Entries in Aaron Katersky (4)


Massive Overhaul Coming to Egypt's Government

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO) -- A statement Sunday from Egypt's military council said that the country's parliament and senate will be dissolved, according to reports from Al Jazeera television. The constitution will not be amended, due to the nature of the previous authoritarian rule, but entirely rewritten to reflect a new style of government following weeks of protest in the nation's capital city of Cairo.

ABC News' Jim Sciutto reports that there will be six months of military rule at first, so as to ease the transition to a new government.

After the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak, there has been a standstill as to the direction of the Egyptian government. Protesters stood their ground for over two weeks calling for the ouster of Mubarak, who ruled for over 30 years, however no true successor ever emerged from the fray.

Ahmed Mekki, a judge and member of the committee to form a new constitution, tells ABC News this is positive because the the old constitution "couldn't be applied or amended, it's so bad" and that "we had to free ourselves of the old constitution in order to be able to write a new, better constitution."

It could be a year until there are free elections in Egypt. In the past, Mubarak would pick and choose which opposition parties were allowed to operate, with his victory in elections a predetermined outcome.

Mubarak is believed to have fled Cairo in favor of the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egypt: With Mubarak Out, New Sense Of Purpose In Tahrir Square

Photo Courtesy - Aaron Katersky/ABC NewsREPORTER’S NOTEBOOK

(CAIRO) -- After 18 days of protests that succeeded in ousting president Hosni Mubarak, a sense of civic pride has overcome the people of Egypt.

They're still celebrating here in Tahrir Square, but where they were carrying flags and placards, now they're carrying brooms, dustpans and garbage bags. The people here have a new sense of purpose – they are cleaning up the Square, actually picking up garbage.

“I've decided that I'm going to work, and plan and dream and get inspired,” one woman told me. “Starting cleaning the streets until building another pyramid.”

Such is the hope that was unleashed here with the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and, for the moment, it trumps any apprehension Egyptians may have about how their country will be governed going forward.

People say they want to build a new Egypt and thousands have come, many with their families.

“This is a historic moment in our time and I want them to feel this,” another woman told me, referring to her children whom she brought with her to help clean the Square. “I need this to be in their memory when they grow up.”

Though her children will grow up with almost no recollection of the country’s former president, she told me that she just wants them “to remember that we did something in this country.”

Over the last three weeks or so this square has seen bullets and bottles, violence and death, and celebration.

“Something within me says it has to be cleaned,” a third woman in the Square told me. “Now I feel it's an obligation.”

“This is my country,” she said. I have to clean it with my own hands. This is my own responsibility now, and everyone else’s.”

She told me it feels like she’s coming home after a 30-year absence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egypt: New Protesters Turn Out, Settle In For Long Haul


(CAIRO) -- There are thousands of people here at the entrance to Tahrir Square waiting to get in to join the demonstrations that are now on day 12. They are chanting, "Leave, leave Mubarak", the familiar refrain that's been heard through the streets here since this uprising began. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has shown no signs that he's going to budge, but these protesters say they will stay here for as long as it takes.

It is much calmer here than it has been in the last couple of days. These protesters have withstood attacks by pro-Mubarak crowds. Now we're seeing more traffic on the streets and people coming from farther away. They said it was too dangerous before for them to come join the protests, but as they see the army out providing security, they felt safe enough to come out and join these demonstrations.

There have been groups of hardcore protesters - young people mostly - who have stayed and camped in Tahrir Square since the beginning. As we walked in, we saw young men carrying bags of bread and oranges and water. They're restocking, dug in for the long haul.

These demonstrations have been crippling to the Egyptian economy. Some estimates say it's costing $300 million a day. Now it seems banks are ready to reopen Sunday, the Egyptian stock exchange on Monday, so the country can try to start functioning normally again. Already there's more traffic on the streets Saturday than we've seen in the last several days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Troops in Afghanistan Mark Christmas at War

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SHARANA, Afghanistan) -- American troops in Afghanistan spend Christmas away from their families and, in some cases, in the company of Afghan soldiers, who are key to the American exit strategy.

Creating a competent army and police force capable of taking over security duties in the country is not easy. On a recent mission to capture Taliban militants, Afghan soldiers accompanied Army Lt. Col. Dave Womack of the 506th Infantry Regiment's 1st Battalion.

 “The trick is putting them out front,” Womack told ABC News Radio’s Aaron Katersky, who is embedded with the troops. But putting the Afghan Army’s leadership out front is not always possible. For this mission, Womack’s counterpart never showed up.

“He sent his soldiers and he didn’t come, so I’m going to go have a nice little meeting about leadership,” Womack said.

Lack of leadership is a problem throughout the Afghan National Army. They are finding plenty of recruits, but need to produce more officers.

“There are guys that are amazing,” Womack said. “It’s just not to the level you’d like.”

Womack also suspects the loyalties of some Afghan troops are compromised, so he gives them no advance word on missions, making training more complicated.

The U.S. and NATO have said they would like to hand over security operations to the Afghans in 2014.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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