Military’s one-way ‘dialogue’ with youth groups falls apart

The much-awaited "dialogue" event between the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and revolutionary youth groups collapsed prematurely on Wednesday, after the various groups attending failed to engage in any meaningful dialogue.

The Union of Revolutionary Youth, which includes four political parties and 18 political movements, withdrew from the conference, saying that it had been ineffective.

The military council had organized the event in response to demands for more effective dialogue between the military and youth groups, and several youth groups agreed to attend, despite the military's apparent decision to leave the conference without a name or any agenda for debate.

Youth delegates say the program of events for the one-day conference consisted of a series of presentations on the achievements of the Egyptian military over the years, followed by a question-and-answer session, during which military officers answered questions put to them by youth activists. The military answered only five questions before the event was called off.

In organizing the event, the military had sent invitations to various youth groups, requesting that each group send ten delegates. However, many youth activists declined the invitation, being skeptical of the value of such a poorly planned event.

Some of those who did attend the conference-without-a-name said that they saw an unexpectedly high number of Muslim Brotherhood Youth there, which they interpetted as an attempt by the Islamists to dominate whatever discussions might take place.

“We were told that each political force should send no more than ten representatives to the meeting,” said Amr Hamed, a member of the Union of Revolutionary Youth. “But we found hundreds from the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious forces who spoilt the meeting.”

Prior to the event, Hamada al-Kashef, also of the Union of Revolutionary Youth, had shared his own concerns about the planned conference. "We still see the dialogue as blurry, with no specific topics on top of the agenda," he told Al-Masry Al-Youm, "and it is hard to really discuss anything among this massive number of people."

According to the military council's Facebook page, another such event is being planned for the near future.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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