial port of Mukalla before an assault by UAE and Yemeni forces, according to the ICG.

Saudi Arabia was conspicuously low key when, in January, a US Navy Seal died in a raid on AQAP, in which the US military seized information that this month prompted the Trump administration and Britain to ban carry-on electronics aboard U.S. and London-bound flights from select airports in North Africa and the Middle East, including two in Saudi Arabia.

Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s leading English-language newspaper, this week quoted Saudi officials as saying that AQAP, widely believed to be well advanced in its ability to target aircraft with explosives smuggled on board, had lost its capability to operate overseas.

The officials said that Saudi Arabia, which has cozied up to the Trump administration and endorsed the president’s ban on travel to the US from six Muslim-majority countries, was concerned about IS and Shiite militants rather than AQAP. “They (AQAP) don’t have the power to export their activities,” Arab news quoted Abdullah Al-Shehri, a senior Saudi interior ministry official, as saying.

The ministry’s spokesperson, Mansour Al-Turki, noted that, “Al Qaeda actually has not been involved in any real kind of terrorism-related incident in Saudi Arabia for three years. Most of the incidents came from Daesh (the Arab acronym for IS) or militant groups related to Shiites in the eastern province.”

The United States and some of its key allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, may be able to paper over differences that allow for short-term advances against IS. But in the longer term, it could be the failure to address those differences head on that will create new breeding grounds for militancy. It’s the kind of trade-off that in the past has produced short-term results only to create even greater problems down the road.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and three forthcoming books, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa as well as Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-conservatism and China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom.

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Educated guess vs analysed data: The importance of analytics for strategic CHRO https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/26/educated-guess-vs-analysed-data-importance-analytics-strategic-chro/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/26/educated-guess-vs-analysed-data-importance-analytics-strategic-chro/#respond Sun, 26 Mar 2017 11:00:21 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=619829 Oracle’s Joachim Skura makes a case for integrated data in the modern HR department

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The 18th century English writer, Alexander Pope, once said: “a little learning is a dangerous thing.” Much has changed in the 300 years since then, but our propensity to make decisions based on hunches and incomplete information has not.

It is second nature to make ‘educated guesses’ in our day to day lives, whether it is going to see the latest movie by a trusted director without looking at the reviews first, or getting a fresh paint job by the contractor who has been around the longest. Quite often, people just need to make a decision based on a ‘gut feeling’ or a quick comparison of the given options. At worst, a wrong assumption in these scenarios would only lead to watching a disappointing movie or a repaint.

The educated guesses we make at work can have much more serious repercussions. In my experience, these generally fall into two brackets:

  • Assumptions based on unfounded correlations; for instance, there is a widespread belief that millennials switch jobs more often than their older colleagues.
  • Decisions based on short-term rationale; such as the tendency for companies to make HR decisions based only on their current bottom line instead of their long term goals is a prime example.

In the world of work, we cannot afford to rely on superficial or fleeting learning, certainly not at a time where the future is so uncertain for businesses. A concrete understanding of how people’s actions affect the business, their needs, their motivators, and their competencies has never been more important. A more integrated analysis to data is the key to building this solid understanding.

Thankfully, a new generation of powerful analytics capabilities allows businesses and HR leaders to feed more informed decision-making while removing the above biases from the equation.

Assumptions companies make when managing their people can be quite damaging. For instance, we tend to assume candidates from good schools will better serve the company but how many organisations actually track this in the long term?  I’m currently working with a pharmaceuticals company on a sort of ‘intellectual playground’ where we look at how analytics can make HR more strategic.

On the issue of a potential hire’s previous schooling, one of our projects involves tracking long term employee performance to see how strong or weak the link is between factors that affected a hiring decision and their performance over multiple years. The results may yet prove traditional assumptions wrong. Just think of what that would mean for hiring strategies.

The point here is not that one analysis will reveal once and for all which schools a company should hire their talent from. Rather, the argument is that analytics can debunk received wisdom, help us address biases we might not recognise, and provide insights we would never get otherwise.

Unfortunately, most HR leaders do not take full advantage of HR analytics to make better decisions about employees, largely because they perceive factors like engagement and wellness to be matters of instinct rather than hard numbers. This simply is not true. In fact a more objective approach to people management helps HR take the bias out of decision-making and instead apply sound principles that benefit the entire organisation over time.

The challenge with HR analytics is to combine hard data on things like hiring channel tracking, a candidate’s educational background, or a worker’s measurable output with soft data on employee engagement, workers’ perception of HR, and results from performance reviews. This is the only way to gain a complete picture of how all the relevant factors interact to drive employee success, or stand in its way. It would not be a stretch to say integrated data is the lynchpin of intelligent, unbiased HR decision-making.

This analytical approach also helps companies test HR programmes more accurately. For example, they can analyse a new intake programme on a more frequent basis to see how effective it is and to quickly make any required changes in light of the patterns revealed in the data. Similarly, the company can pinpoint what combinations of factors drive certain groups of employees to resign or go work for a competitor and work to address those more proactively.

It’s essential that the right people can access this data and that they can do so conveniently. HR teams and line managers are ultimately in the best position to bring about change among employees and must therefore be empowered to do so.

So, while the analytics process may be complex, the user controls and outputs must be easy and clear enough for the right people to understand and act on them. In the words of the American historian Daniel J. Boorstin: “the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.”

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60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties: towards a stronger EU and strengthened cooperation with Egypt https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/25/60th-anniversary-rome-treaties-towards-stronger-eu-strengthened-cooperation-egypt/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/03/25/60th-anniversary-rome-treaties-towards-stronger-eu-strengthened-cooperation-egypt/#respond Sat, 25 Mar 2017 08:45:11 +0000 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=619454 In unpredictable times, the anniversary is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the values and objectives on which the European project is founded

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The Rome Treaties of 1957 mark the first steps towards the European Union

On 25 March, the European Union (EU) marks 60 years since the signing of the Rome Treaties, the first step towards a united Europe. Since the birth of the European Communities in 1957 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the citizens of our Member States have enjoyed decades of unprecedented peace, prosperity, and security. European integration is the most successful peace project in our history.

However, we are living in unpredictable times, and the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties is an opportunity not only to reaffirm our commitment to the values and objectives on which the European project is founded, but also to take pragmatic and ambitious steps forward.

The EU has been a natural key partner of Egypt over the years. Egypt’s efforts to achieve stability, prosperity, and sustainable social and economic growth are at the centre of the EU engagement with our important neighbour on the other side of the Mediterranean.

The EU’s relationship with Egypt is enshrined in the Association Agreement—the basis for cooperation in a broad range of fields. The adoption of the EU-Egypt partnership priorities for the years 2017-2020 guides our future cooperation.

The world is going through a time of uncertainty when the foundations of a rules-based international order are too often being questioned. The European Union will be an increasingly vital power to preserve and strengthen the global order.

The EU is the largest global market and the leading foreign investor i n most parts of the world. We have achieved a strong position by acting together with one voice on the global stage, by playing a key role in removing barriers to international trade, as well as concluding bilateral trade deals with many important partners around the world, such as Egypt.

The European Union is the world’s largest financial donor of development aid. We were instrumental in planning the UN Sustainable Development Goals and are already implementing them, as well as working to update the European Consensus on Development Policy. Around 150 countries in the world receive development aid from the EU, including Egypt, and we are increasingly focusing on those countries with the largest needs.

The European Union is and will continue to be a strong, cooperative, and reliable power. Our partners know what we stand for.

We stand for human rights, for international cooperation, for sustainable development, and for inclusive societies. We will continue to be at the forefront of the fight against all inequalities.

We stand for better global rules: rules that protect people against abuse, rules that expand rights and raise standards. It is thanks to our engagement—the Union together with its Member States—that the global community has set up innovative agreements like the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development. In a world of re-emerging power politics, the European Union will have an even more significant role to play.

A more fragile international environment calls for greater engagement, not for retrenchment. This is why the EU will continue to support and help the United Nations, with whom our cooperation covers peace missions, diplomatic efforts, human rights, tackling hunger, and fighting criminality. The European Union will also continue to be a strong and active partner of regional organisations like the African Union and the League of Arab States.

Whatever future events might bring, one thing is certain: the EU will continue to put promoting international peace and security, development cooperation, human rights, and responding to humanitarian crises at the heart of its foreign and security policies.

 

Ambassador Ivan Surkoš

Head of the European Union Delegation to Egypt

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