The Middle East Channel

Egypt’s interim president begins forming government

Egypt's interim President Adli Mansour began forming a government Tuesday, naming a new prime minister and vice president. Mansour has appointed liberal economist and former Finance Minister Hazem el-Beblawi as prime minister and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei as vice president in charge of foreign affairs. The appointments were followed by an announcement that cabinet posts would be offered to the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and to the Salafist Nour Party. The Muslim Brotherhood has rejected the offer with one official asserting, "We will never take part in any cabinet as long as Morsi is not back as president." Beblawi said he would meet with liberal politicians to begin selecting ministers and said he recognized he would not get unanimous approval. The downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has been welcomed by some Gulf states. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered Egypt's interim regime $8 billion in assistance to prop up the transitional government. The pledge underscores a regional contest for influence as Qatar and Turkey have financially and diplomatically supported the Muslim Brotherhood. The United States provides $1.5 billion in assistance to Egypt annually. However, the U.S. administration may consider suspending funding if the military takeover in Egypt is deemed a coup d'état.

Syria

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly I. Churkin, announced Tuesday that Moscow has evidence of sarin nerve gas used in an attack in Syria likely carried out by rebel fighters. According to Churkin, the analysis came after an investigation requested by the Syrian government into an attack in Khan al-Assal, outside Aleppo, on March 19. He said crudely manufactured sarin gas was delivered by an unguided crudely made missile, not the sort that would have been used by the Syrian military. Churkin said that samples taken by the Russian investigators were handed over to the United Nations. The findings contradict conclusions made by Western countries, including the United States and France, that the Syrian regime was responsible for the chemical weapons attack. In June, a U.N. Human Rights Council inquiry concluded there was reasonable evidence that "limited quantities of toxic chemicals" had been used in four attacks, including in Khan al-Assal. However, the U.N. team has not been allowed access into Syria. Both the Syrian government and opposition fighters have denied using chemical weapons.  

Headlines

  • Morocco's Istiqlal party, the second largest party in the parliament, has withdrawn from the coalition government over planned cuts in food and energy subsidies.
  • Two people have been killed and six others wounded in an attack late Tuesday on a security checkpoint in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
  • Iran has launched a "national email service" requiring all citizens to register, however the plan may not materialize if President Elect Rouhani takes a softer line on censorship.

Arguments and Analysis

What Algeria 1992 can, and cannot, teach us about Egypt 2013' (Hicham Yezza, Open Democracy)

"The key and lasting parallel between the Algerian scenario and the Egyptian one relates to the moral cost of military usurpation of the democratic process. Cancelling elections, like deposing elected leaders, is a deeply wounding experience for a nation's sense of collective self, because it seems to reaffirm, however implicitly, that one segment of the population has a higher moral claim to have its vision, aspirations and desires taken seriously than any other.

As such, it fatally undermines the very social contract and national settlement that forms the basis of any cohesive, popular revolution. I am thinking here of the sense of utter alienation felt by many of those who had voted for the FIS, many of them first time voters after 30 years of abstention, who discovered their country's future was run with only one section of its citizenry -- the ‘good', ‘responsible', ‘acceptable' Algeria  -- in mind.

And we see this today in Egypt: while those who support Morsi's ouster are routinely portrayed as authentically representative of the Egyptian revolution and popular will, those who oppose it, no matter how numerous, are reflexively described as mere ‘Morsi or MB supporters'.

While many of those supporting the coup claim it was a painful option, the spectacle of air shows over the skies of Cairo and helicopters flying Egyptian flags over Tahrir in celebration can only deepen the sense of anger and betrayal felt by the millions of Egyptians who felt there was nothing to celebrate."

Egypt's Fault Lines, and its Cartoons' (Jonathan Guyer, The New Yorker)

"The cartoonists of Egypt have been as divided as the rest of the country about the military's removal of President Mohamed Morsi from power on July 3rd.

Until recently, cartoonists at independent newspapers were not shy in depicting the excesses of the military; Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood appeared as bumblers. In the past week, though, they have been supporting the military, which has arrested dozens of Islamists, with images of Brotherhood cadres armed to the teeth, defying military authority and inciting violence.

To take one example: in January, 2013, the Al-Masry Al-Youm cartoonist Doaa El-Adl drew Morsi at a podium alongside a blank speech bubble that dwarfed him in size. This week, El-Adl repurposed the same cartoon -- with the speech bubble packed with firearms and a grenade.

The cartoonist Shafik Salah said by phone that editors at Freedom and Justice, the daily newspaper of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, ‘aren't in prison, but they don't have a place' to work -- the offices were shut down by the military. The paper has shrunk from fourteen to eight pages, and editors are also recycling cartoons. In one of Salah's cartoons from April, republished this week, a white bird (labeled ‘the revolution') pops a hole in Mubarak's floating device, marked ‘the counterrevolution.' In a cartoon by Hazem Wahba -- published twice this week -- a mustached man says, to his two bearded friends, ‘Hold out and be strong, brothers. I swear that victory is soon, and don't be sad. God is with us.' In the upper corner of every page of the paper, the words ‘The Legitimate President' are printed."

--Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

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