SCAF’s puppet show

Al-Masry al-Youm, whose English edition was recently pulled off newsstands for running expert Robert Springborg’s column apparently suggesting that SCAF members might pull a coup-within-a-coup and dump Tantawy [UPDATE: you can now read the editors’ candid and serious editorial laying out the whole story here; the post-self-censorship version of Springborg’s column is here], yesterday tried in vain to keep a straight face while describing the Cabinet that Kamal Ganzoury finially swore in:

Major General Ahmed Anis, former head of the Morale Affairs Department of the armed forces was sworn in as the new minister of information. News reports criticized the choice, saying it was another move by the SCAF to maintain control of the media.

In announcing the new cabinet, government officials referred to it as a “national salvation government,” a term originally used to describe the transitional civilian government proposed by pro-democracy activists and political figures seeking to bring an end to military rule. The idea of a civilian transitional government was put forward during the violent clashes in and around Tahrir Square in late November, and would most likely have been headed by Mohamed ElBaradei and included former Muslim Brotherhood figure Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh. Had it been formed, the national salvation government would have taken on the executive powers currently held by the military council.
However, the military rejected the proposal, instead accepting the resignation of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, and the replacing him with Ganzouri. In forming his new cabinet, Ganzouri has adopted the term “national salvation government,” while ElBaradei and many pro-democracy figure continue to demand the end of military rule.

And best of all:

After being sworn in, the new cabinet was instructed by Tantawi to push for democracy in order to achieve a free society, according to official government sources.

Some clever Youtuber is already on the case:

It’s like a kind of torture/ to have to watch this show.

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Varia

Small things:

  • Long post on my other blog about a conversation with a prominent theatre director about Shakespeare adaptation. But I have to mention here that while we were talking, his car was robbed: a theatre staffer came to tell him that someone had broken the window, stolen his cashmere overcoat and the money in the pocket, made off with some CDs, even taken his reading glasses.  The director carried on with the interview as though nothing had happened.
  • The Guardian-Observer calls my book “inspired” and suggests it as a “quirky” Christmas present.  Woo hoo!
  • Wild rumor circulating about the Salafis: if they come to power, they will try to ban Egyptian women from wearing makeup.  But then, wouldn’t the economy grind to a halt completely?
  • Tension and mud-slinging (mutual allegations of voting-day irregularities, etc) between the Brotherhood and the Salafi Nour Party as they contest twenty seats in first-round runoff elections today.  The Arabist has some good charts on what it could lead to.  No telling (because we still don’t know what kind of powers this Parliament will have) what it will mean.
  • Nine days later, old-New Prime Minister-designate Kamal Ganzouri has yet to form his “national salvation” government.  And all he has to deal with is SCAF and the Egyptian public. Imagine the government-formation process after an election when you would also have to deal with competing parties and political factions?
  • Shades of Hamlet? In the lead-up to last week’s polls, not one but two English-language newspapers, AMAY and Ahram Online, ran the headline “To Vote or Not to Vote?” (Thanks, Amy Motlagh.)