The election campaign Blueprint

The Topic: The Elections

We are on the verge of our first real Parliamentary and Presidential elections in our nation’s history, and we are very short on time, thanks to the schedule put there by the army. Usually preparations for such campaigns would take a year and a half, so the little time we have makes the job really difficult, but not impossible. In reality, the Presidential elections isn’t as big of a concern as our Parliamentary elections, since we know that whomever becomes President can be changed in 4 years, but whomever gets into Parliament this time around will get to write the constitution, which is here to stay. Speaking to people from eastern European countries who have gone through a very eerily similar transition to what we are going through (Communist instead of simply authoritarian, a Police force so corrupt that it continues to burn evidence against it at every chance it gets, a population used to stability over the chaos and responsibility of freedom, Slavic orthodox Christians instead of MB and Salafists, etc..) and who also wanted the transition phase to pass quickly, so they ended up with a Parliament that looked very similar to the one they had before democracy, since no one was really ready. In order to avoid such fate, we will need to fully understand the picture at hand, and work really hard to mitigate the damage of trying to do this under such limited and severe conditions. It will be a lot of hard work, and here is where we start.

The Analysis:

The current parliament is 444 seats, plus 10 seats that the new President, whomever he/she is, will get to appoint. However, those 10 will not be able to join in the committee that gets to draft that new constitution, so for the purposes of our math, they don’t count. Amongst those 444 seats, there will be at least 20% , approx 89 seats, who will be previously NDP, but not necessarily ideologically NDP; they will be the members whose families control the district that they live in and they are mostly located in the Delta and Upper Egypt. The reality is, the NDP didn’t have an ideology; it was a party of power and for power, and not all of its MP’s were cheaters or engaged in fraud. Sure, in the same supreme majority of the seats they had to commit voter fraud in order to ensure that their Party candidates win, but they were also in the habit of recruiting the Independent winners into the NDP either through coercion or enticement. This also means that those 20% are up for grabs for any party that is interested in some easy seats and is willing and able to recruit those candidates. So let’s ignore those 89 seats from our calculations and focus on the remaining and truly competitive 355 seats.

What we need to do in order to ensure that the MB doesn’t get to write the constitution is for whatever coalition of parties we create to represent us to win the magic number, which in this case is 223 seats (50% of 444 + 1 seats). Given that the MB is interested in winning 30% of the Parliament (133 seats), then whatever coalition we make will have to be competitive in all 355 races and make sure that the MB loses at least 1 seat in order to get 223 seats. Given that all elections are local, in order for the parties to do so, they will need good candidates, and more importantly, good campaigns. Sure, there will be voter fraud or vote buying to some extent, but this is to be expected and the more elections we have the cleaner the elections will get. So the campaigns should acknowledge that issue and try to mitigate it as much as possible, but should also operate as if it doesn’t exist. In more than one way, this is a test-run also for all the parties involved, and whatever mistakes they will make (and they will make many), it will only help perfect their political machine for all future elections. So, a good campaign is essential for all parties involved, and the most important thing in a campaign is the organization of it. If your campaign is organized, that’s 95% of the battle, and the remaining 5% will simply depend on the candidate’s likeability and ability to sell himself and his ideas.

What to do:

Any serious campaign for Parliament will require the following Positions to be filled, for they are the people that will create the organizational structure for the campaign:

  1. Campaign Manager: Most Important Person in the campaign. He manages the heads of the different departments in the campaign, and he sets the pace and the image of the candidate. If the Candidate loses, he is the person usually to blame. The Stories of perfectly good candidates who lost to bad candidates because they didn’t have a good campaign fills the books of political history, and a bad campaign manager (like the one Baradei currently has) will cost you the election every single time. That person must understand the political canvass, must understand politics of perception, must understand PR, must be capable of running a really tight ship and should never ever ever panic. He must be cool, collected and relentless, and must have a vision for the campaign even better than the candidate has for himself. He should never let the candidate run the campaign himself and simply execute his wishes; he must present the candidate with the full picture and options and consequences of every option. Politics is a game of lesser-evils, and any candidate must have a campaign manager who is capable and comfortable with picking ones. He is the most important person in the campaign, but there isn’t a second or third person after him/her. Everyone after that is equally important and essential.
  2. Research & Data Manager: More than anything, elections are about identifying the voters, polling the voters, identifying your voter segments and then counting the votes. Those are the duties of the Research and Data manager. Other duties include: Creating Focus groups, researching the issues and the solutions and seeing which resonate with the voters; researching the competition thoroughly and polling their support level as well; creating the electoral map for the campaign and knowing every voter by district, street, age group, socio-economic status, religious & political affiliations. Demographics, psychographics, purchasing behavior, level of education; you name it, they must have it. No campaign wins without the Research & Data Manager and his team.
  3. Communications Manager: This person is responsible for the image of the candidate and the campaign on all fronts: In the eyes of the voters, in mainstream media, in social media and on the street. This is why any communications manager must have an excellent team under him/her (preferably a her , very few men understand perception and image the way women do, at least in Egypt where in many times their lives depends on it), and that team must be big and have many different departments: The branding team (under which the entire creative department for print, posters, TV ads, radio ads, web ads, you name it), the PR team (hosting events, writing Press releases, arranging for articles to be written on their candidates in various newspapers), the Online reputation management team (this is where all those internet kids can start rumors to trash you, and you always must respond pleasantly, swiftly and decisively; like the Twitter CS teams of our local Mobile Operators), the media relations team, the media monitoring team, the Media-buying team, the Production team and the Rapid Response Team (those are your media commandos, they must be on top of everything in regards to the candidate to the second, and must memorize the positions of the candidate better than himself and be able to respond as fast as humanly possible to whatever issues or crisis that might arise for whatever reason). The candidates’ Spokesperson has to be the head of the Rapid Response team and it is preferred for him/her to be a different person than the communications manager , who in the case of a campaign turned nasty will also need a buffer from the media, just like the candidate.
  4. Scheduling Manager: Any campaign is about time- management, and that’s the scheduling manager’s job, for he will be responsible for the life of the candidate. This is the person that must schedule his appearances in the media and in the voting districts, alongside with fundraisers, public events, meetings with backers and stakeholders and , last but not least, the campaign management team itself. This may seem like a PR job, but it’s not, because it’s mostly about striking the balance between the operations and the Public aspects of the campaign. This is tough job, all about setting priorities and managing expectations, and therefore absolutely essential.
  5. Field Operations manager: This is the person responsible for voter outreach, organization and on-the-ground campaigning. This person’s work relies heavily, like the communications manager, on the research & data manager’s work , alongside with excellent organizational skills and ability to focus no matter how under pressure you are. This person will run the street teams (distributing & posting promotional material, door-to-door campaigning, creating the voter database, operating the phone banks, University outreach, election monitoring and all other logistical aspects of running the campaign. This person must be able to deal and manage young people (many of which never had a real job before) as well as old, which is not an easy skill to find in Egypt.
  6. Fundraising Manager: Welcome to Sales. This person’s job is to continuously sell the candidate to many people in order to raise Money to keep the campaign afloat. This person is responsible for identifying backers, working with the scheduling manager & communications manager to set-up fundraising events and send out fundraising communications. This is the person who will get you the money, while insuring that you don’t get beholden to all of your financial supporters (maybe 4 or 5, tops).
  7. Security Manager: This is the person who will handle your campaign’s security, whether physically or internally. He is responsible for protecting the candidate and the elections monitors come election day, and for ensuring that the campaign’s secrets, tactics and information doesn’t get leaked. He is the campaigns’ State Security, and in the current conditions we are in, he is absolutely essential.

How can I help:

As I said, I am not interested in the welfare of one political party as much as I am interested in all of them. I recognize that it would be impossible to expect one party to win all of those seats, so a coalition of parties is a must, and that can only happen if all the parties run good campaigns. I will remain objective, even if I am backing or working with someone else, because it’s in my best interest that any party other than the MB or the NDP to do well. I would be more than happy to sit down with any party or presidential campaign that will run a list of affiliated candidates and discuss their operational campaign strategy with them. If I can help in any way, drop me a line at sandmonkey@gmail.com .

As for the readers, I will be going to the meetings of any new political party that gets formed and will provide all of you with the over-view of their principles, position and operations, and an objective assessment of all of that, with their contact information if you are interested to join them or check them out for yourselves. I understand that we need as much information as possible and will bemore than happy to provide that for you here. What you do with this information will be up to you.

Next post: If you want to help, but not through joining a party or campaign, how to do it.

10 points

I have only an hour left before my flight, so this will have to be bullet point style, no verbose exposition. This is nothing but food for thought. Agree or disagree, up to you:

  • Egyptian Protesters seem to believe that we have the support of the entire world by what we did, and that we need to focus on local battles because the international scene will just have to adjust itself to whatever we do. This is incredibly naive given how big and important Egypt is geopoliticaly. They need to understand that there is no way the US, Israel, Saudi, Qatar, Russia, China or others will not try to influence the outcome and apply pressure on the Military government to rig the game slightly in their favor. America for example wants to ensure Israel’s safety, so they will pressure the army their way, Saudi and Israel need to ensure that the Sunni-Israeli alliance against Iran continues. God only knows what the Chinese and the Russians are thinking.
  • I believed Brussels was only good for waffles and chocolate, and I was surprised to find it the den of spies and lobbyists. The EU headquarters is here, so is NATO and 20 % of the workforce works in lobbying one way or another. This also affects us, because many of the local players are lobbying here: For example, The Mubarak’s are lobbying here for their own purposes, and  Ahmed Ezz’s family is lobbying to ensure he gets “a fair trial” , because he knows in a “fair trial” he can drag many names in the mud with him, and have them tried as well. Especially Mubarak. That’s his card, because he knows no one wants Mubarak to be put on trial. This is why I have been working on creating a lobby for the revolution, because the foreign front is the only front we are not paying attention to at all, and its the one we need the most right now.
  • The reason why no one wants Mubarak put on trial is simple: You don’t get to be the leader of a country like Egypt for  freaking 30 years without knowing where many bodies are buried. Some of those bodies might prove to be embarrassing to many world powers & could set a dangerous precedent that may fuel more revolutions. This is why there are no international calls to try Mubarak. Everybody just wants him to shut up, and they know he probably has a safe somewhere to be opened when he dies in suspicious conditions that contains many secrets. Again, no one wants those documents out in the open. That doesn’t mean the Egyptian military doesn’t pressure Mubarak in its own way though. The same way for the 3 stooges (Sherif, Surour, and Azmy), who are also cards in the hand of the military to play if needs be and will be offered to the public when the time comes.
  • There has been A lot of talk regarding the release of Abood el Zomor and the Media attention he got. Many people in the egyptian and international so-easy-to-frighten population took it as a sign that the Islamists are taking over and we might have another Iran on our hands. While this might have been the international message the military council intended to send to the international world to ease the pressures on them a bit , this wasn;t supposed to be the message sent for local consumption. The local consumption message was simple: Abood ElZomor was arrested in Sadat’s assassination, the same assassination that resulted in Mubarak’s take over of the presidency, the same assassination that many say Mubarak had a hand in. This coincided with a video circulating the web showing Mubarak throwing chairs on a shot Sadat “to protect him” while Sadat is trying to get up. Even Zomor during his interview regarding the Sadat assassination said that some people involved in the assassination slept in prison, and others in the presidential palace. This was a message to Mubarak: We won’t touch you for now, but don’t think we don’t also have you by the balls. And how Ironic that the Man responsible for the death of one President is becoming the weapon against the President that followed him.
  • The Salafists & MB are local players, but they have foreign ties and funding. Qatar fully funds and supports the MB , and Saudi fully funds and directs the Salafists. While Qatar is more interested in having a say in a democratic Egypt, Saudi is more interested in blackmailing Egypt into continuing the Sunni-Zionist alliance against Iran. Naturally, Egypt, right now, is totally not interested, so Saudi tries to pressure us by inciting lots of Salafi Chaos and violence. Please note that it’s all very targeted against so called egyptian minorities, attacking christians and women mostly, and burning churches. That’s the kind of headache Saudi knows Egypt doesn’t need, & will stop immediately the moment they are sure that the alliance is back on track, because they are shitting their Saudi pants over Iran. Please note that in this scenario, whatever we want as Egyptians, totally doesn’t matter to them, or anyone for that matter.
  • Amr Moussa is the preferred candidate for President for all of the international players: A man from the system, has no achievements either as Foreign Minister or Secretary of Arab League, friendly to dictators and foreign powers, and who barks a lot for public consumption regarding the US and Israel, but always always always does their bidding. The Americans and the Israelis are rooting for him most of all, because they know his MO, and they can’t guarantee how either Baradei or Bastaweesy will play it. Many Egyptian elites want him as well for the same reason they supported the Ahmed Shafiq government: He is someone they know..someone from the system, a good ole boy from the same corrupt system that we revolted against and who until the last minute wanted to save Mubarak’s presidency and now stands firm on not putting Mubarak on trial as well. While many good natured and well-intentioned Egyptians support him because he seems prestigious and his name was always on the table, they must fully understand that he represents everything this revolution was not about : The End of Mubarak Regime, The End of the corrupt system that it created, the end of a foreign policy dictated by everybody else but the Egyptian people, The End of politicians who are in it for their own glory and not for the service of the egyptian people (check the record on how embassies treated Egyptians during the time he was Foreign Minister and see how big he was on serving egyptian people or maintaining their dignity). Mind you, whomever the US supports will usually win, so please, if you are into winning for the sake of winning, or even if you have familial or business ties to him or his family, then jump on the Moussa bandwagon. But if you really care about this country & really would like a strong independent Egypt, not one like we had for 30 years, well , do some research into his history. You won’t find many things that you could defend him with.
  • Baradei & Bastaweesy are the two honest candidates in the field right now, which is why they are losing badly. Baradei’s campaign’s inability to engage the population or respond to rapidly changing events is continuing to enforce the image that he is elitist and disconnected from the population. For example, the MB yesterday endorsed Baradei in an attempt to corner him internationally (how does Muslim Brotherhood backed candidate for President sound to all of you in the west, people?), a move that he could’ve easily used to his advantage by going on TV and saying that he welcomes the MB’s endorsement for his campaign for a civil secular Egypt and that he hopes this ends all the lies about his daughter being married to an Infidel (Which isn;t true, but is used against him by the salafists) or that he is America’s agent, because there is no way the MB would endorse him in that case. Had he done that, he would’ve pushed back the MB in a corner and immediately placed a wedge between the MB and the Salafists, while asserting his commitment, locally and internationally, for a secular egyptian state. He, of course, maintained his silence, cause he is above it all, or his campaign people are rank amateurs. Bastawaeesy still has no campaign to speak of, and god knows if he will be able to compete in the first place, but he is incredibly popular on the street. If those two get their act together and join forces, they would make an unstoppable ticket, and we would have a real ELECTION on our hand, instead of the SELECTION by other countries we are going through right now.
  • One thing to e sure of, the next election in Egypt will be incredibly fun, due to the fact that many US election campaign operatives are now offering their services to the highest bidder, and the egyptian election is a very sexy and important election for them. I even heard some were hired, but by whom? No clue. But if you can deduce who has money in Egypt right now and who they support, well, then you have your answer. Hint: The revolution backed candidates have no money to buy those guys. This will get interesting very quickly.
  • I am currently for the revolution to stop protesting, because after the referendum, we are now facing a new political reality: The roof of street legitimacy just got raised. Public Opinion went 14 million for a YES vote and 4 million for a no vote, which means that in order to show we represent the majority we need 14 million to join us, which we won’t be able to produce. Hell, if we manage to produce 1 million protesters, people can dismiss us claiming we were only able to turn out 1/4 of our base. It’s not that impressive anymore, and going every friday to Tahrir means we have totally or about to burn that card. But if some feel the need to still protest, that’s fine, but let’s do it right. We need to stop the notion that we all need to be together in every fight, because every day we have 3 fronts being opened against us, and we are getting exhausted and disoriented. Fine, let’s do what we did in Tahrir: Share the work. Let’s Organize fronts: One for protests, one for prisoners rights, one for advocacy and outreach, One for voter registration and organization, one for communications, one for campaigning, etc etc, and lets agree on guiding principles and then let each front work autonomously and only coordinate with each other when needs be. For example: let’s use the protests to have people from the registration front show up and register those who show up for the protest so we can reach them afterwards. Let’s play it smart.
  • Please note that this is a war, and in wars its ok to lose Battles willingly to win in the end. A good parable is the Coventry Blitz myth, and it goes like this: During WW2, the brits had the Enigma machine, which they sued to decipher the messages of the germans. One day a message showed up alerting them to a massive raid on Coventry, which had a population of 320,000. This Presented Churchil with the dilemma: Does he evacuate Coventry, save the lives of the 320,000 and alert the Germans that he has the machine by knowing about the attack before hand, or does he allow Coventry to be attacked, safeguard the secret of the machine, be able to decipher the German messages in the future and thus win the war? Well, Churchil didn’t evacuate Coventry, which got attacked indeed, and he ended up winning the war. The lesson here should be clear: The battle for protesting is not the war, having a democratic egypt is. It’s ok if we lose that battle, if it means we get to win the war. What we need to do is withdraw ourselves from the scene, stop being everyone’s favorite blame hanger and work on the ground. Reach out to every governrate, go to every city, village and house, Zenga Zenga Dar Dar style. Also, our absence will force those blaming us (The MB, the government, the Army, the NDP crowd, the Couch Party) to look for someone else to blame, and will start attacking each other. Good. Let them fight each other while we work to win this on the ground, out of sight and under the radar.

That is all!

Egypt: A Parliamentary Plan 2011

The following post was written by my friend Ramy Yaacoub, which you can find on Twitter @RamyYaacoub (follow him as well) .  The Idea behind this is simple: in the absence of organized political forces besides the NDP and the MB, name recognition of independent players is essential. Given that the Presidential candidates have the best name recognition, and most don’t represent a current party, why not have them run for Parliament (with a list of candidates that are part of their coalition) as well? This way, they bring others in parliament who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance, and showcase their actual electability ( the guy who can;t win a parliamentary seat would never be able to win the presidential one), and allows for their presence on the scene even if they lost the elections. Anyway, that’s an overview, read the details below and share your opinion on this in the comment section if u feel like it. :)

In a post referendum March 19, 2011 Egypt, Parliament will be the only institution representative of people’s choices. As of now, many household figures, namely Amr Moussa, Bastaweesy, Ayman Nour, Baradie, etc have expressed their intentions to run for the presidency. Such names have, somewhat, all agreed in opinion on the need to curb the current presidential powers. Along with the January 25 movement and what I regard as the majority people, the household names have expressed their discontent with the Pharaoh-esque powers of an Egyptian president.  They [the household names] have called for the dilution of presidential powers,  by creating term limits, creating a checks and balances system, etc.

Meanwhile, other forces in the country, as the Islamic political movements, namely Muslim brotherhood, etc, have consolidated their efforts to legitimize the Parliament. Successfully doing so with the passage of the March 19, 2011 referendum, Parliament now has the popular legitimacy required for a three-part-plan for overhauling the Egyptian constitution.  Further elaboration on the three-part-plan will follow later.

The current path to fully fledged constitutional reform and presidential (or the lack of which):

Constitutional Amendment Referendum (Yes) - Amending Electoral & Party laws - Parliamentary Elections - Elected Parliament (Legislative Body)

It is predicted that post assembling a legislative body, they (an elusive they) will hold presidential elections followed immediately by the assembly of a constitutional drafting committee, selected by members of Parliament. Also predicted, the constitutional fruit of that committee will be up for another popular referendum that will either accept or reject the then newly drafted constitution. Should that referendum fail, then the country would revert back to the 1971 constitution. Such scenario would require a separate detailed political plan.

It is clear that Parliamentary elections will indeed take place in the near future (sometime around beginning to mid June 2011). It is also expected that the centrist voting bloc will not have much influence on the Electoral & Party laws amendment process, which will more than likely take place in May 2011. Considering the hurdles ahead, it is wise to consider a dedicated focus on influencing the Parliamentary elections, and furthermore, the first Parliamentary session post the January 25, 2011 uprising.

While it is unclear how the Electoral & Party laws amending process will affect candidacy and elections to the 444 (454 if we consider the ten presidential appointees) seats up for grabs in the People’s Council and less importantly the 174 (264 if we consider the 88 presidential appointees) seats in the Consultative Council, it is safe to predict some, if not significant, changes to the structure of eligibility and voting procedures to Parliament.

Noting one of the first points made in this briefing, household names are betting the house on a presidency that will be subject to constitutional reform sometime in the very near future. Meanwhile, established veterans of Parliament from the NDP and the Muslim Brotherhood, with supreme organizational skills are at a vantage point at this stage. Additionally with the relatively short time provided for unorganized opposition groups to assemble and push political message out, it is crucial to consider utilizing the household names in the Parliamentary elections.

To highlight the level of Parliamentary familiarity and organization with institutions such as the Muslim Brotherhood, I would like to site an example of their Parliamentary efforts. In the United States  congress an esteemed research center is provided and dedicated to the service of members of congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS). After the more impressive win of Muslim Brotherhood candidates in 2005, the Brotherhood set up an equivalent research center to serve its members in Parliament. Unprecedented in Egyptian Parliamentary history, members of the NDP struggled to catch up with this advantage the Brotherhood created for its team in Parliament. Several scholars agree that if it was not for the corruption of Parliament, this simple tool could have magnified the effect of the Brotherhood in Parliament.

What this brief is proposing is the encouragement and utilization of the household names and their top supporters, advisors, or the like to run for parliament as a counter measure to the strength of the established institutions such as the NDP & the Muslim Brotherhood.  The repercussions could be beneficial beyond expected.

I.   Having household names in Parliament will gain media attention to a legislative body that was deemed a rubber stamp for decades.

II.   The presence of household names in Parliament will give the centrists a more significant leverage in the constitutional drafting process

III.  Being a member of Parliament does not hinder a run for the presidency. In fact, instead of having one winner (the presidency) and several losers. By having the households as members of Parliament initially at the end of the presidential elections, all would be in influential positions to mend the current affairs of the nation.

It is imperative for all centrist parties, and perhaps leftist as well to consolidate brain powers to map out the parliamentary districts of Egypt. An efficient polling methodology should be devised and activated to register accurate statistics to determine potential wins and to highlight probable losses. Finally, an agreement on the division of parliamentary districts should be conducted on high-level leadership basis between all involved centrist-leftist parties.

Ramy Yaacoub

M.A. Candidate, United States Foreign Policy – Middle Eastern Relations 

School of International Service, American University

Playing Politics

Dear Jan25 people,

So today the results of the referendum came out, and as expected the YES vote won. In case you didn’t expect it, well, there were 4 reasons why that happened:

1) How many Egyptians joined the protests at their peak? The day Mubarak left Office, it was estimated 10-20 million in the streets. What’s 20 million out of 85 million again? 25%? That means there are 65 million who never joined the protests from the beginning, and who probably miss the stability and security of the old regime. 75% that is used to say YES and there is no proof that they changed their mentality or behavior. Never-mind those amongst you who also voted yes for their reasons. I am personally surprised it wasn’t lower.

2) Cairo is not Egypt. This may seem obvious to others, but let me repeat that point again: CAIRO IS NOT EGYPT. Stop your  Cairo-is-the-center-of-the-universe chauvinism. 25 million live in Cairo, 60 million live elsewhere. And, let’s be honest, the NO vote people did not manage to get their message across to the people effectively. There was no real TV campaign, no real grassroots campaign and no actual debate. Some individual efforts here and there, but no real coordination. This has to change.

3) The Military & the MB & the Salafis & the NDP were pushing for a YES vote. The Military, as always, just wanted to get out of this mess as quickly as possible, and the YES vote meant just that for them without having to face any real headaches. The rest knew that a YES vote gives them the best chances to win the Parliament and thus re-write the new constitution, and they had the money and the organization and tools to push for it. You didn’t.

4) You no longer represent the people. You really don’t, at least when it comes to their concerns. Your concerns and their concerns are not the same anymore. You care about the revolution, & the arrest of NDP figures & getting the country on the right track. They care about economic security, the return of stability and normalcy the fastest way possible. They only have the military now as the organized force running the country & providing some security, and you are pointing out-correctly, mind you- that the military is detaining your friends and colleagues and torturing them and violating their rights to protests, and you want them to stand up against the military, the only force in the country in their perspective that is keeping Egypt from descending into total chaos. Yeah, that will win them over.

Mind you, this is not totally your fault. There are some things you are just not paying attention to, besides that you have been losing the people steadily. The First of which are the original demands. Remember those? Remember all the millions that went down for the minimum wage and you completely swept this under the rug to engage in a battle with State Security and the military? How many of the original demands have been met so far? Why is this not a bigger issue?

You are also not noticing that the Military doesn’t like you very much, and really, why would it? The Military likes stability, and we started a revolution which brought down a regime that put them first of everyone in the country and instead managed to get them to not only abandon their stable life-style under Mubarak’s rule but to start working harder than they ever had in years. You think they care about you or your demands? You don’t think that they won’t go after every single one of us when the time comes? This is not paranoia..this is simple logic. A force that can bring down a regime can take down the next one or even bring down the military structure itself; why allow that force to continue to exist or have popular support if you can take that away? In case you haven’t noticed, the military only listens when we manage to amass lots of people, and could care less when we only manage to get a couple of thousands. They don’t like you or your ideas, and they cave in when they do in order to maintain stability & their image as the public’s saviors. And you know all those times you keep mentioning that the Military is part of the old regime? Well, they are noticing it, and they don’t like that either. Why wouldn’t they attack you, allow propaganda against you, tell people that you are immoral, armed and/or on drugs, arrest you, beat you or torture you? What’s in it for them if you succeed?

How is any of this a surprise to you?

So, now what? Well, now is the hard part. This is the part where we stop playing revolution, and start playing politics for the sake of the country. This means caring more about perception and public support over righteous and legitimate demands. Do you know what that means? Well, if you do, but think that the revolution must continue on the street, well, congratulations, you are the reason why we are losing. If you don’t, well, please relax and keep an open mind, cause this is about to get really uncomfortable.

1) You have to get over the referendum results now, & see it as the gift it is: Oh yes, we lost, and it’s great news. Why? Well, because first of all, we managed to find out how many people are really with us, and which areas or locations we need to focus on (All of Egypt..Imagine?) and the percentages from those areas. We now have actual statistics, people. We know each district by vote. We know how many people we have in every voting district. We have a nation-wide base. Sure, 20%, is small, but it’s not insignificant, and you can totally build on it. And now you also know what tactics the MB and the Salafists use to mobilize the vote. We now know how they intend to play this, and this gives us an incredible advantage, cause we still didn’t play yet. You wanna start? Congratulate them on the results of the referendum. Call everyone you know who voted yes and enthusiastically congratulate them. Offer to host referendum parties if you can even. Don’t lose them even if you disagree with them. The wall you build now over this could exist come election time, which is when you will really need every vote. In case you didn’t notice, this was just a test-run.

2) You have to focus on the people & their issues, and push yours aside for now: Yes, you will have to address the economy. Yes, you will have to offer constructive solutions to the Police problem that isn;t simply “clean them up”. Yes, you will have to lay off the military criticism and, as horrible and hard as this might be, to put the issue of those who are detained, jailed, tortured or beaten by the military on the back-burner for now. Yes, I know that they are our brothers and sisters, but I also know that this is how they are distracting you. They are making you focus on small battles instead of focusing on the war. How many of us were tried or arrested? 50? 100? 10,000? We are talking about  the hearts and minds of about 85 million, and you are not doing shit to win them. Win the public, and all of your friends will be released immediately. Continue to lose the public and you will eventually join them. Simple, really!

3) Offer solutions that appeal to the public and get you support: I know, I know. You would think demanding accountability and the end of corruption would get you all the public support you ever needed, but, nah. They spread lies about you while you are running around trying to find your jailed friends and not responding or engaging back, and whatever goodwill you got for the revolution, well, it’s EGYPT’s revolution now. Everyone has the “January 25″ stickers on their car, which means that your achievement is now their achievement, and thus you get no credit. Ok, start earning credit again. START SELLING THE MINIMUM WAGE for example. In a country where 40% live under 2 $ a day, how is it possible not to get support for a proposal that would guarantee every egyptian 1200 EGP a month, especially in these economically turbulent times? You wanna demonstrate? Demonstrate for the Minimum wage, and many egyptians will join you, thus showing you have public support again. If the Military Council says yes to the minimum wage, Good, you not only gave people freedom, but also got them extra money in their pockets every month, which they LOVE, and as an added bonus you obliterated the myth that you don’t care about the economic hardships of regular Egyptians. That can’t suck. If they refuse, well, that’s good too. It will show that the military doesn’t care for the economic hardship of the poor, while you do , which makes you with the people again. And while they are there all dissapointed at the not-so-benevolent  supreme council, you start letting the people know what else they have been up to. You don’t need to lie to manipulate and sway public sentiment to your side, you just got to pick your timing.

4) Start organizing yourselves into an offline grassroots movement, Zenga Zenga style: This one might seem self-evident, but how to do it is the tricky part.

  • First of all, find your people all over Egypt, and start registering them and training them. Start with the Polling data alongside those you know through life, facebook or Twitter. You will find them
  • Secondly, organize yourselves into different units: The Internet-Unit (to lead efforts on reaching out and organizing the base on the net), the door-to-door Unit ( Go to every neighborhood, knock on 10 apartments and talk to people), the Phone Unit ( Use telemarketing techniques: call people and talk to them about the revolution. Have a training for the phone unit and conversation scenarios. Reach everyone again), the local Media Unit (those are your Intelligence and propaganda arms. They keep you abreast of the news of the areas they are in, let you know who are the people to watch out for and which are the ones to support and they are responsible for catering the media message to the needs of the locals) and the election observers unit (self-explanatory really). The more organized your people are, and the more trained they are in your talking points and counter-arguments, the easier it is for them to sell their ideas to the people.
  • Thirdly, Create the coalition of new parties in order to bring in all those new ragtag parties together and make them a cohesive block that could stand a chance in the parliamentary elections by having one party’s members vote for other Parties’ candidates in precincts that they are not running their own candidates in, and they will do the same in return. Every vote counts.
  • Last but not least, FUNDRAISE ALL THE TIME. We need the money. The NDP has all the money they stole from the country and the MB has all the money they get from Saudi & Qatar, so we need to get our own. Hit up for donations everyone you know in Egypt  who isn’t interested returning the corrupt to power or having this country turn into a theocracy. Contact your relatives and your friends abroad. Create Festivals and events whose tickets will fund your operations. There is no campaign finance legislation in place, which the MB is totally abusing, and we can as well. Let’s do that until we have enough of a majority to place in a law in place that would make this entirely unpleasant situation we currently live in behind us.

5) Start reaching out to Imams and Priests now: I once suggested that we need to reach to Imams and Priests in order to get them on our side, and I was hissed at for wanting to mix Politics with Religion. Well, as much as I agree with that sentiment and truly wish we live in a country where people don’t vote based on religion, ehh..welcome to Egypt. We are religious people, and whether we like it or not, Imams and Priests are community leaders. We have to engage them, get them on our side and have them help us with the hearts and minds of their flock. An easy place to start are the individual churches and the Sufi festivals (Fun Fact of the Day: the Sufis are 16 million in Egypt. I KNOW!), get those two groups, and then focus on all the local imams that are in your area. If you manage to convince 1 Imam in every 5, you already caused them to lose a sizable part of their base. Try to convince 2 :)

6) Know thy enemy: We need to compile a data-base on all the NDP names we know in every district, and then research their history and public record in the parliament. We need to get the history of all the known MB MP’s in the egyptian parliament and find out what bullshit policies they were pursuing during their tenure there. We need to know how popular they are and how much dirt there is on them. We need to know who their financial backers are and what businesses they own. A lot of the info is already available online. Let’s compile it and learn from it. This will be useful later.

7) Prepare for the propaganda war: The other side has already started the Propaganda war over the refrendum, using lies and fear-mongering to get people to vote their way. I am not a fan of lying or fear-mongering, but I have no problem using the truth as a weapon to hammer my agenda home. Tell people the truth: Tell them of the MB’s record in the parliament- how they wanted to ban books and music videos and the net. Tell people what Hamas- the MB of Ghaza- did t the population the moment they seized power (No music, No shisha, no concerts, no free media, intimidation and fear). Start creating banners accusing them of being agents for wanting to sell the country’s soul to the Gulfies, and start asking loudly where their seemingly endless money comes from during this economic crisis. Play on nationalism and national Unity. Joined demonstrations of muslims and christians that congregate in front of the MB Supreme Council’s office, and do a sit in there until they vow to stop using sectarian tones and ads, and when they vow, throw it in their face every time they use a religious slogan. Go After the Salafis as well. If they call you infidels, you call them Taliban. Remind people when they used to throw acid on girls for showing some legs or on their face for not wearing a Niqab. Remind people of the days when they used to target them and kill them, or when they used to crash weddings for being Haram or burn video stores and christian jewelery stores. Keep repeating everywhere you go that Egypt will never be Afghanistan, and people will start repeating that every time they see a Salafi or an MB member trying to use religion to his advantage. Start putting them on the defensive. They are weaker than you think, and the ways to neutralize them are endless.

That’s all for now, but let me remind you of one last thing before you go: You are more powerful than you know. You brought down Mubarak and his regime. You changed this country, gave it a future, and there is no way in hell you will allow those who use people’s ignorance to hijack it. They aimed to scare you yesterday, and instead they pissed you off. They pissed off the smartest, most fearless and most capable group of egyptians this nation ever gave birth to, thinking that you will see beards and yelling and you will run away screaming. They thought wrong. They miscalculated. They fucked up. And they will find that out soon enough. We gave them our hand in friendship, we gave them the benefit of the doubt and we wanted them equal partners in the building of this country’s future, while they were busy plotting against us with the NDP of all people. Well, moral clarity time: The NDP and the Islamists are two faces to the same coin, and neither can be allowed to control this country ever again. It’s time to quit being distracted, and start organizing and engaging people NOW. War has been declared on all of us, and we will be damned if we lose now. Just like the NDP, we will fight them until we can’t.

And in case you are wondering: We will win!

The Free Republic of Egypt

Dear Free People of Egypt,

It’s a lovely day to be talking to you all in a Mubarak and NDP free Egypt. It’s been quite the undertaking, and many people were terrified, injured or killed, but we somehow managed to do it. Congratulations on that to all of us. Pats on the back, everybody!

Naturally, we (the revolutionaries) still don’t think the battle is over. The Mubaraks are still free, so are Fathy Surrour, Zakaria Aazmy and Safwat ElSherief, alongside with all the corrupt NDP officials in all branches of government, not to mention all the state security and police officers who spent the last 3 decades terrorizing, monitoring, torturing & killing those they were supposed to protect. The Political prisoners and detained Jan25 protesters are still unlawfully in prison, the stolen money is still in foreign countries, and the Minimum wage of 200 dollars a month for all Egyptians is still not enforced. There is also the matter of transparency of the government (financially & operationally and having the country run by civilians instead of a military Junta, a new constitution to be drafted instead of one that gives absolute power to the head of state, political freedoms to all Egyptians, enforceable bill of rights to all Egyptians, equal rights to all women, equal political rights to Egyptians living abroad and/ or born or married to a foreigner, freedom of the media, etc..etc.. I don’t want to bore you, but, yep, lots of work is yet to be done, and it’s taking far too long by those in charge to get done, which is making us unhappy. And Unhappy protesters usually protest. It’s just a fact of life.

But we are hearing that some of you are unhappy with all this protesting. We are hearing that you think we are kids with no purpose or jobs, who are currently destroying the country and the economy by all of our protesting and demands. We are hearing that you just want stability & security, and that we are not listening to all of you or your concerns and that we are no different than the dictator we just toppled. Please be assured, this is not the case here, because you are our people, and your concerns are the same as our concerns. We must admit that we are surprised by such accusations, & some of us are not taking it well, while others don’t have time to respond because, let’s face it, trying to find out whether your friends are killed or not, and trying to free them from being court-martialed in the new democratic Egypt, all the while addressing a the new referendum, and the issue of Copts getting murdered, churches being burned and such other sectarian strife issues that plague us, well, it could become a consuming full-time job. Our sin might be that we are so used to fighting those small (in your opinion) battles that we are not focusing enough on explaining our point of view to you and how we are on the same side. For that we apologize and we hope you forgive us. Now, on to your concerns.

You are concerned about the lagging state of the economy and the losses that were caused by the revolution and all of our protests, and you just want everybody back to work, without asking yourself how is it that our economy was so weak that all it took to destroy it was less than two months of protests, while a country like France has nation-wide protests all the time, and their economy isn’t collapsing because of it. You are also forgetting that that the other main causes of the lag in economy is the complete & total corruption in all government institutions (state, municipal & local), the military curfew that’s completely destroying our logistical operations and Tourism, the absence of Security (more on that later), and the total confusion of (the many many many) foreign investors- who want to come to Egypt now and invest- in regards to who they could talk to in order to come here and invest, given that the civilian government has no power and the military council isn’t exactly approachable.

You are concerned about the thugs attacking and robbing you of your property & demanding the return of the police & security, but you are forgetting that the police (who acted no different than the thugs except having a shiny uniform) used to rob you every single day. And about those thugs who are terrorizing you, who let them out of their prisons in the first place and then refused to arrest them? Oh yes, I remember, the Police. Silly us for demanding that they get held accountable for their actions. We should beg them daily- like you- to come back to work unconditionally after they betrayed their oath to protect us & put us all in grave danger. Our bad.

You are concerned about your kids getting killed by thugs (who, again, reminder, are unleashed by the police), but you were not concerned that they were getting killed daily by the polluted water, the poisoned meats & fruits & vegetables, the completely unsafe roads & public transportation options, the complete and utter catastrophe that is health-care and Egyptian public hospitals, where far more people die than get better and where any Egyptian would rather not step a foot inside if they can afford to go to a private Hospital (which isn’t always incredibly better). Lest we forgot, even the grandson of our former President died in one of them. But yes, the thugs are the problem. Our bad.

You are concerned that the Islamists are going to take over the country and turn it into Afghanistan, and yet don’t seem concerned with taking concrete steps to ensure that this won’t happen without impeding their rights. A good way to do so is to demand the overhaul of the Egyptian education system, the end of bigotry & discrimination against minorities in all job positions (private or public), the removal of hate-inciting Imams or Priests from Mosques and Churches, and in case all of the aforementioned are too much for you to handle, you could simply stand for religious freedom and equal rights to all in Egypt, especially Egypt’s Christians, who in case you didn’t hear are getting attacked and their churches are getting burned and you don’t seem to care. We would recommend you take a small visit to the Maspiro protest and talk to “those people” and understand the issues at hand, but we also should understand that this would take some time from your busy schedule of complaining about us ruining everything. Our bad.

We get it. We see how we are irresponsible. How we are ruining the country. How we are not concerned about you. We are evil. A cancer that plagued this fine and healthy nation. 25 Khasayer. You are right not to like us. You are right to hold protests against protesting and only 500 of you would show up on a Friday and then claim you are talking in the name of the silent majority. Those millions of us who went down to support those demands are only from every social class and religious background and from both genders. We are in no way representative, especially that the majority of people in Tahrir right now are now the poorest of all the protesters, who are told to go home & live on 20 dollars a month salary until we figure all of this out in 6 month to a year, and all of your Korba Festival buddies are too busy to go there anymore. You want the ones who are still there to go home and leave u alone. After all the ones in Tahrir now are poor. They smell. Can’t have that! Egyptian people are not smelly or poor, of course. Shame on them for defaming us all.

So, since we are such a public menace and refuse to listen to reason, I have a proposal to all of you that will surely make you happy: How about we take all those people who took part in the revolution and supported it, and give them a piece of land in Egypt to create their own failed state on? Maybe somewhere in Sinai, on the beach, say Sharm el Sheikh for example? Yes, give us Sharm and some backland and leave us there, so you can continue living your lives in Peace and stability. We will give you back the Mubarak Family (we are not big fans) and we recommend you give us all those people you don’t like in return: you know those annoying minorities, like the Copts, the Bahaai’s , the Shia, the jews, the Nubians even. Yes, get rid of the races you dislike as well. We will take them all. We will even divide the people up fair and square and ensure that none of us remain with any of you. Ok? Let’s start right now.

You can have Ahmed Shafiq as your Prime Minister and we will take Essam Sharaf as ours.

You can have the NDP and its officials and we will have all the new political parties that are starting up all over the place.

You can have Aamr Moussa as your ideal Diplomat; we will take Mohamed ElBaradei as ours.

You can have Zaghloul elNaggar as your top Scientist; we will take Ahmed Zuweill.

You can have Alaa Mubarak, Ahmed Ezz, Mohamed Abu Elenein, ElMaghraby as your businessmen, and we will take Naguib Sawiris and the Bisharas and all the other businessmen in Egypt who want to run legitimate businesses without unnecessary bureaucracy and bribing 18 different entities to open and continue to run one.

You can Have Adel Emam, Yosra and Samah Aanwar, we will take Khaled Abulnaga , Basma and Yousra Ellouzy.

You can have Tamer Hosny and Mohamed Fouad, we will take Mohamed Mounir, Mariam Aly and Ramy Essam (and we will make sure no one tortures him while he is in their custody).

You can have Farouk Hosny, and we will take the artists that the revolution brought out.

You can have the Supreme Military Council meet your demands on their schedule and discretion; we will take the Revolution Trustee Council any day of the week.

You can have a country where women suffer from oppression, sexual assaults, genital mutilation and honor killing, we will have a country where women are in all positions of power, sexual harassment and FGM absolutely not tolerated, and where one gender doesn’t see that it has the right- in the name of honor- to oppress , beat and violently murder the other gender. We won’t tolerate that happening to our women; you can do with yours what you please.

You can keep a constitution that got amended so much in the past 7 years and still discriminates against many Egyptians and gives the President absolute Power, and we will have one that ensures the rights and equality of all of our citizens (no matterwhere their parents come from or whom they marry) and where there are checks and balances against executive Power.

You can keep an economy that is plagued with inefficiency, corruption, poverty and Monopoly. We will have one where entrepreneurship is encouraged and supported, our country open to all investments, and our workers are guaranteed a living wage.

You can keep a public school system in shambles and half of the population being illiterate, and be forced to pay for public schools and private tutoring for your children. We will have public schools that are well funded and teachers who are well-trained and well paid.

You can have your healthcare system being a complete and total fiasco where apathy and complete lack of concern for the patients’ well-being is what defines it, while our public Hospitals will be properly funded and staffed and those who due to negligence harm or kill a patient will be held accountable.

You can have a country where people believe that being civilized is to go for one day and clean Tahrir Square up, while we will believe that true civilization is ensuring that our government cleans our street up and as for us, well, we just won’t litter.

You can have Your Internal Security services spying on you, arresting you indefinitely, collaborating with terrorists to attack your churches (if you will continue to have any) torturing and/or kill you, and your Police to bully you and blackmail you. Our internal security service won’t do that to us and our Police will protect us, will uphold the law, and, god forbid, reduce crime and put criminals in jail instead of letting them out.

You can have an Army that dictates orders to you; we will have an army that obeys us.

As you can see, what we are asking for is totally unrealistic and we are completely dedicated to destroying ourselves. If we are truly such a problem, we urge you to help us make that happen, so we can get out of your hair as soon as possible.

But if you are insane and unreasonable like the rest of us, please join us and help us. We don’t want our own state, we want to do this here. We want our Country, Egypt, to be the best country it can be. One where we all can live and co-exist; one where the state is healthy and functions and all are represented and have rights. That’s what we always wanted and called for, and we don’t know when that message stopped being clear to you.

We are not saints. We make mistakes and we are not above criticism of any kind. You have the right not to help rebuild the country, and you have the right to criticize those who are trying to do it, but you don’t have the right not to help and only criticize that things aren’t exactly to your liking. If you don’t like something, change it. That was the lesson of the Jan25 revolution after all, you know?

So please, if you agree with our vision, join us, and if you can’t, simply defend us. We have achieved so much, that it would be a sin to stop now.

Help us! We need you!

Sincerely,

Mahmoud Salem

(A Jan25 Protester)