USA Today: Smuggling from Egypt halted, Gazans turn to Israel
Posted by uscsjp on August 23, 2013
“Amid the ongoing turmoil whipping across Egypt, the plight of Gazans, 1.7 million residents of the 141-square-mile strip wedged between Israel and Egypt, has slipped from public consciousness.
But that turmoil has put Gazans in a new and uncertain predicament.
Since the July 3 ouster of Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the governing Egyptian military has embarked on a crackdown against all Islamic political forces — and that has meant cutting off smuggled trade from Egypt into Gaza, where the Islamist Hamas rules.
The result: For the first time in years, almost every item imported into Gaza now arrives from Israel — and at a higher price….”
–USA Today, 21 August, 2013
ZNet: Egypt’s Revolution After the Smoke Clears
In times of crisis people strive for easy answers to complex situations. In Egypt this has resulted in absurdly digestible sound bites, where one side is labeled “good” (the Muslim Brotherhood), the other “bad” (the army), and the revolution as a whole is condemned as an atrocity. But the situation in Egypt is especially contradictory, and untying the social-political knots of the revolution requires avoiding pre-packaged catchphrases.
Contrary to the claims of many, reports of the revolution’s death are greatly exaggerated. Those who predict that Egypt will inevitably enter a long period of military dictatorship forget that the Egyptian revolution destroyed such a dictatorship in 2011, and helped topple Morsi’s authoritarian government in July. The people in Egypt have not been cowed into submission, they are still in the streets, unafraid, consciously aware of their power. The Egyptian military is very aware of this fact, as their actions testify.
Although it’s a tragedy that innocent people have been killed, it’s also true that the Muslim Brotherhood represents not the revolution, but its adversary. Especially confusing is that another opponent of the revolution — the military generals — are leading the attack against the Brotherhood, which raises the question: why would one enemy of the revolution be attacking another?
The current, bizarre-seeming situation in Egypt is actually common in the history of revolutions, having started in the modern era with Napoleon Bonaparte, who, during the French Revolution, consolidated his power by aligning with certain social classes against rival sections, and switching allegiances when necessary to offset the power of his former allies, until all political rivals were weakened, allowing him and his army to act as arbitrator and ruler.
This now common feature of revolutions is often referred to as “Bonapartism” in honor of its founder and is a reflection of society in revolutionary upheaval, where different social classes are powerfully asserting themselves, though unable to out-power their adversaries, allowing the military to act as the Bonapartist “arbitrator.”
Bonapartism is also a sign of the political weakness of the military, which is not able to rule without aligning with certain segments of the population (this is why the Egyptian generals recently asked for mobilizations to signal “permission” to put down the Brotherhood’s civil disobedience actions, essentially using Egypt’s political left against the political right).
Bonapartism has been practiced by military dictatorships since Napoleon. In fact, Egypt’s popular military President Gamal Abdul Nasser — who instituted many progressive measures in Egypt — was himself a classic Bonapartist, though one who uncharacteristically leaned left.
For example, after surviving an assassination attempt from the Muslim Brotherhood, Nasser used the military to destroy the Brotherhood, while enjoying support from the political left in Egypt due to his progressive policies. After dealing with the Brotherhood, Nasser consolidated his power against the growing revolutionary left, by attacking both the communist party and trade unions. This political balancing act between political left and right is the hallmark of Bonapartism…
–Shamus Cooke, ZNet, 20 August, 2013