World View: Egypt Continues to Become More Unstable and Violent

World View: Egypt Continues to Become More Unstable and Violent

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russian politician blames meteorite on the United States
  • Chinese-Americans call for U.S. break with Japan
  • Wal-Mart’s ‘total disaster’ in sales blamed on rise in payroll tax
  • Venezuela publishes photos of Chávez using breathing tube
  • Islamists rally for Egypt’s president Morsi in Cairo
  • Egypt continues to become more unstable and violent

Russian politician blames meteorite on the United States

The trail of a meteorite is seen above a residential apartment block (Reuters)
The trail of a meteorite is seen above a residential apartment block (Reuters)

A once-in-a-lifetime event occurred on Friday when two astronomicalevents caught worldwide attention on the same day. The second eventhad been predicted: a large asteroid that flew by the earth, with itsclosest approach above Indonesia, but not causing any damage. Butseveral hours before that asteroid, everyone was surprised when atotally unrelated meteorite flew into the earth’s atmosphere, rainingdown on central Russia and injuring hundreds of people. 

One Russian politician says that there was no accidentalcoincidence at all. Russian Nationalist politician VladimirZhirinovsky explained that the meteorite could not possibly have comefrom outer space, because there’s no gravity in outer space, and sonothing ever falls: 

Those aren’t meteors falling, it’s the Americanstesting new weapons. 

Nothing will ever fall out there [from outer space]. If[something] falls, it’s people doing that. People are theinstigators of wars, the provocateurs.

He also said US Secretary of State John Kerry had tried to warn Russiaabout the weapons test, but had been unable to reach the right personby phone. Ria Novosti (Moscow)

Chinese-Americans call for U.S. break with Japan

A group of Chinese-Americans, calling itself the “Concerned Citizenson U.S. Policy towards Japan,” wrote a letter to the Obamaadministration calling on the U.S. to repudiate its policy supportingJapan. The letter was written by Wenji V. Chang, a professor from theUniversity of Southern California. 

The letter, which was sent on theeve of a scheduled visit by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe toWashington later this month, calls on Obama to reject any support forJapan’s claim to the Senkaku/Diayou Islands, and also calls on Obamato oppose Japan’s attempt to modify the anti-war provisions of itsconstitution. 

Saying that Japanese society is turning rapidlynationalistic and militaristic, like Japan prior to World War II, the letter reads: 

We strongly urge you to reject both attempts, becausethey are against the fundamental and long-term interests of ourcountry. 

The ultra-conservative wing of the Japanese political spectrum, ofwhich Abe is the leader, will not be our long-termfriend…

The US should not become a tool of Japaneseultra-conservatives.


Wal-Mart’s ‘total disaster’ in sales blamed on rise in payroll tax

An internal email message sent on February 12 by Wal-Mart’s VP offinance and logistics to other executives reads:

In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days,February MTD [month-to-date] sales are a total disaster. Theworst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with thecompany.

Economists had expected a strong start to February because of theSuper Bowl and milder weather. The poor sales are blamed on the 2%increase in payroll taxes and an IRS delay in issuing income taxrefunds.


Venezuela publishes photos of Chávez using breathing tube

Hugo Chávez and his two daughters in Havana on Friday (AFP)
Hugo Chávez and his two daughters in Havana on Friday (AFP)

Supporters of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez were cheered onFriday when the government released photos of a smiling Chávez in bedin Havana, Cuba, with his two daughters. Many people had speculatedthat Chávez was close to death after his December 11 cancer operationand subsequent respiratory complications, but the photos appear toshow him recovering. 

A statement accompanying the photos saysthat he has been fitted with a breathing tube in his throat, making ithard for him to speak: 

After two months of a complicated post-operatoryprocess, the patient (Chávez) is conscious, with the integrity ofhis intellectual functions, in close communication with hisgovernmental team and at the head of the fundamental tasksinherent to his position. 

As was opportunely informed, the respiratory infection whichemerged in the course of the post-operatory treatment wascontrolled, although a certain grade of (respiratory)insufficiency persists. 

Given this circumstance, that is being duly treated, PresidentChávez is currently breathing through a tracheal tube, whichtemporarily makes it difficult for him to speak. 

The medical team is applying an energetic treatment for the baseillness (cancer), which is not exempt from complications. 

The patient is cooperating with the treatment and rehabilitationin close coordination with his medical team.

Islamists rally for Egypt’s president Morsi in Cairo

Thousands of Islamists rallied in Cairo on Friday in support ofMohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president who has been thetarget of protester rage in weeks of violent demonstrations. Theprotest devolved into violence as night fell. 

State media reportedthat “troublemakers” had thrown rocks and petrol bombs. Securityforces unleashed tear gas and water cannon, it said. 

The Muslim Brotherhood backed Friday’s rally in a symbolic way, butdid not mobilize its members for the event. Instead, the pro-Morsirally was principally supported by a hardline Salafist Islamist group,Al-Gama’a al-Islamiya. 

Indeed, Morsi’s principal Islamist supporters, the Salafist al-Nourparty, have been launching scathing political attacks on Morsiand the Muslim Brotherhood this week. Referring to Egypt’sprime minister Hisham Kandil, an al-Nour politician said: 

The Morsi-appointed government of Hisham Kandil hasrun out of steam and lost all credibility. Under thisgovernment the lives of Egyptian citizens are deemed worthless. 

It has become clear that Kandil has little control over hisgovernment and lacks any economic or political vision for thecountry’s future. His government has to go, and go quickly, to bereplaced by a national salvation government capable of organisingfree and democratic parliamentary elections.”

Other parties are becoming equally contemptuous of Morsi, complainingthat the only thing he cares about are the political interests of theMuslim Brother. According to a member of the liberal Geel (Generation)party: 

“Kandil has repeatedly refused to come to the ShuraCouncil to explain his unsuccessful strategies,” complained NagiAl-Shehabi, chairman of the liberal Geel (Generation) Party. “Hehas done nothing to contain the repressive practices of theInterior Ministry, including the torture of opposition activistswhile being detained in Central Security Force camps. Hisgovernment refuses to answer the council’s questions about thedeaths of a number of political protesters.”

Reuters and Al-Ahram (Cairo)

Egypt continues to become more unstable and violent

It’s now been two years since the January 25th Revolution that deposedHosni Mubarak. Protests and demonstrations were routine in Cairo’sTahrir Square during those two years and usually peaceful. Butthings have changed after the protests that occurred on the secondanniversary of the revolution. (See “27-Jan-13 World View — Egypt in crisis after two days of violent clashes”

Tahrir Square has been abandoned for other locations, and theprotests have become increasingly violent. About 60 people,including three police officers, and been killed in just thelast three weeks, and over 2,000 people have been injured.At least 35 government buildings and 15 private institutions havebeen attacked. 

We’ve previously described how Port Said and other cities along the Suez Canal are becoming increasingly contemptuous of Morsi and Cairo in general. That’sbecause these cities make a lot of money for Cairo, but it all goesinto the pockets of the wealthy élite, with little returningto Port Said. This contempt is worsening with the falteringeconomy, police brutality, and mass detentions. The contemptis turning into seething anger, according to rights activists.However, as activists point out: 

Nobody in the opposition has a comprehensivealternative. They simply envision replacing Morsi with someoneelse while retaining the same system… 

Many voters will think twice before voting for the Brotherhoodagain but then there is no convincing alternative that can fillthe vacuum. And elections in Egypt, in the end, are a matter ofmobilization and business, not politics.

Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Jerusalem Post

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky,Indonesia, John Kerry, Venezuela, Hugo Chávez,China, Japan, Senkaku, Diaoyu, Wal-Mart,Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, al-Nour party,Hisham Kandil, Geel (Generation) Party, 25 January Revolution,Hosni Mubarak, Cairo, Port Said, Tahrir Square, Suez Canal  

Permanent web link to this article

Receive daily World View columns by e-mail