Friday, 16 August 2013

Egypt ... The Way Forward

Egypt… The Way Forward

Short and Medium Term Steps

Disclaimer: This is a  blue print  to initiate discussions. Read with an open mind.

Yesterday, Egypt witnessed one of the darkest and bloodiest days since the 90s. Official nationwide death toll is 700+. With more bodies  yet to be sent to Ministry of Health’s morgues for autopsy & count; the final number may significantly go higher. However, this piece is not intended to examine whose fault it was or reflect on Wednesday's violence.  I, firmly, believe that both sides; the Muslim Brotherhood and the Government;  share the responsibility and that both have blood on their hands. It is, rather, intended to explore steps, at the short and medium terms,  that different parties to the current conflict could take in order to stop the bloodshed and move forward with the constitutionally set-forth Roadmap.

With emotions  and frustrations aside, this is a modest  attempt to look objectively at what can be done to save this country from falling into the abyss of sectarianism and political tension.

All Parties to the Conflict should:

  • Immediately refrain from making any inflammatory statements and/or labeling "political opponents as infidels, traitors, agents...etc. 
  • Realize that reaching a compromise is the only solution. Negotiations this time must be a Non-Zero Sum Game. 
  • Acknowledge that all citizens enjoy the same rights and freedoms regardless of their gender, origin, religious views or political affiliations.

The Military

  • Stay on the fence and remain apolitical.
  • Eliminate terrorism in Sinai and maintain peace and security of Egypt’s territories.
  • Affirm that the Army will go back to its barricades and reiterate its commitment to the Roadmap. 

The Muslim Brotherhood Group

  • Abandon  the All-Or-Nothing – Us – or – the- chaos approach adopted thus far.
  • Immediately Renounce violence. 
  • Stop and/or condemn the hate speech and sectarian statements and assaults.
  • Acknowledge the fact that Morsi is not coming back. Yet, you have the right to advocate for his release and his free and fair trial on the grounds of charges leveled against him.
  • Decide if you want to be part of Egypt’s political system and future. If the answer is yes, ask your supporters to go home.  
  • Restore control over your members and supporters who may have taken part in  setting government agencies’ buildings ablaze, lynching police officers and shooting people randomly in the streets. Condemn and put a stop to such acts so it won't lead to prohibiting your existence and declare you a terrorist group.
  • Accept to sit at the negotiation table before it is too late. Only then you can partake in setting conditions to ensure elections are conducted in a free and fair manner.
  • Initiate your elections campaigning machine. If you think you still have the popular support you claim to have, you will not find it difficult to win the majority of parliament seats in an internationally-monitored free and fair elections.
  • Revisit and modernize your discourse and platforms. I would go further and say; review the foundations on which MB group is set up.

Ministry of Interior

  • Refrain from arbitrary arrests on the basis of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood Group or simply having a beard.
  • Admit the use of excessive force in dispersing Raba’a Sit-in. Follow the international standards for dispersing peaceful and non-peaceful assemblies. With every measure you adopt, know that human rights defender will be all over you. 
  • Secure your own police stations, government agencies and Coptic churches and properties.
  • Reform MOI. Train your men to “aim” before they “shoot” to minimize casualties. Human lives are precious and no innocent soul should be lost due to inefficiency or rage.
  • Be receptive to technical assistance provided by the competent international organizations to help you modernize and master your means of crowd control.
  • Adopt initiatives, in collaboration with community leaders, to reduce illegitimate arms ownership especially in Upper Egypt and eliminate potential retaliations.
  • Implement a more enhanced online and offline communication strategy to directly inform the public of MOI news, initiatives or even alerts.

The Government

  • Initiate and engage in a meaningful and true national reconciliation process.
  • Serve justice by holding any one  who perpetrated a crime from either side accountable under the law. It is the only way to avoid retaliations by families who had one or more of their members killed in the recent violent events.
  • Ensure the rule of law is established.
  • Immediately establish a fact finding committee (FFC) to: 
    • Investigate the Raba'a sit-in dispersing and determine what happened and what went wrong
    •     Provide an accurate count of those who were killed in action by security forces and those who had been killed and tortured by the sit-in protesters. 
    •     Solicit testimonies and documentation of the dispersal process from citizens, security forces, media and international and national non-government organizations. 
    •     Make the final report available to the public and use the gathered evidence to serve the purpose of transitional justice.   
  • Be realistic and stop being arrogant.
  • Reform economy and education as your top priorities.
  • Reaffirm commitment to the Roadmap and its timeline.
  • Set up immediately a mechanism for transitional justice to cover pre and post June 30th.
  • Acknowledge the fact that Freedom and Justice Party as well as other Islamist parties represent a significant portion of Egyptians and that their exclusion can never be the solution.
  • Achieve some quick wins where citizens can feel immediate improvement in their lives (e.g. improve traffic, reduce power outages, remove infringement on public spaces...etc.).
  • Be honest and candid with the public. Learn from the former regime’s mistakes. Transparency and accountability are the main ingredients to ensure a proper democratic process.
  • Strengthen the regulatory framework to safeguard freedom of association and expression and protect the right to peaceful assembly.  
  • Collaborate with national and international organizations as well as political parties and groups to identify alternative channels through which citizens can express their views. This being said, voicing discontent through peaceful assemblies must be protected by the state. 
  • Expedite the enactment of the new Elections Law that provides for an inclusive free and fair process.
  • Verify the accuracy of the voters lists.
  •  Demonstrate commitment to meet the Jan. 25th Revolution's demands: "Bread, Freedom and Social Justice". 

Other Political Parties 

  • Strengthen your internal organization and build your voter base.
  • Recognize the diversity of the Egyptian society and that the Islamist political parties represent a not-insignificant segment of the Egyptian population.
  • Promote and partake in serious national reconciliation efforts.
  • Begin preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections. There is a LOT of work to be done if you really want to win a decent number of seats.
  • Merge, unite or ally whichever is easier and sooner.
  • Build the capacity of your young leadership. They are the present and the future.
  • Be realistic and embark on the realities of your constituencies.

The Media


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