Tag: al-Sisi

IN SYRIA—RUSSIA WITHDRAWS, BUT PEACE UNLIKELY; IN EGYPT—AS ISRAEL RELATIONS IMPROVE, BARAKAT ASSASSINATION BLAMED ON HAMAS

So Much for Putin’s Syria ‘Quagmire’: Wall Street Journal, Mar. 14, 2016— After Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces to Syria in September, President Obama offered this prediction: “An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up [Bashar] Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work.”

Will the Syrian Ceasefire Last?: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 13, 2016— The cease-fire that came into effect in Syria on February 27 is a partial success. Humanitarian convoys have begun to get through to some of the areas besieged by government forces.

Hamas’ Terrorism in Egypt: Yoni Ben Menachem, JCPA, Mar. 10, 2016 — In recent weeks, senior Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip claimed that the movement’s relations with Egypt have improved somewhat thanks to contacts initiated by Hamas leaders.

The Israeli-Egyptian Love Affair: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Feb. 29, 2016— Egyptian parliament member and TV talk show host Tawfiq Okasha let the genie out of the bottle.

 

On Topic Links

 

Don't Trust Putin's Syria Pullback: Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, Mar. 14, 2016

The Strategy Behind Russia’s Moves in Syria: Nikolay Pakhomov, National Interest, Mar. 15, 2016

Hamas Pleads With Egypt: Stop Destroying Terror Tunnels: Ariella Mendlowitz, Breaking Israel News, Mar. 14, 2016

Shin Bet: Palestinian Oversaw Anti-Israeli Terror Group in Cairo: Ynet, Mar. 6, 2016

 

 

         SO MUCH FOR PUTIN’S SYRIA ‘QUAGMIRE’

Wall Street Journal, Mar. 14, 2016

 

After Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces to Syria in September, President Obama offered this prediction: “An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up [Bashar] Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work.”

 

As quagmires go, Mr. Putin will take it. On Monday he announced that Russia will begin withdrawing the “main part” of its forces in Syria having accomplished his strategic goals at little cost. Mr. Putin rescued Mr. Assad when Russia’s Middle Eastern client was in danger of falling and has put him in a much stronger position. Russia focused its bombing on Mr. Assad’s moderate Sunni opponents, not Islamic State. The bombing and Hezbollah’s ground forces have broken the opposition’s hold on Aleppo and consolidated a larger safe zone in the Syrian west for the Alawite regime.

 

Having established these facts on the ground, Mr. Assad is now well placed to exploit the U.S.-Russia brokered Syrian peace talks. Mr. Assad can continue his offensive against the opposition while making few diplomatic concessions. Mr. Putin has also consolidated his alliance with Iran while diminishing U.S. influence.

 

By withdrawing some forces, or at least appearing to, Mr. Putin is also hoping to coax concessions from the U.S. and Europe. The Russian wants the West to ease its sanctions against Russia for snatching Ukrainian territory, and he knows Mr. Obama is looking for a way get back to business as usual with Russia. The withdrawal announcement may be an attempt to give Mr. Obama diplomatic cover for one more “reset” in relations before Mr. Obama leaves the White House.

 

Russia’s intervention won’t end the Syrian civil war, and Islamic State still controls much of the country. But countering terrorism never was Mr. Putin’s goal. He wanted to show the world that Russia stands by its allies and to acquire new leverage in the Middle East and Europe. Any more such quagmires and he’ll be back sipping cocktails at the next G-8 summit.                  

 

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   WILL THE SYRIAN CEASEFIRE LAST?

Jonathan Spyer

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 13, 2016

                       

The cease-fire that came into effect in Syria on February 27 is a partial success. Humanitarian convoys have begun to get through to some of the areas besieged by government forces. The death toll is sharply down.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the civilian death toll in Syria fell by 90 percent last week. This was accompanied by an 80% decline in deaths among combatants on all sides.

 

“Proximity” talks between the sides are set to commence in Geneva on Wednesday. The government has announced it will attend. The opposition High Negotiations Committee has yet to make a final decision but will probably also be there.

So does the cease-fire in Syria represent the beginnings of an endgame in the long and bloody civil war which has racked the country since mid- 2011? This is a war in which, according to a recent report by the Damascus-based Syrian Center for Policy Research, up to 470,000 people have died. Fully 11.5% of the population have been killed or injured, and 45% have left their homes.

As of now, there remains very little chance of the implementation of the plan as outlined in Vienna last November for the diplomatic process in Syria. According to this plan, within six months of the commencement of negotiations, the sides are to establish a “credible, inclusive and nonsectarian” transitional government. This government will then set about drafting a new constitution and holding free and fair UN-supervised election within 18 months.

The tentative success of the February 27 cease-fire notwithstanding, this plan still sounds utterly unrealistic.
Its main stumbling block remains the core disagreement between regime and opposition over the future role of President Bashar Assad. For the opposition, any role for Assad in the course of the transition remains utterly unacceptable. For Assad, riding high on the results of the Russian intervention which began in September last year, there is no reason to compromise or contemplate departure. On the contrary, the Syrian dictator bullishly (and absurdly) announced this week that parliamentary elections will take place across Syria on April 13.

Since the officially sanctioned diplomatic process remains somewhat other- worldly, and yet the cease-fire has not been a total failure, what direction are events likely to take? As of now, Syria has fragmented, and a host of related conflicts are taking place over its ruins. The Russian intervention has effectively removed from the table the possibility of the military destruction of the dictatorship.

For this to be achieved, an air force capable of besting that of the Russians, who guarantee Assad’s survival, would need to enter the fray. Such air power is possessed only by the US. Washington has absolutely no intention of acting as the air wing of the Syrian Sunni rebels, in a way analogous to that of the Russians vis-à-vis the regime. Since this is likely to remain the case, it follows that there is no longer any credible military threat to the continued existence of the Assad regime in its enclave in Damascus, in the western coastal area, in the cities of western Syria and in the areas linking them.

This being said, it remains the case that a regime reconquest of the entirety of Syria also remains unlikely. Assad, in a recent interview, declared this to be his goal. But it is unlikely that the actual forces that could conceivably achieve this goal for him – Russian air power and Iranian proxies on the ground – are interested in pursuing it.

 

Iran is withdrawing Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps personnel from northwest Syria. The immediate goal of preventing any threat to the regime has been achieved. The Iranian regime does not appear to wish to commit its own forces to the mutual slaughterhouse that a campaign to reconquer all of rebel and Sunni jihadist-controlled Syria would entail.

The Russians, too, appear wary of a long and grinding campaign of reconquest. With a devalued ruble and very low oil prices, it is not clear that they could sustain the necessary expenditure. Again, the goal of the Russian campaign appears to have been to preserve the regime enclave, not to enter an all-out assault for the reunification of Syria by military means.

Even Assad himself may be aware that an attempt at reunifying the country under his rule would bring back the original dilemma that caused his withdrawal in the first place. Assad does not possess sufficient forces to securely govern those areas that reject his rule. The Russian intervention has not altered this core reality. Russia wants to see the removal of Ukraine-related sanctions on it, and to be treated as a world power. Backing its allies and ensuring their survival forms a part of this. An ongoing bloody campaign of reconquest is unlikely to do so.

So if the disparate rebellion can’t beat Assad, and if Assad is unlikely to achieve or even try for a knockout blow against the rebellion, and if there is no basis for a negotiated settlement, doesn’t that mean that the diplomacy is doomed, the cease-fire bound to be short-lived, and a return to full blown conflict inevitable? Maybe, but not necessarily. It is worth remembering that there are two other vital players on the Syrian map, apart from the Assad regime and the Sunni Arab rebellion. The two other elements are the Kurds, and Islamic State. As of now, a Western-backed military alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is making steady headway against Islamic State. If this progress can continue, the prospect opening up in Syria will be for a Russian-guaranteed, Assad-ruled west, and a US-guaranteed east, in which Islamic State has either been destroyed or is in the process of eclipse.

On this basis, with neither side able to dislodge the other and neither side having an obvious interest in continued conflict (or with each side deterred by inescapable realities if they do), it is possible to imagine the beginning of a diplomatic process based on the emergence of a confederal or de facto divided Syria.

Such an outcome is, of course, not certain, but it is possible. If it does not emerge, the bloodletting in Syria is likely to recommence with full force in the future, and the current cease-fire to be remembered as little more than a brief respite.

 

 

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           HAMAS’ TERRORISM IN EGYPT

Yoni Ben Menachem             

                        JCPA, Mar. 10, 2016

 

In recent weeks, senior Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip claimed that the movement’s relations with Egypt have improved somewhat thanks to contacts initiated by Hamas leaders. However, an announcement by the Egyptian Interior Ministry on March 6, 2016, sharply rebuffed such claims. In a press conference, the Egyptian interior minister, General Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, declared that Egyptian security forces had arrested a network of 48 Muslim Brotherhood terror operatives responsible for the assassination of Egyptian Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat and that Hamas had played a “major role” in training the operatives.  

 

Barakat was killed by a car bomb directed at his convoy as it passed through central Cairo. A short time after the murder, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stated: “The order to kill the prosecutor general came from the prison cells of accused Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Egypt,” while official Egyptian media claimed that the order had been given by ousted and jailed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. The Balad Egyptian TV channel cited an Egyptian security expert who said the explosives used in the attack had been brought to Egypt from Qatar through diplomatic mail channels of the Qatari embassy in Egypt. Both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood maintain offices in Qatar.

 

On March 6, 2016, the Egyptian interior minister announced that Barakat’s assassination had been planned by Muslim Brotherhood leaders who had found political asylum in Turkey and that the terrorists had been trained by Hamas. Hamas, he said, had played a “major role” in training and preparing the perpetrators over a period of three months. That claim was bolstered by electronic communications between Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Turkey that were intercepted by Egypt.

 

The Egyptian operatives had been trained in northern Sinai and then brought into Gaza with the help of Bedouin residents. At the end of the training, they returned to Sinai where they prepared the explosives for the attack. The Egyptian Interior Ministry said the terror operatives who were apprehended also planned to attack several public figures as well as foreign embassies in Egypt, with the aim of destabilizing the country.

 

In its statement, the Interior Ministry asserted: “The Palestinian problem is one issue and what Hamas perpetrates is another. The connection with Hamas will be shown from its involvement in the prosecutor general affair.” Hamas was surprised by the Egyptian announcement. The movement’s spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, issued a statement denying the Egyptian claims. “The allegations,” it said, “are not true and not consistent with the efforts that have been invested in developing ties with Egypt.” This is not the first time Egypt has accused Hamas of terror activity within Egypt in cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is Hamas’ parent movement.

 

Egyptian authorities say Hamas is also actively assisting Wilayat Sinai, the Islamic State movement’s branch in northern Sinai, and that this aid involves training its operatives in Gaza and treating its wounded fighters in Gaza hospitals. In return, Wilayat Sinai helps Hamas smuggle weapons into Gaza from Sinai.

 

The timing of the Egyptian announcement on Hamas and Turkey’s connection with the prosecutor general’s murder is not coincidental. Egypt is now under pressure from Saudi Arabia to agree to a Turkish foothold in Gaza, linked to the easing of the blockade and the building of a floating seaport that would enable Turkish ships to reach the Gaza Strip. The Egyptians strongly oppose Turkey’s demand because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed by Egypt, and because of Hamas’ involvement in terror within Egypt. The highlighting of Turkey and Hamas’ connection with the Muslim Brotherhood terror gang that assassinated the prosecutor general helps Egypt rebuff the Saudi pressures.

 

Hamas is gravely perplexed by the Egyptian interior minister’s announcement. The movement pins great hopes on Turkey’s efforts to get Israel to ease the blockade on Gaza and build the floating seaport in return for normalization of Turkish-Israeli relations. What Hamas fears is that Egypt will torpedo Turkey’s efforts regarding Gaza so that it can tighten the blockade and control the Strip’s borders along with Israel. Hamas also fears that Egypt will decide to declare it, too, a terror organization, just as the Gulf States declared Hizbullah to be one on March 2, 2016. The Arab interior ministers’ meeting in Tunisia also came out in support of the move against Hizbullah.

 

About a year ago, the Egypt government responded to insistent pleading by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and some Arab states by canceling a court ruling in Egypt that had declared Hamas a terror organization. At this stage, however, the government will likely reinitiate such a move against Hamas. A lawsuit against Hamas was filed by an Egyptian lawyer and is due to be heard in the Alexandria Court of Urgent Matters on March 23, 2016.

 

Meanwhile, Egypt is rejecting Hamas’ requests for a permanent opening of the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only egress to the Arab world. Since Sisi took office Egypt has opened the crossing for only a few days each year. The aim is to pressure the Hamas government, which is working with radical Islamic forces to undermine the Egyptian regime.

 

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        THE ISRAELI-EGYPTIAN LOVE AFFAIR

Ben Caspit                                        

   Al-Monitor, Feb. 29, 2016

 

Egyptian parliament member and TV talk show host Tawfiq Okasha let the genie out of the bottle. Even though a shoe was thrown in his face by Kamel Ahmed, another parliament member, and despite the savage attacks directed at him in the Egyptian media and public forum in recent days, the sharp-tongued, brazen Okasha doesn’t get excited. His crime was defined by the media as “the crime of normalization,” for the fact that he invited Haim Koren, Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, to his house for dinner on Feb. 24. Okasha even heaped praises on the ambassador and on the collaboration and normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt.

 

Okasha wouldn’t have dared to invite Koren without a wink from someone upstairs. He knows that Egypt’s higher stratums — from the president to the regime’s high echelons, the military, intelligence and the elites — view Israel as an important, powerful ally in regional struggles. But “the other Egypt,” the lower echelons, have not yet internalized this change. The masses, together with most of the politicians, public opinion leaders, journalists and writers still view the Jewish state as a type of satanic entity: the eternal, mythological and hated enemy. And they see no reason to moderate their view of the Jewish state at this time.

 

The peace agreement between Israel and Egypt was signed in March 1979, almost 37 years ago on the White House lawn, at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Menachem Begin, US President Jimmy Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The agreement has survived many vicissitudes over the years and demonstrates impressive stability, but has no effect on the lives of the Egyptian masses. Normalization does not exist; Egyptian citizens were barred from visiting Israel by the mukhabarat (Egyptian secret service). Any flash or hint of any kind of cooperation with official Israeli sources, any clue of an Israeli presence in culture, films or literature immediately encounters a barbed-wire wall of invectives, vituperation and violence from all sides.

 

The stormy love affair between Egypt and Israel is dramatic and clandestine. Israel’s military censorship forbids dissemination of exact details of the deepening cooperation between the states. It was actually Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in an interview with the Washington Post in March 2015, who said that he speaks to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu frequently, sometimes several times a month. In reality, Sisi talks to Netanyahu even more than that, and not only to Netanyahu. On the list of Egypt’s close allies, Israel’s name is a front-runner. It is almost unprecedented how so many of the interests of the two countries have converged and complement one another. Even the list of enemies held by Israel and Egypt includes the same names, more or less.

 

It is very convenient for Sisi to secretly enjoy the fruits of Israel’s intelligence, experience and power, while publically allowing his nation’s masses to curse and abuse Israel as an anger-channeling tool and a type of demon or scapegoat that can be blamed for all of Egypt’s socio-economic problems. Nonetheless, it is clear that the closeness between Sisi and Israel’s highest echelons is not a superficial one. “Sisi understands the situation,” said a high-ranking Israeli security source speaking on condition of anonymity. “He knows exactly whom he can trust in the region and whom he can’t. He knows what’s good for Egypt and, under the correct circumstances, what’s good for Egypt is also good for Israel.”

 

Following the incident in which Koren dined at Okasha’s table, the Israeli ambassador told Channel 10 that he himself met personally with Sisi recently a number of times. This, too, is unprecedented. Until the Sisi era, Israeli ambassadors in Egypt were ostracized outcasts: They were holed up in an isolated embassy, totally cut off from the country around them. They spent their weekends in Israel in order to breathe some fresh air and mingle with other people. Suddenly, the Israeli ambassador has become a welcome, frequent guest in the Egyptian president’s premises. Sisi, who long served as a general, himself is well-acquainted with, and close to, Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot. They once served in parallel positions in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Egyptian army. Thus, their cooperation extends over many years, and they share a common language and mutual respect. Sisi and his generals also share close relationships with the IDF higher-ups.

 

For the first time in many generations, intelligence information is almost totally shared between the sides, mainly with regard to the struggle against the Islamic State (IS) branch in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel and Egypt rely on one another in their joint struggle against Hamas and IS. “As far as the Egyptians are concerned,” a senior Israeli military source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “the Muslim Brotherhood is comparable to the Nazis. Hamas is perceived as an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood; thus, they are viewed as an enemy that must be destroyed. The Islamic State has joined this equation recently, and they share the exact same rubric.”

 

For many long years, Israel begged the Egyptians to block Hamas’ tunnels — tunnels that allowed Gaza to become a veritable storehouse of weapons, rockets and missiles. Under former President Hosni Mubarak, and also under his successor, Mohammed Morsi, Egypt almost didn’t lift a finger. Egypt's actions were half-hearted and had little effect on reality. By contrast, Sisi adopted this mission with great zeal, and the Egyptians destroyed all of the tunnels. Some were flooded with ocean water and some were blocked up. They did this out of unmistakable Egyptian interests: Intelligence information, some of which came from Israel, point to tight coordination between Hamas and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in Sinai, which turned into a local branch of IS. Sisi declared an all-out war on IS, and he could not have made any achievements without the great assistance he received from Israel, in many different spheres. According to a high-placed Israeli military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, “The efficacy of the Egyptian army in its war against IS is gradually improving. This is true for intelligence, for preciseness and for rapid response. The Egyptians know that Gaza’s Hamas provides IS with military experts, they know that wounded Sinai IS operatives are treated in Gaza, they know that there is a direct, close connection between the sides. Thus, they try to block all passageways between the Gaza Strip and Sinai.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

On Topic

 

Don't Trust Putin's Syria Pullback: Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, Mar. 14, 2016—President Vladimir Putin's unexpected announcement that Russian troops would pull back from Syria shouldn't be taken at face value: He's made similar announcements in the past to show Western negotiating partners how constructive he can be. He always has a hidden agenda.

The Strategy Behind Russia’s Moves in Syria: Nikolay Pakhomov, National Interest, Mar. 15, 2016 —When the Russian bombing campaign started in Syria last fall, one could assume that Moscow's actions would begin to reveal more about the country’s foreign policy. This assumption is proving to be correct now, after President Putin announced the withdrawal of Russia's main forces. Moscow’s actions in Syria over the last half year have clarified both the guidelines of Russian foreign policy and how they help in dealing with very complicated problems of the Middle East.

Hamas Pleads With Egypt: Stop Destroying Terror Tunnels: Ariella Mendlowitz, Breaking Israel News, Mar. 14, 2016—Hamas on Sunday sent a delegation to Egypt in an effort to beseech Egyptian security officials to stop destroying its tunnels out of Gaza. These terror tunnels, employed by the terrorist group for nearly a decade, are used to store weapons, smuggle supplies, and infiltrate enemy territory – Israel – as well as carry out surprise attacks in which people are killed and soldiers abducted.

Shin Bet: Palestinian Oversaw Anti-Israeli Terror Group in Cairo: Ynet, Mar. 6, 2016—Israel arrested in January a Palestinian who allegedly moved to Egypt in 2007 in order to found a terrorist cell dedicated to attacking Israel, it was cleared for publication on Sunday. Najib Mustafa Nizal, 33, was a resident of Qatabiya until moving to Egypt, supposedly for school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

MUBARAK ACQUITTED, BROAD ANTI-TERROR LAWS PLANNED: “DEEP STATE” RETURNS TO EGYPT

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

Sisi Regime Shows Confidence as ‘Deep State’ Returns to Egypt's Political Landscape: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2014— The acquittal of former president Hosni Mubarak, his sons, and other close aides demonstrates that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has settled comfortably in power and marks the return of the deep state.

Egypt’s War on Terrorism: Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 6, 2014— The tentacles of Islamic State (IS), already coiled around large areas of northern Iraq and Syria, are now reaching out as far as northern Sinai. 

Egypt's War on Terrorism: World's Double Standards: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 3, 2014 — Three months after the military conformation between Hamas and Israel, the Egyptians are also waging their own war on terrorism in north Sinai.

Hunger Growls in Egypt: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Oct. 3, 2014— Egypt, famed for millennia as the “breadbasket of the Mediterranean,” now faces alarming food shortages. A startlingly candid report in Cairo’s Al-Ahram newspaper by Gihan Shahine, titled “Food for Stability,” makes clear the extent of the crisis.

 

On Topic Links

 

Mubarak ‘Not Guilty’ Ruling Signals the End of Egypt’s Arab Spring: Araminta Wordsworth, National Post, Dec. 1, 2014

“Terrorism” in Egypt: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 1, 2014

Egypt Plans Blanket Anti-Terrorism Law Against 'Disrupting Order': Stuart Wilner, Times of Israel, Nov. 26, 2014

In Egypt, Jihadists Release Video of an October Attack: Kareem Fahim & Merna Thomas, New York Times, Nov. 15, 2014

                                                  

                   

SISI REGIME SHOWS CONFIDENCE AS ‘DEEP STATE’

RETURNS TO EGYPT'S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE                                   

Ariel Ben Solomon                                                                                                        

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2014

 

The acquittal of former president Hosni Mubarak, his sons, and other close aides demonstrates that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has settled comfortably in power and marks the return of the deep state. The term “deep state” refers to a group of powerful nondemocratic leaders who, though they may be concealed under layers of bureaucracy, are actually in control of the country. To be sure, Sisi has smartly led the important Arab state from the depth of riots, terrorist attacks, economic crisis and outside pressures, but the style and makeup, if not the policies, of the government are reminiscent of Mubarak’s regime.

 

The fact of the matter is that the Mubarak trial was bound to be based not on a strict reading of the evidence but on the wishes of the regime in power. Muslim Brotherhood spokeswoman Wafaa Hefni admitted as much, saying that if former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi were in power, the ruling would have been different, the Daily News Egypt reported. Arab politics is a matter of winner take all, and the court verdicts can be considered as Sisi’s coattails. In March, Robert Springborg argued in an article for the BBC that the Mubarak era personalities were key to Sisi’s consolidation of power. “At present, [Sisi] he is relying on the military, other elements of the deep state and Mubarak-era technocrats to manage his campaign, thereby suggesting he hopes to rule as a sort of presidential version of King Abdullah II of Jordan or King Muhammad VI of Morocco, balancing off the various political parties and forces under him while relying on the deep state for the essence of his rule.”

 

“The Mubarak trial was a classical political trial,” Prof. Yoram Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told The Jerusalem Post. “It was impossible to separate the trial and the political context in Egypt,” he said. Sisi’s regime is largely a continuation of the governing mechanism introduced by Mubarak, but following his fall, processes of dramatic political change took place, and this trial is not going to be the final word on the 2011 January Revolution, asserted Meital. Of course, the verdict is a serious blow for the supporters of the revolution, which opposed the return of an authoritarian regime, argued Meital. “The popular uprising that toppled Mubarak created a new reality in Egypt and planted a new political consciousness among many sectors, particularly the younger generation,” Meital said. “The court’s decision pours oil on the fire of this struggle,” as Egyptian society “is divided in an unprecedented way and the court’s decision regarding Mubarak intensifies the polarization and could lead to further escalation between the regime and the opposition,” Meital added.

 

Zvi Mazel, who served as Israel’s sixth ambassador to Egypt and today is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a contributor to the Post, said that it is too simple to say that Egypt has gone back to Mubarak’s regime. “Sisi is different. He wants to reform Egypt, and he is working on it,” said Mazel, adding, “Mubarak wanted only calm and stability and wasted his tenure.” By contrast, Sisi has promised to maintain basic freedoms through law as he modernizes the country. That the court was able to acquit Mubarak signals that “Egypt has reached a new phase,” Mazel said, as the revolutionary period was emotionally charged with Egyptians seeking vengeance for the failure and poverty that the former president represented. After almost four years of violence, said Mazel, Egyptians are tired after having succeeded in ousting the Muslim Brotherhood regime, preventing “a religious dictatorship.” Now, people want stability and economic development and have faith in Sisi, who is doing a great job so far, asserted Mazel.

 

Regarding the trial, Mazel said that protesters were not killed during the first days but only after the Muslim Brotherhood intervened and attacked the police and public institutions. “In 2012 the court gave a verdict under pressure of the revolution; now – according to the evidence,” said Mazel, pointing out: “Everyone knows that Mubarak was not [former Iraqi president] Saddam Hussein or [former Libyan president] Muammar Gaddafi.” It is true that his police tortured citizens and he did not tackle the social-economic problems of Egypt, but he didn’t just kill people, argued the former Israeli ambassador. Mazel predicts that the Brotherhood will use his acquittal to say that the Mubarak regime has returned. “But this is not the situation,” he said.

                                                                       

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EGYPT’S WAR ON TERRORISM                                                                  

Neville Teller                                             

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 6, 2014  

 

The tentacles of Islamic State (IS), already coiled around large areas of northern Iraq and Syria, are now reaching out as far as northern Sinai.  Egypt's most active militant group is Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and whether or not it is formally allied with IS and its leader, the self-styled caliph of all Muslims – contradictory reports about that have recently appeared in the press – it is certainly closely aligned to IS, whose objectives it backs, and whose methods it copies. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which attempted to kill the interior minister in Cairo in 2013 in a car bomb attack, has issued videos of the beheading of captives.  It claimed responsibility for the bomb attack in Sinai in September, when at least 11 policemen were killed in a convoy travelling through village of Wefaq, near the Gaza border. 

 

Based on intercepted phone calls and text messages, Egyptian security officials recently claimed to have uncovered requests for aid from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis to IS.  According to this intelligence, the Sinai-based terror group requested the IS senior leadership to send trained members to Sinai to help carry out terrorist attacks. On Friday, October 24, two attacks in the Sinai peninsula killed 33 Egyptian security personnel.  In the first, in the al-Kharouba area northwest of al-Arish, near the Gaza Strip, 30 people were killed and more than 25 wounded. Among them were several senior officers from Egypt’s Second Field Army based in Ismailia.  One Sinai-based official said a rocket-propelled grenade was used to target two armored vehicles loaded with ammunition and heavy weapons, at a checkpoint near an army installation. Later, gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint in al-Arish, killing three members of the security forces.

 

Together the two attacks produced the biggest loss of life in decades for Egypt's army, which has been carrying out an offensive against jihadists in northern Sinai. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared three days of national mourning, during which state television displayed black ribbons on screen. Following a meeting of the National Defence Council, he also imposed a three-month state of emergency in the north and center of the Sinai peninsula where the violence took place, and closed Egypt's Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip. In short, Egypt now acknowledges that the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has become one of the region's main exporters of terrorism, and is mounting a major offensive aimed at overcoming the threat and re-establishing effective control. Its aim is to establish a security buffer zone along its shared border with Gaza to prevent terrorists from using smuggling tunnels to launch attacks on Egyptian soldiers and civilians. The Egyptian army's security crackdown includes imposing a curfew on the region, closing the Rafah crossing into Gaza, demolishing hundreds of houses along the border with the Gaza Strip and transferring thousands of people to new locations.  In other words – words familiar from their frequent use in castigating Israel – the Egyptians are tightening their blockade on Gaza and collectively punishing not only Hamas, but the Palestinians living there…

 

Meanwhile, following the firing of a rocket from Gaza into southern Israel on November 2 – the second since the end of Operation Protective Edge on August 26 – Israel has also closed the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings to Gaza “until the security situation allows their reopening”, according to an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesperson, who added that the closure was not meant as a punitive measure, but to protect people working at or passing through the crossings. Emergency humanitarian goods would continue to be allowed through. Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzouk declared that the Israeli closure of the crossings violates the cease-fire agreement which ended Operation Protective Edge, and called the decision “a childish and irresponsible act. This is collective punishment that is being imposed on the Gaza Strip.”  But Hamas leaders like the Egyptian actions even less.  On November 2 they appealed to the Egyptian authorities to reopen the Rafah border crossing, warning that the continued blockade on the Gaza Strip was in violation of the Egyptian-engineered cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.  Eyad al-Bazam, spokesman for Hamas’s Interior Ministry, pointed out that the closure of the Rafah terminal was preventing Palestinians with humanitarian cases from leaving the Gaza Strip.

 

However, Egypt is convinced that the two-pronged attack on October 24 that killed 33 soldiers was the work of Palestinian militants based in Gaza.  Egypt’s Major General Sameeh Beshadi told the Arab newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, that there was “no doubt that Palestinian elements had taken part in the attacks."  According to Beshadi, the militants, who infiltrated Sinai via tunnels linking the peninsula to the Gaza Strip, prepared the booby-trapped vehicle used to attack the army checkpoint near El Arish. The use of rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, he asserted, was proof that this attack, like all the large-scale attacks in the area in recent years "involved well-trained Palestinian elements."

 

Just at the moment Hamas needs Egypt much more than Egypt needs Hamas.  Hamas’s ability to emerge with any credit from its latest conflict with Israel is dependent on the outcome of the indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks on the Gaza truce, being brokered by Egypt in Cairo. It must therefore feel very uncomfortable with the result of the recent terrorist outrage in Sinai – namely, Egypt’s postponement of the latest round of talks until late-November.  This may explain why Hamas has denied that its operatives were responsible for firing the rocket that hit the Eshkol region of southern Israel last week, and has arrested five men it accuses of the attack. Perhaps Egypt can succeed where Israel has notably failed – in convincing the leaders of Hamas that terrorism is a two-edged weapon that can bring an unwelcome retribution down on its perpetrators.                                                                       

                                                                       

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EGYPT'S WAR ON TERRORISM:

WORLD'S DOUBLE STANDARDS                                                        

Khaled Abu Toameh                                                                                                     

Gatestone Institute, Nov. 3, 2014

                            

Three months after the military conformation between Hamas and Israel, the Egyptians are also waging their own war on terrorism in north Sinai. But Egypt's war, which began after Islamist terrorists butchered 33 Egyptian soldiers, does not seem to worry the international community and human rights organizations, at least not as much as Israel's operation to stop rockets and missiles from being fired into it from the Gaza Strip.

 

The Egyptian army's security crackdown includes the demolition of hundreds of houses along the border with the Gaza Strip and the transfer of thousands of people to new locations. Egypt's goal is to establish a security buffer zone along its shared border with the Gaza Strip in order to prevent terrorists from using smuggling tunnels to launch attacks on Egyptian soldiers and civilians. In other words, the Egyptians are tightening the blockade on the Gaza Strip and collectively punishing the Palestinians living there, not only Hamas.

 

All this is happening before eyes of the international community and media. Nonetheless, the UN Security Council has not been asked to hold an emergency meeting to condemn what some Egyptian human rights activists describe as the "transfer" and "displacement" of hundreds of families in Sinai. Egyptian lawyer and human rights activist Gamal Eid said that the Egyptian security measures were "unconstitutional." He noted that Article 63 of the Egyptian constitution prohibits the forcible and arbitrary transfer of citizens in all forms. Egyptian security experts warned this week that the "displacement" of Sinai residents would not stop terrorist attacks on the Egyptian police and army.

 

Former General Safwat al-Zayyat said he expected the terrorists to intensify their attacks not only in Sinai but also in other parts of Egypt, including Cairo, to prove that the Egyptian army's measures are ineffective. He also predicted that the transfer of thousands of families and the demolition of their homes would play into the hands of the terrorists. Egyptian activist Massad Abu Fajr wrote on his Facebook page that the forcible eviction of families from their homes in Egypt was tantamount to a "declaration of war by the Egyptian authorities" on the three largest and powerful clans in Sinai. He too predicted that the security crackdown would boomerang and further strengthen the terrorists.

 

But what is perhaps more worrying is the fear that the unprecedented security clampdown in Egypt will drive Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip to resume their attacks on Israel. The Egyptians, of course, are entitled to wage a ruthless war on the various terror groups that have long been operating in Sinai. However, by tightening the blockade on the Gaza Strip, the Egyptians are also giving Hamas and Islamic Jihad an excuse to resume their attacks on Israel. The two Palestinian terror groups are not going to retaliate by attacking Egypt. They know that Egypt's response to such an attack would be more severe than Israel's military response. That explains why Hamas and other Palestinian groups have been cautious in their response to Egypt's measures — no condemnations or protests thus far. In fact, Hamas is already in a state of panic in the wake of allegations by some Egyptians that Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were involved in the killing of the soldiers in Sinai.

 

Once again, Egyptian journalists are calling on their president to go after Hamas in response to the Sinai attack. A previous attack on Egyptian soldiers in Sinai earlier this year prompted similar calls. Reham Noaman, a prominent Egyptian journalist, called on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to "crush" Hamas and its armed wing, Ezaddin al-Qassam. "Israel is not better than us," she said. "When Israel wants to hit Hamas because of a rocket that is not worth a penny, it does not seek permission from the Security Council."

 

The Egyptians have finally realized that the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has become one of the region's main exporters of terrorism. Israel reached this conclusion several years ago, when Hamas and other terror groups began firing rockets and missiles at Israeli communities. The Egyptians have also come to learn that the smuggling tunnels along their shared border with the Gaza Strip work in both directions. In the past, the Egyptians believed that the tunnels were being used only to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip. Now, however, they are convinced that these tunnels are also being used to smuggle weapons and terrorists out of the Gaza Strip. Now that the Egyptians have chosen completely to seal off their border with the Gaza Strip, the chances of another military confrontation between Hamas and Israel have increased. Hamas will undoubtedly try to break out of its increased isolation by initiating another war with Israel.

 

The Egyptians, for their part, are not going to mind if another war breaks out between the Palestinians and Israel — as long as the military confrontation is taking place on the other side of the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt. And of course, the international community will once again rush to accuse Israel of "genocide" against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Needless to say, the international community will continue to ignore Egypt's bulldozing hundreds of homes and the forcible eviction of thousands of people in Sinai. If anything, the Egyptian security crackdown in Sinai has once again exposed the double standards of the international community toward the war on terrorism. While it is fine for Egypt to demolish hundreds of houses and forcibly transfer thousands of people in the name of the war on terrorism, Israel is not allowed to fire back at those who launch rockets and missiles at its civilians.

 

                                                                       

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HUNGER GROWLS IN EGYPT                                                                                  

Daniel Pipes

Washington Times, Oct. 6, 2014

 

Egypt, famed for millennia as the “breadbasket of the Mediterranean,” now faces alarming food shortages. A startlingly candid report in Cairo’s Al-Ahram newspaper by Gihan Shahine, titled “Food for Stability,” makes clear the extent of the crisis. To begin, two anecdotes: Although compelled by her father to marry a cousin who could afford to house and feed her, Samar, 20, reports that they “have only had fried potatoes and aubergines for dinner most of the week.” Her sisters, 10 and 13, who left school to take up work, are losing weight and suffer chronic anemia. Manual, a nurse and single mother of four, cannot feed her children. “In the past, we used to stuff cabbage with rice and eat that when we did not have any money. But now even this sometimes can be unaffordable because of rising prices. Our children were always malnourished, but it’s getting even worse.”

 

These children are not unusual: According to the United Nations World Food Program, malnutrition stunts 31 percent of Egyptian children between six months and five years of age, one of the highest rates in the world. The World Food Program also found in 2009 that malnutrition reduced Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP) by about 2 percent. One in five Egyptians faces food insecurity and “a growing number of people can’t afford to purchase enough nutritious food,” according to Australia’s Future Directions International. To fill their stomachs, Egypt’s poor rely on low-nutrition, calorie-dense foods (such as the infamous all-starch kushari) that cause both nutritional deficiencies and obesity. Also, 5.2 percent of the population is actually going hungry, an Egyptian state agency, CAPMAS, reports.

 

Many factors contribute to Egypt’s hunger crisis. Going from the deepest to the most superficial, these include: Flawed government policies: Cairo has consistently favored urban over rural areas, leading to reduced agricultural research, a lack of financial support, private-sector monopolies, cockeyed subsidies, smuggling, corruption and black markets. Farmers suffer from shortages of expensive yet inferior seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. Most pernicious of all has been the reduction in cultivated land owing to the government’s complicity in unconstrained and illegal residential sprawl.

 

Reliance on food imports: Historically self-sufficient, Egypt now, according to Future Directions International, imports 60 percent of its food. The country remains largely self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables, but depends heavily on foreign grains, sugar, meat and edible oils. Egypt imports two-thirds of its wheat (10 million tons of a total of 15 million, making it the world’s largest importer of wheat), 70 percent of its beans, and 99 percent of its lentils. Not coincidentally, lentil cultivation has dropped from 85,000 acres to below 1,000 acres. Largesse from friendly oil-exporting states of about $20 billion in 2013 has been crucial to fund food imports, but one must wonder for how long this subsidy will continue.

 

Poverty: Such dependence on fluctuating international markets is ever more risky as Egypt becomes increasingly destitute. The previous average of 6.2 percent real GDP growth fell to 2.1 percent in 2012-13, the World Food Program reports. Unemployment stands at about 19 percent. The cotton harvest, once the pride of Egypt, saw a production decline of more than 11 percent in a single marketing year, 2012 to 2013. Twenty-eight percent of young people live in poverty and 24 percent live just above the poverty line, CAPMAS reports, an increase of 1 percent in a single year.

 

Water scarcity: The gift of the Nile is already insufficient by 20 billion cubic meters annually because of such factors as a growing population and inefficient irrigation, reducing Egypt’s food production, and with new dams under construction on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, yet more severe shortages will follow within the decade.

 

Recent crises: Future Directions International notes “the avian influenza epidemic in 2006, the food, fuel and financial crises of 2007-09, the 2010 global food-price spike, and the economic deterioration caused by political instability since the 2011 Revolution.”

 

Can the new government of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi respond in time to reverse these calamitous trends? I am pessimistic. Millions of volatile Cairenes have far greater political clout than the more numerous farmers quietly tending their fields. Moreover, urgent issues — from discontented factory workers to a Muslim Brotherhood rebellion to a Hamas-Israel cease-fire — invariably distract the leadership’s attention from long-term systemic crises such as food production. Starvation in Egypt is yet another of the Middle East’s many deep, endemic problems — problems which outsiders cannot solve, only protect themselves from.

 

Daniel Pipes is a CIJR Academic Fellow

 

 

Contents           

 

On Topic

 

Mubarak ‘Not Guilty’ Ruling Signals the End of Egypt’s Arab Spring: Araminta Wordsworth, National Post, Dec. 1, 2014—Since the heady days of the 2011 Arab Spring, they’ve gone from the military dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, through democracy of a kind with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, and back to military dictatorship under Mubarak sidekick Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

“Terrorism” in Egypt: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 1, 2014—There are acts of terror in Egypt, and there are terrorists–including some linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Egypt Plans Blanket Anti-Terrorism Law Against 'Disrupting Order': Stuart Wilner, Times of Israel, Nov. 26, 2014—Egypt's cabinet approved on Wednesday a draft anti-terrorism law that would give the government blanket power to ban groups on charges ranging from harming national unity to disrupting public order.

In Egypt, Jihadists Release Video of an October Attack: Kareem Fahim & Merna Thomas, New York Times, Nov. 15, 2014 — Egypt’s most lethal jihadist group has released a video that appears to show its militants carrying out an attack that killed more than 31 soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula last month, raising new questions about the readiness of the government’s troops to confront the insurgency.

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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EGYPT FACES THREATS FROM HAMAS & A LOOMING ENERGY CRISIS; WHILE “CULTISH” ISRAEL APARTHEID WEEK VILIFIES DEMOCRATIC ISRAEL

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The Return of the Israel Apartheid Week Cult: Jonathan Kay, National Post, Feb. 25, 2014— In Syria, the Assad regime continues to rain artillery on rebel positions in the city of Homs, killing journalists and innocent civilians alike.

Egypt Ban Could Push Hamas Into New Fight With Israel: Philippe Agret & Adel Zaanoun, Times of Israel, Mar. 6, 2014 — An Egyptian court ban on Hamas activities could push the increasingly isolated Palestinian Islamist movement into another battle with Israel, analysts say.

Sisi’s Gas Pains: Keith Johnson, Foreign Policy,  Feb. 21, 2014 — Egypt faces plenty of threats, from a growing insurgency in the Sinai to a shaky and still unstable presidential regime.

Egyptian Field Marshal Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi: A Profile: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Feb. 27, 2014 — When the last war between Egypt and Israel was fought in 1973, Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi was almost 19 years old.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Big Boycott Bluff: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 13, 2014

The Bottom Line on Israeli Apartheid Week: Canadian Jewish News, Mar. 4, 2014

Timeline of Turmoil in Egypt After Mubarak and Morsi: New York Times, Jan. 27, 2014
Egypt to Revoke Citizenship of Nearly 14,000 Palestinians Affiliated With Hamas: Ariel Ben Solomon

, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 7, 2014

Disbelief After Egypt Announces Cures For Aids and Hepatitis C: Kareem Fahim & Mayy El Sheikh

, New York Times, Feb. 26, 2014

                                     

THE RETURN OF THE ISRAEL APARTHEID WEEK CULT                      

Jonathan Kay                                 

National Post, Feb. 25, 2014

 

In Syria, the Assad regime continues to rain artillery on rebel positions in the city of Homs, killing journalists and innocent civilians alike. Iran’s mullahs are set to execute a Canadian citizen for the crime of operating a web site they don’t like. The new Libyan regime is torturing Gaddafi loyalists. And Egypt’s rulers are prosecuting NGO leaders on trumped-up charges. And so next week, Canadian left-wing activists will congregate in Toronto to express their hatred of … you guessed it: Israel.

 

The events of March 5-9 will take place as part of the 8th annual Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), and will feature presentations such as “Cutting the Ties to Israeli Apartheid: Cultural and Academic Boycott,” and “Rhymes Of Resistance And The Sounds Of Existence — with poets Remi Kanazi, Red Slam and Chand-nee.” The IAW website is full of the usual rhetoric about Israel’s “criminal” actions. There is not a word of acknowledgement about how utterly ridiculous it is to run a week-long event vilifying Israel when right next door in Syria, the government has just exterminated more Arabs than were killed in both Intifidas, the 2008 Gaza conflict, and the 2006 Lebanon war combined.

 

The timing of IAW this year truly does represent something of a farce. The eyes of the entire world are focused on Syria and the Strait of Hormuz. Even West Bank Palestinians themselves now seem more concerned with building up their economy than with grand international gestures aimed at the Jewish state. And in the “occupied” Golan Heights, Druze Muslims have been stirring — not against Israel, but against the Assad regime that many once looked to for “liberation.” In the streets of Cairo, Sana’a and Tunis, no one is talking about Israel — only about when they will get the democracy they were promised. Only among cultish, single-minded anti-Israel activists has the news of the Arab Spring failed to circulate.

 

The word “cultish” is used here advisedly — because even some veteran anti-Israel activists are getting tired of the false mantras that circulate at IAW events. This includes no less an anti-Zionist than Norman Finkelstein (who has called Israel a “vandal state” that “relentlessly and brutally and inhumanly keeps these vicious, murderous wars”). Speaking to an interviewer earlier this month, he attacked the animating philosophy behind IAW — the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel (BDS) — as a “cult,” and an unsuccessful one at that.

 

National Post editorial writers have attended BDS events here in Toronto, and they all contain the same rousing assurances that the BDS movement will bring Israel to its knees. The self-consciously enforced spirit of viva la revolución solidarity that permeates these rallies reminds one of communist rallies in the days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Year after year, we hear the same clichés about how the BDS movement is on the cusp of victory. Yet the Israeli economy continues to prosper, and the only groups that have fallen into line with the boycott call are scattered NGOs and low-tier universities. “All [the BDS] claims about ‘victories’ [against Israel]: These 10 fingers more than suffice to count their victories,” Mr. Finkelstein said this month. “It’s a cult. The guru says: ‘We have all these victories,’ and everyone nods their head.”

 

Of greater concern to Mr. Finkelstein, a former university professor and the author of many controversial books, is the sheer dishonesty that permeates the BDS movement. “We have to be honest: They [BDS activists] don’t want Israel. They think they’re being clever. They call it their three tiers. ‘We want to end of the occupation,’ ‘We want the right of return [for Palestinian refugees],’ ‘And we want equal rights for Arab citizens.’ But they know the result of implementing all three is — what? You and I both know: There’s no Israel. [If you ask them about it, they say] ‘Oh we’re agnostic about Israel.’ No. You’re not agnostic. You don’t want it [to exist].”

 

In fairness to the IAW activists who will be assembling on campuses in coming days, not all of them seek the outright destruction of Israel — though many certainly do. Some are merely naive undergraduates who truly do believe in two secure, peaceful states living side by side. Others are bored veterans of other activist movements, such as anti-racism and gay rights, looking to the Middle East to recapture the sense of moral purpose once provided by the (successful) fight against discrimination here in Canada. But all of them should understand that IAW and BDS are not what they seem: As some of Israel’s own fiercest critics themselves now admit, these are dishonest cults meant to enlist ill-informed activists in a campaign to destroy the Jewish state.

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EGYPT BAN COULD PUSH HAMAS INTO NEW FIGHT WITH ISRAEL Philippe Agret & Adel Zaanoun

Times of Israel, Mar. 6, 2014

 

An Egyptian court ban on Hamas activities could push the increasingly isolated Palestinian Islamist movement into another battle with Israel, analysts say. The latest move marked a further deterioration in ties between Egypt and Hamas, which has close links to the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and is now the target of a sweeping crackdown by the military-installed government.

 

Since Morsi’s overthrow, the Egyptian authorities have destroyed hundreds of tunnels along the border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip which had been used to bring in fuel and construction materials, as well as weapons and ammunition. The loss of the tunnels has deepened the economic crisis in Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2006, and a senior Hamas official warned the court’s move could prompt a new confrontation with Israel. “The situation between Egypt and Hamas has reached the point of no return,” said Mukhaimar Abu Saada, political science professor at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University. “For Hamas, the choices are extremely limited: reconciliation with (Western-backed Palestinian) president Mahmud Abbas, or open confrontation with Israel to embarrass Egypt and win the sympathy of the Arab world,” he said. “The latter option would be costly and risky.”

 

On Tuesday, the Egyptian court banned Hamas from operating in the country and moved to seize its assets after accusing it of colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood to carry out attacks…Bassem Naim, an adviser to Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya, told AFP the court ruling was “shocking”, and said he hoped it would not translate into “restrictions on people’s movement.” Egypt has severely restricted access through the border town of Rafah — Gaza’s only gate to the world that is not controlled by Israel — ostensibly for security reasons. Ezzat al-Rishq, a Hamas official close to the movement’s exiled leader Khaled Meshaal, said the ruling “will open the door to new (Israeli) aggression and war against Gaza”.

 

A fragile Egypt-mediated ceasefire between Hamas and Israel that ended a bloody eight-day conflict in November 2012 has brought more than a year of relative calm, with Hamas policing its borders to prevent rocket fire by rogue militants. Gaza-based political analyst Hani Habib downplayed the court ruling as “a formality which will have little additional impact,” saying border restrictions are nothing new and that Hamas has no offices or major assets in Egypt. But Adnan Abu Amr, a politics professor at Gaza’s Ummah University, said: “A final, definitive break between Egypt and Hamas would mean increased pressure on Gaza, meaning that it could blow up in Egypt or Israel’s faces.”

 

Political analyst Naji Sharab said the best option for Hamas would be to reconcile with Abbas’s Fatah party, its Palestinian rival based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But that would require Hamas to moderate its core belief that Israel must be destroyed and accept US-brokered peace negotiations — which it has staunchly refused to do. Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, signed a 2011 reconciliation agreement in Cairo that was meant to heal divisions that boiled over when Hamas seized Gaza in 2007. But the agreement has never been implemented.

 

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SISI’S GAS PAINS                                                                                     

Keith Johnson                                                        

Foreign Policy, Feb. 21, 2014

 

Egypt faces plenty of threats, from a growing insurgency in the Sinai to a shaky and still unstable presidential regime. But the dramatic reversal in the country's energy fortunes in recent years, and the stark challenges that poses for the economy could end up proving the biggest headache for strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Before the Arab Spring, Egypt turned its abundant reserves of natural gas, the third largest in Africa, into lucrative exports shipped to Europe and Asia. It sent gas by pipeline to neighboring countries, including Jordan and Israel. It had ambitious plans to further develop offshore natural gas resources, and was expanding its creaky electricity system on the back of natural-gas fired power plants.

 

Today, Egypt is scrambling to import natural gas just to meet skyrocketing domestic demand. Exports have plummeted: One of the two terminals that liquefied natural gas and shipped it to southern Europe has been shuttered since 2012; the other is wheezing, starved of gas for export by voracious demand at home. In a sign of just how quickly Egypt's once-advantageous position has changed, there are reportedly talks underway to import gas from Israel — less than two years after Cairo shut off exports headed there.

 

The abrupt reversal is a result of unsustainable economic policies, such as generously subsidized fuel prices at home that spur unbridled growth in gas consumption. And it's one big cause for concern about Sisi's ability to tackle the country's economic challenges. The energy crunch threatens the electric power sector and big portions of Egyptian industry. The IMF forecasts Egyptian growth of just 2.8 percent this year, among the lowest in the region, making it even tougher to cut into double-digit unemployment. Coupled with blackouts and energy shortages, that could conjure up a repeat of the tumult of 2011 and 2013, which led to the toppling of Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi. "The inevitable result is energy shortages and the concomitant social pressures that come with blackouts, lack of cooking gas, and fuel," Steven Cook, an Egypt expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Foreign Policy. "Sisi is going to have to confront these serious economic problems or he too will be confronted with people in the streets demanding change, and it won't just be the Muslim Brotherhood."

 

In 2009, Egypt exported 647 billion cubic feet of gas, mostly liquefied gas to satisfy demand in Europe, but also gas shipped by pipeline to Israel and Jordan. By 2012, gas exports had fallen to less than half, or 256 billion cubic feet; pipeline exports plummeted to one-tenth of their peak level. In 2013 exports continued to plunge. The latest government figures showed nearly a 50 percent decline in year-on-year exports in November. The impacts aren't limited to Egypt or its reeling fiscal situation. Spanish utility Gas Natural Fenosa, which started importing gas from an LNG terminal in Egypt a decade ago, has watched the terminal sit idle since 2012. British gas giant BG Group in January declared "force majeure" and took a $1.2-billion-dollar write-down on its Egyptian LNG operations because natural gas is being diverted from exports for domestic use. The company warned investors that it doesn't know how much, if any, Egyptian gas it will be able to export this year. Consuming countries, including Japan and India, that once imported Egyptian gas have had to find alternative supplies on the spot market.

 

What's to blame for the sudden turnabout? Gas production has declined in recent years, but that's only partly responsible for the crunch. More important has been the jump in domestic consumption of natural gas, which rose 25 percent between 2009 and 2012 and which has essentially doubled over the last decade. More consumption at home leaves less gas for export, even though gas sold to Europe and especially to Asia is worth billions of dollars a year, while gas fed into the domestic market is kept artificially cheap. Demand is growing so fast because Egypt, like other countries in the Middle East, heavily subsidizes the cost of energy, including fuel for transportation and natural gas for power generation. Energy subsidies alone represent about 10 percent of Egypt's GDP, according to the most recent budget. Natural-gas prices in particular have been kept low for industrial users, the power sector, and especially for households.

 

The Egyptian government is trying to tackle the cost of energy subsidies, especially as it struggles to rein in a budget deficit approaching 14 percent of GDP. In recent years, Egypt has tweaked the prices that big energy consumers, such as cement manufacturing plants, pay for gas, but the reforms didn't affect the cost of gas used in power generation, the biggest source of domestic demand. This year, backed by a grant from the World Bank, the country started work on a comprehensive reform of energy pricing, but experts say the country will be hard-pressed to roll back subsidies and ease fiscal pressure any time soon. Raising domestic energy prices would threaten social unrest; but spending billions subsidizing energy aggravates the deficit and removes a source of substantial export earnings. "In its attempt to correct energy market structure and distortions, the Egyptian government is caught between a rock and a hard place," concluded one report prepared by the Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation.

 

Ultimately, Egypt hopes to pull itself out of the energy crisis by boosting production from the promising reserves found offshore; BP announced a major new gas discovery last fall, for example. But raising production requires getting those international energy firms to invest, something that's proven devilishly difficult thanks to the domestic unrest, unfavorable contract terms for exploration, and the fact that Egypt owes foreign energy firms about $6 billion. Dwindling export revenues and increasing subsidies only add to that financial distress. In the meantime, to meet demand and bridge the supply shortfall in coming years, the Egyptian government is trying to import natural gas, a stark turnabout for a country that was a big supplier.  

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –ed.]                                                                

 

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EGYPTIAN FIELD MARSHAL ABD EL-FATTAH EL-SISI: A PROFILE            

Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah                         

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Feb. 27, 2014

 

When the last war between Egypt and Israel was fought in 1973, Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi was almost 19 years old. Four years later, he graduated from the Military Academy and began an astounding career that brought him in 2012, after 35 years of service, to the top position as Commander in Chief of the Egyptian army and Egypt’s Minister of Defense and Military Production.

Sisi was born on November 19, 1954, and grew up in Gamaliya, Cairo’s old Islamic district. Sisi has been very secretive about his childhood and his origins. His official history begins with his graduation from Egypt’s Military Academy on April 1, 1977.1 His military career is a reflection of the strategic decision made by the late Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat to change Egypt’s course from a Soviet-oriented country and become an ally of the United States and the West. Sisi underwent key training in the U.S. and the UK. He attended a basic infantry course in the U.S. and later attended the Joint Command and Staff College at Kimberly in the UK in 1992. He was sent to the U.S. Army War College in 2006. In Egypt, Sisi completed a Bachelor of Military Sciences and then a Master’s degree from the Egyptian Staff and Command College in 1987. He later went to the Nasser Higher Military Academy in 2003.

Sisi’s career began in the mechanized infantry, where he was, successively, commander of  the 509th mechanized infantry battalion, chief-of-staff of the 134th mechanized infantry brigade, commander of the 16th mechanized infantry brigade, and finally chief-of-staff of the 2nd mechanized infantry division, before being nominated to the prestigious positions of chief-of-staff of the northern military zone in 2008 and afterwards as deputy director of the military intelligence and reconnaissance department (2011).

 

As such, Sisi was part of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) headed by Field Marshal Mohammad Hussein Tantawi, who ruled Egypt after President Mubarak’s resignation in January 2011 until the elections which were won by the Muslim Brotherhood, the best organized but least qualified party. This led to the election of Muslim Brother Mohammad Morsi as president. Morsi took advantage of a surprise terrorist attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula, and replaced the aging Tantawi with Sisi on August 12, 2012, in an unprecedented reshuffle of the military that was meant to signal the takeover of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a whole. Sisi was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General (Fariq Awwal) and also took the post of Minister of Defense and Military Production.

 

Eleven months later, in response to mass demonstrations calling for Morsi’s overthrow that took place in Tahrir Square in Cairo, as well as in other big Egyptian cities such as Alexandria, Suez, and Port-Said, Sisi presented an ultimatum that the demands of the anti-Morsi demonstrators be met by July 3, 2013. Morsi’s refusal to deal with the issue led to his replacement by a transitional government headed by Hazem el-Beblawi and an interim president, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Mansour el-Adly. Sisi became the strong man, keeping his previous positions as head of the armed forces and Minister of Defense and Military Production. On January 27, 2014, Sisi was promoted to the highest rank in the Egyptian army – Field Marshal (Mushir in Arabic) – on the same day in which the Arab press leaked that Sisi had finally decided to run for the office of President of Egypt in the elections to be held in 2014.

 

Sisi enjoys unprecedented popularity in Egypt. He is viewed as a superhero who saved Egypt from anarchy, civil war, and the despotism of the Muslim Brotherhood. Between TV commercials used to advertise food products, groups on social networking sites, and posters in the street, Egypt has been witnessing “Sisi fever.” Talk shows and newspaper columns have been advocating the idea of the general running for president in order to fight the terrorist threat that they say the country is facing. Local media are also buzzing about the widespread support for a Sisi presidency.

 

In fact, Sisi has no real competitor. Most of the other potential candidates – Amr Moussa, Ahmad Shafik, Hamdeen Sabahi, Abd el Muneim Aboul Foutouh – have declared that if Sisi would run for president, they would retract their candidacies. Recently, a number of campaigns have been launched calling on the general to run for president. The campaigns are called “Complete Your Favor,” “A Nation’s Demand,” and “Al-Sisi for President.” Their aim is to circulate petitions with the hope that 30 million signatures will convince Sisi to run, just as millions of signatures convinced him to act against Morsi. However, now that he will probably be Egypt’s next president, the question remains: Who in fact is Sisi?…                                         

[To Read the Full Article, with Footnotes, Click the Following Link –ed.]                                     

                                                                          

The Big Boycott Bluff: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 13, 2014 —Isolation. Delegitimization. Economic squeeze. Boycott. Boycott. Boycott. Did someone say “boycott”?

The Bottom Line on Israeli Apartheid Week: Canadian Jewish News, Mar. 4, 2014—Israeli Apartheid Week is marking its 10-year anniversary this week across Canada, and as IAW organizers and supporters look back on their movement’s first decade, there’s no doubt it has fundamentally shifted the Israel conversation on campuses across this country and the world.

Timeline of Turmoil in Egypt After Mubarak and Morsi: New York Times, Jan. 27, 2014 —More than two years after the Egyptian uprising that ushered in Mohamed Morsi as the country’s first elected leader, he was deposed by the military. Explore key moments of his rule and the aftermath.
Egypt to Revoke Citizenship of Nearly 14,000 Palestinians Affiliated With Hamas: Ariel Ben Solomon

, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 7, 2014 —Egyptian security services began investigating Palestinians in order to revoke their Egyptian citizenship that was granted during the reign of former president Mohamed Morsi.

Disbelief After Egypt Announces Cures For Aids and Hepatitis C: Kareem Fahim & Mayy El Sheikh

, New York Times, Feb. 26, 2014 —At a news conference late last week, an Egyptian Army doctor confidently announced that the country’s military had developed a cure for the virus that causes AIDS, as well as hepatitis C, one of Egypt’s gravest public health threats.

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

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Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
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Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

CRISIS ON THE NILE: NEW EGYPT CONSTITUTION EMBOLDENS MILITARY, BROTHERS’ DECLINE— SISI TURNS AWAY FROM U.S., SEEKS ALLIES IN GULF & ISRAEL

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

 
Contents:         

Israel, Egypt, Gulf Fear U.S. Betrayal: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Nov. 19, 2013 — The deadly terrorist attack that took place near the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on Nov. 19 could not have happened at a more sensitive juncture.       Egypt to Curb Islamists, Boost Military: Tamer El-Ghobashy & Reem Abdellatif, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 2, 2013 — Egypt's amended constitution, set to be presented to the president on Tuesday, would scale back the influence of Islamic law, enshrine the privileged status of the military and do little to check the resurgent power of police.

New Egyptian Constitution: A Slap at the Brotherhood: Joseph Klein, Frontpage, Dec. 3, 2013— Egyptians have a new draft constitution to vote upon in a referendum to be held either later this month or in January 2014. It is meant to replace, with amendment language and new provisions, the more Islamist-oriented constitution rammed through by former Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi..

The Brotherhood Waves the White Flag: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Nov. 18, 2013— A few weeks ago I wrote about the capture of a Muslim Brotherhood leader by Egypt’s military government and observed that the bloodbath and popular revolution that many observers expected after last summer’s coup hadn’t materialized.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Tensions Between John Kerry and Susan Rice May be at Core of ‘Muddled’ U.S. Policy on Egypt: Michael Higgins, National Post, Nov. 22, 2013 

Egypt’s New Government Repeats Its Predecessor’s Mistakes: Wael Nawara, Al-Monitor, Nov. 27, 2013

Egypt: Why Not Us?: Michael Armanious , Gatestone Institute, Nov. 25, 2013

Egypt & Russia: a New Beginning: Samir Karam, Al-Monitor, Nov. 22, 2013

The Lost Promise of Turkey-Egypt Relations: Wael Nawara, Al-Monitor, Nov. 22, 2013

 

 

 

 

ISRAEL, EGYPT, GULF FEAR U.S. BETRAYAL

Ben Caspit

Al-Monitor, Nov. 19, 2013

 

The deadly terrorist attack that took place near the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on Nov. 19 could not have happened at a more sensitive juncture. Taking place a day before the resumption of the talks between Iran and the major powers in Geneva and ahead of a possible signing of an agreement, it also coincided with the visit of French President François Hollande to Israel, which, for its part, scared and alarmed the whole world with its apocalyptic prophecies about the "surrender agreement" with Iran. It occurred while the Middle East was seething and more volatile than it has ever been…

 

Not far from this arena, events are also taking place in what was once called the “moderate axis” in the Middle East. What holds this axis together is being referred to as the “doctrine of American betrayal.” By abandoning, betraying or neglecting its long-standing allies in the region, the United States has brought these countries closer together. “This is a funny paradox,” a well-versed senior Israeli minister told me about two weeks ago. “Take the relationship with Egypt, for example. They — the Egyptians — have realized that the Americans simply don’t get the Middle East. The Americans will invariably do the least right thing at any given point in time. On the other hand, all the regional players know full well that Israel understands the Middle East inside out. This paradox — the waning standing of the United States — brings the neighboring countries closer to us, Israel, including the ones with which we do not maintain diplomatic ties.

 

“The most striking manifestation of this phenomenon is the relationship with Egypt,” the minister went on to explain. “Yet it applies to relationships with many other important elements in the region. They now understand the Israeli doctrine, knowing that, unlike others, Israel will not simply back away from previous policies or agreements.” The “organization of countries damaged by American Middle Eastern policy” consists today of Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and to a lesser extent Jordan. Turkey has also been damaged, albeit for other reasons (because it is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood camp.) That’s why Ankara is not an active participant, but more of an external observer, similar to the status of the Palestinians in the United Nations. Qatar remains on the sidelines, trying to stir every pot.

 

The edifying story of this bizarre alliance is the American betrayal of Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak. While the story has been widely covered, the exact details have yet to be published. The chain of events is relayed at discreet meetings that are constantly taking place between various elements in the region, including Israel. Saudis, Kuwaitis, Jordanians, Egyptians and others get together to reconstruct that fateful week in Egyptian history. And this is how the story unfolds. When the demonstrations in Egypt broke out, Mubarak quickly understood that this was it; the story was over. His son Gamal (Jimmy) would not become the next president. The dynasty had been nipped in the bud. He even explained it to his wife, Suzanne, who found it hard to come to terms with this state of affairs. At the same time, Mubarak appointed Ahmed Shafik Zaki as prime minister while starting to negotiate with the opposition and the demonstrators.

 

At that stage, the Americans should have understood that that was the right way to go about it, namely having an orderly transition of power in Egypt ahead of a general election. Mubarak should be allowed to step down with dignity, his head held high. They should not have thrown out the baby with the bath water. But ever since US President Barack Obama took office, the Americans no longer viewed Mubarak as the asset he used to be — the regional “rock,” as Israel’s President Shimon Peres once called him. On two occasions — once in Cairo and once Ankara — Obama delivered speeches “over” Mubarak’s head, humiliating him and letting the masses in Egypt and the leaders across the Middle East understand that as far as they — the Americans — were concerned, he was a spent force.

 

The anti-Mubarak protests in Tahrir Square confirmed that the people had indeed been fed up with him. But the Muslim Brotherhood did not raid Tahrir Square, but stayed put in its mosques. What Tahrir Square saw were the young and educated who had come of age only to realize they had no money to pay for dowry, leaving them unable to get married. They realized they could not leave their parents’ home because they could not afford to get their own place. Understanding that it was all over, Mubarak, as noted earlier, appointed Shafik, who, in turn, embarked on negotiations. The public atmosphere started stabilizing. The masses began to understand that Mubarak was phasing out. At some point, the Muslim Brotherhood started realizing that too, joining the negotiations with Shafik. And then, three days after the Muslim Brotherhood joined the talks, the Americans made their habitual, stupid mistake, giving Mubarak an ultimatum: Leave, and do so summarily. It was Gen. Mohamed Tantawi who received the order from Washington, over the phone, putting the gun on the desk of the betrayed president. Recognizing that his head had been lopped off and thrown to the dogs, Mubarak resigned and took off to Sharm el-Sheikh. The rest is history…

[To Read the Full Article, Click the Following Link – ed.]

 

Contents

EGYPT TO CURB ISLAMISTS, BOOST MILITARY

Tamer El-Ghobashy & Reem Abdellatif

Wall Street Journal, Dec. 2, 2013

 

Egypt's amended constitution, set to be presented to the president on Tuesday, would scale back the influence of Islamic law, enshrine the privileged status of the military and do little to check the resurgent power of police. The major changes in the document appear intended to prevent another Islamist surge in politics and to grant the military and security forces powers to temper civilian rule. Experts said it essentially reverts back to the old order, adding some updated language with vague assurances on political freedoms such as protesting.

 

The rewriting of the constitution has been at the center of Egypt's political power struggles since the ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak nearly three years ago. President Mohammed Morsi, whose fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood dominated elections that followed the uprising, appointed an Islamist-controlled committee to draft a 2012 amended constitution that gave Islamic law greater prominence. However Mr. Morsi and his group were accused of monopolizing power and the military pushed him from power on July 3 after massive street protests. He was succeeded by an interim government appointed by the military, which then cracked down on Islamists.

 

The new constitution, amended over five months behind closed doors, bans political parties based on religious identity—a clear blow to Islamists. It is seen largely as a retread of the 1971 version of the constitution, which served as the foundation for political repression during decades of autocracy. The document isn't expected to chart the course for revolutionary change in Egypt or guide it toward a radically different future. Still it is an improvement over the 2012 version, albeit with some problems, said Nabil Abdelfattah, a senior legal adviser at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a Cairo think tank. "This new constitutional project is still faulty," he said, noting the military's role is of particular concern. Civilians can still be tried in military courts for a broad range of crimes against the military. And the constitution stipulates that the minister of defense be a member of the armed forces and that his nomination or dismissal by a president must be approved by the military's top echelon. "This means the prime minister and the president don't have the power to change the minister of defense," Mr. Abdelfattah said. "The government changes, the president and prime minister can change, but not the defense minister. We are now presented with a sacred minister of defense who has complete immunity."

 

Egypt's military controls vast business interests in the country and its budget has long been shielded from civilian oversight. Some pro-democracy activists over the past few years pushed unsuccessfully for the military and its budget to come fully under government oversight. The amended constitution offers few remedies to confront resurgent police power, analysts said. Hatred of a brutal police force that abused its broad powers under Mr. Mubarak was a driving force behind the first Egyptian uprising and the upheaval left the police in disarray. Interim President Adly Mansour, who was appointed by the military after Mr. Morsi's ouster, is expected to approve the charter and put it to a national referendum this month or in January. The vote will be a test of whether opposition groups can muster the momentum to stop ratification at a time when Egyptians are showing increasing apathy toward politics, less tolerant of protests and eager to return to normal life.

 

Secular-minded groups such as university students and pro-democracy activists behind the 2011 revolt have remained largely silent since the coup against Mr. Morsi. But recently they have voiced opposition toward the military as details of the constitution, coupled with the passing of a new law tightly regulating protests, have emerged. The draft constitution, written by a 50-member committee, does include new provisions aimed at improving women's rights and access to education. Fundamental freedoms, including those guaranteeing speech and the right to assemble, have been added. But it retains a caveat that they can be practiced only "according to the law," leaving room for legislation to severely curb such rights, experts said. The language is a holdover from the 1971 constitution. "The major problem is this reference to law," said Zaid Al-Ali, a constitutional expert with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. "We've had a similar provision for decades and under Mubarak, it didn't stop laws from canceling out the freedoms promised."

 

The law regulating protests enacted last week is seen as an indicator of how the military government intends to treat fundamental freedoms. The law gives police broad discretion to ban protests and formalizes their right to use force to break them up. It also requires state permission for demonstrations of 10 people or more. It has been criticized by the United Nations, Western governments and rights groups in Egypt. Police have used force and mass arrests to deter groups testing the law, tactics that have renewed protests by secular-minded activists after a period of quiet. Authorities responded to resurgent unrest by arresting popular leaders Alaa Abdel Fattah and Ahmed Maher and charging them with protesting illegally and other crimes. Both men deny the charges. But the general public has grown weary of disruptive demonstrations after almost three years of constant unrest. Citizens have actively cheered police as they violently arrested protesters from both Islamist and secular groups.

 

On Sunday night, as police lobbed volleys of tear gas at a small student led protest in downtown Cairo, dozens of men rallied behind the security forces, pledging support to help disperse demonstrators. News of Messrs. Abdel Fattah and Maher's arrests enraged civil-rights groups but was met with glee on several popular news talk shows on private satellite stations—a striking change from 2011 when the men were celebrated for helping spark the revolt that unseated Mr. Mubarak. Established political parties aligned with the military-backed "road map" calling for an amended constitution followed by parliamentary and presidential elections next year said they anticipate little resistance in the referendum. "The new constitution is a source of pride for this country and even if there is an article or two that we don't like, we should vote 'yes' still because it is impossible to come up with a constitution that pleases everyone," said Ahmed Said, chairman of the Free Egypt party.

 

 

Contents

 

NEW EGYPTIAN CONSTITUTION: A SLAP AT THE BROTHERHOOD

Joseph Klein

Frontpage, Dec. 3, 2013

 

Egyptians have a new draft constitution to vote upon in a referendum to be held either later this month or in January 2014. It is meant to replace, with amendment language and new provisions, the more Islamist-oriented constitution rammed through by former Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi. “It is now the right of every Egyptian to declare that this is their constitution,” said Bishop Bola, the representative of the Coptic Orthodox Church on the panel that was responsible for drafting the new constitution.

 

The big loser will be the Muslim Brotherhood, eclipsed by representatives from a more conservative Islamist party and from Al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni learning, who spoke for Islamists on the drafting panel and have backed the new constitution. The drafting panel also consisted of activists from Tamarod, the secular youth movement that rallied millions of Egyptians who demanded that Morsi step aside, leading to his ouster and replacement by an interim government under the rule of the defense minister, General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.

 

The constitution drafters and the interim government leaders hope that there will be a significantly larger turnout of voters to approve this constitution than showed up to approve Morsi’s constitution.  A larger turnout and vote in support of the draft constitution would serve to legitimize the current interim government’s self-proclaimed move towards a more inclusive, democratic regime – at least, that is what the interim government leaders are claiming. Whether presidential or parliamentary elections would be held first following the constitution’s ratification remains an open question, possibly to provide the opportunity for Sisi to run for president and consolidate his influence in advance of more contentious, drawn-out parliamentary elections.

 

On paper, the new constitution would grant new important rights to Egyptian citizens, including protection against torture, human trafficking and persecution for religious belief. It bans parties founded on religion or sect and mandates equality between men and women, both slaps in the face of the Muslim Brotherhood which tried to remake the country in its own image of an Islamist state. In practice, however, the new constitution is but another in a series of constitutional documents, more honored in their breach than their observance. While the new draft pays lip service to human rights and is more secular in nature than its predecessor, the draft keeps Sharia law as the basis for legislation. Repression of dissent, limitations on freedom to practice one’s own religion, and violence and discrimination against women are likely to remain the grim reality on the streets of Egypt. State institutions such as the military and the police will retain their privileged status. Not surprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood has already denounced the new draft constitution. It said that “abusive coupists” were trying to “distort Egypt’s legitimate constitution,” by which they mean the Islamist-oriented constitution foisted on the Egyptian people last year by a far less inclusive drafting process.  Liberals, secularists and the Coptic Church were on the outside looking in, in contrast to their inclusion in the current drafting process.

 

The Obama administration appears to be taking a wait-and-see attitude towards the new draft constitution. But, in the meantime, the administration continues to punish the interim regime by cutting off vital military aid, including the delivery of F-16s, M1A1 tank kits, Harpoon missiles and Apache helicopters. It does so on the pretext that the regime’s forcible suppression of dissent and lack of inclusiveness forced the administration to the point that “we could not continue business as usual with respect to our assistance.”

Why not begin resuming at least some deliveries now that the interim government has taken at least a preliminary step on its roadmap towards a more inclusive civil democracy? The excuse appears to be a recently passed law placing restrictions on protest demonstrations, which was aimed at curbing the incessant protests by Islamists supporting Morsi before violence could erupt but has also ensnared some disaffected secularist activists. In a press statement issued on November 25, 2013, Jen Psaki, State Department Spokesperson, said that “this law, which imposes restrictions on Egyptians’ ability to assemble peacefully and express their views, does not meet international standards and will not move Egypt’s democratic transition forward.”… 

 

Recall that as millions of anti-Morsi protesters filled the streets of Egypt last June in peaceful demonstrations, Anne Patterson, the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt at the time, said that she and “my government” were “deeply skeptical” about the effectiveness of “street action.”  In a little-noticed statement before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on October 29, 2013, A. Elizabeth Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said the “decision to remove Morsi” was “troubling.” President Obama still appears to view the Muslim Brotherhood, whose representatives he invited to his June 2009 speech in Cairo, as the preferred, legitimate rulers in Egypt. It is part of a dramatic pivot that has placed Obama on the side of Islamist authoritarian regimes against more secular, military-supported authoritarian regimes in the region…

 

The new draft Egyptian constitution, as imperfect as it is, represents an improvement over the Muslim Brotherhood-backed constitution. It was also drafted with more inclusive participation. Egypt will not be a Jeffersonian democracy, no matter who rules. Therefore, given the choice between a nominally more inclusive but authoritarian secular regime committed to fighting terrorism and standing by international treaties, versus an authoritarian jihadist regime that at best turned a blind eye to Islamist violence against Christians and other “infidels” and questioned its existing treaty obligations, the correct choice should be clear. Sadly, the Obama administration appears committed to choosing the wrong side.

 

                                                                                                Contents
                                  

 

THE BROTHERHOOD WAVES THE WHITE FLAG

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, Nov. 18, 2013

 

A few weeks ago I wrote about the capture of a Muslim Brotherhood leader by Egypt’s military government and observed that the bloodbath and popular revolution that many observers expected after last summer’s coup hadn’t materialized. Today comes news that seems to make plain what was just an informed guess in October: the Brotherhood knows it is beaten. As Ha’aretz reports, A Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition of organizations in Egypt announced Saturday that it wants to engage in dialogue with the interim government in order to put an end to the current political impasse. The call by the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy is the first formal proposition by Morsi supporters, who have organized near-daily protests demanding his return to office since he was removed in a popularly supported military coup on July 3. It also marks the first time the group has not demanded Morsi’s return to power.

 

In other words, the organization is conceding that ousted Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi is never going to be president of Egypt again and that if they want any say in their country’s future it will have to be on the military’s terms. This is big news for Egyptians, since it signals that a repeat of Algeria’s decade-long bloody civil war after that country’s army ousted an Islamist government is now off the table. This puts to rest the argument often heard in this country calling for a stern U.S. response to the coup since it was thought in some quarters to not only a guarantee a long terrorist war but suppression of a legitimate point of view that could count on the support of a critical mass of Egyptians. But if the Brotherhood is waving the white flag and appealing for the tolerance of the government, if not peace with it, it is as strong an indication as we are likely to get that the group knows it’s licked…

 

Tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets of Egyptian cities in the last days of the Morsi government calling for it to cease its drive for total power and to allow the people a vote on whether it should hold onto power. But if the military had not stepped in, there is little doubt that Morsi not only would have stayed in office but that he would have continued his efforts to ensure that he could never be defeated by fair means or foul. Though it had been able to call on the support of many Egyptians in the wake of Mubarak’s ouster and won an election, the year of Brotherhood rule that followed convinced many of those who voted for them they had made a mistake. Though some Western journalists were fooled into thinking the Brotherhood had no intentions of transforming the country into an Islamist state, the Egyptian people were not fooled…

 

It is in this context that the Obama administration’s aid cutoffs to Egypt should be viewed. While it is proper for the U.S. to encourage a turn to democracy in Egypt, it must be on terms that will make it impossible for a totalitarian movement like the Brotherhood to win back power. The Obama administration has foolishly downgraded ties with Egypt and even acted as if it wished for a return of the Morsi government that it had for a time embraced. This shortsighted policy has left an opening for Russia to seek to revive an alliance with Egypt that was ended by Anwar Sadat. But the moral of this story remains clear: while some in the West seemed to accept the Brotherhood’s claim that Islamism was the wave of the future in the Middle East and that they could not be defeated, the military and people of Egypt have proved the contrary to be true. Islamists can be beaten. That’s something the U.S. should be celebrating, not condemning.

 

                                                                                             Contents

 

 

On Topic

 

 

Tensions Between John Kerry and Susan Rice May be at Core of ‘Muddled’ U.S. Policy on Egypt: Michael Higgins, National Post, Nov. 22, 2013 — John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, said this week the Muslim Brotherhood “stole” the Egyptian election, a forthright comment but one that adds to conflicting messages about Egypt coming from the U.S. government.

Egypt’s New Government Repeats Its Predecessor’s Mistakes: Wael Nawara, Al-Monitor, Nov. 27, 2013 — In one week, Egypt’s government issued a demonstration law which many see as repressive; approved a decision which allows police on university campuses, angering students; cracked down on demonstrators who were demonstrating against the demonstration law..

Egypt: Why Not Us?: Michael Armanious , Gatestone Institute, Nov. 25, 2013 — Two and half years after the January 25, 2011 revolution, Egyptians still are wondering about their dream of building a modern Egypt. They look around, see the economic successes of China, South Korea and Israel and ask "Why not us?"

Egypt & Russia: a New Beginning: Samir Karam, Al-Monitor, Nov. 22, 2013 — It seems that relations between Egypt and Russia have been heading toward a new beginning in recent days, as the Russian ministers of defense and foreign affairs paid Egypt a rare visit.

The Lost Promise of Turkey-Egypt Relations: Wael Nawara, Al-Monitor, Nov. 22, 2013 — On Nov. 23, Egypt's Foreign Ministry ordered the Turkish ambassador to Cairo to leave the country and decided to lower the country's diplomatic representation.

 

On Topic Links

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
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The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

EGYPT DIVIDED: POPULAR NEW “PHAROAH”, AL-SISI, BATTLES IKHWAN AS OBAMA CUTS AID, SUPPORTS M.B.; CHRISTIANS CLEANSED

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

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America's Aid and Egypt's IndifferenceDina Khayat, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2013—In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, no country stood by the U.S. more staunchly in its fight against al Qaeda than Egypt. Having been through its own war against terror in the 1990s, Egypt was able to provide valuable information and logistical support.

There Are Two Egypts and They Hate Each OtherAshraf Khalil, Time World, Oct. 08, 2013—Egypt’s latest spasm of violence over the weekend—which led to at least 57 deaths and 400 injured—confirmed the troubled nation’s new reality: The emergence of two distinct, opposed Egypts that hate each other.
 
The Ethnic Cleansing of Christians in EgyptMichael Armanious, Gatestine Institute. Oct. 1, 2013—Iskander Toss, who had lived all his life in the town of Delga in Upper Egypt, last week was kidnapped, severely beaten, and dragged on the dirt roads of the village until his spirit left him.His crime? As in the Kenya mall massacre last week, he was a Christian.
 
Islamist or Nationalist: Who is Egypt’s Mysterious New Pharaoh?Raymond Stock, Foreign Policy Review Institute, October 2013—Egypt's new de facto pharaoh, General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, is a man of mystery.  Is he an Islamist, or a nationalist?  Is he a person of high principle, or a lowly opportunist? And in a land which has known five thousand years of mainly centralized, one-man rule, with limited experience of democracy, when have we seen his type before, and where will he lead the troubled, ancient nation now?
 
On Topic Links
 
The Real Force Behind Egypt's 'Revolution of the State'Reuters, Oct. 10, 2013
Interview with Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi (part 1&2)Al-Masry Al-Youm, Oct. 9, 2013
Egypt’s Economic Competitiveness Plunges to New LowsHend El-Behary, Egypt Independent, Oct. 12, 2013
Sinai: Can the Truth Be Told?Drew Brammer, Egypt Independent, Oct. 11, 2013
 

AMERICA'S AID AND EGYPT'S INDIFFERENCE
Dina Khayat
Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2013

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, no country stood by the U.S. more staunchly in its fight against al-Qaeda than Egypt. Having been through its own war against terror in the 1990s, Egypt was able to provide valuable information and logistical support. Now the war is back on Egyptian territory, in the Sinai and other Egyptian provinces. A direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and its jihadist allies was established by the Brotherhood itself in July, shortly after President Morsi's ouster, when Mohamed Beltagui, a senior Muslim Brother, said on television that the violence in the Sinai and elsewhere would cease the moment Mr. Morsi was reinstated as president.
 
Yet rather than condemn the terrorist attacks that have since increased and spread across the country, the Obama Administration decided last week to send a different message. The State Department released a statement on Oct. 9 saying that it would be "recalibrating" its assistance provided to Egypt. It also said it would continue working with the interim Egyptian government to help it move toward democracy and inclusiveness. The statement came just two days after three deadly terrorist attacks in Cairo and Sinai: a drive-by shooting near the Suez Canal that killed six soldiers, a car bomb that killed three police officers and wounded dozens near a Red Sea resort area, and a rocket-propelled grenade attack that damaged a government satellite transmitter in southern Cairo.
 
Which forms of aid would be cut, and whether these were permanent cuts or just suspensions, were left unspecified in the State Department's statement. As was the total reduction in the amount of aid, which at $1.3 billion yearly pales, in any event, next to the $12 billion quietly advanced by Egypt's Arab neighbors in the past three months.
 
This was a baffling message to Egypt's interim government and the vast majority of Egyptians, millions of whom who came out to protest Mr. Morsi's rule on June 30. What they heard was that the Obama Administration stands firmly behind the Muslim Brotherhood, even if it means damaging the two countries' strategic relationship.
 
To call the curtailing of U.S. aid a prod to the Egyptian government toward democracy is disingenuous. There was neither outrage nor threats from Washington last November, when Mr. Morsi issued a constitutional declaration that effectively put him and his diktats above the law. Or during the ensuing demonstrations in December, when dozens died just behind Mr. Morsi's palace walls at the hands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
 
When Gen. Sisi appeared on television on July 3, the day Mr. Morsi was ousted, he was flanked by the Sheikh al Azhar, the Coptic Pope, women, youth, politicians left and right, and representatives of Salafist groups. Only the Muslim Brotherhood, which had turned down an invitation, was missing. That picture contrasts starkly with the one presented by Mr. Morsi, who, during his brief tenure, surrounded himself solely with members of his organization and appointed them to executive positions. Copts, secularists and even Salafists were conspicuously absent. Calls by the Obama administration for inclusiveness should have begun then; today they ring hollow.
 
When millions of Egyptians took to the streets on June 30, they took the only path possible to changing their government. There was no prospect of impeaching Mr. Morsi. The army intervened solely to prevent the chaos that would surely have occurred had Egyptians been left to fight one another. Now, three months into the new interim government and with a constitution being written by 50 representatives of society—again, all but the Muslim Brotherhood—there is no turning back. The draft constitution is almost complete, and dates and plans for parliamentary and presidential elections are set.
 
The challenge remains the economy, but it is hard to rebuild when so many resources are diverted to fighting weekly violence, as Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators, often armed, take to the streets. The Brotherhood has chosen to exclude itself from the governing process, preferring instead to bully their way into negotiating the best possible deal for themselves, which includes the reinstatement of Mr. Morsi as president. Brotherhood supporters who are not implicated in the present violence will eventually be included in a new government—but only when the organization changes its mind and decides to operate within the context of a state.
 
Egyptians are yearning to get it right this time. They are determined to build a democratic state and avoid the mistakes of the past. What will eventually emerge is a country much more sensitive to human and religious rights. It will not be a repetition of the Mubarak years. We would have liked America with us at this time, and its support would have sent a strong message to the Egyptian people.
 
Instead, upon hearing the news of the U.S. aid cuts, there was a collective shrug in Egypt, and a general sense of relief at being rid of any shackles that had tied the government's hands in fighting terrorism. Such is the popular anger against the Brotherhood and their daily annoyances that there are even calls for martial law to be applied—or at least for demonstrations by any faction to be outlawed by force for a period.
 
The Egypt-U.S. relationship is decades-old, built on mutual strategic interests. It has withstood many challenges.
 
Even in the midst of the June 30 demonstrations, and at the height of anger against U.S. policies, banners in the streets proclaimed Egyptians' love for Americans. To throw all that to the wind for unfathomable benefits and spurious justifications in the name of democracy and inclusiveness is a pity.
 
Ms. Khayat is founder and chairman of an asset management company based in Egypt. She is also head of the economic committee of the Free Egyptians Party, a political party founded after the 2011 revolution.
 
Contents

THERE ARE TWO EGYPTS AND THEY HATE EACH OTHER
Ashraf Khalil
Time World, Oct. 08, 2013
 
Egypt’s latest spasm of violence over the weekend—which led to at least 57 deaths and 400 injured—confirmed the troubled nation’s new reality: The emergence of two distinct, opposed Egypts that hate each other. One Egypt is in the ascendant—that of a nationalist, pro-military populace that has nothing but contempt for the country’s Islamists, represented chiefly by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egypt of the Brotherhood is reeling and embittered: it has seen its democratically-elected President ousted by the military this July and its supporters gunned down in the streets. But it’s showing no sign of backing down.
 
The enmity existed well before senior Muslim Brotherhood official Mohamed Morsi won the presidency in June 2012. But the chasm between these two sides widened dramatically over the course of Morsi’s chaotic and divisive year in power, which culminated in Morsi’s July 3 ousting, cheered on by millions of citizens.
 
Both sides covet the deeply symbolic real estate that is Tahrir Square—epicenter of the original February 2011 revolution that ousted long-ruling President Hosni Mubarak and the launchpad for Egypt’s faltering revolutionary moment. Tahrir’s fortunes, and who controls it, have shifted multiple times since the initial uprising. But an unprecedented spectacle of division took place on Oct. 6: one side celebrated inside of Tahrir Square, while the other side desperately fought—and died—to reach it and confront its rivals.
 
Inside of Tahrir Square, supporters of the military rallied in the thousands with flags, fireworks, patriotic songs and vuvuzelas. Oct. 6 is a national holiday—a militaristic one that celebrates the launching of a successful surprise attack on Israel in the 1973 war. So the current national mood, characterized by nationalist and anti-Islamist fervor, dovetailed neatly with the holiday. Posters of Defense Minister Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi (notably not civilian Interim President Adly Mansour) dominated the day—many of them directly comparing Al-Sisi with Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the beloved and iconic force behind the 1952 coup that ended the monarchy and ushered in almost 60 years of military rule.
 
Outside of Tahrir Square, the losers of the country’s political shakeup continued their Sisyphaean campaign for their voices to be heard and heeded. “Our target is to go back to Tahrir to bring the revolution back to the square,” said Diaa El-Sawy, spokesman of the Youth Against the Coup group, ahead of their protest. But the Brotherhood—which marched in the thousands from multiple directions on Sunday—never managed to get near Tahrir Square. The entire downtown area was heavily secured with riot police, Army APCs, barbed wire and ID checkpoints at the entrances to Tahrir. The subway station underneath Tahrir had already been closed for months to prevent unauthorized infiltration.
 
Three separate Brotherhood marches were violently repelled. In Ramses Square, about a 20 minute walk from Tahrir, the two sides battled into the night with the Brotherhood marchers confronting a combined force of army soldiers, riot police and local youth gangs hurling rocks, Molotovs and fireworks and apparently working in coordination with the security forces. The final death toll from the day reached 57—the vast majority of the dead from the Brotherhood side.
 
In the aftermath, there is no sign of either side backing away from the chasm that threatens to swallow post-revolutionary Egypt. The Brotherhood—which has managed to retain a high level of coordination and planning despite most of its senior decision-makers being arrested—has announced plans to launch a fresh push to occupy Tahrir Square this coming Friday, Oct. 11. The Square, according to a statement released late Sunday night, “belongs to all Egyptians and no one will prevent us from demonstrating in it, no matter the sacrifices.”…
 
Many trying to resist the current polarization or find some sort of middle ground are punished by both sides. One of the clearest examples of this dynamic came in mid-September when senior Brotherhood official Salah Soltan published a unilateral apology to the nation on behalf of the Brotherhood. Soltan’s US-citizen son Mohamed was shot in the Aug. 14 siege on a Brotherhood sit-in site and later arrested after two weeks on the run. Nevertheless, Salah Soltan wrote a month later that the Brotherhood should “apologize to the nation for our political mistakes…we are not against Egypt. We are part of Egypt.”
 
Among the mistakes he mentioned was a failure to better include the non-Islamist and revolutionary youth into their decision-making processes—spawning divisions and a national paranoia over the Islamist agenda that eventually turned much of the country against the Brotherhood.
 
But rather than becoming some sort of rallying point for the start of a push for reconciliation, Salah Soltan immediately became a man without a country. The Brotherhood distanced itself from his comments, saying Soltan did not speak for the organization. And, within days Soltan was arrested at Cairo airport by the very government with whom he was trying to reconcile.
 
Khalil is a Cairo-based journalist and author of Liberation Square: Inside the Egyptian Revolution and the Rebirth of a Nation.

Contents


 
THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF CHRISTIANS IN EGYPT
Michael Armanious
Gatestine Institute,  Oct. 1, 2013
 
Iskander Toss, who had lived all his life in the town of Delga in Upper Egypt, last week was kidnapped, severely beaten, and dragged on the dirt roads of the village until his spirit left him.His crime? As in the Kenya mall massacre last week, he was a Christian. A few days later, the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] jihadists opened his grave, pulled his body out, and dragged it through the village until the majority of the Coptic families fled in terror.
 
What is unique about Toss's death is that people know his name. Throughout the land of the Nile, murders like his are taking place on a regular basis. Delga, located 150 miles south of Cairo, is one of the oldest and the largest towns in Egypt. Out of over 100,000 inhabitants, 25,000 are Christians. Delga had a number of churches [4-5], some going back to the 4th century. Almost all of them have been destroyed.
For the past 75 days, since Morsi was forced out of office, members of the Ikhwan and its affiliates have cordoned off the village. They forced some Christians to pay "Jizya," the extra poll tax that Christians and other non-Muslims are required to pay (like a shakedown fee for "protection.") Members of the Ikhwan make life intolerable for Christian community in the village.
 
On September 16, 2013, the Egyptian armed forces moved in to free Delga from the Ikhwan and its supporters. The armed forces waited that long because of what happened earlier in Kerdasa, another village south of Cairo and the home of many Christian families.
 
In Kerdasa, members of the Ikhwan, starting in a police station, took 11 policemen and soldiers hostage. They tortured and shot them dead on camera, and set the station and the village's churches on fire. Christians fled the village of Kerdasa. The government's strategy was to wait to give the world chance to see what the Ikhwan is capable of.
 
Ehab Ramzy, a Coptic attorney in Egypt, provided the context. He stated in a televised interview that his office building was set on fire along with 50 churches and 1,000 Christian businesses. They were destroyed in Upper Egypt, Ramzy explained, on the day that Morsi was forced out. This was the Ikhwan strategy, he said: to punish the church for not supporting Morsi.
 
Since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the problem has only intensified: anti-Christian violence now manifests itself in Egypt with increasing regularity. Since ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, what happened to the Christians in Delga and Kerdasa, has been happening throughout Egypt. The Christians of the village of Marinab in the Aswan Governorate, 700 miles south of Cairo, were also placed under siege by jihadists in October 2011. Their food supplies and contacts with the outside world were cut off until they agreed to have their church demolished because they violated the building code by displaying a cross, which the jihadists said was offensive.
 
The death of Iskander Toss and the ongoing attacks against Christians in Egypt demonstrates a troubling reality in the Middle East: On September 19, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, adviser to many leaders in the Middle East, stated in televised interview that most countries in the region owned chemical weapons, the poor nation's weapon of choice.
 
Heikal also stated that in the short run, President Obama's incoherent foreign policies in the Middle East will threaten the stability of countries such as Lebanon, especially its Christian minority; and in the long run, the Persian Gulf countries. He added that what happened in Delga is not just an indicator of what the Ikhwan is capable of, but of what is coming.
 
The issue came to a head with the current U.S. administration's response to the sarin gas attack that killed several hundred people on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. By not attacking Assad, a puppet of Shiite Iran, the U.S. has not only strengthened America's adversaries, Russia and China, but also emboldened the mullahs in Iran and Sunni extremists in Syria and Egypt, who now apparently think that the radicals' war of attrition with the U.S. — which has been going on for decades — is finally bearing fruit.
 
While the British and American people have made it clear that they do not support a strike on the Assad regime in Syria, Christians in Syria and in the rest of the Middle East have also been unanimous in their opposition to such a strike: they fear it would unleash the forces of jihadists and cause the total destruction of Christianity in the region.
 
There is an irony here: by failing to act against the Bashar Al-Assad after stating it would, the U.S. policy has not only put religious and ethnic minorities in the region at even greater risk; it has also put moderate, reform-minded Muslims in even greater danger. By speaking about the use of chemical weapons as a red line, and Assad's days being numbered, the U.S. gave leaders in the Middle East an expectation that it would act in the face of atrocity.
 
By not acting, the U.S. has unintentionally given the signal that America is retreating from the region. The implication of this retreat is that violence against Christians and other non-Muslims can proceed with impunity. U.S. President Barack Obama's recent speech, given on the eve of the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, did nothing to disabuse global jihadists of this notion. As American credibility in the region has deteriorated, Islamist violence against Christians in the Middle East has escalated.
 
The problem is particularly evident in Syria, where Christians have been driven from their homes in Maaloula by Sunni jihadists associated with Al Qaeda. Earlier this year, the Christian quarter of Homs was completely destroyed and emptied of all of its inhabitants — more than 100,000 people were evicted from their homes. Churches dating back to the second, third and fourth centuries were destroyed.
 
If the violence against Christians in the Middle East continues without a meaningful response from the U.S. administration and leaders in the Middle East, it will indicate to jihadist cells currently residing in Europe and North America that their hour has finally arrived.
 
Although the Ikhwan has now been outlawed and driven from the halls of power in Egypt, as an international organization, it is still a force to be reckoned with: even if it is blocked in Egypt, its stated plan is to create problems for Western democracies.
 
If the American people and the current Administration turn their backs on the Middle East region, the destruction of both Christianity and freedom there is a virtual certainty.
 
    Michael Armanious is US based analyst and a video producer. He was born in Egypt.
 
Contents


 
ISLAMIST OR NATIONALIST: WHO IS EGYPT’S MYSTERIOUS NEW PHARAOH?
Raymond Stock
Foreign Policy Review Institute, October 2013
 
Egypt's new de facto pharaoh, General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, is a man of mystery.  Is he an Islamist, or a nationalist?  Is he a person of high principle, or a lowly opportunist? And in a land which has known five thousand years of mainly centralized, one-man rule, with limited experience of democracy, when have we seen his type before, and where will he lead the troubled, ancient nation now?
 
These questions are crucial to knowing how the U.S. should react to al-Sisi's removal of Egypt's first “freely elected” president, Mohamed Morsi on July 3 in answer to overwhelmingly massive street protests demanding that he do so, and to the ongoing bloody crackdown on Morsi's group, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), that began on August 14.  Citing the ongoing, actually two-way violence in Egypt, President Barack Obama's administration has now suspended much of our annual $1.6 billion aid to the country, save for money needed to maintain security operations along the Israeli border in Sinai and to directly support the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
 
Earlier, the administration had stopped the scheduled delivery of four out of twenty F-16s to Egypt, cancelled the bi-annual “Bright Star” joint training exercises that had been set for September, and launched a review of the bi-lateral relationship. There has now been a delay in paying the final $585 million tranche of this year's aid package, pending that review, according to an October 9 report by the global strategic analysis firm, Stratfor.
 
However, the administration has been careful not to classify Morsi’s removal a “coup,” which under U.S. law would require an immediate cut-off of all of our aid to Egypt. That assistance is vital to the U.S.’ favored access to the Suez Canal, maintenance of the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty and crucial bi-lateral security cooperation against international terrorism. Nonetheless, the latest move puts the entire alliance at great risk, and plays into popular demands that Egypt switch to a more independent stance, or even adopt Russia as chief military supplier instead of the U.S., an idea made more enticing by Washington's apparent weakness in surrendering its interests in Syria to Moscow, and its seeming haste to make concessions to Cairo's post-MB regional antagonist in Tehran over the latter's nuclear program.
 
Yet along with a number of key Congressional leaders and most of the mainstream media, Obama has been far more critical of al-Sisi and his use of force against a group that our government wrongly supported while in power under the illusion that it was "moderate," than they have been of the violence and mayhem of the MB.
 
Meanwhile, the MB’s “peaceful demonstrators” have been busy burning scores of Christian churches and schools along with hundreds of Christian businesses while attacking other citizens, museums and public buildings, the police and the army, and waging an open war against the state in Sinai and around the country.  As the total number of deaths in the past nearly two months of confrontations climbs toward the thousands, the MB clearly hopes to use its own "martyrs" (as both sides call their fallen) to generate sympathy for their unaltered goal of restoring Morsi to power.  So far, however, it's not working.  Despite a surge in turnout at demonstrations it organized to coincide with the State’s grand celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the 1973 war on October 6, fewer and fewer people have been joining its protests, which have been tiny compared to the unprecedentedly-huge demonstrations against the Islamists.
 
But what besides the obvious hard realities pushed al-Sisi to act when he did?  What does he believe, and what does he want?  A quiet man known for saying little and keeping his own counsel, in his year of study at the U.S. Army War College in 2006, al-Sisi produced a research paper or brief thesis on his views of Islam and the state.  That document was first exposed by Robert Springborg, an expert on Egypt’s military, in a July 28 article in Foreign Affairs.
 
Springborg predicted that al-Sisi, who has sworn to swiftly restore democracy after a nine-month transition, intends to keep real power for himself.  Furthermore, Springborg warned of his “Islamist agenda,” saying that he would not likely restore the “secular authoritarianism” practiced by Mubarak, but would install “a hybrid regime that would combine Islamism with militarism.”  Intriguingly, though it holds no state secrets, the document was classified, and was only released under a Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch on August 8.
 
In it, al-Sisi declares, “There is hope for democracy in the Middle East over the long term; however, it may not be a model that follows a Western Template” (sic).  By that, al-Sisi makes plain, he means that Middle Eastern democracy must be based not on secularism, but on Islam.
 
However, in an August 16 profile of the previously obscure general published by The Daily Beast by Mike Giglio and Christopher Dickey, those who know al-Sisi (few of whom will talk much about him) say that he grew up in a family that was both religiously conservative—not radical—but extremely nationalistic.  And indeed it is that sense of nationalism which seems to have had the upper hand in motivating the actions he’s taken thus far.
 
The chaos, economic calamity, and political upheaval that have rocked Egyptian society since a much more limited popular uprising against longtime president Hosni Mubarak resulted in Mubarak’s ouster by the military on February 11, 2011 (at Obama's thinly-veiled urging the night before)—and which led in part to al-Sisi’s move against Morsi—have all been seen before.
 
In 1952, the widespread corruption, resort to political assassination, and the burning of the most elegant parts of downtown Cairo (both of the latter done, it is thought, mainly by the MB) led a group of so-called Free Officers to overthrow Egypt's last king, the feckless Farouk—with covert aid from the U.S.[1]—in a coup, and to declare a republic the next year. Though the move was clandestine and confined to the army, it gained massive popularity and created a mythic hero (who was really an epic failure), Colonel Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the movement's charismatic leader, himself initially a mystery—and to whom al-Sisi is often compared today.
 
Or perhaps he will be more like Anwar al-Sadat, another Free Officer, who in 1970 succeeded Nasser—the father of one of Egypt's greatest military defeats, in the war of 1967.  Sadat partially made up for Nasser's many economic and political blunders by launching a successful surprise attack against Israeli forces in Sinai in 1973 (though it culminated in yet another defeat), partially repealing Nasser's reckless state socialism, trading an alliance with the Soviet Union for one with the United States, and daring to make peace with Israel—though it cost him his life when Islamists shot him down on the anniversary of that "victory" in 1981. 
 
Al-Sisi has rapidly returned to the direct and confident military cooperation with the Jewish State that Morsi reviles, in order to prevent al-Qa`ida-affiliated groups (believed to have cooperated with the Muslim Brotherhood) from staging deadly incidents along the sensitive border. However, much less reassuringly, al-Sisi has begun to flirt with both Russia and China, and is known to have neither much affection for the U.S., or patience with Obama's pro-MB policy.  But going back even further, to 1805, al-Sisi could turn out to be like Mohamed Ali Pasha—Farouk’s first direct royal forebear, an Albanian-Kurdish mercenary who used popular discontent against Egypt's oppressive Ottoman governor to replace him in office.
 
Mohamed Ali would briefly revive Egypt's long-lost military glory, and more relevantly, would do so by breaking with his own patrons in Istanbul–a possible cautionary tale for Washington now.  And yet, plumbing much more deeply the currents of Egyptian history, al-Sisi may really most resemble Horemheb, the last king of the fabled 18th Dynasty.
 
Horemheb served as head of the army under Akhenaten (ruled 1353-1336 B.C.), the "heretic king" who became the first ruler of any country to embrace something close to monotheism, a fanatic who threw out the traditional pantheon of ancient Egyptian gods in favor of worship of the Aten, the disc of the sun.  Akhenaten's navel-gazing neglect of the nation's economy and security while he persecuted the believers of other deities and—like Morsi—inserted his own followers everywhere in the bureaucracy, led to massive unrest and perhaps prompted his most trusted lieutenant, Horemheb, to overthrow him—though his exact fate is unknown. 
 
Born a commoner, Horemheb did not seize the throne until its last royal claimant, Tutankhamun, had died—as well as the boy-king's aged tutor Ay, who had married his widow.  But when he did take it, he promptly stamped out the hated Aten cult and brought back that of the suppressed Amun-Ra, leading to a century of initially strong and stable rule by people mainly bearing the name of his successor and military protégé, a man called Ramesses.
 
As a soldier, Horemheb was no doubt angry that Akhenaten allowed Egypt's hard-won empire in the Near East to largely slip away without a fight. The nation's sacred prestige fell for the first time in centuries, and had to be reestablished so that ma`at—meaning everything from truth to order to righteousness, bound up with Egypt’s well-being–could reign once again. And that he quickly set out to do.
 
Here is a degree of parallel with al-Sisi, who reportedly had been enraged by Morsi’s actions that led not only to a loss of Egypt’s international prestige but also damaged her national sovereignty. This he saw not only in Morsi’s apparent covert cooperation with militants who had killed and kidnapped many Egyptian troops in Sinai, but also in his release of numerous terrorists convicted of murdering their fellow Egyptians plus members of the army, police and foreign tourists. Two symbolic acts by Morsi also not only raised eyebrows, but a sense of alarm about his intentions. 
 
The first was Morsi's decision not only to invite Tarek al-Zomor, a member of the terrorist organization, al-Gama`a al-Islamiya (the Islamic Group), who took part in the assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat on the eighth anniversary of his 1973 brief but psychologically crucial triumph over Israel in Sinai, but to place him in the front row during the commemoration of the day on October 6 last year.  The second was Morsi's June 2013 appointment of Adel Mohamed al-Khayat, a leader of al-Gama`a al-Islamiya, which waged a civil war against the Mubarak regime in the 1990s, killing scores of foreign tourists as well as hundreds of security officials, politicians and Egyptian civilians, to be governor of Luxor—where its most violent attack killed 58 foreigners and four Egyptian police and tourist guides (who died trying to defend the others) in November 1997.
 
Moreover, in late June this year, Morsi threatened to declare jihad on the embattled Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria in which the military had no interest.  Al-Sisi was similarly piqued that Morsi allowed some in his cabinet to make threats to attack a controversial dam in Ethiopia that it is feared will lessen Egypt’s accustomed share of the Nile’s vital waters.  And he was reportedly appalled that Morsi had evidently even told Sudan’s Islamist president, Omar Bashir, whom the U.N. has accused of genocide in Darfur, that he would consider giving that country land which lies in dispute between them on their common border.
 
To Egyptians since antiquity, to yield any part of the nation’s territory is an unforgivable heresy.
“But I loved Egypt more.” Perhaps worst of all, the MB calls for the establishment of a new caliphate, and lately demanded that its capital be in Jerusalem, which would not only mean a war to the death with Israel for which Egypt is not prepared, but—if successful–would obliterate the nation’s independence.  Misr al-Mahrusa—“God-Guarded Egypt,” an ancient epithet for the country–would be no more.
 
Though the general wrote nostalgically in his U.S. War College paper of the caliphate that united the Islamic world for seventy years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632, he stated as well that only extremists were calling for its immediate return now.  And if it does come back, he would undoubtedly want it to be based in Cairo.
 
Adding to all this was Morsi’s rapid and relentless attempt to turn Egypt into a one-party Islamist dictatorship, and how it had destroyed both tourism and foreign investment while turning formerly rather small, if persistent protests by scattered secularist groups in an historically pious society into the largest demonstrations the world had ever seen.
 
On October 8, The Washington Post ran an AP story that quoted the first of a three part interview of al-Sisi by the respected Egyptian daily, AlMasryAlYoum, in which the general-turned-king breaker recounts for the first time what led to his actions on July 3:
 
El-Sissi said the turmoil of the past three months could have been avoided if Morsi had resigned in the face of the protests that drew out millions against him, starting on June 30. Days after the protests began, el-Sissi said, he met with senior Brotherhood figures, including the group’s strongman Khairat el-Shater.
 
He said el-Shater warned him that the Brotherhood, which made up the backbone of Morsi’s administration, would not be able to control retaliation by Islamic groups in Sinai and other areas if Morsi were removed.
 
“El-Shater spoke for 45 minutes, vowing terrorist attacks, violence, killings by the Islamic groups,” el-Sissi told the paper. “El-Shater pointed with his finger as if he is shooting a gun.”
 
He said el-Shater’s speech “showed arrogance and tyranny,” adding: “I exploded and said … ‘What do you want? You either want to rule us or kill us?”
 
Addressing Islamists now in the wake of Morsi’s fall, el-Sissi said, “Watch out while dealing with Egyptians. You have dealt with Egyptians as if you are right and they are wrong … (as if) you are the believer and they are the infidels. This is arrogance through faith.”
 
In the first part of the interview published Monday, el-Sissi said he told Morsi in February, “your project has ended and the amount of antipathy in Egyptians’ souls has exceeded any other regime.” He added that the military’s move against Morsi was driven by fears of civil war.
 
Given all this, could it be any wonder that the highly-patriotic, if also pious general with whom Morsi had replaced the aged Mubarak holdover Mohamed Hussein Tantawi because of his seemingly solid Islamist credentials had—after long hesitation—eventually felt that he had to act for the sake of his country?  Ironically, al-Sisi was born and raised in the old Islamic quarter of Cairo called Gamaliya, the native district of Egypt and the Arab world’s first (and so far only) Nobel laureate in literature, Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006).
 
Mahfouz, despite a very strict Islamic upbringing, was from his youth a pharaonist—someone who placed Egypt’s unique national heritage above anything else, including Islam, in defining her identity—as well as his own.  One of Mahfouz’s most prescient works is his peculiar 1983 novel-in-dialogue, Before the Throne.  In it he hauls about three score of the nation’s rulers–from Menes in the First Dynasty to al-Sadat—before the Osiris Court, the divine tribunal which in ancient Egyptian belief judged the souls of the dead.  Before the Throne features many cycles of tyranny, rebellion, chaos and restoration, which presage the events of the past three years in uncanny ways.
 
In the afterlife trial of Horemheb, there is an exchange between the general who turned on Akhenaten and the addled religious zealot himself that could well have taken place between al-Sisi and Morsi, though without the intense mutual affection, no doubt:

“I loved none of my followers more than you, Horemheb,” Akhenaten reproached him.  “Nor was I as generous with anyone as much as I was with you.  My reward was that you betrayed me…”
 
“I deny nothing you have said,” replied Horemheb.  “I loved you more than any man I’d ever known—but I loved Egypt more.”
 
Time will tell if al-Sisi, currently calling the shots behind an all-secularist civilian government of technocrats of his choosing, is truly more nationalist than Islamist—whether he will restore ma`at or shari`a (Islamic law)—and if he will guide Egypt back into stability (or fails to do so) as a democrat in uniform, or as a martinet behind a “democratic” curtain.  A key clue will be if he pushes for a new Constitution that omits the central problem with the one rammed through by Morsi, which not only made shari`a the main source of legislation (as it was before)—but which also empowered the clerics of al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, to interpret all laws to ensure compliance with it.
 
A draft of the new Constitution, released on August 21, would reinstate the Mubarak-era ban on religious parties, throw out the most offensive aspects of Morsi's Islamist Constitution from the point of view of religious tolerance, and ban the formation of religious parties—a very good sign.  The fifty-member commission (headed by former Arab League chief and presidential candidate, Amr Moussa), that is now reworking the draft, in coordination with the panel of experts that produced it, may entirely rewrite the Morsi-era charter.  
 
The only Islamist group to join the body and to play any part in the transition, the Salafi al-Nour Party, has protested against the removal of the shari'a provision—but the secularists, including the commission's spokesman, head of the Arab Writers' Union Mohamed Salmawy, seem to control the process so far.  However, the August 21 draft specifically outlawed the removal of the president by popular protest, reserving that right for parliament (the lower house of which has been dissolved due to violations of elections laws since June 2012)—to the outrage of the activists who fought to bring down both Mubarak and Morsi.
 
A recent decree replaces the oath that members of the armed forces formerly took to the nation's president, Constitution and laws with a declaration of loyalty solely to the country's military leadership.  As the experience not only of Egypt both before and under the Brotherhood, but also Pakistan under its own generals, Gaza under Hamas and even Turkey under the more stealthily Islamist Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shown, only a separation of mosque and state with civilian control of the military can deliver anything like real democracy.
 
In Egypt, arguably the most religion-obsessed country on earth all through her world’s-longest history (and one of the most authoritarian as well), we should not expect to see either genuine democracy or even its prerequisite, a strong degree of secularism, with or without the new Constitution—or al-Sisi himself–anytime soon. Yet at least Egypt will not be ruled by the MB—which threatens not only the world's oldest nation, but us all–thanks to this enigmatic character from the heart of Old Cairo:General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
 
Raymond Stock resided in Egypt for 20 years. He is writing a biography of Egyptian Nobel laureate in literature, Naguib Mahfouz (seven of whose books he has translated), for Farrar, Straus & Giroux in New York.  
 
 

On Topic
  
The Real Force Behind Egypt's 'Revolution Of The State'Reuters, Oct. 10, 2013 —In Hosni Mubarak's final days in office in 2011, the world's gaze focused on Cairo, where hundreds of thousands of protesters demanded the resignation of one of the Arab world's longest serving autocrats.
 
Interview with Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi (part 1)Al-Masry Al-Youm, Oct. 9, 2013
 
Interview with Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi (part 2)Al-Masry Al-Youm, Oct. 10, 2013 —During a four-hour interview, Sisi did not refrain from answering any question but chose to hold back some details because, according to him, it was not yet the time to elaborate on them.  While Sisi believes that the decision to oust former President Mohamed Morsy prevented a civil war in Egypt, he speaks of Morsy respectfully. He says that the Muslim Brotherhood were not equipped enough to lead a country as big as Egypt.
 
Egypt’s Economic Competitiveness Plunges To New LowsHend El-Behary, Egypt Independent, Oct. 12, 2013—Political instability has caused Egypt’s economic competitiveness to tumble from 107th to 118th out of 148 countries, according to Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), an annual report issued by the World Economic Forum.
 
Sinai: Can the Truth Be Told?Drew Brammer, Egypt Independent, Oct. 11, 2013—A young, niqab-clad journalist carefully tiptoed through the black, burned out shell of a house, her feet cracking broken tiles and stone as she stepped. Sunlight glared into the charred room through massive openings blown out of the bullet-ridden walls. This destruction is a result of one of many recent military offenses in Sinai.
 
 

 

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EGYPT AFTER MORSI: AS SITUATION STABILIZES, HAMAS MARGINALIZED AND SINAI ISLAMISTS ATTACKED, ONGOING U.S. SUPPORT FOR BROTHERHOOD IS PUZZLING

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 Download an abbreviated version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Contents:

 

 

Contents:

 

Egyptians Bewildered Over Support for Muslim Brotherhood: Michael Armanious, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 23, 2013—The Egyptian people are astounded. They simply do not understand the Obama Administration's efforts to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power.

 

Egypt's Sinai Emerges As New Arena for Jihad: Maggie Michael, Real Clear World,  Sept. 4, 2013—An Egyptian doctor once close to Osama bin Laden is bringing together multiple al-Qaida-inspired militant groups in Egypt‘s Sinai to fight the country's military, as the lawless peninsula emerges as a new theater for jihad, according to Egyptian intelligence and security officials.

 

Egypt's War On Hamas: Khaled Abu Toameh, GatestoneIinstitute, Sept. 12, 2013—For the past two months, the Egyptians have been at war not only with the jihadis in Sinai, but also in an all-out war with the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. This

 

Egypt and its Patrons: Paul Mutter, The Arabist, Sept. 6, 2013 —Why does Egypt receive between $1.3 and $1.5 billion of US aid annually? "Because of Israel" is the most common answer to that question. Certainly, that is driving much of the American political wrangling over whether aid should be suspended.

 

As World Watches Syria, Egypt Launches Major Campaign Against Jihadists in Sinai: Paul Alster, FoxNews, Sept. 16, 2013—While the eyes of the world are on Syria, Egypt's military is routing jihadists from the vast and lawless Sinai Peninsula — and, according to some regional observers, showing the U.S. how to conduct a war on terrorists.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

Egyptian Military: Army To Continue Operations until Sinai Terrorist-Free: Israpundit, Sept 16, 2013
Egyptian Media Attack U.S.: L. Lavi and N. Shamni, MEMRI, Sept. 14, 2013

Egyptian Army Saves Christians from Muslim Terrorists: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, Sept. 17, 2013

 

 

 

EGYPTIANS BEWILDERED OVER
SUPPORT FOR MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

Michael Armanious

Gatestone Institute, Aug. 23, 2013

 

The Egyptian people are astounded. They simply do not understand the Obama Administration's efforts to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power. In an effort to make some sense of the Obama Administration's policies, Amr Adeeb, a prominent Egyptian commentator, argues that the U.S. is helping the Muslim Brotherhood to achieve power, in order to turn Egypt into a magnet for jihadist fighters. The goal, Adeeb states, is to turn Egypt into another Syria or Afghanistan and discredit Islamism as a viable political movement.

 

To Westerners, this may seem like a bizarre conspiracy theory, but for Egyptians it helps explain why the U.S. government is supporting an organization that has openly declared jihad against the West, engaged in threats of war with Israel and Ethiopia, demolished dozens of ancient historic churches, set hospitals on fire, and murdered Christians in the streets. The Muslim Brotherhood has no respect for the rule of law, but the Obama Administration treats the Egyptian military that removed the group from power as a threat to democracy itself.

 

The fact is, the Ikhwan (as the Muslim Brotherhood is called in Arabic) engaged in some pretty undemocratic behavior in the election that brought it to power in June 2012. Morsi lied about his background, telling voters he worked for NASA when he did no such thing. He falsely promised to spend $200 billion on an Egyptian renaissance only to say, once he was elected, that it was just an idea. He bribed voters with cooking oil, sugar, and medicine. On the day of the election, with threats of violence, the Muslim Brotherhood stopped thousands of Coptic Christians from voting. Further, in a little known aspect of the election, many voters complained of receiving ballots that had already been marked in Morsi's favor.

 

Egyptians were willing to overlook these irregularities in hopes that Morsi would bring order and stability to their country. They hoped he would follow through on his promise to build a modern Egypt; create jobs, and put together and inclusive government and constitution. They hoped he would honor his promise to spend $200 billion on repairing Egypt's infrastructure as part of an Islamic "Renaissance Project." Instead, Morsi worked systematically to dismantle the institutions of a 7,000 year-old country. He gathered his cronies to speak openly, on national television, of destabilizing Ethiopia in a fight over the use of water from the Upper Nile River.

 

Morsi also straightforwardly stated that he was recreating an Islamic "Caliphate." He pardoned and freed hard-line Islamists — including Anwar Sadat's killers — and allowed them to have an Islamic political party, contrary to the constitution, which bans religious parties. When Morsi spoke to audiences, hard-line Islamists sat in the front row, demonstrating that these people were his political base.

 

To buttress the support of this base, Morsi released members of Gamaa al-Islamiyya, founded by the "Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel-Rahman, who attempted the first World Trade Center attack. This group, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, killed over 60 tourists in Luxor in 1997. That history did not stop Morsi from appointing one of its members governor of Luxor, over the objection of local residents who are dependent on tourism for their livelihood. Nor did it stop him from assigning another member of this group as Minister of Culture. With these decisions, Morsi delivered a final blow to Egypt's tourism industry. And if people are not even willing to visit Egypt, how will they invest in the country?

 

The Muslim Brotherhood, however, apparently does not want tourists from the West, even though they have been an important source of hard currency for decades. It seems Sheik Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an ultraconservative Islamist and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, had asked Morsi to not allow Western tourists into Egypt, and to replace them with tourists from Muslim countries. Life under the rule of Morsi became impossible. For Egyptians, shortages of food, water, electricity, and medicine became the norm. In response, Morsi appeared on TV to ask for more time, another 10 or 15 years.

 

As Morsi started driving his country into a civilizational ditch, some of the passengers rebelled. A grassroots movement called "Tamarud" ("Rebellion") mobilized over 30 million people, who took over the streets of Egypt, and called for the removal of Morsi and his radical government. Their legitimate goal was to take the steering wheel from a group of madmen who wanted to bring about famine and take Egypt back to the dark ages. To prevent a civil war, the Egyptian army removed Morsi and installed an interim government with the support of Al-Azhar University, the most respected Islamic authority in Sunni Islam; the El Nour Party (an ultraconservative group); the Coptic Church, and a number of secular parties.

 

Predictably, the Muslim Brotherhood responded with threats and violence, especially targeting the Christians of Egypt. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood shot a 10-year-old Christian girl in the streets as she returned home from church. They beheaded a Christian merchant, shot a priest in Sinai and marched Franciscan Nuns in the streets like war prisoners. They burned Christian business, homes, and churches, especially the ancient churches in Upper Egypt. Their goal was to terrorize Christians and erase all of evidence of Egypt's Christian past. Apparently, destroying the country's hope for the future was not enough.

 

Islamists also massacred officers and soldiers from the armed forces and the police. Mohamed Beltagy, an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood politician, stated in a televised interview that violence would stop when Mohammed Morsi was reinstated as the president of Egypt.

 

Many Egyptian are asking: Why are the West and United States insisting on supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in the name of democracy? It was the same type of "democracy" — merely an election, which is only a small part of a democracy — that brought Hitler to power in Germany and Hamas to power in the Gaza Strip. If Hamas is outlawed in the West, why isn't the Muslim Brotherhood?

 

What many Egyptians cannot understand is: Why is the U.S. Administration siding with the forces of oppression in their country and assisting with its transformation into a failed state under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood? These conditions all run contrary to American interests.

 

In the Middle East, a strong economy, military, and police are the cornerstones of stability. Egypt was the first Arab nation to choose the path of peace with Israel. Egypt is the nerve system of the Arab and the Islamic world. The U.S. has a strong interest in a stable, modern, and prosperous Egypt. It simply cannot be allowed to become another Somalia or Afghanistan, controlled by its own version of the Taliban.

 

Michael Armanious is a Coptic-American who has written extensively about his homeland, Egypt.

 

Contents

 

EGYPT'S SINAI EMERGES AS NEW ARENA FOR JIHAD

Maggie Michael

Real Clear World,  Sept. 4, 2013

 

An Egyptian doctor once close to Osama bin Laden is bringing together multiple al-Qaida-inspired militant groups in Egypt‘s Sinai to fight the country's military, as the lawless peninsula emerges as a new theater for jihad, according to Egyptian intelligence and security officials.

 

There have been other signs of a dangerous shift in the longtime turmoil in the peninsula bordering Israel and Gaza since the military's July 3 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the officials say. With the shifts, Sinai's instability is becoming more regionalized and threatens to turn into an outright insurgency.

 

Sinai has seen an influx of foreign fighters the past two months, including several hundred Yemenis. Several militant groups that long operated in the area to establish an Islamic Caliphate and attack their traditional enemy Israel have joined others in declaring formally that their objective now is to battle Egypt's military.

 

Also, Sinai has become the focus of attention among major regional jihadi groups. Al-Qaida's branch in Iraq last weekend called on Egyptians to fight the military, as did al-Qaida's top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri. The militant considered the most dangerous man in the Sahara – one-eyed terror leader Moktar Belmoktar, a former member of al-Qaida's North Africa branch – joined forces with a Mali-based jihadi group last month and vowed attacks in Egypt.

 

Topping the most wanted list in Sinai is Ramzi Mawafi, a doctor who joined al-Qaida in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Mawafi, 61, escaped from an Egyptian prison in 2011 in a massive jailbreak that also sprung free Morsi and more than a dozen Muslim Brotherhood members during the chaos of the uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

 

Mawafi is now believed to be in Sinai coordinating among militant groups and helping arrange money and weapons, security officials told The Associated Press. The four officials were from military intelligence, the military and the security forces and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

 

Sinai's disparate militant groups are now "on the same page, in full cooperation in the face of the same threat," Gen. Sherif Ismail, a recently retired security adviser to the governor of Northern Sinai, told the AP. He said the groups are inspired by al-Qaida, but not necessarily linked to the mother group.

 

Morsi's fall opened the way for an escalation by Sinai's jihadis. Most militants had seen Morsi as too willing to compromise in bringing rule by Islamic Shariah law in Egypt. But his removal by the military, backed by liberals, was seen as an attack on Islam. More importantly, it ended the policy Morsi pursued during his year in office of negotiating with Sinai armed groups, restraining security operations against them in return for a halt in attacks on the military.

 

Now, the military has stepped up operations. On Tuesday, helicopter gunships struck suspected militant hideouts in several villages near the borders with Israel and Gaza, killing at least eight and wounding 15 others, the state news agency MENA announced.

 

Since Morsi's ouster, more than 70 police and soldiers have been killed by militants in a cycle of attack and counterattack that has seen jihadis turn to more brutal tactics. In the worst single attack, gunmen pulled police recruits from buses, lay them on the ground and shot 25 of them to death on Aug. 19. Days later, a group of militants was killed before carrying out a suicide car bombing in a significant escalation. Over the same period, security forces have killed 87 militants – including 32 foreigners – and arrested 250 others, including 80 foreigners, according to the army spokesman's office.

 

Hit-and-run attacks take place nearly daily in northern Sinai, targeting security forces in the provincial capital of el-Arish and towns dotting the coast and the borders with Gaza and Israel.

Two militants – a Yemeni and a Palestinian – who were recently arrested in Sinai provided information about Mawafi's role while under questioning, the security officials said. Recently, Nabeel Naeem, a founder of the Islamic Jihad militant group who has known Mawafi since Afghanistan – said on an Egyptian TV station that Mawafi "is leading the militants in Sinai."

 

Mawafi specialized in bomb-making during his years in Afghanistan, the officials said. He also supervised clinics that treated wounded Islamic fighters, earning him the nickname "bin Laden's doctor" – though Naeem said he never treated the late al-Qaida leader himself. An Egyptian court in June last year accused Mawafi, along with members of Muslim Brotherhood group, including Morsi, of conspiring with Hamas and Hezbollah to orchestrate the 2011 break from Wadi Natroun prison. The court described Mawafi as "the secretary general of al-Qaida in Sinai."

 

The number of jihadi groups operating in Sinai's rugged, mountainous deserts has mushroomed over recent years, believed to have thousands of fighters. Some are mainly Egyptian, such as Ansar Jerusalem – thought to include Egyptians from outside Sinai – and the Shura Council of Mujahedeen of Environs of Jerusalem – which is mostly Sinai locals – and the Salafi Jihadi group. Among Sinai's population, there has been a growing movement of "Takfiris," who reject as heretical anyone who does not adhere to their strict interpretation of Islam. While not all Takfiris are involved in armed action, their ideology makes them an easy pool for armed groups to draw from.

 

Other groups are based in the neighboring, Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, such as the Islam Army and Jaljalat, which are believed to send fighters into Sinai. Some groups were oriented toward fighting Israel, occasionally firing rockets across the border. Others carried out attacks on Egyptian security forces, usually in retaliation for arrests or out of the deep-seeded resentment of the police among Sinai's population. In the aftermath of Mubarak's fall in 2011, a group attacked police stations and drove security forces out of the border towns, declaring the area an Islamic Caliphate. Many of them were later tried and sentenced to death.

 

Now multiple groups are overtly calling for "jihad" against Egypt's military. Several hundred Yemeni fighters came in after Morsi's ouster in response to religious edicts by clerics back home urging them to fight jihad in Egypt, according to a Yemeni security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. Al-Qaida in Yemen, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is considered the most active branch of the terror network.

 

The Egyptian officials say fighters have also come from Saudi Arabia, Libya and Syria. The military intelligence official said commanders of jihadi groups are joining ranks with prominent Sinai-based militants who belong to major tribes to ensure protection and facilitate weapons smuggling. One of the most influential tribes, the Swarkas, has split between anti- and pro-government families.

 

An Egyptian military official in el-Arish said there are at least nine main training camps run by jihadists in Sinai, hidden in villages controlled by allied tribes or in mountainous regions. Ismail el-Iskandarani, a researcher at the Egyptian Center for Social and Economic rights who writes extensively about Sinai, says it's hard to pin down the number of militants or camps because local jihadis hide in homes among their own families after carrying out hit-and-run attacks. "Even their relatives might not know they are involved in Islamic militancy," he said.

 

He said there is also no single leader, with small cells of differing ideologies. The situation is further complicated by the overlap of militants and criminal networks involved in smuggling, sometimes with the involvement of corrupt police officials. "Different security agencies are meddling in making it hard to tell who is doing what," he said.

 

Now international terror groups are adding their calls for jihad in the wake of the coup. In an Aug. 3 statement, al-Qaida leader al-Zawahri mocked Morsi's participation in democratic process, calling democracy "an idol made of date paste" created by secularists. He called upon "the soldiers of the Quran to wage the war for the Quran."

 

On Saturday, a leader of al-Qaida's Iraqi branch, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, also called on Egyptians to fight their army. From North Africa, the militant leader Belmoktar and a Mali jihadi group announced last month that they aim to form a jihadi front from the River Nile to North Africa's Atlantic coast.

 

So far, Egypt's military has not launched a major offensive against armed groups in Sinai. El-Iskandarani, the researcher, believes the generals are wary of a sparking a wider confrontation with disgruntled Bedouin tribes. Also, Sinai jihadis have powerful new arsenals of heavy anti-aircraft guns, rockets and other weapons smuggled from Libya. "The price will be very heavy," el-Iskandarani said.

 

Contents
 

 

EGYPT'S WAR ON HAMAS

Khaled Abu Toameh

Gatestone institute, Sept. 12, 2013

 

For the past two months, the Egyptians have been at war not only with the jihadis in Sinai, but also in an all-out war with the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. This war is being waged on two fronts: in the media and along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. As far as Hamas is concerned, this is a war of survival that it cannot afford to lose.

 

An Egyptian army watchtower at Rafah, along the Gaza Strip border with Egypt, April 2009. (Photo credit: Marius Arnesen) The Egyptian war is clearly hurting Hamas much more than the two military offensives launched by the Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip since 2008. Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip are now talking openly about the Egyptian war, which they believe is aimed at toppling their regime there.

 

The officials admit that they were not prepared for this war from the largest Arab country, which until last June was their main ally in the Arab and Islamic countries. Since the ouster of Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi, the state-controlled media in Egypt has turned Hamas into the country's number one enemy. Almost every day an Egyptian newspaper runs a story about Hamas's ongoing attempts to undermine Egypt's national security, and its involvement in terror attacks against the Egyptian army.

 

Hamas spokesmen in the Gaza Strip now spend most of their time denying the allegations and accusing the Egyptian media of waging a smear campaign not only against their movement,but all Palestinians. The media offensive has been accompanied by a series of security measures that have convinced Hamas leaders they are in a state of war with Egypt.

 

Apart from banning Hamas representatives from entering Egypt, the Egyptian authorities have imposed severe travel restrictions on residents of the Gaza Strip. The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been shut for most of the time over the past two months, with the Egyptian authorities citing "security reasons" for the closure.

 

But the most drastic measure taken by the Egyptians so far, which is really hurting Hamas, is the destruction of hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip. The Egyptians are now in the process of creating a buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and Egypt after having razed several homes and leveled land along the border.

 

These are the same Egyptians who used to condemn Israel for every military strike aimed at thwarting rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israeli cities and towns. All these measures have prompted some Hamas officials to wonder whether Egypt was planning to launch a military operation inside the Gaza Strip under the pretext of combating terror.

 

Hamas believes that as part of this war, Egyptian intelligence officials are behind a new group called Tamarod [Rebellion] whose members have vowed to overthrow the Hamas regime in November. In recent weeks, Hamas arrested dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on suspicion of being involved with the new group, which carries the same name as the Egyptian movement that campaigned against Morsi.

 

The Egyptian security measures have thus far resulted in a severe shortage of basic goods and fuel in the Gaza Strip. Some Hamas leaders warned this week that the Gaza Strip is facing a humanitarian and economic crisis as a result of the Egyptian army's measures. Until recently, Hamas leaders were careful not to engage in a direct confrontation with the new rulers of Egypt. But in recent days several Hamas officials are beginning to regard Egypt's security measures as an act of war against the Gaza Strip.

 

For now, the Egyptians do not want to admit that they are at war with Hamas, preferring instead to describe their measures as part of a campaign against terror. Hamas, for its part, has internalized the fact that it is at war with Egypt. Hamas, as it is being pushed to the wall and increasingly isolated, faces two options: either to initiate a new confrontation with Israel to create Arab and Islamic pressure on Egypt to halt its war, or to confront the Egyptian army in a direct military engagement by joining forces with the jihadis in Sinai.

 

Contents

 

EGYPT AND ITS PATRONS

Paul Mutter

The Arabist, Sept. 6, 2013

 

Why does Egypt receive between $1.3 and $1.5 billion of US aid annually? "Because of Israel" is the most common answer to that question. Certainly, that is driving much of the American political wrangling over whether aid should be suspended. The New York Times reports that during the back-and-forth among the US and its allies leading up to Morsi's ouster, Israeli officials argued against cuts, and told the military not to put stock in US threats to cut off aid. The Israelis, like the US, greatly prefer the Egyptian security forces to be in charge of the country. Whatever, the depredations of Mubarak, the Brotherhood, or the counterrevolution, Egypt is too valuable for any American leader to risk "losing."

 

But though the Muslim Brotherhood signaled it might be less hostile to Hamas or Iran than Mubarak was, in practice the former president did little to change existing policies. Under Morsi's short presidency, the Egyptians even stepped up the destruction of smuggling tunnels into the coastal strip (moreover, the Egyptians were reportedly instrumental in negotiating an end to Operation Pillar of Cloud last winter).

 

Both Israel and Egypt have many shared interests in the Sinai, especially as the security situation deteriorates. Though Egyptian pressure on Gaza is massively increasing now, it was never seriously in jeopardy under the Brotherhood given that the terrorists and criminal gangs in the Sinai were going after both the SCAF- and Brotherhood-led Egyptian state, and it served Morsi little to champion the Palestinian cause while in office.

 

The massive corporate investment in Egyptian or Saudi defense expenditures certainly contributes to Congressional deliberations against aid cuts. And while one might examine the head of President Obama, and whether his reluctance to "take sides" really suggests a desire to reduce a US commitment to Egypt, the fact that the aid has not yet been publicly cut off suggests that Washington has tacitly taken a side: that of the military's, guarantor of the status quo.

 

It was, in fact, not just the Israelis telling General Sisi et al. to pay no mind to the US law that requires all aid to be suspended to a country if a coup takes place there. It was King Abdullah telling the Egyptian generals that the Kingdom would make up for any cutoffs in economic or military aid – the latter, almost assuredly in the form of American-made weapons in Riyadh's possession.

 

Riyadh's role is extremely important in all of this, especially with respect to Iran's containment. As the CNAS think tank noted in February 2011, Egypt's strategic importance in the wider region has nothing to do with the current deployment of US forces in the country, where the only fully staffed America military station is a US Navy medical center. It instead has to do with the nightmare scenario that would threaten the US's interests in the Persian Gulf: the sudden collapse of any one of the Gulf monarchies that host the radar sites, listening posts, airfields, and weapon emplacements pointing at Iran:

 

"The United States has no military bases of its own in Egypt. Its headquarters for directing air and ground troops in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq, are in Qatar. Stockpiles of tanks, ammunition, fuel, spare parts and other war materiel are warehoused in Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. U.S. missile batteries are deployed along the Persian Gulf's west coast. The U.S. Navy's regional headquarters is in Bahrain.

 

But in contingencies or crises, American forces have depended heavily on Egyptian facilities built with U.S. aid to U.S. specifications to accommodate U.S. forces as they move from the United States and Europe to Africa or westward across Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the Persian Gulf. American nuclear powered aircraft carriers, whose jets are playing a major role in Afghanistan, rely critically on their expedited use of the Suez Canal, giving them easy access to the Red Sea and Persian Gulf."

 

Jane's Defence Weekly presented an analysis of commercial satellite imagery compiled between 2011 and 2012 to illustrate the expansion of US, UK, and GCC "conventional combat capabilities" in the Persian Gulf. The analysis highlighted the most salient points of this cooperation, which all ultimately leads back over that waterway and the Saudi desert to Egypt's own airspace and port facilities.

 

Meanwhile, the suggestion that the failure of the Brotherhood's political experiment in Egypt may be necessary for the House of Saud's survival is not farfetched. Though security concerns largely determine American actions, for the Saudis, there is also the matter of not wanting competition from the transnational Brotherhood as a mass Islamist movement.

 

While in years past, the Saudis supported the Brotherhood in Egypt – against Nasser, primarily, whose pan-Arabism and meddling in Yemen during the Cold War threatened the House of Saud's shaky legitimacy. But then the Brothers' messaging and aspirations began to appeal to dissidents within the Kingdom, as did other rival Islamist precepts, threatening absolute monarchy with the prospect of replacement. In recent years, top Saudi officials have made extremely negative remarks about the Brotherhood, most notably the late Crown Prince Nayef. Last month, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal fired a Kuwaiti preacher from his Al Resalah channel for having pro-Brotherhood leanings. As a Foreign Policy article recently noted about Saudi efforts to arm anti-Assad Syrian militias, "Saudi Arabia does not only despise the Muslim Brothers, but political Islamic movements and mass politics in general, which it sees as a threat to its model of absolute patrimonial monarchy."

Contents

 

AS WORLD WATCHES SYRIA, EGYPT LAUNCHES
MAJOR CAMPAIGN AGAINST JIHADISTS IN SINAI

Paul Alster

FoxNews, Sept. 16, 2013

 

While the eyes of the world are on Syria, Egypt's military is routing jihadists from the vast and lawless Sinai Peninsula — and, according to some regional observers, showing the U.S. how to conduct a war on terrorists.

 

Under orders from Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the military leader governing Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi was ousted, the Egyptian military is stepping up the fight against the growing coalition of Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and other radical Muslims gathering in the massive desert peninsula. Although the jihadist activity in the Sinai could be as big a threat to regional stability as the civil war in Syria, Sisi's effort to confront terrorism at his doorstep comes without endorsement from the Obama administration, which has denounced the military takeover in Egypt.

 

"I am more than sure that the Muslim Brotherhood and its leadership in Egypt were actually encouraged by the Americans — and not just in Egypt," Mordechai Kedar, a highly respected analyst of Islamic groups, and a former Israeli military intelligence officer, told FoxNews.com. "The State Department sympathized with the Muslim Brotherhood because they wanted Islamists to love America. They will do anything in order to look nice in the eyes of these Islamists."

 

In recent weeks, ferocious battles have been fought by the Egyptian military against Islamists in the vast desert region that separates Egypt and Israel. The territory is meant to be controlled by Egypt under the terms of the 1979 peace agreement between the two countries, but things in Sinai were already deteriorating during the final years of former President Hosni Mubarak's rule. Then, during Morsi's brief, 12-month tenure, things became significantly worse.

 

"I have no doubt that Sinai could become a hub for terror, like Afghanistan. The Egyptian Army has finally decided to take care of what is going on in Sinai," Kedar said, "not because of Israel, not because of Gaza, not because of Sinai, but because of Egypt and the fact that the terrorism there could soon spill into Egypt itself."

 

Under Sisi's leadership the Egyptian Army is now intent on creating a buffer zone to prevent a flood of Hamas terrorists pouring in from Gaza to join the fighting in the Sinai Peninsula. Some 20,000 or more Egyptian soldiers have gone into Sinai in recent weeks and scores of terrorists have been killed, but the Egyptian forces have also sustained losses. Early Monday, a remote-controlled roadside bomb blew up a bus transporting Egyptian soldiers in Sinai. Early reports suggest at least nine casualties.

 

On August 13, missiles from Sinai were fired at the Israeli Red Sea holiday resort of Eilat, which borders the Sinai region — prompting the Iron Dome defense system to be called into action. There was also a brief suspension of flights to the popular tourist destination.

 

The Sinai has long been a lawless hotbed of militancy, where Bedouins mix with foreign fighters far from the arm of Cairo. Egypt's efforts to crack down in the region date back to the 1990s, and the Luxor Temple Massacre in 1997, when terrorist elements murdered 58 foreign tourists and 4 guards at the historic site. But since the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak and ended three decades of police state, the region had become even more ungovernable than before.

 

Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist

 

Contents

 

 

 

Egyptian Military Spokesman: Army To Continue Operations Till Sinai Terrorist-Free: Israpundit, Sept 16, 2013—Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, Ahmed Ali, says there will be more military operations against “terrorist” strongholds in Sinai, adding there is no timeframe for army action in the Peninsula.

 

Egyptian Media Attack U.S.: L. Lavi and N. Shamni, MEMRI, Sept. 14, 2013—Since Egyptian President Morsi's removal from power, the Egyptian public and media – both pro- and anti-Morsi – have been fiercely attacking the U.S.

 

Egyptian Army Saves Christians from Muslim Terrorists: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, Sept. 17, 2013—The Egyptian military regime escalated its war on radical Islamists Monday and came to the rescue of Christians whose village has been terrorized.

 

 

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ISLAMIC CIVIL WAR COMES TO BANKRUPT EGYPT, AS HAPLESS U.S. “POLICY” IS EXPOSED AS BATHETIC

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At Last, Secret Obama Middle East Policy Revealed, No Kidding: Barry Rubin, Jewish Press, July 9, 2013—A statement by two National Security Council senior staff members has revealed the inner thinking of President Barack Obama. It is of incredible importance and I plead with you to read it. If you do you will comprehend fully what’s going on with U.S. foreign policy.

 

Islam's Civil War Moves to Egypt: David P. Goldman, Mid East Forum, July 8, 2013—The vicious crosswind ripping through Egyptian politics comes from the great Sunni-Shi'ite civil war now enveloping the Muslim world from the Hindu Kush to the Mediterranean. It took just two days for the interim government installed last week by Egypt's military to announce that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States would provide emergency financing for the bankrupt Egyptian state.

 

It’s the (Egyptian) Economy, Stupid: Evelyn Gordon, Jerusalem Post, July 8, 2013—There’s nothing Israel can do about the fragile situation in Egypt except beef up its forces in the south and be prepared to contain any spillover violence. But since it has no interest in yet another failed state on its borders, there’s something very important it should be urging its Western allies to do: worry less about a new constitution and inclusive democratic processes and more about urgently reviving Egypt’s economy. For without economic improvement, the best constitution in the world won’t be able to stabilize the country.

 

Al-Qaeda's Jihad on Anti-Morsi Egyptians: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, July 4, 2013 — Now that the Egyptian military appears to have granted the nation's wish—to be rid of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, as millions have been chanting, "Irhal" ["Leave office"] — al-Qaeda appears to have stepped in.

 

On Topic Links

 

Morsi Spurned Deals, Seeing Military as Tamed: David D. Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh, New York Times, July 6, 2013

Twelve Year-Old Explains Egyptian Crisis in Under Three Minutes: Brittany Ritell, Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2013

Egypt And Hamas Part Company: Neville Teller, Eurasia Review, July 9, 2013

Gaza Terrorists Infiltrate Sinai: Roi Kais, Ynet News, July 8, 2013

Turkish Leadership Demoralized By Coup in Egypt: Cengiz Çandar, Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, July 8, 2013

Tunisian Ruling Party Feels Heat After Egyptian Coup: Mischa Benoit-Lavelle, Al-Monitor, July 8, 2013

Egyptian Fighting Squeezes the Gaza Strip: Linda Gradstein, Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2013

How Morsi Came Undone: Eric Trager, New York Daily News, July 5, 2013

 

AT LAST, SECRET OBAMA MIDDLE EAST

POLICY REVEALED, NO KIDDING

Barry Rubin

Jewish Press, July 9, 2013

 

A statement by two National Security Council senior staff members has revealed the inner thinking of President Barack Obama. It is of incredible importance and I plead with you to read it. If you do you will comprehend fully what’s going on with U.S. foreign policy. Egypt, Egypt, Egypt… There are more words written about this event than demonstrators in Tahrir Square. But, to quote a recent secretary of state on Benghazi, what difference does it make? A great deal indeed.

 

First, let’s remember that in the face of advancing totalitarianism in the Middle East, U.S. policy completely y failed. Imagine, if you wish, what would have happened with the Nazis without Winston Churchill and Great Britain in the 1940s. The U.S. government of this day was not only ready to leave Middle Easterners to their fate; it even sided with their actual or potential oppressors.

 

So who has been waging the battle meanwhile? The people of Iran and Turkey, who have not won because in part the United States failed to encourage the former and did not encourage the Turkish army to do what the Egyptian army did do; the embattled Tunisian and Lebanese anti-Islamists; the Saudis (at times) and the Persian Gulf Arabs (except for Qatar) and Jordan. Oh yes, and also Israel the most slandered and falsely reviled country on earth.

 

Second, the Benghazi affair was the model of the Obama Administration worldview: If you allow a video insulting Muslims, four American officials will be killed. If you support the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, thousands of Americans might die. This is the result of placing not politics but counter-terrorism in command.  And this leads to… Barack Obama’s Big Decision

 

Is President Obama going to come down on the side of the Islamist ex-regime, remember this includes the Salafists in objective terms, or the new regime? What a remarkable irony that Obama endlessly apologized for past U.S. support for dictators and ended up adding a new chapter to that history and heightened anti-Americanism! Remember that one of his last conversations with ex-President Muhammad al-Mursi,

 

Obama told him that he still regarded him as the democratically elected president of Egypt. Of course, Obama will have to end up recognizing the new government. The question is how much and how long he will resist that? It is pitiful to know that the best possible result is that he will accept the rulers in Cairo and continue the economic aid. In fact, he should increase it. We should not be talking punishment for the coup but in fact a rich reward, to show others which way the wind blows.

 

Specifically, U.S. diplomats were urging a deal: a coalition government in Egypt in which the Brotherhood has part of the power.   You can imagine how well that would work and how grateful the Brotherhood (much less the Salafists) and their opponents will be to Obama for proposing they surrender. So in other words, the army, the former opposition, and the Islamists–in short, all of the Egyptian people no matter which side they are on, will see America as their enemy.

 

And will Obama learn more lessons from this situation?  Will he stop seeking to install a regime in Syria that is worse than Mursi’s? Will he increase support for the real Iranian, Turkish, and Lebanese oppositions? Will he recognize the true strategic realities of Israel and stop seeking to install a regime like Mursi’s in the territories captured by Israel in 1967 (I refer here to Hamas, not the Palestinian Authority which might well give way to Hamas after a state would be established?)

 

So far though, it looks like Obama is determined to be the protector of oppressive dictatorship in Egypt. Isn’t that what Obama complained about what previous presidents had done? The Obama Administration has called on  Egyptian leaders to pursue, “A transparent political process that is inclusive of all parties and groups,” including “avoiding any arbitrary arrests of Mursi and his supporters,” Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said July 4 in a statement.

 

I don’t recall such a statement being made in criticism of the Mursi regime. According to Bloomburg News, “Two U.S. officials who asked not to be identified commenting on[Obama\s]private communications—I assume it was really because they were too ashamed– said the administration is concerned that some in the military may want to provoke the violence and provide a rationale for crushing the movement once and for all.”

 

Then comes a critical statement that explains Obama Middle East policy. Pay close attention to this:   “Such a move would fail and probably prompt a shift to al-Qaeda type terrorist tactics by extremists in the Islamist movement in Egypt and elsewhere, the U.S. officials said.”   What is this saying? Remember this is a  White House policy statement for all practical purposes. That if the Muslim Brotherhood or perhaps the Salafists are denied power in Muslim-majority countries they cannot be defeated but that they will be radicalized so that they will launch September 11 style attacks on America.   In other words, the United States must surrender and betray its allies or else it faces disaster. This is called surrender and appeasement. And, besides, such a move would fail. There is a coherent Obama policy. Inquire no more, that is it.   And that’s why, for example, it wants the Turkish and Egyptian armies to accept an Islamist regime; and Syria for getting one, too; and Israel making whatever risks or concessions required to end the conflict right away no matter what the consequences. American officials say that the actually illusory demographic issue–which is simply nonsense–means that Israel better make the best deal possible now.

 

American allies cannot win and if they try they’ll just make the Islamists angrier. The White House, it is forgotten now, even wanted to overthrow the pro-American regime in Bahrain and might have helped them replace it if the Saudis hadn’t stopped them. I am not joking. I wish I were.

 

Remember what the two NSC staffers said, in representing Obama policy because they deserve and may well go down in history: “Such a move [fighting the Islamists in Egypt would fail and probably prompt a shift to al-Qaeda type terrorist tactics by extremists in the Islamist movement in Egypt and elsewhere.”

 

The Obama administration, on the basis of the current CIA director John Brennan’s Doctrine  has given up the battle. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are holding the United States for ransom. The demand for releasing (which means not attacking) the United States is the Middle East.

 

Naturally, this is also involved in domestic politics since the Obama Administration will be largely judged by voters—including in the 2014 congressional elections—on whether they can prevent such (imaginary) attacks. The theme is consistent, just another way of protecting the American people while accumulating more votes. It should be emphasized that aside from everything else, this is a ridiculous U.S. strategy because the Brotherhood and Salafists haven’t even thoughtof this tactic This isn’t just a surrender; it’s a preemptive surrender.

 

ISLAM'S CIVIL WAR MOVES TO EGYPT

David P. Goldman

Mid East Forum, July 8, 2013

 

The vicious crosswind ripping through Egyptian politics comes from the great Sunni-Shi'ite civil war now enveloping the Muslim world from the Hindu Kush to the Mediterranean. It took just two days for the interim government installed last week by Egypt's military to announce that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States would provide emergency financing for the bankrupt Egyptian state. Egypt may not yet have a prime minister, but it does not really need a prime minister. It has a finance minister, though, and it badly needs a finance minister, especially one with a Rolodex in Riyadh.

 

As the World Bulletin website reported July 6:

 

"The Finance Ministry has intensified its contacts [with Gulf states] to stand on the volume of financial aid announced," caretaker Finance Minister Fayyad Abdel Moneim told the Anadolu Agency in a phone interview Saturday. Abdel Moneim spoke of contacts with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait for urgent aid … Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi phoned Saudi Kind Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz and UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nuhayyan yesterday on the latest developments in Egypt. King Abdullah was the first Arab and foreign leader to congratulate interim president Adly Mansour after his swearing-in ceremony.

 

Meanwhile, Egypt's central bank governor, Hisham Ramez, was on a plane to Abu Dhabi July 7 "to drum up badly need financial support", the Financial Times reported. The Saudis and the UAE had pledged, but not provided, US$8 billion in loans to Egypt, because the Saudi monarchy hates and fears the Muslim Brotherhood as its would-be grave-digger. With the brothers out of power, things might be different. The Saudi Gazette wrote July 6:

 

Egypt may be able to count on more aid from two other rich Gulf States. Egypt "is in a much better position now to receive aid from Saudi Arabia and the UAE", said Citigroup regional economist Farouk Soussa. "Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have promised significant financial aid to Egypt. It is more likely that Egypt will receive it now."

 

Media accounts ignored the big picture, and focused instead on the irrelevant figure of Mohamed al-Baradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winner whose appointment as prime minister in the interim government was first announced and then withdrawn on Saturday. It doesn't matter who sits in the Presidential Palace if the country runs out of bread. Tiny Qatar had already expended a third of its foreign exchange reserves during the past year in loans to Egypt, which may explain why the eccentric emir was replaced in late June by his son. Only Saudi Arabia with its $630 billion of cash reserves has the wherewithal to bridge Egypt's $20 billion a year cash gap. With the country's energy supplies nearly exhausted and just two months' supply of imported wheat on hand, the victor in Cairo will be the Saudi party.

 

I predicted this development in a July 4 post at PJ Media, noting,

 

The Saudis have another reason to get involved in Egypt, and that is the situation in Syria. Saudi Arabia's intervention in the Syrian civil war, now guided by Prince Bandar, the new chief of Saudi Intelligence, has a double problem. The KSA wants to prevent Iran from turning Syria into a satrapy and fire base, but fears that the Sunni jihadists to whom it is sending anti-aircraft missiles eventually might turn against the monarchy. The same sort of blowback afflicted the kingdom after the 1980s Afghan war, in the person of Osama bin Laden.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been fighting for influence among Syria's Sunni rebels (as David Ottaway reported earlier this week at National Interest). Cutting off the Muslim Brotherhood at the knees in Egypt will help the KSA limit potential blowback in Syria."

 

There wasn't before, there is not now, and there will not be in the future such a thing as democracy in Egypt. The now-humiliated Muslim Brotherhood is a Nazi-inspired totalitarian party carrying a crescent in place of a swastika. If Mohamed Morsi had remained in power, he would have turned Egypt into a North Korea on the Nile, a starvation state in which the ruling party rewards the quiescent with a few more calories.

 

The head of Egypt's armed forces, Field Marshal Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, is not a democrat, but a dedicated Islamist whose wife is said to wear the full niqab body covering, according to Naval Postgraduate School professor Robert Springborg. "Islamic ideology penetrates Sisi's thinking about political and security matters," Springborg observes.

 

The question is not whether Islamism, but whose. Some Saudi commentators claim al-Sisi as their Islamist, for example Asharq al-Awsat columnist Hussein Shobokshi, who wrote July 7, "God has endowed al-Sisi with the Egyptians' love. In fact, al-Sisi brought a true legitimacy to Egypt, which will open the door to hope after a period of pointlessness, immaturity and distress. Al-Sisi will go down in history and has gained the love of people." The Saudi-funded Salafist (ultra-Islamist) Nour Party in Egypt backed the military coup, probably because it is Saudi-funded, while other Salafists took to the streets with the Muslim Brotherhood to oppose it. Again, none of this matters. The will of a people that cannot feed itself has little weight. Egypt is a banana republic without the bananas.

 

Whether Egypt slides into chaos or regains temporary stability under the military depends on what happens in the royal palace at Riyadh, not in Tahrir Square. It appears that the Saudis have embraced the military-backed government, whoever it turns out to include. It is conceivable that the Saudis vetoed the ascension of al-Baradei, hilariously described as a "liberal" in the major media. Al-Baradei is a slippery and unprincipled operator who did great damage to Western interests.

As head of the International Atomic Energy Agency until 2009, the Egyptian diplomat repeatedly intervened to distort his own inspectors' reports about the progress of Iran's nuclear program. In effect, he acted as an Iranian agent of influence. The Saudis have more to fear from Iran than anyone else. Iran (as Michael Ledeen observes) is trying to subvert the Saudi regime through the Shi'ite minority in Eastern Province. If Riyadh did not blackball his nomination as prime minister, it should have.

 

There isn't going to be a war with Israel, as some commentators have offered. Israel is at worst a bystander and at best a de facto ally of the Saudis. The Saudi Wahabists hate Israel, to be sure, and would be happy if the Jewish State and all its inhabitants vanished tomorrow. But Israel presents no threat at all to Riyadh, while Iran represents an existential threat. The Saudis, we know from WikiLeaks, begged the United States to attack Iran, or to let Israel do so. The Egyptian military has no interest in losing another war with the Jewish state. It may not have enough diesel fuel to drive a division of tanks to the border.

 

The Saudi regime, to be sure, sponsors any number of extremist malefactors through its network of Wahabist mosques and madrassas. But the present Saudi intervention in Egypt – if I read the signals right – is far more consistent with American strategic interests than the sentimental meanderings of the Barack Obama administration, or the fetishism of parliamentary form that afflicts the Republican establishment.

 

The Saudi regime is an abomination by American standards, but the monarchy is a rational actor. As Michael Ledeen observed a year ago, "The big oil region in Saudi Arabia is in Shiite country, and the Saudi Shi'ites have little love for the royal family. If the rulers saw us moving against Tehran and Damascus, it would be easier for us to convince them to cut back their support for jihad outside the kingdom."

 

The United States has less influence in the region than at any time since World War II, due to gross incompetence of the Obama administration as well as the Republican establishment. The Obama administration as well as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham courted the Muslim Brotherhood as a prospective vehicle for Muslim democracy, ignoring the catastrophic failure of the Egyptian economy as well as the totalitarian character of the Brotherhood.

 

Americans instinctively ask about any problem overseas, "Who are the good guys?" When told that there are no good guys, they go to see a different movie. There are no good guys in Egypt, except perhaps for the hapless democracy activists who draw on no social constituency and wield no power, and the endangered Coptic Christian minority. There are only forces that coincide with American interests for reasons of their own. It is a gauge of American foreign policy incompetence that the medieval Saudi monarchy is a better guardian of American interests in Egypt for the time being than the United States itself.

 

    David P. Goldman is Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

 

Contents

 

 

IT’S THE (EGYPTIAN) ECONOMY, STUPID

Evelyn Gordon

Jerusalem Post July 8, 2013

 

There’s nothing Israel can do about the fragile situation in Egypt except beef up its forces in the south and be prepared to contain any spillover violence. But since it has no interest in yet another failed state on its borders, there’s something very important it should be urging its Western allies to do: worry less about a new constitution and inclusive democratic processes and more about urgently reviving Egypt’s economy. For without economic improvement, the best constitution in the world won’t be able to stabilize the country.

 

To understand why, it’s first important to understand what last week’s popular revolution-cum-coup was really about. It wasn’t an uprising by would-be liberal democrats infuriated at the Muslim Brotherhood’s authoritarian, anti-democratic behavior in power: Though this behavior undoubtedly angered many Egyptians and played a role in driving them into the streets last week, for many, it was a secondary motive. Nor was this a coup by anti-democratic forces seeking to gain by force what they couldn’t gain at the ballot box, though this motive, too, surely animated some of the estimated 14 million demonstrators. But for most, the motive was something much simpler: economic desperation.

 

That comes through clearly in the reportage of journalists who bothered to interview ordinary demonstrators rather the Cairo elite. A small boat owner who used to earn his living taking tourists on Nile cruises, for instance, said he could no longer feed his children because tourist traffic had fallen so sharply. An unemployed engineer groused that “There's no construction in Egypt and no company is hiring workers.” A Cairo street vendor who voted for the Brotherhood last year summarized the situation succinctly: “The city is dead. Dead. No work. No food.”

 

People with no work and no food can’t afford to wait for the next regularly scheduled election, no matter how perfect their constitution and how inclusive their democratic processes. True, the constitution the Muslim Brotherhood rammed through was far from perfect, and the government it led was far from inclusive. But had the economy been improving, both problems could have been solved through normal democratic processes: In a few years’ time, new elections could have swept new forces into office, and they could have drafted and passed a new constitution.

 

Instead, the economy was tanking – both by objective standards (unemployment, foreign reserves, etc.) and by subjective ones: In an Egyptian poll taken last week, 63% of respondents said their standard of living had worsened over the last year, while only 13% reported an improvement. And in a country where nearly half the population lived under or just above the $2-a-day poverty line on the eve of the 2011 revolution, the standard of living couldn’t fall very far without people becoming desperate.

 

Thus to stabilize the country, the first step is arranging a massive infusion of economic aid. Fortunately, the Brotherhood’s ouster makes this a reasonable goal: The countries most likely to be able to provide aid quickly are oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, and all these countries (except Qatar) loathed the Muslim Brotherhood. But they have long had close ties with the Egyptian military, which is now de facto running the country.

 

The next step, however, is much harder: carrying out a long-range economic reform program that can ease some of the country’s chronic problems. That means figuring out what needs to be done, rounding up donors both to finance the reforms and to provide aid that can cushion their effects on the population until the economy starts improving, and brow-beating the Egyptian government into actually implementing them.

 

All this may be impossible under any circumstances. But it will certainly be impossible if influential Western actors, especially in Washington, are more focused on a new constitution and inclusive democratic processes than they are on fixing the economy – or too squeamish about “supporting a coup” to mobilize the necessary resources. The West only has so much influence, and it can’t afford to squander it on secondary issues.

 

One could argue that inclusive democratic processes would help promote economic reform – and sometimes, that’s true. But sometimes, democracy can actually hinder economic reform. Indeed, one reason the Muslim Brotherhood government refused to take steps that virtually every economist deemed essential, like eliminating the subsidies on staple products that eat up more than 28% of the government’s budget, is that these steps were widely unpopular. 

 

And democracy certainly isn’t necessary for economic reform. China’s highly undemocratic governments, for instance, slashed the country’s extreme poverty rate from 60% in 1990 to 12% in 2010. South Korea rose from the ruins of the Korean War to become the world’s 15th-largest economy under a series of undemocratic strongmen; it democratized only in the late 1980s.

 

Indeed, economic growth has frequently proven a necessary precursor to democratization, and the latest iteration of the Egyptian revolution shows why: Democracy is impossible if people can’t afford to wait for the next election to secure a change in policy. But without a modicum of economic security, too many people feel they can’t wait that long.

 

None of the above is meant to minimize the importance of democracy; it’s a much better system than the alternatives. If Egypt could have both democracy and economic growth, that would clearly be preferable, and this should be the West’s ultimate goal.

 

But right now, the economy is much higher priority, so that’s where most of the effort must be directed. And if it comes to a choice, then yes, in Egypt right now, democracy should be sacrificed in favor of economic stabilization. For once the economy has stabilized, democracy is likely to follow in time, as it has in numerous countries round the world (think Korea, Taiwan, Chile and Brazil). But if the economy doesn’t stabilize, no democracy has a prayer of lasting, and the dictatorship that follows could well be much worse than the military government now in place. After all, history has a precedent for that, too: Just remember what followed the economic meltdown of the Weimar Republic.

 

Contents

 

 

AL-QAEDA'S JIHAD ON ANTI-MORSI EGYPTIANS

Raymond Ibrahim

Gatestone Institute, July 4, 2013

                       

Now that the Egyptian military appears to have granted the nation's wish—to be rid of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, as millions have been chanting, "Irhal" ["Leave office"] — al-Qaeda appears to have stepped in.

Hours before Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was sidelined by the military council, Muhammad al-Zawahiri, Egypt's al-Qaeda leader, declared that the terrorist organization would wage a jihad to save Morsi and his Islamist agenda for Egypt. (They would not be the first Islamic terrorists to come to his aid; Hamas members were earlier arrested from inside Muslim Brotherhood headquarters, where they opened fire on protesters.)

 

According to a July 2 Veto Gate report, "al-Qaeda, under the leadership of Muhammad Zawahiri, is currently planning reprisal operations by which to attack the army and the Morsi-opposition all around the Republic [of Egypt]." The report adds that, hours before this information was ascertained, Zawahiri had been arrested and was being interrogated—only to be ordered released by a presidential order. He has since fled to the Sinai, where al-Qaeda is stationed—not to mention where Morsi had reportedly earlier summoned thousands of foreign jihadis to come to his aid whenever necessary, and where he may even have smuggled Muhammad Zawahiri's brother, Ayman Zawahiri—al-Qaeda's supreme leader.

 

In another report, Muhammad Zawahiri "offered joy to our Muslim Brothers in Egypt, for in all circumstances, we will not lose, Allah willing- – quite the contrary." He added that "if matters reach a confrontation, then to be sure, that is in our favor — for we have nothing to lose. And at all times and places where chaos reigns, it's often to the jihad's advantage." Zawahiri concluded by saying that even if many and important jihadis and Islamists are arrested, it matters not, "for we sold our souls to Allah" — a reference to Koranic verses like 9:111 — "and welcome the opportunity to fight to the death."

 

In the context of all these threats, many Egyptians are understandably worried. Right before the military intervened, a Tahrir TV host frantically and repeatedly called Morsi a "murderer," and the Brotherhood, a "gang of murderers," adding, "Oh Minister of Defense — move! Move! Move and save the country! There is no time!" This may also explain why so many leading Islamists — including Morsi himself — have been arrested and held by the military, on the charge of inciting Muslims against anti-Morsi demonstrators, by portraying them as "apostates" who must be fought and killed for are trying to resist the implementation of the Sharia of Allah.

 

They may also be being held as hostages to dissuade al-Qaeda from waging an all-out jihad, as many of those arrested — Safwat Hegazy, Hazim Abu Ismail, Tarek al-Zomor, Khaled Abdullah — are open friends of Muhammad Zawahiri.

 

On the other hand, although the Brotherhood has been portrayed in the U.S. as "just another" political party — or, in the mystifying words of James Clapper, Obama's director of national intelligence, "largely secular," which is the last thing it is — it is folly to think that Morsi, the Brotherhood, and all their Islamist and jihadi allies are going to go peacefully.

 

Now that the Islamists have tasted power — Salafis, Muslim Brotherhood, or al-Qaeda — it is unlikely that they will quietly release the reins of power without a fight. History has proven that many jihadis never give up — unless they are in prison or dead. And as Egyptian al-Qaeda leader Muhammad Zawahiri pointed out, not only have they long been inured to sufferings and deprivations — they have nothing to lose.

Contents

 

Morsi Spurned Deals, Seeing Military as Tamed: David D. Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh, New York Times, July 6, 2013—As President Mohamed Morsi huddled in his guard’s quarters during his last hours as Egypt’s first elected leader, he received a call from an Arab foreign minister with a final offer to end a standoff with the country’s top generals.

 

Twelve Year-Old Explains Egyptian Crisis in Under Three Minutes: Brittany Ritell, Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2013

A video of a 12-year-old Egyptian boy named Ali Ahmed eloquently and passionately criticizing the last year of president Mohamed Morsi’s rule has become a YouTube sensation since going viral on Saturday. YouTube video: http://youtu.be/QeDm2PrNV1I

 

Egypt and Hamas Part Company: Neville Teller, Eurasia Review, July 9, 2013—Just two days after the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, the new interim government in Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip indefinitely, and Nilesat – an Egyptian company that controls a number of Egyptian communications satellites – removed Hamas TV, Al-Quds, from the air.

 

At Last, Secret Obama Middle East Policy Revealed, No Kidding: Barry Rubin, Jewish Press, July 9, 2013—A statement by two National Security Council senior staff members has revealed the inner thinking of President Barack Obama. It is of incredible importance and I plead with you to read it. If you do you will comprehend fully what’s going on with U.S. foreign policy.

                                               

Gaza Terrorists Infiltrate Sinai : Roi Kais, Ynet News, July 8, 2013 —Dozens of members of terrorist groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood have left the Gaza Strip headed to the Sinai Peninsula to fight the Egyptian army, Ynet has learned. The terrorists are taking part in the Muslim Brotherhood's struggle against the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. They had been taken part in battles in El-Arish over the weekend and attacked several Egyptian army posts.

 

Tunisian Ruling Party Feels Heat After Egyptian Coup: Mischa Benoit-Lavelle, Al-Monitor, July 8, 2013— As French President François Hollande landed in Tunisia on July 4 to begin the first visit by a French head of state since Tunisia's uprising in January 2011, the country's ruling Islamists had just become more politically isolated than at any time since coming to power.

 

Turkish Leadership Demoralized By Coup in Egypt: Cengiz Çandar, Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, July 8, 2013—If there is one place on earth where the effects of the July 3 military coup in Egypt were felt as much as in Cairo by deposed president Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, it must be Turkey.

 

Egyptian Fighting Squeezes the Gaza Strip: Linda Gradstein, Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2013—Shortage of cooking gas and fuel has considerably slowed life in the Palestinian enclave. Ahmed Abu Hamda, a journalist and producer in the Gaza Strip, had some work to do in the morning. But as happens frequently in Gaza, there was an electricity blackout because the area’s sole power plant is running low on fuel.

 

How Morsi Came Undone: Eric Trager, New York Daily News, July 5, 2013—When historians review Mohamed Morsi's brief presidency, the now-deposed Egyptian leader's most iconic moment will likely have come one day before he was formally inaugurated.

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