Arab Spring uprising was ‘ill advised’ says Egypt’s El-Sisi

Egypt’s president has said his country’s 2011 Arab Spring revolt was an ill-advised attempt at change whose chaotic aftermath posed an existential threat to the country. (Wikicommons)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Arab Spring uprising was ‘ill advised’ says Egypt’s El-Sisi

  • El-Sisi had until recently only hinted at his disapproval of the uprising that ended the 29-year rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak
  • Was speaking at an international youth conference in Sharm El-Sheikh

SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Egypt’s president has said his country’s 2011 Arab Spring revolt was an ill-advised attempt at change whose chaotic aftermath posed an existential threat to the nation.
Addressing an international youth conference late Sunday, Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi said those behind the revolt had good intentions but had inadvertently “opened the gates of hell.”
El-Sisi had until recently only hinted at his disapproval of the uprising that ended the 29-year rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. In his first outright criticism of the uprising, he said last month it was the “wrong remedy that followed a wrong diagnosis.”
But his comments at the youth forum provided his most detailed assessment of the uprising, which pro-government media routinely demonize as a foreign conspiracy to destroy the country.
The 2011 uprising was led by young, pro-democracy activists, and paved the way for Egypt’s first free and fair elections, which were won by the Muslim Brotherhood whose stalwart Muhammad Mursi was elected president in 2012. His rule proved divisive, and in 2013 El-Sisi, as defense minister, led the military overthrow of Mursi amid mass protests.
His government banned the Brotherhood and designated it a terrorist organization and has been accused of cracking down on dissent.
He said the uprising created a “massive vacuum that only the evil people can fill” and warned against a repeat. He said Egyptians and others in the region would be better off under “not so good” rulers than living through chaos.
“Work, be patient, endure and suffer under the reality that you disapprove of, but don’t ruin your countries because they will never return to what they once were,” he warned.
Since taking office, El-Sisi has slashed costly state subsidies on basic goods and introduced new taxes while spending billions of dollars on infrastructure projects. His economic reforms helped Egypt secure $12 billion in bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund, but have caused a steep rise in the prices of food, fuel and services.
“After all the effort we have done, all that we are hoping for is that we go back to where we were before 2011,” he said.


Syrian refugees wade through their worst Lebanese winter

A child wades through flood waters at an informal tent settlement housing Syrian refugees following winter storms in the area of Delhamiyeh. (AFP)
Updated 9 min 7 sec ago
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Syrian refugees wade through their worst Lebanese winter

  • Aid organizations say they are doing their best to distribute emergency aid to the most vulnerable
  • The Litani River flooded many of the fields stretching across the two majestic mountain ranges flanking the Bekaa

DELHAMIYEH, Lebanon: Snowstorms and weeks of bad weather have turned Lebanon’s lush Bekaa Valley into an unliveable swamp for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

The Litani River flooded many of the fields stretching across the two majestic mountain ranges flanking the Bekaa after this year’s second major storm hit on Wednesday.

Some families had barely finished repairing their tents when the most severe winter they have faced yet unleashed another crushing night of snow, wind and flooding.

“We spent all night emptying the tent but the water kept coming in,” said Thaer Ibrahim Mohammed, a red and white headscarf wrapped around his head.

“This is the worst winter,” said the greying man.

Gaggles of children made the most of the afternoon sun and pulled rubber boots on their bare feet to romp in the camp’s sludgy alleys and have snowball fights.

The shelters in “Camp 040,” which lies on the edge of the village of Delhamiyeh and is one of the many informal settlements that dot the valley, are all the same.

They were erected on concrete slabs and their roofs are held down with used tires.

Their tarpaulin walls provide a flimsy protection against strong winds and freezing temperatures.

The camp looks like it could have sprung up just weeks earlier but many of its residents have lived there since 2012, when the Syrian conflict escalated.

Abu Ahmad, a native of Homs spending his seventh winter in Lebanon, said aid was inadequate.

“This year there was a lot of rain. But humanitarian organizations have reduced aid,” he said, standing on a brick placed as a stepping stone in a muddy puddle.

“You just need to look: Do you think this sheeting keeps us warm or keeps the water out? They gave us nothing, no new tarps, no firewood, nothing,” the young man said.

Aid organizations say they are doing their best to distribute emergency aid to the most vulnerable among the estimated 340,000 refugees living in the Bekaa Valley.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said close to 24,000 people were affected by extreme weather conditions.

Some tents were destroyed by the storms that elsewhere in Lebanon have cut the main road to Syria several times, flooded the highway north of Beirut and forced schools to close.

Relief agencies have had to relocate families who were left homeless, once again, in several feet of snow.

Fatima, a 20-year-old refugee originally from the main northern Syrian city of Aleppo, had to leave her tent with her family but opted to squeeze in with neighbors.

“The tent is totally flooded, we can’t live in it. So we took our things and left, what else can we do?”