Saad El Deen Ibrahim is finally admitting that he is on a self-imposed exile outside of Egypt, fearing his arrest by the authorities. Good. I just hoped that he would've informed the Press that the American Ambassador is the one that relayed the message to him from the egyptian authorities and urged him not to come back. But I guess he didn't want to make a big stink about the fact that the egyptian authorities treat him like an american stooge to the point of using the US ambassador- whom I can't believe agreed to this role- to inform him that they wanted him out. No Point in raising a stink. The man, after all, spent too much time in jail for his views as it is. The Problem lies in the fact that while he is abroad, his life-work is getting destroyed back here. The Ibn Khaldoun center is slowly falling apart.
Back in early 2006 I approached Dr. Ibrahim for advice on starting my own Think Thank, and the one thing he warned me against was having a one-man show there. It was right after Al Ghad Party started to fall apart with Ayman Nour going to Jail, and with the Power struggle that took place in Al Wafd Party because Nooman Gomaa wouldn't give up his seat as the party head. Dr. Ibrahim lamented to me that the problem in Egyptian leadership is that the person on top, once they arrive there, they never want to give up control or pave the way for someone to carry on their work, out of fear that those same people remove and replace them. And now we are seeing the same thing happen in the center of Ibn Khaldoun, Dr. Ibrahim's NGO.
Dr. Ibrahim had a manager for the Center and her name was Ayyat. Ayyat , while not overly competent, knew the NGO in and out and all the contacts, and is effectively the operational manager of the center. Right after Dr. Ibrahim fled the country, the government-sponsored
attack dogs newspapers showed bathing suits pictures of Ayyat and made some seriously messed up insinuations about her, which eventually led her to resign from Ibn Khaldoun. With Saad and Ayyat gone, there was no one to take charge (no institutional hierarchy to speak of exists over there), so now Dr. Ibrahim's brother is the one running the place, and doing so firmly into the ground. The man doesn't know the first thing about running an NGO, nor does he understand any of the projects there, so now the interns are the ones who are making all the decisions inside. Add to that the fact that aid for NGO's in Egypt is now simply eroding, because Egypt is now becoming a low-income country instead of a less-developed country, is not making things any easier. The Europeans have already cut most of their funding, and the USAID, I am informed, will be systematically reduced over the next 10 years until it becomes inconsequential to the overall picture. Democracy building in the middle east, after all, is no longer a priority or in fashion. The international left finally got his wish there. Good Job guys. How about a shot for every imperialistic agent of an NGO that closes its door in the next few years due to lack of funding? I am buying!
This is sad because in the world of civil society, the name Ibn Khaldoun carries with it a lot of weight, and soon it will be destroyed. No leadership, no organization and soon no funding, it won't be long till it closes down, unless the man comes back and puts his house in order. That, unfortunately, due to his belief that he would be imprisoned and killed while in prison, doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon. Ibn Khaldoun may not be dead yet, but it might be wise to get out and start washing your funeral cloths. Shouldn't be long now.