Feb 3, 2011

Signs: alBraradei and the National Association for Change

This is post two in my effort to trace the roots of all those professionally produced signs in the 'spontaneous' US demonstrations supporting ‘true democracy' and 'social justice' in Egypt. If you haven't seen the original post, go here (it's short.)
To sum up the story so far, I was able to find three organizations, ANSWER Coalition (AC), International Action Center (IAC), and the Egyptian Association for Change (EAC) which is part of Mohamed ElBaradei’s National Association for Change (NAC) that produced signs for the first US demonstrations. You can read about the radical and Marxist ties for AC and IAC here and here.
The EAC presents a different issue since it is both logical and understandable that it would support the recent uprising in Egypt. Its website uses no Marxist/Progressive code language; it freely admits its loose affiliation with the NAC, as well as its support for the seven points of reform that the NAC espouses (see translation below). To dig a bit deeper, I looked at alBaradei’s National Association for Change which is an Egyptian/international organization.

It is likewise understandable that Dr. alBaradei's NAC would support him. AlBaradei has presented himself to Egypt and the world as the alternative to Mubarak for well over a year. He has pointed out that changes to current Egyptian election laws must be implemented before he could even run for election. In light of the fact that there is no viable opposition party in Egypt--and that Mubarak and his puppet 'National Democratic Party' have done everything to include amending the Egyptian Constitution to insure that there is no opposition--an Egyptian of alBaradei's international standing may be the only hope that Egypt has at this point.
A lot has been made of  the fact that alBaradei has had a longstanding discourse with the Moslem Brotherhood. For a person who has been essentially out of the country for nearly 30 years--with political ambitions in Egypt--it to be expected that he would 'cozy up' to the only influential political force in Egypt not aligned with Mubarak. At one time (2005), the Moslem Brotherhood held about 17% of the seats in the Egyptian Parliament. That is, until Mubarak decided they were getting too powerful. And considering the stated goals of the Moslem Brotherhood, Mubarak’s action might have been justifiable.
The Ikhwaan (the brothers), as the Moslem Brotherhood is named in Arabic, in an international organization of Islamists/Salafists which was founded in 1928 in Egypt. Many of the Islamic organizations throughout the world today are simply fronts which present a civilized face--that includes here in the United States--but few experts doubt their objective remains an Islamic Caliphate based on Sharia'a law.  The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has deep ties to Hamas, a well know Moslem Brotherhood group. In Egypt, the Moslem Brotherhood provides huge amounts of public aide directly to those who need it most. It is a proven method to gain grassroots support and has been used all over the Middle East, most recently by Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Moslem Brotherhood pioneered this method of coalition building at the grassroots level. So, although it us understandable that alBaradei would approach the only organized, politically powerful group in Egypt besides Mubarak's NDP, it is still cause for concern.
alBaradei's National Association for Change was established to build local and international support (coalitions) and leverage the internet and social networking. It is an international organization, and alBaradei's announcement on its Arabic-only homepage lays out its background and goals (this is my 'gist' translation only. I probably made numerous mistakes as it has been nearly 14 years since I even so much as looked at Arabic. A screen shot of the original homepage is below) :
Statement by Dr alBaradei, "Together We Will Change":
In the light of my meetings with all the various Egyptian political affiliations, religious men and women, and representatives of the general society and the young, I was touched by an almost unanimous need for change in Egypt. There was broad agreement on the need to unite all the voices calling for change under a National Association. They requested I be in the forefront and stand with them to ensure that the general framework of the association represents the whole range of calls for change.The main objective of the association is working to reach a political system based on true democracy and social justice. The first step on this road is to ensure basic guarantees for free and fair elections, whether legislative or presidential, elections which include all Egyptians and where there is equal opportunity for all. This will provide the safeguards and procedures which have been demanded by a broad spectrum of Egyptian society for many years, particularly:
1. End the state of emergency.
2. To enable the Egyptian judiciary to supervise the full electoral process as a whole.
3. Control of the election by local and international civil society organizations.
4. To provide equal opportunity/access in/to the media for all candidates, especially in presidential elections.
5. To enable Egyptians abroad to exercise their right to vote in embassies and consulates.
6. To ensure the right to stand in the presidential election without arbitrary restrictions in line with Egypt's obligations under the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights, and to limit the right to run for the presidency to two terms.
7. Elections by national number.
In order to attain some of these procedures and safeguards to amend articles 76, 77 and 88 of the Constitution as soon as possible.
I would like to emphasize in this regard that the doors of the "National Assembly for Change" are open to all Egyptians inside and outside Egypt who agree with the need to change starting with the achievement of the safeguards and procedures described, to calling special elections, to a new constitution that guarantees every Egyptian has the right to a dignified life, to beginning a comprehensive program of social and economic reform so that in the end it is the people who are the ultimate rulers.
Indeed, because the main goals of this association is not limited to changing the rules of running for president, or even who would run in the election; but because it is a quest to change the overall system by mobilizing popular support in a peaceful manner, that I have chosen Dr. Hassan Nafia, Professor of Political Science at Cairo University, to be the overall coordinator of the association. "Together We Will Change"

With the exception of the references to 'true democracy and social justice' there is little in this statement and these goals with which one could argue. And the goal of 'true democracy' in the case of Egypt--a titular democracy at best--is realistic and laudable goal. But as the day-to-day leader tends to define an organization, I looked into Dr. Hassan Nafia (Nafea). Nafia appears to be politically active and a somewhat old-school Arab Nationalist who cares about his country. He has expressed mildly pro-Syrian/anti-American sentiments about the rule of the democratic Syrian despot Bashar Assad, but has also irritated the anti-government forces in Sudan. If you want to get a better feel for him, he was interviewed by al-Jazeera in February 2010 regarding alBaradei. The whole video is easily worth watching. There is an article in an Egyptian newspaper, also from February 2010, on the 'activists' welcoming alBaradei at Cairo airport. Please notice two things; how little harassment there appears to be of these political activists who are blatantly showing their allegiance to alBaradei over a year ago; and please also notice how professional the signs are?

No comments:

Post a Comment