Category Archives: Egypt

7 Steps to Becoming a Dictator

manual for strengthening your power position as elected leader.

January 7 2021

As a democratically elected leader, getting absolute power is no easy feat. Just look at Hitler, or more recently, at Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, Russia’s Putin, or Turkey’s Erdogan. Here are some helpful tips for a prolonged iron rule.

photo: how to be a dictator

1. Expand your power base through nepotism and corruption.

This is not just a tactic adopted in third world countries. Scandals like Bridgegate, Koreagate, Monicagate and Watergate demonstrate that the powerful will always find ways to abuse their privileges. Be warned, though: You will eventually be rumbled, so corruption tends to work only in the short term.article continues after

The lesson: Make sure to surround yourself with loyal kin who you can trust to do what’s best for you and your family.   

Photo:How to be a dictator like urdogan

2. Instigate a monopoly on the use of force to curb public protest.

Dictators cannot survive for long without disarming the people and buttering up the military. Former dictators such as Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, Mobutu Sese Seko of the Congo, and Idi Amin of Uganda were high-ranked army officers who co-opted the military in order to overthrow democracies in favour of dictatorships. Yet democracies are not always more popular than dictatorships. In reality, people prefer dictatorships if the alternative is chaos. This explains the nostalgia for rulers like Stalin and Mao, who were mass murderers but who provided social order. One retired middle-ranking official in Beijing told the Asia Times: “I earned less than 100 yuan a month in Mao’s time. I could barely save each month but I never worried about anything. My work unit would take care of everything for me: housing, medical care, and my children’s education, though there were no luxuries…Now I receive 3,000 yuan as a [monthly] pension, but I have to count every penny—everything is so expensive and no one will take care of me now if I fall ill.”

Indeed, when given the choice in an experiment, people will desert an unstructured group (analogous to an anything-goes society) and seek the order of a “punishing regime,” which has the authority to identify and reprimand cheats. This lawlessness can be seen in hunter-gatherer tribes, too. When anthropologists visited a New Guinea tribe, they found that a third of males suffered a violent death.  

7 Steps to Becoming a Dictator

The lesson: Any aspiring dictator who restores order, even through coercion, is likely to earn the gratitude of his people.

3. Curry favour by providing public goods efficiently and generously.

Benevolent dictatorship was practised by Lee Kuan Yew, prime minister of Singapore for 31 years. Lee believed that ordinary people could not be entrusted with power because it would corrupt them, and that economics was the major stabilizing force in society. To this end, he effectively eliminated all opposition by using his constitutional powers to detain suspects without trial for two years without the right of appeal. To implement his economic policies, Lee allowed only one political party, one newspaper, one trade union movement, and one language.article continues after advertisementhttps://93192547278b31c4b30b0c0af0b9a441.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

Socially, Lee encouraged people to uphold the family system, discipline their children, be more courteous, and avoid pornography. As well as setting up a government dating service for single graduates, he urged people to take better aim in public toilets and handed out hefty fines for littering. Singaporeans tolerated these restrictions on their freedom because they valued their economic security more. On this point, Lee did not disappoint, turning Singapore into one of the world’s wealthiest countries (per capita).

The lesson: Restore the economy and develop large infrastructural projects that create a lot of jobs; it will strengthen your power base.  

4. Get rid of your political enemies…

…or, more cleverly, embrace them in the hope that the bear hug will neutralize them. Zimbabwe’s former dictator Mugabe abandoned the unpopular practice of murdering political rivals and instead bribed them, with political office, for their support. Idi Amin, who came to power in Uganda after a military coup, stuck with the murderous route: During his eight years at the top, he is estimated to have killed between 80,000 and 300,000 people. His victims included cabinet ministers, judicial figures, bankers, intellectuals, journalists, and a former prime minister. At the lower end of the scale, that’s a hit rate of 27 executions a day.

The lesson: Keep your political enemies close to you.

5. Create and defeat a common enemy.

By facing down Nazi Germany, Churchill, de Gaulle, Roosevelt, and Stalin sealed their reputations as great leaders. Legendary warlords such as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon were military geniuses who expanded their countries’ territories through invading their neighbours. Dictatorships feed on wars and other external threats because these justify their existence—swift military action requires a central command-and-control structure

2011 arab spring dictators Bashar al-Assad, Hosni Mubarak, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Muammar Gaddafi

More than half of 20th-century rulers engaged in battles at some point during their reign, either as aggressors or defenders. Among dictators, the proportion rises to 88 per cent. Democratic rulers find this tactic more difficult to adopt because most wars are unpopular with voters. To attract support, the ruler must be perceived as a defender, not a warmonger. The former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher received a lucky boost to her popularity after Argentina, a military dwarf, invaded the British-owned Falkland Islands; she triumphed over her Argentine enemies. Another former British PM, Tony Blair, was not so lucky. Although the 9/11 attacks did much to strengthen his government, his decision to attack Iraq (ostensibly to defend Britain from a long-range missile attack) sullied his legacy.

The lesson: Start a war when your position as leader becomes insecure. Having generals in top political posts will certainly help.

6. Accumulate power by manipulating the hearts and minds of your citizens.

One of the first actions of any aspiring dictator should be to control the free flow of information, because it plugs a potential channel of criticism. Turn the media into a propaganda machine for your regime like Hitler did and Erdogan does now. Other leaders, such as Myanmar’s ruling junta, shut down media outlets completely. Democratically elected leaders are somewhat more restrained, but if they have enough powers, they can rig an election or do away with meddlesome journalists (like Vladimir Putin’s Russia) or, if money is no object, build their own media empire.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi owned nearly half the Italian media, encompassing national television channels, radio stations, newspapers and magazines. Unsurprisingly, these outlets carefully managed Berlusconi’s public image and shielded him from criticism. Aspiring dictators should note that muzzling the media is most effective in an ordered society: A 2007 poll of more than 11,000 people in 14 countries, on behalf of the BBC, found that 40 per cent of respondents across countries from India to Finland thought social harmony was more important than press freedom

The lesson: Control the media or, even better, own the media. It’s as simple as that.

7. Create an ideology to justify an exalted position.

Throughout history, leaders have used—or in some cases invented—an ideology to legitimize their power. In the original chiefdoms like Hawaii, the chiefs were both political leaders and priests, who claimed to be communicating with the gods in order to bring about a generous harvest. Conveniently, this ideology often passed as an explanation of why the chief should occupy the role for life, and why the post should pass to the chief’s descendants. Accordingly, these chiefdoms spent much time and effort building temples and other religious institutions, to give a formal structure to the chief’s power.

Henry VIII of England started his own religion when the Pope refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. He created the Church of England, appointed himself Supreme Head and granted his own annulment. Other ideologies include personality cults such as Mao-ism or Stalinism; some serve to unite a nation divided by ethnicity, religion or language.

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Berbera ports: The africa most valuable real estate

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Berbera and Zeila, two of the Horn of Africa’s ancient trading cities, have long attracted the interest of global powers because of their strategic location near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. This location makes Somaliland’s coastal ports among the region’s most valuable real estate and an alternative to Djibouti as a key player in terms of trade, development, energy, and water security for the Red Sea and Horn of Africa.

Richard Burton, the British explorer, recognized the importance of Berbera port back in 1896, writing:
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In the first place, Berbera is the true key of the Red Sea, the centre of East African traffic, and the only safe place for shipping upon the western Eritrean shore, from Suez to Guardafui. Backed by lands capable of cultivation, and by hills covered with pine and other valuable trees, enjoying a comparatively temperate climate, with a regular although thin monsoon, this harbour has been coveted by many a foreign conqueror. Circumstances have thrown it as it were into our arms, and, if we refuse the chance, another and a rival nation will not be so blind.

A new geopolitical rivalry in the Red Sea

Somaliland’s ports still remain the object of international interest and rivalry today, although the foreign powers involved have changed. On July 1, according to an official statement, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Taiwan had agreed to establish ties with Somaliland based on “friendship and a shared commitment to common values of freedom, democracy, justice, and the rule of law.”

Less than a week later, however, Somalia’s federal government, led by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, aligned itself with China to prevent a Taiwanese-Somaliland nexus that would have clear geopolitical ramifications for the Horn of Africa.

While China and Somalia rebuffed and condemned the new strategic bilateral ties between Somaliland and Taiwan, the U.S. National Security Council has blessed Taiwan’s venture into East Africa, sending a clear message to China that the U.S. stands with Taiwan. This is a significant blow to the Chinese government, which has used its international influence and “development-trap diplomacy” in recent decades to rally support among African and Middle Eastern states for its efforts to suppress Taiwan’s presence in the international sphere.

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Somaliland

On July 12, a high-level delegation from Egypt traveled to Somaliland. Although an Egyptian delegation had visited in 2019, angering Somalia, this year’s trip comes at a critical time as Ethiopia and Egypt have locked horns in their dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The Egyptian delegation’s visit prompted protests from the Ethiopian government, and Egypt’s growing bilateral ties and cooperation with Somaliland are giving Ethiopia GERD problems of its own — as in gastroesophageal reflux disease.

It is important to note that Ethiopia has a 19 percent stake in the port of Berbera, which is managed by the UAE’s DP World with a 51 percent stake, while Somaliland holds 30 percent. In May 2019, Ethiopia signed its first military cooperation agreement with France, which covers joint air cooperation and includes assistance for Ethiopia’s efforts to build up its naval forces — although where the landlocked country plans to dock these naval forces remains unclear. Joking aside, Ethiopia’s naval endeavors are driven by two main factors: first, concerns over the future of Djibouti’s port, which the IMF categorizes as at a “high risk of debt distress,” comparable to the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, which was built with Chinese financing and which Beijing took control of after Colombo failed to meet its debt obligations; and second, to protect 11 state-owned commercial vessels managed by the Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE).

Scramble for fragile Somaliland

Although Somaliland is relatively peaceful compared to Somalia, its lack of international recognition makes it fragile and susceptible to being drawn into regional disputes as it seeks allies, bilateral ties, and eventual recognition. This has been the case with the Gulf states, where it has sided with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In part as a result of this fragility and desire to secure more allies and improve bilateral ties, Somaliland now finds itself in the middle of multiple disputes among other states, including Ethiopia and Egypt and China and Taiwan.

Taken together, the current domestic instability in Ethiopia and its tensions with Egypt over the GERD, combined with the global superpower competition in the Horn of Africa and Red Sea, are a recipe for conflict that could trigger the largest refugee influx in African history. This could destabilize Somaliland and with it key international maritime trade routes, making it vulnerable to insecurity and terrorism that directly affects both Ethiopia and Djibouti, with which it shares its western border.

To reduce future geopolitical uncertainty and security risk in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea, it’s in the best interest of the international community to take the following steps:

Consider recognizing Somaliland;

Praise Taiwan-Somaliland relations instead of giving in to Chinese pressure and potentially keeping at bay Russia, which also has a keen interest in establishing a military base at Berbera port; and

Include Somaliland in the Red Sea Council and help it develop its own navy.

Shakir Essa report

Egypt to withdraw from latest Nile dam talks for consultations

6395874_303Egypt fears the $4bn project could lead to water shortages upstream, while Sudan is concerned about dam’s safety.

05 Aug 2020 GMT+3
Egypt has decided to withdraw from the latest round of tripartite negotiations over Ethiopia’s multibillion-dollar dam on the Blue Nile for internal consultations after Addis Ababa proposed a new draft of filling guidelines.
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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is being built about 15km (nine miles) from the Ethiopian border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, has become a major sticking point between the three countries.
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Egypt fears the $4bn project could lead to water shortages upstream, while Sudan said it is concerned about the dam’s safety.

The Egyptian water ministry, in a statement on Tuesday, said Ethiopia put forward a draft proposal that lacked regulations on the operation of the dam or any legal obligations.
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Addis Ababa’s draft also lacked a legal mechanism for settling disputes, according to the Egyptian ministry.

“Egypt and Sudan demanded meetings be suspended for internal consultations on the Ethiopian proposal, which contravenes what was agreed upon during the African Union summit,” it said.

The Blue Nile is a tributary of the Nile river, from which Egypt’s 100 million people get 90 percent of their fresh water.

Ethiopia dam dispute: Concerns in Sudan’s Blue Nile state (2:55)
Sudan’s safety concerns
Meanwhile, Sudan’s irrigation ministry said the latest Ethiopian position presented in talks on Tuesday raised new fears over the track the negotiations had been on.

Khartoum also threatened to withdraw from the talks, saying Ethiopia insisted on linking them to renegotiating a deal on sharing the waters of the Blue Nile.

Sudan’s water and irrigation minister, Yasser Abbas, said he received a letter from his Ethiopian counterpart who proposed “the deal under discussion be limited to filling up the dam and any deal concerning its management be linked to the question of sharing Blue Nile waters”.

Egypt and Sudan invoke a “historic right” over the river guaranteed by treaties concluded in 1929 and 1959.

But Ethiopia uses a treaty signed in 2010 by six riverside countries and boycotted by Egypt and Sudan authorising irrigation projects and dams on the river.

“This new Ethiopian position threatens the negotiations under the aegis of the African Union, and Sudan will not participate in negotiations which include the subject of sharing Blue Nile waters,” Abbas said.

“Sudan will not allow the lives of 20 million citizens who live along the Blue Nile to be tied to an agreement on sharing the water of this river.”

The call came after a meeting of technical and legal committees from the three countries aimed at pushing for a deal on the filling and operation of the GERD.

The meeting was also attended by observers from the United States and the European Union as well as experts from the Africa