Dear Mr. President, I’m sure you are a very busy man these days, running a big country like Egypt is not an easy task, lots of responsibilities; rigging election is hard work, convincing million of people that digging 20 miles tranche is a new Suez canal is a moral burden, politicizing the justice system is time consuming, keeping Egypt from becoming Syria is a full time job that I’m sure requires arresting oppositions, jailing journalists, shutting down media, suspending parliament, getting ready of the entrenched Muslims brotherhood becoming your biggest battle, working on modernizing the Islamic world is now your greatest jihad to get into the international recognition.
Mr. President now I got your attention, my name is Ahmed Tharwat, although I have been living in the United States for more than 30 years and I still feel a close connection to my native country. I am writing on behalf of my nephew Hassan in Egypt. Hassan as thousands of young Egyptians like him whom were arrested during the crackdown on protestors almost three years ago in August. Continue reading An Open letter to General Al-Sisi … My Egyptian Pharaoh … Let My Nephew GO!!→
More than 40,000 political prisoners are detained in Egyptian jails as a result of politicizing the justice system.
My nephew, Hassan, has been detained for more than two years–away from his family, friends and familiar places.
Please sign MoveOn petition to release all political prisoners in Egypt.
Notes from America
my special thanks to Egyptian Ambassador
In his book “Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the America Era,” Joseph Nye of Harvard University divided American presidents into two groups. One is made up of “transformational” leaders — those with the grandiose goal of using American influence to spread democracy and liberty around the world. The second group contains “transactional” leaders — pragmatists who have modest goals. Although I don’t completely agree with Mr. Nye’s conclusions, I agree with his premise of classifying leaders.
But in Egypt this may not apply, since it where it has been a different kind of heroes, the accidental hero. In the post-colonial era, Egypt has been consistently ruled by a group of leaders that I will call “accidental” leaders — generally military men who lacked political vision or leadership skills, but whose mediocrity had been the key to their survival under the dictatorial system of the military. Now, as leaders who suddenly accidentally found themselves in charge of Egypt, they have suffered from what I call the “Second Man Syndrome.”
Characteristically, these leaders come from the rank and file of the industrial military complex, and take power through sudden change with no popular base of support. Thereafter, they suffer from political paranoia and xenophobic personality, don’t trust anyone and spend most of their tenure trying to survive and maintain their power. They tend toward paranoia and steer away from challenging the status quo. They start creating and fighting imaginary enemies, become less and less democratic, and eventually emerge as full-fledged dictators. As American historian Richard Hofstadter once said, “A fundamental paradox of the paranoid style, is the imitation of the enemy.” He gave McCarthyism as an example as it emulated the secretive organization style that Communists were known for. A paranoid leader takes history personally. Similarly, military leaders in Egypt emulated the very dictatorial monarchial systems they toppled. Currently, General el-Sissi’s heavy handed killing of his opposition since the coup is emulating state terrorism, upon which he himself waged war.
Historically, it started in 1952, with the Free Officers’ coup, which toppled the last monarch and produced the first Egyptian president — the uncharismatic Gen. Muhammad Naguib. He was a figurehead, a second man to the real leader, Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the brains of the Free Officers revolution. In 1956, Nasser removed Naguib and took over the government.
When President Nasser died of a heart attack in 1970, the country was not ready for his early departure. To many, he was a national hero who had given Egyptians a sense of purpose and a new national identity. But he had never been fond of sharing power; he hadn’t groomed any successor.
Like Naguib before him, President Anwar Sadat was a second thought, someone who hadn’t shown any leadership tendencies during Nasser’s rule. He was called the “yes man” of Nasser by most Egyptians. But Sadat was in the right place at the right time. He was the head of the lower parliament, a token institution where he made sure members rubber-stamped Nasser’s outlandish policy decisions.
After gaining power, Sadat didn’t waste any time. He courted the Islamists to counter the opposition from the left, which had flourished during Nasser’s rule, and gradually removed any trace of Nasser’s legacy, or any threat to his own absolute power.
After Sadat’s assassination in 1981, along came President Hosni Mubarak, another young military man, a pilot. He was also the “yes man” for Sadat. Likewise, he, too, was in the right place at the right time — sitting next to Sadat in the infamous military parade stand—a top gun promoted to top dog, if you will.
For 30 years, Mubarak managed to keep Egypt out of history. His biggest accomplishment was keeping the peace with Israel while wars engulfed the rest of the Middle East. Then came the Jan. 25th revolution when millions marched in the streets and toppled the longest-ruling dictator over 18 glorious days in 2011. The military seized the opportunity, sided with the revolution, and forced Mubarak to resign.
Thrust into the leadership position was Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. He had been silent for 20 years as Mubarak’s defense minister. During that time, Tantawi had mismanaged the country at a very critical time, and micromanaged the presidential election that elevated an obscure member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
When Mohammed Morsi became president, he was actually the second choice for the Brotherhood. He was pushed into the political process after the Supreme Council ousted the Brotherhood’s preferred presidential candidate — the sharp, powerful, charismatic businessman, Khairat el-Shater — to run against one of Mubarak’s old generals. But Egyptians, who had just toppled Mubarak, were in no mood to go back. They preferred having the Islamist Morsi in power than another one of Mubarak’s henchmen. So millions of secular liberals reluctantly joined in with brotherhood and voted for Morsi, who became the first elected civilian Egyptian president ever.
Morsi ran Egypt as a Brotherhood nation. He was accused of being another Mubarak, amending the constitution and putting himself above the law. He tried to remove the military from politics but he wasn’t decisive enough. He forced Tantawi into early retirement and replaced him with a religious, some even say ‘salafy,’ general.
The military gave Morsi and the Brotherhood enough rope to hang themselves. It took Sissi only one year to plot a popular coup, a year of media campaign demonizing and nullifying Morsi and his Brotherhood clans. Millions of people went to street asking for his ousting. Sissi seized the moment, President Morsi was kidnapped and put under house arrest. The graduate of the American War Collage executed the plan straight from the American playbook — waging a war against the Brotherhood under the banner “war on terror.” He suspended the constitution and Parliament, expelled human-rights organizations, shut down opposition institutions and media, and killed according to human rights and Amnesty International, nearly 1,000 in a crackdown on pro-Morsi supporters.
Now he is trying to show Egyptians and the world that he is not another accidental leader. He is the strong military man who will save Egypt and Islam from the Brotherhood terrorists — another imaginary enemy of Egypt, where the really one is flourishing next door..
Ahmed Tharwat is a public speaker and hosts the Arab-American show “Belahdan With Ahmed” at 10:30 p.m. Mondays on Twin Cities Public Television. He blogs at www.ahmediaTV.com
… glorifying the Killing of Arabs is a smash Hollywood box office hit
by Ahmed Tharwat
A day before the 4th anniversary of the #Jan25 revolution, a 32- year -old mother, activist and poet Shaimaa El Sabbagh carried a wreath of flowers and went to Tahrir square to commemorate the victims who lost their lives over the last 4 years. Egypt Rose didn’t know this would be her last walk to liberty Square. An Egyptian sniper gunned down Ms El Sabbagh and left her to bleed to death in the street. The tragic image of her friend holding her fragile body, while blood covered her beautiful face was too much to bear for millions of Egyptians.
The Egyptian poet was carrying a purse. I’m not sure if it is the same one that inspired this poem:
“A letter in my purse.”
“I am not sure
Truly, she was nothing more than just a purse
But when lost, there was a problem
How to face the world without her.”….
In the last four years of the revolution, 100’s of activists were killed or lost their eyes to Egyptian Snipers, who are always in denial and… always anonymous. ‘Snipers’ in Egypt don’t make movies or write memoirs. However here in America, Snipers are celebrated and their violence is glorified.
The American Sniper movie, which I didn’t watch, and I don’t think it sits on a lot of Arab Americans ‘to do’ lists. It is a movie about the Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, credited with the most kills in U.S. military history (250, 160 confirmed) broke box office records upon its release and is reportedly headed toward gross earnings of $300 million dollars. The movie was directed by none other than Clint Eastwood, the Dirty Hairy cowboy. It was nominated for six Oscars including best picture and was released, incidentally, at the same time as a movie, Selma, that told the story of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. That one did not receive as much attention nor as many Oscar nominations.
American Sniper, was made based on Chris Kyle’s memoir which sold millions. It describes what the experience was like and revealed the psychopathic mind of a troubled individual. Mr. Kyle, who ironically was gunned down himself by another veteran marine suffering from PTSD, mentioned in the memoir that his first kill was an Iraqi woman who walked into the street with a grenade in her hand as Marines attacked her village. Chris Kyle killed her with a single shot, then explained how he felt about it.”
“‘I hated the damn savages I’d been fighting, … “Savage, despicable, evil — that’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy savages. There was really no other way to describe what we encountered there.”
In the movie Mr. Kyle’s behavior is driven mostly by his own self righteous virtues. He didn’t give us the context of an illegal Iraq war that by conservative estimates, left 1 million Iraqis dead, made 4.5 million refugees, widowed nearly 2 million and some 5 million children were orphaned.
The fact that those ‘savages’ were fighting foreign occupiers was never mentioned.
Chris Kyle regarded this woman as a terrorist, which doesn’t really differ that much from the foreign policy where President Obama launched the biggest state murder camping in American history, as Noam Chomsky describe it “… the drone campaign, which officially is aimed at murdering people who are suspected of maybe someday planning to harm us.”Obama’s killing list, is the equivalent of Salman Rushdie’s fatwa that was issued but never carried out by Iranian grand Ayatollah.
The New York Times described the film as profound, and The New Yorker thought it had ‘great cinematic techniques.’
Not all critics were pleased with how Eastwood chose to portray Kyle. Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, who described snipers as ‘coward, not heroes, killing people while hiding behind walls.’
“American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds,” tweeted actor Seth Rogen.
Lots of online debate ensued where a variety of commentators have criticized it for its dramatization of glorifying the killing of Arabs and Muslims. I would add the movie blatantly failure to challenge Kyle’s view of Muslim resistant fighters as “savages” and “evil.”
Here is again Chris Kyle the warrior hero in the eyes of millions of Americans,
“I hate the damn savages [talking about the Iraqis] and I’ve been fighting and I always will. … I love killing bad guys. Even with the pain I loved what I was doing. Maybe war isn’t really fun, but I certainly was enjoying it.” “I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the Iraqis.”
C.J. Werleman of Salon’s take on the movie: “ From the very outset, American Sniper is unashamedly set up as pro-US, pro-war-on-terror propaganda.” And describe a scene at the family dinner table where Kyle’s father lectures the then 10-year-old: “There are only three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs,” and the sheep-dogs are there to protect against evil.”
The inference is clear and intentional: the sheepdog is the righteous American sniper whose mission is to protect his men against the evil Iraqi wolves.
Meet Humom Samarrai a high school student, blogger, poet and soccer player.
He knows one of those Iraqi wolves, his uncle, who was shot by An American Sniper during the invasion. The American Solders who shot him stole $10,000 from his body.
“My uncle was a POW in Iran for 16 years, and when he was released he went back to Iraq, got married and had 3 daughters, when he was coming back from work he was shot by an American Sniper for no reason” Hummon explained on our FAcebook conversation.