Egypt's Military Hijacks Elections


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:46 PM EDT, 18 June 2012

Egyptian Military Members, Photo by Jonathan RashadCAIRO,  Egypt - The first ‘free’ presidential election since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak 16 months ago were held and The Brotherhood’s Freedom declared its candidate, Mohammed Morsy as the victor. This despite the fact that the just as polls were closing, the ruling Military council issued constitutional amendments that gave sweeping authority to maintain its grip on power and subordinate the nominal head of state.

This leaves Egyptian protesters who gave so much in pursuit of freedom and a democratically elected government between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place.’ The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which has been ruling since Mubarak’s overthrow initially proclaimed it was in effect acting in the capacity of placeholder until a new president was elected.

Unfortunately, like many African nations, most recently Mali, once the military assumes power the likelihood of their relinquishing this power peaceably is historically low. Additionally, Egypt has a six decade long history of military rule and now the only alternatives are to return to military rule or submit to potential radical Islamist government.

In Sunday’s decree, the military assumed legislative authority after instructing the court to dissolve parliament. They will also control the drafting a new constitution but will not allow civilian oversight of its significant economic interests or other affairs.

Using its legislative authority, the military council issued another decree made public on Monday forming a new national defense council made up of 11 senior military commanders, including the defense minister, as well as the president, which would in effect solidify the role of the military as the highest authority over national security policy.

Morsy, 60, represents the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic fundamentalist group which has emerged as the most powerful political faction since the uprising is sensitive to the vulnerabilities of his party. In a highly charged region in which Egypt has traditionally been staunch U.S. ally and a moderate voice in the Israeli Arab conflict, his only chance to retain his newly elected presidency is to quickly distance himself from radical elements.

In a victory speech Morsy clearly sought to assuage the fears of many Egyptians that the Brotherhood will try to impose stricter provisions of Islamic law. He said he seeks "stability, love and brotherhood for the Egyptian civil, national, democratic, constitutional and modern state" and made no mention of Islamic law.

Egypt is in a precarious and potential explosive position because as John C. Calhoun said, “The interval between the decay of the old and the formation and establishment of the new constitutes a period of transition which must always necessarily be one of uncertainty, confusion, error, and wild and fierce fanaticism.”

Bahrain's Bloody Spring


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:58 PM EDT, 23 February 2012

King Hamad Bin Isa Al-KhalifaMANAMA, Bahrain - Only history will reveal the true extent of change wrought by the 2011 Arab Spring, but it is obvious that the situation in the Middle East is fundamentally different from what it was a year ago. Many changes have occurred, though many appear to be cosmetic when measured against the deep historical changes which did not materialize.

The Arab Spring revolution started peacefully in Tunisia, then spread to Egypt, where the ruling family led by President Hosni Mubarak chose to violently suppress protesters.

As the world watched with fascination, emboldened citizens in Libya, Yemen and Syria also took to the streets to demand regime change.

Courageous protesters risked imprisonment, torture and death in the pursuit of freedom. Journalists and on-the-ground activists leveraged traditional and social media outlets to expose human rights violations which eventually resulted in the dethroning or exile of entrenched heads of states, their families and coteries.

But, as the immediacy of the revolution began to fade, the citizens of the island kingdom of Bahrain continue to be oppressed. The Sunni ruling monarch, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, rules over a Shia Muslim majority, and in his efforts to thwart the reform demanded by the populace, his government has been accused of sanctioning gross human rights violations.

On 14 February 2011, Bahrainis dissidents organized massive protests coordinated by word of mouth, texts messages, and "a Facebook page named "Day of Rage in Bahrain", a page that was liked by more than 90,000 people just one week after its creation.

The Bahrain government responded with what has been described as a "brutal" crack down on the protest, including shocking violations of human rights that caused massive anger. Later on, demonstrators demanded that King Hamad step down." (Source: Wikipedia)

In an effort to demonstrate equanimity and transparency, King Hamad ordered the creation of an Independent Commission of Inquiry. The Commission has subsequently recommended reform and advised the monarchy to provide unfettered access to the country by Human Rights NGO's that are currently denied entry to document abuses.

Bahrain's Bloody Spring is a human rights travesty, but the rest of the world bears some responsibility for ignoring these people who have given so much in pursuit of a more democratic governmental process.

The award-winning documentary which follows, won the Foreign Press Association Documentary Award of the year. It provides a graphic and unvarnished portrait of the dangers protesters and those who would assist them face. We need to spread the word to let them know that their efforts are not in vain and their struggle is not forgotten.