In Short: Syria And Egypt

Despite the many benefits of the Internet, access to news from all parts of the world and almost instantaneous translation, it is sometimes difficult getting a grasp of what is really happening in a certain country, particularly those in the Middle East.

Syria is but one example. After nearly 20 months, tens of thousands killed, millions of people displaced and hundreds of thousands injured, there is lethargy in the Western media concerning the fate of Syrians.

It used to be said that in journalism, what bleeds leads, but that clearly isn’t the case when it comes to Assad’s victims.

Yet as NPR reports things are changing, Project Looks At A New Way To Report On Syria.

Watch Syria Deeply for more developments.

The people in Egypt have been, rightly, demonstrating against authoritarianism, in the form of President Morsi and the new, proposed, constitution.

I am not a fan of the Middle East Research and Information Project but Ahmad Shokr makes some intelligent points:

“The draft constitution does not reflect a democratic consensus, as many in the opposition have argued that it should. It reflects an emerging relationship between the Muslim Brothers and existing state institutions, like the army, along with a great deal of appeasement of the salafis, whom the Brothers have embraced as junior partners. The rush to a referendum suggests a deep anxiety among the state elites about continuing instability and a desire to seize the opportunity to cement a new political framework as quickly as possible. More worrisome than the text itself is the vision these leaders have for which voices count and which alliances matter in the new Egypt. Should this vision go unchallenged, the losers would be all those who have been calling for more pluralistic and inclusive system.

Once more, it’s surprisingly hard to get intelligent analysis on fast moving events in Egypt, but I found a few resources that readers might appreciate. I am not sure of their analytical capacities or judgements outside of Egypt, but they do provide a certain degree of acuteness on that country:

The Egyptian Independent.

Egyptian Chronicles.

Notes From The Underground.

In terms of professionals, Jack Shenker is an informed Guardian journalist and should not be judged by the standards of that wretched editorial.

His recent article is insightful:

“Every government institution in the world boasts high levels of security, but here the sensation of being an unwelcome trespasser in the vicinity of power struck a chord with something deeper.

The vast majority of Egyptians have been told throughout history that they are little more than interlopers in the closed rooms where decisions over their lives, community and environment are made; this is a nation where the political elite has always viewed the wider population as so many static pieces, devoid of agency and in need of being controlled and pacified through a fluid web of top-down munificence and brutal repression.

That authoritarian conception of the state remained entrenched regardless of the differing ideologies and motivations of those who ruled, from colonial officials to the post-1952 military dictatorship, from Hosni Mubarak’s kleptocrats to the army junta that managed the so-called “transition” to democracy.

And it remains today, under the rule of a Muslim Brotherhood whose critique of Egypt’s problems is moral rather than structural, whose vision of power is exclusionary instead of pluralistic.

All these regimes have variously claimed the mantle of revolutionary legitimacy and attempted to seize a narrative of progressive change. All have deployed crude symbolism – nationalistic and religious – to turn Egyptian against Egyptian in an effort to solidify their power and maintain the status quo. And all have resorted to raw violence when faced with opposition.

His earlier work can be found at Chatoyant Crumbs and JackShenker.Net.

Finally, according to the news coming out from the Guardian, Morsi has cancelled the degree, which gets him off the hook with the military, but I imagine it just delays his ultimate aim.

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