Your friend tells you a story about his cousin whose car got stolen, so he went to the police station, where the police officer told him the name of the thief and said that he should be expecting a call from him. True enough, the next day the cousin receives a phone call from the thief offering to give him the car back if he pays him EGP 30,000. The cousin pays, gets his car back, then receives a phone call from a thief asking him if he found the car to be okay, if anything is missing and whether he is satisfied with the quality of his service. This happened in Cairo, two weeks ago.
We are living through some strange days around here.
You wake up in the morning and you hear that Alaa and Bassem Youssef are being called in for questioning by the Prosecutor General’s office and you are not worried. By now you have figured out that the Muslim Brotherhood cannot manipulate the law or fabricate charges to save their lives. A court verdict came out a few days ago stating that the in-statement of the current illegal Prosecutor General is, well, illegal. This means that, firstly, every decision he made, every investigation he called for, is now not legally binding, and secondly, that the president officially broke the law. Faced with the notion of the official court-backed end to the rule of law in Egypt and having a law-breaking president, our Minister of Justice, the guy responsible for our rule of law, Ahmed Mekki went on TV saying that the President did break the law, but he trusts his good intentions. Through the power of his good intentions, the President will not face charges, and the illegal Prosecutor General will be staying in his post. And the fun doesn’t stop there.
Already facing daily blackouts that will surely intensify by summer, our Ministry of Electricity has announced its plan to face this national crisis by announcing that they will send text messages to the residents before a blackout in their area occurs. Faced with increasing lines in front of gas stations due to the absence of diesel in the country, our minister of commodities stated that the country has 10% more diesel than it actually needs, and that the sprawling lines of cars in front of the gas stations are proof that there is no diesel crisis. You know that old joke of “If a really stupid person went crazy, how would you tell?” No? Well, that joke is on us now.
While the international news is running reports on how Egypt will undergo the economic apocalypse of its life this summer, our government proudly announces to the world that it is ready to censor the internet now, and will only need EGP 25m for internet filters. Outrage against both the measure and the amount subsides when people do the math and realise that at this accelerated rate of currency devaluation, EGP 25m will probably equal $10,000 by the summer, which means that the government will probably be sending pirated copies of the cyber-nanny software to the ISPs and hoping that would work. Other things $10,000 will get you in Egypt by the summer: 1) Two apartments in Garden City, 2) a seat in parliament, 3) the entire governorate of Wadi El-Gedid. Capitalists of Egypt, this summer is your golden age.
Think tankers and policy researchers working on Egypt in the States do not know what to make of all of this, nor what to make of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rhetoric when they come for their monthly Washington visit, which is identical to the NDP’s rhetoric: Egypt is a democracy, human rights are being respected, there are problems but we have started a national dialogue, and only 4 or 5 non-influential parties haven’t joined in, Egypt and the US have a strong and strategic partnership, the security of Israel is the security of Egypt, etc… Some of those think tankers have confided in me that they feel as if they are in Bizarro-world during those meetings, and the feeling intensified when those same think tankers meet with US state department officials, who tell them that they believe the Muslim Brotherhood. Why? Well, because they want to believe them. Why? Well, because the alternative to believing them is terrifying. What? How would the alternative to believing lies be terrifying? And then the answer comes:
“Well, are you trying to tell us that the Muslim Brotherhood, the rightful rulers of democratic Egypt according to known DC-based un-biased academics like Shadi Hamid and Marc Lynch, the force that emerged from the Arab Spring, the organisational behemoth with grass-roots operations, hugely supported, winning every election, cannot control or govern Egypt, and that Egypt is failing under their rule? AND THAT THERE IS NO ONE ELSE?”
On the bright side, Syria has apparently learned from our mistakes and is completely distrustful of the Brotherhood-dominated Free Syrian Army, because of what the Brotherhood have done to us. Instead, the anti-Bashar Syrian secularists are now supporting the Al-Qaeda dominated Gabha Al-Nusra as the sane and fluffy alternative. It should be noted that one of the chief supporters of Gabha Al-Nusra is Hazem Abu Ismail, who sends his Hazemoon fighters to fight there, and has announced that he personally would like nothing more than to go and make jihad in Syria, but he can’t go with Egypt this unstable, and the moment Egypt is stable again, he will. By then, hopefully, the Abu Ismail militia in Syria will be a real force and a major player, and when Bashar falls I won’t be surprised to hear that they took over the city of Homs and made Abu Ismail its Emir. Maybe then all the Hazemoon people will move there. Let a man dream.