Blast in Cairo

From Daily News Egypt:

CAIRO: Seventeen people were wounded, including 11 French tourists, three Germans and three Egyptians when a bomb went off in the tourist district of Al Hussein, near the popular Khan Al Khalili market in the heart of Cairo at around 7 pm.

A conflicting report by Reuters, however, claims that four people had died, two of them tourists, but their nationality has not been disclosed. The report said that eleven people were also wounded, six seriously.

The Daily News Egypt correspondent present at the scene shortly after, said that at around 8:10 pm another explosion was heard, but that it did not incur any casualties.

No smoke was visible.

By then at least 1000 riot policemen had filled the area, which was sealed off completely.

Read CNN here and BBC here

I know nothing except what I read at DNE but here’s my preliminary thoughts:  This is consistent with the kind of random violence that commentators have been predicting for a while now and is not likely connected to any organized groups.   The militant Jihadi groups of the 1980s and 1990s have been broken up by the state and, for the most part,  made their own decisions to give up violence.  The other group that comes to mind is Al-Qaeda but they are not thought to have a presence in Egypt.  However, this does not mean violence has disappeared.  Given the horrible socio-economic conditions in Egypt, there are enough reasons why Egyptians would be so pissed off at the world that they resort to violence.   But its random acts, commited by individuals with no connections to organized militant groups (because they don’t exist anymore in Egypt).  Both Ibrahim Eissa and Hussam Tamem have been saying for a while now and based solely on the information that’s available, I think this is what is happening here.  We should probably not read too much into this incident; Unless a pattern starts emerging, its probably not significant. 

Of course, if there are any new developments, expect to read about them here at MediaShack.

Churchill bust-up

 Today Rob forwarded me a post from Foreign Policy.Com in which Will Inboden discussed reports that President Obama has returned a bust of Winston Churchill that was sitting in the Oval office. I appreciate that this is nothing to do with the Middle East, so I apologise for my forthcoming rant.  But Imboden really did pick up on one of my pet peeves.

 The bust was a gift from Tony Blair to President George Bush, he wrote, before continuing…

“It is hard to think of any good reason for this curious gesture, which has sparked understandable consternation among conservative commentators and understandable heartburn among British diplomats as well.”

Really, Will? Really? You know, I can think of many reasons for the bust’s removal.  And I also think that British diplomats are unlikely to have a heart attack over it. 

Perhaps the one thing that I can agree with, is that Churchill seems to be more popular on the other side of the Atlantic.  Although the accolade of being voted the greatest ever Briton would seem to indicate that us Brits do rate the guy.  Not me though.

I think that the hero worship of Churchill is pretty much unfounded.  Anyone who harps on about his brilliant running of the British war effort should really do some reading. For all of you shaking your head as you read this, I have one name:  Field Marshall Lord Allenbrooke, the constant at Churchill’s side who regularly disregarded Churchill’s decisions and made sense of the British war effort.  

Churchill may have been charismatic, but he was also an alcoholic that came up with about ten hare-brained schemes a day.  Oh, and pretty much all of them went horribly wrong.  But this is not my real issue.  

Churchill was a conservative Victorian in power 50 years too late, who believed fervently in the Empire and held some truly hideous and bigoted views.  Read some of his private comments about Egyptians amid the Suez crisis.  Unrepeatable.

Don’t get me wrong, I have heard stories about his role and his inspirational speeches since I was a kid.  The guy could make a speech and his words will live immortal.  But he, like everyone, was fallible.  I would contend that he was more fallible than most. 

Oh, and finally, a bust of Thatcher? Will, don’t even get me started.  I vote for Allenbrooke.

 Monty is the MediaShack represenative in the UK.