Tag: jihadists

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

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Contents:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

On Topic Links

 

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

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

 

 

 

EGYPTIANS BEWILDERED OVER
SUPPORT FOR MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

Michael Armanious

Gatestone Institute, Aug. 23, 2013

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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EGYPT'S SINAI EMERGES AS NEW ARENA FOR JIHAD

Maggie Michael

Real Clear World,  Sept. 4, 2013

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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EGYPT'S WAR ON HAMAS

Khaled Abu Toameh

Gatestone institute, Sept. 12, 2013

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Contents

 

EGYPT AND ITS PATRONS

Paul Mutter

The Arabist, Sept. 6, 2013

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Paul Alster

FoxNews, Sept. 16, 2013

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist

 

Contents

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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SYRIA CONTINUES TO CRUMBLE & EUROPE AND AMERICA CONTINUE TO DITHER AS JIHADIST FORCES MULTIPLY

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Contents:                          

 

The New Strategic Environment: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Jewish Press, March 19th, 2013—The way it looks now, it seems that the regime of al-Assad will not last more than a number of days or weeks. A coalition of Sunni jihad organizations will succeed in toppling the government of an Arab state despite the state having used every weapon in its arsenal – including scud missiles – in order to survive.

 

The European Dilemmas on Arming Syrian Rebels: Jean-Loup Samaan, Al-Monitor, Mar. 27, 2013—These last weeks have been marked by a new diplomatic battle within the European Union over the question of lifting the current embargo on arms to Syria in order to raise the level of support to the rebels on the ground.

 

America Inches Toward War in Syria: Doyle McManus, LA Times, Mar. 27, 2013—Military intervention in the Muslim world seems to bring the United States nothing but grief. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya: None looks much like a success story now. Yet the Obama administration is edging reluctantly into a civil war in Syria, aiding rebels who are fighting to overthrow the brutal regime of Bashar Assad. And it should: The longer this war goes on, the worse it will be for the U.S. and the Syrians.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

 

Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.: C. J. Chivers & Eric Schmitt, New York Times, Mar. 24, 2013
Solution to Syrian Conflict Must Come from the Air: Faisal Al Yafai, The National (UAE), Mar 26, 2013
The Syrian Gulf War: Michael Weiss, Now Lebanon, Mar. 27, 2013

The Free Syrian Army: Elizabeth O'Bagy, Institute for the Study of War, Mar. 2013
As Syria Bleeds, Lebanon Reels: Dexter Filkins, New Yorker, Mar. 25, 2013

 

 

 

 

THE NEW STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENT

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Jewish Press, March 19th, 2013

 

The way it looks now, it seems that the regime of al-Assad will not last more than a number of days or weeks. A coalition of Sunni jihad organizations will succeed in toppling the government of an Arab state despite the state having used every weapon in its arsenal – including scud missiles – in order to survive.

 

During the past two years all of the red lines have been crossed in Syria , and both sides are sunk deep in this dirty, ugly struggle, which is fought with no moral or legal constraints.  Tens of thousands of citizens, women, children and elderly, have been brutally murdered , hundreds of thousands of houses and apartments have been rendered uninhabitable; infrastructures of the country are collapsing; the economy is paralyzed and the organizational framework of the state is falling apart.

 

The success of the Sunni coalition (Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan) in eliminating the heretical Alawite regime, which is supported by a Shi’ite coalition (Iran, Iraq and Hizb’Allah) might trigger a wave of terror in Arab countries, especially in Iraq and Turkey, because oppressed groups in these countries – such as Sunnis in Iraq and the Kurds in Turkey – will be encouraged by the success of the jihad organizations that are fighting in Syria and by the methods that they used in their battle against the regime.

 

This filthy war taking place in Syria is not a battle of good versus evil, because the regime and the rebels have both used inhumane, illegal and immoral practices. Both sides have committed crimes against humanity by eliminating groups of citizens indiscriminately and both sides have resorted to repressive measures and degrading treatment of helpless citizens.

 

As soon as the violence began, for example, the rebels understood that every time they show up in an open area, the forces of the regime could easily destroy them with merciless determination, so they transferred their activity to the crowded urban and settled areas. As a result, they turned citizens into human shields, without their having any say in the matter, dragging the cities and the settled neighborhoods into a rebellion that they were not at all interested in.

 

The most significant feature of the rebellion in Syria is that it has become a magnet for jihadists from all over the Arab and Muslim world who poured into Syria to take part in the jihad against the heretical ‘Alawites and their tyrannical regime. As of today there are hundreds of combat groups in Syria, and a few tens of them speak non-Syrian Arabic dialects such as Iraqi, Saudi and Moroccan. The linguistic diversity is even more complex because some of the jihadists speak non-Arabic Muslim languages – Turkish, Bosnian, Chechen, Pashtu (Afghanistan), Urdu (Pakistan) and languages from the Caucasus. The problem with having to deal with a multitude of dialects and languages is that the intelligence organizations get a significant amount of information by listening to various means of communication, but their work may have no value, because it is especially the most dangerous groups that speak dialects and languages not understood by the listeners of other countries that exist in the area.

 

Conventional forces too will have a great problem in dealing with jihadi communication methods. The jihadist organizations – contrary to a regular army- use the internet as a means of passing messages, reports and commands, and it is not easy to detect the communications channels they are using in the civilian network. There are organizations that pass coded messages via the internet, and it is difficult to identify, locate and decode them. Also the way the jihadist organizations use other civilian networks such as cellular telephones, makes it difficult to locate their communications and to keep track of their operatives.

 

The intelligence problem becomes even more complicated regarding visual intelligence, where the information is collected from observation points on the ground and in the air. Military intelligence gatherers undergo training on the various types of tanks, cannon, and the rest tools of destruction that a regular army has. But how are they supposed to identify jihadists? According to the type of jeans or T-shirt he’s wearing? According to the type of hiarcut or beard? The problem of identification becomes more difficult regarding vehicles in the service of jihadists, which are ordinary vehicles,indistinguishable from many others. How is a drone or someone who sees the material photographed by the drone supposed to identify the vehicle of a jihadist?

 

A regular army has bases and camps that can be identified and attacked. A jihad organization – in contrast – can live and operate in an ordinary neighborhood, among the people, the elderly and the children. How can the jihadists be identified? How is it possible to attack them without harming others who are not involved in the action?

 

Jihad organizations change their structure frequently: some groups join, others break off and form new organizations, while the objectives are only partly shared. The great structural fluidity of the organizations also poses a challenge to intelligence organizations, because information that was collected last month with great difficulty, may no longer be relevant today because of the splitting or joining of other groups to the organization.

 

Another aspect of the character of jihad organizations is the importance of the leader, the commander. In a military unit, if the enemy succeeds in eliminating the commander and the level of officers that surrounds him, the unit will usually continue to function, albeit partly and not with total effectiveness. In jihad organizations, the leader is very important for the functionality of the organization, but from the operational point of view almost any member of the group can replace him. Therefore the elimination of the head of a jihad organization does not usually cause paralysis and elimination of the organization. The best example of this is the al-Qaeda organization: bin Laden was forced into hiding since the end of 2001 and was ultimately eliminated. Did the organization cease to function when Osama bin Laden – and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri – went underground?

 

But the greatest advantage that a jihad organization has over a regular army is that a jihad organization does not impose upon itself the legal and moral constraints that international law and conventions require from a regular army. Jihadi propaganda enlists the Almighty as a reinforcing player,  while a regular army musters its soldiers by means of a human message – be it national, patriotic or civil.

 

These properties of jihad organizations give them a great advantage over state military organizations, which explains why it is jihad organizations, contrary to what one might expect, that have succeeded in toppling the Syrian police state and bringing down the bloody, cruel and totalitarian regime, which describes the regime of Assad ever since Hafez Assad rose to power in November 1970. All of the tanks, aircraft, missiles, and even chemical weapons, did not avail the regime against the hundreds of militias that were armed with much simpler weapons but imbued with religious belief, that their comrades are willing to die at any moment and therefore the threat of death is ineffectual. On the contrary: the more cruelty that the regime exhibited , the greater the motivation of the jihadists to topple it, even at the cost of their lives.

 

The army of a state fighting jihadist groups must match itself to the situation in the field. When the laws of conventional warfare are not observed by one side, the other side cannot be expected to limit itself to the accepted laws of warfare according to the Geneva Convention. A military that restricts itself to international law and tries to fight against a militia that does not limit itself to this law has lost the battle before it has begun.

 

A state that wants to survive within a jihadist environment must suit its intelligence gathering means  to the conduct of jihad organizations, whether by the internet or civil communications networks. Intelligence gatherers must be flexible regarding dialects and languages that serve the jihad organizations, otherwise they will be deaf and will not be able to track the operatives.

 

A state that wants to survive in the jihadist area must find a way to plant its agents inside the organizations or enlist agents who are already inside. Sometimes it is not possible to obtain true information by any other means, especially regarding information about the intention to carry out terror attacks.

 

In summary, it can be said that the collapse of Syria proves that guerrilla war can be more effective than conventional war, and uncompromising jihad that does not constrain itself to international law can bring down even a cruel and dark regime such as the Syrian regime,  which also does not constrain itself to observe human rights. How can a state that constrains itself to the laws of warfare and the principles of human rights survive against jihad organizations that do not limit themselves in any way?

 

TODAY, THE JIHAD organizations that are fighting in Syria openly declare that “The road from Damascus to Jerusalem is through Beirut.” Meaning that after the elimination of Assad in Damascus they will come to Beirut to send the body of Hasan Nasrallah to the garbage heap of history, and then they will continue their way to Israel in order to eliminate it from the face of the earth as well. Hasan Nasrallah should take them very seriously and Israel also must prepare for a kind of war in the not-too-distant future that it is unfamiliar with.

 

But Israel is not the center of the matter: jihad organizations – some of which are funded with oil monies from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates or Iran – operate openly not only in Syria but also in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Somalia, Mali, and other states. Additional jihad organizations operate clandestinely in almost all other states of the world. No place is immune to jihad organizations, which operate in every arena possible, either overtly or covertly. If the world does not wake up in time to see the danger, Syria will be only the first domino to fall as a a result of the operations of jihad organizations funded by Sunni money from the Gulf or Shi’ite money from Iran.

 

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THE EUROPEAN DILEMMAS ON ARMING SYRIAN REBELS

Jean-Loup Samaan

Al-Monitor, March 27, 2013

 

These last weeks have been marked by a new diplomatic battle within the European Union over the question of lifting the current embargo on arms to Syria in order to raise the level of support to the rebels on the ground. The issue grew in earnest during an EU Summit in Brussels in mid-March when French President François Hollande stated straightforwardly, “We want the Europeans to lift the embargo on the weapons. Since we have to put pressure on and show we are ready to support the opposition, we have to go that far.” London is on the same page, as British Prime Minister David Cameron made similar statements in the days that followed.

The current EU arms embargo on Syria was imposed in May 2011, when the Assad regime was brutally suppressing the first peaceful protests. It included a ban on arms, military equipment and equipment which might be used for internal repression. It had already been slightly amended in February 2013 “to provide greater non-lethal support and technical assistance for the protection of civilians”.

 

The new initiative led by London and Paris aims now at allowing explicitly the transfer of weapons to the rebels. It reflects a significant evolution in the discussion of the support to the rebels. This occurs after another development in Washington as Secretary of State John Kerry pledged the provision of non-lethal aid amounting to $60 million. Until recently, the three Western countries that have been most active on the Syrian crisis had remained cautious, and sometimes opposed, on the issue of arming the rebels. True, there had been some forms of assistance and training provided to the Free Syrian Army, but overall it remained limited. It is worth noting that in practice the British-French initiative would even go further than the Obama’s commitment which includes only nonlethal aid.

 

This potential adjustment in Western policies is the result of the mutation of the Syrian conflict itself. For one year and a half, the Syrian issue was merely discussed within Western circles in reference to concepts such as the ”responsibility to protect.” However as the conflict is lasting and its regional ramifications unfold, the terms of the debate have been significantly altered and it has now become a matter of pure strategic stability. For the Western countries, the first significant change occurred following the shelling of villages and refugee camps in Turkey in late 2012. Ankara asked that NATO augments the air defense capabilities in its country and following the approval by the 28 allies, the US, the Netherlands and Germany deployed six Patriot missile batteries.

 

Still, the position of NATO on Syria is one of containment, meaning that it is limited to the defense of its allies. It is likely to prevent a spillover to the territory of the Atlantic Alliance but by no means can it alter the developments inside Syria. So can we explain this new shift to the offensive that would demand the EU lift its embargo?

 

This diplomatic move may be based on the realization of two intertwined negative trends on the ground in Syria. The first is that for all the tremendous efforts and progress made in the last two years, the Syrian opposition remains fragmented and did not yet reach a decisive military breakthrough against the regime. Specifically, the long-awaited battle of Damascus has yet to start. The second phenomenon Washington, London and Paris are considering very seriously is the radicalization of Syrian rebels and, in particular, the rise of Salafi Jihadism that undermines the efforts of the Syrian National Coalition as a central body. Factions such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Cham are progressively outstripping the “mainstream” opposition in some areas of the country. Already Western intelligence sources estimate that Jabhat al-Nusra is more effective militarily than the FSA.

 

In that sense, the new move by the Americans, the British and the French aims at strengthening the coalition as the primary actor of the revolution. In other words, this policy shift can be understood as a measure to rebalance the forces within the rebellion to insure the leading pole is still the one that can work with the West in the post-Assad era.

 

However, in the EU context, this position has encountered strong opposition from a majority of the member states. It was verified during the last EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Dublin on the 22th and 23th of March. In the press conference, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger challenged the calculus driving French and British position by arguing, “Nobody can give a guarantee that weapons delivered to the opposition in Syria will end up in the right hands.”

 

While countries such as Austria or Sweden have expressed clear disagreement, Germany seems to be in two minds vis-à-vis the lifting of the embargo. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle acknowledged the “good reasons” that have led Britain and France to push for this change but also emphasized the need for measures of assurance: “We are still reluctant on lifting the arms embargo. We have to help and to support the Syrian people … but … we have to avoid a conflagration and we have to prevent that aggressive offensive weapons come into the wrong hands.”

 

In the meantime, the evolution of the Syrian crisis is not supporting the British-French initiative. The recent nomination by the Syrian National coalition of Ghassan Hitto as interim prime minister, has been met with mixed reactions. Hitto, who lived in the US for the past 30 years, has the difficult task to bring leadership to the fragmented opposition and to enforce the coordination of efforts on the ground in the post-Assad era. His close affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and the fact that his candidacy was strongly supported by Qatar have led a group of 12 key figures of the National Coalition to suspend their membership to oppose the legitimacy Hitto’s election. It culminated with the resignation of Moaz al-Khatib last week end from the leadership of the Coalition.

 

This new internal crisis within the Syrian National Coalition will logically strengthen the position of those states who argue for sticking to containment. As a result, the diplomatic battle within the EU is likely to go on for the next weeks, if not months, the key date being June 1st when the sanction regime imposed by Brussels on Syria is scheduled for renewal.

 

Jean-Loup Samaan is a researcher in the Middle East Department of the NATO Defense College.

 

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AMERICA INCHES TOWARD WAR IN SYRIA
Doyle McManus

LA Times, Mar. 27, 2013

 

Military intervention in the Muslim world seems to bring the United States nothing but grief. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya: None looks much like a success story now. Yet the Obama administration is edging reluctantly into a civil war in Syria, aiding rebels who are fighting to overthrow the brutal regime of Bashar Assad. And it should: The longer this war goes on, the worse it will be for the U.S. and the Syrians. Already, more than 70,000 Syrians have died; perhaps 4 million have lost their homes. The arguments against intervention are eroding fast. Why? Because all the alternatives are worse.

 

At the moment, Syria's opposition is a mess. Last week, the U.S.-backed president of the rebels' governing council, the Syrian National Coalition, suddenly resigned, complaining that he was being undercut by the more radical Muslim Brotherhood. One side in that squabble (the moderate, Moaz Khatib) was backed by Saudi Arabia, the other (the Muslim Brotherhood) by the rival Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar. Both countries have won influence among the rebels by providing money and weapons. The United States, caught in the middle, has been trying to broker a reconciliation, but without the helpful currency of arms supplies.

 

U.S. restraint hasn't succeeded in stopping the war; it's merely made it more difficult to organize the opposition. Syria's neighbors — rival Arab states, plus Turkey — have funneled aid to their favorite rebel factions; that's been a recipe for division, not success.

 

Meanwhile, on the ground, the radical Islamist Al Nusra Front, an offshoot of Al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq, has won a reputation as the most effective fighting force on the rebel side, a record that's helping it attract recruits. So the stakes for the United States in this conflict are high. Syria is surrounded by countries that are important to the U.S.: Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. A long sectarian civil war in Syria could spill over into any of them

 

A war that ends with restoration of the Assad regime would be a triumph for Iran and a disaster for the United States. A war that ends with a victory for Al Nusra would be even worse.

 

That's why the Obama administration is still trying to prod the regime and the rebels toward a negotiated truce that would remove Assad from power. But neither side appears ready to negotiate.

 

The administration has taken sides rhetorically, declaring that Assad must go and recognizing the rebels as legitimate players in any new government. It has pledged almost $385 million in humanitarian aid. It has provided communications equipment and training for opposition leaders. And according to recent reports, U.S. intelligence agencies have provided carefully chosen rebel units with military intelligence and training, and helped arrange weapons shipments from suppliers such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

 

One problem with that kind of quiet assistance: Most Syrians don't know about it. Even the most public part of the program, humanitarian aid, doesn't carry "Made in USA" labels. "Everybody [in Syria] asks … 'Why aren't they helping us?'" Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch told a House committee last week. "And that anger was directed particularly at the United States."

 

The arguments against doing more in Syria are familiar. We don't want to close off the possibility of negotiations. Military aid might prolong the war. We can't be sure that aid won't fall into the wrong hands. It might be a slippery slope toward putting boots on the ground. And we're tired, so tired, of wars in the Muslim world.

 

But at this point, military aid to the rebels is more likely to push the government toward negotiations, not foreclose that possibility. Military aid could shorten the war. Yes, weapons could fall into the wrong hands, but that's an argument against providing surface-to-air missiles, not rifles and ammunition.

 

Most important, aid doesn't need to turn into a slippery slope. In the 2011 intervention in Libya, Obama sent U.S. Air Force jets and Navy ships to war, but drew a line against putting boots on the ground, and that line held.

 

It's true that Libya didn't come out well. (What were you expecting, Switzerland?) Today's complaints about Libya forget the alternative at the time: air and tank attacks by Moammar Kadafi against his own cities, just as Assad is doing in Syria.

 

Obama has inched toward more direct intervention. Administration officials have considered options ranging from arms shipments to a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone and attacks on Syria's air force. But action has been agonizingly slow. It looks as if the president wants to make it clear that, whatever he does, it wasn't his first preference.

 

Last week, at a news conference during his visit to the Middle East, he complained about the no-win side of his job. If the United States "goes in militarily, then it's criticized for going in militarily," he said, "and if it doesn't go in militarily, then people say, 'Why aren't you doing something militarily?'"

 

The president's peevishness is understandable; he doesn't need another headache, let alone another war. But indecision is not leadership. It's not even leading from behind. We need to be doing more.

 

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On Topic

 

 

Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.: C. J. Chivers & Eric Schmitt, New York Times, Mar. 24, 2013—With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

Solution to Syrian Conflict Must Come from the Air: Faisal Al Yafai, The National (UAE), Mar 26, 2013—The skies above Syria still regularly boom with the sound of military aircraft. The cities below still crackle with the sound of gunfire. In the outside world, politicians still bicker about what policy might work best. But inside the country, the concerns of ordinary people are more dramatic: sudden death, queues for food and fuel, the threat of rape, torture and murder.

 

The Syrian Gulf War: Michael Weiss, Now Lebanon, Mar. 27, 2013—The Syrian National Coalition’s assumption of the regime’s seat at the Arab League yesterday accomplished little practically but symbolically it represents a bodkin in Bashar al-Assad’s side. He has now been officially informed that the Sunni Arab world is united against him and is preparing for a future Syria without him.

 

The Free Syrian Army: Elizabeth O'Bagy, Institute for the Study of War, Mar. 2013— Fragmentation and disorganization have plagued Syria’s armed opposition since peaceful protestors took up arms in December 2011 and began forming rebel groups under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. A lack of unity has made cooperation and coordination difficult on the battlefield and has limited the effectiveness of rebel operations. Download the PDF

As Syria Bleeds, Lebanon Reels: Dexter Filkins, New Yorker, Mar. 25, 2013— Wouldn’t it be ironic if the popular awakening sweeping the Middle East had the unintended effect of undermining the one established Arab democracy? On Friday, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned. His departure followed a stand-off over extending the term of a senior official responsible for internal security and a new national election law, but it had every sign of being sparked by the civil war unfolding across the border in Syria, which has become increasingly sectarian.

 

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Lawrence Solomon – Needed: War Against Jihadists

 

Needed – War Against Jihadists

Lawrence Solomon

Originally published in The Financial Post, Jan 18, 2013

 

Two years ago, before President Obama and other Western leaders gave their blessing to the Arab Spring by calling for the ouster of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the Middle East was ruled mostly by secular dictators who made nice to the West while ruthlessly suppressing jihadists. Today, the Middle East is increasingly being ruled by jihadists who hate the West, plot to target Western facilities and take Western hostages, and have an ever-growing land base from which to operate. How’s that working out for us?

 

The secular state of Mali in the central Sahara is the latest domino to totter, thanks to NATO countries such as France, the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. — the very same countries that are now scrambling to save it. Mali’s undoing began last year when the West short-sightedly decided to overthrow a de facto ally, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was helping the West combat al-Qaeda abroad while he suppressed it at home.

 

Gaddafi’s overthrow and the anarchy that followed created a free-for-all in the country’s vast arms depots, soon emptied to enable terrorists throughout the Middle East and beyond. Gaddafi’s overthrow unleashed more than arms, however — it also unleashed thousands of Malian rebels living in Libya, members of the Tuareg tribe to whom Gaddafi had provided refuge and who then fought with him against the NATO invaders.

 

These Tuareg fighters, forced to flee Libya after their patron was deposed, went back to their home country fully armed, where they joined in al Qaeda’s quest to take over Mali. Now the French find they are fighting the same Tuareg in Mali that they fought in Libya.

 

To add to the ironies, and the witlessness of the West’s Arab experts, the U.S. trained and armed some 1500 Tuaregs and other tribesmen to fight al-Qaeda, not realizing they would switch sides and fight with al-Qaeda against the Mali government and against the West.

 

The Western nations now fear that the entire Saharan belt — spanning the breadth of Africa — may fall to the jihadists who, no longer contained by Arab dictators, will have acquired vast new lands and endless potential to plan and launch attacks on Western targets.

 

Much of the north coast of Africa has already become jihadi or jihadi-friendly with secular governments having been overthrown in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. In North Africa, only Morocco and Algeria, site of this week’s deadly hostage taking, remain hostile to jihadi takeovers. East of Africa, the jihadists are waging war against a secular tyrant who to date has been their match in ruthlessness — Syria’s Assad. Should he fall, and possibly before, the next domino to fall could be the pro-Western monarchy of Jordan.

 

The West glaring miscalculated in thinking largely tribal societies could peacefully and instantly morph into live-and-let-live democracies friendly to the West. It has done the peoples of those countries no favour.

 

Since the Arab Spring, some 100,000 have died in the violence, 60,000 in Syria alone. At least 600,000 have fled their countries, more than 100,000 of them Christian Copts in Egypt who foresee no co-existence with jihadists. Along with the death and destruction comes disease, hunger and economic suffering — the citizens in all of the affected countries, including the newly democratized ones, had higher incomes under the secular dictatorships.

 

The West needs to understand that it is at war with a jihadi ideology, waged by strong-willed adherents convinced — with good reason — that they are winning with the help of Allah against weak-willed appeasement-oriented infidels. They will continue to win until the West sees the struggle in ideological terms. Ideologues can’t permanently be bought off; they can’t ever be reasoned with; they can’t easily be defended against, not in a world of global investments and international tourism. They can only be defeated.

 

Many in the West, citing past British and Russian defeats in Afghanistan as examples, believe that victory would take decades, if victory against jihadists waging holy war is possible at all. This misreads history.

 

Jihadi warriors for a millennium and a half have waged holy war against other Muslims and non-Muslims alike — this is nothing new. Jihadists have also won and lost their share of battles, and when they have lost they have then accepted defeat.

 

Some eruptions aside, the Turks maintained peace against enemies who had waged jihad for decades and centuries at a time, as have colonial powers before and after World War I. And until the Arab Spring, secular Muslim dictators throughout the Middle East have effectively neutralized jihadists, who often do not represent mainstream Muslim ­thinking.

 

The West can defeat today’s jihadists more easily than it has defeated them in the past — they have not become appreciably more militarily capable than the jihadists of old while the West has. But to win what may in future be seen as the Third World War, the West will need to enlist its friends, even when they are distasteful secular dictators such as Mubarak and Gaddafi. To win the Second World War against the Fascists, after all, the West didn’t flinch at joining forces with the communist Soviet Union.

 

 

“LIBYA-GATE” & THE US FOREIGN POLICY DEBATE: STAKES HIGH FOR ISRAEL, MIDDLE EAST & BEYOND

Contents:

 

Community Colloquium: CIJR & Adath Israel Synagogue (Montreal) present:

The Coming Crisis: Israel, Iran & The U.S.

 

October Surprise? : talks with Iran announced (and denied) just before final presidential debate.

 

The Stakes In Tonight’s Foreign Policy Debate: Bruce Thornton, Front Page Magazine, Oct. 22, 2012

Foreign policy, the topic of tonight’s debate, was suddenly thrust into the voters’ consciousness by the

murder of 4 Americans, including [the US] ambassador, in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11.

 

Libyagate: John O’Sullivan, National Review, October 22, 2012

As the final presidential debate looms into view, there is — or at least I sense there is — a mood of deep

trepidation on all sides. That is understandable, of course, because the race is so tight that both candidates

have a world to win or to lose this evening.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Terrorists Are Winning & We Are Being Lied ToLaura Logan, CBS News, Oct.11,12 (video)

Arms Flow to Syria May Be Behind Benghazi Cover-Up: Clare Lopez, Radical Islam, Oct 18, 12

Obama vs. Romney on the Mideast: Zack Gold, National Interest, October 19, 12

Monday’s Debate Puts Focus on Foreign Policy Clashes: David E. Sanger, NY Times, Oct 21, 12

Why Obama Blamed the Video: Nonie Darwish, Front Page Magazine, Oct 22, 2012

The Islamic Schoolyard-Bully and Obama’s America: Raymond Ibrahim, Front Page Magazine,

Oct 18, 2012

 

 

COMMUNITY  COLLOQUIUM

CIJR & Congregation Adath Israel present:

 

The Coming Crisis: Israel, Iran & The U.S.

 

Sunday, October 28, 2012
@ 9:00am

 

Adath Israel Congregation

223 Harrow Rd.

Hampstead, Quebec

 

 

Panelists:    

 

Prof. Frederick Krantz, Chair (Concordia) 

Prof. Harold Waller (McGill)

Prof. Julien Bauer (UQAM)                 

Prof. David Bensoussan (UQAM)

 

RSVP: 514-486-5544; cijr@isranet.org

 

Admission Free

 

 

OCTOBER SURPRISE?

 

The New York Times dutifully reported this weekend (October 20) what appeared to be a US government announcement that the United States and Iran had agreed, through top secret back channel contacts, to begin one-on-one talks over Iran’s drive to develop nuclear weapons. However, at Iran’s insistence, the talks would only begin after the presidential elections.  The story was immediately denied by both the American and Iranian administrations. So is Obama planning an “October Surprise” or is this simply a means of distracting attention from the looming  “Libyagate” scandal just before tonight's debate? – Ed. (Top of Page)

 

THE STAKES IN TONIGHT’S FOREIGN POLICY DEBATE

Bruce Thornton

Front Page Magazine, October 22, 2012

 

Foreign policy, the topic of tonight’s debate, was suddenly thrust into the voters’ consciousness by the murder of 4 Americans, including [the US] ambassador, in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11. Intensifying the fallout of this event has been the Obama administration’s incoherent, clumsy, duplicitous, and rapidly unravelling attempt to blame the terrorist murders on a YouTube movie trailer lampooning Mohammed, in order to downplay the strength of the heavily armed jihadist outfits, some connected to al Qaeda, now swarming in Libya as a result of [the US]  overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

 

If Governor Romney wants to succeed, he must focus on the Benghazi attack and subsequent misdirection not just to highlight the administration’s increasingly obvious attempt to spin a carefully planned terrorist attack into a spontaneous reaction to an offensive video. More importantly, Romney must use the attack to emphasize its real significance: the political expediencies, character flaws, and dubious ideological assumptions behind Obama’s foreign policy failures.

 

The evidence of this failure is obvious throughout the Middle East. Start with Libya, the country most in the news. Eighteen months after U.S. air power facilitated the overthrow of Gaddafi In Libya, a weak central government is dominated by hundreds of heavily armed militant Islamist bands, some with links to al Qaeda, of the sort that killed [the US] ambassador. Before his death, ambassador Chris Stevens reported that black al Qaeda battle-flags were flying over government buildings in Benghazi. This is consistent with an August 2012 report from the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, which documented al Qaeda’s influence in Libya and concluded, “The Libyan Revolution may have created an environment conducive to jihad and empowered the large and active community of Libyan jihadists, which is known to be well connected to international jihad.”…

 

Likewise in the Middle East, where the jihadist Muslim Brothers have come to power in Egypt, the region’s most populous country, thanks to Obama’s abandonment of the brutal but reliable Hosni Mubarak, who had kept them in check. Even as al Qaeda terrorists have stepped up attacks in Iraq in the wake of our withdrawal, that country is strengthening its ties to Iran, allowing the Iranians to cross Iraqi air space in order to deliver arms to Syria’s Bashar al Assad. In Syria, numerous jihadist groups fighting Assad are gaining valuable battlefield experience in tactics and weapons, including surface-to-air missiles probably acquired from Gaddafi’s looted arsenals. The Taliban in Afghanistan are surging in anticipation of Obama’s announced 2014 withdrawal, with U.S.-trained Afghan security forces turning their weapons on coalition troops, killing 51 this year. Given the weakness of the corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai, there is a very good chance that the Taliban will reestablish itself as a major power in Afghanistan after U.S. forces withdraw in 2014.

 

Most dangerously, Iran continues its march to the acquisition of nuclear weapons with which it can “wipe Israel off the map,” as President Ahmadinejad has threatened. According to a recent DEBKA report, Iran’s “nuclear program’s high-speed uranium enrichment plant has now been entirely sequestered in the fortified underground Fordo site near Qom,” which means the Israelis will not be able to destroy the site completely without America’s help. DEBKA continues, “The Iranians are preparing to change the ‘active formation’ of the Fordo centrifuges and adapt them for refining uranium up to the 60 percent level, a short step before the weapons grade of 90 percent. The conversion is expected to be ready to go in the second half of December or early January 2013.” Yet despite this fast approaching point of no return, the Obama administration has refused to back up non-lethal sanctions with a credible threat of force, leaving the Iranians to calculate correctly that they have enough time to reach nuclear capability.

 

Finally, Obama has chilled relations with our one reliable ally in the Middle East, Israel. He has accepted the specious pretext that “settlements” are the roadblock to peace, claimed that negotiations must start with the indefensible 1967 armistice line, snubbed and insulted Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, and worst of all, refused to back vigorously and unequivocally Israel’s attempts to eliminate the existential threat represented by a nuclear-armed Iran. Indeed, his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said of an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran, “I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it.” Such hostile talk has emboldened the Iranians and disheartened not just Israel, but other allies like Saudi Arabia who know what sort of disruptions and dangers will follow the mullahs’ getting the bomb.

 

Obama, in short, has reversed the famous aphorism of the Roman general Sulla: under his foreign policy, America has become no better enemy, no worse friend. Our retreat and weakness have diminished America’s stabilizing role in the region, creating a vacuum other countries are eager to fill. As Amir Taheri recently wrote, “For six decades American power acted as the pole that kept the tent [regional stability] up. Over the past four years, however, Barack Obama has pulled that pole away, allowing the tent to sag and, in parts, collapse. As opportunist powers, Russia, Iran and Turkey are trying to fill the vacuum created by America’s retreat. Thus, Russia has just returned as a top supplier of weapons to Iraq, clinching a $4.2 billion contract, partly thanks to lobbying by Iran.” Under Obama, the United States now has little influence over events, even as our own national interests, values, and security are put in jeopardy by these developments.

 

If Romney wants to gain the upper hand tonight, he needs to highlight this litany of failure. More important, he has to identity the flaws of character and ideology that have led to foreign policy disaster….He staked his foreign policy success on the narrative that our major problem was al Qaeda, so all we needed to do was kill bin Laden and use drone strikes to degrade al Qaeda’s leadership. Hence Obama’s recent assertions that “Al Qaeda’s on its heels” and  “Al Qaeda is on the run.” Couple the war on al Qaeda to “democracy promotion” in the region, and all our terrorist problems would disappear. As Obama said on “60 Minutes,” follow this policy and “over the long term we are more likely to get a Middle East and North Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with…our interests.”

 

That narrative explains Obama’s clumsy attempt to attribute the Benghazi attack to the “disgusting” YouTube video and the “spontaneous reaction,” as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said five days after the attack, that the video provoked, thus supporting the “al Qaeda on its heels” claim. But as we’ve seen above, al Qaeda is not just active, but growing. It is the mother ship of numerous other jihadist outfits with whom it cooperates and coordinates. But Obama’s admission that the attack was a carefully planned lethal celebration of the 9/11 attacks would perforce have repudiated the linchpin of his alleged foreign policy success, and it would have shown that contrary to his “60 Minutes” assertions, during his administration the region has become less peaceful and less aligned with our interests.

 

But equally important are the failures of Obama’s character, particularly his grandiose estimation of his world-historical significance. Believing that Muslims would react positively to his Muslim name and Muslim roots, Obama thought that all he had to do was show up, and all these countries would forget their national interests and religious beliefs. Of course that arrogant assumption has failed miserably, as surveys of the region show. According to the Pew Research Center, confidence in Obama exceeds 25% only in one country, Lebanon. And those numbers are significantly lower than they were when he took office in 2009. These data should not surprise anyone who knows that nations base their policies on their own culturally specific beliefs and national interests, not on other leaders’ charm or efforts at ingratiation. All Obama’s solicitous “outreach” has achieved is to create the impression that America is a weak enemy and an unreliable ally.

 

But more than anything else, the widespread self-loathing, self-doubt, and guilt over America’s presumed historical crimes like colonialism, racism, and imperialism have undermined our foreign policy by projecting weakness and a lack of confidence in our own principles and way of life. We saw this in Obama’s infamous 2009 Cairo speech, in which he extolled––before an audience including Muslim Brothers sitting in the front row–– the mythical superiority of Islamic culture, and implicitly apologized for “colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.” Given this history of exploitation and oppression, Muslim terrorism thus must be understood as a response to these historical injustices, a reaction to our sins rather than the expression of religious beliefs.

 

This progressive reflex to blame America first explains why Obama spent so much time after the Benghazi attack talking about the obscure YouTube video. In his remarks on September 12, rather than explicitly linking the murder of Americans to terrorist jihadists and defending the First Amendment, he harped on the video and thundered, “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” In his U.N. speech, again he referred 6 times to the video, and said nothing specific about jihadist terror, not to mention failing vigorously to defend the central human right of free speech enshrined in our own First Amendment. Indeed, the producer of the video has been jailed on a minor probation violation, creating that “chilling effect” the ACLU usually frets over…. Worse yet, the administration produced an ad shown in Pakistan once more protesting our love of Islam and castigating the video, even as across the region Christians and other religions are murdered, brutalized, and driven into exile.

 

This betrayal of a quintessential political right and the de facto validation of the “malevolent culture of Islamic supremacism,” as Andy McCarthy writes, illustrates the delusional ideologies that have created Obama’s foreign policy now threatening our security and interests. They have made America look weak and exhausted, a civilization of unparalleled military and economic power but crippled by abject moral poverty, one more terrorist attack away from capitulation and retreat. That is the point Romney needs to hammer home tonight if his priority is to expose Obama’s foreign policy failure. (Top of Page)

 

 

LIBYAGATE

John O’Sullivan

National review, October 22, 2012

 

As the final presidential debate looms into view, there is — or at least I sense there is — a mood of deep trepidation on all sides. That is understandable, of course, because the race is so tight that both candidates have a world to win or to lose this evening. Moreover, the two Libya debacles — the first by President Obama in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, the second by Governor Romney in the second debate — have raised the stakes even further.

 

Charles Krauthammer’s column last Friday was characteristically precise about how Libya had become so crucial: When President Obama said he was offended by Governor Romney’s suggestion that he had misled Americans over the terrorist murders of four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, he thereby gave a dangerous hostage to fortune.

 

For the evidence, mounting daily, is that the president did so mislead the nation. Here is the case in Charles’s words:

 

His U.N. ambassador went on not one but five morning shows to spin a confection that the sacking of the consulate and the murder of four Americans came from a video-motivated demonstration turned ugly: “People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons.”

 

But there was no gathering. There were no people. There was no fray. It was totally quiet outside the facility until terrorists stormed the compound and killed our ambassador and three others.

 

In addition, the president himself advanced the argument that “the video did it” in his speech to the United Nations. So, as Charles concluded, he is extremely vulnerable to a counterattack tonight from Governor Romney, who will have 90 minutes and much on-the-record evidence when he presents his case. That, however, raises the pressure on the governor not to screw it up a second time….

 

In one important respect, however, Charles understated his argument. Though he observed that Obama had sent out other administration spokesmen to present the administration’s false account, he argued the quite limited case that it was the president who was facing the music.

 

That may be true tonight and on Election Day. If, however, Romney persuades the world that the Obama administration has given a “misleading” account of the Benghazi murders to American television viewers, to the media, to the United Nations, and to the world at large, he will indict a great many people in addition to the president.

 

Simply list the people who have gone out in public to repeat the video argument — and related arguments such as the claim (maintained for eight days after the president used the phrase “acts of terror” in the Rose Garden) that it couldn’t yet be said for certain that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist action

 

If this was indeed a deception, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Susan Rice, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, White House aide David Axelrod, and press spokesman Jay Carney are only six of the people who apparently cooperated in it — though Mr. Carney is probably safe, since no one believes that the press guy is told what really happened unless that also happens to be the cover story.

 

Think what this means for American politics. Obama, Axelrod, and Rice are the top level of the Obama establishment in the Democratic party; Hillary Clinton is the titular head of its Clintonian counter establishment. All have appeared in public to defend the argument that the Benghazi murders began as a response to an anti-Islam video on YouTube.

 

Hillary Clinton is also the leading potential Democratic candidate for 2016 (despite her denials). The other leading figure is Joe Biden. Both are implicated in spreading an account that nobody now believes or even defends.

 

Think next about the ripple effect when figures of this weight fall under a cloud — if they suddenly have to start hiring lawyers, answering subpoenas, trying to recall when and where they were told what, and eventually resigning and going into private life. The longer Libyagate lasts, the more likely it is to damage the Democrats. It would mean more than merely a lost election (though it might well mean that too). It would mean a wholesale revolution at the top of the Democratic party.

 

Without Watergate, neither Gerry Ford nor Ronald Reagan would have got near the presidency. Nixon’s successor would have been someone like George H. W. Bush or John Connally. Nixon rather than Reagan would then have shaped the modern Republican party, rather as FDR shaped the pre-Vietnam Democrats. The entire spectrum of American politics would have been different (and conservatives must surely think much worse).

 

That’s good news for ambitious young governors and senators like Andrew Cuomo and Ron Wyden. It’s bad news for all the current leading Democrats, who will be feeling the chill of scandal this week, planning to protect their interests against it and estimating the degree of threat it poses.  Well, how big a threat does it pose?

 

Recall that the cover story concealed not a burglary, as in Watergate, but the security failures that led up to the murder of an American ambassador and three of his colleagues, the fact that it was an organized terrorist attack that killed him, and the deteriorating political and security situation in Libya, which the Obama campaign was touting as a symbol of the president’s successful foreign policy. So it’s a big deal.

 

As is often the case with scandals, moreover, almost every aspect of this one is metastasizing. The cover story about the video is collapsing under the weight of on-the-record statements by intelligence officials about what really happened. The security failures leading up to the ambassador’s murder, which until now have been the backdrop to the story, have suddenly emerged front and center because a cache of his appeals for more security assistance has been published. These on-the record revelations explain why the establishment media have to cover the story seriously; it is now a test not of the press’s investigative powers but of its ability to read and write….. (Top of Page)

 

 

The [al-Qaeda] Terrorists Are Winning and We Are Being Lied To:

Laura Logan, CBS New, Oct. 11, 2012 (You Tube video, 19min)

Laura Logan, CBS News chief foreign correspondent and "60 Minutes" contributor, delivers a hard-hitting speech about the reality of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, why the U.S. is not winning the war and how the American people are being lied to.   

For the longer 36 min version: http://youtu.be/6fHq7TLN7Pc

 

Arms Flow to Syria May Be Behind Benghazi Cover-Up:

Clare Lopez, Radical Islam, Oct 18, 2012

While it clearly matters (a lot) if and when the President told the truth to the American public about the terrorist nature of that attack,…the deeper, unaddressed issue is about the relationship of the U.S. government, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya with Al Qaeda.

 

The Great Gaffe at Hofstra, Charles Krauthammer, National Review, 

October 18, 2012

At Hofstra, Obama emerged from his previous coma to score enough jabs to outweigh Romney’s haymaker, his dazzling takedown of the Obama record when answering a disappointed 2008 Obama voter.

 

Obama vs. Romney on the Mideast, Zack Gold, National Interest,

October 19, 2012

Mitt Romney gave his most detailed foreign-policy speech last week at the Virginia Military Institute, just in time for his forthcoming foreign-policy debate with Barack Obama. Romney’s focus on the Middle East in that address allows for a serious discussion about the similarities and differences between the policies of each candidate toward that region.

 

Monday’s Debate Puts Focus on Foreign Policy Clashes, David E. Sanger, NY Times, Oct 21, 2012

This debate is about how America deals with the world — and how it should.

 

Why Obama Blamed the Video, Nonie Darwish, Front Page Magazine, October 22, 2012

How can Obama expect to get away with this? Holding Islamic outrage as a justification for violence and then changing to a wishy-washy condemnation of terror has failed to fix the damage already done. I was used to this kind of dishonest maneuvering by Arab leaders…

 

The Islamic Schoolyard-Bully and Obama’s America, Raymond Ibrahim, Front Page Magazine, Oct. 18, 2012

The embassy attacks across the Muslim world, especially the most savage in Egypt and Libya, are a testimony to this: U.S. policy towards these countries fundamentally exacerbated their wild reactions.  To understand all this, one need only turn to the classic “schoolyard bully” paradigm, that any child can understand.

 

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NEW EGYPT, NEW DANGER? MORSI, SINAI AND EGYPT-ISRAEL PEACE TREATY

________________________________________________________________
FROM SINAI TO CAIRO: MORSY MAKES HIS MOVE
Bruce Maddy-Weitzman

Jerusalem Report,  September 1, 2012

 
Momentous developments have taken place in the ongoing struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government and the military establishment over the control of Egypt’s “deep state.” On August 12, President Mohamed Morsy dispatched Defense Minister and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (SCA F) Mohammed Tantawi and a number of other senior military leaders into retirement, and reclaimed the substantial powers which the SCAF had removed from his domain. If Morsy ’s move stands, it will mark a decisive moment in the post-Mubarak era.

…Morsy’s dramatic action came amid a major security operation to re-establish the state’s control over the sensitive Sinai peninsula. Already an arena for Islamist terrorism, human and weapons trafficking and assorted other criminal activity during the last years of Mubarak’s rule, matters had significantly worsened in the 18 months since his fall, reaching a peak in August 2011 with a cross-border terrorist attack on Israeli targets that led to a fatal exchange of fire between Israeli and Egyptian forces.

But this was “topped” by a brazen operation [this] August 5, when at least 35 masked gunmen attacked an Egyptian border police station. Sixteen border guards were killed and two armored personnel carriers were commandeered to launch a cross-border attack on Israel. IDF forces repelled the incursion, killing eight of the attackers, but for Israel, it further confirmed assessments that the Egyptian state was not in full control of its own territory.  For Egypt, the matter was more complex. The state itself had been humiliated, and Israel’s warnings seemed to have been justified.

The possibility that some of the attackers, or at least their ample weaponry, had come from Hamas-controlled Gaza was quickly raised by Egyptian critics of the Brotherhood. Morsy himself could not attend the military funerals for the victims, after his prime minister had beaten a hasty retreat from angry demonstrators. Not surprisingly, then, Brotherhood and Hamas officials both attacked Israel, the “sole beneficiary” of the attacks, as being behind them, in order to destabilize the country, damage Egyptian-Palestinian relations, and prove the need for closer Israeli-Egyptian security cooperation.

Indeed, such cooperation was evident in the Egyptian military’s swift response to the attack. With Israel’s permission (required under the terms of the 1979 peace treaty), Egyptian air force units were deployed for the first time in Sinai since the October 1973 war, as part of highly publicized ongoing operations against the perpetrators of the attack and their base of support.

But the efforts to pin the debacle on the Brotherhood backfired, goading Morsy into action. Identifying a historic opportunity to gain the upper hand in the struggle to dominate Egypt, he grabbed it. A first hint of intent was given on August 8, when he fired his intelligence chief, the governor of north Sinai and several others.  Still, no one was prepared for his subsequent move, on August 12.

Not only were Tantawi, Army Chief of Staff Sami Anan, and the heads of the air force, navy and military industries all retired or transferred to other posts, the controversial SCAF decree of June 17 – that had severely circumscribed the powers of the president and expanded those of the military – was annulled. Morsy also appointed a senior judge, Mohammed Mekki, as his vice president, presumably to strengthen his control over the judiciary.

Caught by surprise, US officials kept a low profile while also expressing confidence in Tantawi’s replacement, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, with whom they had dealt as military intelligence chief. America’s recently redoubled efforts to strengthen Egypt’s security forces in Sinai against radical Islamic elements would remain a priority. Israel could only observe from the side, and hope that they would succeed.

But the Muslim Brotherhood’s major leap forward in consolidating its domination of the Egyptian state can hardly bode well for the future of Egyptian-Israeli relations.(Top)

______________________________________________________
SINAI, THE NEW EGYPT, AND THE EGYPT-ISRAEL PEACE TREATY
Alan Baker

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, August 22, 2012
 
The peace relationship established in 1978-9 between Israel and Egypt constituted a significant and groundbreaking change in the entire mindset of the international community, in general, and in Middle East relationships, in particular. It was a revolutionary change in the entire concept of Middle East political, military, economic, and social relationships that laid the foundation for the ensuing Middle East peace process between Israel and its other neighbors.
 
In Article III of the peace treaty, Egypt and Israel undertake: “to ensure that acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, or violence do not originate from and are not committed from within its territory, or by any forces subject to its control or by any other forces stationed on its territory.”
 
Thus, both states are obligated to prevent the use of their territory for acts of terror against the other. In the context of the present situation in Sinai and the enhanced terror activity by such organizations as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda, this means that Egypt has the full sovereign responsibility and obligation to act in order to prevent any such terror activity which could pose a threat to Israel….
 
The present challenge and threat to the integrity of the peace treaty posed by the evolving character of Sinai is a challenge that can and should be handled within the context of the peace treaty. It is perhaps the most serious test of the capability of Egypt to prove to the world that even in an era of extreme political change, its interest is in protecting and maintaining the integrity of the peace relationship with Israel.…
 
For over thirty years, in a Middle East fraught with unceasing change, tension and surprise, there has nevertheless been one “island” of relative stability – the relationship between Egypt and Israel…
 
The peace relationship established in 1978-9 was, in fact, far more than a theoretical termination of belligerency. It was a revolutionary change in the entire concept of Middle East political, military, economic, and social relationships that laid the foundation for the ensuing Middle East peace process between Israel and its other neighbors, principally the Palestinians….[The treaty’s] relative weight and authority holds a place of its own as the anchor for Middle East peace, which cannot be underestimated or minimized, whatever might be the practical or volatile state of the day-to-day relations….
 
The mutual recognition of the inviolability of the international boundary between them in Article II of the peace treaty includes the obligation to “respect the territorial integrity of the other.” In Article III they further undertake:
 
“to ensure that acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, or violence do not originate from and are not committed from within its territory, or by any forces subject to its control or by any other forces stationed on its territory, against the population, citizens or property of the other Party. Each Party also undertakes to refrain from organizing, instigating, inciting, assisting or participating in acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, subversion or violence against the other Party, anywhere.”…
 
In order to cope with just such eventualities, the treaty enables various mechanisms to handle situations that crop up on an ad-hoc basis within its day-to-day implementation. At the routine level, the treaty provides the framework for contacts between the military authorities of the parties within the “Liaison System” established in Article VII of the Security Annex, intended inter alia:
 
“to provide an effective method to assess progress in the implementation of obligations under the present Annex and to resolve any problem that may arise in the course of implementation, and refer other unresolved matters to the higher military authorities of the two countries respectively for consideration.”
 
Additionally, review or amendment of security arrangements is provided for in Article IV of the Security Annex, according to which:  “The security arrangements provided for in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article may at the request of either party be reviewed and amended by mutual agreement of the Parties.”…
 
One may assume that the introduction by Egypt of ground and aerial forces into Sinai in order to cope with lawlessness and terror, following a recent attack on an Egyptian police post and the murder of Egyptian police officers by jihadi terrorists operating in Sinai, was duly coordinated between the military authorities of Egypt and Israel within the above frameworks.
 
However, various news reports16 have suggested that Egypt has moved armored forces into Sinai without first notifying the Israelis. Clearly, any changes in the level of forces or weapons of the Egyptian army in Sinai without Israel’s agreement would constitute a violation of the treaty….
 
The present challenge and threat to the integrity of the [1979] peace treaty…is perhaps the most serious test of the strength of that treaty and of the capability of Egypt to prove to the world that even in an era of extreme political change, its interest is in protecting and maintaining the integrity of the peace relationship with Israel. [This articles has been slightly abridged in the interest of space. For the full article please see On Topic links below. – Ed.] (Top)
______________________________________________________

THE REGION: EGYPT KICKS SAND IN OBAMA’S FACE
Barry Rubin

Jerusalem Post, September 2, 2012

 
Brotherhood’s leading liberal ally defects; West still doesn’t get it. I could write a 300-page book on how the Obama administration’s Middle East policy has damaged Israel. I could write an 800-page book about how the Obama administration’s Middle East policy has damaged US interests. But why bother?

This is all you need to know: The US government asked its good buddy Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy to inspect an Iranian ship suspected of carrying arms to Syria while it passed through the Suez Canal. Remember that to do so is arguably in Egypt’s own interest since Cairo is supporting the rebels while Tehran backs the regime.

The Egyptian government, despite three decades of massive US aid, licensing to produce advanced American tanks and other equipment, strategic backing and an invitation to Washington to meet Obama – refused. Indeed, Morsy headed for Tehran to attend a “nonaligned” conference.

Does this mean Egypt is going to ally with Iran? No, Egypt will fight Iran for influence tooth and nail. The two countries will kill each others’ surrogates. But it means Morsy feels no friendlier toward America than he does toward Iran. And Cairo will not lift a finger to help Washington against Tehran unless, perhaps, America is willing to put a Muslim Brotherhood government in place in Syria, which might well happen…

Egypt, the Arab world’s most important country, has been turned from an ally of America – albeit an imperfect one, of course – in maintaining and trying to extend Arab-Israeli peace into a leading advocate of expanding the conflict and even potentially of going to war.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most important country, has been turned from an ally of America in fighting international terrorism into an ally of most international terrorist groups (except those that occasionally target Egypt itself).

But here’s one for the 600 rabbis who front for Obama: The destruction of the Egyptian natural gas pipeline and deal, as a result of the instability and revolution that the US government helped promote, has done as much economic damage as all the Arab and Islamic sabotage, boycotts and Western sanctions or disinvestment in Israel’s history.

Egypt alone is a catastrophe, even without mentioning another dozen examples. How much longer is the obvious fact that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime is anti-democratic, anti- American and anti-Semitic going to be denied?  But wait, there’s more. Lots more.

After meeting Egypt’s new president, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said, “I was convinced that President Morsy is his own man,” adding that the new president is committed to democratic reforms and to representing all Egyptians.  How does Panetta know this? Simple: this is what Morsy told him.

Of course, by endorsing Morsy before he actually does anything, the US government puts its seal of approval on the Muslim Brotherhood regime. Shouldn’t it have to prove itself before Obama gives up all that leverage? What’s next, the Nobel Peace Prize? After all, Morsy’s been in office for a few months.

Note the phrase “his own man.” What does that mean? Why, that Morsy won’t follow the Brotherhood’s orders. He will even stand up to it – presumably to be more moderate – right? Except there is no reason to believe that this is true.

Panetta added: “They agreed that they would cooperate in every way possible to ensure that extremists like al-Qaida are dealt with.” Of course, they are more likely to cooperate against al-Qaida – a group they don’t like. But will they cooperate against Egyptian Salafist terrorists, Hamas and lots of other terrorists? Of course not.

Indeed, at the precise moment Panetta was meeting Morsy, the new president was releasing Islamist terrorists from Egyptian prisons. These include terrorists from Islamic Jihad, which is part of the al-Qaida coalition! How do you square that one, secretary Panetta?

And finally, Morsy pointed out to Panetta that his own son was born in California, when the future Egyptian president was studying there. His son, Morsy pointed out, could be the president of the United States one day.   I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to ponder that statement.

Of course, the Obama administration can claim one success in Egypt: the regime pulled its forces out of eastern Sinai in accord with the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. The problem is that it has been reported in the Egyptian media – a good source, though not confirmed – that the regime made a deal with the al- Qaida terrorists who attacked Israel: if they promised to stop fighting (for how long?) the Egyptian government would release all of their gunmen.

Meanwhile, the most important (formerly) pro-Islamist moderate intellectual in the Arabic-speaking world has defected, an event of monumental importance that is being ignored in the West. The Egyptian sociologist Sa’ad Eddin Ibrahim hated the Mubarak regime so much that he joined with the Islamists as allies and insisted that they were really moderate.  Now here are some tidbits from an interview he just gave (full interview can be watched on MEMRI TV):

Interviewer: “You indicated that the Muslim Brotherhood are hijacking the country, not merely the top political posts. Is the Muslim Brotherhood indeed about to hijack the country?”

Ibrahim: “Well, this is how it seems to me, as well as to other observers, some of whom are more knowledgeable than me about the Brotherhood,” a reference to long-time members who he said have helped him understand the Brotherhood’s “desire to hijack everything and to control everything.”

Ibrahim was the most articulate advocate of a liberal-Islamist alliance. Now he’s scared – and that should warn all of us to change policies. Fast. (Top)

______________________________________________________
INTELLIGENCE DOCUMENT REVEALS
MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD ROLE IN EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION

Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,  August 16, 2012
 
The revolution in Egypt was seen by many as impelled by submerged democratic and liberal tendencies in Egyptian society that, inspired by the revolution in Tunisia, erupted against President Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorial regime. Much was attributed to the Egyptian youth, who were described as a driving force of the popular revolution, and great hopes were attached to them as the ones who would lead Egypt into an era of Western democracy. Facebook and Twitter were also credited with huge influence in motivating the masses to struggle for democracy, and indeed the phenomenon came to be known as the Facebook Revolution….
 
An official Egyptian intelligence document  reveals what the regime knew during the first days of the revolution, and it turns out that the Muslim Brotherhood played a central role in planning, inciting, and steering it. The document was posted on a new website that offers documents taken from the offices of Egyptian intelligence that were attacked and looted by mobs during the revolution.
 
The document originated in the Interrogations Department of Egyptian State Security and is dated January 28, 2011 – three days after the beginning of the revolution. The document sheds light on the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy, its translation into practice by senior officials of the organization including Mohamed Morsi, the new president of Egypt, and the security officials’ reaction to the thwarting of Muslim Brotherhood activity. The following is a (free) translation of the document’s relevant passage: 
 
“From information received it appears that a group of activists belonging to the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood have recently held a number of meetings under the aegis of the organization. After a check carried out by branches of the international Muslim Brotherhood, the leaders discussed a decision concerning the need to exploit the prevailing mood in the domestic arena [in Egypt] and the impact of the events in Tunis on different groups in [Egyptian] society by means of inciting the masses with their different sectors against the regime [of Mubarak], in an effort to sow anarchy in the country by organizing demonstrations and processions that would demand political, economic, and social reforms. The aim was to pressure the regime and achieve certain goals of the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly recognition of the legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood movement whose activity is prohibited [by law], and the granting of permission for it to establish a political party.
 
The leadership of the [Muslim Brotherhood] movement began to implement this program with the onset of mass demonstrations in Tunis [December 18, 2010] by appointing the leader Mohamed Morsi al-Ayat [today the president of Egypt] as head of a committee to be called the “Liaison Committee with the Outside World.” Morsi instructed the committee members who fled the country to open channels of communication with foreign media, institutions, and forces, and persuade their representatives that the events in Tunis can also occur in Egypt, and that the Muslim Brotherhood will be able to control them [the events of the revolution] if it [the revolution] has the necessary support.
 
These leaders [of the Muslim Brotherhood] began this activity of theirs when they exploited the call, raised by Facebook youth on the Internet, to organize peaceful demonstrations so that they could express their demands peacefully. They began to encourage the young activists of the Muslim Brotherhood to take part in these demonstrations and perform acts of mayhem and destruction. They also called to organize simultaneous demonstrations in different areas of the republic, thereby creating a state of anarchy and disorder in the security domain in the country.”
 
The document notes that on the basis of this information, 34 senior Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested, their homes searched, and documents, portable computers, and digital media confiscated. The detainees included seven top-level figures of the Muslim Brotherhood, including Morsi, ten senior members of the second-level leadership, and seventeen directors of branches and task-specific committees. (Top)

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