Africa Coup Update

From the Atlantic Big Picture blog


Not directly a coup, and the rebels are out (for now), and the Guardian gives us an update:

Few of the things a city needs in order to function – electricity, fuel, banks, marketplaces, and basic government services such as the town hall or judiciary – are fully up and running.

There are other, less visible but equally pernicious problems, including a breakdown in the fabric of a citizenry long-famed, thanks to Timbuktu’s location at the crossroads of the Sahara, for its cosmopolitan mix of cultures and ethnicities. Mali also contends with a chronic regional food security crisis that leaves millions of people teetering on the edge of catastrophe every time the rains fail.

Central African Republic

Did you know there was a coup in the CAF in March? Neither did I until today, or maybe I forgot. Anyways, the country is now facing a malaria crisis as the remnants of the health care system collapse with the exodus of foreign workers and agencies. Médicins sans Frontières are stepping up, but the situation looks really bleak:

MSF said in the first quarter, health facilities it supported treated about 74,700 patients for malaria, a 33% increase over the same period in 2012

…disruption of the health system has interrupted treatment of people with HIV. It estimates that about 11,000 HIV-positive people (73% of all people who are on antiretroviral treatment) have had their treatment interrupted due to drug supply problems. Routine vaccinations for diseases such as measles, meningitis and whooping cough have also been disrupted.

Read more here


The following is an extract from this blog post, which seems very fair-minded to me. Coming from someone who is decidedly not a fan of the Muslim Brotherhood,

My problem is with the reaction to [The Muslim Brotherhood]. The nominally non-partisan media variously ignores, belittles, or demonizes what represents a large section of Egyptian society. There is none of the nuance of the coverage of the anti-Morsi protests. The virulent, xenophobic anti-American sentiment of some protesters is not held to represent the collective. Systematic acts of sexual violence against women in Tahrir Square are not used to discredit the entire cause.

This is problematic for three reasons, and all of them concern Egyptian society at large rather than the Morsi brigade.

Firstly, it confirms once again that local media is more interested in telling us what it thinks should happen rather than what is happening. Secondly, it underestimates the danger posed by an alienated and committed group who believe that they have been robbed. Lastly, it is a cheap way of avoiding a debate about the issue that actually mattered until 1 July: whether an elected president should be removed via mass protests.

So my position on events pre-30 June has not been changed by events since: the Muslim Brotherhood should have been left to fail as they had not (yet) committed an act justifying Morsi’s removal by the military. The price Egypt has paid and will pay for the consequences of this decision are too high. It has created a generation of Islamists who genuinely believe that democracy does not include them. The post-30 June fallout reaffirms this belief, especially with Islamist channels and newspapers closed down as well as leaders detained and held incommunicado, apparently pursuant to an executive decision. For thirty years, Mubarak told them that due process is not for them, and a popular revolution is confirming that. It is Egyptian society that will pay the price of the grievances this causes, and the fact that, with a silenced media and no coverage from independent outlets they have been left with virtually no channels to get their voice heard.

I will not weigh in on the coup/revolution debate other than to say millions of Egyptians were on the ground demanding Morsi be removed while military jets drew hearts in the skies above them and then Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced that Morsi had (forcibly) buggered off. Nothing has changed. The real revolution will happen when army involvement in politics is a distant relic of history. 

(H/T Teju Cole)

Along similar lines, an Egyptian Journalist commenting at Ta-Nehici Coates’ blog writes:

In the link that Ta-Nehisi provided above, Mona Eltahawy touched on this when she said that “Islam is the solution” does not fill gas tanks or get someone a job. But being anti-Islamist or “revolutionary” doesn’t do that either. In all my time here, I haven’t really heard Morsi’s opposition articulate any real policy platform aside from being anti-Brotherhood. And as for military rule, keep in mind that while power cuts, gasoline shortages, dwindling foreign currency reserves and crime are pretty recent issues, the more entrenched problems — torture, religious discrimination, gender-based violence, unemployment, government repression of civil society, environmental degradation, the complete atrophy of education, health and transportation infrastructure — go back decades, when the country was firmly under military/authoritarian rule.
Morsi’s fall doesn’t guarantee any of these problems will be addressed. But it does raise the specter of a population divided into mutually hostile factions based on one’s political allegiance, while any semblance of a functioning state and civil society crumbles around them. Some of the Islamists (I’m thinking the Nour Party here) are no doubt not that sorry to see Morsi fall, but his rank-and-file Brotherhood supporters are convinced that he has legitimacy, and some of the more militant groups, such as Gama’a al-Islamiya have been threatening violence against Islamist opponents long before the current crisis.


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