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