Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

Tag: Muslim Brotherhood

MURDER OF SAUDI JOURNALIST DAMAGES RIYADH’S REPUTATION AND THREATENS M.E. “FAULT LINES”

Khashoggi Disliked Israel, But His Brutal Murder Puts Jerusalem in Tough Spot: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Oct. 23, 2018— Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was brutally murdered in Istanbul earlier this month, was not fond of Israel, to say the least.

What the Khashoggi Murder Means for the Middle East: James M. Dorsey, Algemeiner, Oct. 24, 2018— The death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the premises of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul threatens to upend the fault lines across the Middle East, and severely disrupt the US-Saudi alliance that holds together many of those fault lines.

Egypt’s War on the Muslim Brotherhood: Dima Abumaria, The Media Line, October 18, 2018— Egyptian police released the 25-year-old son of former president Mohammed Morsi Wednesday after he spent less than 24 hours in detention on charges of joining an outlawed organization and publishing “fake news.”

Rumors Stoke Islamist Attacks on Egyptian Copts: Hany Ghoraba, IPT News, Oct. 9, 2018— Islamists and jihadists in Egypt have targeted the Egyptian Coptic minorities for decades with bombings and mob attacks on Coptic churches, businesses and homes.

On Topic Links

Canada Can’t Just Avoid the Regimes it Doesn’t Agree With, like Saudi Arabia: Dennis Horak, National Post, Oct. 24, 2018

The Ugly Terror Truth About Jamal Khashoggi: Daniel Greenfield, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 17, 2018

The Kingdom and the Power: Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard, Oct. 20, 2018

Egyptian Christians, at Home and Abroad: Lofty Basta, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 2018

 

                                        KHASHOGGI DISLIKED ISRAEL,

          BUT HIS BRUTAL MURDER PUTS JERUSALEM IN TOUGH SPOT                                                                                    Raphael Ahren

Times of Israel, Oct. 23, 2018

Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was brutally murdered in Istanbul earlier this month, was not fond of Israel, to say the least. “The Jews are without history in Palestine. Therefore, they invented the Wailing Wall, which is a Mamluk structure,” he tweeted in 2015. Khashoggi also opposed Saudi Arabia’s covert cooperation with Israel, arguing that Riyadh did not need it and that any ties with the Jewish state would unnecessarily tarnish his country’s reputation in the wider Arab world, according to Professor Joshua Teitelbaum, an expert on Saudi Arabia at Bar-Ilan University who knew Khashoggi well.

“He wasn’t a friend of Israel, but he had no problems meeting with and speaking to Israelis,” recalled Teitelbaum, who last saw the slain writer last year, when they had coffee on the sidelines of a conference on the Middle East in Washington.

In one of his last public appearances, Khashoggi, who had ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, confirmed that Riyadh had grown closer to Jerusalem. But he added that the kingdom had “backtracked on some of the more recent pro-Israeli positions it has taken,” according to Middle East Monitor, which hosted him at a conference in London less than a week before he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he met his death.

Khashoggi’s cruel murder, and the regime’s amateurish attempts to cover it up, have caused immeasurable damage to the international prestige of Saudi Arabia and its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The fact that the US and other Western countries are considering punishing Riyadh — Germany has already frozen scheduled deliveries of arms to the kingdom — casts a deep shadow not only over Israel’s clandestine relationship with the kingdom but also over international efforts to keep Iran in check.

For one thing, American and Israeli leaders hoped that MBS — as the crown prince is known — and his ostensible pro-Israel disposition could help force the Palestinians into concessions necessary for peace. Furthermore, the erosion of Riyadh’s international standing may negatively affect its role as one of the main regional powers standing up to Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and other belligerent behavior. Mutual enmity toward Tehran, it is worth noting, brought Israel and Saudi Arabia closer in the first place.

“Israel is in a very difficult situation,” said Dan Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel. “It wants and needs Saudi Arabia to be a reliable anchor of this regional coalition to confront Iranian aggression, and it’s faced with a reality that the current Saudi leadership has been proven unable to fulfill that role.” No other Arab country could replace Saudi Arabia in the region’s anti-Iran coalition, but MBS has proven to be “extremely reckless, impulsive and untrustworthy,” added Shapiro, who today is a fellow at the Institute for National Security in Tel Aviv.

Khashoggi’s gruesome murder and the ongoing lies about it are only the last in series of bad decisions made by the crown prince, Shapiro said, which include bombing Yemen without concern for civilian casualties, imposing a siege on Qatar, detaining Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, picking a fight with Canada over a Tweet about human rights, and rounding up dissidents. MBS “frequently acts on limited knowledge and poor judgment,” and the various scandals he has dragged his country into weaken the kingdom and undermine its relationship with its allies, Shapiro charged.

The US should not sever its relationship with the kingdom, as it plays a vital role in America’s efforts to rein in Iran, he said. However, “until there is a change of Saudi leadership, or at least a change in the style of Saudi leadership, the country’s ability to play that role is significantly weakened.” It remains to be seen how US President Donald Trump reacts as more and more details about Khashoggi’s killing come to light, though he seems determined not let the affair get in the way of what he said was $450 billion worth of Saudi investments. “But we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” he vowed Monday.

For Israel, the situation is somewhat trickier. On the one hand, it does not want to see Riyadh’s position in the region diminished in favor of Tehran, or Ankara. (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is believed by some to be seeing the Khashoggi murder as an opportunity to replace Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Sunni Islamic world.) On the other hand, Israel should be careful not be regarded as Riyadh’s mouthpiece in the US and Europe, several analysts interviewed for this article warned.

“It would have significant negative reputational impact on Israel to be seen as the defender and as the explainer and as the advocate on of MBS after this brutal performance, which was followed by several weeks of lying — which actually still continues — about what happened in Istanbul,” Shapiro said. Rather, all that’s left for Jerusalem to do is quiet diplomacy in a bid to try sustain “whatever can be sustained” regarding security cooperation with Saudi Arabia, he added. But there can be no doubt that the Khashoggi affair “has weakened a central pillar of Israel’s strategic concept in the Middle East in a way that Israel can’t do very much to repair it. That’s the damage in having such an unreliable Saudi leadership as we currently unfortunately have.”…

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

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          WHAT THE KHASHOGGI MURDER MEANS FOR THE MIDDLE EAST                                                                     James M. Dorsey                                                                                                                                      Algemeiner, Oct. 24, 2018

The death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the premises of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul threatens to upend the fault lines across the Middle East, and severely disrupt the US-Saudi alliance that holds together many of those fault lines.

An investigation into Khashoggi’s fate mandated by members of the US Congress and a possible meeting between President Donald Trump and the journalist’s Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, could result in a US and European embargo on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which would also impact the kingdom’s brutal proxy war with Iran in Yemen, portray Saudi Arabia as a rogue state, and call into question US and Saudi allegations that Iran is the Middle East’s main state supporter of terrorism.

Those allegations were a key reason for the US withdrawal — with the backing of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel — from the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program, and for the re-imposition of crippling economic sanctions on Tehran. An investigation into the role of the Saudi leadership in the death of Khashoggi would also undermine the 15-month-old economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar, a country that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain accuse of supporting terrorism.

Furthermore, a condemnation and sanctioning of Saudi Arabia by the international community would complicate China’s and Russia’s efforts to avoid being sucked into the Saudi-Iranian rivalry. Those two countries will be at a crossroads if the Saudi government is proven to be responsible for Khashoggi’s death and the issue of sanctions is subsequently brought before the UN Security Council.

So far, both Russia and China have managed to maintain close ties to Riyadh despite their efforts to defeat US sanctions against Iran, and Russia’s alliance with Iran on behalf of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. A significantly weakened Saudi Arabia would also undermine Arab cover provided by the kingdom for Trump’s efforts to impose a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would favor Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. Finally, a conclusive determination that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi’s death would likely spark renewed debate about the wisdom of the international community’s support for Arab autocracy, which has proven unashamedly brutal in its violation of human rights and disregard for international law and conventions.

Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has suffered significant damage to his reputation, raising the question of his viability if Saudi Arabia is condemned internationally. This raises the follow-up question of the stability of the kingdom, which is a key tenant of US, Chinese, and Russian Middle East policy. The damage suffered by Prince Muhammad embarrasses UAE Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed, who, together with his aides and representatives in world capitals, has worked hard to project his Saudi counterpart as the kingdom’s future.

Saudi Arabia did itself few favors by initially flatly rejecting any responsibility for Khashoggi’s disappearance; asserting that claims that it was involved were fabrications by Turkey, Qatar, and the Muslim Brotherhood; seeking to defame Khashoggi’s fiancée and supporters; and refusing to fully cooperate with Turkish investigators. Saudi reluctance to cooperate, as well as the US investigation and Ms. Cengiz’s possible meeting with Trump, complicate apparent Turkish efforts to find a resolution of the escalating crisis that would allow Saudi Arabia to save face and salvage Turkey’s economic relationship with the kingdom.

Turkey, despite deep policy differences with Saudi Arabia over Qatar, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood, has so far refrained from releasing the evidence it claims it has proving that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents inside the consulate. The release of gruesome details of the killing by anonymous Turkish officials appears designed to pressure Saudi Arabia into complying with Turkey’s demands and efforts at managing the crisis. The death of Jamal Khashoggi is reshaping the political map of the Middle East. He paid a horrendous price for sparking the earthquake that is now rumbling across the region.

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EGYPT’S WAR ON THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD                                                                        Dima Abumaria

                                                The Media Line, October 18, 2018

Egyptian police released the 25-year-old son of former president Mohammed Morsi Wednesday after he spent less than 24 hours in detention on charges of joining an outlawed organization and publishing “fake news.” Abdullah Morsi Mohammed Morsi, a graduate business student, posted a bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds [about $280] according to a statement by Attorney General Nabil Sadek. “The Attorney General decided to release Abdullah until further investigations take place into the charges against him,” said Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud, a member of Morsi’s defense team.

Abdullah frequently posts updates on social media about his father’s condition at the Tora maximum security prison, about eight miles south of downtown Cairo, as the family seeks more visitation rights and better health care for the jailed Brotherhood leader. The London-based Arabi21 website published an interview with Abdullah just days before his arrest detailing the conditions of the family’s September visit at the prison.

Morsi is challenging a death sentence and 48 years in jail for five separate cases including espionage for Hamas, Hezbollah and Qatar as well as insulting Egypt’s judiciary. The charge of joining a terrorist group refers to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in 2013. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, an Egyptian general who then became president, led a coalition to remove the elder Morsi from the presidential palace.

Egypt has been plagued by a violent insurgency since Sisi replaced Morsi. Egyptian officials have viewed the terrorist wave as part of a revenge campaign for the Brotherhood’s ousting. Since 2013, the Egyptian army has also waged a fierce counter-terrorism operation against a Sinai-based Islamic State-affiliated group. It has seen an upsurge in attacks on the Coptic Christian community, as well as security personnel and senior officials in the Nile Valley. Last month, Sisi emphasized the need for a “global war” against terrorism during his address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“There is no doubt that the Arab region is one of the most vulnerable to the dangers of nation-state disintegration, and the ensuing creation of a fertile environment for terrorism and exacerbation of sectarian conflicts,” Sisi declared at the UN. Cairo has been working to contain Islamists throughout Egypt, making no distinction between their political and armed wings. “Anyone who has anything to do with the Islamic movement can expect to be questioned and other times detained based on their activity within the movement,” an Egyptian political observer close to the Sisi administration told The Media Line.

“Mohammed Morsi supported and promoted the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and beyond—especially in Syria by urging Muslims join a jihad against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Sisi ended that and is cleaning up the mess caused by Islamist political groups in Egypt,” the analyst added.

Ibrahim Haj Ibrahim, who heads the Political Science department at Birzeit University in Ramallah, believes the anti-terror rhetoric in Cairo is a core component of a Saudi-led effort, which includes Egypt and the UAE, to gain support for the ongoing boycott of Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief state backer in the region. “Saudi Arabia doesn’t want any other regional power, but itself,” Ibrahim told The Media Line. “Riyadh is doing the best it can to put the Muslim Brotherhood in the category of terrorism.”

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RUMORS STOKE ISLAMIST ATTACKS ON EGYPTIAN COPTS

Hany Ghoraba

IPT News, Oct. 9, 2018

Islamists and jihadists in Egypt have targeted the Egyptian Coptic minorities for decades with bombings and mob attacks on Coptic churches, businesses and homes. Many are sanctioned by fatwas from radical clerics, Salafist preachers and Muslim Brotherhood muftis.

The latest attack took place Sept. 1 in Dimshaw, a village in southern Egypt’s Minya governorate. A mob of nearly 1,000 Islamists and Muslim radicals attacked Christians who gathered in a home to pray. Several homes reportedly were looted and set on fire. The mob claimed that the Christians didn’t have a license, and a rumor spread that they are on the verge of building a new church. A Minya court released 21 of the 25 people arrested in the attack. Copts often take a passive approach to such crises. “Copts, by nature and by belief, are by far more accepting of death, fate, and all tragedies that befall them,” said Egyptian writer and political analyst Azza Sedky. “When one of them dies, they believe he or she has gone to a ‘better place.’ Acceptance is key.”

The 1956 Suez crisis generated xenophobia toward foreigners, driving many out of Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood stepped up activities around that time and “began to play [its] tricks and the antagonism [against religious minorities] intensified, especially in rural areas,” she said. Spreading rumors is a long-standing tactic for the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1947, for example, a Cairo police officer tried to stop an unlicensed Brotherhood political march. The protesters then spread a rumor that the officer tore a copy of the Quran, which triggered a riot in which he was killed. Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna blamed the slain police officer for not acting prudently.

A rumor spread by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1952 claimed that Copts in Suez were colluding with British occupation forces to kill Muslims. As a result, a mob stormed the city and burned several Copts alive, later throwing their bodies into a church which was then burned down. The “Suez Massacre” marked the beginning of a long series of assaults and killings of Copts based on rumors spread by Brotherhood and other Islamists. Rumors spread by Islamists claimed that Copts were importing arms from Israel and storing them in churches.

Since the June 2013 Revolution, Egypt’s Christians have been blamed for Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, with Islamists leaders vowing that Christians will pay the price. They carried through on those threats in August 2013, immediately after the Egyptian army wiped out the Brotherhood’s Rabaa armed encampment. Islamists torched 66 Coptic owned buildings, including 49 churches.

Major attacks against Copts continued. A December 2016 bombing at Cairo’s St. Mark Church during Sunday Mass killed 29 people and injured 48 others. A twin bombing four months later targeted a Palm Sunday service the St. Mark Church in Alexandria and St. George Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta north of Cairo. At least 45 people were killed and 126 injured. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi immediately ordered that the targeted churches be rebuilt or repaired, sending a message that the government will protect its citizens. Nevertheless, that message has not yet led to stricter enforcement of laws on assailants and radicals who incite violence.

A new church building law aimed at helping Copts may actually create harm, said Mohamed Abu Hamed, the deputy head of the Egyptian Parliament’s “Solidarity Committee,” which is designated to introduce laws and recommendations for social justice. The law should have applied to all places of worship, he said, but covers only church construction.

Attacks on Copts have decreased in recent years after efforts to round up Islamist leaders, and Egyptian police raids on terrorist cells. Copts, however, still represent a top target for Islamists who don’t believe that this minority should have the same rights and freedom to worship. The latest attack on Christians in Minya may indicate a return to a pattern of attacking Copts during prayers services. In July 2015, radicals attacked a house designated to the Copts as a church. Salafi radicals stoned those gathered, but fled when security forces arrived. They came back and threw Molotov cocktails at the gathered Copts.

For decades, local authorities approved “customary reconciliations” to resolve disputes, including those between Muslims and Christians. Community leaders, heads of families, tribe leaders and local authority figures meet to try to resolve conflicts without going to court. But they don’t always produce just outcomes, Abu Hamed said.

“Despite the existence of an old judicial system that dates back to the times of the pharaohs, authorities still utilize the so called ‘customary reconciliations’ instead of applying the laws which is a blatant breach of the constitution and rule of law. What makes it worse is that these meetings are attended by security authorities, political leaders and governors among others,” he said. “Some authority figures believe these meetings create a sort of equilibrium, or it provides them with political and social leverage. The second reason is they believe it is the easier way to contain matters in face of the Salafist groups and radicals.” On a similar note, Coptic Bishop Macarius rejected all forms of unofficial reconciliation.

Conditions for Copts are improving despite these troubles, Sedky said, noting that “Sisi was the first president to attend mass on Christmas Eve in Egypt,” a groundbreaking action countering Salafists who tell Egyptians not to shake hands with Copts. “However, as [with] everything else,” she said, “it will take generations to overcome an ingrained hatred that was left to flourish for years.”

The current atmosphere is still ripe for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists to spew their poisonous ideologies, lies and rumors, Abu Hamed said. He blames a tepid effort from Al Azhar – Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institution – to reform religious curriculum; a significant Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi presence in key positions within state religious institutions; and Muslim Brotherhood control of mosques which spread hateful ideology despite a state ban…

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

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Canada Can’t Just Avoid the Regimes it Doesn’t Agree With, like Saudi Arabia: Dennis Horak, National Post, Oct. 24, 2018—As the Trudeau government undertakes its announced review of Saudi-Canada relations, it needs to look past the recent horrific news and find an approach that aims to be truly effective by advancing legitimate Canadian interests along with its values.

The Ugly Terror Truth About Jamal Khashoggi: Daniel Greenfield, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 17, 2018—In high school, Jamal Khashoggi had a good friend. His name was Osama bin Laden. “We were hoping to establish an Islamic state anywhere,” Khashoggi reminisced about their time together in the Muslim Brotherhood. “We believed that the first one would lead to another, and that would have a domino effect which could reverse the history of mankind.”

The Kingdom and the Power: Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard, Oct. 20, 2018—While the details of Jamal Khashoggi’s death have not fully emerged, we know the essentials. He died at the hands of Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and the decision to kidnap or kill him must have been taken at the top of the Saudi political structure. Whether crown prince Mohammed bin Salman asked “will no one rid me of this meddlesome journalist” or specified the methods to be used, he is responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

Egyptian Christians, at Home and Abroad: Lofty Basta, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 2018—Copts (Egyptian Christians) living in Egypt or in adoptive countries have common attributes – they are peace-loving, belong to strong large families with low divorce rates, have a lower mean age than the rest of civilized world, respect their elderly, value education and work, are always willing to help those in need, are courteous and use respectful non-obscene language.

 

AS EGYPT SUCCESSFULLY FIGHTS ISLAMISTS, MOROCCANS PROTEST AGAINST CORRUPTION

Five Years After the Revolution: Is Egyptian President El-Sisi Winning the Battle?: Zvi Mazel, JNS, July 15, 2018 —Recent weeks have brought welcome news to Egypt.

Egypt’s Islamist Televangelists Lose Clout: Hany Ghoraba, IPT News, July 9, 2018— They once captured the hearts and minds of millions of Egyptians, but Islamist televangelists are losing popularity.

The Moroccan Boycotts: A New Model for Protest?: Dr. James M. Dorsey, BESA, June 22, 2018— In Jordan recently, fury at tax hikes followed the classic pattern of sustained public protest.

How Qatar’s Jewish Strategy Backfired: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2018— Six months ago, in January 2018, the world looked hopeful for Qatar.

On Topic Links

4 Years On, Egypt’s President Urges Patience Over Reforms: National Post, June 30, 2018

Egypt Tries To Reconcile ‘Coptic’ Churches To Non-Existence: Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East Forum, June 16, 2018

Coal’s Coming Renaissance in the Middle East: Dmitriy Frolovskiy, Real Clear World, July 02, 2018

Many Egyptian Christians Feel Left Out of World Cup: Hamza Hendawi, National Post, June 22, 2018

 

FIVE YEARS AFTER THE REVOLUTION:

IS EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT EL-SISI WINNING THE BATTLE?

Zvi Mazel

JNS, July 15, 2018

Recent weeks have brought welcome news to Egypt. The fight against Islamic terror appears to be going well, and social and economic reforms are beginning to get results, though the president’s high-handed rule has drawn critics. In a televised speech on June 30 to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2013 events that led to the downfall of the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stated that it had been the “right revolution,” as opposed to the January-February 2011 demonstrations that brought down former President Hosni Mubarak as part of the so-called Arab Spring.

Those demonstrations endangered political stability and personal safety, and led to the rise of terrorism and the collapse of the economy, he said, but he was successfully working at correcting those ills with the help of the security forces and the support of the people. The president claims he saved his country from the establishment of an Islamic dictatorship and restored stability, but it came at a steep price. Hundreds of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were killed during violent protests. Nevertheless, he never lost sight of his goal of developing the economy and did not hesitate to tackle painful but necessary reforms.

Islamic terror in the Sinai Peninsula is still the main stumbling block after four years of fierce fighting against militants of the “Sinai district of the Islamic State.” Last February, the president launched Operation “Sinai 2018” to eradicate the organization and sent reinforcements to the detachments of his second and third army already there. Hundreds of terrorists were killed, communication and command posts destroyed, caches of explosives discovered, and hundreds of vehicles and motorcycles seized. This led to a drastic drop in terror activities, but did not eradicate the Islamic State.

El-Sisi cannot afford to dial down his troops whose continuous presence in the peninsula is a severe drain on the defense budget while preventing a return to normal life in the area. A five kilometer wide buffer zone has been established along the border to isolate Sinai from the Gaza Strip, and hundreds of families had to leave. A night curfew is in force in parts of northern Sinai, hampering the delivery of necessary goods and medicine to civilians. Schools and institutes of higher education were shut down to prevent terror attacks. Still, there has been a shift in the attitude of the mostly Bedouin population, traditionally suspicious of the central government, who are now joining the fight against jihadi militants following the deadly attack on the Rawda mosque last November that killed 311 men and women at prayer. Bedouin tribes are now cooperating with the army. Early this month, two high-ranking leaders of the Sinai district surrendered after a lengthy battle in the town of Rafah. This was apparently brokered by the Union of Sinai Tribes, which had called on the jihadis to surrender following their failures. Some of the strict security measures are now being lifted and some normalcy is returning to the region.

The Muslim Brotherhood remains a low-level threat. Five years after their ouster from power and the violent repression of their demonstrations, Muslim Brothers still refuse to accept their defeat and demand the release of ousted president Mohammed Morsi as a precondition to talks with the new regime. The events of 2011 propelled them to power after 80 long years during which they had twice been outlawed, their leaders executed, and their militants arrested by the thousands. In 2012, their first political party Freedom and Justice won the parliamentary elections and Morsi was elected president. Barely a year later the parliament was dissolved for technical reasons and Morsi was ousted and arrested following massive popular protests with millions of Egyptians taking to the streets with the support of the army led by el-Sisi, who was minister of defense at the time.

Today, the Brotherhood is in dire straits. It has been outlawed as a terror organization and thousands of its members arrested. Its political party and affiliate organizations were dissolved and all activity forbidden. Its offices and assets were seized, and a recent presidential decree allows the confiscation of the private assets of members who have been arrested and sentenced as soon as their sentence becomes final. Most of their leaders are in jail and face charges of treason and violence against citizens. Such is the case for former president Morsi, the supreme leader of the movement Mohamad mad Bad’ie and his deputies Khairat el Shater and Rashid el Bayomi, as well as other prominent personalities well-known in the Arab world. Morsi and Badi’e have already been sentenced to several life terms and even to death, but their appeals are still pending. Some low-ranking members try to generate a minimum of activities but are under close watch and their temporary offices are often shut down while they are arrested.

The few leaders who have managed to flee are seeking refuge in Turkey and Qatar, countries that support the Brotherhood. At this stage the organization has collapsed to all intents and purposes. Mahmoud Ezzat, one of the deputies of the supreme leader, avoided arrest and is reputedly hiding in Egypt, where he is attempting to assume the mantle of leader and keep the Brotherhood alive until better times without notable success because the chaotic situation has led to a de facto split in the movement. The younger generations looking for revenge found their leader in the person of Mohammad Kamal, one of the veterans who tried to reorganize Brotherhood institutions but failed and instead formed two violent groups: Liwa al Thawra (“Banner of the Revolution”) and Hism (“Decision”), which targeted security forces and public figures and carried out terrorist operations in Cairo and elsewhere on the Egyptian mainland. Kamal was killed in October 2016 in a police raid in Cairo, but the Hism group is still active.

The organization has trouble recruiting new members and is no longer able to launch protests as it did in 2015-2016. Attempts at reconciliation have failed because, though President el-Sisi is ready to talk, probably because he no longer sees the Brotherhood as an immediate threat, he refuses all preconditions such as releasing Morsi from jail. It would, however, be a mistake to dismiss a movement that has shown in the past remarkable recovery powers. Its ultimate goal, a return to the sources of Islam and the reestablishment of the caliphate, still exerts a powerful appeal in Egypt and other Arab countries where political parties affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood are having significant success.

The president is well aware that he will be judged on his economic and social achievements. There are already 100 million Egyptians, with one million being added every six months. At 3.3%, the birth rate remains high. A majority of the people earn less than $2 a day, which puts them below the poverty line as defined by the United Nations. Economic growth of 7% to 8% per year over several years would be needed to make up for the high birth rate and the damage caused to the economy by previous governments…

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

 

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EGYPT’S ISLAMIST TELEVANGELISTS LOSE CLOUT

Hany Ghoraba

IPT News, July 9, 2018

 

They once captured the hearts and minds of millions of Egyptians, but Islamist televangelists are losing popularity. They started to lose credibility during the June 2013 revolution that drove the Muslim Brotherhood from power and in the subsequent terrorist attacks after Islamist President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster.

“The state of abandonment of the Salafi preachers and the Muslim Brotherhood … is very good and serves the interests of the Egyptian, Arab and Islamic societies,” said former Muslim Brotherhood member Sameh Eid. “The exposure of the ideas of these preachers and their great dependence on a heritage that is no longer suitable for the present time and place make them a rare and ridiculous material on the pages of the media.”

Fewer people are watching the Islamist televangelists shows, Islamist groups researcher and former Brotherhood member Tarek Abou Saad, so they now resort to using historical tales of Islam’s grandeur to try to draw an audience. Despite those efforts, televangelist ratings during Ramadan were the lowest since 2011.

Egyptian media traditionally offered two main types of televangelists – Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated and Salafist (Wahhabi). Brotherhood clerics in modern clothes advocate a gradual Islamization of society while infiltrating Egypt’s more affluent society. Salafists successfully appealed to working class and more impoverished sectors of society.

The televangelist movement in Egypt was initiated by Omar Abdel Kafi who became extremely famous among the affluent. The radical preacher issued fatwas prohibiting greeting Christians and urging boycotting Jews. Egyptian authorities took him off the air in 1994, forcing him to work in exile from the United Arab Emirates. He follows the path of both the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists. Recently, his anti-Semitic statements, describing Jews as “aiming to control all the world’s money and lands then controlling all international politics,” got him banned from delivering a speech in Canada in April.

The rise of Islamist televangelists was cancerous to the fiber of the Egyptian society and fueled radicalization during the past two decades. Views toward women, Christians, art and the West all grew more strident. The new wave of preachers was first introduced in 2002 through the Saudi-financed religious network “Iqra [Read] TV.” By 2007, Time magazine listed Amr Khaled as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, calling him a “rock star” and “a needed voice for moderation from within the Muslim world.”

Forbes Arabia also identified Amr Khaled as one of the richest Islamist preachers that year, estimating his income at $2.5 million. He introduced a new form of preaching – which he called “Visual Da’wa” – emphasizing appearance as a way to inspire more religious adherence. He urged girls to wear the hijab, which he called a “walking symbol of the faith.” “Wearing your hijab at the beach, even if surrounded by semi-naked girls,” he said, will lead to society becoming more religious. This is the way to fix society.”

Most of the new breed of televangelists didn’t study Islamic theology at Al Azhar University like traditional preachers. Instead, they present themselves as average people who found religion through personal experiences. For example, televangelist Moez Massoud said that he became closer to God after losing friends in an accident and then surviving a health scare. This approach has attracted a younger audience than traditional religious programs.

While many view the new televangelists as sincere God-fearing preachers, others see actors performing a role. Amr Khaled has been mocked for fake piety repeatedly on social media for actions like praying only for his followers while in Mecca, excluding other Muslims. “l believe they put on an act and use a special voice tone to convey their message to the audience,” said Egyptian actress Laila Ezz Al Arab…

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

 

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THE MOROCCAN BOYCOTTS: A NEW MODEL FOR PROTEST?

Dr. James M. Dorsey

BESA, June 22, 2018

In Jordan recently, fury at tax hikes followed the classic pattern of sustained public protest. Protesters, in contrast to the calls for regime change that dominated the 2011 revolts, targeted the government’s austerity measures and efforts to broaden its revenue base. The protesters forced the resignation of Prime Minister Hani Mulki and the repeal of proposals for tax hikes that were being imposed to comply with conditions of a $723 million International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan to Jordan.

Austerity measures in Egypt linked to a $12 billion IMF loan also sparked protests in a country in which dissent is brutally repressed. Rare protests erupted last month after the government hiked Cairo’s metro fares by up to 250%. Now, with economists and analysts waiting to see how Egyptians respond to new austerity measures that include a 50% rise in gasoline prices (the third since Egypt floated its currency in 2016, with further hikes expected in July), Morocco may provide a more risk-free and effective model for future protest in one of the most repressive parts of the world.

An online boycott campaign fueled by anger at rising consumer prices that uses hashtags such as “let it curdle” and “let it rot” has spread like wildfire across Moroccan social media. A survey in late May by economic daily L’Economiste suggested that 57% of Moroccans were participating in the boycott of some of Morocco’s foremost oligopolies, which have close ties to the government.

The boycott of the likes of French dairy giant Danone, mineral water company Oulmes, and the country’s leading fuel distributor, Afriquia SMDC, is proving effective and difficult to counter. The boycott recently expanded to include the country’s fish markets. The boycott has already halved Danone’s sales. The company said it would post a 150 million Moroccan dirham ($15.9 million) loss for the first six months of this year, cut raw milk purchases by 30%, and reduce its number of short-term job contracts. Danone employees recently staged a sit-in that blamed both the boycott and the government for their predicament. Lahcen Daoudi, a Cabinet minister, resigned after participating in a sit-in organized by Danone workers.

The boycott has also affected the performance of energy companies. Shares of Total Maroc, the only listed fuel distributor, fell by almost 10% since the boycott began in April. The strength of the boycott, which was launched on Facebook pages that have since attracted some two million visitors, lies in the fact that it is difficult to identify who is driving it. No individual or group has publicly claimed ownership. The boycott’s effectiveness is enhanced by the selectiveness of its targets, which are described by angry consumers on social media as “thieves” and “bloodsuckers.”

Anonymity and the virtual character of the protest, in what could become a model elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, has made it difficult for the government to crack down on its organizers.Yet even if the government identified the boycott’s organizers, it would be unable to impose its will on choices that consumers make daily. The boycott also levels the playing field, with even the poorest able to affect the performance of economic giants. In doing so, the boycott strategy counters region-wide frustration with the fact that protests have either failed to produce results or, in countries like Syria, Yemen, Egypt, and Libya, have led to mayhem, increased repression, and civil war.

“While boycotts solve some of the problems of protest movements…they also create new challenges…. Diffuse structures … limit their ability to formulate clear demands, negotiate on the basis of these demands, respond to criticism of the movement and, eventually, end the boycott. Boycotts against domestic producers are likely to face criticism that they are hurting the economy and endangering the jobs of their compatriots working in the boycotted companies,” cautioned Max Gallien, a London School of Economics PhD candidate who studies the political economy of North Africa.

The Moroccan boycott grew out of months of daily protests in the country’s impoverished northern Rif region. The government tried to squash those protests with a carrot-and-stick approach that involved the arrest of hundreds. Underlying the boycott is a deep-seated resentment of the government’s incestuous relationship with business, which has led to its failure to ensure fair competition. Many believe this has eroded purchasing power among the rural poor and the urban middle class alike.

Afriquia is part of the Akwa group owned by Aziz Akhannouch, a Moroccan billionaire ranked by Forbes. Akhannouch also serves as agriculture minister, heads a political party, and is one of the kingdom’s most powerful politicians. Oulmes is headed by Miriem Bensalah Chekroun, the former president of Morocco’s confederation of enterprises, CGEM. “The goal of this boycott is to unite Moroccan people and speak with one voice against expensive prices, poverty, unemployment, injustice, corruption and despotism,” said one Facebook page that supports the boycott. This is a message and a methodology that could resonate across a swath of land stretching from the Atlantic coast of Africa to the Gulf.

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HOW QATAR’S JEWISH STRATEGY BACKFIRED

Seth J. Frantzman

Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2018

Six months ago, in January 2018, the world looked hopeful for Qatar. The small Gulf state had been blockaded by its neighbor Saudi Arabia, and Riyadh’s allies the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt broke relations. Qatar, which hosts a large US base, invested millions in a public relations effort in the US to counter its enemies. In the last days of January the US secretaries of state and defense sat with the Qatari leadership for a US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue confab. Doha seemed on the road to victory.

US President Donald Trump hosted Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in April. It seemed the PR effort was paying off. Qatar wanted Americans to see the emirate as an ally and a victim. It was fighting terrorism, it said, and it had changed its ways in terms of being a conduit for alleged terrorism finance to groups such as Hamas. In mid-January Alan Dershowitz, writing on The Hill website about his trip to Qatar, even wrote that it was becoming the “Israel of the Gulf states” and claimed that Qatari officials had told him Hamas leaders had left Doha. Dershowitz was one of a long list of pro-Israel Americans, including prominent Jews, who went to Qatar in the fall of 2017 and first months of 2018. Qatar carried out its outreach to US Jews through various channels, one of which was Nick Muzin, who had formerly worked with Sen. Ted Cruz and ran a firm called Stonington Strategies.

On June 6 Muzin wrote on Twitter that “Stonington Strategies is no longer representing the State of Qatar.” He said he had gone into the work to “foster peaceful dialogue in the Middle East” and to increase Qatar’s defense and economic ties to the US. Muzin’s break with the emirate coincided with the Zionist Organization of America condemning Qatar for its “giant step backward.” Mort Klein, head of ZOA, wrote on June 6 that he had traveled to Doha in January “to fight for Israel, America and the Jewish people.” But Qatar had “failed to do the right thing.”

A week later a man named Joseph Allaham filed paperwork with the US Department of Justice’s Foreign Agents Registration Act unit. He registered Lexington Strategies as working for the State of Qatar and noted that after doing initial work to promote the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, “the understanding was expanded to include relationship-building with the leadership in the Jewish community in the United States to better international relations.

Methods of performance included peaceful means of community engagement, charitable contributions and arranging meetings in the US and visits to Qatar.” Qatar had given a grant of $1.45 million, according to the document. In an email Allaham wrote that he is “proud of the work that Mort Klein has done and all the other Jewish leaders working in collaboration with the Emir and other members of the Qatari Royal Family.

Mr. Klein has made great strides for the American Jewish community and Israel. These accomplishments, some public and some will remain private- go far beyond what many other leaders of the Jewish community and state officials have achieved with Qatar.” The Allaham filing, disclosing his previous relationship, apparently marked the end of his work with Qatar. “I had planned for a while on announcing my resignation,” he wrote in a statement at MSNBC in the first week of June. He said it had nothing to do with “the Broidy case,” a lawsuit filed by Elliott Broidy against Qatar…

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

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On Topic Links

4 Years On, Egypt’s President Urges Patience Over Reforms: National Post, June 30, 2018—Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi urged citizens on Saturday to further endure economic reforms and austerity measures, including a recent wave of steep price hikes on fuel, electricity and drinking water.

Egypt Tries To Reconcile ‘Coptic’ Churches To Non-Existence: Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East Forum, June 16, 2018—From attacks by Muslim mobs to closures by Muslim authorities, the lamentable plight of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt always follows a pattern, one that is unwaveringly only too typical.

Coal’s Coming Renaissance in the Middle East: Dmitriy Frolovskiy, Real Clear World, July 02, 2018—Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi faces little opposition as he begins his second term, but the former field marshal has an immediate challenge coming in just a few weeks’ time.

Many Egyptian Christians Feel Left Out of World Cup: Hamza Hendawi, National Post, June 22, 2018— Egypt’s first World Cup in 28 years has captivated the soccer-crazy nation, with intense focus on the squad and the broader game.

CAIRO MEDIATES IN SYRIAN CONFLICT BUT CRITICIZED OVER HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD & NK TIES

Trump Denies Aid to Egypt: Sean Keeley, American Interest, Aug. 23, 2017— On the eve of Jared Kushner’s visit to Egypt, President Trump delivered an unpleasant surprise to one of his friendliest allies in the Middle East.

Egypt Resumes a Leadership Role: Itamar Rabinovich, Times of Israel, Aug. 21, 2017 — One of the important byproducts of the recent turn of events in the Syrian crisis has been the role taken by Egypt.

Israel’s Empty Embassy in Cairo: Ofir Winter, INSS, July 3, 2017— Normalization between Israel and Egypt has always been limited…

MB Groups Increasingly Open in Endorsing Anti-Sisi Violence: John Rossomando, IPT News, Aug. 16, 2017 A group of exiled Morsi-era Muslim Brotherhood politicians based in Istanbul has posted on Facebook a blueprint for overthrowing Egypt's military regime.

 

On Topic Links

 

Egypt Angered by US Aid Cut Over Human Rights Concerns: Washington Post, Aug. 24, 2017

Egypt’s Leader Makes a Risky Bet on the Healing Power of Economic Pain: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7, 2017

Egypt Acts to Preserve Jewish Heritage: Rami Galal, Al-Monitor, August 23, 2017

Egypt Joins the Burkini Battle: Jacob Goff Klein, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 8, 2017

 

TRUMP DENIES AID TO EGYPT

Sean Keeley

American Interest, Aug. 23, 2017

 

On the eve of Jared Kushner’s visit to Egypt, President Trump delivered an unpleasant surprise to one of his friendliest allies in the Middle East. The New York Times reports: “The Trump administration on Tuesday denied Egypt $96 million in aid and delayed $195 million in military funding because of concerns over Egypt’s human rights record and its cozy relationship with North Korea…Asked if Egypt’s robust relationship with North Korea played a role in Tuesday’s action, a State Department official would say only that issues of concern have been raised with Cairo, but refused to provide details about the talks.”

 

On the face of it, the decision to withhold aid from Egypt is a striking departure from the Trump Administration’s pattern of behavior. For one, Trump has always enjoyed a chummy relationship with Sisi, who was one of the first foreign leaders to take him seriously as a candidate (they met in New York last September), and whom Trump has showered with praise and promises of support. Until now, Trump has demonstrated no unease about Sisi’s sorry human rights record, nor shown any interest in prioritizing humanitarian concerns in his dealings with allies. In fact, his Administration has established a clear pattern of fast-tracking weapons transfers or aid deliveries that Obama had temporarily suspended over humanitarian concerns (just ask the Saudis and Thais.)

 

Has Trump suddenly acquired a conscience about human rights and a newfound concern over Cairo’s repressive treatment of NGOs? That scenario is unlikely—and the Times’ theory that this is really about North Korea deserves further scrutiny.

 

Egypt has long had a dubious record when it comes to North Korea. The two countries have a history of exchanges of arms and expertise going back to the 1970s, when Cairo began selling Pyongyang missiles and North Korean pilots helped train their Egyptian counterparts. By some accounts, a version of that cozy relationship continues covertly today. A troubling UN investigation earlier this year uncovered “hitherto unreported” trade between Pyongyang and countries in the Middle East and North Africa, with sensitive exchanges including air defense systems and satellite-guided missiles. In several cases, Egyptian companies were implicated in those transactions—a finding consistent with the claim of a former DPRK official that Egypt is the “hub” of Pyongyang’s Middle Eastern arms trade.

 

Those findings may help explain why, in a July phone call, President Trump raised the North Korean issue with Sisi. According to the White House readout, Trump “stressed the need for all countries to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea, stop hosting North Korean guest workers, and stop providing economic or military benefits to North Korea.” That is a message that the Administration has been delivering to all countries it suspects of noncompliance with the North Korean sanctions regime: from heavy hitters like China and Russia to minor enablers like the ASEAN countries.

 

And if Trump wanted to punish Cairo for failing to enforce sanctions, withholding aid must have looked like a tempting method. The money in question had already been held up by the Obama Administration, so declining to release it is a less antagonistic move than actively levying sanctions on Egypt. And by publicly conditioning the release of that money on human rights progress, Trump has already earned some early plaudits from some of his staunchest critics, including Senator John McCain, who has been an outspoken opponent of Sisi’s authoritarianism and the new NGO law.

 

This is not to say that the decision to squeeze Egypt is necessarily wise or risk-free. The move may have already cost Trump some goodwill with Sisi: after news of the decision came out, the Foreign Ministry initially canceled a meeting with Kushner in an apparent snub. The Egyptians eventually allowed Kushner a sit-down with Sisi, but they are clearly not happy: the foreign ministry said the decision “[reflected] poor judgment of the strategic relationship that ties the two countries” and could have “negative implications” on cooperation going forward.

 

Among other things, that could be a reference to Egypt’s help on the Israel-Paliestine dispute, the very issue that Kushner was in Egypt to discuss. Cairo is reportedly on the cusp of negotiating a deal that would reopen the border with Gaza, allow much-needed humanitarian aid to pass through, and (in all likelihood) empower Mohammed Dahlan, a Palestinian leader more conducive to U.S. and Israeli interests than the lame duck Mahmoud Abbas. Given Egypt’s crucial role in mediating these talks, alienating Cairo is a risky proposition.

 

But that only strengthens the argument that the Trump Administration would not have jeopardized that relationship over human rights alone. Concerns about Sisi’s repression may well have influenced the aid decision on the margins, but they were more likely convenient justifications disguising Trump’s primary motive for punishing Egypt. After all, the North Korean crisis has been Trump’s top foreign policy priority, an issue that has consumed much of his Administration’s diplomatic energy as it seeks to increase the economic pressure on the regime. And just as Trump invoked humanitarian reasons to justify his airstrike on Syria (a move that was also about sending North Korea a message), he may now be doing the same to pressure Pyongyang via Cairo.                                                

 

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EGYPT RESUMES A LEADERSHIP ROLE

Itamar Rabinovich

Times of Israel, Aug. 21, 2017  

 

One of the important byproducts of the recent turn of events in the Syrian crisis has been the role taken by Egypt. For decades Egypt had been the principal actor in inter-Arab relations. It lost that role several years ago due to the convulsions of domestic Egyptian politics and to the decline of Egypt’s weight and impact owing to the rise of Iran and Turkey in Middle Eastern regional politics, and to the increased influence of the rich Arab states in the Gulf.

 

The changing tide of the Syrian civil war has given Egypt both the impetus and the opportunity to take the initiative and play a leading role in the crisis that has torn the Arab world since March 2011. Bashar Assad’s declaration of victory was premature at the time — he controls some forty percent of the national territory while the opposition still controls important strongholds — but the capture of Aleppo was in fact a turning point and, with Russian and Iranian support, Assad and his regime are steadily increasing the area under their sway. The sense of an unstoppable march by this coalition is enhanced by the drift of Trump’s Syrian policy. It is now clear that after several statements and actions indicating a determination to stop Iran’s advance in the region and to do it in the Syrian arena, Washington is now focused narrowly on destroying ISIS in Syria (and Iraq) and has resolved to act in coordination with Russia to stabilize the situation in Syria.

 

This state of affairs is a cause for concern in several Middle Eastern capitals. Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Jordan and Egypt (the Sunni bloc) are alarmed by the prospect of an Iranian-Soviet colony in Syria under the guise of a restored Syrian state headed by Assad. Israel and Jordan are concerned both by Iranian and Russian hegemony in Syria at large, and more specifically by the penetration of pro-Iranian Shiite militias into southwestern Syria, close to their borders. Israel dispatched a security delegation to Washington to express its concerns and to try to obtain a US commitment to oppose continued Iranian military presence in Syria. Early press accounts in Israel indicate Israeli disappointment with the results of the visit.

 

It is against this backdrop that Egypt’s recent activism in Syria should be seen. Egypt is mediating between the regime and opposition groups in negotiating local cease fire agreements and Egyptian delegations are playing a role in the initial efforts underway to rebuild Syria’s economy. This policy represents a stark departure from an earlier policy that insisted on Assad’s departure from power. Cairo’s change of policy was resented by Saudi Arabia, a stauncher foe of Assad, but the Saudis now seem to realize that without US participation the policy of investing in opposition groups leads nowhere. They are receptive to the Egyptian argument that its policy in Syria is one of damage control, and that it is preferable for them to play a role and thereby reduce Iranian influence.

 

This view is shared at least to some extent by Israel. Israel may not have high hopes that Egypt could actually dispossess Iran in Syria, but it agrees that a greater Egyptian role could diminish that of Iran and place in the Syrian arena an actor that shares Israel’s view of the region and has a close security relationship with Israel. What works in the Sinai could possibly work in Syria…

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

 

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ISRAEL’S EMPTY EMBASSY IN CAIRO                                 

Ofir Winter                                                                              

INSS, July 3, 2017

 

Normalization between Israel and Egypt has always been limited, but even during periods of crisis, both countries were careful to preserve the fundamental assets of the peace between them, particularly the existence of functioning embassies in Tel Aviv and Cairo. The Egyptian embassy remained active even when Egypt recalled its ambassadors to Cairo for consultations in 1982, 2000, and 2012, in protest over Israel's policies. The Israeli embassy in Egypt did indeed limit its activity after it was invaded by demonstrators in September 2011, but the institution was preserved within the American embassy compound, and then in the residence of the Israeli ambassador. The only time that the Israeli presence in the Egyptian capital was cut off completely came in late 2016 – during a period that many consider to be one of the best in the history of relations between the two countries – when the Israeli ambassador and his staff returned to Israel due to security warnings. Months have passed since then, and the temporary is becoming permanent. Meantime, both sides have not rushed to find a formula that will enable the Israeli delegation to renew its work and restore proper diplomatic relations between the countries.

 

The relationship between Israel and Egypt during the el-Sisi presidency can be described as close but narrow. According to press reports, it is characterized by intimate contacts between the leaders, but focused primarily on security coordination around shared challenges in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. Security contacts take place directly between the armed forces, and therefore the absence of an ambassador does no damage on this score. Moreover, although Egypt does not oppose the return of the ambassador to Cairo, the prevailing situation of the last seven months has some advantages for it. It has removed the security burden of guarding the embassy, and saved the regime from the traditional criticisms from opponents of normalization about "the Israeli flag flying in the Egyptian capital.” Over the years, Egypt has seen normalization as more of a burden than an asset, although in the Peace Agreement both countries explicitly undertook to develop "friendly relations and cooperation" (preamble); bring about "diplomatic, economic and cultural relations" (section 3); and "exchange ambassadors" (Appendix 3, section 1). Accordingly, the embassy in Cairo was perceived as a "necessary evil" imposed on Egypt, and the Egyptian regime worked persistently to restrict its movements.

 

The controversial status of the Israeli embassy among the Egyptian establishment and public was handled comically in The Embassy in the Building, a movie starring Adel Emam that was released in 2005 and became a hit. The main character, who owns an apartment in the building where the embassy is located, finds himself at the center of a political row around the call to remove the facility, and becomes an unwilling national hero. In reality, however, serving in the Israeli embassy in Cairo was always a complex task. For example, Eliyahu Ben Elissar, Israel’s first ambassador to Egypt, wanted to place a paid notice in the daily al-Ahram regarding public hours in the Israeli consulate, but the newspaper refused to accept it. The second ambassador, Moshe Sasson, dealt with a boycott and isolation, and not a single official representative of the Egyptian government attended a reception he held in honor of Israel's 40th Independence Day. Ephraim Dubek, the fourth ambassador, complained to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry about the strict "security arrangements" imposed on the embassy in order to reduce the stream of visitors and make life harder for residents of the street.

 

The Egyptian attitude to the current Israeli Ambassador, Dr. David Govrin, who took over the job in August 2016, was no different. A special supplement of the establishment journal al-Ahram al-Arabi, published on October 24, 2016, complained about Govrin’s efforts "to leave the traditional ghetto of the Israeli ambassadors in Egypt" and accused him of "crossing red lines and deviating from diplomatic conventions." His "deviations," according to the supplement, included meeting with the heads of the Jewish community in Alexandria (where he allegedly offered assistance for renovation of the local synagogue); attending a performance of A Thousand and One Nights at the National Theater of Cairo (with a ticket purchased like any other member of the audience); and engaging with businessmen and civil society activists (who met with him of their own accord). These and other allegations stopped as soon as the ambassador returned to Israel…

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

 

 

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MB GROUPS INCREASINGLY OPEN IN

ENDORSING ANTI-SISI VIOLENCE                                                                  

John Rossomando     

                      IPT News, Aug. 16, 2017

 

A group of exiled Morsi-era Muslim Brotherhood politicians based in Istanbul has posted on Facebook a blueprint for overthrowing Egypt's military regime. The Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) reposted several videos on July 31 that it had released on Facebook over the past month offering strategies for violently toppling the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

 

Sisi rose to power in 2013, after the military ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government. Until now the ERC, which met with Obama administration officials and liberal think tanks in 2015, has largely been involved in lobbying against Sisi's government. An Arabic hashtag saying, "Preparing for the Revolution#," appeared on the ERC's Facebook page. The attached videos contain PowerPoint-type presentations with recommendations for Muslim Brotherhood revolutionaries in Egypt.

 

A July 1 ERC video asks, "How do we prepare for the revolution?" Egypt's military holds all of the tools of power, so the video calls for Brotherhood supporters to block military movement to hinder it from suppressing any revolt. "What do we do with the Army?? Like the Turks did," the video says. "Determine the sites of all military units and the roads they use, and the locations of gates to hinder and cripple their movement when they think they are going out to confront the revolution…Like the Turks did using huge vehicles and deflating their tires to block the roads. We can use heavy oil on the roads to prevent the passage of [armored personnel] carriers like they did in Venezuela."

 

Another video recommends targeting regime military airfields, ground defense units, pilot barracks, spare part warehouses, radar sites, and air defense installations. It emphasizes getting soldiers who either secretly belong to the Muslim Brotherhood or are sympathetic to the group to collect intelligence on pilots and navigators to keep them away from their aircraft. It also suggests gaining intelligence on the types of aircraft used by the Egyptian military and getting information about their takeoff schedules. "The airfields must cease operating in the time of the revolution," a slide says. "Blockading the pilots and preventing them form reaching the airfields is half the victory in the battle."

 

The ERC enjoys little influence or name recognition within Egypt, but its turn toward endorsing violence puts egg on the faces of the Obama administration officials and the liberal intellectuals who embraced them, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Samuel Tadros told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. "Even the fronts created to talk to the West are now using the language of violence," Tadros said. "The mask has fallen; there's no need to pretend any longer." ERC members used talking points about democracy and the rule of law while speaking in English during their 2015 visit, Tadros said, but those points were noticeably absent when they spoke in Arabic…

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

                                   

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Egypt Angered by US Aid Cut Over Human Rights Concerns: Washington Post, Aug. 24, 2017—Egypt reacted angrily Wednesday to the Trump administration’s decision to cut or delay nearly $300 million in military and economic aid over human rights concerns, a surprise move given the increasingly close ties that have bound the two allies since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Egypt’s Leader Makes a Risky Bet on the Healing Power of Economic Pain: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7, 2017—Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi is cutting food and fuel subsidies, a program long plagued by waste and corruption, in a high-stakes gamble to aid the stalled economy that none of his predecessors dared execute.

Egypt Acts to Preserve Jewish Heritage: Rami Galal, Al-Monitor, August 23, 2017—The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced Aug. 3 that it has begun renovations on the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue on Nabi Daniel Street in Alexandria at a cost of 100 million Egyptian pounds ($5.6 million).

Egypt Joins the Burkini Battle: Jacob Goff Klein, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 8, 2017—Egypt has reignited the debate over how much is too much cover at the beach. Long considered a sunny beach destination, some hotels in Egypt have caused fervor after banning women from wearing burkinis out of concern that the outfit is not a proper swimsuit. Burkini wearers have been quick to point out that the swimsuit is made with the same material as any other bathing suit.

 

 

 

AS YEMEN & LIBYA “SPIRAL DOWNWARD”— M.B. SUFFERS SETBACK IN TUNISIA

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

 

Contents:

 

As We Go To Press: PROSECUTOR WHO ACCUSED ARGENTINA’S LEADER OF IRAN COVER-UP FOUND DEAD (Buenos Aires) — The prosecutor who last week accused Argentine President Cristina Kirchner of working with Iran to subvert a probe into a 1994 terror bombing was found dead in his apartment on Sunday, less than a day before he was to testify in Congress over the unresolved crime. Officials found a 22-caliber handgun beside Mr. Nisman, 51 years old. An autopsy determined he fired the gun at himself at point-blank range. He didn’t leave a suicide note and there were no signs of forced entry. The timing of the death made many Argentines suspicious. On Wednesday, Mr. Nisman filed a criminal complaint that accused Mrs. Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and others of conspiring to cover up a probe into Iran’s alleged involvement in the attack on a Jewish community center here that killed 85 people, the worst attack targeting Jews since World War II. [More details Wednesday in CIJR’s  “News in Review”—Ed.] (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2015)

 

As We Go To Press: YEMEN REBELS ATTACK PRESIDENTIAL COMPOUND (Sana’a) —Shiite insurgents overran Yemen’s presidential palace and shelled the president’s residence Tuesday in an escalating offensive striking at the heart of the Western-allied government. The coup-style strikes by the Houthi rebel faction — believed backed by Iran — posed the most serious challenge yet to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of the U.S. in the fight against al-Qaeda’s powerful branch in Yemen. But the overall objectives of the rebels remained unclear in a country beset by near nonstop unrest, a growing water shortage and splintered into a patchwork of rivalries. (Washington Post, Jan. 20, 2015)

 

The Forgotten War That Spawned Paris’s Attacks: Adam Baron, Daily Beast, Jan. 11, 2015— The massacre at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo was neither the only nor the deadliest terror attack to occur on Wednesday.

Libya Spirals Downward as the West Looks the Other Way: Washington Post, Jan. 12, 2015— When Libya’s attempt to construct a new, democratic political system faltered after 2012…

How the West Destroyed Libya: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Jan. 13, 2015— The full impact of Western intervention in Libya was recently highlighted during a televised interview of Worlds Apart with guest Hanne Nabintu Herland, a Norwegian author and historian who was born and raised in Africa for 20 years.

Tunisia’s Elections Represent Yet Another Muslim Brotherhood Defeat: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2014 — Four years have passed since that historic event that set off the Arab Spring.

 

On Topic Links

 

Benghazi – The Signs of Al Qaeda: Dawn Perlmutter,  Frontpage, Jan. 2, 2015

Tunisian President-Elect’s Focus on Security Has Some Worried: Tamer El-Ghobashy, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2014

How Did Yemen Become the Perfect Home to Al Qaeda Training Camps?: Clive Jones, Reuters, Jan. 14, 2015

Assessing the Arab Spring Uprisings After Four Years:  Robin Wright, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 17, 2014

                   

 

THE FORGOTTEN WAR THAT SPAWNED PARIS’S ATTACKS                                                               

Adam Baron                                                                                                                 

Daily Beast, Jan. 11, 2015

 

The massacre at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo was neither the only nor the deadliest terror attack to occur on Wednesday. Hours before the Koauchi brothers made their way to the offices of the French satirical magazine, thousands of miles away, in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, a car bomb struck a crowd of men lined up to enroll at the city’s police academy. Roughly four-dozen were killed as the bomb went off, strewing blood and body parts across the street. It’s a coincidence that has grown all the more notable—and tragic—in light of the emerging ties between the Charlie Hebdo attackers and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based terror group that officials have accused of carrying out Wednesday’s car bomb. According to the AFP, Said Koauchi, the older of the pair, traveled to Yemen multiple times between 2009 and 2011, studying at Sanaa’s Iman University, a controversial institution headed by firebrand cleric Abdulmajid al-Zindani, prior to training with AQAP in camps in the south and southeast of the country.

 

Notably, Inspire, an English-language, AQAP-affiliate magazine, explicitly threatened to kill Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier in its March 2013 edition, and at writing time, AQAP has reportedly taken credit for the attack on behalf of the group, though the ultimate extent of the Koauchi brothers’ ties to Yemen and AQAP is still unclear. Either way, the attack has refocused attention to the impoverished, conflict-stricken country. Hailed as a textbook example of a successful counterterrorism strategy by U.S. officials as late as fall of last year, Yemen has instead been riven with unrest lately. An internationally backed power transition agreement has fallen apart, and the country’s economy—to say nothing of the central government’s control over the bulk of the country—has appeared to collapse as well. And no one in the circles of power in the West seems to have noticed.

 

Indeed, last week’s violence in Paris seems to underline how little progress has been made against AQAP. Despite the efforts of the U.S. and Yemeni governments, it still appears to possess the ability to unleash horrors against Western targets.  Yemen had already developed a reputation as a hotspot for extremism by the time Koauchi allegedly first arrived in 2009. Many western-born Muslim hardliners flocked to Salafi institutes in the country, most famously, perhaps, the Dar al-Hadith institute in the far northern town of Dammaj. While the bulk of these foreigners simply came to study, a number joined up with extremists on the ground. One of the most notorious among them was “Underwear Bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian student trained by AQAP who infamously attempted to blow up a passenger airliner on Christmas Day 2009. But while such rare plots against foreign targets have garnered AQAP the most attention, the bulk of activity—and the bulk of their attacks—has occurred on Yemeni soil. It is this violence the West ignores at its peril.

 

As the central government’s control over much of the country evaporated over the course of 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring-inspired uprising against the country’s long time leader, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, AQAP quickly moved to take advantage. While the group was pushed out of its former strongholds in the southern Abyan in a Spring 2012 military offensive, they’ve quickly regrouped. AQAP has continued to find safe haven in areas across country, ranging from the eastern province of Hadramawt—where the group’s fighters have displayed aims of establishing an Islamic emirate—to the oil and gas rich provinces of Marib and Shabwa, to Abyan itself. AQAP has continued to unleash a steady flurry of attacks on military and security targets, supplementing their finances through everything from bank robberies to taking foreign hostages for ransom, allowing the group to buy new weapons and loyalties as it aims to spread its writ to new territories.

 

Only the most diligent of news junkies would be aware of this bloodshed, given the dearth of coverage in most Western media—a disheartening oversight, because AQAP represents perhaps the purest distillation of al Qaeda’s ideology and ambitions outside of the core group headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri. Most terrorism analysts consider it the most dangerous al Qaeda franchise. The U.S. has worked to counter AQAP’s growth, gaining a comparatively free hand from President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Saleh’s successor and a former vice president. He has openly backed American drone strikes in the country. But while the sharp uptick of U.S. drone strikes has succeeded in taking out a handful of key figures, including AQAP deputy emir Said al-Shihri and charismatic extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the barrage of remotely operated American airpower has failed to deliver anything resembling a knock-out punch to the terror group.

 

Yemenis overwhelmingly oppose the strikes, which they see as violations of the nation’s sovereignty and the rule of law. These misgivings have only been heightened by a series of civilian casualties resulting from the strikes. A number of observers—including former U.S. deputy ambassador to Yemen Nabil Khoury—have vocally criticized the strikes, arguing that they ultimately risk creating as many militants as they kill, ironically threatening to inflame anti-American sentiments to the point of spurring the very attacks the U.S. is aiming to prevent. All of this, however, fails to touch on the key factors behind the presence of extremist groups like AQAP in Yemen. In large part, AQAP is a product of its environment; as many Yemenis see it, the group is the fruit of a foreign ideology that has been able to lay roots in the country due to Yemen’s widespread poverty and the government’s endemic corruption and persistent dysfunction. As the group’s resilience in the face of repeated U.S. drone strikes has demonstrated, AQAP will continue to carve out a presence in Yemen as long as its given space to do so—something that is virtually inevitable as long as the power vacuum in the country remains—meaning the group appears destined to retain the operating space to train operatives who can take aim at targets in the west…                                                                            

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

                                                           

Contents                                                                            

 

                                     

 

LIBYA SPIRALS DOWNWARD AS THE WEST LOOKS THE OTHER WAY                                                 

Washington Post, Jan. 12, 2015

 

When Libya’s attempt to construct a new, democratic political system faltered after 2012, the Obama administration and NATO allies who had intervened to support the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gaddafi could still rationalize that they had headed off the mass bloodshed and civil war that the Gaddafi regime threatened and that later overtook Syria. The respite, however, proved to be temporary. As 2015 begins, Libya is well on its way to becoming the Middle East’s second war zone — with the same side effects of empowering radical jihadists and destabilizing neighboring countries.

 

The sprawling but sparsely populated country of 7 million is now split between two governments, parliaments and armies, one based in the eastern city of Tobruk and the other in the capital, Tripoli. While Syria’s war is fought along the Arab world’s Sunni-Shiite divide, in Libya the contest pits the region’s secular Sunnis against Islamists (along with minority Berbers). Since that same divide dominates the politics of Egypt, Tunisia, the Palestinian territories and much of the rest of the Maghreb, outside powers have predictably picked sides: Egypt and the United Arab Emirates back the secular forces in the east, while Turkey, Qatar and Sudan support the Islamist Libya Dawn in the west. This mounting conflict is occurring not so much because of NATO’s 2011 intervention, which was limited to airstrikes, but because of its swift withdrawal and subsequent failure to assist in stabilizing the country. Without institutions or trained and loyal security forces, an interim government could not gain control over the numerous militias that had sprung up to fight the Gaddafi regime. As the situation has steadily worsened in the past two years, the Obama administration, France, Britain and other participants in the NATO intervention have reacted not by dispatching aid but by shutting down their embassies and washing their hands of Libya. The task of trying to broker peace has been handed to a U.N. mediator, Bernardino León, who in recent interviews has described his mission as quixotic. As in Syria, this passivity could soon produce a serious threat to Western interests. According to the U.S. Africa Command, 200 jihadists linked to the Islamic State already have set up a training camp in the eastern Libyan town of Derna. Only 300 miles from southern Europe, Libya could — far more easily than Yemen or western Iraq — become the launching pad for more attacks on Paris and other Western capitals.

 

The only sign that the Obama administration is conscious of this threat has been the issuance with its allies of empty statements, such as one Saturday that congratulated Mr. León for scheduling talks in Geneva this week among some of the warring parties. Real progress toward ending the fighting would require more energetic action, such as diverting Libya’s oil revenues to an escrow account, enforcing an arms embargo, freezing the international assets of both sides and pressuring Egypt and other outside powers to cease their interventions. Ultimately, an international peacekeeping force probably will be needed to help restore order. The Obama administration is, as always, reluctant to mount or even support such an effort. Yet doing so now is surely preferable to being forced, as in Iraq and Syria, to conduct another military intervention in the future.                                     

                                              

Contents                                                                            

                                                            

HOW THE WEST DESTROYED LIBYA                                                                                               

Raymond Ibrahim                                                                                                                 

Frontpage, Jan. 13, 2015

 

The full impact of Western intervention in Libya was recently highlighted during a televised interview of Worlds Apart with guest Hanne Nabintu Herland, a Norwegian author and historian who was born and raised in Africa for 20 years. At one point while talking about Libya, Herland firmly asserted that: “In a just world, the political leaders in the West, that have done such atrocities towards other nations and other cultures, should have been sent to the Hague [International Criminal Court], and judged at the Hague, for atrocities against humanity.”

 

Before that, the African-born, Norwegian author said: “Libya is the worst example of Western countries’ assault in modern history; it’s a horrible thing to be a European intellectual and to watch your own political leaders go ahead and engage in something like this. In Norway, for example, when it comes to something like the Libyan war … [political leaders] sent MSM messages to the other people in parliament; it was never a discussion in parliament, it was an MSM saying “Let’s bomb because someone called from America.”  We [Norway] bombed 588 bombs over roads, and water, and cities in Libya at that time.  And we had a large documentary in Norway, after that, where the fighters, the pilots that flew over Libya and dropped these bombs, they actually said in the documentary that “We were sent up and we weren’t even told what to bomb—just bomb something that looks valuable.”

Herland also pointed out that, according to UN figures, Gaddafi’s Libya was once the most prosperous nation in Africa. While Oksana Boyko, the host, sometimes disagreed with Herland, she agreed about the West’s counterproductive role, pointing out that Gaddafi “was very active in trying to advance women’s rights, he brought a lot of women into universities and the labor force [a thing few people in the West know, as usual, thanks to the “MSM”] and now what people and women in Libya are facing is Sharia [Islamic law], with the possibility of some of them being sold to ISIS fighters as virgin brides.” Indeed, that the jihadis and other “ISIS” type militants gained the most from Western intervention in Libya cannot be denied.  Simply looking at the treatment of Christian minorities—the litmus test of the radicalization of any Muslim society—proves this.

                                                                                                                                                          

Thus…Monday, January 12, “A Libyan affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed the abduction of 21 Coptic Christians and released pictures of the captives.”  It is not clear if these 21 are in addition to the 13 Christians kidnapped  days earlier on January 3. Then, around 2:30 a.m., masked men burst into a housing complex in Sirte, Libya.  The militants went room to room checking ID cards to separate Muslims from Christians, seizing only the latter.  They handcuffed the Christians and rode off with them. (Segregating Christians from Muslims is a common procedure around the Islamic world.  For example, last November, after members from the Islamic organization Al Shabaab hijacked a bus carrying 60 passengers in Kenya, they singled out and massacred the 28 non-Muslim passengers, the Christians.  In October 2012 in Nigeria, Boko Haram jihadis stormed the Federal Polytechnic College, “separated the Christian students from the Muslim students, addressed each victim by name, questioned them, and then proceeded to shoot them or slit their throat,” killing up to 30 Christians.)

 

According to Hanna Aziz, a Christian who was concealed in his room when the other Christians were seized in Libya, “While checking IDs, Muslims were left aside while Christians were grabbed….  I heard my friends screaming but they were quickly shushed at gunpoint. After that, we heard nothing.” Three of those seized were related to Aziz, who mournfully adds, “I am still in my room waiting for them to take me. I want to die with them.” A few days earlier, also in Sirte, Libya,  a Christian father, mother, and young daughter were slaughtered reportedly by Ansar al-Sharia—the “Supporters of Islamic Law,” or the Libyan version of ISIS that rose to power soon after the overthrow of Gaddafi. On December 23, members of the Islamic group raided the Christian household, killing the father and mother, a doctor and a pharmacist, respectively, and kidnapping 13-year-old Katherine.  Days later, the girl’s body was found in the Libyan desert—shot three times, twice in the head, once in the back…As for motive, nothing was stolen from the household, even though money and jewelry were clearly visible.  According to the girl’s uncle, the reason this particular family was targeted is because “they are a Christian family—persecuted.”…                           

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

Contents                                                                           

 

                                                     

TUNISIA’S ELECTIONS REPRESENT                                                                   

YET ANOTHER MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD DEFEAT                                                                     

Avi Issacharoff                                                                                                    

Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2014

 

Four years have passed since that historic event that set off the Arab Spring…A 26-year-old Tunisian from Sidi Bouzid opened his vegetable stand on the morning of December 17, 2010. A local female inspector came over and confiscated his wares, and, according to the vendor’s family, humiliated him in front of passersby. The young man, Mohammed Bouazizi, decided to set himself on fire as an act of revenge in front of the local governor’s office. Seventeen days later, he died of his wounds. The act led to a series of angry demonstrations against the rule of Zine El Abindine Ben Ali, “the Enlightened Dictator,” who ruled the country for 24 years. It didn’t take long for the protests to turn into the “Jasmine Revolution.” Ben Ali fled Tunisia on January 14. Eleven days later, a revolution began in Egypt, followed by Libya, Yemen, and of course, Syria.

 

As in Egypt, the first who managed to organize and make gains amid the chaos in Tunisia were the Islamists. The Ennahda Party won in the first free elections in October 2011. Three years later, the Islamists are out of power. They first voluntarily stepped down to allow for an interim government to draft a constitution, then lost the recent parliamentary elections, followed by this week’s presidential elections, which were won by officials from the old regime. At the beginning of the week, Tunisians were informed that their president-elect was Beji Caid Essebsi, 88, a former interior minister during the days of Habib Bourguiba, the dictator who preceded Ben Ali, and parliament speaker during Ben Ali’s rule. It should be mentioned, perhaps, that an interior minister in Arab countries isn’t just a functionary responsible for giving out passports, but is the man in charge of internal security, including intelligence bodies. That is, the flesh and blood of the previous regime. Essebsi, whose advanced age could give Shimon Peres some encouragement to run in Israel’s elections, won 55.7 percent of the vote, while his Islamist-affiliated opponent, Moncef Marzouki, garnered 44.3%. Essebsi’s victory led to a wave of protests, primarily in cities in southern Tunisia, seen as more religious, poorer, and largely cut off from the modern, Western capital of Tunis.

 

Tunisia is the second Arab country to experience an Arab Spring revolution, followed by electoral victory by pragmatic Islamists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, only to see them pushed out in favor of members of the old regime. It happened in Egypt as well, after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi came to power, and was replaced by a second revolution that returned the army to its position of power in the country. Officials from the old political and security apparatus, who are nicknamed “a-doula al-amika,” or the deep state, have returned to power. They are from the same institutions that deepened their hold on the state over the decades, and after the fall of the dictator (Ben Ali or Mubarak) were left behind, and are now re-taking their positions of power. One can assume that Tunisia’s new president, Essebsi, will enjoy the help of the two strongest moderate Sunni rulers in the Middle East — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and Saudi King Abdullah. What’s more, the regime in Tunis, along with its counterparts in Cairo, will try to help its apparent ally in Libya, which sits between them.

 

After the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya stopped functioning as a country. Its territory is divided between major tribes from Misrata, and radical Islamist groups like Ansar al-Sharia. In recent months, Khalifa Haftar, a former general from Gaddafi’s army, who lived in exile for almost two decades, joined the battle for Libya. Haftar managed to clean out large areas in eastern Libya, including Benghazi, from Ansar al-Sharia, and he is now focusing his efforts on the western part of the country, near the Tunisian border and around the capital of Tripoli, currently in the hands of Misrata tribes. He supports the representative assembly that sits in Tobruk, while the tribes support the government in Tripoli, made up primarily of former members of the National General Congress.

 

It’s difficult by this point to talk about coincidences. The Muslim Brotherhood camp has been suffering one political defeat after another. The Arab public, which has been watching the madness that has gripped the region in the wake of the rise of the Islamic State (which was born in the same ideological womb as the Muslim Brotherhood), decided in Tunisia and Egypt, at least, to stay away from anything that reminded them of radical Islam (less radical than IS, but still radical). In some ways, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its counterparts in Tunisia are now paying the price for the success of IS. These developments do not, of course, portend the demise of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Arabic, there is a wealth of proverbs that talk about sometimes being up, sometimes being down. But without a doubt, this is one of the low points in recent years for an organization that was seen, not long ago, as President Barack Obama’s hope for a better Middle East — especially given Qatar’s decision to bow its head to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood’s main patron (with the exception of Turkey) surrendered to pressure from Riyadh and Cairo and chose to move away from its hostile tone toward Sissi. This didn’t happen overnight, and doesn’t stem from good will. The recall of ambassadors from several leading Gulf States (Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia) from Doha did its work, and Qatar decided to appease the strongman on the Nile.

 

How will this affect the Middle East? It’s still too early to say. Senior Egyptian sources have expressed great caution over the move. “First let’s see their actions, then we’ll know their true intentions,” said one official regarding Qatar’s shift. One immediate indication will be the line al-Jazeera takes about the Egyptian government. Until now, al-Jazeera has aligned itself with the Muslim Brotherhood camp against Cairo. It stands to reason that the station will take a more moderate line toward Sissi and his supporters. Turkey could find itself even more isolated as the last country waving the flag of political Islam in Muslim Brotherhood-style. But the weakening of the movement isn’t necessarily good for the West or Israel. Hamas in Gaza, which subscribes to the Brotherhood ideology, will seek support elsewhere, like Iran…               

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

Contents           

 

On Topic

 

Benghazi – The Signs of Al Qaeda: Dawn Perlmutter,  Frontpage, Jan. 2, 2015—The latest version of the Benghazi cover up is being argued with semantics of whether the jihadist group that attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 was part of the “core” al Qaeda network.

Tunisian President-Elect’s Focus on Security Has Some Worried: Tamer El-Ghobashy, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2014—Beji Caid Essebsi ran for president on a promise to eradicate terrorism and restore security.

How Did Yemen Become the Perfect Home to Al Qaeda Training Camps?: Clive Jones, Reuters, Jan. 14, 2015 —According to Yemeni intelligence, both Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi, the two brothers who carried out a devastating attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo last Wednesday, were trained in camps run by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This has once more drawn attention to the militant organization’s territorial base: Yemen.

Assessing the Arab Spring Uprisings After Four YearsRobin Wright, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 17, 2014—Exactly four years ago, Tunisia’s corrupt autocracy pushed Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor, too far.

 

           

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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EGYPT: AS CONSTITUTIONAL VOTE LOOMS AL-SISI, DECLARING MORSI & THE BROTHERS TERRORISTS, DEFIES THE U.S.– (SHOULD BIBI, AS U.S. “PEACE PROCESS” PRESSURE GROWS, DO THE SAME?)

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Contents:

 

Sisi: 1, Obama: 0: Mordechai Kedar, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2014 — Everyone is aware of the American plan to impose the Muslim Brotherhood on Egypt and any other country that would allow it. The reasons for this American plan were revealed on this stage a half-year ago.

Egypt Declares Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group: Ryan Mauro, Frontpage, Dec. 26, 2013 — The Egyptian government formally labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group on Christmas, banning all of its activities including protests.

Egypt and the Threat of Islamic Terror: Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, Besa Center, Jan. 1, 2013 —  On December 24, 2013, deadly bombings hit Mansoura, in Egypt’s Nile Delta region, killing twelve and injuring 134, in Egypt’s worst terrorist attack since the July ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Blueprint for a New Egypt: Amr Moussa, New York Times, Jan. 8, 2013— Since the revolution of 2011, Egyptians have engaged in almost continuous debate over a critical question: “What sort of country do we want?”

 

On Topic Links

 

Is Egypt Headed Back Toward Civil War?: Max Boot, Commentary, Dec. 27, 2013

In Egypt, Many Shrug as Freedoms Disappear: Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2014

The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt-Israel Peace: Dr. Liad Porat, Besa Center, Aug. 1, 2013

The Muslim Brotherhood: Wolf Not Even in Sheep’s Clothing: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2013

With Tip Hotlines, Egypt's Once Hated Security Agency Seeks to Reclaim Role: Sarah El Deeb, A.P., Jan. 6, 2014

Egypt in the Dentist’s Chair: Alaa Al-Aswany, New York Times, Dec. 30, 2013

 

 

SISI: 1, OBAMA: 0                                                            

Mordechai Kedar

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2014

                                                           

Everyone is aware of the American plan to impose the Muslim Brotherhood on Egypt and any other country that would allow it. The reasons for this American plan were revealed on this stage a half-year ago. Meanwhile, Abdel Sisi’s regime in Egypt is becoming more entrenched, and the Muslim Brotherhood – the Americans’ favorites – has been declared illegal, they and their many organizations having been declared a “terror organization.” They are forbidden to hold demonstrations and gatherings, or distribute fliers, and the police even become involved in the universities in order to suppress the Brotherhood’s activity.

One may disagree with Sisi’s declaration that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terror organization, but one cannot take issue with the fact that the Egyptian regime is determined to sweep the organization off of the political field, despite the tens of millions of Egyptians who identify with the Brotherhood and its goals.

One may take issue with the behavior of the Egyptian regime and call it “undemocratic,” but one would also have to admit that it, too, is supported by many millions of Egyptians. One may also condemn the violence that the Egyptian regime uses against those who oppose its actions, but also admit that in the Middle East there are much more violent regimes, for instance Syria and (democratic!) Iraq.

Sisi also knows the American position full well, and especially President Barack Obama’s negative opinion of the actions against the Brotherhood, but Obama doesn’t upset him, and neither does Secretary of State John Kerry. He doesn’t change his goal or retreat from the actions that he has taken against the Brotherhood.

My heart tells me Sisi already is not returning Kerry’s or Obama’s telephone calls when they attempt to convince him to ease the pressure on the Brotherhood, in the same way that he didn’t capitulate to their pleas to restore Mohamed Morsi to the presidency after Sisi deposed him in early July this year.

Moreover, Sisi is not deterred from putting Morsi in the defendant’s cage and accusing him of murder, which could be a death sentence upon Morsi. If the court imposes harsh sentences on Morsi and the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood – and perhaps even the death sentence – the American government will issue a condemnation and try to bring about a lighter sentence, but I am not at all sure Sisi will be responsive to such, even if they are accompanied by punitive actions such as reduction – or even elimination – of military and civil support. The Americans will have to decide what they will do about the Egyptian determination: will they totally cut off the connection with Egypt and allow this country to switch over to the Russian camp, or perhaps swallow the frog and continue to support Egypt, mainly in the civil arena, in order not to push Egypt into returning to Moscow. In my opinion Obama and Kerry have capitulated and will continue to capitulate to Sisi and will accept – under protest – his policy. The events in Egypt prove that Obama and his team of aides are helpless against the determination of Middle Eastern countries…

What Netanyahu can and must conclude is that it is not at all necessary to come to an agreement with the Palestinians. Kerry can come again and again, can raise a thousand and one ideas, but cannot take away the Jewish people’s right to the Land of Israel, that was granted to it thousands of years ago, and again in 1920 in the San Remo Conference. Obama and Kerry cannot assure Israel that a Palestinian state with territorial contiguity would not at some point become another Hamas state like that which arose six-and-a-half years ago in the Gaza Strip, and therefore Israel must relate to their demands exactly as Sisi relates to them.

Giving in does not lead to agreement, but rather to determination. Israel must do what Israeli interests – not American interests – dictate, and in this phase of history Israel’s immediate interest is to bring the Palestinian Authority to an end, and to continue what Hamas began: to establish the Palestinian Emirates on the ruins of the PA, based on the Arab cities in Judea and Samaria. Israel must maintain forever the rural expanse and offer Israeli citizenship to its residents. A Palestinian terror state with territorial contiguity would be an existential threat to Israel, and therefore Israel should assert its right – it can and must say to Obama and Kerry: No! If Netanyahu is as determined as is Sisi, he will succeed against Obama and Kerry, exactly as Sisi has.

 

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EGYPT DECLARES MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

A TERRORIST GROUP                     

Ryan Mauro                                    

Frontpage, Dec. 26, 2013

 

The Egyptian government formally labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group on Christmas, banning all of its activities including protests. The Obama Administration, advised by Brotherhood-friendly groups in the U.S., is unlikely to follow in Egypt’s footsteps in calling a spade a spade. The announcement came after the government blamed the Brotherhood for the suicide bombing of a police station in Mansoura. No proof was offered of Brotherhood involvement. A pro-Al-Qaeda group named Ansar Jerusalem, based in the Sinai Peninsula, took credit. That didn’t stop local protestors from immediately rallying against the Brotherhood, s effigies of the group’s leaders and attacking property owned by a Brotherhood member. The Egyptian public as a whole remains hostile to the Brotherhood and loyal to the military, with about half the population wanting the group outlawed. Another poll taken in August showed that almost 70% want it banned from politics.

 

The Brotherhood may or may not be involved in that specific bombing in Mansoura, but that doesn’t mean it is peaceful. It has threatened to form a rebel armed force. After the Egyptian military’s crackdown on the Brotherhood began, Egyptians outraged by the response of the U.S. government and media posted eye-opening videos showing Brotherhood members threatening violence, attacking Egyptian security forces and churches, and putting children at risk for the sake of propaganda. In addition, Brotherhood preachers continue to instigate violence in Egypt and abroad. The organization knows what it’s doing. Why officially engage in violence when individual members and Salafist allies will do so on their own accord, leaving room for deniability?

 

The labeling of the group as terrorists comes as the government prosecutes former President Morsi and many other Brotherhood operatives. Morsi is accused of involvement in a “terrorist plan” begun in 2005 to send Brotherhood fighters to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip for training by Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Obama Administration has decided to swim against the regional anti-Brotherhood wave, cutting aid to Egypt’s government and siding with the Brotherhood. The result is a realignment in alliances that pushes the Arab world into the arms of Russia. It is extremely unlikely that the U.S. State Department will similarly designate the Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, even though it meets the qualifications. It is more likely that the administration will condemn Egypt’s latest action.

 

The State Department says there are three criteria a group must meet to be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. First, the group must be foreign. The Brotherhood’s home base is in Egypt. Its International Organization reportedly moved to Tunisia. Turkey has become its “regional hub” and senior leaders are hosted in Qatar. Check. Second, it must threaten U.S. nationals or national security, including the American economy. Its regional ambitions for a Caliphate undoubtedly threaten U.S. security. As for nationals, the Brotherhood has justified attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also steadfastly supports the terrorism of Hamas and other groups against U.S. allies… Thirdly, to qualify as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, the group must “engage in terrorist activity or retain the capability and intention to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.” That’s easy. Hamas is labeled a Foreign Terrorist Organization and Hamas’s charter states that it is the Palestinian “wing” of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas changed its name in December 2011 to clarify that it is a “branch” of the Brotherhood. There is even video of Hamas leaders publicly pledging allegiance to the Brotherhood and, specifically, to its jihad.

 

Brotherhood apologists will argue that the group is not operationally supportive of Hamas terrorism, only ideologically. This is false. For example, the Treasury Department designated the Union of Good as a terrorist entity for financing Hamas. It is led by Yousef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood.

Israeli aircraft have conducted numerous airstrikes on Iranian rocket shipments to the Gaza Strip through Sudan and Egypt. Hamas does not have an independent structure in Egypt. It is obvious that the Brotherhood networks in Egypt helped manage this route.

 

It was also proven in court that the Muslim Brotherhood infrastructure in America is guilty of terrorist activity by financing Hamas. The Holy Land Foundation was a key U.S. Muslim Brotherhood component, managed under the Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, until it was shut down in 2001 for financing Hamas. When the Holy Land Foundation was found guilty in court in 2008, the Muslim Brotherhood was essentially found guilty. The two are one and the same…

[To Read the Full Article Follow the Link –ed.]

 

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EGYPT AND THE THREAT OF ISLAMIC TERROR        

Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay

Besa Center, Jan. 1, 2014

 

On December 24, 2013, deadly bombings hit Mansoura, in Egypt’s Nile Delta region, killing twelve and injuring 134, in Egypt’s worst terrorist attack since the July ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist group, claimed responsibility for the attack. Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi vowed to hunt down the perpetrators of the explosion, saying the attack was aimed at obstructing a roadmap drawn up by the country’s interim regime following Morsi’s ouster. The final phase of the roadmap will begin next month when a referendum on the newly-drafted constitution takes place, to be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections. A cabinet spokesman blamed the blast on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, while el-Beblawi officially declared the group a terrorist organization.

 

Three main trends of terror activities can be observed in Egypt since the ouster of President Morsi. The first is Islamic terror in Sinai, which has become the main theater of confrontation between terror groups and the Egyptian armed forces. The second is the spillover of terror from Sinai to other parts of Egypt. The third is the increasing involvement of foreign groups al-Qaeda and Global Jihad in Egypt, and activity originating from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Most terror attacks since Morsi’s overthrow have occurred in the Sinai region, which borders Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip. Around 200 soldiers have been killed in Sinai since July 2013. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which carried out two attacks on ships in the Suez Canal, and other Sinai-based Islamic groups have been blamed for the uptick in violence. The Islamist insurgency is composed of Islamist militants who escaped prison, were released during the revolution, or returned from exile after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. In response to the rise of terror in Sinai, the Egyptian military began a massive offensive in August, consisting of 20,000 troops and Apache attack helicopters. The operation amounted to the biggest deployment of the Egyptian military in the peninsula for decades. Egyptian military officials reported the killing or capture of hundreds of jihadists.

 

Terror attacks have increased in Egypt since Morsi’s exit, especially in response to heavy-handed military tactics against pro-Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Numerous police stations and churches were attacked across the country in the aftermath of the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins in August, in which hundreds were killed. More than 100 policemen have been killed as well. Authorities in the Suez Canal said in late August that a terrorist staged an unsuccessful attack on a container ship passing through the canal, in an attempt to disrupt the flow of ships through the waterway. Blocking the canal would have an immediate strategic effect, affecting global energy prices and causing significant blow to Egypt’s economy and prestige. In September, Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim survived an assassination attempt when a bomb detonated near his convoy in northeast Cairo. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, including the attempt to assassinate the interior minister.

 

A major concern is the growing transnational links between Ansar Beit al-Maqdis and other Egyptian jihadists and al-Qaeda. Reports mount of foreign fighters joining Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a trend encouraged by influential religious clerics who speak out on the Internet about the jihad in Egypt. One such fighter is Mohamed Jamal al-Kashef, who was captured by Egyptian security forces in 2012. Al-Kashef’s network was linked to the September 2012 assault on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Since Morsi’s ouster, relations between Hamas and Egypt’s new rulers have deteriorated. The Egyptian media accuses Hamas of “interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs” and providing support to the Muslim Brotherhood – claims dismissed by both the Brotherhood and Hamas. Egyptian officials say that Palestinian fighters sneak into the Sinai via tunnels to provide military assistance for Brotherhood supporters. In June, an Egyptian court ruled that Hamas and Hizballah, together with the Brotherhood, were involved in facilitating a jailbreak of prisoners, including Morsi, during the anti-Mubarak uprising. After the July coup, authorities started to act against Hamas, closing the Rafah border crossing repeatedly and destroyed hundreds of tunnels that Hamas used to smuggle weapons, fuel, building materials, and other goods…

 

The jihad challenge to Egypt’s new rulers is still in its early stages, as the jihadists are still developing their skills and strategies. What began as opportunistic shooting attacks have now developed into suicide attacks and huge car bombings, a clear development of capability and strategy. The Egyptian authorities have to take in consideration that radical elements of the Muslim Brotherhood can in the future open an armed internal front that can be a serious challenge to internal security and stability. The US and the international community must support the Egyptian regime in the war against terror, to prevent the different radical Islamic groups from turning Egypt into a theater of jihad like they did in Syria. Egypt needs stability, not a decent into chaos.                                            

                                               Contents                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BLUEPRINT FOR A NEW EGYPT                                             

Amr Moussa                                                                                           New York Times, Jan. 8, 2014

 

Since the revolution of 2011, Egyptians have engaged in almost continuous debate over a critical question: “What sort of country do we want?” This past December, I delivered an answer, on behalf of the Committee of 50 entrusted with amending Egypt’s Constitution, to Egypt’s acting president, Adly Mansour. Mr. Mansour recently confirmed that a two-day referendum on this draft will take place next Tuesday and Wednesday. We believe that this new charter, shaped over months of discussion and many drafts, reflects the needs and aspirations of all Egyptians, regardless of religious affiliation, gender, race, political views or economic status.

 

Contrary to what critics say, this document turns the page decisively on both the 2012 and 1971 Constitutions, and thus marks a historic step on our path to a government that is of, by and for the Egyptian people. The 2012 Constitution was rushed through by a single dominating political faction and answered only to its priorities. The 1971 Constitution failed to guarantee vital liberties. In short, both previous Constitutions failed because they denied Egyptians the dignity and freedom they deserve and demand; both those Constitutions have been popularly disavowed.

 

The revision process began in July, when our acting president named a committee of 10 judges, law professors and legal scholars to make amendments. Their recommendations were then transferred to the Committee of 50 to finish that job and produce a foundation for a democratic government. The Committee of 50 gave everyone a seat at the table, including Egyptian feminists and young people. Talk that the process left out critical religious voices is inaccurate: An invitation was extended to all Islamic groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Of the parties of political Islam, only the Salafist Al Nour responded (the Muslim Brotherhood did not). All three denominations of our Christian community participated, as did representatives from the underdeveloped provinces of Nubia and Sinai. This representation from across Egyptian society became all the more evident as the committee voted in view of television cameras: Each of the charter’s more than 200 articles and provisions was approved with more than the required three-quarters majority, and the document was adopted unanimously. This year, a popularly elected civilian government will have the opportunity to write laws that improve on this foundation.

 

What I observed firsthand was a rare spirit of solidarity that created a draft constitution to transcend Egypt’s current predicament. Chief among our concerns was to create an accountable system of governance, including, notably, for Egypt’s military. Among other measures, this draft charter gives Parliament — for the first time in Egypt’s history — the power to impeach the president, not just for criminal acts but also for violations of the Constitution. Unlike the 1971 charter, it also ensures a separation of powers and limits the elected president to two four-year terms. New oversight will be brought to bear on the military through a National Defense Council that must include civilian and legislative officials alongside officers. The Constitution details those specific crimes committed by civilians that mandate trial in military courts, shielding civilians from the abusive interpretations of previous Constitutions. And for the first time, political parties can be dissolved only by a court ruling of the independent judiciary.

 

Unlike the 2012 Constitution, this draft version criminalizes torture and human trafficking, protects women from violence and commits the state to achieving equality between men and women. It provides greater protection for freedom of expression, press freedom, the pursuit of scientific knowledge and religious liberty, and provides equal protection under the law. Significantly, it places all international human rights treaties to which Egypt is a signatory above even national laws.

 

Constructing democratic institutions and political infrastructure cannot be done overnight. Many countries over several centuries have embarked on similar journeys, and there are few examples of such momentous change occurring with rapidity and ease. Some of the world’s oldest democracies struggle even now to run effective, pragmatic governments and respond to the will of diverse populations. Egypt is still near the beginning of a crucial period in our storied history. And yet I am confident that we will emerge from this tumultuous transition stronger than before because we are willing to unite to create the political structures necessary for stability, prosperity and democracy to endure for generations. Next week, Egyptians will have the opportunity to vote on the constitution in the referendum. I know the people of Egypt will embrace this moment and I hope the world will as well. For a nation so infused with its past, Egypt is ready to move forward.

                                         

                                             Contents

 

Is Egypt Headed Back Toward Civil War?: Max Boot, Commentary, Dec. 27, 2013 — If Egypt’s new military rulers–pretty much the same as the old, only more truculent–want to ignite a civil war, they’re going about it the right way.

In Egypt, Many Shrug as Freedoms Disappear: Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2014 — The charges are often vague. The evidence is elusive. Arrests occur swiftly, and the convictions follow. And there is little transparency in what analysts have called the harshest political crackdown in Egypt in decades.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt-Israel Peace: Dr. Liad Porat, Besa Center, Aug. 1, 2013 — This study examines the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s attitude towards Israel and the Egypt-Israel peace treaty

The Muslim Brotherhood: Wolf Not Even in Sheep’s Clothing: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2013 — The Muslim Brotherhood’s avowed goal since the creation of the movement in 1928 has been to impose Shari’a, Islamic law, first on Egypt, then, the rest of the world, turning it into a Muslim- ruled caliphate.

With Tip Hotlines, Egypt's Once Hated Security Agency Seeks to Reclaim Role: Sarah El Deeb, A.P., Jan. 6, 2014 — After a bombing hit a security headquarters in Egypt's Nile Delta, calls flooded into a hotline run by security agencies as people reported suspected members of the Muslim Brotherhood in their neighborhoods.

Egypt in the Dentist’s Chair: Alaa Al-Aswany, New York Times, Dec. 30, 2013 — Novelists work hard to acquire human experience. They search for characters who might inspire them. They go to unusual places to collect the necessary material for their novels. I am lucky not to have had to undertake these adventures because I am both a novelist and a dentist.

 

 

 Contents:         

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EGYPT: SISI’S NEW CONSTITUTION ENSHRINES BROTHERS’ DEFEAT– YET U.S. INCOMPETENCE, RUSSIAN MANEUVERS THREATEN EGYPT, & M.E.

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

 

 

 Contents:         

 

Sisi Determined to Stamp out all Opposition: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 19, 2013 — Egyptian military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seeks to put a nail in the coffin of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Security: Zachary Laub, Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 12, 2013 — Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, envisioned by the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli treaty as a buffer zone to build trust and ensure peace, has become a haven for transnational crime and Islamist militancy.

Egypt's New Constitution: Bleak Prospects: Eric Trager, Washington Institute, Dec. 16, 2013 — Egypt's new draft constitution reflects the coalition of leftist political parties and entrenched state actors that helped oust President Muhammad Morsi from power in July.

How Obama Is Losing Egypt to Russia: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Dec.17, 2013 — President Obama’s public approval ratings have continued to head south in recent weeks.

 

On Topic Links

 

Brotherhood Supporters Advising Obama Administration?: Erick Stakelbeck, CBN News, Dec. 11, 2013

Egyptian Security Forces Outgunned by Islamic Terrorists in Sinai: Amos Harel, Ha’aretz, Dec. 18,

Al-Qaeda Emerges Amid Egypt’s Turmoil: Mohannad Sabry, Al Monitor, Dec. 4, 2013

Egypt and Political Violence: Bahieddin Hassan, Al-Ahram Weekly, Dec. 17, 2013

                                      

                        

                                   SISI DETERMINED TO STAMP OUT ALL OPPOSITION

                                           Ariel Ben Solomon          

                                    Jerusalem Post, Dec. 19, 2013

                                                           

Egyptian military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seeks to put a nail in the coffin of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Sisi has been taking advantage of, and consolidating his powerful position, using the military-backed government to carry out a relentless crackdown on ousted former president Mohamed Morsi’s Brotherhood, which is the country’s main opposition movement. Sisi has been throwing the group’s leadership and members in jail and violently breaking up any protests, while continuing to pursue a military campaign against terrorism in Sinai, the upsurge which is believed to be linked to the Brotherhood’s fall from power.

 

But despite the crackdown, the Brotherhood and its allies have still been able to muster protesters in the streets and universities. This may signal to the country’s leadership that the local organization is still functioning, thus justifying more severe measures. On Wednesday, Egypt’s public prosecutor charged Morsi and 35 other top Islamists with conspiring with foreign groups to commit terrorist acts in Egypt, in a case that could result in their execution. Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at the Hudson Institutes’s Center for Religious Freedom, told The Jerusalem Post: “These are certainly wild charges.” He said there were many contradictions in the allegations, and little that made sense. “It seems like various bits and pieces were lumped together to create a picture with no attention given to its contradictory details,” he said. “Whether this is part of the new regime’s pressure on the Brotherhood to force concessions, or part of the ongoing propaganda campaign against the Brotherhood, or if they will actually bring such a case to court remains to be seen.”

 

Zvi Mazel, who served as Israel’s sixth ambassador to Egypt and today is a fellow at The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a contributor to this newspaper, told the Post that there was no doubt that the new regime sought to neutralize the Brotherhood with its legal action. “On the other hand, there is a basis of truth to the allegations,” he said. There is evidence that the Brotherhood had connections with Hamas and Hezbollah, Mazel said, adding that there were possibly ties to jihadists in Sinai as well. Asked if Egypt would execute Morsi or other leaders, Mazel responded that he did not think this would occur, but that it would provide the legal case for their incarceration.

 

While Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders remain behind bars or on the run, it is not enough for Sisi, who seeks a complete victory over the main opposition movement. Sisi is not allowing any dissension or leaving anything to chance, going so far as to take one of the country’s most popular comedians off the air for criticizing the government. Sisi has enjoyed positive media coverage and public support since the July 3 coup that ousted Morsi from power. In a possible sign that Sisi may make a presidential bid, former presidential candidate Amr Moussa said on Tuesday that he strongly backs him for president. “If Abdel Fattah al-Sisi refuses to run [for the presidency], we will urge him to do so,” Moussa said, according to a report by Ahram Online.       

                                                                        Contents
                                       

              EGYPT'S SINAI PENINSULA AND SECURITY                                                                

Zachary Laub                                            

Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 18, 2013

 

Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, envisioned by the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli treaty as a buffer zone to build trust and ensure peace, has become a haven for transnational crime and Islamist militancy. Poverty and political alienation among the region's native Bedouins, combined with political dislocations since former president Hosni Mubarak's government was toppled in 2011, have allowed nonstate armed groups to thrive, posing new threats to global trade and the peace on the Egypt-Israel border. After the Egyptian military reasserted its authority in July 2013 and cracked down on Islamists nationwide, militant groups escalated their attacks on peninsular security forces and expanded their reach to cities along the Suez Canal and even Cairo.

 

The Sinai Peninsula is a strategically significant triangle bounded by Gaza, Israel, and the Gulf of Aqaba to its east, the Mediterranean to its north, and the Suez Canal to its west. Some 8 percent of global trade transits through the canal, including 3 percent of global oil supplies. The Gulf of Aqaba gives Israel its only outlet to the Red Sea. The area contains five of Egypt's twenty-seven governorates. The sparsely populated North and South Sinai are home to 550,000 people, or 0.7 percent of Egypt's population, on a landmass comprising 6 percent of Egyptian territory. Much of the North's population is concentrated along the coast, while many inhabitants of the mountainous interior are nomadic. Three smaller, more densely populated governorates straddle the Suez Canal.

 

Though the peninsula is a land bridge connecting Africa and Asia, historically it has separated as much as joined them. The region's majority Bedouin population shares closer historical and cultural ties to the Levant and Arabian Peninsula than the Egyptian mainland. The Bedouins were stigmatized as collaborators of Israel's fifteen-year occupation of the peninsula after the 1967 war, and some complain that Cairo continues to view them as a "potential fifth column," writes Economist reporter Nicolas Pelham. Palestinians and Egyptians from the Nile Valley make up smaller portions of the peninsula's population.

 

Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai under the 1979 peace treaty codified its status as a buffer, leaving Cairo with only partial sovereignty over the territory. The treaty's military annex restricts the personnel and matériel deployed there. The peninsula's native Bedouins bear longstanding grievances stemming from economic deprivation and political alienation. Since 1979, tribal chiefs have been appointed by the region's governors, military officers chosen by the central government. But the capital's drive to centralize control was never fully realized.

 

Bedouins were excluded from tourism and energy development projects championed by Hosni Mubarak, experts say. The North was starved of investment while Mubarak sought to establish a Red Sea Riviera in the more sparsely populated South, particularly Sharm el-Sheikh, where he had his summer villa. Cairo encouraged labor migration to the Sinai from the Nile Valley, Pelham writes, offering these internal migrants preferential access to land, irrigation, and jobs, while denying native Bedouins such basic services and rights as running water and property registration. They were blocked from jobs with the police, army, and the peninsular peacekeeping force, the Multinational Force & Observers (MFO), which is one of the region's largest employers. In North Sinai, schools and hospitals were left unstaffed.

 

"The U.S. and Israel were telling Mubarak for years that neglect of the Sinai was going to come back to haunt them," says CFR Senior Fellow Steven Cook. High-profile bombings of resorts between 2004 and 2006, which had a combined death toll of about 130, as well as a spate of clashes between Bedouins and police, tourist kidnappings, and other smaller attacks occurred after two decades of what were seen as malign policies.

 

Under the three-decade–long emergency law that was in place until 2012, security forces under the Ministry of the Interior responded to the emerging terrorist threat with dragnet arrests, detaining and torturing thousands, human rights observers say. The indiscriminate state response fed a cycle of political violence and further alienated Sinai's Bedouins from Cairo.

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

 

                                                                                          Contents
                                  

 

EGYPT'S NEW CONSTITUTION: BLEAK PROSPECTS

                                               Eric Trager                                                                                                                      Washington Institute, Dec. 16, 2013

 

Egypt's new draft constitution reflects the coalition of leftist political parties and entrenched state actors that helped oust President Muhammad Morsi from power in July. In the short run, the strength of this coalition — and its ability to achieve a convincing mandate in the January constitutional referendum — will determine whether the political transition can move forward. In the longer run, however, Egypt's outlook remains bleak: either the massive state spending that the new constitution mandates will be enforced and thereby wreak economic havoc, or the charter will not be enforced, in which case the country will continue to be governed by an unreliable legal system.

 

In December 2012, following mass outcry over a constitutional declaration that placed his own edicts above judicial scrutiny, Morsi ordered the Islamist-dominated parliament to complete a new draft constitution within forty-eight hours and then put it to a referendum two weeks later. Although that constitution passed with 64 percent of the vote, the low 33 percent turnout undermined its popular legitimacy, and the noninclusive nature of the drafting process catalyzed a mass opposition movement that eventually culminated in Morsi's July 3 ouster. As a result, the military-backed government that replaced Morsi made amending the charter a first-order priority. A July 8 declaration suspended the constitution and outlined a new process under which a ten-member committee of legal experts would amend it. Afterward, a fifty-member committee "representing all categories of society and demographic diversities" reviewed, amended, and approved the draft. While the latter committee drew from across the social spectrum, it was ideologically consistent with the coalition that ousted Morsi: it contained only two Islamists, neither of which were Muslim Brothers, and a plurality hailed from non-Islamist parties that have historically won very few votes in elections.

 

The current draft constitution reflects the anti-Morsi coalition in three respects. First, it is far less Islamist than its predecessor. While it maintains that "the principles of the Islamic sharia are the principal source of legislation" (Article 2), it erases Article 219, which delineated the specific sharia sources on which to base legislation. It also removes Article 44, which prohibited "Insult or abuse of all religious messengers and prophets," and modifies the article regarding al-Azhar, the country's preeminent Islamic institution of learning, which no longer must be consulted "in matters pertaining to Islamic law." Most notably, the new constitution bans religious parties (Article 74).

 

Second, the new draft grants broad autonomy to the security services, military, and other state institutions that participated in Morsi's ouster. For example, it establishes a Supreme Police Council, which must be consulted on all laws pertaining to the police (Article 207). And in addition to granting each judicial body "an independent budget" and the autonomy to "administer its own affairs" (Article 185), it empowers the Supreme Constitutional Court's General Assembly to select the court's leadership (Article 193). It also empowers the Supreme Judicial Council to appoint the government's prosecutor-general (Article 189), an authority granted to the president under the previous constitution.

 

The new draft is particularly generous toward the military. The preamble emphasizes that the military has been the state's "pillar" since nineteenth-century ruler Muhammad Ali, and hails "our patriotic army" that "delivered victory to the sweeping popular will in the January 25-June 30 Revolution." Like the previous constitution, the latest draft mandates that the defense minister be a military officer (Article 201), protects the military's autonomy over its budgets by empowering a security-dominated National Defense Council to review them (Article 203), and allows civilians to be tried before military courts (Article 204). But the new charter goes even further, requiring less legislative oversight for military trials, mandating that the defense minister can only be appointed with the approval of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces during the next two presidential terms (Article 234), and empowering the state to fight "all types and forms of terrorism" (Article 237) — a virtual carte blanche for the military in its ongoing crackdown against pro-Brotherhood forces.

 

Third, the new draft reflects leftist parties' insistence on a more expansive government role in providing social services. In addition to the many state responsibilities envisioned in the previous constitution, the charter now commits the government to "achieving social justice" (Article 8), providing "food resources to all citizens" (Article 79), and guaranteeing the elderly "appropriate pensions to ensure them a decent standard of living" (Article 83). It also mandates an exorbitant level of specific state spending: at least 3 percent of gross domestic product must be spent on healthcare (Article 18), 4 percent on education (Article 19), 2 percent on higher education (Article 21), and 1 percent on scientific research (Article 23) — all of which must be put into effect by fiscal year 2016/2017 (Article 238).

 

The fact that the new draft reflects Egypt's current governing coalition is neither surprising nor novel. The previous constitution similarly embodied the coalition that governed only a year ago, giving Morsi and the ruling Islamists a substantial foothold for instituting their theocratic agenda while securing the military's buy-in by granting it unprecedented autonomy (see PolicyWatch 2001). Still, the immediate future of Egypt's transition hinges on whether the current coalition is more durable than the previous one, which collapsed barely six months after the constitution was approved via referendum.

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

                                                                           Contents

                                                                                           

HOW OBAMA IS LOSING EGYPT TO RUSSIA

                                        Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                                 Commentary, Dec. 17, 2013

 

President Obama’s public approval ratings have continued to head south in recent weeks. Those results represent the general disgust about an administration that broke its word on ObamaCare and was too incompetent to build a website that works to sell health insurance. But the consensus among most pundits is that although his domestic policies are viewed negatively, most Americans don’t have much of a problem with the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Given the lack of interest in foreign issues it’s difficult to judge whether the president’s weak nuclear deal with Iran is really seen as a positive development or whether they like the way he punted on the crisis in Syria. The only thing we know for sure is that a war-weary public is glad when the use of force is avoided even if they might be leery about handing a victory to Vladimir Putin in Syria or trusting the hate-spewing ayatollahs of Iran to keep their word about their nuclear weapons program.

 

But as much as the president’s efforts to pull back from the Middle East may resonate with those Americans who are sick of conflict, a policy of retreat is not one that stands up to much scrutiny. Thus, although the public understandably cares a lot less about the administration’s policy on Egypt than it does about ObamaCare, the news yesterday about the conclusion of an arms deal between that country and Russia ought to dismay even the most casual observer of foreign policy. The issue isn’t so much whether the Egyptian military will be buying planes and other equipment from Moscow so much as what the accord represents: a staggering reversal for U.S. influence in the Middle East and a signal victory for a Russian dictator who is trying to resurrect the old Soviet and tsarist empires while making mischief for America.

 

It was a little more than 40 years ago that Anwar Sadat kicked Soviet advisers out of Egypt. After decades of depending on Moscow for arms in order to pursue Egypt’s conflict with Israel, Sadat decide that he would be better off throwing in his lot with the United States. After the Nixon administration and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ensured that the Yom Kippur War ended with Egypt not suffering a humiliating defeat, what followed was a gradual shift away from war that led to Sadat’s historic trip to Israel and ultimately the peace treaty with Israel. In exchange for peace, Egypt not only got every inch of the Sinai that had been lost as a result of the aggression it committed in 1967 but also a guarantee of U.S. aid that has stood for more than 30 years. The alliance with Egypt was not only a building block for Middle East peace upon which further attempts to resolve the Arab and Muslim war on Israel were based. It was also the rock upon which American efforts to stabilize the region rested.

 

Though there were always good reasons to worry about the future of the repressive regime of Sadat’s successor Hosni Mubarak, the alternatives to him were always far worse, both for the U.S. and the Egyptian people. That basic truth was reaffirmed in the last three years after President Obama, who had downgraded efforts to democratize Egypt first undertaken by President George W. Bush, helped push Mubarak out of power in the wake of the Arab Spring protests. While the Egyptian military was an unattractive option, the possibility of the country falling into the hands of the Islamist opposition was appalling. Yet that is precisely the outcome the administration seemed to push Egypt toward during this period as it threatened the military with an aid cutoff if they interfered with the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts to consolidate power in the wake of their election victory.

 

Once the Brotherhood assumed control in Egypt, the U.S. did not seek to exert its leverage to force the Islamists to pull back on their attempt to transform Egypt in their own image. When, after a year of misrule and tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets to call for the Brotherhood’s ouster this past summer, the U.S. again sought to stop the military from acting–but this time the generals ignored the president’s warnings and put an end to the Islamist government. Since then the U.S. has done little to mend fences with the military and demonstrated little understanding of the fact that Egypt had become a zero-sum game in which the only choices were the Brotherhood or the military. With the administration announcing a partial aid cutoff to the new government, what followed next was entirely predictable. Cairo turned to Moscow for help and for the first time since 1973 Russia has a foothold in the Arab world’s most populous nation as well as the one that, with the Suez Canal, holds its most strategic position.

 

It is true that Putin’s Russia doesn’t pose the same kind of threat to the West as the Soviet Union. But Putin’s efforts to regain influence in the Middle East, first via the preservation of the bloody Assad regime in Syria and now by elbowing the U.S. out of Egypt, is deeply troubling. Some Americans, including libertarians who are intent on withdrawing from the war on Islamist terrorism, may see nothing wrong with abandoning the Middle East to Russia. But a Middle East where Russia has at least an equal say with the United States is one in which moderate Arab regimes as well as Israel will feel far less secure. Since Putin’s only goal is to discomfit the United States and to expand Russia’s influence, the result will give Iran, which is also celebrating the victory of Assad, confidence to continue its own brand of mischief making in the Persian Gulf, Lebanon, and with the Palestinians, especially if it resumes its alliance with Hamas. As I wrote back in October, an Obama administration policy that effectively discards Egypt is a victory for Russia as well as a blow to stability and peace.

 

But what is most infuriating about these developments is that none of it had to happen if the Obama administration had not mishandled relations with Egypt so badly. Though the hand it was dealt was by no means a good one, it is in the process of losing an asset that the U.S. had been able to count on for decades. The price of this incompetence will be felt by U.S. policymakers as well as the people of the region for years to come.

                                       

                                               Contents

On Topic

 

Egyptian security forces outgunned by Islamic terrorists in Sinai: Amos Harel, Ha’aretz, Dec. 18, 2013 — The Egyptian security forces’ battle against Islamic terrorist organizations in Sinai has resulted in twice as many casualties among the former than among the latter.

Brotherhood Supporters Advising Obama Administration?: Erick Stakelbeck, CBN News, Dec. 11, 2013 — Egypt acknowledged the danger of the Muslim Brotherhood by recently labeling it a terrorist organization and banning its activities.

Al-Qaeda Emerges Amid Egypt’s Turmoil: Mohannad Sabry, Al Monitor, Dec. 4, 2013 — During the last week of August, I spent a few nights in the villages of the northern Sinai Peninsula where Islamist militants have been hiding and operating since the January 25 Revolution.

Egypt and Political Violence: Bahieddin Hassan, Al-Ahram Weekly, Dec. 17, 2013 — June 1967 witnessed two historical developments: the military defeat of Egypt and its still operating political regime, and the end of the state’s monopoly on violence.

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

EGYPTIAN ‘FALL’: U.S. PULLS AID TO CAIRO: RELATIONS DETERIORATE— SISI, CONSIDERING PRESIDENCY, CRACKS DOWN ON ISLAMISTS

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

 

 

 Contents:         

 

Global Ramifications of the Anti-Muslim Brotherhood Campaign in Egypt: Daniel Pipes, National Review, Nov. 1, 2013 — Since General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Mohamed Morsi on July 3, the military-led government has been engaged in a ferocious crackdown of the Muslim Brotherhood and more broadly of Islamists (though some, like the Salafis of the Nour party, playing their hand carefully, have generally avoided trouble so far).

America’s Aid and Egypt’s Indifference: Dina Khayat, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2013— In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, no country stood by the U.S. more staunchly in its fight against al Qaeda than Egypt. Having been through its own war against terror in the 1990s, Egypt was able to provide valuable information and logistical support. Now the war is back on Egyptian territory, in the Sinai and other Egyptian provinces

Egyptian military’s pact with Islamists: Amir Taheri, New York Post,  Oct. 17, 2013— Sometime next week, Egypt’s military-run government will publish the “first draft” of a new constitution to replace the one worked out by the government of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

Sisi Fever: Will the General be the Next President of Egypt?: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Nov. 1, 2013— General Abd el Fattah el-Sisi, the man who led the overthrow of President Morsi on July 3, 2013, holds the combined titles of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, first Deputy of the Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense and Military Production. Unlike his predecessors, Sisi is waging a merciless campaign against jihadi fighters in Sinai Peninsula in order to restore Egypt’s sovereignty there while drastically reducing Hamas’ power in Gaza.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

Egypt, U.S. Aid and Israel: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 9, 2013

Mr. Kerry Fumbles in Egypt:Editorial Board, New York Times, Nov. 4, 2013

Three Reasons for the Egypt-Russia Rapprochement: Nervana Mahmoud, Al-Monitor, Nov. 4, 2013

After Warraq: Sectarianism, Warts and All: Tom Rollins, Egypt Independent, Oct. 29, 2013

 

 

                        GLOBAL RAMIFICATIONS OF THE ANTI-MUSLIM                                          BROTHERHOOD CAMPAIGN IN EGYPT

                                                    Daniel Pipes
                                        National Review, Nov. 1, 2013

 

Since General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Mohamed Morsi on July 3, the military-led government has been engaged in a ferocious crackdown of the Muslim Brotherhood and more broadly of Islamists (though some, like the Salafis of the Nour party, playing their hand carefully, have generally avoided trouble so far). Not only has this assault been violent, with hundreds of deaths, and legal, with the Brotherhood banned and its top leadership jailed, but it has also been broadly cultural, economic, and religious. Even the mildest approbation of the Muslim Brotherhood can get one in trouble, with one’s neighbors if not with the state. A very large swath of the population supports the crackdown and pushes for it.

 

A few of the many, many examples: Mohammed Youssef, the Egyptian kung fu champion, found his gold medal taken away and himself banned from competitions after he expressed support for Mohammed Morsi by wearing a T-shirt with the pro-Morsi symbol of an open palm and four fingers. Gen. Mohamed Farid el-Tohamy, Mubarak’s anti-Islamist honcho, is back after 2½ years of disgrace and investigation. He is now reputed to be the main advocate and implementor of the attempt to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood. “He was the most hard-line, the most absolutely unreformed,” says one Western diplomat on background. “He talked as if the revolution of 2011 had never even happened.” The secular activist Ahmed Belal, with support from the Rebellion movement, called for a boycott of Muslim Brotherhood-owned business, causing them major financial losses. Some Salafi-owned business have it even worse, being not only boycotted but set on fire. After parents complained that the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated school principals and teachers were inciting violence against the police and military, the Ministry of Education fired 95 of them.

 

How this effort fares has vast importance not just for Egypt but far beyond. Should the crackdown succeed in isolating, weakening, and destroying the Islamists, then others will replicate it elsewhere. But should it fail, the campaign will be discredited and will not be repeated. Therefore, all of us who want to see the barbaric Islamist movement destroyed must support the Sisi crackdown, even if we distance ourselves from some of its tactics.                                                   

                                                Contents
                                       

                AMERICA’S AID AND EGYPT’S INDIFFERENCE                      Dina Khayat

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2013

 

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, no country stood by the U.S. more staunchly in its fight against al Qaeda than Egypt. Having been through its own war against terror in the 1990s, Egypt was able to provide valuable information and logistical support. Now the war is back on Egyptian territory, in the Sinai and other Egyptian provinces. A direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and its jihadist allies was established by the Brotherhood itself in July, shortly after President Morsi's ouster, when Mohamed Beltagui, a senior Muslim Brother, said on television that the violence in the Sinai and elsewhere would cease the moment Mr. Morsi was reinstated as president.

 

Yet rather than condemn the terrorist attacks that have since increased and spread across the country, the Obama Administration decided last week to send a different message. The State Department released a statement on Oct. 9 saying that it would be "recalibrating" its assistance provided to Egypt. It also said it would continue working with the interim Egyptian government to help it move toward democracy and inclusiveness. The statement came just two days after three deadly terrorist attacks in Cairo and Sinai: a drive-by shooting near the Suez Canal that killed six soldiers, a car bomb that killed three police officers and wounded dozens near a Red Sea resort area, and a rocket-propelled grenade attack that damaged a government satellite transmitter in southern Cairo.

 

Which forms of aid would be cut, and whether these were permanent cuts or just suspensions, were left unspecified in the State Department's statement. As was the total reduction in the amount of aid, which at $1.3 billion yearly pales, in any event, next to the $12 billion quietly advanced by Egypt's Arab neighbors in the past three months. This was a baffling message to Egypt's interim government and the vast majority of Egyptians, millions of whom who came out to protest Mr. Morsi's rule on June 30. What they heard was that the Obama Administration stands firmly behind the Muslim Brotherhood, even if it means damaging the two countries' strategic relationship.

 

To call the curtailing of U.S. aid a prod to the Egyptian government toward democracy is disingenuous. There was neither outrage nor threats from Washington last November, when Mr. Morsi issued a constitutional declaration that effectively put him and his diktats above the law. Or during the ensuing demonstrations in December, when dozens died just behind Mr. Morsi's palace walls at the hands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. When Gen. Sisi appeared on television on July 3, the day Mr. Morsi was ousted, he was flanked by the Sheikh al Azhar, the Coptic Pope, women, youth, politicians left and right, and representatives of Salafist groups. Only the Muslim Brotherhood, which had turned down an invitation, was missing. That picture contrasts starkly with the one presented by Mr. Morsi, who, during his brief tenure, surrounded himself solely with members of his organization and appointed them to executive positions. Copts, secularists and even Salafists were conspicuously absent. Calls by the Obama administration for inclusiveness should have begun then; today they ring hollow.

 

When millions of Egyptians took to the streets on June 30, they took the only path possible to changing their government. There was no prospect of impeaching Mr. Morsi. The army intervened solely to prevent the chaos that would surely have occurred had Egyptians been left to fight one another. Now, three months into the new interim government and with a constitution being written by 50 representatives of society—again, all but the Muslim Brotherhood—there is no turning back. The draft constitution is almost complete, and dates and plans for parliamentary and presidential elections are set.

 

The challenge remains the economy, but it is hard to rebuild when so many resources are diverted to fighting weekly violence, as Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators, often armed, take to the streets. The Brotherhood has chosen to exclude itself from the governing process, preferring instead to bully their way into negotiating the best possible deal for themselves, which includes the reinstatement of Mr. Morsi as president. Brotherhood supporters who are not implicated in the present violence will eventually be included in a new government—but only when the organization changes its mind and decides to operate within the context of a state.

 

Egyptians are yearning to get it right this time. They are determined to build a democratic state and avoid the mistakes of the past. What will eventually emerge is a country much more sensitive to human and religious rights. It will not be a repetition of the Mubarak years. We would have liked America with us at this time, and its support would have sent a strong message to the Egyptian people.

 

Instead, upon hearing the news of the U.S. aid cuts, there was a collective shrug in Egypt, and a general sense of relief at being rid of any shackles that had tied the government's hands in fighting terrorism. Such is the popular anger against the Brotherhood and their daily annoyances that there are even calls for martial law to be applied—or at least for demonstrations by any faction to be outlawed by force for a period.

 

The Egypt-U.S. relationship is decades-old, built on mutual strategic interests. It has withstood many challenges. Even in the midst of the June 30 demonstrations, and at the height of anger against U.S. policies, banners in the streets proclaimed Egyptians' love for Americans. To throw all that to the wind for unfathomable benefits and spurious justifications in the name of democracy and inclusiveness is a pity.

 

Contents

 

EGYPTIAN MILITARY’S PACT WITH ISLAMISTS

Amir Taheri

New York Post, Oct. 17, 2013

 

Sometime next week (Oct. 18-25), Egypt’s military-run government will publish the “first draft” of a new constitution to replace the one worked out by the government of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The coup that returned the military to power after a year-long interval was presented as an attempt to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from imposing an Islamist dictatorship with a constitutional facade. Highlighted were two articles in the Morsi constitution that identified the Islamic sharia as the source of legislation in Egypt and gave Al-Azhar, the official seminary, a virtual veto on certain issues.

 

The crowds that for weeks filled Tahrir Square called on the army to intervene to save the nation from a burgeoning sharia-based ­dictatorship. Well, when the new draft constitution — written by a 50-man committee appointed by the military — is published, the Tahrir Square crowds are likely to be disappointed. The two controversial articles will still be there, albeit under different numbers and with slight changes in terminology. “Egyptians want to retain their Islamic identity,” says Kamal Halbawi, a former Brotherhood member who co-chaired the army-appointed drafting committee with Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister during the earlier military governments. Thus Islamists, including the Salafist Nour ( Light) Party sponsored by Saudi Arabia will have no reason to be unhappy with the proposed draft. The difference this time is that the new constitution also gives the military what the text drafted by Morsi denied it. The armed forces will get recognition for their “special status” and given a virtual veto on key aspects of security, foreign and even economic policies.

 

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the junta formed after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, will be recognized as a constitutionally sanctioned state organ with “special responsibilities and prerogatives,” including the appointment of the defense minister and the supervision of the military budget, which will be spared public submission to the parliament. Put brutally, the proposed draft constitution is a pact between a section of the military led by Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi and a section of the Islamic movement spearheaded by Salafists. The faction led by Sisi represents a segment of the officers’ corps reluctant to abandon a system under which the army acted as a state within the state and seized control of perhaps 20 percent of the national economy. As always during the past 100 years, the military is using a pseudo-nationalistic discourse full of xenophobic shibboleths.

 

The Salafist faction hopes to seize the opportunity of its collaboration with the military to build its position within the Islamist constituency. With the Muslim Brotherhood banned and most of its leaders under arrest, the Salafists hope to seduce some of their followers, especially with the help of a deluge of Saudi money.

However, even when they add their respective bases of support, the Sisi faction of the military and the Salafist faction do not represent more than a third of the Egyptian electorate. The two factions can dominate the organs of the state and exercise power only if they stick together. They hope to do so with the proposed constitution, which is a rehashed version of an old recipe for despotism.

 

This is the recipe the interim government has followed in a series of incremental moves that include reimposing the 50-year-old state of emergency, enacting new laws on public gatherings and reviving special tribunals acting as star chambers outside the normal legal systems. It all makes for a diabolical feast in which the likely losers will be the freedom-loving demonstrators who filled Tahrir Square. If so it will mean history repeating itself, given the similar fate their grandfathers suffered in the 1950s when the military and the Muslim Brotherhood also built a tacit alliance against Egypt’s democratic aspirations.

                                                                                                               

                                             Contents

 

SISI FEVER: WILL THE GENERAL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF EGYPT?

                                   Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah

                      Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Oct. 22, 2013

 

General Abd el Fattah el-Sisi, the man who led the overthrow of President Morsi on July 3, 2013, holds the combined titles of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, first Deputy of the Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense and Military Production. Unlike his predecessors, Sisi is waging a merciless campaign against jihadi fighters in Sinai Peninsula in order to restore Egypt’s sovereignty there while drastically reducing Hamas’ power in Gaza. Sisi may be “called to the flag” as a savior in order to salvage Egypt from its enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood. Talk shows and newspaper columns have been advocating the idea of the general running for president in order to fight the terrorist threat they say the country is facing. Most of the other potential candidates have declared that if Sisi would run for president, they would retract their candidacies.

 

There is a concentrated effort to picture Sisi as the political heir of the iconic President Gamal Abd el Nasser. Sisi himself participated in the 43rd memorial ceremony of Nasser’s death. There were posters with his picture adjacent to Nasser’s. Egyptians see Nasser as the Egyptian leader who fought the Muslim Brotherhood domestically and led Egypt to the leadership of the Arab World and the non-aligned community. In fact, Sisi was presenting his legitimacy as the rightful leader of Egypt not only to his Egyptian compatriots but also toward the U.S. administration, which is questioning his legitimacy and presenting him as the leader of a coup and a usurper of power. This creates an opening for a possible Russian comeback in Egypt and through it to a reinforced Russian position in the region.

 

By deciding to cut its financial aid to Egypt and postpone the delivery of weapon systems already ordered, the U.S. has overturned the longstanding correlation between financial assistance and Egypt’s honoring of the peace treaty with Israel. The $14 billion that Saudi Arabia and the UAE transferred to Egypt immediately after Sisi’s takeover, and the $40 billion promised in economic aid, are a reminder that Egypt may not be in need of such conditional financial assistance. Observers of the Egyptian scene are repeatedly stressing the change in the mood of the Egyptians towards the United States, from friendship and admiration to open hostility. In fact, the crisis with the Obama Administration and Sisi’s reaction to it has helped build up his leadership credentials as a daring Egyptian nationalist who does not retreat before a superpower – particularly one that so openly supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.

 

Since the ousting of President Morsi on July 3, 2013, the issue of who will be the next elected President of Egypt has been at the center of attention in Egypt and abroad. Morsi’s presidency has proven the extent to which an Egyptian president can influence the course of the country and shape its domestic and foreign policy. Because of this, one can easily understand the amount of energy devoted by analysts of the Egyptian scene in order to try and decipher the intentions of General Abd el Fattah el-Sisi, the actual strongman of Egypt. Sisi holds the combined titles of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, first Deputy of the Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense and Military Production. He is the man who led the overthrow of President Morsi. Since August 14, he has conducted a ferocious crackdown (only parallel to the crackdown performed by Gamal Abd el Nasser in 1954 against the Brotherhood) aimed at eliminating the political power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And unlike his predecessors, Sisi is waging a merciless campaign against jihadi fighters in the Sinai Peninsula in order to restore Egypt’s sovereignty in the desert while drastically reducing Hamas’ power in the Gaza Strip.

 

Sisi has been very murky about his future plans, denying through the army spokesman any intention of running for the presidency in early 2014. However, events on the ground seem to show that the general is preparing himself for the presidency because this is the only viable choice for him and the military establishment. In theory, Sisi could decide to stay in his position under a newly elected president and enjoy his powers as he is doing today, but he could also suffer the fate of his predecessor, Field Marshal Tantawi, who had his career terminated with the stroke of a pen. Sisi does not want to alienate his opponents by eying the presidency too early and creating a situation in which he would have to justify himself. The course of events in Egypt seems to lead to a situation in which Sisi will be “called to the flag” as a savior in order to salvage Egypt from its enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood, and lead the country not only as an Egyptian nationalist but as an Arab hero. In fact, if Egypt’s mainstream media and political power circles could have voted by now, then Sisi would be president with almost no challengers.

[To read the full article, please click on the following link—ed.]     

Contents

 

 

Egypt, U.S. Aid and Israel: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 9, 2013— In mid-August, US President Barack Obama interrupted a golfing trip at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts to condemn the military junta in Egypt for its violent attack on the Muslim Brotherhood government leaders.

Mr. Kerry Fumbles in Egypt:Editorial Board, New York Times, Nov. 4, 2013— Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to Egypt, included in his Middle East itinerary at the last minute, served only to add to the confusion over the Obama administration’s policy toward this critically important Arab nation.

Three Reasons for the Egypt-Russia Rapprochement: Nervana Mahmoud, Al-Monitor, Nov. 4, 2013— In May 1958, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser started an 18-day state visit to Russia, a visit that officially marked a recalibration of Egyptian foreign policy away from the Western sphere, and toward the Soviet camp. Fifty-five years later, an Egyptian popular diplomatic delegation headed to Moscow in a visit that was described as fruitful and positive.

After Warraq: Sectarianism, Warts and All: Tom Rollins, Egypt Independent, Oct. 29, 2013— About this time last week, the bodies were being ferried into the Virgin Mary Church where they had been shot barely 24 hours before, a grim liminal irony that – as some pointed out – turned a wedding into a funeral in the space of two days.

 

On Topic Links

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Contents


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


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

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

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

 

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Middle Israel: The Last WarAmotz Asa-ElJerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2013 — The establishment’s subsequent transition from secular socialists to traditionalists and capitalists; the disappearance of the European-born generation that led Israel in its first three decades; and the passage of the settlement ideal from the kibbutzim’s liberal farmers to the West Bank’s messianic rabbis, make the Yom Kippur War a watershed in practically all aspects of Israeli history.
 
‘Incalculable Consequences’Erol Araf, National Post, Oct 7, 2013 —Forty years ago today, Israel stood on the brink of catastrophe. The day before — Oct. 6, 1973, the Day of Atonement — Egypt and Syria had launched a surprise and spectacularly successful offensive against Israel. Israeli forces were retreating, or being annihilated, at the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights. Faced with the prospect of Arab armies moving into Israeli population centres, the government began to consider unleashing Armageddon on its enemies.
 
Israel-Egypt Forge New Ties Over SinaiGeoffrey Aronson, Al-Monitor, Sept. 13, 2013—Last week, Egypt embarked on its most extensive military operation in the Sinai peninsula in almost half a century. The target of this unprecedented deployment is an array of disaffected Egyptians and jihadi foreigners intent upon defying the seat of Egyptian power and sovereignty centered in Cairo.

Is this the End of the Failed Muslim Brotherhood Project?: Hussein Ibish , The National (UAE), October 5, 2013—Is the Muslim Brotherhood dying? In Egypt and throughout the Arab world, Brotherhood-affiliated parties are suffering an unprecedented series of setbacks that cast real doubt on the long-term viability of that version of Islamist politics.
 
On Topic Links
 
Lessons from the Yom Kippur WarDaniel Greenfield, Front Page Magazine, Oct. 7, 2013  
51 Dead in as Egyptians Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Yom Kippur WarJewish Press,  Oct. 7th, 2013
Who Is Egypt's Next President?Bassem Sabry, Al-Monitor, Sept. 22 2013
 

 

MIDDLE ISRAEL: THE LAST WAR
Amotz Asa-El
Jerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2013

 
It started at 2 p.m. As if echoing the thunders that once paralyzed their forebears at Mount Sinai’s foothills, 436 Israeli troops scattered in 16 outposts along the Suez waterfront were showered out of the blue with 10,000 shells spewed from 2,000 artillery barrels, while 8,000 Egyptian troops emerged from the water and 240 warplanes descended from the sky. By day’s end, with nearly half of the soldiers in those outposts dead, vast Egyptian armies parked at Sinai, and 1,400 Syrian tanks on the Golan Heights – one fact hovered above the battlefield’s thick fog: Israel had been stunned.
 
Forty years on, the war that cost 2,522 Israeli fatalities, traumatized a generation and profoundly impacted the Jewish state’s society, politics, economy and psyche, refuses to go away.
 
The warriors, now mostly grandfathers, are writing memoirs, holding spontaneous reunions and retrieving diaries, photographs, recordings and even rare footage taken with the era’s bulky 8- mm. Kodaks, in what adds up to a collective quest for closure.
 
The rest of Israel, surveying where it has since journeyed, has reason to proverbially enter these makeshift group therapies, place a hand on the shoulder of each of the Yom Kippur War’s veterans, look them in their wrinkling faces, and quietly tell them Jeremiah’s consolation to Rachel: “There is a reward for your labor.”
 
STRATEGICALLY, the war will be counted among military history’s grand surprises, alongside Pearl Harbor and Operation Barbarossa. Israel was caught off-guard in almost every respect. It underestimated the enemy’s intentions, abilities, weaponry and motivation. The leaders misinterpreted Egyptian president Anwar Sadat as a babbler, the generals did not enlist the reserves, the pilots were humbled by the radar-guided SA missile and the tankists by the shoulder-carried Sagger. Then again, not only did the IDF ultimately prevail, in 40 years’ hindsight it emerged from the war with long-term strategic gains that dwarf the its immediate setbacks.
 
Tactically, the war’s tide was turned on both fronts: on the Golan Heights, the vastly outnum-bered Seventh Brigade managed to fend off the Syrian armored thrust, and thus open the IDF’s path to Damascus; and in Sinai, the Egyptian Third Army was encircled and the Suez Canal was crossed as the IDF reached within an hour’s ride from Cairo. Yet what at the time seemed like heroism that merely decided one war, actually went much farther.
 
First, the recollection of prevailing even under such duress, and of successful improvisations along the entire hierarchy – from foot soldier to general – helped foster a culture of inventiveness from which Israel benefitted in other tests. But far more important, following the Armageddon that included some of history’s largest armored battles, Israel’s enemies never again unleashed on it a conventional army.
 
The realization that Israel prevailed even in a war waged, from the Arab viewpoint, under ideal conditions, convinced Arab leaders to abandon traditional war, and opt for assorted alternatives – from guerrilla and terror wars to peace deals. While far from reflecting a pro-Zionist conversion, the Arab abandonment of the traditional military option is a major strategic gain for Israel, and a direct result of the Yom Kippur War.
 
WHEN THE fighting ended, it turned out that one outpost of those that initially confronted the Egyptian onslaught, the northernmost, endured the entire war. Having emerged from it intact and returned home bewildered, Capt. Motti Ashkenazi went to Jerusalem, stood outside prime minister Golda Meir’s office and demanded that she and her cabinet resign.
 
Ashkenazi was soon joined by thousands who felt a deep sense of disillusionment and were now spontaneously forming Israel’s first effective protest movement. By the time Golda Meir resigned the following year, it was clear that the repercussions of the Jewish state’s Pearl Harbor would exceed the narrow realms of warfare, and include Israel’s politics, society and state of mind.
 
Politically, the future was hinted at in the first postwar election, when the newly established Likud won more of the soldiers’ votes than Labor. In the following election Labor lost power for the first time, and its political hegemony for good.
 
The establishment’s subsequent transition from secular socialists to traditionalists and capitalists; the disappearance of the European-born generation that led Israel in its first three decades; and the passage of the settlement ideal from the kibbutzim’s liberal farmers to the West Bank’s messianic rabbis, make the Yom Kippur War a watershed in practically all aspects of Israeli history.
 
Back in autumn ’73, all protagonists of this gathering transformation shared a sense of crisis and agony, some because they felt they were losing their grip on Israeli society, and some because they could hardly wait to seize it. Gradually, the Yom Kippur War came to be seen as an engine of a great schism.It wasn’t.
 
THE MOST notable realm where Israeli pragmatism and resilience prevailed is the economy. Back when the war ended, Israel was financially strapped. The knowledge that it was won thanks to emergency arms shipments from America; the consequent dependency on American aid; the inflation that began that year and soon spun out of control; and envy of Arab oil wealth which those days cast a shadow over the global economy – all generated an economic pessimism that complemented the overall atmosphere of cynicism and despair.
 
Forty years on, Israel’s is among the world’s strongest currencies, its growth rate is among the world’s highest, its unemployment, inflation and interest rates are among the world’s lowest, and its innovations are the toast of investors from Tokyo to New York. On top of that, for more than 15 years, Israel has no longer been accepting US civilian aid. These accomplishments belong collectively to Israelis of all persuasions and backgrounds, who meet daily in workplaces where they do together what a seriously divided society could never create.
 
The same can be said of Israeli culture, which over the past 40 years has seen the previously unthinkable rise of religious authors and filmmakers, symbolized by novelist Haim Sabato, a rabbi and rosh yeshiva who emerged from the war a prize-winning novelist. In fact, the cultural traffic ignited by the war proved to a two-way street. The sense of perplexity, enhanced by David Ben-Gurion’s death five weeks after the cease-fire, was expressed by the era’s popular songs, three of which became timeless, and inspire a melancholy that moves Israeli hearts to this day.
 
One, penned by songwriter Haim Hefer, a veteran of the War of Independence who wrote some of its most popular hits, now had an unnamed soldier promise his little girl – “in the name of the pilots who thrust into angry battle,” and the gunners “who were the pillars of fire along the front,” and “all the fathers who went to battle and never returned” – that 1973’s would be the last war.
 
A second song, by “Jerusalem of Gold” writer Naomi Shemer, placed “a white sail in the horizon, opposite a heavy black cloud,” and “holiday’s candles shimmering in dusk’s windows,” while asking “What is the sound of war I am hearing, the sound of shofar and drums,” and then praying, “If the announcer stands at the door, place a good word in his mouth, if only all we ask – would be.”
 
The whisper of prayer that both songs shared was the zeitgeist, so much so that it even arrived in Kibbutz Beit Hashita – whose veterans included diehard Marxists and atheists. Tucked in the Jezreel Valley north of Mount Gilboa, where the biblical Saul and Jonathan died in battle, this community lost 11 of its sons in the war.
 
Having lived in their midst at the time of their grief, composer Yair Rosenblum wrote a tune for U’Netane Tokef, the prayer which states that on Rosh Hashana God drafts, and on Yon Kippur he seals, the verdict of every man: “Who will live and who will die, who is in his end and who is not, who by water and who by fire, who by sword and who by beast, who by hunger and who by thirst.”
 
The tune brought together Zionism’s epitomes of the New Jew, the atheist warriors of the kibbutzim, with Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, the prayer’s writer and the ultimate Old Jew, a sage whom legend says was killed without a fight after refusing a demand to convert. Animating the most solemn moments in Judaism’s holiest days, the tune has since come to be sung annually in thousands of synagogues throughout Israel, and has even been performed by some ultra- Orthodox singers and cantors.
]
THE YOM KIPPUR WAR, then, had more effects on Israeli society besides political divisions, and the most decisive of these was humility. The arrogance and swagger that followed the Six Day War were initially followed by anger and acrimony, but what for a moment seemed like despair soon gave way to a sense of appeasement and constructive soul searching. This humility is particularly evident where it is needed most, namely in the way Israeli generals speak and think.
 
Forty years on, it is clear that Israeli society was not debilitated by the Yom Kippur War and in fact, soon resumed its development in earnest.
 
Having left us while the war’s trauma was fresh, one feels like updating Ben-Gurion that since his departure: no Arab army again waged war on Israel; there are two peace agreements; the population has more than doubled and the economy more than quadrupled; there are more Jews here than in any other country; the number of Israeli Jews has just crossed, for the first time, the charged figure of 6 million, Soviet Jewry is here, and the Soviet Union is gone; and Israeli society, while varied and complex, remains intact even when the rest of the region is ablaze with civil wars – and that U’Netane Tokef, as written in medieval Germany and composed in Kibbutz Beit- Hashita, will tomorrow echo from Metulla to Eilat.
 
Contents

‘INCALCULABLE CONSEQUENCES’
Erol Araf
National Post, Oct 7, 2013
 

Forty years ago today, Israel stood on the brink of catastrophe. The day before — Oct. 6, 1973, the Day of Atonement — Egypt and Syria had launched a surprise and spectacularly successful offensive against Israel. Israeli forces were retreating, or being annihilated, at the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights. Faced with the prospect of Arab armies moving into Israeli population centres, the government began to consider unleashing Armageddon on its enemies.
 
Many documents pertaining to the nuclear crises that took place during the 1973 Arab-Israel War remain classified; participants who have written about the war are still vague. Over the years, however, numerous books and studies have been written, ranging from Seymour Hersh’s dubious The Sampson Option, alleging that Israel used the threat of nuclear war to pressure the U.S into sending massive quantities of munitions, to an exhaustive research project by the U.S.-based research group CNA, entitled The Israeli “Nuclear Alert” of 1973: Deterrence and Signaling in Crisis, published last spring. Thanks to these sources, we have enough facts at our disposal to construct a narrative that makes clear that between Oct. 7-25, there were three distinct nuclear crises featuring deceptions, miscalculations, existential panic and missile launches that could easily have triggered a worldwide nuclear war.
 
The first crisis relates to the Israeli nuclear alert itself.
 
In the hours and days after the surprise attack, tank battles fought on the Golan Heights were comparable in size and intensity to the largest such clashes during the Second World War. Not even the indomitable Israeli Air Force could turn the tide. In the north, 177 Israeli tanks stood between Haifa and 1,460 Syrian armoured vehicles. In the south, Egyptian soldiers armed with hand-held anti-tank missiles knocked out 300 Israeli tanks in the first hours of the war. On that day, the ancient lines from the Book of Yom Kippur resonated with apocalyptic portent as reservists were raced to their mobilization centres: “On Rosh Hashanah it is written and on the day of the fast of Kippur it is sealed … who shall live and who shall die … who by water and who by fire … who by the sword.”
 
Howard Blum, in his book The Eve of Destruction, tells how Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Defense Minister, told Prime Minister Golda Meir on Oct. 8, two days into the fighting, that Israel must prepare to fight “to the last bullet” on the streets of Tel Aviv. He also urged the arming of Israeli’s ultimate weapon, code-named Temple. Ms. Meir gave the green light to arm 13 Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads. Nuclear bombs were also loaded onto six Phantom F-4 attack aircraft at the Tel Nof air base.
 
Israel’s actions were quickly spotted, and just as quickly understood. William B. Quandt, who was a member of the U.S. National Security Council staff, confirmed that the U.S. knew that Israel had placed its nuclear arsenal on alert. He wrote; ” It was also conceivable that a nuclear threat might be made if Egyptian troops broke through … None of this had to be spelled out in so many words by the Israelis.” The Americans found out about the nuclearization of Israeli missiles, according to Russell Warren Howe’s book Weapons, when a U.S. Air Force SR-71 spy plane, specifically designed to monitor nuclear activity, flew over Israel. An American KH-11 intelligence satellite also detected missile launchers that had been left in the open specifically to signal Jerusalem’s resolve. The Soviets, too, were monitoring the situation on the ground with their COSMOS satellites.
 
The U.S. reaction to the possibility that Israel might go nuclear was twofold: Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon’s National Security Advisor and newly sworn-in Secretary of State, authorized a badly needed conventional munitions resupply effort — after all, the Soviets were arming the Arabs. The U.S. also informed Moscow about Jerusalem’s nuclear alert in an emergency hotline conversation between Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The Americans were eager to make sure that there were no understandings that might lead to a nuclear exchange between the superpowers.
 
In response to Israel’s nuclear mobilization, the Soviets decided to deploy their own nuclear weapons, under strict Soviet control, to Egypt, to dissuade Israel from going nuclear. But they didn’t rush things, choosing a deliberately slow deployment to make sure that the Israelis would clearly see their activity, and understand that the Soviets were serious. Kissinger privately warned the Soviets that further Syrian advances into northern Israel, which could cut the country in two, would pose such an existential threat to Israel that the Soviet deterrence might not be sufficient to prevent Israel from going nuclear. The message was clear: Don’t let their early successes spur your allies into pushing so hard that Israel felt it had to strike back.
 
The message was heeded. As Charles Wakebridge wrote in Military Review in 1976, the sudden Syrian halt when they could have advanced into Israel on Oct. 7 and 8 was one of the most intriguing and inexplicable decisions of the war. It is reasonable to infer from the Syrian decision to stop at the Jordan River, when they could have advanced all the way to Haifa, was due to the Israeli nuclear alert. The river was a red line that Damascus would not risk crossing.
 
The second crisis occurred between Oct. 17-22, when the Soviet nuclear warheads arrived. Some were conspicuously deployed deep inside in Egypt, to deter any rash Israeli act. But the Soviets also deployed conventionally armed SCUD missiles in the Sinai, where Israeli forces were on the counteroffensive against the Egyptian invaders. The Israelis, quite reasonably, assumed that the Sinai SCUDs were also nuclear tipped. In Jerusalem’s and Washington’s view, this constituted dangerous escalation from a deterrence-based posture to war-fighting deployment.
 
Israel had to respond. The CNA researchers wrote that “[Israeli] Chief of Staff General Elazar ordered the deployment of an Israeli missile battery in an uncamouflaged fashion in such a way that Soviet satellites would be likely to detect the deployment and assume that such missiles were nuclear-capable.” Officials in Washington and Jerusalem were both worried that the Soviets, under pressure from their Egyptian allies, might escalate a conflict that was rapidly, and remarkably, evolving into a major Israeli conventional military victory.
 
On Oct. 22, hours before a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution was set to go into effect, the situation suddenly became even more tense when Egypt launched SCUD missiles at Israeli targets. In his book Inside the Kremlin during the Yom Kippur War, senior Soviet diplomat Victor Israelyan relates that the authority to launch the missiles was given by Soviet Defense Minister Andrei Grechko to the Soviet ambassador in Cairo, Vladimir Vinogradov, in an emergency telephone conversation. “Go the hell and fire it!” was Gecko’s response to the Egyptian request for authorization. The Egyptians fired.
 
Senior officials in Moscow were shocked, and outraged. “A few minutes later there was a call to Vinogradov from Moscow — [Foreign Minister Andrei] Gromyko was on the line,” Israelyan recounts. “‘What did you talk about with Grechko?’ he asked. When he learned of Grechkov’s order, Gromyko was outraged and strictly prohibited Vinogradov from carrying out the order. ‘I am sorry, Andrei Andreyevich, I can’t help it,’ was the reply. ‘The missiles have already been fired.’” The normally phlegmatic Gromyko was profoundly disturbed by this development — he had a bad feeling that things would soon get out of control. He was right. The third crisis was at hand.
 
Forty-eight hours later, the Soviets and Americans found themselves facing the gravest nuclear crisis since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Despite the UN ceasefire having come into effect, the Egyptian Third Army, which had been completely surrounded by Israeli forces, was still fighting, desperately attempting to break out and avoid a humiliating surrender. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was demanding the Soviets save his army. After lengthy deliberations, Brezhnev informed Nixon that the Soviets were considering “taking appropriate steps unilaterally.” The Soviets began mobilizing troops and equipment. In all, 50,000 Soviet soldiers were readied for a possible intervention to save Egypt and, to be sure, a great deal of Soviet prestige.
 
Kissinger was furious with the Israelis for forcing Moscow’s hand, but could not possibly allow the unilateral introduction of Soviet forces into the Sinai. He responded to Brezhnev’s quasi-ultimatum by writing to Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. “We must view your suggestion of unilateral action as a matter of grave concern,” he said, “involving incalculable consequences.” After a lengthy National Security Council meeting, the U.S. raised the alert level of U.S. forces worldwide, including its nuclear forces, to Defense Condition [DEFCON] 3. Fifty nuclear-capable B-52 bombers moved from bases in Guam closer to the Soviet Union. Airborne tankers were prepared and dispersed. The carrier USS John F. Kennedy and its battle group sailed into the eastern Mediterranean. The 82nd Airborne Division was put on alert and told to be ready for action in the Sinai.
 
At that point two unrelated developments helped to swiftly reduce tensions: Kissinger demanded that Israel allow essential non-military supplies to reach the encircled Egyptian Third Army and desist from further military action or lose U.S. support at the UN; meanwhile, Sadat, having realized that his call for Soviet intervention had pushed the superpowers to the brink of war, opened direct negotiations with the Israelis. This unprecedented step by an Arab leader led to the establishment of a true peace between Egypt and Israel, and also saved Sadat’s Third Army from annihilation or capitulation. With Israeli forces rapidly driving the Syrians back to Damascus, when the UN ordered another ceasefire, all sides saw fit to end the fighting. The superpowers stood back from the brink.
 
The modern Middle East was changed by the events of 40 years ago. And the Soviet Union, of course, is history. But to those closely following the U.S.-Russian brinksmanship over Syria’s used of chemical weapons and Iran’s drive to develop it’s own nuclear weapons, it’s hard to ignore the similarities between now and then. Moscow and Washington butting heads of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East is nothing new. And Israel, as ever, must remain wary of what its neighbours may be planning.
 
Contents


 

ISRAEL-EGYPT FORGE NEW TIES OVER SINAI
Geoffrey Aronson
Al-Monitor, Sept. 13, 2013

 
Last week, Egypt embarked on its most extensive military operation in the Sinai peninsula in almost half a century. The target of this unprecedented deployment is an array of disaffected Egyptians and jihadi foreigners intent upon defying the seat of Egyptian power and sovereignty centered in Cairo.
 
Israel is a key partner in this Egyptian effort. Ironically, the anarchy in Sinai has prompted a new era of enhanced security cooperation between Israel and Egypt. The promise of the Arab Spring may be uncertain, but the Jerusalem-Cairo axis is one arena where a newly energized system of relations is being forged on the crumbling foundations of the old order. Egypt and Israel are creating a new basis for mutually beneficial relations, in the process ignoring not only key aspects of their historic peace treaty signed in 1979, but also reducing the role of what was once deemed to be the critical actor in that relationship — the United States.
 
For two generations the United States was at the center of a strategic partnership between Cairo and Jerusalem. Washington built its regional security strategy around the rapprochement that followed the October 1973 War and invested heavily in its vitality. Economic and military aid to the two nations dwarfed similar US programs elsewhere. “Investing in peace” established a solid security and political rationale for supplying billions to both Egypt and Israel.
 
An iconic photograph taken at the treaty signing ceremony, showing a beaming US President Jimmy Carter standing between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, their hands outstretched in a tripartite handshake, said it all. The United States was the critical midwife of this relationship, and its support was vital to its maintenance.
 
The photograph is now well into middle-age. It has yellowed and its corners are brittle and worn from use. So too the old order of things that it celebrated. Like the photo, the structure that Washington championed reflects the hope and concerns of a bygone era — one that is not so much collapsing as evolving to accommodate seismic changes in the challenges confronted by a revolutionary Egypt and the new security environment along Israel’s southern border, shared with its troubled neighbor. In this new picture, the United States is no longer at the center of things. In some key respects it is not even in the picture. In a path-breaking departure from past practice, Washington is viewed in both Cairo and Jerusalem as an obstacle to be overcome or ignored rather than a key player in solving the shared problems at the top of their mutual security agenda.
 
Washington was long viewed by all parties as the glue that cemented what was often a bloodless bilateral relationship. True, Washington and particularly Congress, always viewed Egypt as the junior partner in this menage a trois, but today, ambivalence if not outright hostility define the bilateral relationship between Washington and post-Mubarak Egypt. The Obama administration can’t quite decide whether Egypt is friend or foe.  “I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy,” President Barack Obama observed in September last year, soon after violent demonstrations at the US Embassy in Cairo.
 
Today, it is Israel that finds itself in the awkward position of trying to convince Washington’s skeptical political (if not security) class to reaffirm a partnership that it once sponsored. Yet, Washington’s imprimatur is far less important today to the vitality of the Israel-Egypt relationship than it was in the past. Israel and Egypt, first during the short-lived rule of President Mohammed Morsi and now under Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, are redefining their relationship to address the shared concerns of this new era.
 
The lawless region of Sinai and to a lesser extent the Gaza Strip top this list in both Cairo and Jerusalem today. In each of these areas the US-sponsored treaty, constructed to address problems that have not so much disappeared as been overcome by the new realities on the ground, has nothing to contribute. The security situation in Sinai — defined by a local and growing wide-ranging insurgency against the central government — is unlike anything envisioned in the treaty, which was focused on preventing a classic conventional war between Israel and Egypt. The treaty tools available to Egypt to address today’s war are inadequate and unsuited to the task. The treaty does not enhance, but in some respects acts as a break on solving the problems both parties face today. And so it is being ignored by Israel and Egypt alike.
 
In the past few years, Egypt, with Israel’s consent, has deployed almost a division of army forces — close to 5,000 men — to the peninsula to combat the insurgency. Egyptian battle tanks have been transported over the Suez Canal for the first time since the peace agreement. Egyptian aircraft deployed in Rafah fly intelligence missions, careful however not to peek across the border into Israel. Apache helicopters are deployed against local and jihadi forces, and even overfly the southern Gaza Strip on occasion.
 
These deployments are a clear violation of the terms of the treaty that all but prohibited the introduction of regular Egyptian troops across the Suez Canal — a perfect example of how the treaty was designed to prevent the last — October 1973 — war. For years, Israel refused the efforts of Egyptian generals, chafing at the indignity of being denied the right to redeploy its forces in sovereign Egyptian territory.
 
But a new chapter was opened when Israel retreated from the Gaza Strip and ended its control over the border between Gaza and Egypt along the “Philadelphi” border in 2005. By mutual agreement, Egypt and Israel agreed to the introduction of new Egyptian forces in Sinai in numbers that have been progressively increased as the anarchy in Sinai has grown from limited concerns about the transfer of arms from Egypt to Gaza to a systemic loss of Egypt's sovereign control over large parts of the peninsula. The United States has not played a central role in these deliberations.
 
And where it does — notably the deployment of the Multinational Force of Observers (MFO) — the revolutionary transformation of security realities in Sinai, and a sour mood in Washington, call into question the future of the US-led contingent. The troops and experts of the MFO were established by the 1979 treaty to monitor compliance with the terms of the treaty. The force’s creation was both a clear symbol of the US commitment to the new regional security framework and the importance that all parties attached to such a visible US role in maintaining the peace.
 
A decade ago, cost-cutters at the Pentagon, including then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, argued for the MFO's elimination as an expensive and unnecessary expense. Their hardheaded view failed to prevail over those, including leaders in Cairo and Jerusalem, who argued against the signal such a US retreat would send about a reduced US commitment to the strategic alliance.
 
Today, the MFO is hunkered down, focused on force protection in the Wild West that Sinai has become. Its mission to monitor violations to the treaty — when Egypt and Israel have agreed to do so as a matter of policy — is passe. The MFO is hostage, figuratively and literally, to the new environment in Sinai. And what is to be said about the US commitment to the regional security framework that the MFO symbolizes when serious consideration is being given in Cairo and Washington to ending US-Egyptian aid and security ties? The question to be asked is increasingly not whether the MFO will remain, but whether anyone will notice if it doesn’t.
 
Geoffrey Aronson writes regularly on Middle East issues for Al-Monitor.
 
Contents

 

IS THIS THE END OF THE FAILED 
MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD PROJECT?
Hussein Ibish
The National (UAE), Oct. 5, 2013

 
Is the Muslim Brotherhood dying? In Egypt and throughout the Arab world, Brotherhood-affiliated parties are suffering an unprecedented series of setbacks that cast real doubt on the long-term viability of that version of Islamist politics. The blow the Brotherhood has received in Egypt is exceptionally severe. Most of its senior leaders are under arrest, and its ability to mount mass protests appears debilitated. There is a pending court order mandating its disbanding and the seizure of its assets. And none of this seems to bother most Egyptians. It’s not clear when or how the Brotherhood in Egypt can recover from this unprecedented crisis.
 
What is less widely understood, however, is that Brotherhood-affiliated parties across the region – many of which recently seemed to be on the brink of the political successes they have craved for decades – are suffering extreme setbacks. The Brotherhood’s crisis in Egypt may be particularly dramatic but it is also merely the tip of the iceberg.
 
A quick regional survey can show how damaged this movement currently is. In Morocco, the Justice and Development Party might be in the best shape of all, currently occupying the ineffective office of prime minister. But, while ostentatiously praising the King, it is loudly insisting that it is in no sense whatsoever a Muslim Brotherhood party, or affiliated with it at all except insofar as both identify as Islamist. This is untrue. They only find it necessary to disavow Brotherhood connections so vigorously because of how regionally discredited the movement has become.
 
In Tunisia, a coalition of secular political and labour movement forces has forced the Brotherhood Ennahda party government to agree to resignation. Ennahda may still be the largest political party in Tunisia, but it’s unlikely that it could repeat its 2011 parliamentary electoral success since secular and non-Islamist forces are becoming much more organised and coordinated. And it’s always been clear it would be exceptionally difficult for Ennahda to beat a consensus secular candidate in a two-person presidential election or run-off.
 
The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, which seemed to be growing from strength to strength a mere year ago, is in utter disarray. The Syrian Brotherhood was the most influential political force in the opposition after the uprising against the Damascus dictatorship began. But now they seem to have virtually no influence on the conflict or its likely outcome. Hamas in Gaza is undergoing an unprecedented crisis. It bizarrely made no effort to convince the new Egyptian government that it was not a hostile force, especially with regard to security in Sinai. It is therefore being treated like one. Egypt has imposed an unparalleled blockade, leaving the economy in shambles. For the first time since 2007, it is now possible to imagine a Gaza no longer under Hamas control.
 
And in those parts of the Gulf in which the Brotherhood has some presence, its affiliates are coming under intense scrutiny and increasing pressure. But all of this hardly means that Islamism across the board is enduring a nadir. In several Arab societies, Salafists are either outflanking Brotherhood groups or reaping the benefits of the Brotherhood’s crises….
 
If the ideology and practices of more moderate Brotherhood parties have proven unworkable and popularly unacceptable in power, that can only apply far more intensively to Salafist groups. The plausibility of Salafist rule in any post-dictatorship Arab society is, for those two reasons, virtually nil. This may not be the end of the Muslim Brotherhood but its region-wide crisis is so severe that significant ideological and practical adaptation will be unavoidable for those flexible enough to learn any lessons. The Moroccan and Tunisian branches are already unhappily compromising to survive.
 
But the Muslim Brotherhood may be dying at least in the sense that what ultimately emerges from the current wreckage will be unrecognisably different. Only a radical change in fortunes across the region is likely to forestall such a process. So during the very period in which many Arabs and westerners alike expected Brotherhood domination in many Arab countries, we may instead be witnessing the death throes of a nearly 100-year-old failed experiment.
 

Hussein Ibish is a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine.
 
Contents

Lessons from the Yom Kippur WarDaniel Greenfield, Front Page Magazine, Oct. 7, 2013—Forty years ago, Israel experienced the most devastating war in its modern history. Israel not only suffered its worst casualties during the Yom Kippur War, but actually came close to being destroyed with Defense Minister Moshe Dayan warning that “The Third Temple is falling.”
 
51 Dead in as Egyptians Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Yom Kippur WarJewish Press,  October 7th, 2013—Deadly clashes erupted in Cairo on Sunday as pro-Morsi marches protesting the military junta rule headed to Tahrir Square, where thousands were cheering the same junta, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the army’s 1973 “victory” against Israel. Confrontations there and outside Cairo resulted so far in the death toll rising to 51, according to Al Ahram, with 268 injured.
 
Who Is Egypt's Next President?Bassem Sabry, Al-Monitor, Sept. 22 2013—If the current roadmap holds, Egypt could see its next presidential elections to select its fifth head of state sometime in the second quarter of 2014. A minority has been calling for holding the presidential elections earlier before the parliamentary polls, but all signs indicate the current administration is adamantly opposed to amending its roadmap.
 
 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Contents:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

On Topic Links

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE CHOICE IN EGYPT

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, August 22, 2013

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Contents

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

Magdi Khalil

Front Page Magazine, Aug. 23, 2013

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Contents

 

 

EGYPT IS WHERE HISTORY GOES TO DIE

Daniel Greenfield

Jewish Press, August 27th, 2013

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Contents

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

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

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

 

 

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

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