TBE is more-or-less out of pocket due to a number of annoying intrusions on our regularly scheduled bloggingzeit, so we’ll probably be reduced to subsistence blogging during the next period.
We’ve been a bit busy for the past few days, and not reading the newspapers as much as we’d prefer, so we’re not sure what exactly is going on in the Brotherhood. After the initial round of resignation articles, the Brotherhood pushed back on the story, saying that Akef had not resigned. The papers apparently don’t believe Akef. An article in yesterday’s al-Shorouk said that Muhammad Habib, Akef’s deputy, is leading a caretaker administration until elections scheduled for January, perhaps with Akef still the titular leader (this article puts resignation in quotes, we assume to denote ambiguity). But Akef himself still claims to be running things, and we trust him more than the many anonymous sources cluttering almost every story about the Brotherhood.
Today we translated highlights from an interview Akef gave to BBC Arabic yesterday, though we’ve had trouble finding the actual interview, so had to rely on the al-Youm al-Sabe’a account. It covers a lot of ground. If anyone has the link to the actual interview, please put it in comments or hit us on twitter.
Before the translation, a couple thoughts:
A Note from Mark Halperin
TBE used to be an avid reader of ABC News’ The Note, the DC media circle jerk formerly helmed by the incorrigible Mark Halperin. One of the things they harped on incessantly (circa 2004) was message discipline, and Republicans’ understanding of its value and Democrats non-adherence. The Brotherhood’s media operation (we assume it exists, against the evidence) is flailing. Though Akef’s round of interviews (on al-Jazeera and BBC Arabic and possibly elsewhere) may stem the tide of theorizing about what is going on inside the Brotherhood, we doubt it.
This is due in part to media culture in Egypt, where anonymous sourcing is even more common than in the US, and perhaps also to the fact of top-heavy organizations with too far too many “informed sources.” Call us conspiratorialists, but we don’t generally trust journalists (whether in Egypt or the US) to determine for us who is and isn’t an “informed source,” even as we understand the reasons why some of these sources prefer anonymity.
That said, Akef’s blaming the whole affair on the regime (see below) also rings hollow, because in order to do so all these journalists would have to be using fake Brotherhood sources provided to them by the government. While we wouldn’t put this past some unscrupulous scribes, there are clearly some who have good sources inside the Brotherhood and would not be fooled by some two-bit quote-hustlers.
Judges, Not Teachers?
The al-Shorouk article we mentioned above, headlined “Four Crises Hastened Akef’s Departure” is the first in which we’ve seen what has previously been referred to as the Brotherhood’s “conservative” wing as the “Qutbist” wing. Though it’s in quotes in the article, it’s still quite shocking, and either an instance of al-Shorouk editorializing or repeating a sentiment it hears from its sources, which we believe are overwhelmingly “reformist” or “liberal.” At any rate, it surprised us. Unfortunately the al-Shorouk website is currently down, so we can’t provide a link to the article.
From al-Youm al-Sabe’a online:
TBE recently went through a thoroughly disheartening financial crisis unheard of in the annals of modern and postmodern journalism. As such, we were in no position to enjoy the lavish buffets and champagne-fueled lunches to which our staff had become accustomed. Instead we set our sights on those luxuries that were still within reach. That is how we developed an intimate acquaintance with grilled cheese, a very precise recipe for which follows after the jump, along with a song to inspire you.
Although it may not be obvious to the casual reader, TBE recently passed through a strenuous but ultimately fruitful round of restructuring. In line with recommendations proffered to us by the flotilla of top-class consultants we flew in to pore over every detail of TBE’s operating budget and management structure and other important things about which we won’t bore you with the details, TBE has made a momentous decision.
To be honest, we don’t yet know what we’re going to use it for. Probably to post links to things we are too lazy to post about/only half interested in, engage in inane dialogues with other Twegyptian and Twamerican twitterageyya, and to occasionally provide our dear readers with exclusive inside information on important Egyptian developments. Our first-ever tweet falls into the last category. You can find it here.
After the jump, a few videos for songs in which the word “tweet” can replace words that rhyme with it and one in which you don’t have to replace anything.
Country music is outside TBE’s usual musical purview, so maybe we’re coming a little late to this: Egyptian-American singer Kareem Salama’s lyrics aren’t a particularly exemplary example of country as a genre, which is traditionally associated with the American fellaheen. But Salama’s video for “A Land Called Paradise” does tug at the ol’ heartstrings, in the truest country tradition.
More US/Middle East music news (featuring media darling Kanye West) after the jump: