Tag: Egyptian Army

CAIRO: MUSLIM BROS. OUSTED – MORSI DEFEAT IS A (CLOUDED) VICTORY FOR EGYPT, BUT A (CLEAR) DEFEAT FOR OBAMA AND U.S.

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Morsi’s Departure Leaves Legacy of Danger: Daniel Pipes, National Post, July 3, 2013—The overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt delights and worries me. Delight is easy to explain. What appears to have been the largest political demonstration in history uprooted the arrogant Islamists of Egypt, who ruled with near-total disregard for anything other than consolidating their own power.

 

Welcome Back to Mubarak’s Egypt: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA Centre, July 4, 2013—The latest chapter in the Egyptian Revolution is being celebrated by many as another victory for democracy and freedom. However, it is nothing more than a return to the military dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s troubles may only be beginning.

 

The End of Obama’s Brotherhood Crush: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, July 3, 2013—There is bad news, good news and better news coming out of Egypt today. First let’s discuss the good news. The end of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt is a blow to the cause of radical Islam. The rise of the Brotherhood and the now deposed President Mohamed Morsi was a disaster for Egypt as well as for the West.

 

Egypt's Cunning General: How the Military Plans to Keep Power: Raniah Salloum, Spiegel, July 4, 2013—Egyptian President Morsi has been toppled, and a judge will be the country's new interim leader. But in reality, he's just a puppet. Behind the scenes, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and his military apparatus will continue to call the shots.

 

On Topic Links

 

Officially Silent, Israel Privately Upbeat Over Morsi’s Ouster: Times of Israel,  July 4, 2013

Egypt’s Lost Opportunity: Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post, July 3, 2013

Witnessing a Coup in Egypt: Eric Trager, Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2013

Six Thoughts on the Ouster of an Undemocratic, Elected President: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, July 4, 2013

Elbaradei Favored to Head Transitional Egypt Gov't:  Reuters, July 4, 2013

 

 

A Happy Fourth of July to our American Readers!

Let us all remember the immortal words from the American Declaration of Independence:

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…..”

 

(In one of the great coincidences of American history, on this day, July 4, in 1826, two of the great founders of the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both passed away)

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Today is also the anniversary of the daring IDF mission to Entebbe, Uganda undertaken on this day in 1976 to rescue 105 hostages taken in a Palestinian airline hijacking. Ironically, today, in 2013, an Israeli company, Trilogical Technologies, will begin work on a contract it won to upgrade control systems at the very same airport. The Israeli systems at Entebbe airport will be installed “for control and warning in the event of operational or security irregularities”….. (Jewish Press, July 4, 2013)

 

 

MORSI’S DEPARTURE LEAVES LEGACY OF DANGER

Daniel Pipes

National Post, July 3, 2013

 

The overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt delights and worries me. Delight is easy to explain. What appears to have been the largest political demonstration in history uprooted the arrogant Islamists of Egypt, who ruled with near-total disregard for anything other than consolidating their own power. Islamism, the drive to apply a medieval Islamic law and the only vibrant radical utopian movement in the world today, experienced an unprecedented repudiation. Egyptians showed an inspiring spirit.

 

If it took 18 days to overthrow Hosni Mubarak in 2011, just four were needed to overthrow Morsi this past week. The number of deaths commensurately went down from about 850 to 40. Western governments (notably the Obama administration), thinking they had sided with history by helping the Muslim Brotherhood regime found themselves appropriately embarrassed.

 

My worry is more complex. The historical record shows that the thrall of radical utopianism endures until calamity sets in. On paper, fascism and communism sound appealing; only the realities of Hitler and Stalin discredited and marginalized these movements.

 

In the case of Islamism, this same process has already begun; indeed, the revulsion started with much less destruction having been wrought than in the prior two cases (Islamism not yet having killed tens of millions) and with greater speed (needing years, not decades). Recent weeks have seen three rejections of Islamist rule, what with the Gezi Park-inspired demonstrations across Turkey, a resounding victory by the least-hardline Islamist in the Iranian elections on June 14, and now the unprecedentedly massive refutation of the Muslim Brotherhood in public squares along the Nile River. But I fear that the quick military removal of the Muslim Brotherhood government will exonerate Islamists.

 

Egypt is a mess. Relations between pro- and anti-Muslim Brotherhood elements have already turned violent and threaten to degenerate. Copts and Shi’ites get murdered just because of their identities. The Sinai Peninsula is anarchic. The incompetent and greedy military leadership, which viciously ruled Egypt from behind the scenes between 1952 and 2012, is back in charge.

 

But the worst problems are economic. Remittances from foreign workers have declined since the upheaval in neighbouring Libya. Sabotage against the pipeline sending natural gas to Israel and Jordan ended that source of income. Tourism has obviously collapsed. Inefficiencies mean that this hydrocarbon-producing country lacks the fuel to run tractors at full capacity. Socialist-era factories churn out sub-par goods.

 

Egypt imports an estimated 70 percent of its food and is fast running out of hard currency to pay for wheat, edible oils, and other staples. Hunger looms. Unless foreigners subsidize Egypt with tens of billions of dollars of aid a year into the indefinite future, a highly unlikely scenario, that hunger looks unavoidable. Already, poor families have cut back on their food intake.

 

Looming over all these dangers, the Ethiopian government exploited Egypt’s weakness a few weeks ago to begin building a dam on the Blue Nile that could entail a reduction in water being supplied to Egypt from 55 billion cubic meters to 40 billion, a move that has incalculably negative implications for life in the country known as the Gift of the Nile.

 

As these economic disasters hit, the year-long interlude of Islamist rule by Morsi & Co., which did so much to exacerbate these problems, may well be forgotten – and whoever inherits the rule will take the blame. In other words, the pain Egyptians have and will go through may be for naught. Who knows, they might in desperation turn again to Islamists to pull them out of their future predicament. Likewise, the Muslim Brotherhood’s brief time in power means other Muslim peoples will also not gain as they should from Egypt’s dire experience.

 

On another subject, Lee Smith of the Hudson Institute speculates that Egypt’s new rulers will see a short war with Israel as the only way to “reunify the country and earn Egypt money from an international community eager to broker peace,” as well as “return Egypt to its former place of prominence” in the Middle East. Such a war would likely achieve none of these goals – Egyptian forces would probably get clobbered, leaving the country yet poorer and weaker – but one cannot discount this possibility. Egypt’s military leaders have many times before engaged in follies against Israel. In short, my joy at Morsi’s departure more than offset by my concern that the lessons of his misrule will not be learned.

 

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WELCOME BACK TO MUBARAK’S EGYPT

Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA Centre, July 4, 2013

 

The latest chapter in the Egyptian Revolution is being celebrated by many as another victory for democracy and freedom. However, it is nothing more than a return to the military dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s troubles may only be beginning.

 

The Egyptian army’s announcement of an ultimatum “to heed the will of the people” in retrospect said it all. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Minister of Defense appointed by the democratically-elected president he was about to ouster, talked about “the will of the people” in the typical manner of dictators, as if the people were united. In fact, the people were deeply divided between an opposition that wanted President Mohamed Morsi’s head and his supporters who believed that the first president in Egypt’s history to be elected in free elections should be allowed to remain for the full four years in office, as stipulated by the constitution. This constitution, they argued, was supported by 63 percent of voters in a national referendum.

 

The army’s moves on the ground clearly showed that it sided completely with the opposition. All of their demands were met and more: Morsi was ousted and placed under arrest, the constitution was suspended, a government that included the military was set to take over, and new presidential and parliamentary elections were called for the distant future. Just to make sure, the military refrained from committing itself to any timetable.

 

The clearest indication that Egypt is moving back in time – restoring what the Egyptians call “the deep state” that prevailed under Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak – was the decision to replace the ousted democratically-elected president with the President of the Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour. Mansour’s bio reveals that he started his legal career in the legislative section in the President’s Office under Gamal Abdel Nasser, showing clearly that he is not the man that will allow any moves to restore democracy.

 

Ironically, the same upper-middle class youth who ousted former president Hosni Mubarak were now instrumental in the comeback of Mubarak’s Egypt. The same youth who just a year ago shouted “down with the military” and were used by Morsi in his confrontation with the army, were now equally used by the military and others in the “deep state” to bring themselves back to power. The military lost power to Morsi after ruling Egypt ineptly for eighteen months in the aftermath of Mubarak’s ouster.  Just one year later they find themselves back on top.

 

The youth, the military, and the United States should have been wiser. They should have allowed Morsi his full term in office to fail. At that point, a weak president ruling over an even weaker state might have been pressured to hold democratic elections once again. Washington could have placed pressure on the Egyptian government to hold free elections in such a situation, reminding Morsi that an American withdrawal of financial and technological aid could cause Egypt to collapse. The Muslim Brotherhood, in the biggest and most important Arab state, would have then been elected out of office. This would have delivered a clear message throughout the Arab world that politics is about electing people who are armed with policies needed to address society’s pressing problems, not with guns and other modes of suppression. The focus on the highly contentious issues of religious and national identity would have given way to an emphasis on the pragmatics of enhancing human welfare and citizen rights.

 

Instead, the bitter adherents of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafist groups (and at a later stage the youth in Tamarod once they realize that they were wronged again) might learn an entirely different lesson, an ominous one played out in other revolutions: the beheading of potential counter-revolutionaries in a manner they themselves refrained from doing after Mubarak’s ouster. Despite the fireworks and roars of Egypt’s opposition as Mubarak’s military took over the reins of power, Egypt’s trials and tribulations are hardly over. They might only be unfolding.

 

Prof. Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University.

 

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THE END OF OBAMA’S BROTHERHOOD CRUSH

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, July 3, 2013

 

There is bad news, good news and better news coming out of Egypt today. First let’s discuss the good news. The end of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt is a blow to the cause of radical Islam. The rise of the Brotherhood and the now deposed President Mohamed Morsi was a disaster for Egypt as well as for the West. Had Morsi and his party been left in place to continue their drive to impose their Islamist vision on the world’s most populous Arab country it might have been impossible to depose them, thus locking Egypt into the same nightmare scenario of theocratic tyranny that we have seen unfold in Iran in the last generation.

 

The even better news is that the Egyptian Army didn’t listen to the Obama administration when it asked them not to launch what is, for all intents and purposes, a military coup that toppled a democratically elected government. The embrace of Morsi and the Brotherhood by President Obama and his foreign policy over the last year has further poisoned Egyptian public opinion against the United States as well as strengthened the confidence of Islamists that America will not oppose their efforts to transform the region. After having been intimidated by U.S. pressure aimed at ensuring that the military would not prevent Morsi’s election, the military ran the risk that this time Obama meant what he said about using the billions in aid Egypt gets from the United States to prevent them from stopping the Brotherhood’s push for power. The willingness of the Egyptian army to step in and stop the confrontation in the streets not only avoided clashes that might have produced unimaginable casualties but also kept open the possibility that a new government could emerge in Cairo without having to fight a civil war in order to survive.

 

However, the bad news is twofold. First, the series of events leading up to the ouster illustrates the utter bankruptcy of American foreign policy under Barack Obama. The second is that there should be no blind confidence that what will follow will make Egypt more stable or prosperous, let alone free. The United States should oppose the rise of Islamists, but none of the possible outcomes of the conflict playing out between them and the military and secular Egyptians is likely to produce a liberal democracy or a nation that is likely to be a force for peace in the region.

 

It should be specified that events in Egypt could never be controlled from Washington. But the Obama administration bears a heavy share of the blame for a chain of decisions that first undermined an authoritarian ally in Mubarak and then paved the way for the rise of an equally authoritarian and far more hostile government led by Morsi and the Brotherhood. The identification of the United States with the Brotherhood over the last year was an unforced error on the part of Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her successor John Kerry. The willingness of the administration to buy into the myth that regimes like that of the Brotherhood and their increasingly despotic Islamic allies in Turkey are good allies made a mockery of American values as well as hindering its ability to protect U.S. interests.

 

Let’s also dispense with the crocodile tears being shed for Egyptian democracy by some Brotherhood apologists today. What has happened in Egypt the past two years has, despite the hopes of many there and in the West, had little to do with democracy. The fall of the Mubarak regime and its replacement by an Islamist movement determined to consolidate power may have involved elections, but democracy requires more than a trip to the ballot box in which a highly organized movement that is actually opposed to freedom wins a vote. While the debate in the United States about the advisability of Americans advocating democracy abroad will continue, the power struggle in Cairo merely illustrates the fact that this cause cannot triumph in a country where the debate is largely conducted between Islamists and secular authoritarians. While we should encourage (as President Bush tried to do) liberal Egyptians to build democratic institutions, in the absence of any national consensus in favour of democracy (as exists in countries like the United States, Israel and the West), freedom doesn’t really have a chance.

 

It may be that what will happen now in Egypt will be a prolonged struggle involving the Brotherhood that will turn a country that is already a basket case into a place that is an even bigger mess. Nor is there any assurance that the new government backed by the military or the one that will be elected in new elections will be able to govern effectively. While Morsi did not abandon the peace treaty with Israel and the military has no interest in conflict with the Jewish state, there is no telling whether the chaos in the Sinai will grow or whether Hamas, the Brotherhood’s ideological godchild, will seek to heat up the border or make mischief inside Egypt.

 

Finally, in the last two years Egypt has been an outstanding example of how U.S. foreign aid is not always dispensed in a manner that furthers American interests. The decision of the Obama administration to threaten the military with an aid cut off if it opposed the Brotherhood before it took power was absurd. But if President Obama doesn’t see his way to continuing the aid now that the military has ignored his advice about not toppling Morsi, then what he will be doing is to completely alienate the Egyptian people for a generation. Congress, which has rightly been skeptical about allowing billions to flow to an Islamist government, should step back now and not further hamstring Obama and Kerry’s efforts to undo the damage they have done in the last 12 months. Whether any policy reversal on the part of the U.S. that will back the military against the Brotherhood can retrieve America’s tattered reputation remains to be seen. But it is to be hoped that even at this late date, Obama will realize just how wrong he has been about the Brotherhood and start trying to repair the damage.

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EGYPT'S CUNNING GENERAL:
HOW THE MILITARY PLANS TO KEEP POWER

Raniah Salloum

Spiegel, July 4, 2013

 

Egyptian President Morsi has been toppled, and a judge will be the country's new interim leader. But in reality, he's just a puppet. Behind the scenes, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and his military apparatus will continue to call the shots. Adly Mansour's rise to power has been a rapid one. On Monday, the career judge was sworn in as chief justice of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court. By Wednesday night, President Mohammed Morsi had been deposed, the constitution suspended, and Mansour was declared the country's new interim leader, set to be sworn in on Thursday. Along with a cabinet of technocrats, he'll govern the country until new elections.

 

But no one knows if and when these elections might take place. And Mansour won't be Egypt's most important man, even if the justice, who served in the country's top court under deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak, now calls himself head of state. That's because behind the scenes, the military, led by General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, plans to continue running the show. Since it took power in a coup in 1952, the military has remained the most important political player in Egypt. Neither Mubarak's fall in 2011, nor the short rule by Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, have changed this. El-Sissi demonstrated just how powerful the influence of the military's generals is on Wednesday night, when, after giving Morsi 48 hours to leave office, he summarily informed the president that he was no longer the leader of the country. No matter that Morsi was the country's first democratically elected head of state.

 

The Muslim Brotherhood, the region's most influential Islamist movement, has fallen into disfavor. In 2011 the army let Mubarak, who was one of their own, be deposed. This time they wanted to get rid of the disagreeable Morsi. It happened despite the fact that el-Sissi was at least nominally dependent on the president, who appointed him to lead the military in August 2012, after he fired the powerful Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. At the time, some feared the Muslim Brotherhood would form an alliance with the military.

 

El-Sissi is known to be devout, though he sees himself as a follower of the late, secular, authoritarian Gamal Abdel Nasser, the father of modern Egypt and a critic of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi had probably assumed that by making El-Sissi its leader, he had weakened the military. Apparently, he was wrong.

 

At 58, el-Sissi is the country's youngest general. He has never fought in a war, and only knows about conflicts with Israel from the stories of others. He belongs to a generation that was invited to receive military training in the West. In 1992 he was in Britain, and in 2006, the United States.

 

He made international headlines in 2011 when he justified the degrading "virginity tests" conducted by soldiers on Egyptian women who had taken part in the revolution. But el-Sissi learned from the debacle of 2011, when the military itself formed the government after Mubarak was toppled. The military leadership was openly pulling the strings, which quickly made it subject to the scrutiny of the public.

 

This time the head of the military has been trying from the outset to stay in the background. The events of Wednesday night are clearly a coup — the army has deposed a democratically elected president and suspended the constitution. Yet Sissi acted as if the generals had been compelled by the Egyptian people to intervene.

 

Indeed, many Egyptians have welcomed the coup. The military envisions a power-sharing setup where civilians will hold primary authority. That way, they will be the ones to draw the ire of the population as they slave away to solve the country's disastrous economic situation and mend deep political divisions.

 

Behind the scenes, Sissi and his colleagues set the tone, especially in two areas: Security policy is traditionally their domain, but the government should also keep clear of the generals' monetary privileges. The army is one of the most important economic power brokers in Egypt.

 

It remains to be seen whether this power-sharing structure will actually work. This is exactly what the military already tried in vain with the Muslim Brotherhood. But Morsi was rebellious. He began to interfere in security policy and didn't take the sharp warnings of the generals seriously. From their perspective, things will work out better this time under the duo of military chief and top judiciary.

 

Contents

 

 

Officially Silent, Israel Privately Upbeat Over Morsi’s Ouster: Times of Israel,  July 4, 2013—While Israeli leaders have refrained from commenting on the ousting of Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi by the army, political and military sources privately indicated Thursday that they considered the turn of events potentially beneficial to Israel, if also largely unpredictable.

 

Egypt’s Lost Opportunity: Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post, July 3, 2013—Over the past three decades, when American officials would (gently) press Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak to stop jailing his opponents and initiate more democratic reforms, he would invariably snap back: “Do you want the Muslim Brotherhood in power?”

 

Witnessing a Coup in Egypt: Eric Trager, Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2013—"This is the best revolution that ever happened in the history of our entire country," the lieutenant told me. "It gathered all types of people together—the police, the army, all the Egyptian people, and the judges."

 

Six Thoughts on the Ouster of an Undemocratic, Elected President: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, July 4, 2013—As the Arab Spring moves via the Islamist Winter into the Unpredictable Summer, six thoughts on the ouster of Egypt’s president and its possible repercussions.

 

Elbaradei Favored to Head Transitional Egypt Gov't:  Reuters, July 4, 2013—Mohamed ElBaradei, a former UN nuclear agency chief, is favorite to head a transitional government in Egypt after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, military, political and diplomatic sources said on Thursday.

 

 

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“LET OUR PEOPLE GO!”: EGYPTIANS RISE AGAINST NEW ISLAMIST PHARAOH

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 a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Egypt’s anti-Islamist uprising: How did it come to this?: Evan Hill, The Globe and Mail, July 1, 2013—Families had stockpiled food and water, drivers had slept nights in petrol lines that snaked for city block after city block, and half a dozen people had died in a days-long spasm of violence that exploded into a full-blown seizure on Sunday, when mass protests against President Mohamed Morsi broke out and brought out  the largest crowds in Egypt’s modern history.

 

Two Futures for Egypt Clash in the Conflict of the Squares: Nassif Hitti, Al-Monitor, July 1, 2013 — The Tamarod movement in Egypt came to fill a vacuum created by the absence of strong, well-entrenched, mass-based political parties. This is expected, since Egypt is emerging from six decades of authoritarianism that closed down the political space and confiscated political life. It also obstructed the creation and evolution of party politics.

 

For Egypt’s Military, There’s no Turning Back: Avi Issacharoff , Times of Israel, July 2, 2013 — Just hours after publishing an unequivocal statement that put it firmly on the opposition’s side, Egypt’s military, late Monday night, issued a second announcement in which its leaders attempted to regain a more neutral position.

 

On Topic Links

 

Who Will Save Egypt? Cairo's Economic Disaster: Marina Ottaway, Foreign Affairs, June 30, 2013

The Egyptian State Unravels: Mara Revkin, Foreign Affairs, June 27, 2013

'Rebel' Egyptian Movement Defies Morsi Through Petitions: Ahmed Ateyya, Al-Monitor, May 17, 2013
Pressure Builds on Morsi as His Allies Quit and Protests Mount: Ben Hubbard, David D. Kirkpatrick And Kareem Fahim, New York Times, July 2, 2013

Volcano on the Nile: Editorial, The Daily Star (Lebanon), July 2, 2013

 

 

EGYPT’S ANTI-ISLAMIST UPRISING: HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

Evan Hill

The Globe and Mail, July 1, 2013

 

Families had stockpiled food and water, drivers had slept nights in petrol lines that snaked for city block after city block, and half a dozen people had died in a days-long spasm of violence that exploded into a full-blown seizure on Sunday, when mass protests against President Mohamed Morsi broke out and brought out  the largest crowds in Egypt’s modern history. The headquarters of the Mr. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood were set on fire on Sunday night, after offices of the Brotherhood’s ruling Freedom and Justice Party were attacked and burned throughout the Nile Delta. Brotherhood toughs have banded together outside their offices wearing hard hats and makeshift shields and carrying homemade guns, ready to bludgeon or blow away what they fear is the very embodiment of the counter-revolution.

 

One online commentator described the mass movement to oust Mr. Morsi on the anniversary of his election – a movement known as Tamarod (“rebel”) – as the birth of a new political order that may kill its mother. A journalist said it was as if Egypt’s body politic were rejecting a transplant and killing the nation in the process, a fledgling democracy’s auto-immune system gone haywire.

 

How did the country get here? How did the January 2011 uprising and its young, made-for-TV activists spin out into another zero-sum game for control? The story is complicated, and the strategic and tactical failures by both the secularist opposition and the Muslim Brotherhood are so profoundly, majestically short-sighted and self-defeating that some have retreated into that most time-tested of rationales, the conspiracy, to explain how things could have gone so wrong, so fast. In their narrative, the crisis has been stage-managed by the military, Egypt’s eminence grise and ultimate power-broker, beginning on the day in February 2011 when the generals opportunistically seized on the mass protests to quietly but forcefully escort President Hosni Mubarak, his family and his cronies from the stage.

 

Like most conspiracy theories, the story has a seed of truth. In the heady days before and after the fall of Mr. Mubarak, the generals were taking everyone’s temperature. At one time or another, they chatted with many of the revolution’s most prominent instigators. They met with Ahmed Maher of the April 6th Movement. They met with representatives of the Brotherhood. Mohamed Aboul Ghar, who would soon found one of the only serious non-Islamist political parties in the country, once told me how he, the editor of Al Ahram newspaper, and two other men were called before five generals that March. One kept notes as they spoke; he was Abdelfattah el-Sisi, later promoted to defence minister and military commander-in-chief under Mr. Morsi. As the meeting adjourned, one of the generals casually remarked that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces — the military’s governing body — had in 2010 held a meeting without Mr. Mubarak, their commander, and decided not to allow the president’s son, Gamal, to complete a widely telegraphed succession during rigged presidential elections then scheduled for 2011.

 

“The plan [was], when Gamal is going to take over, they are going make a coup,” Aboul Ghar recalled. The military’s disdain for Gamal and his generation of casually corrupt businessmen was well known, as was their desire not to see him crowned, and the January uprising provided a perfect opportunity to abort the Mubarak family dynasty. But after it became obvious that the masses would not accept a handover to Omar Suleiman, Mr. Mubarak’s last-minute vice president and intelligence chief, the military needed a placeholder. Picking out a suitable figure from Mr. Mubarak’s old National Democratic Party network would be impossible — not in the aftermath of a rebellion that left their headquarters smoldering, their party dissolved, and their leaders facing prosecution. Egypt’s political opposition, meanwhile, had been carefully neutered and co-opted for five decades; it had no base and its leaders no respect on the streets.

 

The only suitable dancing partner was the Muslim Brotherhood, an institution whose organizational, bureaucratic and service-providing experience was deeper than even that of the post-1956 militarized government itself.

 

And so the transition proceeded under military rule, directed by old, conservative men who learned their craft in a much different Egypt, half of them hoping to protect the old order, the other half pushing their project to usher in a new one. A temporary constitution orchestrated by the military and backed by the Brotherhood and their ultraconservative allies passed easily. Calls from figures such as Mohamed ElBaradei to create a liberal, progressive and inclusive new constitution from scratch, written by an independent body chosen by consensus, were ignored. As the year dragged on, poor Egyptians remained poor, and Mr. Mubarak sat uncharged with any crime in a military hospital. Protests against the military’s reluctance to hand over power grew. They were supported by the Brotherhood, which likely saw in the unrest a useful tactic to keep their prime opponent on the back foot. In November 2011, the protests threatened to get out of control.

 

Security forces stormed Tahrir Square and brutally dispersed a small sit-in of a few hundred people — almost all of them relatives of the revolution’s martyrs or those who had been wounded. They had been forgotten by the state, and they were angry. The revolutionaries were infuriated at the attack, and the result was the battle of Mohamed Mahmoud Street, a five-day brawl with the riot police near the Square that left more than 40 civilians dead. The end of the fighting was precipitated by army intervention, the construction of a large concrete wall, and the arrival of a human chain of Muslim Brothers who cajoled or forced the protesters off the street.

 

The revolutionaries and marginalized young men and women who had joined the fight were filled with righteous anger. They felt betrayed. They had shed blood, supposedly on principle: to force police reform, to snatch some justice for those who had lost sons or daughters or their own health during the revolution, to hold the army to account for abuses under its rule. To them, the Brothers had thrown it all away for political gain. The temporary constitution had paved the way for parliamentary elections, due that month, a critical step that would help decide who ruled post-revolution Egypt. The Brotherhood could not let them be delayed. They went on to dominate the vote. Mohamed Mahmoud cleaved a rift between the two sides that never healed.

 

Over the course of the following months, it became obvious: The Brotherhood was dutifully, purposefully playing for keeps. Under the temporary constitution they helped to pass, the new parliament would be tasked with choosing those who would write a permanent founding document for post-revolution Egypt — the holy grail. The Brotherhood would go to almost any lengths to secure it. But what they saw as predictable hardball and democratic combat — which they were almost guaranteed to win — the opposition saw as a series of betrayals.

 

The Brotherhood ran for more seats in parliament than some of their prominent members had first promised, then dominated the ministries once elected. The opposition hardly contested the second legislative election, for the less-powerful upper house, which was similarly dominated by the Brotherhood and Salafi parties. When the time came to select the constituent assembly, the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc helped gerrymander its 100-member makeup so that if push came to shove, the Brotherhood and its backers would not be outvoted. The Brotherhood pledged not to seek the presidency, then fielded a candidate, and fielded another – Mohammed Morsi — when the first was disqualified.

 

After Mr. Morsi took office, he failed to form — or could not find those willing to join — a cabinet that some had hoped would involve figures from across the political spectrum and prompt a national reconciliation. The Brotherhood, meanwhile, felt battered by the forces of the old regime. In the days before Mr. Morsi’s victory, the Supreme Constitutional Court used an electoral technicality to annul the lower house of parliament, erasing the Brotherhood’s gains and the country’s most crucial elected body. The court docketed a case to rule on the legitimacy of the constituent assembly. Other courts planned to rule on the legality of the Muslim Brotherhood itself. Their entire project was now at risk.

 

The beginning of the end came in November, almost a year to the day after the Mohamed Mahmoud Street battle, when Mr. Morsi issued a package of sovereign decrees — just four months into his term — that essentially placed himself and the assembly above judicial review. He and his allies argued that to stand by and do nothing would leave courts packed with Mubarak appointees free to undermine every step of the transition. The opposition, which may have once been inclined to agree, did not take his side. There had been too many betrayals; trust had evaporated.

 

Protesters took to the streets, calling the president a “new pharaoh.” The remaining liberals, progressives, leftists and Christians in the constituent assembly walked out. Mr. Morsi gave them two extra months to resolve their differences, but the assembly rushed the draft constitution through an overnight session and passed it. Opposition politicians increasingly believed that Mr. Morsi did not even call his own shots — that decisions of national import were made in the Brotherhood's secretive Guidance Bureau. In Egypt's new constitution, human-rights groups and other critics saw gaping loopholes, lax protections for minorities, women and children, and troubling roles for religious oversight from conservative Sunni institutions.

 

The November crisis awakened the opposition to a harsh reality: they were going to keep losing this game, and the Brotherhood was not going to stop playing. The only solution was to change the rules. They united, for the first time, under the banner of the National Salvation Front. Their faltering effort to boycott and then vote down the new constitution failed, but the unexpectedly tight result convinced them that Mr. Morsi’s base was shrinking. Soon after, the NSF declared that it would boycott upcoming parliamentary elections unless many of the rules — written by the nearly wholly Islamist upper house — were changed. Improbably, despite being filled with inflated egos and parties highly opposed to one another, the NSF held its front.

 

In December, after Morsi supporters ransacked a small sit-in outside the presidential palace and sparked deadly street battles, a more extreme wing of the opposition began to wield influence inside the coalition. They argued that Mr. Morsi had lost all legitimacy. He would have to go, voluntarily or by force. Violent anti-Brotherhood protests became the order of the day. Instability worked in the opposition’s favour. The economy was nose-diving, and security forces — becoming more openly vocal in their disdain for the Brotherhood government — could not or would not do their jobs. Social media and independent television stations lit up with images of Brotherhood members beating away protesters. Newspapers openly mocked Mr. Morsi’s government for its inability to right the ship. Rumours and anonymously sourced news reports spread about the Brotherhood’s ambitions to Islamize the army and police and carve off critical swaths of sovereign assets, such as those along the Suez Canal, to sell to benefactors in Qatar. Mr. Morsi – one of the more deeply uncharismatic leaders in modern Arab history – proved incapable of rallying anyone outside his base.

 

The Brotherhood’s majoritarian behavior had, by then, convinced many secular-minded Egyptians that Mr. Morsi and his administration would not engage in any meaningful negotiation. The goal for many in the opposition became the end of the Brotherhood’s entire project itself.

 

Ministries were in quiet bureaucratic rebellion. Lower-level employees stalled paperwork. Mr. Morsi and the Brotherhood had, by now, almost fully retreated to their core supporters. He held a sectarianism-fueled stadium rally where he severed relations with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad – after his administration had encouraged Egyptians to go fight in the war.

 

As the swamp of a long summer and economic decline loomed, the NSF waited. Then, in June, came Tamarod. The Tamarod (“Rebel”) campaign has publicly put into simple terms what many in the political opposition have been thinking for months: Morsi is the target, he must go. And when he goes, the Brotherhood project ends. The constitution is rewritten; the country presses the reset button on the transition.

 

Egypt is more polarized than at any point since the revolution. Figures from the old regime – Omar Suleiman’s aide, the son of one of the Nile Delta’s longtime Mubarak power brokers – have re-emerged to rally supporters against the Brotherhood. The irony is not lost on many of the most dedicated revolutionaries, who wonder whether their causes have been hijacked and their voices marginalized once again. Others have set aside such concerns, saying the Brotherhood represents the more clear and present danger. The enduring legacy of Mr. Morsi’s presidency, if he does not survive his four-year term, may be his inadvertent facilitation of the counter-revolution.

 

If Mohamed Morsi falls or steps down, millions of Egyptians will view it as a victory. Perhaps he could be succeeded by a salvation government, and some kind of stable progress will ensue, though the Brotherhood can hardly be expected to quietly allow their project to dissolve around them, and it would likely mean the return of the army to a guiding role.

 

Revolutions come with chaos. History teaches us that many years may pass before a country comes out of such upheaval with a working government, satisfactory justice and reconciliation, and a consensus about national identity. But even in such a positive scenario, it is hard not to view the first two and a half years of Egypt’s revolution as a series of squandered promises.

 

Evan Hill is a Cairo-based journalist.

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TWO FUTURES FOR EGYPT CLASH IN THE CONFLICT OF THE SQUARES

Nassif Hitti

Al-Monitor, July 1, 2013

                       

The Tamarod movement in Egypt came to fill a vacuum created by the absence of strong, well-entrenched, mass-based political parties. This is expected, since Egypt is emerging from six decades of authoritarianism that closed down the political space and confiscated political life. It also obstructed the creation and evolution of party politics.

 

Another factor for the emergence of Tamarod lies in the shaky legitimacy of the salvation front. It is a loose coalition of important personalities and of mostly small, newly created, elitist political parties. Beyond their common unified opposition to the newly established Muslim Brotherhood regime, they have different ideological sensibilities, political views and governing agendas ranging from liberal to nationalist to socialist to a combination of some of these ideologies. The asymmetry is due to the enormous resources and the iron discipline of the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

This is cemented by years of persecution and yearning for power and by the strong belief of being entrusted with the sacral mission to salvage the Umma. The Muslim Brotherhood is acting as if they earned via the ballots a piece of property called the state, which they could rebuild and redecorate the way they wanted.

Tamarod, the youth movement, whereby youth represents a majority in Egypt, reflects the frustrated expectations of those who played a major role in bringing down the authoritarian regime of former President Hosni Mubarak. They wanted to establish an open, democratic, new regime, one that is established by all and for all. A regime that is based on political participation, accountability of the institutions, respect for rights and freedoms, separation of powers and drastic, concrete socioeconomic reforms introduced by the new state.

 

For them, a democratic regime is to be built by an inclusive equal-sharing societal process in which all the actors of the society are involved. For the Muslim Brotherhood, democracy was reduced to elections that gave the winner a free hand to enforce its ideological views and precepts, gradually if necessary, to reshape state and society. Thus, according to this view, democracy is no more than an electoral procedure, a parenthesis in the historical process to grab power. It bestows on the Muslim Brotherhood the right to build their own regime under a different name and a different legitimizing discourse. This is part of the well-known Islamist strategy of empowerment and redefining the sociocultural identity and remodeling the existent value system of the country, instead of redefining the role of the state to better face the socioeconomic challenges of an impoverished developing country.

 

The Muslim Brotherhood answer to the Tamarod movement call for change has been to depict the conflict as between Islam and secularism as the deputy supreme guide [Rashad al-Bayoumi] has been saying. Secularism is a word that represents an accusation in a religious conservative Egypt, being equated with atheism. They try also to define the conflict as being between the old regime people and the revolution.

 

If a win by knockout by either party is impossible, then to save Egypt from a deadly stalemate, with an unpredictable outcome, the regime must accept to change its policy entirely. The aim would be of building genuine bridges with the opposition. It must adopt an inclusive approach to national reconstruction that cuts entirely with the authoritarian mentality of the Muslim Brotherhood; the same mentality that governed Egypt under the old regime and that is changing its name this time. Otherwise the confrontation of the squares will continue to escalate and expand with the risk of becoming more violent. This will take Egypt to a dangerous, tortuous road leading to more economic impoverishment, a radicalization of the political discourse and more social violence in an atmosphere of tense escalated national tension, of state paralysis and of trading accusations…..

 

Ambassador Nassif Hitti is a senior Arab League official and the former head of the Arab League Mission in Paris. He is a former representative to UNESCO and a member of the Al-Monitor board of directors.

 

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FOR EGYPT’S MILITARY, THERE’S NO TURNING BACK

Avi Issacharoff

Times of Israel, July 2, 2013

 

Just hours after publishing an unequivocal statement that put it firmly on the opposition’s side, Egypt’s military, late Monday night, issued a second announcement in which its leaders attempted to regain a more neutral position. “Military coups are not part of our ideology,” the later message said. “The published statement was meant to push the sides towards an agreement… We have no plan of taking power into our own hands.”

 

The military’s late attempt to paint itself as an impartial broker between the secular and Islamist camps failed to sound convincing…Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more dire threat to a democratically elected president. The military, in its initial statement, decided to grant President Mohammed Morsi (and the rest of the political system) a 48-hour ultimatum to reach understandings with the opposition, “as a last chance to shoulder the burden of the historic moment.” If the demands are not realized in that time, the military said it would be obliged to “announce a road-map for the future and the steps for overseeing its implementation, with participation of all patriotic and sincere parties and movements … excluding no one.”

 

While the wording of the statement was vague, it was not vague enough. The opposition’s demands are clear– the removal of Morsi. The only compromise that may be in the cards is the cancellation of the pro-Islamist constitution and, perhaps, the dismissal of Prime Minister Hesham Kandil. However, the millions who swarmed Tahrir Square and those who amassed opposite Ittihadiya palace will not accept anything less than Morsi’s resignation, especially in the face of such a clear threat from the military.

 

In the meantime, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are digging their heels in and don’t show any willingness to compromise. They may still meet with opposition representatives in the day and a half before the ultimatum expires, but the gaps between the sides seem too deep to overcome. Still, in this era of Egyptian revolutions, a last-minute compromise is not an impossibility. Morsi, who just a few days ago seemed to convey confidence in a public address, found himself on Monday night weaker than ever. Eleven Cabinet ministers as well as members of Parliament and regional governors have submitted their resignations. Belief that Morsi will survive is dwindling, especially in light of the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are still swarming to Tahrir Square.

 

He has two guns to his head now: one held by the opposition, whose ultimatum will end at 5 pm Tuesday, and one held by the army, whose ultimatum expires Wednesday afternoon. Protest groups have already announced that if the president isn’t out by 5 pm, they will announce a general strike that will bring the country to a standstill.

 

What will the military actually do when it’s 48-hour ultimatum to Morsi expires? Not much it seems. The chances of a military coup seem slim at the moment. It may be that as part of their promised “Road map” the army will demand Morsi take steps for appeasement or even leave office. If he doesn’t comply, the army may simply carry on its current policy of letting the protesters do as they like, including attacking regime institutions.

 

In such a scenario, Morsi may even turn to the army himself, requesting to be saved.

 

Contents

 

Who Will Save Egypt? Cairo's Economic Disaster: Marina Ottaway, Foreign Affairs, June 30, 2013—Egyptians have a lot to be upset about these days, and they are showing it. The one-year anniversary of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s inauguration has brought with it major protests and counter protests, raising fears of renewed political violence. Underneath all the anger lies a basic fact: The Egyptian economy is in deep trouble.

 

Pressure Builds on Morsi as His Allies Quit and Protests Mount: Ben Hubbard, David D. Kirkpatrick And Kareem Fahim, New York Times, July 2, 2013—President Mohamed Morsi faced deepening political isolation on Tuesday as protesters massed to call for his ouster, the clock ticked on a two-day military ultimatum, high-ranking officials quit his cabinet and his own press office, and ultraconservative Islamists joined the opposition’s call for early presidential elections.

 

Volcano on the Nile: Editorial, The Daily Star (Lebanon), July 2, 2013—For Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi, perhaps it requires repeating: In early 2011, Egyptians mounted a massive popular uprising in order to remove an authoritarian regime, not to install the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

The Egyptian State Unravels: Mara Revkin, Foreign Affairs, June 27, 2013 — Meet the gangs and vigilantes who thrive under Morsi… “Everybody needs a weapon,” said Mahmoud, a 23-year-old Egyptian arms dealer, as he displayed his inventory of pistols, machetes, and switchblades on the living room floor of his family’s apartment in the crime-ridden Cairo neighborhood of Ain Shams.

 

'Rebel' Egyptian Movement Defies Morsi Through Petitions: Ahmed Ateyya, Al-Monitor, May 17, 2013—"The Rebel Movement announces that it is collecting signed petitions calling for confidence withdrawal from the illegitimate President Mohammed Morsi." In the middle of the infamously noisy and overcrowded Giza Square, a group of 15 activists started to repeat their announcement through a megaphone, carrying thousands of copies of the petition and a stock of extra pens Monday.    

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EGYPT: MORSI’S ISLAMIST MOBILIZATION, ARMY’S OPPORTUNISM, “LIBERALS”’ RESISTANCE, JIHADI RESURGENCE & TANKING ECONOMY YIELD WEAK STATE, POLITICAL STASIS

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F-16s to the Muslim Brotherhood: Dore Gold, Israel Hayom, Feb. 1, 2013—The latest American crisis with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president, Muhammad Morsi, came out into the open on January 14, 2013, when the New York Times published a report on its front page that three years earlier he used blatantly anti-Semitic motifs for describing "Zionists" as “…bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”
 

Morsi's Guns: The Officers Backing Egypt's President: Joshua Stacher, Foreign Affairs, February 4, 2013—In recent months, the Egyptian military has struck a quiet alliance with the country's president, believing that he and the Muslim Brotherhood will keep winning elections. In return for their support, the generals got a draft constitution that protected the many of their core interests. Yet the military also preserved its appearance of neutrality — leaving it room to change horses should the Brotherhood fall behind.

Jihadists on the Nile: Aaron Zelin, Real Clear World, Jan. 21, 2013—Jihadist groups are emerging as a major threat in Egypt because of three developments: the permissive atmosphere for Islamist mobilization in general since Hosni Mubarak's February 2011 ouster, the ruling Muslim Brotherhood's tolerance toward its fellow Islamists, and the weakness of the Egyptian state. To help inhibit violence by such groups, Washington should approach Cairo with a mix of economic inducements, diplomatic pressure, and intelligence sharing.

 

On Topic Links

 

Egypt: Free People Not Going Quietly Into the Sharia Night: Robert Spencer, Front Page Magazine, Feb. 1, 2013

 

Death and Fear are at Center of Islamic Society: Nonie Darwish, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 5, 2013
Morsi’s Goon Squads Kill 2 Activists; US ‘Disturbed’: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, Feb. 5, 2013
Think Again: The Muslim Brotherhood: Eric Trager, Foreign Policy, Jan. 28, 2013

Analysis: Is Egypt Facing Another Revolution?: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 29, 2013
‘Socioeconomic Time Bomb’ Ticking in Troubled Egypt: Patrick Martin, The Globe and Mail, Jan. 31 2013

 

 

 

F-16s TO THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
Dore Gold

Israel Hayom, Feb. 1, 2013
 

The latest American crisis with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president, Muhammad Morsi, came out into the open on January 14, 2013, when the New York Times published a report on its front page that three years earlier he used blatantly anti-Semitic motifs for describing "Zionists" as “…bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.” The interview was videotaped and distributed by MEMRI, which has been documenting and translating from Arabic the statements of leaders across the Middle East for many years.

To make matters worse for Morsi, he was also filmed addressing a rally in 2010 in the Nile Delta at which he declared: “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.” This video clip was actually broadcast on Egyptian television….

What has made the revelations about Morsi's comments especially problematic was that during January, the U.S. supplied four F-16 fighter aircraft to Egypt, out of a total package for 20 such fighters that was originally signed when President Mubarak was still in power. The U.S. will also be supplying 200 Abrams tanks to Egypt.

As a consequence, when Senator John Kerry appeared before Congress prior to the vote on his confirmation as the next secretary of state, he was asked how the U.S. could provide advanced arms to a country led by a president, like Morsi, who had such values that were antithetical to everything for which the U.S. stood. More practically, Senator Rand Paul (Rep.–Kentucky) asked Kerry if the new U.S. warplanes would be a threat to Israel or even to America.

For decades the U.S. has developed means to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge, even as Washington supplies advanced weapons to the Arab states. In the latest sale to Egypt, a publication specializing in the U.S. defense industry points out that at this point, Egypt will not receive the same advanced air-to-air missiles that Israel deploys on its F-16s, thereby assuring Israeli air superiority vis-a-vis the Egyptian Air Force.

Undoubtedly, there will be U.S. officials who will argue that arms sales to Egypt will at least keep the Egyptian armed forces friendly to Washington. In his first major struggle with the Egyptian army, however, Morsi showed that he was willing to challenge its general staff when he forced General Tantawi to retire. Every senior Egyptian officer now knows that his advance up the chain of command will be dependent on the approval of the Muslim Brotherhood regime.

Some Egyptians are reading into the completion of the F-16 sale a political signal from Washington towards the Egyptian regime and its opposition. It is being seen as a kind of vote of confidence in Morsi and his government. Ambassador Hussein Haridi, a former assistant foreign minister, told the Egyptian newspaper, al-Ahram, in mid-January that the sale indicated that the level of support for Morsi and the Brotherhood was continuing, despite the demonstrations against his regime that were already underway in mid-December.

But there is a more fundamental issue that needs to be addressed in this discussion about advanced arms for Egypt. Morsi's statements point to the fact that he is still strongly tied to the hard-line ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood , which it must be remembered is a revolutionary movement that could down the line put at risk important Arab allies of the U.S.

Indeed, during 2011, Jordanian officials accused the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of being involved in growing street disturbances in Amman. In December 2012, security forces in the UAE uncovered a Muslim Brotherhood plot to overthrow its government. Egyptian nationals were arrested and imprisoned. Cairo sent a high-level delegation, including Morsi's intelligence chief, to Abu Dhabi to help reduce tensions with the UAE, but they came back empty-handed. Both the UAE and the Saudi press have been notably critical of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in recent months.

Indeed the Muslim Brotherhood over the years has been seeking to overthrow existing Arab regimes, replacing them with a unified Arab state. The Arab Spring has provided new opportunities for the movement to realize its long-term goals. Eventually, the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood seeks the re-establishment of the caliphate, whose global regime will cross current state borders.

There is a history of Egyptian adventurism towards neighboring states that could be rekindled in the future if it were to have the backing of a strong Islamist ideological orientation. Take for example the case of Saudi Arabia. In the 19th century, during the rule of Muhmmad Ali, Egypt dispatched an expeditionary force into the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, occupied the capital of the first Saudi state, and sent its Emir to Istanbul for execution. In 1962, when Egypt was led by President Nasser, it intervened in the Yemen Civil War with tens of thousands of troops and even used its air force to strike border towns in Saudi Arabia, which was backing the opposite side.

Right now, Egypt has too many troubles at home to follow this kind of aggressive political agenda. Morsi just declared a state of emergency and a curfew in Suez, Ismailia, and Port Said after escalating violence in those cities. But in the long-term, if Egypt adopts the Muslim Brotherhood program in its relations with the rest of the Middle East, then Israel will not be the only state that should be concerned.

Arms transfers do not change the balance of power overnight, especially if only a few aircraft are involved. The present sale represents a qualitative upgrade for Egypt, which until now has only received older models of the F-16. However, it would be more advisable to build up Egypt's ability to assure its internal security in places like Sinai, where al-Qaeda affiliates have built up for themselves a substantial foothold. But investing in weapons for projecting Egyptian military power over long distances should be re-thought until its leadership clarifies what its intentions are with respect to its Middle Eastern neighbors.

 

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MORSI'S GUNS: THE OFFICERS BACKING EGYPT'S PRESIDENT
Joshua Stacher

Foreign Affairs, February 4, 2013

In recent months, the Egyptian military has struck a quiet alliance with the country's president, believing that he and the Muslim Brotherhood will keep winning elections. In return for their support, the generals got a draft constitution that protected the many of their core interests. Yet the military also preserved its appearance of neutrality — leaving it room to change horses should the Brotherhood fall behind. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood think of themselves as uniquely qualified to rebuild Egypt. Moreover, they believe that they were entrusted with doing so during this year's election. Their miscalculation, though, was to think that the rest of Egypt felt the same way.

Once again, Egyptian protestors have taken to the streets to lash out against the disappointing political transition there. This latest turmoil, which began on the second anniversary of the January 25 uprising, is worse and has lasted longer than previous confrontations. Last week, the fighting was most intense in Suez, Ismailia, and Port Said, where police fired tear gas, birdshot, and live ammunition into the crowds, leaving over 60 Egyptians dead and another 1,000 injured. There is also a video circulating of police brutally beating a man, who had been stripped down to his underwear. But the state's continued use of force has done little to stop civil disobedience.

The government has blamed this latest uprising on foreign troublemakers and unruly youth militias, such as the newly established quasi-anarchist group the Black Bloc. On January 27, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi belatedly addressed the nation, urging calm while imposing a curfew, and declaring martial law in the cities along the canal. Morsi ended his speech with a threat: "If I see that the homeland and its children are in danger, I will be forced to do more." But further cracking down on citizens would not curb violence in Egypt. In fact, it would only reinforce protestors' claims that the state continues to repress citizens and that the transition has been a sham. 

The Egyptian Ministry of Interior remains the country's most virulently detested institution. In 2009, it employed a total of 1.7 million people, including nearly 850,000 policemen and 400,000 officials in the dreaded State Security Investigations Service (SSI). Under the Mubarak regime, the police and the SSI were responsible for a copious amount of unwarranted domestic surveillance, corruption, torture, and police brutality. The regime also used the police and the SSI to steal elections, limit freedom of expression, and repress the opposition. 

Today, little has changed. The SSI has simply been replaced by Egypt's Homeland Security agency, which is just as violent as its predecessor; it is the same organization with a new name. One domestic nongovernmental organization claims that, in Morsi's first 100 days, 88 people were tortured and 34 were extra judicially murdered in police stations across the country, but not a single person connected to the new government's coercive apparatus has been found guilty of a crime.

In fact, only two police officers have been sentenced in connection with any violence since the 2011 uprising. Shielded by Egypt's political elites, the Interior Ministry has made few personnel changes. To be sure, there have been some forced retirements, but most Mubarak-era officials and generals have been placed in other parts of the bureaucracy, where they enjoy high salaries and guarantees of immunity for their past crimes. The men who have taken over the vacant positions are old-regime deputies. Thus, the hierarchy, culture, and philosophy endure.

Reluctance to reform the Interior Ministry might have been expected from the military. But, given that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were the victims of the state's iron fist for so long, it is surprising that they are equally keen to keep the old system in place. Their desire to stay in power, it seems, has led them to lie with strange bedfellows. In addition, the transition from military to civilian rule was structured such that the winner of the presidential elections would be forced to compromise with the old regime. As a result, the president, together with the short-lived parliament and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has ignored or blocked efforts by groups such as the National Initiative for Rebuilding the Police to professionalize and reform the security sector. And recent judicial rulings continue to place the police beyond the law, which encourages them to keep defending the regime, as opposed to serving the population.

The military, which oversaw the haphazard transition that lasted 17 months, also fills a tricky role, caught between the government and the growing number of unsatisfied citizens. When pressed for a reaction to the current tensions, the defence minister, Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, issued a statement that appeared to simultaneously side with the government and the protesters. El-Sisi did not endorse Morsi's leadership, but he urged protestors to return home for the sake of the state. Because the military feigns objectivity, some, such as Mohamed ElBaradei, have suggested that the military should sponsor a national unity government.

It is highly unlikely, however, that the military will intervene. Undoing the results of the most competitive election in Egypt's history, in which 52 percent of the population turned out, could spark widespread outrage. Similarly, the military is not strong enough to govern. It barely survived intact the first time it intervened in national politics. Furthermore, the military does not want to be in the spotlight. Generals are happy to privately wield power while Morsi takes the heat publically. Plus, the military is pleased with the new constitution's articles that expanded its influence.

And, although disruptive, the recent protests have not threatened to bring down Morsi's government. Egypt is not on the verge of collapse, nor is such an outcome likely even if violence persists. The number of demonstrators is high, but it is not the critical mass that gathered during the 18 days of mobilization that culminated in toppling Mubarak. Still, the government needs to make substantial changes to calm tensions….

The security services need to be dissolved and reconstituted with new personnel. There needs to be civilian leadership, as well as legal training about human rights and an outlawing of torture. As long as an unreformed police force is responsible for responding to protests, bloodshed will persist. Meanwhile, the lack of change and political progress makes revolutionaries feel that peaceful, democratic avenues of participation and reform are blocked. Elected state officials remain partisan and weak, the formal opposition remains fragmented, and the state apparatus continues to operate with an outdated mentality. And so Egyptians keep taking to the street.

 

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JIHADISTS ON THE NILE

 

Aaron Zelin
Real Clear World, Jan. 21, 2013

Jihadist groups are emerging as a major threat in Egypt because of three developments: the permissive atmosphere for Islamist mobilization in general since Hosni Mubarak's February 2011 ouster, the ruling Muslim Brotherhood's tolerance toward its fellow Islamists, and the weakness of the Egyptian state….
Following the 2011 revolution, the military junta that replaced Mubarak granted amnesty to many Islamists, including individuals with blood on their hands. Many of these figures renounced violence, and some established political parties, but others remain completely unreformed. These latter jihadists are radicalizing Egypt's domestic political scene and threatening U.S. interests.

Two Egyptian "Ansar al-Sharia" groups, whose names echo those of other regional jihadist organizations, are particularly worth noting. Gamaat Ansar al-Sharia in Egypt (ASE), which was founded in mid-October 2012, focuses on internal "reform," including application of sharia, compensation for the martyrs of the revolution, purging the judiciary and media, allowing bearded officers, and not relying on riba (usury) in financial transactions. Similar to the Ansar outfits in Tunisia and Benghazi, Libya, ASE runs local community services such as distributing sheep for ritual slaughter during the Eid al-Adha holiday and providing food for the needy.

By contrast, al-Taliah al-Salafiyah al-Mujahediyah Ansar al-Sharia (TSM), which was formed this month but officially declared in mid-November, is more internationally focused. Run by former members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) who post their press releases to al-Qaeda-affiliated online forums, it emphasizes liberating foreign-occupied Muslim lands, supporting foreign mujahedin, resisting the foreign ideologies of liberalism and communism, repelling the implementation of secular laws from Europe, and stopping the "Christianization" of Egyptian education. Unlike ASE, TSM does not publicize any social services that it provides; much of its public profile since Mubarak's ouster has been in the form of articles, books, and fatwas regarding the Egyptian transition.

 

Meanwhile, the emergence of former EIJ figure Muhammad al-Zawahiri, brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman, has given these groups a public face. Zawahiri was released from prison in March 2012 and has since promoted the global jihadist worldview through local and international press interviews. While he denies being an al-Qaeda member, he agrees with its ideological outlook and, through Twitter, instigated last year's September 11 protests outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo that culminated with the breaching of the compound's walls and desecration of the U.S. flag. He also cooperated with TSM's Ahmed Ashoush to plan Salafi jihadist participation in an early November demonstration in support of sharia. And in December, he catalyzed a boycott of the constitutional referendum, criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood's "sharia sins" and arguing that the new charter was insufficiently Islamist.

While these groups and figures have only small followings — as evidenced by the unimpressive turnout at their occasional Tahrir Square sharia protests — there is substantial risk that they will gain followers in the coming months. The relative openness of post-Mubarak Egypt has afforded them unprecedented opportunities for proselytizing. Moreover, they will likely draw followers away from Salafist political parties, whose members may become disillusioned with a political process that they already view as a "necessary evil."

Egypt's declining internal security will give jihadists ample recruitment opportunities as well. Instability in the Sinai could also provide them with new training grounds, allowing them to return to their Nile Valley communities with newly developed skills for attacking civilians or the state. In addition, instability in northern Sinai and attacks against Israel could jeopardize the bilateral peace treaty.

The Egyptian government has done little thus far to curtail the jihadist emergence. While neither the military nor the Muslim Brotherhood wants to see jihadist groups rise, both fear the domestic political repercussions of taking them on too directly; in particular, the Brotherhood is worried that confronting fellow Islamists would benefit its Salafist competitors. The military further views the problem as a policing issue for which the Interior Ministry is primarily responsible.

 

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Egypt: Free People Not Going Quietly Into the Sharia Night: Robert Spencer, Front Page Magazine, February 1, 2013
Survey after survey, as well as the election results that put the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in the presidential palace, show that most Egyptians want Islamic law. But those who do not are not submitting quietly to Sharia tyranny.

Death and Fear are at Center of Islamic Society: Nonie Darwish, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 5, 2013—The most influential Sunni leader in the Middle East has just admitted what many of us who grew up as Muslims in the Middle East have always known: that Islam could not exist today without the killing of apostates.

Morsi’s Goon Squads Kill 2 Activists; US ‘Disturbed’: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, February 5th, 2013—The U.S. State Department has told Egypt it is “extremely disturbed” by the video of Egyptian police brutally beating and dragging a naked near the presidential palace as the Muslim Brotherhood makes the Obama administration’s enthusiastic welcome of the regime more problematic.
 

Think Again: The Muslim Brotherhood: Eric Trager, Foreign Policy, Jan. 28, 2013—"They're democrats." Don't kid yourself. Long before the Jan. 25 revolution that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, many academics and policymakers argued that his main adversary — the Muslim Brotherhood — had made its peace with democracy. This was based on the assumption that, since the Muslim Brotherhood participated in virtually every election under Mubarak, it was committed to the rule of the people as a matter of principle.

 

Analysis: Is Egypt Facing Another Revolution?: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 29, 2013—Since the January 2011 overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, political unrest and divisions, violent protests and crackdowns have beset the country. Overseas investments and tourism have dropped, and the country’s foreign currency reserves have plummeted.

 

‘Socioeconomic Time Bomb’ Ticking in Troubled Egypt: Patrick Martin, The Globe and Mail, Jan. 31 2013—Egypt’s economy is growing at the slowest rate in two decades and official figures put unemployment at 13 per cent. Youth unemployment, one of the drivers of the revolutionary movement in 2011, is now 25 per cent for people between the ages of 25 and 29, and 41 per cent for those 19 to 24.

 

 

 

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