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The onset of the Arab Spring had raised expectations in the region of power being transferred to the people ultimately, but the ensuing developments have completely changed the dynamics of the pro-people movements in the region. While most of the Indian media has been obsessed with developments taking place in Afghanistan, it has nearly missed the country, which was the fountainhead of the so-called 'Arab Spring' about ten years back when people toppled a dictator that had ruled it for 27 years. Arab Spring had nurtured hopes that democracy might be able to get a toehold in many Arab countries based on the aspirations of the people.
Man wearing a headscarf to hide his face. Photo by Sohaib Al Kharsa on Unsplash.
However, recent events in Tunisia have raised concerns whether the small country which shook the power centres in this vast and strategic region, will it be able to handle its own aspirations as expressed by people ten years back. On 25 July, Tunisian President Kais Saied stunned the world by announcing the suspension of the parliament, the sacking of the cabinet and assuming emergency powers citing an imminent threat to the Tunisian state. These extraordinary measures are supposed to last for 30 days.
For Tunisia watchers the development came as no surprise, as Tunisians have changed ten governments in the last ten years and are moving along the path, which may lead the country towards anarchy. The events of the last ten years have infused most Tunisians with a sense of hopelessness and a loss of faith in parliament and the country's political parties.
May 11th 2021 - Emergency Rally For Jerusalem, Save Sheikh Jarrah protest in London.Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash.
This explains why Mr Saied's draconian measures were met with jubilation on the streets. His supporters were simply fed up with parliament, and yearned for change. But not everyone in Tunisia was happy. BBC reports that foremost among them was Ennahda (Renaissance) Party, the Islamist party that has the biggest block in parliament. It denounced Mr Saied's move as a coup. Other parties, as well as independent observers, concur.So, now the world will be watching the next move of the four organisations -- known as the Quartet for National Dialogue -- which in 2013 succeeded in brokering a compromise between Islamists and their secular rivals and averted protracted civil strife. Some observers believe the fault lies with the constitution that created multiple centres of power: the president, the prime minister and the parliament. In an ideal world that should create a well-balanced political order, with checks and balances that prevent domination by the president. But in an extremely polarised society it was a recipe for paralysis.
For the ruling party, problems accumulated - especially with Covid spiralling out of control -- the governance broke down, and the president occasionally blocked parliament and vice versa, each side tweaking the text of the law to suit its own purpose. However, what happens in Tunisia will not stay in Tunisia, as the experience of the past decade has demonstrated. Most autocrats of the region are harping once again that "Arabs are not fit for democracy" and the democratic forces are clinging to the hope that Tunisia will remain a beacon for the rest of the region. In fact, Tunisia is the third Arab country after Egypt and Sudan to say that it is fed up with the rule of the Islamists. With the exception of Qatar, most of the Arab countries have long regarded the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups as a major threat to security, stability and peace.
Comrade in arms. Photo by Sohaib Al Kharsa on Unsplash.
Many pro-west Arab commentators have drawn parallels with what happened in Egypt in 2013, when Abdul Fattah Al Sisi, then minister of defence and now president, intervened to remove the elected Muslim Brotherhood president. Most Arab commentators have accused the Islamists, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, of spreading chaos and instability in the Arab world.Khaled Abu Toameh, a journalist based in Jerusalem, writing for Gatestone Institute on the issue says that evidently, many Arabs are pleased that the rule of the Islamists in Tunisia has finally come to an end. The jubilation in the Arab countries over the toppling of the Ennahda Party sends a clear message to the rest of the world against embracing or appeasing the Islamists. Toameh gives examples of various other writers in his report, like; Abdel Aziz Khamis, a Saudi journalist, told Sky News Arabia that the reason the Tunisian Islamists failed was because they "failed to believe in democracy in its true meaning, including freedom of the media, the independence of the judiciary and economic and social rights."
Prominent Saudi journalist and writer Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed stated that he was not surprised by the downfall of the Islamists in Tunisia. As the ruling party was associated with chaos and assassinations once they were in government. Al-Rashed wrote for Al Arabia newspaper, "...the extraordinary measures the president took came to rescue the country before the collapse. In fact, what he is doing is saving the Tunisian regime, and Tunisia, the country, from the chaos that had begun." Sawsan Al-Sha'er, one of Bahrain's most influential journalists and intellectuals, expressed relief over the ouster of the Islamists of Tunisia and said that this should serve as a reminder to all Arabs that Islamist parties -- Shiite and Sunni alike -- care about nothing else but grabbing power.
Saudi writer and journalist Abdel Aziz Khamis expressed hope that what happened in Tunisia would spread to other Arab countries. Urging Arabs to learn from the failed experience of the Islamists in Tunisia, Khamis listed a number of reasons why the Ennahda party failed: "It failed because it was not able to find real solutions to Tunisia's problems and because it was not concerned with serving the people or improving their living conditions." Khamis said that the Ennahda Party also failed because it was unable to transform itself into a political party "in the modern sense of the word." The party, he added, "was not able to leave the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood."However, if we analyse the reasons behind the failure of Islamist parties in the region, then one fact would emerge that first these parties are not given time to settle-in and start delivering, but are embroiled in various internal and external issues. The puppet master behind most of these interventions are the western countries and in fact these nations are least concerned whether there is a despotic or a democratic government till the time their gains are assured. And that might be one of the reasons why the Arab Spring has failed to deliver what it promised, i.e. power to the people.
(Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi. He writes on Muslims, educational, international affairs, interfaith and current affairs. @asad-mirza.blogspot.com, Views expressed are personal) (IANS/SB)
An Egyptian archaeological mission has unearthed remains of a residential and commercial town dating back to the Greco-Roman era in the coastal city of Alexandria. During the excavation work in the al-Shatby neighborhood, "The mission has found a large network of tunnel tanks painted in pink for storing rain, flood and groundwater to be used during the draught time", Xinhua news agency quoted Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, as saying on Friday. He added that studies show that the settlement was used from the 2nd century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.
Waziri said pottery pots and some statues have been found in more than 40 wells and tanks, which indicated a large population in that area near Alexandria, which was the capital of Egypt in the Greco-Roman era. He said the mission also found rest houses for travelers and visitors where they waited for getting licenses to enter the town as well as houses used as centers for collecting taxes. He noted that the preliminary studies on the discovered district revealed that "it was composed of main street and several branch roads that are all connected with sanitation network".
Louis Haghe - Egypt and Nubia- Volume I - No. 1, No. 2, Remains of the Portico of the Te - 1953.505 - Cleveland Museum of Art.tifWikimedia
Meanwhile, Khaled Abu Hamad Director-General of Alexandria Antiquities Authority said the town had a big market, shops for selling pots, and workshops for making statues. He added that nearly 700 coins and plates in different shapes and a large number of fishing tools have been found in the discovered town. "Excavation work on the old town took nine months," said Abu Hamad, stressing the importance of the district in connecting the trade movement between the east and the west. Alexandria, the third-largest city in Egypt after Cairo and Giza, was founded in 331 B.C. by Alexander the Great. (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Roman, Catholic, Egypt, Alexandria, Archeology
A semi-aquatic whale that lived about 43 million years ago was named after Anubis, the Ancient Egyptian god of death, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Cairo said in a statement.
It is believed to be the first time in history that an Arab-Egyptian team has documented a new species of whales, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying on Wednesday. With a length of 3 meters and weight of 600 kg, the whale was able to walk on land and swim in water like crocodiles and small mammals, the statement added.
"Paleontologists discovered the fossils in 2008 during an expedition in Egypt's Fayoum Depression that is famous for sea life fossils dating back to the Eocene Epoch about 56 to 33.9 million years ago," said Hisham Sallam, chairman of the Mansoura University Center for Vertebrate Fossils that supervises the research team.
He added that the team worked for four years to document and record the study after comparing the fossils with samples of other whales in and outside Egypt.
The new whale was named Phiomicetus Anubis in honor of the name of the Fayoum oasis, the place from which its fossils were extracted, while the species "Anubis" was named after the god of death and mummification in the ancient Egyptian civilization, to give the purely Egyptian character to the discovery, said the statement.
The study was published online in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. The new species is considered to be the oldest whale discovered in Africa. (IANS/RN)
Keywords: Whales, Egyptian gods, Egypt
By- Khushi Bisht
Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator is one of history’s most influential and prominent female rulers, having reigned as Egypt’s last queen in the first century B.C. She belonged to the Ptolemaic dynasty, a Macedonian Greek family that ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great conquered it. Cleopatra VII ruled Egypt for two decades bringing solidity and success to the nation.
Born in 69 BC, she was the daughter of Cleopatra V and Ptolemy XII (Auletes). Cleopatra, who was 18 years old at the time, started to rule Egypt jointly with her 10-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII after their father died. In 51 BC, she ascended to the position of co-ruler with her brother before he expelled her.
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Cleopatra was an enthralling lady. She received her education in a city that boasted the world’s best library along with some of the world’s most illustrious academics. She led armies at the tender age of 21 and also spoke many languages. According to historical documents, she is said to speak between five and nine languages. As a result, she was able to address representatives from various countries without the need for a translator.
She may have died over two thousand years ago but is still remembered as one of history’s most fascinating and unforgettable females. Her tenure is littered with legends and scandals. Her rulership abilities made her famous, and her love stories with two Romans, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony rendered her memorable. Known for her charm and intelligence, she has influenced numerous artworks, literature, and movies. Her life has been the subject of a William Shakespeare play and many films.
Her father taught her that sovereign kingdoms needed Roman assistance in order to prosper. So she went to Julius Caesar for assistance in reclaiming her kingdom after being expelled from Egypt by her own brother. Julius Caesar was instrumental in assisting her in gaining the monarchy and cultivating military assistance for herself.
After the Romans attacked Alexandria and Ptolemy VIII was assassinated in the end phase of the Alexandrian War, Cleopatra’s other brother, Ptolemy XIV, ruled alongside her. However, she had him assassinated in hopes to make her son and Julius Caesar’s (Ptolemy XV Caesarion) co-ruler. Both of her brothers (Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV) however served as her husbands too as she married each of them at varying moments of her rule.
Cleopatra was trying to locate a new partner in Rome after Julius Caesar was assassinated. She was well aware that becoming the supreme emperor of her own empire necessitated finding a kind of support in Rome. In 41 BC, Cleopatra began her extraordinary friendship with Mark Antony, Julius Caesar’s most trusted ally. However, their festivities sitting on the throne and dressed up as Gods angered the Roman Republic before Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) persuaded the whole city of Rome to wage war on Cleopatra, the Egyptian pharaoh.
Octavian conquered Mark Antony and Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and the Roman Republic was demolished. Another factor that contributed to the fall of the Roman Republic was the Romans’ distrust of a woman in authority. Cleopatra died in 30 BC at the tender age of 39. According to legend, she allegedly committed suicide by letting a snake bite her after she and Anthony had lost everything. Nobody knows the true cause of her demise as she was also said to have drunk a poisonous cocktail.
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Because of her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, she is very often depicted as a femme fatale. This, however, is not the only factor. Cleopatra, Egypt’s last pharaoh, was one of history’s most famous and influential queens, known for her wisdom and elegance to this day.
We can never know the actual history of Cleopatra’s life and rule because the narrative was mostly passed down by her foes in Rome, and subsequent authors embellished it with prejudices.
Nevertheless, she was a powerful ruler and controlled Egypt’s bureaucratic mess, brought the economy back into balance, and stopped administrators from defrauding the nation. When Egypt was struck by a severe drought, she unlocked the granaries to the general public and enacted a tax amnesty. All of this was accomplished by keeping her empire stable and independent for the entirety of her rule, with no revolutions.