Daily Briefing : Israel to Hold Fresh Elections/Whats Next for North Africa (May 30, 2019)

Algeria Protests 2019 2nd week (Source: Wikipedia)


Infuriating but Not Finishing Netanyahu, Liberman Drags Israel Back To The Polls

David Horovitz, The Times of Israel, May 30, 2019

After Bashir’s Fall, What’s Next for Sudan?:  Alberto Fernandez, RealClearWorld, Apr. 15, 2019 

Algeria And Morocco: Essential Differences:  Ahmed Charai, Jerusalem Post, May 15, 2019

Algeria: Russian Influence, American Opportunity?:  Debalina Ghoshal, Gatestone, May 30, 2019


Infuriating but Not Finishing Netanyahu, Liberman Drags Israel Back to The Polls
David Horovitz
The Times of Israel, May 30, 2019

For two years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been charging that his enemies are pursuing a “vendetta” to push him out of office. As criminal investigations against him gathered pace, he blamed the opposition, the media, the police, the state prosecution hierarchy, and the attorney general.

On Wednesday, he was proven right. But it was none of these purported antagonists who forced him, just 50 days after he appeared to win one general election, to call another because he was unable to form a majority coalition. It wasn’t one of the derided “leftists” upon whom Netanyahu has focused so much vitriol. Rather, the enemy pursuing the vendetta was his own former longtime aide, now his nemesis, Avigdor Liberman.

Furious as he spoke to reporters immediately after the Knesset had voted to disperse and call new elections on September 17, Netanyahu blamed “the personal ambition of one man” for dragging Israel back to the polls.

Liberman, his former PMO chief, foreign minister, and defense minister, never truly wanted to sign a coalition deal and deliberately rejected every compromise, Netanyahu stormed. Liberman, he declared, reaching for the most hideous insult he could find, “is now part of the left.”

What just happened?
Minutes earlier, before the fateful Knesset vote, Liberman had offered a very different narrative. He had wanted to join the coalition, he claimed. He had recommended to the president last month that Netanyahu be charged with forming the government. He had fully intended for his five-strong Yisrael Beytenu to be part of a Netanyahu-led 65-strong coalition in the 120-member Knesset.

All he had demanded was that legislation designed to raise the proportion of young ultra-Orthodox males serving in the army, a bill endorsed by the IDF itself and passed on a first reading 10 months ago, be fully and finally approved with no further changes.

But Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox parties had chosen not to meet this entirely reasonable demand, he lamented. Instead, the coalition negotiations had been a saga of “complete surrender by Likud to the ultra-Orthodox.” And while Yisrael Beytenu was a “natural partner” in a right-wing government, he said, “we won’t be partners in a government run according to halacha” — Jewish religious law.

Netanyahu’s version of events was slightly lacking. Israel did not necessarily have to be gearing up for new elections set for five months after the last round. Netanyahu could have simply reported to President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday that he’d been unable to form a majority coalition, and Rivlin could then have cast around for somebody else to have a try. But King Bibi had absolutely no intention of taking that risk; much better new elections, with a new bogeyman in the shape of Liberman to help him get out the vote, than giving Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz, Likud rival Gideon Sa’ar or any other pretender a clear run at the throne.

But if Netanyahu didn’t quite tell the full story, Liberman’s narrative was transparently false. The ultra-Orthodox draft legislation, whose every comma he so stirringly championed, would barely change the dismal reality in which the overwhelming majority of young Haredi males are exempt from the army. This is not a landmark law for which it was worth bringing down parliament one month after a fresh crop of legislators were sworn in.

Over recent years, he has leveled most every printable insult under the sun at Netanyahu, including but not limited to a liar, crook and cheat. It was his resignation as defense minister last November, when he accused the government of capitulating to Hamas terrorism, that led to April’s elections. In retrospect, it is a wonder that Netanyahu didn’t prioritize locking Liberman into his coalition as the first goal of these failed negotiations, given the Yisrael Beytenu chief’s animus and proven potential for wreaking political havoc. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]


After Bashir’s Fall, What’s Next for Sudan?
Alberto Fernandez
RealClearWorld, Apr. 15, 2019

To forge a better future, the country must break the vicious cycle of military rule followed by incompetent, corrupt rule under the same tired political class.

Sudan’s most successful regime—measured solely in terms of sheer survival and misery inflicted on its people—will not reach its thirtieth anniversary. It was on June 30, 1989, that an obscure Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) general named Omar al-Bashir overthrew the democratically elected government of Sadiq al-Mahdi. At least that is what it looked like from the outside. In reality, it was a hardcore Islamist coup-led by the urbane extremist Dr. Hassan al-Turabi working in cooperation with like-minded military elements. In an exquisite bit of theater, Turabi and some of his fellow plotters were detained at the beginning of the coup, creating confusion as to who was actually in charge and disguising the true nature of the resultant regime.

Over the years, however, it became abundantly clear that the Bashir regime was essentially an Islamist regime. If anyone wanted to see what would happen if a Muslim Brotherhood-type government established long-term leadership over an Arab country, Sudan is a better example than Hamas-ruled Gaza or Mohamed Morsi’s brief tenure in Egypt.

It is true that Bashir eventually turned on Turabi in 1999, but the doctor’s key Islamist lieutenants (e.g., Ali Osman Taha, Nafie Ali Nafie) continued to play an important role for years. Even as its rulers grew old and wealthy on ill-gotten gains, the regime continued to embrace political Islam, at least as a tool for maintaining popular credibility. Witness, for example, its prosecution of a British schoolteacher in the 2007 “Teddy Bear Muhammad” case, or its 2014 imprisonment of Christian citizen Meriam Ibrahim on apostasy charges.

On April 11, Sudan’s newly created interim military council released a statement announcing Bashir’s removal from power, but many questions were left unanswered. Aside from the figure reading the statement on national television—Defense Minister Awad Muhammad Ibn Auf, a fixture of the regime’s security apparatus—who else is in charge? The announcement mentioned the SAF, the police, the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as institutional participants in the transition, but which specific individuals hold the balance of power? Younger officers tend to share more in common with the thousands of citizens who have staged protests in Sudan for months, but do they have any sway over security decision-making?

As for Ibn Auf, he seems an unlikely reformer. In addition to facing U.S. sanctions stemming from the regime’s violent repression in Darfur, he is neither beloved nor strongly situated within the military. In fact, Bashir once purged him from the armed forces and sent him off to serve as ambassador to Oman before eventually rehabilitating him.

To be sure, the people are generally happy about the fact that the military has answered their call for Bashir’s departure. But many are concerned that the creation of an interim military council is a naked attempt to thwart the popular will and perpetuate control by the same bad actors who were complicit with Bashir’s rule—in other words, that it was less a coup removing a regime than a course correction within the same regime. That initial impression is understandable because the interim institutional authorities named thus far do not seem capable of meeting the aspirations of the long-suffering people of Sudan. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]


Algeria And Morocco: Essential Differences
Ahmed Charai
Jerusalem Post, May 15, 2019

City square-choking protests in Algiers and smaller parades of protesters in Morocco’s capital of Rabat have led some foreign observers to conclude that a new “Arab Spring” will soon topple governments in Algeria and Morocco.

In reality, Algeria and Morocco are more different than their banal similarities – neighboring North African nations that were once ruled by French colonials, who practice Sufi or “moderate” forms of Islam – would suggest. These nations have made very different political choices over the more than half-century since colonialism ended, established different institutions, and reacted to the dual crises of urban and rural unrest quite differently.

The current “revolution” in Algeria is a product of the first revolution in the 1960s and its immediate aftermath in 1962. The original revolutionary leaders, Abane Ramdane, Krim Belkasem, and many others, came from Algeria’s hot interior. They sought civilian control of the military and a focus on fighting rural poverty over foreign affairs. Once the French agreed to leave in 1962, the army went to work seizing power on behalf of urban and coastal tribes and other urban interests. The nomination of Ben Bella as Algeria’s first independent leader was the work of Houari Boumediene and Bouteflika, under the name of the Border Army. Today’s demonstrators say it clearly in their signs and speeches: They want to be governed by democratic, elected civilians and a return to original revolutionary vision that focused on jobs and development.

For a long time, Algeria was able to buy domestic peace by selling natural gas to Europe – eventually becoming one of its three largest suppliers – and used the funds to subsidize consumer goods, mainly fuel and food. With the collapse of gas prices in the 1980s, Algeria was forced to open politics to parties with no connections to the ruling clique. In the 1992 elections, the Islamists of the FIS clearly won. The army halted the vote-counting, igniting a 10-year civil war which left some 150,000 dead.

In reality, the ruling junta was left with an impossible task: embrace democracy and allow Iran-style radicals to seize power or put aside elections to wage a vicious civil war that proved to be far deadlier than the one waged by French forces in the 1950s and early 1960s. The civil war divided the country and left a few people genuinely supportive of the army. When the Arab Spring roiled nearby nations, Algeria remained largely unaffected due to massive repression and detailed memory of the army’s willingness to wage a brutal war against civilians.
Now, in 2019, this wall of fear has finally fallen. Eventually, short-term desperation overwhelms long-term fears of punishment or death.

Protests were triggered by Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term. The old leader is ailing and said to be partially paralyzed. He has not attended a cabinet meeting since 2016. Everyone knew that he was no more than a mask for a clique, whose support came mainly from the capital and a handful of seaside cities. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]


Algeria: Russian Influence, American Opportunity?
Debalina Ghoshal
Gatestone, May 30, 2019

The recent uprising in Algeria, which culminated early April at the end of Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s 20-year reign, is being touted as the North African nation’s belated “Arab Spring.” The outcome of the bloodless military coup, backed by the country’s growing population of disenfranchised youth, remains to be seen. But the United States should be paying close attention to how Russia, with its increasing moves on Africa in general and Algeria in particular, now proceeds.

Moscow, which had enjoyed close relations with Bouteflika, is observing the unfolding events in Algeria with caution, hoping that the changing political landscape in Algiers will not affect the defense cooperation that has been going on for decades, and which sharply increased in 2006. That was the year when Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to write off Algerian debt, on condition that Algiers purchase industrial goods, including military equipment, from Moscow.

Since then, Algeria has reportedly become Russia’s largest arms importer in Africa. This extensive trade arrangement, which has included the sale of tactical ballistic missiles, technologically advanced fighter jets, rocket launchers, tanks, air-defense systems, and submarines, was threatened last year, however, when U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). CAATSA, which imposes sanctions on countries that purchase military equipment from Russia, was created to counter anti-American activities on the part of Iran, North Korea, and Russia – the latter for annexing Crimea, supporting President Bashar Assad against the rebels in the Syrian civil war and for attempting to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

To avoid CAATSA sanctions, Algeria – which relies on Russian arms purchases relies on Russian arms purchases for its national defense — appealed last year to the U.S. for an exemption. Meanwhile, however, there are signs that Algiers is interested in improving its military relationship with the United States.

Algeria’s reliance on Russian weapons, according to a recent analysis in the National Interest,”… stems from a dark period in the country’s history, back when Islamic extremists murdered roughly two hundred thousand citizens while on a mission to create an Islamic state; the bloodbath lasted throughout the bulk of the 1990s. A military-to-military relationship with Russia was critical for Algeria at that juncture.”
Algeria’s ambassador to the U.S., Madjid Bouguerra, explained: “In the ’90s when we were facing the terrorist aggression none of the Western Countries accept to deliver to Algeria military equipment to help us combat the terrorists. They all thought that ‘It’s a civil war, and we don’t have to interfere in that.’ So, the only countries were China and Russia. So, we had to buy from them for our own sake, for the sake of our own national security.”

The current regime change in Algeria may be providing the U.S. with the perfect opportunity to shift the balance of power in the region away from Russia. (Or it may not.) Until now, due to the 1999 Leahy Law, the “State Department and Defense Department are barred from providing military assistance to countries with a history of human rights violations.” Algeria has an extremely poor record in this realm. Today, however — only if this unacceptable situation changes significantly — the United States might follow it closely and act accordingly.

On Topic Links
 Netanyahu Secretly Met Morocco’s Foreign Minister: Report: Al Jazeera, Feb. 18, 2019 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held secret talks with Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in September, US news website Axios has reported.
South Sudan and Israel: A Love Affair in a Changing Region?:  Haim Koren, MDC, Feb. 28, 2019 — From the beginning, it made strategic sense for Israel to provide military aid to rebels in South Sudan. 
Foreign Policy and National Security: The Hudson Institute C-Span, Video. The Hudson Institute hosted a conversation on U.S. foreign policy and global national security threats with Jake Sullivan, former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.
The Politics of Selling Weapons to Algeria:  Maggie Ybarra, The National Interest, May 7, 2019 — One of the biggest buyers of Russian weapons systems on the African continent wants the United States to revisit the restrictions that prevent it from buying military gear made in America.
Communauté Juive de Créteil – ACIP Créteil: Facebook, May 29, 2019, Video — Jared Kushner, son-in-law and advisor of the president of the United States Donald Trump, took advantage of his visit to Morocco to pilgrimage the tomb of Rabbi Haim Pinto zatsal. Mr. Kushner was accompanied by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto.