Thursday, July 18, 2013

Days & days & days

The waiting.  It is hard.

You can all read the news, and I've got nothing new to report on the situation that isn't in the press.  Nick is working Kabul-esque hours, I'm trying my best to be patient, and we're both anxious to start making decisions about what we do next.  But we can't make any decisions until we know whether the evacuation will be over at the end of July, or if it will be extended for another 30 days.  So all Nick and I can do right now is wait until the US government reassesses the security situation in Cairo, which it won't do for another week or so.

Dear Time,

Please go a little faster.  Patience is not one of my virtues.

Love, Me

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Between a rock & a hard place

I wish I had something new or interesting to report, but unfortunately I don't.  Nick remains in Cairo, even as Egypt descended into a close approximation of chaos on Friday, with 36 people killed in clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi groups and the military.  The past two days have been quieter, although I guess there are some protests flaring up again as I type.  The US government still hasn't figured out its position on recent events, Nick is still waiting for instructions from Washington, and I'm still losing my damn mind over the fact that my husband is stuck in country that is tearing itself apart and that I just don't know if I'm going to Cairo or not.  

Honestly, up until this point the protests haven't really caused me to worry too much about Nick's safety, because they haven't been directed at Americans.  Unlike when we were in Kabul, where Americans were definitely targets, it's seemed to me that the real risk of being an American in Cairo  was the chance of ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting caught in the middle of what's essentially a civil (religious?) war.

But now that Morsi is out, it appears that the Muslim Brotherhood and the liberals are both looking for a scapegoat additional enemies to attack, and they've both set their sights on the US. The liberals dislike the US for recognizing/supporting Morsi, and the Muslim Brotherhood dislike the US for not preventing his removal from office.  And unfortunately they do have a point, as Morsi was voted into office by democratic and fair-ish elections.  There's a better explanation here Anti-Americanism flares in Egypt as protests rage over Morsi's ouster.  To sum it all up:  "It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't quagmire in which the US appears to have alienated both sides, underscoring waning American influence and credibility as it attempts to navigate the turmoil."

So now I start to worry. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Further reading

Just a quick post to let everyone know that the New York Times  has a good article outlining the conundrum the US government faces in deciding what to do with the $1.5 billion in foreign assistance it planned to provide to Egypt, aka the reason Nick is still stuck in Cairo.


So, as you've all probably heard by now, some stuff went down in Egypt on Wednesday.  A military coup?  A democratic revolution? The answer depends on who you ask.

But whatever you call it, all it took for the US government to pull the ripcord and turn the voluntary evacuation into an ordered evacuation was the sight of military vehicles on the streets of Cairo.  All nonessential US diplomatic personnel are now departing the country, leaving behind a core group to tend to the $1.5 billion in foreign assistance* the US currently provides to Egypt...and Nick is part of that core group.

Thus, today finds him still in Cairo, one of the last men standing, confined to chilling in our apartment until given further instruction.  He is safe, if not just a bit stir crazy.  Our neighborhood of Ma'adi remains mostly quiet, and our apartment complex remains walled and guarded.  We don't know when or even if he'll be sent home, and we still don't know whether or how this affects my joining him in Cairo in September.  Evacuations of US government employees are conducted on 30 day cycles, so the current evacuation will last until August 3rd or so.  At that time the US government will evaluate whether the country is stable enough to allow staff and their families to return.  If the government decides Egypt is still too dangerous, diplomatic personnel will be out for another 30 days..and now we're into early September.

I'll be honest and confess that I am making contingency plans in my head, just in case I'm not allowed to go to Cairo on September 10th: rescind my notice at work, try to get my landlord to let me go to a month to month lease, etc.  There are just so many pieces to this puzzle, and neither Nick nor I have control over most of them.

What I wouldn't give for the gift of foresight right now...

*Only $172 million is economic/development assistance; the rest is military.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Watchful waiting

For those of you who are still following this blog in spite of the long gaps between posts, here's a quick update on Nick and the situation in Egypt.

First things first...he's safe.  He is still at post, and is likely to remain there for a while.  Washington is watching the situation very closely, and is taking steps to secure the safety of US diplomatic staff.  As I mentioned in this previous blog post, our walled-and-guarded apartment complex and Nick's office are a bit removed from Tahrir Square, the locus of most of the violence.  Moreover, as one of the last program officers remaining at the USAID mission (due to turnover prior to the recent unrest, not from evacuations), Nick is rather essential to the mission's operations.  So for the time being he will remain at post.

Second things second....I've been asked a few times about whether this affects my plans to join Nick in Cairo in September.  The only answer I can give is that we just don't know yet.  We had just started the process of getting me to post -- securing my medical clearance, obtaining visas, etc --  when this all began.  For the time being we are proceeding as if this will all blow over and I will have no problem joining Nick in Cairo some time on/around September 10th.  If the situation deteriorates further or if Nick is evacuated...well, then he and I will have a chat and figure out what we do next.  But we'll cross that bridge if/when we get to it.

So for the time being we're sort of in a holding pattern, watching and waiting to see how the next 48-72 hours turn out. Limbo.  People have asked me how I'm handling the situation, and the only thing I can do is remind myself that this is beyond my control.  It's the military vs Morsi vs the people.  All Nick and I can do is ride the wave and wait for an outcome.