The news of Tunisia to pass the new constitution comes parallel with the news of General Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi promoted as “Field Marshal” and mandated by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to run for presidency.
Following the headline news of Tunisia, social media users in the Arab world drew comparison between the two North African countries raising questions about why Tunisia succeeded to pass a draft by consensus while Egypt relapsed to a brutal police state.

Tunisia Embracing Democracy

The moment – that is described as ‘historic’ by UN Secretary General Kofi Anan – of signing the new constitution by outgoing Islamist premier Ali Larayedh, Speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar, and President Moncef Marzouki during a ceremony at the National Constituent Assembly, came before the Tunisian flags were unfurled and assembly deputies embraced and danced celebrating a finally ‘inclusive’ charter.
Parliament deputies (liberals, seculars, Muslim Brotherhood, Conservative Islamists, and Chritisans) stood together chanting ‘if, one day, a people desires to live, then fate will answer their call. And their night will then begin to fade, and their chains break and fall…”.

What did Tunisia do that Egypt didn’t?

In Tunisia’s North African counterpart, however, the scene is far from harmony or unity. What is happening on the ground in Egypt reveals that Egypt is still light years away democracy. Tear gases continue to cover the sky and live ammunition fired at crowds on the third memorial of the 25th January 2011 revolution.
Egypt’s constitution drafts were never approved by consensus. Under the regime of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the ruling party attempted to pass a constitution that was opposed by many opposition figures and parties. When the military gripped power from Morsi, the military-backed government passed a constitution by a whopping 98.1% after a two-day referendum on January 14 and 15. The referendum was boycotted by anti-coup activists and Islamists and several activists from the Strong Egypt Party – which includes liberals and moderate Islamists – were arrested for campaigning against the constitution. The action was condemned by Human Rights Watch which said, “Egyptian citizens should be free to vote for or against the new constitution, not fear arrest for simply campaigning for a ‘no’ vote.”

The secret in Tunisia’s success was in the concessions made by the Islamists to overcome any obstacles that can lead to a political deadlock. With the sinking popularity of the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan and the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia learnt the lesson and pushed ahead towards ‘peaceful’ reconciliation. The blood bath that started in Egypt was definitely a motivation for Tunisians to overcome their differences for the sake of their country. Yet, it is no secret that the military’s non-intervention in Tunisia saved the country from division resulting in a drama similar to Egypt.
While the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt blamed their failure on the immaturity of the the opposition, they were also accused of exhibiting extreme stubbornnes and showing no flexibility or willingness to negotiate moderate solutions. Failing to comprehend that compromise is part of politics, Morsi offered no concessions and refused to agree to hold early elections.

When asked why the Muslim Brotherhood did not come to an agreement with their opponents like Tunisia’s Islamist ruling party in an interview with Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr (Egypt Live), Gamal Heshmat –a leader in the Freedom and Justice Party– asserts that the Muslim Brotherhood were not as bad as the media portrayed them but it was rather the opposition who failed the country. Heshamt claims that the Brotherhood offered many positions in the government during Morsi’s regime to opposition figures but they turned their back on them to create a political crisis.

Taking a closer look, it was the media that added fuel to the fire. The media played a drastic role in spreading a state propaganda and campaigning against the Islamists. Egypt’s well-known and most influential television presenters and opposition figures worked hard to ciculate rumors and exaggerate the pitfalls of the Brotherhood in an attempt to incite hatred towards the group. Labels such as ‘sheep’ and humiliating caricature were used extensively by social media to dehumanize the Islamist ruling party.
Nonetheless, for many people, it was also the use of radical religious discourse by pro-brotherhood preachers –and attributing loyalty to the group to religious devotion–that turned them against Morsi. Statements about ‘jihad against the idolators’ eventually triggered for a wide-scale movement demanding Morsi to go.

A Phenomenon of Sisi-mania:

Shortly, the growing hatred towards the Brotherhood was employed in paving way for the emergence of a new leader who gripped power from the elected government. Polished by media and portrayed as a knight in shining armor, it was no surprise that General Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi would be ‘mandated’ to become the President.
“Congratulations, Al-Sisi will run for Presidency”, Nevine –a 38-year-old house wife – leaned over her friend Reem to kiss her as she was delivering the news. Nevine and Reem are two women among thousands of women who are in love with Al-Sisi who is “fighting terrorism for the sake of the people”. Many women act more hysterically when it comes to Al-Sisi and some has gone too far asking to be Al-Sisi’s ‘sex slaves’.

Banners with photos of Al-Sisi hung in most of the streets in almost all the cities of Egypt and the popular song ‘blessed your hands’ (which praises the army for the military coup) played in most public places do not merely show this man’s popularity more than reveal Egyptians’ love for the image of a powerful leader. Since the death of the Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970, Egyptians have been looking for another charismatic leader with strong nationalist sentiments.

“He is the chosen one” and “who is better than him?” can be the immediate responses you hear if you walk down the streets and ask anyone why they think Al-Sisi should be President. The idea of ‘democracy’ does not sound appealing anymore to most Egyptians after witnessing the political strife between the different parties after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. While the media can still use the term ‘democracy’ to cover up the military coup, pro-Sisi are not ashamed to admit that they prefer dictatorship to “a democracy to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power”.

Is Egypt Destined to be Under Military Rule?

The mandate coming from the Supreme Council of Armed Forces provoked many activists who criticized the SCAF for continuously intervening in politics. Many social activists tweeted after the news of the mandate, ‘will the SCAF become a political party?’.

On January 25th, 2014, pro-Sisi were celebrating the third memorial of the revolution against Mubarak while at the same time the security forces were brutally chasing protesters and shedding the blood of anti-coup protesters. The scene was confusing as pro-Sisi gathered in the streets chanting and cheering for the ‘police’ and ‘security forces’ who are regarded today as the ‘guardians’ of Egypt but were the ‘perpetrators of violence’ against the peaceful protesters during the revolt againt Mubarak. Now the roles have been reversed as the police became the ‘heroes’ of the revolution whereas the ‘protesters’ turned into the villains.

The revolution never came any close to achieving its objectives – ‘bread, freedom and social justice” and the same problems of unemployment, food and fuel shortage, extreme poverty, and horrible infrastructure remain unsolved. Oddly enough, people instead of complaining about their living conditions and calling for their rights, they blame it all on the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is the same old story of Ramsis the second (known as the Pharaoh of Moses). Ramsis the second tortured and killed the ‘descendents of Israel’ upon the mandate of his people who saw them as a threat to their nation. Some Political thinkers – who have been banned from any public appearance for embracing ‘anti-coup’ views – see no sign of any political resolution except perhaps the hope of a new ‘Moses’.

Yasmine M. Fakhry, Analyst, Strategic Outlook

Is Tunisia Coming Close to Democracy?
It all started for Tunisia when a fruit vendor set himself on fire to express hoplessness after his cart was confiscated. This incident has changed the face of an entire region as Tunisia, despite being the smallest country in North Africa, sparked an uprising that inspired similar movements in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
While some movements were suppressed before they came to the light, the result of the uprising was disastrous in other countries such as in Libya and Syria. In Egypt, the contradiction of interests between the Islamists and seculars  brought the first democratically elected government down and gave way to the military to grip power again from civilian hands. 
Although its revolution was swift and largely peaceful, Tunsia’s road to democratic transition was bumpy. After the former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled in January 2011 for exile in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia seemed to be showing the way for an orderly transition as an an assembly was elected to write a new constitution within months. 
Ennahda – a moderate Islamist political party and the most well-organized – which won more than 40 per cent of seats in Constituent Assemby, failed to address the pressing demands of the people in a country suffering from a weak economy and instability. 
The fact that the coalition government was composed of Ennahda and two secular parties did not prevent the growing polarization between Islamists and secularists. 
Following the assassination of the opposition leader Mohammed Brahmi, a member of Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly, and the ouster of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi by the military, divisions between Islamists and the secular opposition in Tunisia have deepened resulting sometimes in violent clashes. 
After months of negotiations and wrangling, Ennahda agreed to hand over power to interim government of independent figures. Ennahda and the opposition negotiated a series of compromises to reach an approval of two thirds of the assembly’s 217 elected members needed for the constitution to be adopted. 
As 2014 begins, Tunisia’s historic vote on the long-delayed new constitution which could mark a crucial democratic milestone in the history of the nation. If approved, the government set January 14 for the adoption of the charter will be the same day to celebrate the anniversary of the 2011 revolution that overthrew the former Ben Ali.
During the negotiations, the Islamists compromised and agreed to keep the main article of independent Tunisia’s first constitution, which gives Islam a vague status, and to divide power between the president and the government. Politicians have high hopes that once there is consensus on the constitution, power should be handed to a government of technocrats. 
After Turkey’s popularity has shrunk in the Middle East, there is a chance that the small country that has sparked the Arab spring would replace the ‘Turkish model’ to become the Arab world’s first true democracy. 
Yasmine M. Fakhry, Analyst, Strategic Outlook
In a country that was accustomed to witness military coups, corruption and political instability, it is incomprehensible that the leader who brought enough reforms to start negotiations with the
European union – which the country had sought for 40 years – is accused of shifting Turkey towards ‘autocracry’. 
Recent corruption charges against members of his cabinet and some of their family members sparked another wave of protests against Erdogan and his party, the Justice and Development (AKP). 
The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is battered on all fronts now as he faces major challenges from the opposition and resignations from his own party. 
The corruption allegations came after Erdogan closed the prep schools (Madrasas) operated by the Gulen movement, which was seen as a direct attack on Gulen and his followers. 
Supporters of the Islamic Preacher Fethullah Gulen movement and Erdogan are now at odds with each other. Although Erdogan enjoyed support from Gulen’s movement for most of his 11 years in power, the Gezi and Gulen movements are now defacto partners against the AKP. 
The Prime Minister’s firm stance in both Egypt and Syria have costed Turkey losing two important allies. This affected Turkey’s influential power in the region and Erdogan’s heroic image in the Arab world began to fade.
In a turbulent and shattered Middle East, Erdogan finds himself now standing alone facing accusations of ‘dictatorship’, ‘obsession for power’ and ‘corruption’. Erdogan accused his opponents of a ‘conspiracy’ to sap the power of Turkey. 
Whereas Erdogan’s insistence on the theory of ‘conspiracy’ is ridiculed by the media and political commentators, it is an oversimplification to assume that the Arab spring and the turbulence in the entire region are all mere coincidence.
There is a great chance that Erdogan’s govermnet may not survive the corruption scandals. The crack of the ‘Turkish model’ will be a huge blow to the Arab countries still in transition.
Even if the opposition defeats Erdogan, history will remember that he was the first leader who brought back reforms to a nation that was stripped of its Islamic history and identity.  
Despite Kemal Ataturk’s attempts to cut the Turks from the history of the great Ottoman empire, Erdogan succeeded to come to power and grant rights to the once oppressed conservative Muslims. 
Since Ataturk founded the Republic of Modern Turkey on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, secularists have employed distorted historical facts to further their ideological goals. A case in point is the recent televised drama series ‘Muhteşem Yüzyıl’ (The Magnificent Century) which featured Süleyman the Magnificent far from the truth.  
Just like the attempts to distort the history of the Ottomans never succeeded in hiding the truth about one of the greatest empires in the world, history will reveal the truth about Erdogan’s period.  
Yasmine M. Fakhry, Analyst,Strategic Outlook

written for:


Following a peaceful night kicking off new year with fireworks, violence erupts again across the country as the military disperses protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.

In Alexandria, violent clashes took place in Sidi Bishr and Gleem resulting in the death oftwo young people announced dead and tens were injured in clashes between the security forces and protesters.

“We are committed to ‘peaceful’ protests, but we will cut the hands of those who attack us, we will remain steadfast… more and more martyrs will become martyrs until Egypt is freed from the military rule”, declared the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy.

Egypt’s interim Cabinet officially declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terroristic group after a bombing that targeted a police headquarters in Mansoura.

Human Rights Watch Organization condemned the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization which is intended to end all Muslim Brotherhood activities, and considered the move as “expanding the crackdown on peaceful Brotherhood activities and imposing harsh sanctions on its supporters”.

According to Human Rights Watch, “the authorities have killed more than 1,000 pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters; arrested thousands of its supporters, including the majority of its leadership; and engaged in a systematic media campaign to demonize the group”.

The Interior Ministry spokesman, Hani Abdel Latif, stated on December 26 in an aired interviewthat the terrorist designation would enable the ministry to deal with the Brotherhood under the sections of the Egyptian Penal Code that concern terrorism (articles 86 to 99).According to the Penal Code, protesters could face upt to five years in prison while the leaders could face the death penalty.

Osama Sharabi, former director of the public administration for artistic work, declared that posting a “Raba’a sign” on the social networking site Facebook will be criminalized under the penal code.School boy, Khaled Bakara – 15 years old – was detained in Novemberafter a teacher spotted a ruler and notebooks that had a Rabaa sticker – a symbol commemorating people killed when the government dispersed the sit- in Raba’a Square in August.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters accuse the military-backed government of creating chaos and terrorizing people to justify their massacres against the Muslim Brotherhood.

More clashes are anticipated near January 7th as the media is already spreading rumors about potential attacks on churches by the Muslim Brotherhood when Christians are to celebrate Coptic Christmas eve.

The military is escalating violence against protesters prior to the memorial of the revolution against the ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in an attempt to decrease the participation of protesters in demonstrations on January 25th.

As violence erupts with the beginning of 2014, there is no sign of the end of the political dilemma in the near future. The Muslim Brotherhood supporters are carrying on their struggle against the military, while the military-backed government seems far from sealing any deals with the group.

What Do Erdogan’s Opponents Really Want?
The rise of Islamic politics in Turkey can be described as a reaction to what has been seen as “cleansing Islam of political interference”. In 1924, Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, abolished the office of the Muslim Caliphate and instituted secular civil law throughout Turkey. 
Islamic education was banned in favor of secular and Sufi lodges were shut down. Atatürk advocated the replacement of Arabic letters with Latin letters to cut the Turks from their Islamic identity. Any Attempts to bring back Islamic values into government have been met with resistance by the military since then.
The radical modernization and Western legal codes, however, did not do much for the Turkish voters who have been primarily concerned with bread-and-butter issues. It was under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership that Turkey became one of the fastest growing economies in the world. 
Despite the kemalists call that Islam should have no role in public life, the Justice and Development (AKP) party won three consecutive elections – which had  little to do with ideological factors. Erdoğan became popular due to the country’s growing prosperity and better social services.  
According to a CNN report, “He’s perhaps the most powerful and popular politician Turkey has seen in generations”. Tim Ash, head of emerging markets for Standard Bank, described Erdogan as a successful leader saying, ” He has vision, drive, and his supporters united around him and push for the agenda he is building”.
The Economist noted in 2008. “No Islamic party has been as moderate and pro-Western as the AKP, which catapulted into government in 2002 promising to lead Turkey into the European Union.” Whereas it was the kemalists dream to bring Turkey closer to the West, it was Erdogan who spearheaded political reforms that brought Turkey more in line with the European Union and closer to the West.
Unlike Ataturk – who never competed with his opponents in free and fair elections, Erdogan came to power by democratic elections and is supported by the majority. On the other hand, Ataturk held arbitrary courts for his opponents  which executed an estimated 5,000 of his dissidents.
Mustafa Akyol, Hurriyet daily news, described Ataturk as an authoritarion was  “must be seen in the light of a series of authoritarian revolutionaries that emerged in the inter-war period (1918-1939), such as Lenin in Russia, Benito Mussolini in Italy, or Jozef Pilsudski in Poland. Most of these dictators replaced traditional empires with non-democratic republics. They all claimed to embody the wills of their nations, and imposed radical reforms, some of which were indeed helpful (Lenin, for example, had advanced women rights in a very traditional Russia”.
While Ataturk attacked Islam and and dictated daily secular practices on Turks, Turkey’s AKP party respected the red lines of Turkish secularism and did not replace it with Islamic ideologies. The Islamic party proved that secular governance, democracy and liberal economy do not contradict with Islam. 
The kemalists who are calling for more freedom of speech today did not tolerate the conservative majority more than a decade ago. While the opposition accuse the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he is Turkey’s new dictator who does not take criticism well, criticism of Ataturk is unthinkable and was even punishable by the law. 
In fact, Law on Crimes Committed Against Atatürk (Law No. 5816) stipulated that “anyone who publicly insults of curses the memory of Ataturk shall be imprisoned with a sentence of between one and three years …. if the crimes outlined in the first article are committed by a group of two or more individuals, publicly, in public districts or by means of the press, the penalty imposed will be increased by a proportion of one-half”.
If Ataturks’ authoritarianism was justified for the modernizing reforms he brought to his country, Erdogan’s ‘claimed’ dictatorship should be equally excused then for succeeding to turn a nation that was addicted to unstable coalition governments into an emerging regional and global power. For the first time in the Turkey’s history, power is in civilian hands. 
No leader can turn his country into an Utopia. Even the world’s superpowers – USA, Russia, and China – are still struggling with poverty, unemployment and human rights issues. With an estimated population of 80 million, Turkey still managed to supass all its neighboring countries in its economic achievements. 
He was picked in 2011 as Time’s Person of the year, but his opponents have sabotagged his success voting against the campaign. As time put it, Erdogan was simultaneously the poll’s “most- and least-favored Person of the Year.” What Erdogan has done for his country raises suspicion on what his opponents really want. 
After political turmoil in the Middle East, it has been how the opposition have been simply repeating the same scenario all over to overthrow their governments. It all starts with spreading the anti-government rhetoric through media outlets, calling for outrageous demonstrations, and ends up with blaming all violence on the government.
The goal is not just to spread negative information about the government but to force a response. Then some “moderates” come along and say, “Well, I wasn’t really that sympathetic to the opposition, but when the government began violating the Freedom of Expression, I realized Erdogan had to go.” 
The scandal of the corruption investigation is another slap to the AKP party which played into the hands of the secular opposition. The opposition, which is rallying against Erdogan, soon will question his ‘legitimacy’. The question is, ‘What is next for Turkey if Erdogan is down?’. The opposition’s agenda remains vague and there is great concern at where the opposition is taking the country to. 
Yasmine M. Fakhry, Analyst,Strategic Outlook
Egypt’s interim government set January 14 and 15 for a referendum on a draft Constitution. Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi – who toppled Egypt’s first freely elected President, Mohammed Morsi –  suspended the constitution and an assembly was named to draft a new one by December 3.
Adopting the new constitution draft will be the first major step in the transitional road map promised by the new regime, which is to be followed by parliamentary elections and a presidential vote.
The consitution was drafted in secret and unveiled last week leaving only a month for public debate. “In the early hours of the morning the assembly (reached) an overall consensus over the constitution articles,” its chairman, former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, told a news conference Sunday, December 15.
Interim president Adly Mansour urged Egyptians on Saturday to vote yes for the constitution, saying it would “secure human rights” and provide the basis for a “democratic and modern state.” State television has already launched a campaign supporting the military-backed government and calling on Egyptians to vote yes in the referendum. The media is already paving the way for a potential presidential campaign by Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.
The new constitution was drafted by a constituent committee dominated by liberals and leftists and chaired by Amr Moussa, the former secretary general of the Arab League. The committee included two Islamists, Nour Party deputy leader Bassam El-Zarqa and ex-Muslim Brotherhood leader Kamal El-Helbawy, the latter became a harsh critic of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The authorities have pursued a campaign to repress the Brotherhood. The group, which formally renounced violence decades ago, has been accused of violence and terrorism. The government has silenced the group’s main media outlets, jailed the leaders of the group, and cracked down on their supporters. The government has also been jailing liberal activists during an extensive crackdown on street protests and strikes.
The Brotherhood – the group that dominated several elections over the past three years – has called the vote an attempt to whitewash an illegal coup and announced that it will boycott the referendum rather than campaign to defeat it.
The draft has already come under criticism for bolstering the military’s hand and banning religious parties. Some secular and rights groups have called for voting ‘no’ to the new constitution as  it enshrines army role in politics.
Gamal Eid, head of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, stated that after carrying out a detailed study of the revised draft, he will recommend a “no” vote. According to Eid, nearly 30 articles in the 247-article draft charter are too vague— giving the military wide powers “making it a state above the state.”
He criticized the articles that give the military the right to appoint the defense minister for at least eight years during a transitional period, and the right to try civilians in military trials for any offense involving a military person or those under its authority.
Head of Misr Al-Qawia Party – the moderate Islamist party – and former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh urged Egyptians on Monday to vote No in the upcoming constitutional referendum.“We will not succumb to any political blackmail, be it from the authorities or the Brotherhood,” said Aboul Fotouh at the party’s press conference.
A statement issued by Misr Al-Qawia – said his its members had attempted to advise ousted president Mohamed Morsi to call for early elections and blamed the “relapse in the democratic process” on Morsi and Brotherhood’s rejection of compromise and the “unwarranted interference” by the armed forces “with the blessing of some political forces”.
The party said it had supported the cause of early presidential elections and saw it as “the only alternative available to Egypt in order to preserve its democratic path.” However, it renounced the roadmap announced by Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on 3 July, which was not sanctioned by the Egyptian people and was followed by repressive security.
The party referred to the referendum being “forcibly imposed on the Egyptian people” and claimed “did not represent the natural diversity found in the Egyptian people”. Misr Al-Qawia, which also voiced its rejection of the 2012 constitution for passing by a predominantly Islamist-influence – criticised the amendments for failing to create a basis for transitional justice.
On ther other hand, the ultraconservative Salafist Al-Nour party, the only Islamist party who took part in the drafting process, is rallying behind the new referendum. Meanwhile, Youness Makhyoun, Nour Party chief, said that his party offered advice to the ousted Morsi to carry out  a constitutional reform and perform a cabinet reshuffle.
“The Brotherhood has frequently objected to Article 219 in the suspended constitution, claiming that the word ‘principles’ is enough to enact Sharia.” Said Makhyoun. However, he said he was surprised by the Brotherhood’s criticism for dropping the article in the revised constitution.
Whereas there seems to be some improvements in a number of articles in the new draft – particulary in the articles of gender equality and rights and freedoms, there are many setbacks in the draft regarding the military privileges. The referendum will be another political battle dividing the public opinion and determining the power of the existing political parties and which parties will dominate the political scene in the coming years.
Yasmine M. Fakhry, Analyst,Strategic Outlook
Written for strategic Outlook. Published here:
After the military coup and the brutal crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, there was no sign of hope for many people. The military gripped power from a democratically elected President – Mohamed Morsi, the ousted President of Egypt -who has has been held in a secret military detention with no access to his lawyers.The media played a role in bringing down the Islamist government and incited hate against the Muslim Brotherhood. Following the large-scale protests against Morsi’s rule, the military seized the opportunity to step into the spotlight. The military-backed media spread the narrative that the military had to step in to fight terrrorism and turned General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi into a national hero who save the country from civil war. 
The crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood started by the arrest of top figures, then it gradually grew fiercer. Scenes of protesters dragged away and beaten repeated frequently. Police brutality and violence against protesters intensified.  The dispersal of the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins in Cairo resulted in the death of hundreds and injury of thousands. Videos circultated on the internet showed horrible crimes and extreme torture committed against detained Muslim Brotherhood or opposition members. The security and armed forces met all peaceful protests with heavy tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition.  
In October,  22 young girls, aged 15 to 22, were arrested for forming a human chain on the Corniche of Alexandria while raising pro-Morsy and Rabaa banners in the morning. The protest was part of a pro-Morsi movement called “seven in the morning”, where  around 350 protesters marched at the same time (seven in the morning) from Sidi Gaber area to Stanley Bridge on the corniche holding Rabaa signs and banners. 
Amnesty International interviewed eye witnesses to the attack of the security forces on the protesters on 31 October on Stanley Bridge in Alexandria. According to the witnesses, the security forces chased protesters beating them with gun butts and batons, and slapping them on their faces during their arrests. The security forces went after women and arrested at least 22 women and one man. The court convicted the girls, most of them university students, on charges of illegal assembly, blocking roads, destroying public property and possessing weapons. Seven of the girls were minors, aged 15 to 17, and were sentenced to a juvenile center, while the other girls were sentenced to 11 years in prison. 
A few days ago, security forces were seen beating and dragging female activists during a protest outside Shura council, downtown in protest of both the new protest law and military trials for civilians. Police rounded up around 14 women and drove them in a police van to drop them off in the desert in the middle of the night. The Rabaa signs are regarded now as a threat to the national security of the country, and the police tracks down anyone with a Rabaa badge which made many facebook users comment on their profiles that ‘anyone wearing yellow will be arrested’. 
The prison sentence for the young girls who were arrested from the ‘seven in the morning’ movement sparked outrage in universities across the country. University students announced they are on strike and daily protests have been held since last Wednesday. A photo circulated on the internet showing the girls smiling behind the bars – dressed up in the prison’s white uniform. The courage and bravery of the young girls, as they were smiling and waving to their families to show their defiance to injustice, triggered more protests to continue the struggle against the military rule. 
The last few days, the security forces cracked down on university students as students have announced they are on strike until the release of the young girls. Students of the Faculty of Science in Alexandria were particularly enraged because some of their colleagues were arrested and some others were suspended from the University for protesting. The Faculty of Engineering in Alexandria has also witnessed mass protests and the students have been on strike demanding the release of arrested students. The protests in the Faculty of Engineering in Cairo were met with brutality that led to the death and injury of some students. Violence also marked the protests in Alexandria as students marched from Alexandria University in Shatby and were rounded up with the police who started to fire tear gas and rubber bullets.  
Regardless of the arrests, torture, tear gas and brutal crackdown on protesters, the young people are becoming fearless and are ready to pay their life for defending justice and freedom. Whereas the political parties have failed to unite together to avoid the country turmoil and conflict, young people have overcome their differences and protested hand in hand against the brutality of the police state. The new generation of young protesters are the hope of the country towards a future where democracy, freedom and human rights can  be achieved. 
Yasmine M. Fakhry, Analyst,Strategic Outlook

Written for Strategic Outlook:

Egypt has made it clear to the world that no intervention in the condition of human rights in the country will be acceptable. The military’s strategy is to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters regardless of the international reaction. The current regime has gripped power from a democratically elected President and brought back terror, torture and dictatorship in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’. The Egyptian media has been dedicated to serve the military’s goals and propogate for the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Brotherhood which they consider ‘heroeic actions terrorism’. However, videos circulating on the internet documenting torture, police brutatlity and crimes against the protesters are raising the concern of the international community.  
Tension arose between Egypt and Turkey since the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Following the violent disperse of Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, Cairo and Ankara recalled their respective ambassadors for consultations. Erdogan said on September 4 that the Turkish envoy would return to Cairo, but Egypt’s envoy was still to return to his post in Ankara. Egypt’s stance shows defiance to any country against the military coup. Erdogan’s remarks on Thursday were regarded as “provocative and interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs” according to Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Badr Abdelatty. 
Abdelatty condemned Turkey of attempting to influence public opinion against Egyptian interests. The Egyptian government accused Turkey of funding and supporting organziations to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood  in order to create instability in the country. In a press conference, Abdelatty declared that Egypt will expel the Turkish ambassador Huseyin Avni Botsali and downgrade its ties to the level of charge d’affaires. He added that they will declare the Turkish ambassador persona non grata and they will not send their Egyptian ambassador to Turkey.
Such move can be interpreted as an attempt to punish Turkey and give Erdogan a lesson for for siding with the Muslim Brotherhood against the military rule. In response, Levent Gumrukcu, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, announced that Ankara will respond with reciprocal steps in the coming hours. After leaving the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, Botsali – who described the Egyptian and Turkish people as “brothers” – said Egypt is a very important country and keeping it on the path of democracy is very necessary for the region and the world. 
Whereas the Muslim Brotherhood who rejected dialogue and insisted that Morsi was the legitimate president, a Muslim Brotherhood-led alliance said it was ready for a national dialogue to end the political standoff. Despite the Wests call on an inclusive political process, the military-backed government showed no intention to start talks with supporters of Morsi and judges also suggested Saturday that the government disbanded the Brotherhood’s political party. The Mohamed Mahmoud second memorial on November 19 marked bloody clashes that sparked more protests around the country. The military’s continuous crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood and the peaceful protesters signals that Egypt is still far away from democratic transition. The current regime depends on the old Mubarka-style methods and repressive measures to deal with opponents and dominate the political scene. 
On Saturday 16 November, lawyers in the UK have accused the Egyptian military and the country’s interim government of crimes against humanity. The high-profile legal team documented the findings of their investigation on the military’s crimes and human rights abuses such as murder, unlawful imprisonment, torture, persecution, and forced disappearance of persons. The legal team was appointed by th Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and members of the Shura Council and were led by ITN Solicitors, London-based human rights law firm. The most likely avenues for submitting the report are either the International Court of Justice in The Hague or the International Criminal Court. 
Yasmine M. Fakhry, Analyst,Strategic Outlook

Written for Strategic Outlook:

Fahmi Huwaidi, the most popular read Islamic political analyst and columnist who has been termed as “moderate Islamist”, writes in Al-Shorouk newspaper that “the facts about ‘Mohamed Mahmoud’ clashes were falsified and quickly hidden to become a part of the unknown and wrongly written part of Egypt’s history”. What took place in Mohamed Mahmoud Street – which juts east from Tahrir Square – between 19 and 25 November in 2011 was a second wave of an uprising against the military rule. 
Thousands of frustrated and angy Egyptians demonstrated in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on November 18th in 2011 to demand the removal of the military countil. “The people want the removal of the filed marshal”, the shouted. People were demanding a much swifter transition and were frustrated with the slow pace of judicial cases of the killers of protesters and the former regime.
The Mohamed Mahmoud clashes- which punctuated Egypt’s post-revolutionary politics – left 41 dead and over one thousand injured, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Health. The clashes continued for five days and nights, and eventually ended due to the exhaustion and tear gas.  Several videos on the internet showed security forces burn down banners, beating protesters with sticks, pulling them by the hair and, in one of the videos, dragging a corpse and damping into a pile of rubbish. 
Whereas the January revolution in 2011 overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, it did not bring down his regime. Mubarak’s supporters and regime fought fiercely in the battle of Mohamed Mahmoud and the protesters who were demanding regime change were met with police brutality. In her book “Athakal Min Radwa”, Radwa Ashour recorded the testimonies of two witnesses from Kasr Al Aini Hospital who stated that the police gunmen and trained snipers had reportedly targeted (and in some case eliminated) the eyes of protesters. 
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights’ (EIPR) preliminary investigations into the clashes confirmed that security forces deliberately fired birdshot pellets and rubber bullets in the direction of demonstrators’ faces. Human Rights reported that rubber shotgun pellets are an extreme form of crowd control that can easily blind people if aimed at the face, therefore, should be shot at the legs instead. The most notorious video clip that circulated on the internet clearly shows an officer shooting at demonstrators in Mohamed Mahmoud Street. Another officer then praises him for hitting a demonstrator’s eye, saying: “You got him in the eye, well done.” 
Not only that there hardly any fair trials or punishment for the atrocities committed in Mohamed Mahmoud, but the media went too far as they pointed accusing fingers of to the protesters themselves. The Mohamed Mahmoud clashes marked the beginning of the conspiracy against the January 2011 revolution which intends to distort the uprising against Mubarak’s regime and pave the way for the military rule. 
Huwaidi reminds the people who took to the streets in 2011 to call for an end to the military rule and that the demands of the revolution were never met. He continues “The crowds who rallied against the military rule are now disputing and fighting against each other and are becoming distracted from their main demands”.  Huwaidi also warned that if the conflict between the political parties is not dealt with, Mubarak’s regime will remain in power. 
Mohammed Mahmud Street, also known as sharei’ uyuun al-hurriyyah (the street of the eyes of freedom), became an iconic space for its famous graffiti commemorating the martyrs of the most dramatic  killing and disfiguration of hundreds of protesters by Egyptian police forces. Some of the paintings on the walls are of those who lost their eyes and the names and faces of those who died in street battles. On the first anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud Street events in 2012, deadly clashes between protesters and police resumed, with at least three killed. Since rival groups, pro- and anti-military, are expected to take part in the second anniversary at different demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday, there is anticipation of violence. 
In an attempt to win hearts and minds of the people, the government set up memorial sculptures at sites of protests where the military and police shot protesters. Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi and Cairo Governor Galal al-Saeed laid the first brick of the structure in a ceremony that closed the Tahrir Square for traffic. The memorial is the second in a sequence since another sculpture was set in the square in front of Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque, where the army dispersed the Muslim Brotherhood sit-in resulting in thousands of injuries and the deaths. However, the government’s announcement that it would commemorate the anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes have been regarded as shameful and disgraceful. The military-backed regime is responsible for killing people, yet they play the role of the the protector of people. 
Despite Egypt’s Interior Ministry announced taking all necessary measures to secure Tuesday’s commemoration, violence and fierce confrontations also marked the second anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds of demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Dozens were killed and injured in Cairo, Alexandria and other governerates. The demonstrations that took place across the country on Tuesday for the commemoration reveal the continuation of the struggle against the military rule and dictatorship. Much blood has been shed and more blood will still be shed whilst defending fundamental freedoms and human rights in Egypt. 
Yasmine M. Fakhry, Analyst,Strategic Outlook