Egypt Independent

Monday’s papers: A foreign hand is haunting Egypt



The Israeli government must be exhilarated that it is no longer being held responsible for the chaotic events taking place in Egypt. Instead they are now being portrayed as victims of a different "foreign hand," which sponsored the storming of their embassy in Cairo.

Friday's incident at the Israeli Embassy, in which thousands of angry protestors – surprisingly – managed to storm the embassy, is being portrayed by Egypt's flagship newspaper Al-Ahram as fueled by elements of the "counter-revolution" that seeks the fall of the Egyptian state.

In its main headline, the paper speaks of "the involvement of a number of neighboring countries in providing 'huge beyond imagination' funds to Egyptian NGOs."

Justice Minister Abdel Aziz al-Guindi told Al-Ahram that a country from the Gulf gave LE181 million to a small Egyptian NGO.

Guindi added that he has received a report that shows that several neighboring countries have offered million of pounds to Egyptian human rights and civil society organizations, some of which are not registered.

He also said that he has submitted a report to the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the prime minister to take appropriate action against the inflow of funds, adding that the cabinet will announce the report's findings within the next few days.

Guindi added that these "foreign hands" – and local ones – have been behind other incidents of violence in Egypt, seeking to sabotage state institutions, undermine national security, and intimidate citizens.

One might cast doubt over the relationship between the demonstrations in front of the Israeli Embassy and a small NGO receiving millions of pounds, but Al-Ahram doesn't address such logical inconsistencies.

An editorial in the same paper echoes the article's sinister tone, with a lead blaring, "The secrets of the plot facing Egypt."

It reads, "Today, the details of the plot facing Egypt are appearing. The plot doesn't challenge the Egyptian revolution only; more dangerously, it aims to make Egypt reel in chaos."

Following the events at the Israeli Embassy, the Egyptian government announced its intent to fully implement the decades-old Emergency Law.

It's easy to forget that the repeal of the state of emergency was a top demand of protesters who took the streets against former President Hosni Mubarak in January and February. That mood has clearly changed now, although the SCAF declared last month that they had begun the process of ending the state of emergency before parliamentary elections that are expected to be held in November.

Despite this very fact, state-run Al-Gomhurriya praised the move of fully implementing the exceptional measures enshrined in the widely-reviled law. The newspaper runs a lengthy feature quoting "legal experts" defending the re-implementation of the law, saying that such a move would restore the prestige of the state and its stability.

Privately-owned Al-Shorouk columnist Emad Eddin Hussein casts doubts over the measures, though, asking why the government could not first enforce normal laws, without having to resort to Emergency Law.

Hussein says that the problem is not of people attacking police, as the government is alleging. The problem, instead, lies in the fact that Egyptian soldiers are not accustomed to being domestic policemen.

Columnist Ibrahim Mansour of the privately owned Al-Tahrir agrees that Egypt faces a state of chaos, but holds both its military rulers and the military-backed interim government responsible for the problem.

"The reason for chaos is the weak government and the poor performance of its Minster of Interior," writes Mansour.

While Mansour assigns blame to the civilian government, he focuses much of his criticism on the SCAF – the de facto rulers of the country during the transitional period.

"SCAF from the very first day was confused and didn't know how to act," said Mansour, who thinks the council is acting like the former Mubarak regime: responding to people's demands slowly and even when lending support to their demands, not fully implementing them.

Political scientist and activist Amr Hamzawy offers another reason to blame the SCAF for the political setbacks: "The transitional period in Egypt has created in recent months a political environment that has been characterized by SCAF taking unilateral decisions and issuing laws without any real partnership with political parties and other national forces."

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Youm7: Daily, privately owned

Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party