Tag: General al-sisi

EGYPT, WHERE TIME STANDS STILL, IS A ZERO SUM GAME — AND OBAMA’S PRO-M.B. STANCE WORKED AGAINST “DEMOCRACY”

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Contents:

 

The Choice in Egypt: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, August 22, 2013—Egypt today is a zero-sum game. We’d have preferred there be a democratic alternative. Unfortunately, there is none. The choice is binary: the country will be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood or by the military.

 

How Close Is the U.S. to the Muslim Brotherhood?: Magdi Khalil, Front Page Magazine, Aug. 23, 2013—There is no question that the US and the Muslim Brotherhood have been engaged in a dialogue during the course of the so-called Arab Spring, in regards to the form and structure of government in Egypt and perhaps in the Middle East as a whole.

 

Egypt is Where History Goes to Die: Daniel Greenfield, Jewish Press, August 27th, 2013—One of the biggest differences between conservatives and liberals is that while conservatives believe that history is an expression of human nature, liberals don't believe in history, they believe in historical processes.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

Mubarak's Muslim Brotherhood Prophecy: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 15, 2013

The Evolution of the Revolution: Dr. Michael Evans, Jerusalem Report, Aug. 21, 2013

The Realist Prism: Indecision on Egypt Leaves U.S. Interests at Risk: Nikolas Gvosdev, World Politics Review, Aug. 23 2013

Is Egypt the next Algeria? Unlikely: Tawfik Hamid, Jerusalem Post, Aug 26, 2013

Gulf Islamists Irked as Monarchs Back Egypt's Generals: Egypt Independent, Aug. 27, 2013

Constitutional Tweaks May Empower Mubarak-Era Politicians in Egypt: Egypt Independent, Aug. 24, 2013

 

THE CHOICE IN EGYPT

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, August 22, 2013

 

Egypt today is a zero-sum game. We’d have preferred there be a democratic alternative. Unfortunately, there is none. The choice is binary: the country will be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood or by the military.

Perhaps it didn’t have to be this way. Perhaps the military should have waited three years for the intensely unpopular Mohamed Morsi to be voted out of office. But Gen.Abdel Fatah al-Sissi seems to have calculated that he didn’t have three years, that by then there would be no elections — as in Gaza, where the Palestinian wing of the Brotherhood, Hamas, elected in 2006, established a one-man-one-vote-one-time dictatorship.

 

What’s the United States to do? Any response demands two considerations: (a) moral, i.e., which outcome offers the better future for Egypt, and (b) strategic, i.e., which outcome offers the better future for U.S. interests and those of the free world.

 

As for Egypt’s future, the Brotherhood offered nothing but incompetent, intolerant, increasingly dictatorial rule. In one year, Morsi managed to squander 85 years of Brotherhood prestige garnered in opposition — a place from which one can promise the moon — by persecuting journalists and activists, granting himself the unchallenged power to rule by decree, enshrining a sectarian Islamist constitution and systematically trying to seize the instruments of state power. As if that wasn’t enough, after its overthrow the Brotherhood showed itself to be the party that, when angry, burns churches.

 

The military, brutal and bloody, is not a very appealing alternative. But it does matter what the Egyptian people think. The anti-Morsi demonstrations were the largest in recorded Egyptian history. Revolted by Morsi’s betrayal of a revolution intended as a new opening for individual dignity and democracy, the protesters explicitly demanded Morsi’s overthrow. And the vast majority seem to welcome the military repression aimed at abolishing the Islamist threat. It’s their only hope, however problematic, for an eventual democratic transition.

 

And which alternative better helps secure U.S. strategic interests? The list of those interests is long: (1) a secure Suez Canal, (2) friendly relations with the United States, (3) continued alliance with the pro-American Gulf Arabs and Jordanians, (4) retention of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, (5) cooperation with the U.S. on terrorism, which in part involves (6) isolating Brotherhood-run Gaza. Every one of which is jeopardized by Brotherhood rule.

 

What, then, should be our policy? The administration is right to deplore excessive violence and urge reconciliation. But let’s not fool ourselves into believing this is possible in any near future. Sissi crossed his Rubicon with the coup. It will either succeed or not. To advocate a middle way is to invite endless civil strife. The best outcome would be a victorious military magnanimously offering, at some later date, to reintegrate the more moderate elements of what’s left of the Brotherhood.

 

But for now, we should not be cutting off aid, civilian or military, as many in Congress are demanding. It will have no effect, buy no influence and win no friends on either side of the Egyptian divide. We should instead be urging the quick establishment of a new cabinet of technocrats, rapidly increasing its authority as the soldiers gradually return to their barracks.

 

Generals are very bad at governance. Give the reins to people who actually know something. And charge them with reviving the economy and preparing the foundations for a democratic transition — most importantly, drafting a secular constitution that protects the rights of women and minorities.

 

The final step on that long democratic path should be elections. First municipal, then provincial, then national. As was shown in the post-World War II democratizations, the later the better. After all, we’ve been here. Through a half-century of cold war, we repeatedly faced precisely the same dilemma: choosing the lesser evil between totalitarian (in that case, communist) and authoritarian (usually military) rule.

 

We generally supported the various militaries in suppressing the communists. That was routinely pilloried as a hypocritical and immoral betrayal of our alleged allegiance to liberty. But in the end, it proved the prudent, if troubled, path to liberty.

 

The authoritarian regimes we supported — in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Chile, Brazil, even Spain and Portugal (ruled by fascists until the mid-1970s!) — in time yielded democratic outcomes. Gen. Augusto Pinochet, after 16 years of iron rule, yielded to U.S. pressure and allowed a free election — which he lost, ushering in Chile’s current era of democratic flourishing. How many times have communists or Islamists allowed that to happen?

 

Regarding Egypt, rather than emoting, we should be thinking: what’s best for Egypt, for us and for the possibility of some eventual democratic future. Under the Brotherhood, such a possibility is zero. Under the generals, slim. Slim trumps zero.

 

Contents

HOW CLOSE IS THE U.S. TO THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD?

Magdi Khalil

Front Page Magazine, Aug. 23, 2013

 

There is no question that the US and the Muslim Brotherhood have been engaged in a dialogue during the course of the so-called Arab Spring, in regards to the form and structure of government in Egypt and perhaps in the Middle East as a whole. But the real question, which is frequently asked, is what kind of a role did the US exactly play in the Muslim Brotherhood’s arrival to power in Egypt? Is the US actually working alongside the Muslim Brotherhood to shape the future of the Middle East?…

 

First, it must be said that the US is not unacquainted with the Muslim Brotherhood, since the movement has had US-based activities, organizations and financial investments for more than five decades, particularly through its relationship with and presence in Saudi Arabia, which became its refuge after it fled from Egypt during Nasser’s rule. The Muslim Brotherhood sought to establish its presence in the American continent, starting with “The Muslim Students’ Association,” which was a small organization established in 1963. Later, they went on to establish bigger organizations such as the North American Islamic Trust in 1971; the International Institute of Islamic Thought in 1980; the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood in America in 1980; the Islamic Society of North America in 1981; the Islamic Association of Palestine in 1981, which in turn established the Occupied Land Fund that later became the Holy Land Foundation; the American Islamic Council in 1990, and the American Islamic Society in1992. Furthermore, the international Muslim Brotherhood movement held its meetings several times in the US, specifically in the years 1977, 1978 and 1979. The Muslim Brotherhood had well known leaders in the US, such as Zaid Noman, Ahmed El Kady, Mohammed Ikram Elwani, as well as senior investors such as Youssef Nada.

 

Looking back, we can see that the starting point for the attempts to contain Islamist movements around the world, including the Muslim Brotherhood, was right after the events of September 11 [2001]. As the first shot was fired in Afghanistan, the US began also to formulate a plan to deal with the Islamist dilemma from a political angle. An endless war was not a viable solution, and a political alternative was required in order to control the emerging phenomenon. The Bush Administration primarily thought that the lack of democratic political participation was behind the phenomenon of international terrorism, believing that these individuals were hunted in their countries, and after being forced to flee, they had directed their excessive hatred and violence at the Western World. The solution seemed clear enough then: to find a way to redirect and assimilate that excessive energy through a local political process that would both embrace and contain said individuals. Bush chose Iraq as a starting point for the democratization of the region and the creation of a new Middle East, where he had expected democracy to spread in a domino-like effect.

 

However, democracy failed in Iraq. On one side, it was thwarted by the unleashed sectarian strife monster, and on the other it met with stubborn and unanimous resistance from neighbouring countries, including Iran, which worked together to defeat Bush’s plan and stop the tide of American democracy from reaching its shores.

 

This plan’s failure was promptly followed by a hunt for a second alternative, and the idea to assimilate Islamists into their own countries through an Islamist rule of the region was born. In 2005, Ms. Condoleezza Rice, then the Secretary of State, made a speech in Cairo which suggested that the US did not mind if Islamists assumed power. This notion soon gained popularity, and dozens of seminars, conferences and meetings that took place in Washington, London, Madrid and Brussels started to promote in earnest the participation of Islamists in government. Many of these gatherings were funded through Qatar, with evident “green light” from the US.

 

With the support of Qatari funds, Al-Jazeera Channel started to back the Islamist project, i.e., an Islamist rule via elections, until the Channel became the official media platform of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic movements in the region. The role played by both Qatar and Al-Jazeera expanded throughout the Arab Spring uprisings, seeking to speed up a “brotherhoodization” process that would reshape the entire region to reflect Muslim Brotherhood beliefs and practices. Later, they worked to engage the US in extensive dialogues about government requirements and structure, the conditions of Western cooperation, and particularly US-Muslim Brotherhood cooperation.

 

Since the collapse of Mubarak’s regime, Washington and Cairo had maintained contact as attested by frequent Washington-Cairo trips and intense phone consultations between the White House and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance office in Al-Mokattam. It had reached a point where the almost nonstop contact became the subject of a widespread political joke among foreign diplomats in Egypt, who said that you can measure the time that passes between President Mursi issuing a decision and reversing it by the time difference existing between the Office of Guidance and the White House–the joke clearly speaks for itself.

 

In the beginning, the US terms were as follows: 1) to take into consideration American interests in the region; 2) to stay away from Iran; 3) to maintain the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty; 4) to resort to the ballots in political issues; 5) to take into consideration the rights of women and minorities. The Muslim Brotherhood agreed to all conditions, even if it was merely a form of dissimulation.

 

The outcome of the Gaza crisis [Operation Pillar of Defense] increased the trust between Obama’s Administration and the Muslim Brotherhood, with Obama praising Mursi at length after the crisis was averted. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood had offered what no other Egyptian president has ever offered to the US, pledging the following to Obama: 1) Hamas will not launch a single rocket, fire a single shot or conduct a single operation against Israel in the next four years, which represented Obama’s second term; 2) Egypt will monitor crossings and tunnels to ensure that no weapons are being smuggled to Hamas; 3) The US will be allowed to set up advanced equipment at the borders to conduct its own surveillance of the crossings; 4) In case the violence originating from Sinai gets out of control, American troops will be allowed to guard the Egyptian-Gaza borders.

 

In a nutshell: To restrain Hamas and keep Israel from harm while the Muslim Brotherhood is let loose in Egypt to do as it wishes. Even worse, there are serious noises about Qatari/Egyptian/American discussions aiming to bypass the Palestinian Authority and open a dialogue with Hamas directly, followed by political talks which may lead to an individual peace treaty between Hamas and Israel….

 

The bottom line is that while Mubarak had delivered the government into the hands of the military represented in the Military Council, the Military Council, in cooperation with the US, has handed the government over to the Muslim Brotherhood. Mubarak showed more intelligence in that regard, and had previous knowledge of the US intentions, as indicated by his statement to Dr. Hossam Badrawi that the US has been planning since 2005 for the Muslim Brotherhood to assume power in Egypt. The Military Council failed the people, perhaps because it made some sort of deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, or due to increased US pressure, or even because of poor political skills; what matters is that these factors combined to place Egypt under the thumb of the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

It is up to Egyptians now to reshape history once more for the sake of the people, the homeland and the future, rather than the past. There is hope yet for their voice to be heard and for their will to prevail.

Contents

 

 

EGYPT IS WHERE HISTORY GOES TO DIE

Daniel Greenfield

Jewish Press, August 27th, 2013

 

One of the biggest differences between conservatives and liberals is that while conservatives believe that history is an expression of human nature, liberals don't believe in history, they believe in historical processes. The shortage of conservatives explains why so many politicians and pundits glowingly endorsed the Arab Spring as the "end of history" because the historical processes had been achieved, the check boxes were ticked and Egypt, Tunisia and the rest of the Arab Spring countries would shortly reach the same historical terminus that Sweden, France and the United Kingdom had achieved.It also explains why so many politicians are frantically trying to "fix" Egypt by putting it on the right historical track.

The liberal understanding of history is so hopelessly dominant that it never occurs to most of them that countries can't be fixed. They aren't leaky sinks, but systems emerging from a national culture. Egypt can't be fixed by calling the plumbers of democracy to tighten a few valves and bully the natives into holding another election. The last election didn't fix Egypt. There's no reason to believe that another one will. Elections did not fix a single Arab Spring country. They didn't fix Russia. They won't fix China….

To the liberal misreading of history, a failed state is like an overweight fellow. Map out a diet and exercise regimen for him based on historical processes, things that he must do and mustn't do and he'll get better. If he isn't following orders, make him run through the right historical processes. If the whole thing backfires, refuse to admit it, because progressive policies never fail. Push that logic forward and there is no reason to think that the past is relevant to a nation at all. Not when historical processes break away the present from the past and the future from the present.

There is no real need to understand Egypt or the Muslim Brotherhood in any great depth. Not when they are about to be transformed by the magic of democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood may have been a terrorist organization in the past, its branches may still engage in terrorism, but that stops mattering once the Brotherhood bows to the historical process of democracy. Egypt's history also vanishes once it is transmuted through the magic of elections. Democracy didn't actually change Egypt. Egypt is still the same country it was before Obama's Cairo speech. It's poorer, more unstable and more dangerous. But it hasn't really changed….

The assumption that historical processes align with a forward motion, that the liberalization of a society moves it forward, are so innate that it goes unquestioned. It is why democracy is held to be a good, entirely apart from its outcome. Even if democratic elections lead to a takeover by a junta of fanatical cannibals, the very act of holding an election moves a society forward through one hoop in the great circus of historical processes. The immediate result may be cannibalism, but in the long run, as Arab Spring advocates remind us from the editorial pages, the society moves forward.

The liberal understanding of history made it impossible to see the Muslim Brotherhood for what it was because its victory did not fit the march of progress. The victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in a democratic election meant that it was progressive. Because that is how the forward motion of history is meant to work. And its overthrow had to be considered reactionary, regardless of the issues.

This blinkered view discarded the issues and nature of the participants. It traded the contents of the system, for the addiction of process. It made the same mistakes as in Iraq and Afghanistan, drifting on a democracy high without paying attention to who was actually winning the elections and what their plans for the future were. The conviction that Afghanistan or Iraq or Egypt were moving forward was not borne out by anything except the spectacle of process and the conviction that everything was bound to keep moving forward, especially if we gave it a push or two.

The conservative understanding of Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt was that these places were backward because the culture of the people, their occupations, the way that they chose to live, kept it that way. But in the liberal understanding of history, they were backward because they had been denied access to modern processes for upgrading their societies. Give them democracy and they'll be Europe in no time at all.

 

It did not occur to them that the reason Egypt wasn't England had nothing to do with elections and everything to do with the culture of a broken country that hasn't gotten all that far past feudalism, and whose "modern" face was slapped together by European colonialism and local dictators borrowing European ideas and applying thin layers of them across the surface of a much older culture. Processes don't move a society forward. The striving to learn and grow, to push beyond the next horizon and find out what is over the next hill. That innate organic expansionism, that creative dissatisfaction, cannot be transplanted or imposed externally. It either grows out of the soul of a culture or it does not. The historical processes that matter are a by product of such strivings….

We are not bound to move forward. It is quite possible that we are moving back. And even that sense of direction is a matter of opinion. To the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood, backward is forward, as they push on toward the 7th century. The sense of historical direction in Cairo or New York is not an abstract, but a function of culture, a product of the things we value and strive toward. It is possible to distinguish the healthy and unhealthy cultures through the outcome of these products, but it is not possible to make a culture want not only the things we want, but to want them in the same way and through the same means.

Egypt is where history goes to die. Beneath its sands, there are ages and ages of lost time, lost civilizations and lost pasts that might have been. They lie there untouched by the mantra of historical processes. They simple were and are no more. The Arab Spring is nothing but another one of those many sedimentary layers of history that fall into the sands and crunch under the sandals of the cultures that take each other's place….

 

Islam has cloaked [Egypt] in its characteristic darkness that teaches its followers to strive for nothing except the subjugation of others to its will….There is no future here. There is no history here. Egypt is where history goes to die, buried in its tombs with its ancient kings, lying in wait for another time when the sands will shift, the stones will fall and time will begin moving again.

Contents

 

Mubarak's Muslim Brotherhood Prophecy: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 15, 2013—In a video of Hosni Mubarak when he was still Egypt's president, the strategies of which he accuses the Muslim Brotherhood have come to pass. What follows are Mubarak's words from a conference in Egypt (date unknown; author's translation).

 

The Evolution of  the Revolution: Dr. Michael Evans, Jerusalem Report, Aug. 21, 2013—The streets of Cairo are caught in the midst of a murderous frenzy — the Egyptian military on one side and Muslim Brotherhood supporters of recently-deposed president Mohamed Morsi on the other. The death toll now hovers at over 1,000 including twenty-five off-duty policemen murdered execution-style in northern Sinai.

 

The Realist Prism: Indecision on Egypt Leaves U.S. Interests at Risk: Nikolas Gvosdev, World Politics Review, Aug. 23 2013—As the Obama administration grapples with what to do next in Egypt, it may be instructive to review the U.S. efforts of the past decade to bring about fundamental political and economic change in Egypt and the other countries of the greater Middle East.

 

Is Egypt the next Algeria? Unlikely: Tawfik Hamid, Jerusalem Post, Aug 26, 2013—Many fear that banning the Muslim Brotherhood group will result in the use of violence, similar to what happened in Algeria during the 1990s. When the Algerian people refused to give the radical Islamists – who later won the elections – political power, Algeria endured the blood shed of 100,000 innocent people, over a ten year period.

 

Gulf Islamists Irked as Monarchs Back Egypt's Generals: Egypt Independent, Aug. 27, 2013—While they have been careful to express only muted dissent in public, Islamists and some other conservative Gulf Muslims are quietly seething at Saudi Arabia's whole-hearted backing of Egyptian army chief General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

 

Constitutional Tweaks May Empower Mubarak-Era Politicians in Egypt: Egypt Independent, Aug. 24, 2013—Islamists and liberals have voiced alarm about the proposals made by a constitutional committee set up by the generals who removed the Muslim Brotherhood's Mursi on July 3 amid widespread protests against Egypt's first freely elected leader.

 

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TURMOIL IN EGYPT: SINAI BREEDING INSURGENCY, M. BROTHERHOOD KILLING IT’S OWN, RULING GENERAL AL-SISI– ISLAMIST IN POPULIST CLOTHING?

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

 

 

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Sisi's Islamist Agenda for Egypt: The General's Radical Political Vision: Robert Springborg, Foreign Affairs, July 28, 2013—Addressing graduates of military academies is a standard responsibility for high-ranking military officers all over the world. But last week, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the commander of Egypt’s armed forces, which recently deposed the country’s first freely elected president, went far beyond the conventions of the genre in a speech to graduates of Egypt’s Navy and Air Defense academies.

In Egypt’s Sinai, Insurgency Taking Root: Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, July 28, 2013—More than three weeks after the military coup that ousted this nation’s first democratically elected — and Islamist — president from power, the roots of a violent insurgency are burrowing fast into the sands of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Muslim Brotherhood Kills Its Own to Demonize Egyptian Military:Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, July 25, 2013—Killing fellow Muslims, and even the most horrific crimes, are permissible so long as they are seen as ways of advancing and empowering Islam.

 

On Topic Links

 

Egypt’s Dilemma: Marcus Marktanner, Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2013

Egypt's Predictable Unrest: Vice Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom, Israel Hayom, July 29, 2013

About That Coup: Never Mind: Elliot Abrams, Israel Hayom, July 29, 2013

Egypt's Sectarian Tensions Become Politicised: Dahlia Kholaif, Al Jazeera, July 26, 2013

A Familiar Role for Muslim Brotherhood: Opposition: Robert F. Worth, New York Times, July 28, 2013
 

 

SISI'S ISLAMIST AGENDA FOR EGYPT:
THE GENERAL'S RADICAL POLITICAL VISION

Robert Springborg

Foreign Affairs, July 28, 2013

 

Addressing graduates of military academies is a standard responsibility for high-ranking military officers all over the world. But last week, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the commander of Egypt’s armed forces, which recently deposed the country’s first freely elected president, went far beyond the conventions of the genre in a speech to graduates of Egypt’s Navy and Air Defense academies. Sisi’s true audience was the wider Egyptian public, and he presented himself less as a general in the armed forces than as a populist strongman. He urged Egyptians to take to the streets to show their support for the provisional government that he had installed after launching a coup to remove from power President Mohamed Morsi, a longtime leader of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. “I’ve never asked you for anything,” Sisi declared, before requesting a “mandate” to confront the Muslim Brotherhood, whose supporters have launched protests and sit-ins to denounce the new military-backed regime.

 

Sisi’s speech was only the latest suggestion that he will not be content to simply serve as the leader of Egypt’s military. Although he has vowed to lead Egypt through a democratic transition, there are plenty of indications that he is less than enthusiastic about democracy and that he intends to hold on to political power himself. But that’s not to say that he envisions a return to the secular authoritarianism of Egypt’s recent past. Given the details of Sisi’s biography and the content of his only published work, a thesis he wrote in 2006 while studying at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania, it seems possible that he might have something altogether different in mind: a hybrid regime that would combine Islamism with militarism. To judge from the ideas about governance that he put forward in his thesis, Sisi might see himself less as a custodian of Egypt’s democratic future than as an Egyptian version of Muhammed Zia ul-Haq, the Pakistani general who seized power in 1977 and set about to “Islamicize” state and society in Pakistan.

 

Last summer, when Morsi tapped Sisi to replace Minister of Defense Muhammad Tantawi, Morsi clearly believed that he had chosen someone who was willing to subordinate himself to an elected government. Foreign observers also interpreted Sisi’s promotion as a signal that the military would finally be professionalized, beginning with a reduction of its role in politics and then, possibly, the economy. Sisi’s initial moves as defense minister reinforced this optimism. He immediately removed scores of older officers closely associated with his corrupt and unpopular predecessor. And he implicitly criticized the military’s involvement in politics after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, warning that such “dangerous” interventions could turn Egypt into Afghanistan or Somalia and would not recur….

 

Throughout Sisi’s tenure as defense minister, the Brotherhood dismissed his political potential. Obviously, they underestimated him. That is not to say that he had been planning a coup the entire time; there is not enough evidence to determine that. But there is plenty of evidence that Sisi is not nearly as modest as he has always preferred Egyptians to believe. It is significant that he not only remained minister of defense in the new government but also took the post of first deputy prime minister.

 

Following the cabinet’s formation, Sisi’s spokesperson appeared on television to say that although the general was not running for the presidency, there was nothing to prevent him from so doing if he retired from the military. Sisi also had his spokesman release a 30-minute YouTube video glorifying the general and the military, taking particular care to illustrate the military’s provision of goods and services to civilians. Not long thereafter, demonstrators in Cairo and elsewhere were seen carrying large photos of Sisi.

 

As fears of the general’s political ambitions have intensified, so have concerns about the nature of his political views. Since deposing Morsi, Sisi has clearly been trying to give the impression that he is committed to democracy. He has taken pains to ensure that civilian political figures share the limelight with him. Hazem al-Beblawi, who was appointed as the prime minister of the transitional government, claimed in his first television interview after taking office that he had not met Sisi prior to the swearing-in ceremony and that the general had not intervened in any way in his choice of ministers….

 

Morsi likely also found much to admire in the thesis that Sisi produced at the U.S. Army War College, which, despite its innocuous title (“Democracy in the Middle East”), reads like a tract produced by the Muslim Brotherhood. In his opening paragraph, Sisi emphasizes the centrality of religion to the politics of the region, arguing that “for democracy to be successful in the Middle East,” it must show “respect to the religious nature of the culture” and seek “public support from religious leaders [who] can help build strong support for the establishment of democratic systems.”

 

Egyptians and other Arabs will view democracy positively, he wrote, only if it “sustains the religious base versus devaluing religion and creating instability.” Secularism, according to Sisi, “is unlikely to be favorably received by the vast majority of Middle Easterners, who are devout followers of the Islamic faith.” He condemns governments that “tend toward secular rule,” because they “disenfranchise large segments of the population who believe religion should not be excluded from government,” and because “they often send religious leaders to prison.”

 

But Sisi’s thesis goes beyond simply rejecting the idea of a secular state; it embraces a more radical view of the proper place of religion in an Islamic democracy. He writes: “Democracy cannot be understood in the Middle East without an understanding of the concept of El Kalafa,” or the caliphate, which Sisi defines as the 70-year period when Muslims were led by Muhammad and his immediate successors. Re-establishing this kind of leadership “is widely recognized as the goal for any new form of government” in the Middle East, he asserts. The central political mechanisms in such a system, he believes, are al-bi'ah (fealty to a ruler) and shura (a ruler’s consultation with his subjects). Apologists for Islamic rule sometimes suggest that these concepts are inherently democratic, but in reality they fall far short of the democratic mark.

 

Sisi concludes that a tripartite government would be acceptable only if the executive, legislative, and judicial branches are all sufficiently Islamic; otherwise, there must be an independent “religious” branch of government. He acknowledges that it will be a challenge to incorporate Islam into government, but concludes that there is no other choice. (As an afterthought, he adds that “there must be consideration given to non-Islamic beliefs.”)

 

If Sisi’s thesis truly reflects his thinking — and there is no reason to believe otherwise — it suggests not only that he might want to stay at the helm of the new Egyptian state but that his vision of how to steer Egyptian society differs markedly from those of the secular-nationalist military rulers who led Egypt for decades: Gamal Abdel al-Nasser, Anwar al-Sadat, and Mubarak. The ideas in Sisi’s thesis hew closer to those of Zia ul-Haq, who overthrew Pakistan’s democratically elected government in 1977 and soon began a campaign of “Islamicization” that included the introduction of some elements of sharia into Pakistani law, along with a state-subsidized boom in religious education….

 

If Sisi continues to seek legitimacy for military rule by associating it with Islamism, it could prove to be a disaster for Egypt. At the very least, it would set back the democratic cause immeasurably. It would also reinforce the military’s octopus-like hold on the economy, which is already one of the major obstacles to the country's economic development. And it would also pose new dilemmas for the military itself: somehow it would need to reconcile serving the strategic objectives of Islam and those of its American patrons. It’s not clear whether that circle could be squared. And the experiment would likely come at the expense of the Egyptian people.

Contents

 

 

IN EGYPT’S SINAI, INSURGENCY TAKING ROOT
Abigail Hauslohner
Washington Post, July 28, 2013

 

More than three weeks after the military coup that ousted this nation’s first democratically elected — and Islamist — president from power, the roots of a violent insurgency are burrowing fast into the sands of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The rapid thud of machine-gun fire and the explosions of rocket-propelled grenades have begun to shatter the silence of the desert days and nights here with startling regularity, as militants assault the military and police forces stationed across this volatile territory that borders Israel and the Gaza Strip.The emerging Sinai crisis gives Egypt’s military a pretext to crack down on Islamist opponents across the country, including in Cairo, where at least 72 people were killed over the weekend when security forces opened fire on demonstrators rallying in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi….

In the Sinai, long Egypt’s most elusive and neglected region, a familiar cycle of repression has already taken hold. The military has clamped down hard on all routes in and out. And Saturday, the armed forces launched Operation Desert Storm in the peninsula, ­according to the state-run al-Ahram newspaper. The operation got underway after millions of Egyptians took to the streets Friday to heed the military’s call to give it the popular “mandate” to crack down on violence and “terrorism.”

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said Egypt’s security forces have been given permission to confront those who threaten the state’s “stability.” “The people have given the army and the police a popular mandate to stand firmly against anyone who shakes the stability of the nation with terrorist or criminal acts,” Ibrahim said Sunday at a graduation ceremony for police recruits.

Bedouin leaders and Islamists in the Sinai say locals have been angered by the coup because it brought an end to Egypt’s nascent democracy — a concept that was slow to catch on in this deeply conservative territory that has long been suspicious of Cairo. Many others, particularly Bedouin smugglers, in a population long accustomed to sweeping arrests, state-sanctioned discrimination and torture under Mubarak, say that they tasted freedom in the anarchy that prevailed under Morsi and that they are determined to avoid a return to the past even if it costs them their lives….

Lawlessness, smuggling and militancy have thrived on the peninsula since the 2011 fall of Mubarak’s regime. Bedouin arms dealers who are sympathetic to the militants said in recent days that fighters have launched shoulder-fired anti­aircraft Stinger missiles (known to the U.S. intelligence community as MANPADs) at military aircraft, laid improvised bombs along roads traversed heavily by troops, and fired barrages of bullets and RPGs at security personnel stationed here.

 

On Sunday, a police commander who spoke on the condition of anonymity said police had located a fourth bomb outside the Sheik Zweid village police station in less than 48 hours. The first three exploded, injuring several police officers, the official said.

 

Both police commanders and Bedouin leaders say the militants are a minority in the desert peninsula; the latter group says the militants consist mostly of locals who operate in small cells, with little to no command structure. But Bedouin leaders fear that the territory’s population may soon get swept up in the military’s crackdown, escalating the conflict into a wider war.

 

On a night last week, militants struck the Hay al-Safa military base near Rafah with an RPG and then gunfire. Hours later, they struck again — with what local arms dealers said were armor-piercing bullets. Families living in the area said they have grown afraid to transit through security checkpoints at night, lest they get caught in the crossfire or get targeted by nervous troops. At least 10 civilians have died in the violence this month.

 

Unlike mainland Egypt, where Morsi supporters have staged thousands-strong protests that have shut down major roads and convulsed cities from Cairo to the Nile Delta, the Sinai has quickly taken its dissent to a more violent level. Local Bedouins say it is the route borne of the territory’s cyclical history of state repression and a natural response from a local population flush with weapons and budding extremist groups. “Protests aren’t really in our nature,” Abu Ashraf, a powerful tribal leader and smuggler in North Sinai, said last week using his nickname. “Our nature is…” he said, then stopped, smiled and pantomimed firing a gun.

 

In the wake of the coup, Egyptian security forces locked down the single bridge that connects the peninsula to the mainland and set up a battery of checkpoints along the highways that link Cairo to the Suez Canal, and onward across North Sinai, where soldiers check IDs and sift through luggage in the trunks of cars. They shine strobe lights into vehicles at night. The Sinai Bedouin feel as if the state is targeting them — again.

 

Analysts and local political leaders in North Sinai interpreted the call by Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, Egypt’s military commander, for a mandate to fight terrorism as a signal that a Mubarak-style crackdown was imminent. “I think Sissi wants public cover for his bloody work,” said Ahmed Salem, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood in el-Arish, capital of North Sinai.

 

As much as the Sinai insurgency derives from militant anger at Morsi’s ouster, it is also a preemptive backlash rooted in fear, say Bedouin leaders who sympathize with the militants. “People here have gotten some freedoms, and they will not allow those to be taken away now,” said Mohamed, a fundamentalist sheik in North Sinai who requested that his last name not be used. “The coup took us back to square one,” he said, and the Sinai’s Islamists are expressing anger at the military “in any way they can.”

 

“If the state does not reverse al-Sissi’s mistake, there will be more for them to endure,” he said. Morsi’s rule offered some respite from the repression — a new kind of freedom, some Bedouin leaders said. He didn’t deliver the roads, schools or hospitals that local leaders say would help break the territory’s cycle of violent resistance. But he left them alone. “Nothing happened the year that Morsi was in power,” said one Bedouin smuggler who spent eight years in prison under Mubarak. “Morsi had no control here. But at least he didn’t insult or arrest anyone. When you would pass by the checkpoints, they would respect you. Now we’re back to the way it was before.”

 

The military says its crackdown is necessary to fight terror, but the Bedouin here say it only adds fuel to their rebellion, in a cycle that may soon spiral out of control. Security officials say they have seized Syrian, Palestinian and even Russian fighters in the Sinai since Morsi’s ouster. They have accused the Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, and the Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, of orchestrating the violence, and say that many of the Sinai’s fighters are well-trained jihadists.

 

Last week, the Interior Ministry said a “car accident” in the South Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh led to the arrest of a jihadist who had fought in Syria. On Sunday, a police official said security forces had killed 10 “jihadists” and arrested 20 others over the weekend.The police also have blamed the Brotherhood for the deadly weekend clashes in the Egyptian capital, sparked by police attacks on demonstrators. The Brotherhood says it does not condone violence. “We do not support, and we do not accept it, even if it seems like the violence is in support of us,” said Salem, the spokesman. But the Sinai, he said, was beyond the group’s control. “We had tried to tell them that democracy would give them another chance to be good people and to be involved in society,” he said of the region’s smugglers and fugitives. “But this coup made them lose faith.”….

 

Contents

 

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD KILLS ITS OWN
TO DEMONIZE EGYPTIAN MILITARY

Raymond Ibrahim

Gatestone Institute, July 25, 2013

 

Killing fellow Muslims, and even the most horrific crimes, are permissible so long as they are seen as ways of advancing and empowering Islam. New evidence indicates that some of the pro-Morsi protesters reportedly killed by the Egyptian military, after the Muslim Brotherhood president's ouster, were actually killed by fellow pro-Morsi protesters. They did this, according to the report, to frame the military, incite more Islamist violence and unrest, and garner sympathy from America, which has been extremely critical of the military, especially in the context of the post-Morsi violence.

 

The Arabic satellite program, Al Dalil, ("The Evidence") recently showed the evidence, which consisted mostly of video recordings. One video records events on July 8, during pro-Morsi protests in front of the Republican Guard building in Cairo, where Morsi was being held, and where the bloodshed between the military and Brotherhood began. The video shows a young man with a shaven head and a Salafi-style beard approaching the Republican Guard barrier; he gets shot, collapses to the ground, and dies—as other protesters fly into a rage against the military. As the video plays, it seems clear that the military shot him.

 

However, watching the video in slow motion and in zoom clearly indicates that someone from behind him, from the pro-Morsi throng, shot him. The whole time he falls, in slow motion, he is still facing the Republican Guard. Yet when the camera zooms in, the bullet wound and blood are visibly at the back of his head; his front, facing the military even after he falls, does not appear to have a scratch. Considering that the military was facing him, it seems apparent that a fellow Morsi-supporter shot him from behind.

 

On the same day this man in the video and others were killed, Muhammad Mahsoub, a former Brotherhood member and politician tweeted the following: "The Brotherhood sacrifice their youth in the streets, even as the sons of their leaders are at the beach resorts… Allah curse the hypocrites [based on a Koran verse];" and "I repeatedly warned al-Baltagi against his plan to antagonize the military in order to implicate it an attack on the protesters, but he insists on his plan…"

 

Baltagi is a Brotherhood leader who has been especially vocal about "getting back" at the military; he apparently also enjoys close relations with the widely disliked U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson.

Another video shown on Al Dalil is even more obvious. An armored vehicle appears slowly driving by a group of pro-Morsi protesters, many easily discernible with their Salafi-style beards. A shot is heard and the man nearest the passing vehicle collapses. Again, at first it appears that the men in the armored vehicle shot him.

 

Played, again in slow motion, however, it becomes apparent that the man in a gilbab [long Muslim style robe] standing directly behind the murdered man is actually the one who shot him, then walked over to another man near him, gave him the weapon, and then quickly walked off the scene. Even the man on the roof who is taping this scene is heard to be asked, "Did the car [armored vehicle] shoot?" only to reply, "No, no."

 

Even so, the desired effect of all these "human sacrifices" by the Brotherhood was accomplished: as with the other man, shot in front of the Republican Guard, many other pro-Morsi protesters rushed to the fallen man, screaming Islamic slogans and vowing relentless war on the military, as it supposedly "shot first." This second incident prompted the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, to call for "an uprising by the great people of Egypt against those trying to steal their revolution with tanks."

 

To many Islamists, killing an ally to empower Islam is legitimate, especially in the context of two Islamic ideas: 1) jihad [war in the service of Islam], in Islamic jurisprudence — for its function, under Muhammad, of making Islam supreme — is considered the "pinnacle" of Islam; and 2) Islam's overarching juridical idea that "necessity makes the prohibited permissible" – in other words, that a pious end, such as empowering Islam, justifies the use of forbidden means. All that matters is one's intention, or niyya.

 

Thus, killing fellow Muslims, lying, prostitution, even sodomy all become permissible, so long as they are seen as ways of advancing and empowering Islam. Those who commit or promote even the most horrific crimes are exonerated, and those "sacrificed" to empower Islam — as those pro-Morsi supporters killed by the Brotherhood — are deemed martyrs who will achieve the highest level of paradise. From an Islamist point of view, it is a win-win situation.

 

Raymond Ibrahim is a Middle East and Islam expert.  He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, associate fellow at the Middle East Forum.

 

Contents
 

A Familiar Role for Muslim Brotherhood: Opposition: Robert F. Worth, New York Times, July 28, 2013—Among the muddy, crowded tents where tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members have been living for weeks in a vast sit-in protest, men in Islamic dress can still be seen carrying incongruous signs above the teeming crowd: “Liberals for Morsi,” “Christians for Morsi,” “Actors for Morsi.”

 

Egypt’s Dilemma: Marcus Marktanner, Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2013—Recent events in Egypt reveal the following dilemma: On the back of a powerless majority of moderate Egyptians who yearn for democracy, the country faces an epic battle between a secular military and a powerful Islamist movement, neither of which is deeply interested in democracy.

 

Egypt's Predictable Unrest: Vice Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom, Israel Hayom, July 29, 2013—The unrest in Egypt in recent days shouldn't surprise anyone. Former President Mohammed Morsi's ouster after three days of demonstrations was no doubt a military coup — there is no other way to define it.

 

About That Coup: Never Mind: Elliot Abrams, Israel Hayom, July 29, 2013—There are many good reasons to maintain U.S. aid to Egypt under current circumstances, but American law presents a problem. Under the Foreign Assistance Act, "none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup or decree."

 

Egypt's Sectarian Tensions Become Politicised: Dahlia Kholaif, Al Jazeera, July 26, 2013—The army’s removal of Egypt’s first civilian elected president may have unleashed deadly clashes but for the country’s Coptic Christian minority it has brought relief.

 

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