tv [untitled] January 30, 2013 2:30pm-3:00pm EST
on our to. leave me. alone and welcome to cross talk we're all things are considered i'm peter lavelle egypt locked in turmoil is this country experiencing the continuation of the revolution that happened two years ago or has the revolution been interrupted in hijacked by the opposition with outside force or is it something very different another revolution in play.
to cross-talk events in egypt i'm joined by carl sharon london he is a middle east blogger in cairo we have while eskandar he is a blogger and a journalist and in washington we cross to ratner he is a fellow at the truman national security project all right gentlemen crosstalk rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want my very much encouraged karl in london what's going on here how do you look at it and because it looks like it's two step forward two steps back i mean what's in play in the egyptian revolution if it's even a revolution anymore. i think we have to put this in a more historical context of what revolutions go through and they take time and if you look in previous examples they would take five ten twenty years to settle onto something now the immediate context of what's happening in egypt is there was a process of change that resembled their evolution but in the aftermath of that
there is no single authority that have stomped it's not active on what the meaning of the egyptian revolution is unfortunately the political opposition currently isn't kind of able to articulate that and the leadership of the country in the form of mohamed morsi and the muslim brotherhood has alienated many people and made many mistakes throughout the process and sort of formed a cut deals with the institutions of the state and the army to consolidate its power which goes against everything that their revolution represents however the proviso is we need to look at this from a historical perspective this is an ongoing process there will be a lot of chaos a lot of contestation before it's down towards a more kind of progressive path forward coral's i can stay with you it looks like a lot of the opposition though or they aren't willing to give more time western media doesn't want to give more time or some capitals are disillusioned i mean do you think they're giving up on this revolution too quickly if you look at the
historical context. i think part of the problem with the egyptian revolution is that turned into a form of a spectator sport where outside there is get to have their saying i mean i shouldn't be saying that i'm a spectator external observer is well but to the extent that it's kind of interfering with this process unfortunately that form of intervention is egging one side or the other you can also look other than western countries are there all of the gulf countries are playing in supporting certain parties within egypt but those processes are normal again in the aftermath of an evolution what you need to arrive at is a consistent drive by a large block of the egyptian people towards the original aims of getting rid of a talk or see marching toward democracy but that's not going to happen on its own without organization and without a clear political will which is seems to be missing the leadership level ok while in cairo where do you come out on this considering what we just heard go ahead.
yes i agree with karl about this i think that what's been happening is that the revolution is in progress basically what happened is that the rejean has changed its government and it's become a bit more religious but it's we still have the same facets the muslim brotherhood did not live up to the expectations of the people and this is why we see people still continuing to revolt against their rule what we've seen actually is actually a regression from the from the rejean they've cracked down on media for example a prominent. online editor was retired three years early when he should call up because he was critical of the muslim brotherhood we have crackdowns on media and we have crackdowns on and discriminations against christians on charges of defaming religion for example so we're actually seeing that. number has changed in the
brotherhood is that it is proceeding as as a spree discussers along with police brutality now when it comes to international intervention or opinions it's the same the international scene is just looking at egypt and trying to secure its interests and i mean the u.s. for example hold still supporting morsi just like it did more borrowing and i feel that at this moment it's just. you know speculation like like karl said and things are happening on the ground that they need to catch up on ok oreo in the in washington where you come out on all of this here i mean is it a revolution interrupted. well i would say this much you clearly had after the revolution in egypt a power vacuum develop you had for many years president mubarak before him president sadat and president nasr who effectively served as a fair of
a country and the entire country was set up on a patronage system that leader was replaced some of the institutions of the state were replaced some of the leadership of the institutions of state were replaced but the institutions of the state itself were never reformed and you still have a power struggle over who will run that system the government of egypt i agree with the previous guest has some features that resemble the previous government the politics of egypt are vastly changed you have a very polarized fragmented in many senses political scene where everyone understandably so feels empowered to speak for a revolution that at some senses they all supported when it just involves removing mubarak but now when it comes to the question of moving forward you have a big dispute and a big debate and that will take many years in all likelihood to settle on the question of intervention i would disagree with the previous guest slightly in this this is predominantly an egyptian story i worked on our responses the u.s. government's response to egypt we don't favor one side or the other we haven't
favored one side or the other we of course like any country have our interests that we want to secure but we don't want to do that in an interventionist sense no one is intervening in egypt we want to have positive relationships with all sides and we want to hold the egyptian government to standards that we would hold any government to which is securing the rights of egypt sions allowing them their fundamental freedoms and helping egypt move forward to something positive something concrete improving the economy improving people's lives. really having a development that serves a.j. it's very interesting as to the united us legal superiority to dictatorship there for forty years isn't that interesting i mean. i mean look well the reality is you're given the world that exists not the. you're given a world that is not a world that the united states to support forced to support a dictatorship in egypt the difference is in the leaders that you just mentioned is the only current president was elected a ship the current president was elected by the people the other leaders you
mentioned were not the reality is the united states had a relationship with egypt that came out of the cold war that came when egypt switch from the soviet camp to the american camp there are positives and negatives to that relationship obviously egypt was ruled with a dictatorship obviously the united states support that if you went around washington right now many people would view that is as a tragic note on a lot of levels the united states wants to work productively with the people of egypt yes the current government is democratically elected which is why the united states government is seeking to work positively with him but we're not working seeking to work exclusively with him i should say that i no longer work in the government so i don't speak for them but i would think most of washington wants to have a positive relationship with all factions of egypt and work on something positive and productive going forward not rehashing the past that already happened ok carl what about the democracy in egypt right now where does it stand.
i think. it's an open matter for contestation there are positive sides and there are negative signs one of the negative signs that are new we need to be really careful about is this weakness of the political opposition and furthermore its attempt to kind of create this sense of opposition to muslim brotherhood in power through a political means what i mean by a diet is the political opposition itself the national salvation front is considered of many sides that are geologically to each other and so what i think that does is weakens the sense of political contest station based on ideas and political programs and economic programs and one makes the matter more complex there is the suggestion that there won't be a participation by the opposition or to boycott their lead upcoming elections which return of rather than from a very important chance to put their ideas in the public domain i think what's really crucial for egypt in the immediate kind of future is to move away from the
culture wars or identity politics and not to try to make this battle between say here is karl islam model beige dried entity who's driving that right now in egypt in your opinion the cultural wars who's driving it. there are several factors the main driver i think is that this content with the previous period has given a lot of grounds for the islamists to sort of played that card and build a constituency based around and islam is the identity which unfortunately i was being reproduced so you have for example the cops because they feel alienated here have no option but to play that card if they are to build a new sense of meaningful political power and i think we need to move away from the only way to defeat islam is on the platform of ideas and programs and do and you can already see in such a short period of time the economic incompetence and the political incompetence is showing and that's what you want to target you don't want to make this an existential cultural battle between secularists and islamists and make people need
to why does the opposition just want to see the current regime fail that's their greatest objective right now they don't want to talk they want to see it fail fair . no i don't think i don't think that this is what they aim for. particularly but the fact of the matter that the current regime is failing and back to the question you asked carl like who is driving this i think the main drivers are the muslim brotherhood they released a statement that said that the effect of you know effectively the identity of egypt is completely islamic and this is what they're working through like this is this is driven the wedge and predominately who wrote the constitution were just one one set of people the islamists and all others have been alienated so i think the muslim brotherhood has failed to reach a consensus the opposition of course is objecting to this monopoly on power
they will fail because egypt requires everyone to partake in the transformation and when you see just one or one group of people monopolizing control power and everything that's related to the policymaking that is that well let me jump in here gentlemen you know we're going to go to a short break we're going to go to a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on egypt argue. leave them leave.
heard a lot of criticism of the brotherhood here it's interesting i mean the brothers can turn around say hey what we want to lection so you know we have a major say in things the people are behind us what do you say to that. well look the brotherhood did win the election but they want it very closely fifty three percent it's not a landslide but it's an important victory but the reality is winning an election doesn't just give you rights it gives you responsibilities and they have a responsibility like any government to rule fundamentally through consensus and to build consensus around a program to improve people's lives they have a special responsibility as the government to work with the opposition of course the opposition has a responsibility to work with him as well where they can peacefully and that includes the right to protest peacefully but the government as the government has a responsibility to reach out in the special time in this crisis time in egypt and really build a program around consensus and i think that's something that so far they've disappointed clearly
a number of egyptians with and that's something they're going to have to work on going forward ok colonel where do you come out on their meaning where do you play most of the blame ok because i think the regime would say you know we're not given a chance we're not even given a chance to with our mandate that we were given by the people. i think we have to be really careful about how we kind of portray the picture now in egypt because the muslim brotherhood doesn't have full power what's emerged since the us through of mubarak is the institutions of the state have their large measure of autonomy and they kind of can shift alliances and make temporary alliances or longer alliances with whoever is ruling kind of driven by their own sense of responsibility even though that may not be necessarily democratic so what happens here is there's a frustration among the muslim brotherhood because they have their own grievances their first candidate for president was eliminated they won an election is that when they're invalidated the results of which so they have their own grievances and
what they thrive on is this language of victimhood that they were robbed of something that's right for the there is now enormous jewish and i think they should have responded to that by by by forming their job well by trying to build this consensus taking people on board with them not anything them unfortunately i think they are structurally incapable of doing that because for seventy years the idea just that themselves to be a party of a position that's kind of live side by side with the government and tries to play this victim card but they don't have the mentality of governance there are no obvious political and economic programs that will allow them to take forward and take the confidence but the confidence of the egyptian people so that immediately creates a sense of political vacuum right out what it is that it's mostly important now they can respond to that by trying to kind of rejuvenate themselves but that's not happening which is taking egypt into this kind of dead end or almost the bottleneck now of
a political vacuum and lack of vision so basically they the muslim brotherhood deserve to kind of take a fair share of the responsibility for the situation as it is it while it's in in cairo i think it's very interesting revolutionaries very rarely do well in power making. we have a breakthrough breakthrough but they don't rule very well they haven't ruled at all but you know i basically they're saying that they don't historically speaking if you look at revolutions revolutionaries don't do all that well in power once they get it. and this may apply to egypt as well it might probably be true that they won't do well in power because revolution is what they really want is a system they don't want power they want a system where there is some kind of fairness. i mean you can see it on the street right now and this is not motivated by by any political party but people are objecting to tyranny and oppression whether they know how to fix that or change
change that once they're in power i'm not very sure i'm sure there are a lot of ideas but but at the very end of the day they just know what they don't want it currently the the leadership the muslim brotherhood leadership has taken criminal steps to you know to deal with the people for example sending their own people to you know to disperse a sit in and then shoot at people armed with with guns live ammunition. i think that people are very not happy with the way things are and that we can see that the muslim brotherhood itself is really insistent on oppressing people because you know take for example the minister of interior who did not disperse the sit in and at it how they are the palace violently he was sacked and instead what we have on the streets right now is a police force that's using brutality and a lot of times unprovoked i've seen that with my own eyes ok i'm watching
interjecting go ahead carl continue to please do and i just i just want to pick on this point i just want to pick on this point about the fact of evolution or is don't don't want power which i think is very crucial to understanding what's happening in egypt and making this situation so complex in the past revolutions did want power because power would allow them to produce a society after their own aspirations an image unfortunately would have seen across not only in egypt but all the kind of the recent uprising in the past decade done across other arab countries. this is what is this sort of disdain of power as if the object of the exercise only to register your discontent and then somebody else would take that done build on to it so there's a sense of pretty locked in stewards poet as if it is a dirty thing which i think kind of creates this paradox knowing you have to take the power in order to produce the society that you want and that drivel you should a narrative actually is completely absent there's almost the whole still it did towards the idea of taking power which i think is fundamental to the hesitation ari
what do you think about that because you know that the brotherhood will say i know we have a constituency behind us to by the way go ahead well i would just add look the nature of power itself around the world has changed you have societies partially as a result of internet partially as a result of globalization that are flatter in and of themselves and one of the major shifts in the arab spring is shift from a vertical society best symbolized by mubarak in the way at a patronage system to a society that is in and of itself more horizontal and a number of these protests you're right don't have a clear goal per se but they have a goal of diffusing power across society there's got to be a way to do that constructively and certainly peacefully but the reality is you cannot reimpose the old order either in egypt or anywhere else power just doesn't function that way anymore and that's something that the government itself will have to learn you're going to need a more pluralistic horizontal structure you can't just reimposed the old order
anymore in a tunnel and we've been talking about the government using force here but there is this black bloc are rising also and they're using force ok can you talk about that . yeah i think it's a very interesting phenomenon although i think they've been given a disproportionate amount of media coverage because they appear to be more theatrical than other groups the fact of the matter we don't really understand or nor what they really want to give a shit is are and what they're doing there are very good stories about them in standing up and defending certain groups but you watch some of the videos that they have online where they appear to call and be calling for an armed struggle and then you pause and think is is an armed struggle what egypt needs now because an armed struggle in principle could be legitimized but an armed struggle by a small and by in order to have people be any and can constructive at this moment in egypt so it's kind of feeds into this this point that i was making about the
lack of of surratt of revolutionary narrative that clarifies for everyone what they need to do because of its absence you have all these sorts of contesting claims and people coming from all sides and kind of making big flashy gestures that are not necessarily constructive in the end although i'm reserving my judgement on the on the block blog for the moment but the point is in that vacuum in doubt absence you will hear all these competing voices and they can cause disproportionate amounts of harm sometimes and they can be exploited by the authorities to clamp down on demonstrations legitimate demonstrations there is sponsibility for that is by again on their evolution as your heart to take command of this situation you have to project a coherent narrative that brings people with you and not alienate them increase divisions within egyptian society well what do you think of the black bloc here i mean where are they coming from and are they dangerous. i think i agree with the karl that they're pretty much theatrical but i think that the movement itself you
know the way they've been operating and showing this this call for arms is reflects a sentiment on the street where protesting is just not enough out of no one hears in the. halls for wearing enough rock mask is that a good idea wearing a black mask because you don't know who they are well. you know you don't know who they are and this is the same thing that happened with the muslim brotherhood themselves when they had a show in the us where they were wearing masks and putting on a show and you have the same the same issue for example with the women wearing the niqab the fact of wearing a black mask is not the issue at hand here but what they're trying to do is have a sort of anonymous sort of movement that people can join in where it's more related to direct action rather than than just protesting without without doing much like into her square. i don't know what they've done but i think there are
overhyped for sure today the prosecutor said that they cleared them a terrorist group i don't know what evidence there is of that you know so i think they're just the muslim brotherhood are trying to find and then me where they can blame all these things on. but you know instead of just blaming it on the police or you know a third party now there's a perfect. you know group that they can blame them so on just mass young kids wearing masks get in watch and i'm going to be the last word in the program where do we go from here well look i think it's important to realize all the things that we haven't talked about you know egypt's problems are very real but they're mostly not the problems of political symbolism and the disputes that are happening on the street important though they are there are problems of the economy and proving people's lives the problems that women face including women protesting attacker square and other parts of the country there are problems of education there are problems that are systemic that will take a long time to fix but it's important that the government and everyone else focus
on what really counts obviously you have to have a modicum of security you have to have a stable political environment to work on all those but those are the real goals the confiscation of power the threat of violence all right gentlemen thank you very much fascinating discussion many thanks to the to my guests in london washington and in cairo and thanks to our viewers for watching us here so you make slime and remember cross talk rules. prevent me from. his or. choose your language. clearly we can without any financial planner say still some of us. choose to use the consensus to.
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