Tag: Tahrir Square

«JAMAIS LA HAINE NE CESSE PAR LA HAINE; C’EST LA BIENVEILLANCE QUI RECONCILIE.» – SIDDHARTHA GAUTAMA

 

 

L’HISTORIEN ANDRÉ CHAMPAGNE COMMENTE
SUR LE DANGER REPRÉSENTÉ PAR LES FRÈRES MUSULMANS

Dépêche
Pointdebasculecanada.ca, 27 Janvier 2012

Dans un échange avec l’animatrice Catherine Perrin, l’historien André Champagne discuta récemment du danger que représentent les Frères Musulmans dans l’Égypte contemporaine. La diffusion par Radio-Canada d’un commentaire critique à l’égard des Frères Musulmans est un fait inusité qui méritait d’être souligné. L’extrait de l’émission Médium large du 19 janvier 2012 est disponible sur le site de Radio-Canada.

 

Dans sa présentation, André Champagne fait ressortir les points suivants:

 

– Les Frères Musulmans constituent l’organisation islamiste la plus ancienne et la mieux structurée d’Égypte. Ils ont noyauté les organisations professionnelles du pays et l’ensemble de la société.

 

– Dans son Manifeste en 50 points, Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949), le fondateur des Frères Musulmans, préconisait notamment la fermeture des salles de danse qu’il considérait moralement indésirables et la censure du théâtre, du cinéma et des chansons.

 

À l’animatrice Catherine Perrin qui insiste pour rappeler que ces propositions datent des années ’30, Champagne rétorque (avec raison) que c’est toujours le programme qui guide les Frères Musulmans aujourd’hui. Il rappelle que le slogan des Frères continue d’être L’islam c’est la solution.

 

Selon Champagne, c’est le programme des Frères Musulmans concernant les femmes qui demeure le signe le plus clair de leur nature réactionnaire. Il rappelle qu’à son retour d’un séjour de deux ans aux États-Unis dans les années ’40 où il était allé étudier le système scolaire, Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), l’important intellectuel des Frères Musulmans, avait condamné la place que la femme y occupe. Il s’était insurgé contre l’idée que la femme puisse être l’égale de l’homme.

 

Vers la fin de sa présentation, André Champagne fit lire par l’animatrice cet extrait d’un livre (non identifié) qu’il avait apporté avec lui en studio: «En ce qui concerne le statut des femmes, l’auteur d’À l’ombre du Coran (Sayyid Qutb) juge que leur place naturelle est à la maison. Les sorties doivent être exceptionnelles. Quant à travailler, il ne saurait en être question pour la paix des ménages. Au besoin, le mari peut battre sa femme si elle cherche à séduire d’autres hommes.»

 

Champagne termina en rappelant qu’il sera quasi-impossible de trouver du travail aux millions de jeunes Égyptiens et aux jeunes Arabes des pays avoisinants qui arriveront sur le marché du travail d’ici 2020. Réaliste, il s’attend à ce que les Frères Musulmans fassent tout en leur pouvoir pour exacerber la situation et enrôler la jeunesse au cri de L’islam c’est la solution.

 

La tâche des défenseurs de la liberté en Occident, c’est de partir de conclusions générales telles celles qu’énonce M. Champagne pour en arriver à décrire de façon spécifique comment les Frères Musulmans et autres islamistes opèrent non pas au Caire mais à New-York, à Bruxelles, à Melbourne et à Montréal, en conformité avec les conditions spécifiques qui y prévalent. Étudier l’évolution des sociétés où le processus d’islamisation est plus avancé pour tenter de stopper sa progression en Occident. Passer du général au spécifique. Appliquer les leçons de l’histoire au présent. Voilà notre défi.

EGYPTE: AGRESSIONS SEXUELLES SUR PLACE TAHRIR
Dépêche
postedeveille.ca, 29 Janvier 2012
Source: Woman tells of having pants ripped off, assaulted and prodded in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, Bikyamasr, 26 janvier 2012.
Adaptation Française: Poste de Veille

Cette étrangère à la chevelure blonde a été sauvagement agressée pendant 10 minutes sur place Tahrir le 25 janvier lors d'une manifestation marquant le 1er anniversaire de la chute du régime Moubarak. Elle a quitté les lieux dans une ambulance. Quelques heures plus tôt, trois autres femmes avaient été agressées de la même manière…

 

Elle s’est retrouvée dans son appartement du Caire sans son pantalon, qui lui avait été arraché au centre-ville. Elle et ses deux colocataires ont été attaquées par la foule mercredi sur la place emblématique pendant une manifestation contre la junte militaire. Heather, qui habite dans la capitale égyptienne, a relaté qu’elle s’était rendue sur la place Tahrir avec ses colocataires suédoise et espagnole alors que des milliers de personnes s’y trouvaient pour marquer le premier anniversaire de l’éviction de l'ancien président Hosni Moubarak. «Ils ont commencé à se battre pour savoir qui ferait quoi», a-t-elle dit à Bikyamasr.com dans une interview exclusive. Elle s’est exprimée après avoir vu le reportage sur une étrangère qui avait été déshabillée et agressée à peine quelques heures après elle. «Moi et mes colocataires sommes tombées par terre quand ils nous ont attaquées. Les gens ont arraché mon pantalon pendant que je hurlais et me débattais», a-t-elle poursuivi. L'incident est survenu vers 19 h 30 heure locale, à la tombée de la nuit, «au centre de Tahrir». Elle a dit qu’après lui avoir enlevé son pantalon, les hommes ont continué de tripoter les femmes. «C’est dégoûtant. Ils ont mis leurs doigts dans mon cul», a-t-elle révélé. Heureusement, elles ont été secourues par un homme et une femme et emmenées dans un endroit sûr. Elle a dit qu'elle ne se rappelle pas exactement comment elle a été sauvée de l'attaque violente. «Je tremblais et je pleurais et l’homme et la femme m’ont agrippée et ils nous ont sorties de Tahrir».

 

Plus tard dans la soirée, la question de la violence sexuelle envers les femmes a refait surface après qu’un témoin a rapporté sur Twitter qu’une femme étrangère avait été déshabillée, tripotée et agressée par une foule d’hommes sur place Tahrir. La femme, dont l'identité n'a pas été révélée, a été emmenée dans une ambulance après avoir été agressée pendant 10 minutes. Son mari a été témoin de l’incident et aurait été incapable d’intervenir. «J'ai vu la femme, puis des dizaines d'hommes l'ont entourée et se sont emparés d’elle, et quand elle a appelé à l’aide des gens sont venus mais ils ont été frappés au visage», a écrit le témoin. Ce qui s’est ensuite passé est «épouvantable», a relaté le témoin digne de confiance, qui a demandé à garder l’anonymat: «Les hommes ont commencé à déchirer ses vêtements et à la toucher partout. Quand elle résistait, ils la poussaient. C'était le chaos». Des rapports non confirmés affirment que des hommes l’ont «violée» avec leurs mains. On ne connaît pas pour l’instant la nationalité de cette femme. […]

LES ASSASSINS D'ITAMAR
COUVERTS D'ÉLOGE À LA TV PALESTINIENNE

Laure Onno
Guysen.com, 30 Janvier 2012

Hakim et Amjad Awad, les responsables du massacre d’Itamar ont reçu publiquement les salutations de leur famille lors d’une émission télévisée palestinienne.

 

Invitée la semaine dernière dans «For You», une émission de la télévision officielle de l’Autorité Palestinienne qui adresse des messages aux Palestiniens détenus dans les prisons israéliennes, la famille d’Hakim Awad n’a pas mâché ses mots. Dans le cadre de la «journée du prisonnier», les responsables du massacre d’Itamar, ayant assassiné en mars dernier cinq membres de la famille Fogel en Judée-Samarie, ont ainsi pu recevoir des messages de sympathie, d’encouragements et de félicitations.

 

La mère et la tante d’ Hakim Awad, iront jusqu’à le décrire comme un «héros» ou encore «une légende». Il va sans dire que l’émission fait scandale, d’autant que la présentatrice profite du moment pour adresser aux meurtriers des salutations générales. La voici rapportée par ‘’Palestinian Media Watch’’, une organisation de surveillance des médias basée en Israël:

 

La présentatrice: «Nous avons un appel de la famille du prisonnier Hakim Awad.
-Bonsoir.»

La mère d’Hakim Awad: «-Bonjour. Merci de me mettre en relation avec mon fils, parce que, pour des raisons de sécurité, moi et ma famille avons reçu l’interdiction de lui rendre visite.»

La présentatrice: «-Vas-y ma sœur, nous pouvons transmettre ta parole.»

La mère d’Hakim Awad: «- Mes salutations au cher Hakim d'Awarta, la prunelle de mes yeux, qui à 17 ans a effectué l'opération à Itamar (tuant 5 membres de la famille Fogel), et a été condamné à 5 condamnations à perpétuité et 5 ans de prison.»

La tante d’Hakim Awad: «-Bonsoir. Je suis la sœur du prisonnier Hassan Awad et de Salah Awad. Je suis Umb Habib d’Awarta. Mes chaleureuses salutations à tous les grands prisonniers héroïques, à mon frère Hassan Awad, chef du conseil du village, à mon frère Salah Awad, l’héroïque journaliste fait prisonnier, au héros, lui aussi prisonnier, le lion, mon neveu Yazid Awad, et à mon neveu Hakim Awad, le héros, la légende, je vous salue.»

La présentatrice: «- Nous leur exprimons également nos salutations.»

La tante d’Hakim Awad: «- A Hassan Awad, Yazid Awad, Hakim Awad et Salah Awad, qui sont tous en prison, je leur dédis cette chanson: Mon frère, en isolement cellulaire, ta voix m’appelle. Ne jette pas le fusil, c'est ce que la patrie demande. Dans tes yeux, nous sommes tous des combattants sacrifiés. Mes salutations au son des balles d'Ahmad Saadat et Hakim Awad.»

La présentatrice: «- Merci d’être avec nous, la famille des prisonniers Hassan et Salah Awad, d’Awarta.»

 

En août 2011, un tribunal israélien a fermement condamné les deux auteurs du massacre d’Itamar. Hakim Awad et son cousin Amjad, ont chacun été condamnés à cinq peines à perpétuité et à sept autres années pour avoir brutalement poignardé à mort Udi et Ruth Fogel et trois de leurs enfants: Yoav (11 ans) Elad (4 ans) et Hadas (4 mois), en mars 2011. Le Rav d’Itamar, Rav Nathan Haï, s’est dit «écœuré par une telle attitude qui encense l’assassinat d’enfants» et a appelé «à une réaction immédiate des autorités israéliennes» ainsi «qu’à l’arrestation de la mère et la tante de l’assassin… Quiconque félicite les meurtriers d’innocents encourage de nouveaux actes barbares» conclut le Rav Haï.

LES MENSONGES DE LA MÈRE
DU MEURTRIER PALESTINIEN DE LA FAMILLE FOGEL

Dépêche
philosemitismeblog.blogspot.com, 1 Février 2012
Source: Elder of Ziyon (Fogel massacre postscript: The lying mother of a murderer)

Le bloguer américain Elder of Ziyon avait rapporté (comme beaucoup de blogs) que la mère et la tante de Hakim Awad, l'un des assassins de la famille Fogel d'Itamar, avaient fait son éloge. Elder rappele que lors de l'arrestation de son fils elle avait clamé haut et fort son innocence, preuves médicales à l'appui… Comme quoi la vérité palestinienne est d'une élasticité remarquable. […] Cependant lors de son arrestation, cette même femme et mère affirmait catégoriquement qu'il était innocent! L'agence Ma'an a alors rapporté que la mère disposait d'une série de alibis: «Nouf Awwad a déclaré à Ma'an le dimanche […] que Hakim était toujours en convalescence suite à une opération chirurgicale récente, et qu'il était incapable de parcourir de longues distances à pied et devait à aller aux toilettes toutes les heures. Elle ajoutait la famille que sa santé restait fragile et que la famille avait son dossier médical et recueillait des documents qui seraient utilisés comme preuve dans la défense de Hakim. Elle précisa que Hakim avait été opéré aux testicules à l'hôpital Rafidiya à Naplouse. Il était à la maison [la nuit des meurtres] et est allé se coucher à 21h30», affirma-t-elle.

 

Hakim fut arrêté début avril par les forces israéliennes, était détenu depuis ce moment et n'avait eu aucun contact avec sa famille. Et sa mère Nouf Awwad prétendait qu'elle «ne pouvait pas exclure» que son fils avait été torturé et fait des aveux sous la contrainte. C'est cette même mère qui a confié à un autre journal que l'un des soldats israéliens lui avait dit qu'ils voulaient conclure l'enquête sur le crime, même s'ils devaient fabriquer des charges contre n'importe quelle personne du village. Les militants anti-israéliens militants ont saisi les déclarations de la mère comme «preuve» que Hakim avait été torturé et faussement incriminé par Israël. Quand les meurtriers ont avoué en plein tribunal qu'ils étaient fiers de leur acte ces mêmes critiques se sont, comme d'habitude, tu sur leurs accusations antérieures. Et ils sont très heureux de continuer à croire aux gros mensonges que les Arabes palestiniens racontent sur Israël sans le moindre esprit critique.

EGYPT ON THE (ISLAMIST) EDGE: OF SECULARS, CHRISTIANS, & OTHER DHIMMIS

Yesterday, Egyptian military police clashed with thousands of protesters in Cairo, in a violent escalation of a two-day battle that analysts warn threatens to undermine next week’s parliamentary elections. Police used rubber bullets, birdshot, truncheons and tear gas to disperse the crowd, and set fire to tents and vehicles in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in February.

 

According to Egyptian medical sources, at least 33 people have been killed and more than one thousand injured since the conflict erupted last Friday, when tens of thousands of Islamists took to the streets to demonstrate against military rule. The Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, organized the rally, demanding that the military junta hold elections on time and outline a firm plan for the transition of power.

 

Yet questions remain, primary of which is whether “free and democratic” elections can, or will, indeed lead to a free and democratic “New Egypt.” As things stand, the Islamists appear set for a landslide victory. Western powers, in particular the US, seem unperturbed by this prospect, with US special coordinator for transitions in the Middle East, William Taylor, having recently asserted the Obama administration would be “satisfied” should elections in Egypt produce a victory for the Brotherhood.

 

Nonetheless the writing is on the wall. The Muslim Brotherhood, progenitor of the Hamas terrorist group, maintains an Islamist ideology opposed to Western values, one that is vehemently anti-Israel and anti-Western. This reality last week led Israeli member of Parliament Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, to warn the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the latest developments in Egypt indicate that “over time Israel will find itself in a head-on confrontation” with its Arab neighbor, and that Israel “should start preparing for a conflict.”

 

“We are in the midst of an earthquake,” Ben-Eliezer affirmed. This earthquake, coined the “Arab Spring,” has already ushered in Islamic rule in both Tunisia and Libya, and seems destined now to do the same in Egypt.

 

EGYPT’S PRE-ELECTION CHAOS
Ryan Mauro

FrontPage, November 21, 2011

At least 33 Egyptians died over the weekend in violence ahead of the scheduled November 28 election. The country is shaking as protesters demand that the ruling military council set a date to hand over power to a civilian government shortly after the voting is finished in March. At the same time, the contests between the political parties is heating up as secularists are accused of violating Islam and the Salafists turn on the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite the instability, the council says that elections will still be held.

Demonstrators of a mostly Islamist orientation began protesting on Friday against the ruling military council’s moves to hold onto power. They are demanding that the council announce a firm date for when power will be transferred to an elected interim government. The council doesn’t want an official handover until the presidential elections take place, which it has loosely scheduled for late 2012 or early 2013. The Egyptian political parties and the presidential candidates, both secularist and Islamist, are not so patient.

Clashes took place in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and elsewhere. By Sunday, the crowd in Tahrir Square reached 5,000. The Egyptian military and police decided to put an end to it, forcibly dispersing the demonstrators with rubber bullets, batons and tear gas. At least a dozen protest tents, along with banners and blankets, were set ablaze.… The government says at least 1,114 were wounded across the country over the weekend.…

The protests are fueled by a concern that the Supreme Armed Forces Council will undermine democratic reforms so it can hold onto power. The council has made it clear it will not allow “another Khomeini” to rise, but it is also taking action against its secular opponents. The country went into an uproar recently when the council proposed that it be given veto power over any future constitution and that it pick 80 of the 100 members of the constitutional committee. The council backed down.

The Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the population, are still being persecuted. On November 17, about 400 marched in honor of the 27 people who lost their lives in sectarian crisis, most of whom were Christians. They were attacked, with rocks and broken glass falling on them from the upper part of a building while the police did nothing. Ten Christians were injured. The victims said the attackers were supporters of a Salafist candidate running in the parliamentary elections named Gamal Saber.

There are now multiple struggles underway as the first round of elections on November 28 draws near. The secularists and the Islamists both oppose the military council. The secularists and the Islamists oppose each other and within the Islamist camp, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists have locked horns.

The Islamists are building support by selling essential goods to the poor at a steep discount. This includes food, clothing and medicine.… The organizational advantages of the Islamists over the secularists are plain for all to see. It is not just the Muslim Brotherhood that has a well-oiled operation and campaign infrastructure. The Salafist Al-Nour party says it has 100,000 members and 150 offices around the country.

The Salafists were originally part of the Brotherhood-lead Democratic Alliance bloc. The Al-Nour, Al-Asalah, Al-Fadilah and Al-Islah Salafist parties decided to leave and form their own coalition.… It is unclear at this point if the Salafists and the Brotherhood will coordinate their campaigns so that they don’t split the Islamist vote in individual districts.

There is not much time left before the voting begins and the Islamists’ hopes are high. The Al-Nour party predicts that the Islamists will control over one-third of parliament. Middle East expert Dr. Barry Rubin revised his projection in the wake of the Islamist Ennahda Party’s success in the Tunisian elections (winning 41% of the vote). He now believes the Islamists will get nearly half of the seats in parliament.…

The first round of elections for the lower house of parliament will take place on November 28. Nine provinces will vote in each round and there will be a run-off election in districts where the victor does not win a majority of the vote. The second and third rounds for the lower house will take place on December 14 and January 3, respectively. The three rounds for the upper house will take place on January 29, February 14 and March 4.

The elected interim government will draft the next constitution and decide the role of [Islamic] Sharia [law]. The stakes for Egypt and the region could not be much higher.

AFTER EGYPT’S REVOLUTION, CHRISTIANS ARE LIVING IN FEAR
Andre Aciman

NY Times, November 19, 2011

The images streaming from Cairo’s streets last month were not as horrifying as those of the capture and brutal death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, but they were savage all the same. They were a sobering reminder that popular movements in some parts of the world, however euphorically they begin, can take disquieting and ugly turns.

When liberal Muslims joined Coptic Christians as they marched through Cairo’s Maspero area on Oct. 9 to protest the burning of a Coptic church, bands of conservative Muslim hooligans wielding sticks and swords began attacking the protesters. Egyptian security forces…deliberately rammed their armed vehicles into the Coptic crowd and fired live ammunition indiscriminately.

Egyptian military authorities soon shut down live news coverage of the event, and evidence of chaos was quickly cleared from the scene. But the massacre, in which at least 24 people were killed and more than 300 were wounded, was the worst instance of sectarian violence in Egypt in 60 years.…

Egypt’s interim prime minister, Essam Sharaf, claimed that the wholesale slaughter of civilians was not the product of sectarian violence but proof that there were “hidden hands” involved. I grew up in an Egypt that was inventing hidden hands wherever you looked. Because of my family’s increasingly precarious status as Jews living in Nasser’s Egypt, my parents forbade me to flash my flashlight several times at night or to write invisible messages with lemon ink in middle school. These were a spymaster’s tricks, and Jews were forever regarded as spies.… Sadly, the phrase “hidden hands” remains a part of Egypt’s political rhetoric more than 50 years later.…

Sometimes those hidden hands are called Langley, or the West, or, all else failing, of course, the Mossad. Sometimes “hidden hands” stands for any number of foreign or local conspiracies carried out by corrupt or disgruntled apparatchiks of one stripe or another who are forever eager to tarnish and discredit the public trust.

The problem with Egypt is that there is no public trust. There is no trust, period. False rumor, which is the opiate of the Egyptian masses and the bread and butter of political discourse in the Arab world, trumps clarity, reason and the will to tolerate a different opinion, let alone a different religion or the spirit of open discourse.

“Hidden hands” stands for Satan. And with Satan you don’t use judgment; you use cunning and paranoia. Cunning, after all, is poor man’s fare, a way of cobbling together a credible enough narrative that is at once easy to digest, to swear by, and pass around. Bugaboos keep you focused. And nothing in the Middle East can keep you as focused (or as unfocused) as the archvillain of them all: Israel.

Say “Israel” and you’ve galvanized everyone. Say Israel and you have a movement, a cause, a purpose. Say “Israel” and all of Islam huddles. Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and now Turkey.…

Copts represent approximately 10 percent of Egypt’s population and are the direct descendants of the ancient Egyptians. Yet, sensing danger while everyone else in Egypt and in the West was busy celebrating the fall of Mr. Mubarak during the much-heralded Arab Spring, 93,000 Copts have already fled Egypt since March. In light of the events in Maspero, it is thought that another 150,000 Copts may leave their ancestral homeland by the end of 2011.

When Mr. Mubarak was in power, the Copts were frequently the victims of violent attacks and official discrimination—the New Year’s bombing of a Coptic Church in Alexandria that left 21 dead is the most recent instance. Now, with Mr. Mubarak gone, Copts fear that an elected Muslim majority is likely to prove far less tolerant than a military dictatorship.…

What doesn’t occur to most Egyptians is that the Copts represent a significant business community in Egypt and that their flight may further damage an economy saddled with a ballooning deficit. But this is nothing new for Egypt. The Egyptians have yet to learn the very hard lesson of the post-1956 departure of its nearly 100,000 Jews, who, at the time, constituted one of the wealthiest Jewish communities in the Mediterranean region.

The Egyptian economy never recovered from this loss. While blaming Zionism and the creation of Israel or turning to Islamic leadership may take many people’s minds off the very real financial debacle confronting Egypt and help assuage feelings of powerlessness, the hard lesson has not been learned yet.

The Arab Spring was a luminous instance of democratic euphoria in a country that had no history of democracy or euphoria. What happened to the Copts this fall cast a dark cloud, which the interim government, whatever its true convictions, would do well to dispel. Egypt should not lose its Copts. For if that is what autumn brings, then, to paraphrase Shelley, winter may not be far behind.

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MAKES FOOLS OF NAIVE WEST;
TWO SMART EGYPTIANS FEAR FUTURE
Barry Rubin

Pajamas Media, November 1, 2011

“I realized how difficult it is to understand the true nature of men from outward signs. At Ancona, for example, a kind old man…asked me to let him have some [of my] soup.… I gave it to him gladly, taken with the serenity in his eyes and his modest gestures. Immediately afterward, I larned that this repellent beast had raped his own daughter.”—Antonio Gramsci, a founder of the Italian Communist Party, Letters from Prison

Can you imagine this? The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood lied! And can you imagine this: the two civilians who are Egypt’s greatest hope for avoiding an Islamist dictatorship are very worried.

Let’s start with the Brotherhood. First, it promised to run candidates for only one-third of the parliamentary seats, saying this would prove its moderation and willingness to share power. But a little later, it raised that number to 50 percent but said that’s all and they wouldn’t run a candidate for president. Again, we were told: they’re moderate!

Next, it created a front party to run a candidate for president. For months the Western media generally told us that this party was independent of the Brotherhood, had split off from the Brotherhood to run a candidate for president. That made this party even more moderate than the moderate Brotherhood.

Finally, now that the media admits this is a Brotherhood-controlled party, it announces, too, that it will run candidates for all the parliamentary seats. How do we know they are moderate? Well, because they say so. For example, the Brotherhood has announced that it will not run on the slogan, “Islam is the solution!” Their new official slogan is: “We bring good [things] for Egypt.” How moderate can you get?

Some details. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party dominates the 11-party Democratic Alliance (again, a nice “moderate” name). The Alliance will run candidates in the 76 multi-candidate proportional representation districts and in the 113 single-seat districts. Incidentally, two of its partners are leftist parties, including al-Ghad.

As in Tunisia (and Turkey and in the Palestinian elections won by Hamas some years ago), the opposition is divided, disorganized, and some of its members are ready to make a deal with the Islamists.

The opposition 21-party Egyptian Bloc has collapsed after only two months of existence. Only three determined secular-oriented parties remain in it: the genuinely liberal Free Egyptians Party (drawing mostly Christian support), the tiny Egyptian Social Democratic Party, and the radical leftist Tagammu Party.

The “Facebook kid” left-liberal Justice Party has formed its own bloc called The Revolution Continues while the Salafis (openly radical Islamists) are trying to combine in the Nour Party.

The three main “liberal” parties—Wafd, Free Egyptians, Justice—are all running against each other. They’ll split the vote and in district after district the Islamists will win.

Moreover, the Brotherhood is following a brilliant strategy to build a united front for Sharia, bringing in other clerics and gradually winning over more and more of the religious establishment to an Islamist position. The proportion of non-Islamist forces among observant Muslims thus steadily declines. Religious Islam as it has been actually practiced and political Islamism have not been the same thing but they are increasingly becoming the same thing as the Islamists win the battle of interpretation.

As a result of all of these factors, I’m changing my prediction. A poll misread by American “experts” supposedly claimed that the Brotherhood had only 13 percent support and was no threat. I analyzed the poll as putting them at 33 percent. A new poll by theDanish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute puts the Brotherhood at 39 percent. I am now predicting that the Brotherhood and other radical Islamists may get to almost 50 percent.

Am I being too alarmist? Well let’s listen to the two most interesting non-Islamist political figures in Egypt. Amr Moussa, who might well be Egypt’s next president though it seems he will have to await elections in 2013, is one of the smartest politicians in the Arabic-speaking world.

A former foreign minister and head of the Arab League, he is also an intemperate, radical Arab nationalist who knows how to use demagoguery and populism to rally support for himself. Of course, that’s also why he’s the great black-white-red (the Arab nationalist colors) hope to defeat the green of the Islamists.

So it’s worth listening to his reading of the current situation. Briefly, Egypt will elect a parliament on November 28—probably with the Muslim Brotherhood as the biggest party—that will choose a constitution-writing committee in April 2012. Only after a constitution is completed, no earlier than the summer of 2013, will a president be elected. Thus decrees the military junta. Since he’s already 75, Moussa is understandably in a hurry.

Amr Moussa says that in the interim he fears Egypt could be plunged into a terrible crisis by growing violence and economic disaster (the country has lost an estimated $10 billion due to the revolution and subsequent disruption). That makes sense. “My biggest fear is anarchy,” says Moussa. “A long transitional period…will create an opportunity for all those who want to play havoc with the Egyptian society.”

Right. Islamists will continue to attack Christians, whom the government and army won’t protect. The Brotherhood will complain that if only it was in charge and could implement a policy of hope and change everything would be great. Islamists and liberals will join together to bash the junta as anti-democratic and intending to keep power for itself.

The junta’s decision to create dual power—a military executive alongside an elected legislature—is understandable since it is horrified at the rise of Islamism and violence. But this is likely to be a turbulent situation.

Then there’s Naguib Sawiris, a billionaire, Christian, and the founder of the Free Egyptians’ Party, the only group that’s likely to fight Islamism. He has just given a fascinating interview to Bloomberg Business News.

The problem is that while the party has many Muslims in the leadership and membership (two-thirds, it claims) most of its votes will probably come from Christians, the only large sector of the population willing to battle for secularism.

Sawiris is not a man who is easily intimidated, ignoring the many death threats. Yet on the national stage he is merely an uppity dhimmi, albeit one with 139,000 followers to his Twitter account. He also has a sense of humor, posting a picture of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Islamic garb. The Islamists, however, don’t have a sense of humor, launching a costly boycott of his businesses.

Last July, an Islamist preacher said on cable television, “We will kill him even if he repents.” You see, Sawaris lives in luxury and has massive business interests and power. But here’s how a revolutionary Islamist thinks: For all that, he’s just another infidel and one swing of the sword will cut through even the most expensive tailor-made collar.

Sawiris thinks Egypt may well end up like Iran. He watches as Christians are attacked, Islamist terrorists released from prison. and a rising demagoguery targets Israel as Egypt’s main problem.

Prediction: By mid-2012 everyone will be writing about the failure of the Egyptian revolution and how it has made things worse for the country and terrible for the region. Added prediction: they will be saying the same thing about Tunisia and Libya. Will this combination be enough to wake up the West to the threat of revolutionary Islamism and the catastrophic consequences of current Western policy toward the Middle East?

EX NIHIL NIHIL FIT *: REAL REVOLUTION IN CAIRO, OR NIHILISM ON THE NILE? (* “NOTHING CAN COME FROM NOTHING.”)

FIVE MONTHS OF WAITING
Sharif Abdel Kouddous
Foreign Policy, July 15, 2011

 

Five months after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Tahrir Square has, once again, been transformed into a mass protest encampment and the epicenter of the struggle for change in Egypt. Thousands of protesters are entering the second week of a sit-in reminiscent of the one that captured the world’s attention during the 18-day uprising that began on Jan. 25.

At the heart of the matter is the feeling of many that the basic demands of the revolution have gone unfulfilled, with little indication that a path for real change lies ahead; that the calls for justice and accountability for members of the former regime and security forces accused of killing protesters have gone unanswered; and that the revolutionary demands of “bread, freedom, social justice” have all but been abandoned.…

In Tahrir, protesters have dug in for the long haul. The middle of the square has been converted into a tent city, complete with winding pathways, food stocking centers, and a hairdresser. Electricity has been routed from street lamps to power fans and recharge cell phones. Wi-Fi Internet connections and satellite TV have been set up. Protesters have organized popular committees to protect the entrances, sweep the streets, and make collective decisions about living in the square.…

The sit-in began after issues that have been simmering for the past five months boiled over in the last few weeks, culminating in massive demonstrations across the country on July 8—the biggest protests since the Supreme Council came to power.

The anger and frustration began to escalate on June 26, when the trial of the much-reviled former interior minister, Habib Al-Adly, and six of his aides was postponed for a second time. The victims’ outraged family members gathered outside the courthouse and pelted police vehicles with rocks as they drove away. Two days later, clashes broke out between police and relatives of those killed in the uprising at an event honoring martyrs of the revolution. The clashes quickly spread to the Interior Ministry and Tahrir Square, where thousands of demonstrators had rushed in solidarity, and escalated into the largest street battles between security forces and protesters since Mubarak’s fall. Security forces used rubber bullets, birdshot, tear-gas canisters, as well as reportedly live ammunition, in some cases, against the demonstrators and taunted them, some while brandishing swords. Protesters fought back with rocks and Molotov cocktails, and more than 1,000 people were injured. The fierce clashes convinced many that the security apparatus remains unreformed.…

Less than a week later, clashes erupted at a Cairo courthouse after a judge ordered the release on bail of seven police officers accused of killing 17 protesters and wounding 300 others in the canal city of Suez—widely viewed as the symbolic heart of the revolution. The ruling touched off two days of rioting in Suez, with hundreds of people torching police cars and trying to storm government buildings.… Over the past five months, only one policeman has been convicted—in absentia—for the killing of protesters during the revolution, in which nearly 1,000 people were killed. Over the same time period, more than 10,000 civilians have been tried in military courts, where they are routinely denied access to lawyers and family and receive sentences ranging from a few months to five years.…

Despite the scale of the July 8 protests and the open sit-in, there was no immediate reaction from the Supreme Council. Instead, in what activists saw as another provocation, the military announced that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi had sworn in a new minister of information, the Wafd Party’s Osama Heikal. The Information Ministry has long been viewed as an integral part of the state propaganda apparatus, and many believed the position, which had not been filled for five months, would remain vacant.…

On July 9, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf vowed to suspend police officers accused of killing protesters and said a panel would be created to speed up court cases against them and those accused of corruption. However, that same evening, the interior minister, Maj. Gen. Mansour Essawi, publicly contradicted Sharaf’s statement and refused to suspend accused policemen.…

A July 12 televised address by the council’s Gen. Mohsen el Fangari…warned that Egypt was “facing a planned and organized attempt to disrupt the country’s domestic stability” and that the Supreme Council “will take any and every action to confront and stop the threats surrounding the country.” In a gesture much-derided by the protesters, Fangari repeatedly wagged his finger at the camera and insisted the military “will not give up its role in administering the country in such a critical time in the history of Egypt.”

The statement did not have the desired effect. That afternoon, in an impressive display of force, thousands marched out of Tahrir Square to the parliament building and the headquarters of the Cabinet of Ministers, which were being guarded by the military a few blocks away. Chanting loudly, they called for Tantawi to step down and blasted the Interior Ministry as thugs. In the evening, Tahrir had its most crowded night since the July 8 sit-in began, with thousands of people crowding the square until the early morning hours in defiance of the Supreme Council.…

The next day, Essawi announced the early retirement of 669 senior police officers in what he called “the biggest shake-up in the history of the police.” While it did not release their names, the Interior Ministry said 18 police generals and nine other senior officers were let go because they were accused of killing protesters in the uprising. In Tahrir, the move was largely viewed as a cosmetic change that did not properly address issues of accountability or a restructuring of the security forces.…

The Supreme Council also announced that parliamentary elections originally planned for September would be postponed until October or November. Many political groups had wanted to delay the poll to give them more time to prepare, and welcomed the move.…

Yet as the days go by, more tents are being set up in the square—numbering between 150 and 200—with no end in sight. Many point to a list of demands put forward by a large number of groups taking part in the sit-in. They include: banning the use of military trials again civilians and the immediate release of all those sentenced in such trials; establishing a special court to try those implicated in the killing of protesters and the immediate suspension all implicated police officers; replacing the interior minister with a civilian appointee and the declaration of a plan and timetable for the full restructuring of the Interior Ministry; replacing the prosecutor general; holding public trials for members of the ousted regime; and replacing the current budget with one that better responds to the basic demands of the poor.

During the 18-day uprising, a common chant that rang out in Tahrir was “The army and the people are one hand.” Five months later, a more frequent chant you hear is for Tantawi to step down and for military rule to end. Egypt’s revolution, it seems, is far from over.

 

EGYPT: BOUND TO EXPLODE?
Mordechai Kedar

Independent Media Review & Analysis, July 22, 2011

 

…Six months [after the Jan. 25 revolution began] the situation in Egypt has only worsened, not improved. Unemployment, which stood at 25% during Mubarak’s rule, has risen dramatically. It is now estimated at 50% or higher, i.e. one of every two wage earners does not have a steady job. The rise in unemployment stems primarily from the disappearance of the tourism industry. Millions of tourists had arrived each year and provided good income for hotel, restaurant and nightclub workers; for taxi and bus drivers; for souvenir and clothing manufacturers; for operators of Nile cruises.… Since the outbreak of the revolution, there are hardly any tourists and those millions of Egyptians who directly and indirectly benefited from such visitors have been without income for six months. Since the unemployed consume less food, clothing and services, many other branches of the economy have suffered from the domino effect of the downturn in tourism. Only a very few of the tens of thousands of Egyptians who are now completing their academic studies will find work.…

Hopes that the new government would clean up the corruption in the public sector have been dashed. Police officers suspected of fatally shooting protestors in January and February have not been suspended, interrogated or put on trial for their crimes. Even Mubarak, allegedly responsible for the shooting of demonstrators, is spending the last few months awaiting trial in a Sharm al-Sheikh hotel rather than in prison.…

The question that has occupied Egyptians this past month is what should come first: should constitutional change precede elections, or should such change be the responsibility of the parliament to be chosen in the next elections. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces resolved the question by deciding to hold elections first; however, they continue to be postponed and are now tentatively scheduled for November. The dozens of new parties will not have sufficient time to organize, giving an advantage to the established parties including the Muslim Brotherhood; the split in that movement, however, has already given birth to five parties and it is unclear if all of them will ultimately run separately.…

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is playing a critically important role. On the one hand, the army took a sympathetic approach towards the revolutionary youth and ousted Mubarak from power. On the other hand, the military undertook the difficult task of running the country during the transition; of restoring the public’s faith in the government corrupt bureaucracy, which has remained largely intact; of stabilizing the economy and of conducting democratic elections in which a president and two parliamentary houses—the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council—would be chosen to jointly establish a government. The public, primarily the young people of the revolution, have well understood this difficult task and have generally accepted the decisions of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces over the last few months.

However, this past month has seen a turning point: the army increasingly operates as a ruling body and less as an organization assisting the people in achieving their goals. The public is growing less and less enamored of the Council of Armed Forces and is already waving signs in al-Tahrir Square along the lines of: “Down With the Council of the Armed Forces”; “Council of Armed Forces—Your Credit Has Run Out; “The Revolution Continues”; “Stop Military Trials for Civilians Now”. The names assigned to recent Fridays express the public’s rage at the situation—“Friday of Rage” and “Friday of Warning”—with everyone understanding at whom the rage and warnings are directed.

The above developments have been clearly reflected in the behavior of one of the members of the Council of Armed Forces, General Mohsen Fangary. From the beginning of the revolution on January 25th, he supported the rights of citizens to express their opinions peacefully, and has been very popular among the masses. Two weeks ago, on July 12th, he appeared on local and international media and, in a frightening and intimidating tone, read a statement issued by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces while waving his finger threateningly: “…The council will not relinquish its role during this critical period in Egypt’s history.… Freedom of expression is guaranteed to all, but only within the boundaries of the law. Elections will be the first step, after which the constitution will be drafted. The special courts (i.e. military courts) will not be abolished. The army will not allow violent protests or the obstruction of economic activity; it will not permit the spreading of rumors and misinformation which could lead to disunity, disobedience and the dismantling of the homeland; it will give precedence to the interests of the public over those of individuals. The council will not allow anyone to seize power and will take the necessary measures against threats to the homeland.”

Millions of Egyptians listened with great concern to this threatening announcement, which made it clear to them—from no less than the thundering voice of the popular General Fangary—that the period of hugs and flowers had ended.…

In the next few weeks or months, the [Egyptian] Spring is liable to turn into the Egyptian Summer—hot, steamy, violent and repulsive—in which the cat will be let out of the bag and the youth of Al Tahrir Square will realize that they have replaced one group of officers with another, that instead of Mubarak, they have Tantawi or Fangary, all cut from the same cloth. If conflict erupts, Heaven forefend, it will take place between the revolutionary youth and the army, which, this time, might fire massively at them.

The army may in the interim throw protesters some bones, such as a show trial for Mubarak (if he lives), his wife and sons, and the public might even get to see them swinging from a rope in al-Tahrir Square; aside from momentary joy, however, this will not calm the street. The standing of the Israeli embassy and the peace agreement with Israel might also be impacted, because the army may employ such a stratagem to douse the flames.

In the event of major clashes between the army and the population, many Egyptians are liable to try and reach Israel via Sinai and the open border. Israel must prepare for such a scenario so that it is not caught by surprise when thousands of Egyptians arrive daily, fleeing the cruelty of their army.

 

EGYPT’S FUNDAMENTALIST SUMMER
Sarah A. Topol
Slate, July 14, 2011

 

The lease on the gleaming new headquarters of the Nour Party in Mansoura, a large city in the fertile Nile delta 90 miles north of Cairo, was signed just last week, and chairs still in their plastic factory wrapping are stacked against the lime green walls. Seated in the conference room, Sherif Taha Hassan, the spokesman for the local branch of this ultraconservative Islamist party, is beaming as we discuss its chances for success in Egypt’s first parliamentary election since the revolution, tentatively scheduled for the fall. “There is a large Salafi base in Egyptian society. Once people figure out the goals of the party and its [Islamic] reference, they will come to join,” Hassan says, grinning.

Before this spring’s Egyptian revolution, Salafis—adherents to a fundamentalist approach to Islam influenced by Saudi Arabia—eschewed politics.…

Today, Nour is printing shiny blue fliers, hand-painting placards, organizing community outreach meetings, and setting up volunteer medical teams to go into villages to treat the impoverished, as well as offering reduced-price prescription drugs bearing the party’s logo at participating pharmacies, subsidized by Nour. The first Salafis in Egypt officially to register as a political party, Nour has already set up offices in 15 of the country’s 27 governorates, more than can be said for most of the fledgling liberal parties, who remain worried about organizing effective nationwide campaigns before the vote.…

Salafism is not a singular ideology with one leader; instead, it is a broad conservative movement that includes some extreme views. Salafis aspire to emulate the ways of the Prophet Muhammad’s seventh-century companions, known as the saluf. In Egypt, most Salafi schools of thought are influential in particular geographic areas—Nour in Alexandria, Al-Fadila (Virtue) in Cairo, for example—and the possibility of alliances of different sheiks across the country bringing supporters to each other’s campaigns may help all the Salafis at the ballot box.

The Salafis trying to form political parties have thus far stayed mostly neutral when it comes to controversial issues, but individual Salafi sheiks have made harsh statements to the Egyptian media denouncing the possibility of a Christian president and the right of women to assume positions of power.…

Whatever their numbers, the presence of vocal fundamentalist parties in the next parliament, which will be tasked with selecting the 100-member council that will be drafting Egypt’s new constitution, may well affect policy discussions in this already conservative country. “The Salafis could drag the parliamentary debate further to the right by setting the standard for ‘Islamic authenticity,’ saying that they represent the true voice of Islam,” says Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center.…

Eventually, Hammad concedes, the Nour Party will attempt to apply the whole of its fundamentalist understanding of Islam, which includes archaic punishments, like stoning adulterers and cutting off thieves’ hands. “But this is according to steps. This is not in one morning, that if I am the president of Egypt, I will come and cut off your hand,” Hammad tells me. First, the Nour Party plans to fix the problems of economic disparity in the country, to reduce the factors behind such crimes, then, yes, it will move on to punishment.…

It seems that a popular uprising started in large part by young, liberal, Facebook-savvy activists has brought new opportunities for Egypt’s ultraconservatives.

 

CAIRO’S CONSPIRACY PASTIME
Editorial

Jerusalem Report, July 22, 2011

 

“We know the Israelis have spies here,” says Ahmad Sleiman as he carefully places his oranges in crates outside his fruit stand in the impoverished Cairo neighborhood of Imbaba. “So it’s logical to believe that Ilan Grapel was working for the Mossad,” he continues, as several of his customers nod in approval.

Across town in the equally rundown Shobra district, Muhammad Mustafa, a 51- year-old clothing retailer, echoes their fears. “The foreigners know we are weak now and the chance for destabilizing the country is high,” he says. “So we need to be extra careful these days after the revolution.…”

[Ilan] Grapel, 27, immigrated to Israel from the US in 2005 and was arrested at his hotel in Egypt on June 8, accused of inciting sectarian strife and gathering intelligence. The Emory University law school student came to Egypt to work with a non-governmental organization focused on helping African refugees, arriving before the February revolution that deposed Mubarak. He attended many of the rallies in Tahrir Square.…

Photos plucked from Grapel’s Facebook page show him dressed in olive fatigues, and were prominently featured on the front page of many Egyptian dailies, along with articles detailing his military service as a paratrooper in the Israeli Defense Forces’ 101st Battalion and his participation in the 2006 war in Lebanon against Hizballah. The media has listed the charges against Grapel, including claims that his mission was to deliberately foment tension between the protesters and the military during the 18-day revolution.

Al-Ahram, the leading daily under the Mubarak regime, alleged in an article that “Grapel is an integral part of the Mossad. He has experience and advanced training in the Mossad.…” Grapel’s family has denied the charges against him, with his mother Irene calling them “complete fabrications,” according to media reports. Despite the lack of substantive evidence, many in Egypt were quick to declare Grapel guilty. “The Israelis are always trying to pick up information in Egypt,” says Muhammad Asfour, a 42-year-old state employee. “Being a student provides a perfect cover to learn about the country.…”

The Grapel affair illustrates that Egypt’s transition to democracy is unlikely to reduce hostility toward Israel or to dispel beliefs that the Jewish state is responsible for many of Egypt’s woes. Furthermore, with an unbridled press publishing sensational accounts and new publications competing for readers, episodes such as the Grapel affair are likely to proliferate.

“Egyptians have been taught that Israel is the enemy. That won’t change,” explains a local journalist. “With no censor to moderate views, the media can say whatever they want. And that means writing the most outrageous things against Israel.”

EGYPT: “OBAMA GOT TAKEN FOR A RIDE, MILLIONS DIED?”

 

 

 

EGYPT—THE HANGOVER
Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2011

 

Talk to top U.S. officials here about how things are going in Egypt, and the gist of the answer reminds me of what Apollo XI astronaut Michael Collins told Mission Control while sailing over the Sea of Tranquility: “Listen, babe, everything is going just swimmingly.”

Talk to secular Egyptians about what they make of that sanguine point of view, and they’ll tell you the Americans are on the far side of the moon.

Soon after my arrival here, I am met by an Egyptian friend—I’ll call him Mahmoud—who is Muslim by birth but decidedly secular by choice. He looks shaken. The cabbie who had brought him to the hotel where I’m staying had brandished a pistol he claimed to have stolen from a police officer. The cabbie said he had recently fired the gun in the air to save a young woman from being raped.

Mahmoud has his doubts about the truthfulness of the cabbie’s story. He also thinks that levels of street crime in Cairo are no worse than before the revolution, when incidents of hooliganism and looting spiked to Baghdad-like levels. But there’s something different, too. “People are much more scared than they used to be,” he says. “And it comes from the fact that there’s no police. People understand there’s potential for a minor incident to turn into a major massacre. If someone goes nuts, everyone will go nuts.”

From the hotel we walk toward Tahrir Square, site of the massive protests that last month brought down Hosni Mubarak. Much was made at the time of the care the demonstrators had taken to tidy up the square, but now it’s back to its usual shambolic state. Much was made, too, of how the protests were a secular triumph in which the Muslim Brotherhood was left to the sidelines. But that judgment now looks in need of major revision.

Mahmoud points to a building facing the square where, until a few weeks ago, a giant banner demanded “80 Million Noes” to a package of constitutional amendments meant to pave the way toward parliamentary and presidential elections in just a few months time. The banner had been placed there by the secular groups at the heart of the protests, which have good reason to fear early elections. Early elections will only benefit well-organized and politically disciplined groups like the Brotherhood and the remnants of Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which is really the party of the Egyptian military.

In the event, the ayes had it with a whopping 77%, despite a fevered turnout effort by “No” voters. “The West seems to be convinced that the revolution was led by secular democratic forces,” says Mahmoud. “Now that myth is shattered. Which means that either the old order”—by which he means the military regime—”stays in power, or we’re headed for Islamist dominance.”

From Tahrir Square, we walk past the burnt-out shell of the municipal tax office to meet up with some of Mahmoud’s friends. George (another pseudonym) is a twenty-something Coptic Christian from a middle-class family. His parents, who run a small factory in upper Egypt, see no future for him in the country, and they want him to emigrate. “Canada or Australia?” he asks me. I tell him the weather is better Down Under, but that he might be better off staying put and fighting for a better future for his country. He looks at me doubtfully.

Egypt’s Copts, some 15% of the population and the largest non-Muslim group anywhere in the Middle East, have good reasons to be worried. Though the protestors at Tahrir made a show of interfaith solidarity, the sense of fellowship is quickly returning to the poisonous pre-Tahrir norm. Earlier this month a Coptic church south of Cairo was burned to the ground, apparently on account of an objectionable Coptic-Muslim romance. The episode would seem almost farcical if it weren’t so commonplace in Egypt, and if it didn’t so often have fatal results.…

Ahmed, another friend of Mahmoud, stops by to say hello. A graphic designer, Ahmed got a coveted job at an ad agency two days before the protests began in Tahrir, was laid off just a few days later, and remains unemployed today. Though it’s now generally forgotten, the past seven years were economically good for Egypt thanks to the liberalizing program of former Prime Minister Ahmed Nafiz—a classic case, in hindsight, of revolutions being the product of rising expectations.

But now that’s in the past. Foreign investors are wary of Egypt, as are tourists, and the military junta currently ruling the state has embarked on a witch hunt against people who belonged to the “businessmen’s cabinet” that gave Egypt its fleeting years of growth but now serve as convenient bogeymen for a military eager to affirm its populist bona fides.

Later I return to the hotel to listen to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Ambassador Margaret Scobey deliver upbeat assessments about developments in the country. Who are you going to believe: Secular Egyptians themselves or the crew who, just a few weeks ago, was saying the Mubarak regime was in no danger of collapse?

 

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MAKES GAINS IN EGYPT
Ryan Mauro
FrontPage Blog, March 25, 2011

 

On Saturday, March 19, the Egyptian people took part in their first vote since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Sadly, the results of the vote give an edge to the undemocratic and Islamist forces that seek to extinguish the democracy the voters thought they were making. Parliamentary elections could come as early as June and a presidential election in September, giving the more liberal voices little time to organize to compete with the Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak’s National Democratic Party.

Over three-fourths of voters supported the proposed amendments that included having elections before the writing of a constitution, limits on presidential emergency powers and a limit of two four-year terms for presidents. The Secretary-General of the Arab League and presidential frontrunner, Amr Moussa, voted against the amendments, as did more liberal secular parties and Coptic Christians that worry that holding elections in such a short period of time would play to the advantage of Mubarak’s party and the Islamists.…

A top Salafi sheikh named Mohamed Hussein Yaqoub praised the results of the vote, saying it was a victory for Islam. “That’s it. The country is ours,” he said. The Muslim Brotherhood predictably applauded the results as well, knowing it leaves minimal time for opponents to organize against them. The Wall Street Journal had reported that “political parties are sprouting like weeds,” raising the possibility that the younger and less conservative members of the Muslim Brotherhood could join other parties. This hopeful trend will now have very little time to culminate in a more encouraging political atmosphere. The Islamists and the NDP have organized for decades in Egypt and the holding of parliamentary elections as soon as June gives them a decisive opportunity to shape the future of the country.

“The main problem here is the next parliament will write the next Constitution. So then the fanatics and the Muslim Brotherhood will govern us for decades,” said Emad Gad of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

The Muslim Brotherhood says its “Freedom and Justice Party” will be formally created in the coming weeks, though the chairman, Mohammed Katatni, tries to cast it as an independence party. The Brotherhood’s leadership admits creating it and Katanani is a senior Brotherhood member. This is a transparent attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of voters and the West. The group is also planning to begin a new satellite television program and various publications including a monthly newspaper. The secular parties besides NDP are simply outmatched.

This means that the parliament’s two strongest parties going into the parliamentary elections are the NDP and the Muslim Brotherhood, leaving the secular democratic forces without a strong voice. The scenario is not much better for the secular forces in the presidential election held later, as Ayman Nour seems unable to draw the kind of attention that Muhammad ElBaradei and Moussa can.…

AMR MOUSSA: MEET EGYPT’S NEXT PRESIDENT?
Barry Rubin
Rubin Reports, March 11, 2011

 

It’s now official. The Egyptian presidential election will pit Amr Moussa against Muhammad ElBaradei. It’s hard to see a third candidate emerging with a real chance of being elected.…

In May 2007, here’s how al-Jazeera prophetically began its story on Amr Moussa: “Time magazine describes Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League as ‘perhaps the most adored public servant in the Arab world’; others claim he is the only official most Egyptians would elect as president if they had the chance. It was his goal from day one.…”

Now, Moussa is openly pursuing this goal as a candidate to be president of Egypt. Here’s the beginning of his campaign. He’ll probably win. This is remarkable for two reasons. First, Moussa worked closely with deposed dictator Husni Mubarak for decades. He was clearly part of the old regime yet what distinguished him was his more outspoken anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel rhetoric.

Indeed, so clear was this factor that in 2000 a wildly popular song declared: “I Hate Israel…I love Amr Moussa….” Moussa knows well the uses of anti-American and anti-Israel demagoguery as a way to be popular in Egypt. If he wins the election he will owe his victory in large part to his harping on these themes. That could be a problem.

Moussa [also] represents the ideology supposedly thrown by the revolution into the dustbin of history: Arab nationalism. That is the doctrine that has ruled Egypt since 1952 and which has faced increasing rivalry from Islamism and moderate democratic reformism.…

Will anyone note the irony of a revolution against the regime picking a leading figure from that regime as president? And his distinction is not any love of democracy or moderation but a hatred of the democratic West and Israel.…

 

The following are excerpts from Barry Rubin’s April 5th article, entitled
Flash: American-Backed Egyptian “Moderate” Threatens War On Israel!

 

…Designated “moderate” and U.S.-backed Egyptian [presidential candidate] Muhammad ElBaradei has made a profoundly shocking statement that should change U.S. policy overnight, show how disastrous Obama Administration policy was, and mark the beginning of the coming electoral defeat for the [U.S] president.…

ElBaradei…said the following: “If Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime.” And he’s the moderate!

In other words: Despite repeated ridiculing of Israeli concerns, it is increasingly likely that the next Egyptian government will tear up the Egypt-Israel peace treaty [and] Egypt will be an ally of Hamas, a revolutionary Islamist terrorist group that openly calls for genocide against Jews and the wiping out of Israel.…

In his interview with Al-Watan,  ElBaradei also said: “In case of any future Israeli attack on Gaza—as the next president of Egypt—I will open the Rafah border crossing and will consider different ways to implement the joint Arab defense agreement.”

Think about what that means! Muslim Brotherhood and other volunteers will flood into Gaza to fight the Jews. Arms from Iran and Syria will pour into the Gaza Strip including longer-range missiles, landed openly at Egyptian ports. And that “joint Arab defense agreement”? That means Egypt would consult with Syria and other Arab states about joining the war, spreading it throughout the region.

Thank you, President Obama!…

Obviously President Obama and his administration…are not responsible for the Egyptian revolution. But there is a long list of factors that do make it their fault: they rushed the process of change; made it inevitable by demanding that the revolution succeed; acted so that it included the entire regime and not just Mubarak personally; preemptively approved the Muslim Brotherhood as a government party, didn’t press the regime for guarantees to Israel; made the new rulers feel that they can get away with anything; among other things.

Then there are the broader mistakes made previously: acting so weak that it emboldened radicals and makes everyone assume that the United States can’t or won’t do anything to enforce its interests; pressed Israel to minimize sanctions on the Hamas regime; gave several hundred million dollars to the Gaza Strip; defined only al-Qaida as an enemy and all other radical Islamists as moderates-in-training; coddled rather than confronted Syria and—to a lesser extent—Iran; distanced itself from Israel; among other things.

What will it take for the United States and Europe to realize that they have uncorked the bottle and let out the genie? How’s this sound as an election slogan: Obama got taken for a ride, millions died?

(Barry Rubin is the director of the Israel-based Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of The Middle East Review of International Affairs. Mr Rubin will be a guest speaker at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s June 15, 2011 Gala.)

 

EGYPT LIKELY TO FACE MORE DIFFICULT
RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL, U.S.
Edward Cody
Washington Post, March 30, 2011

 

Whatever new government emerges from the uprising in Tahrir Square, Egypt’s relations with Israel and the United States are likely to become more difficult in the months ahead with an infusion of Arab nationalism and skepticism about Egypt’s landmark peace treaty with Israel.

Many of those who helped oust President Hosni Mubarak, including secular democracy activists and Muslim Brotherhood leaders, say the 32-year-old treaty should…be submitted to the Egyptian people for approval, through a new parliament scheduled to be elected in September and then perhaps in a public referendum.

The desire to reconsider the treaty marks a clear difference with the policy of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which soon after Mubarak’s Feb. 11 departure declared that Egypt would respect all its international commitments, including the treaty with Israel. The open-ended declaration, reportedly made at U.S. urging, was designed to reassure Israel, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had warned that his nation faced uncharted dangers in the months ahead because of the revolts across the Arab world.

Much about Egypt’s policy toward Israel will be determined by the relationships that emerge between the military and the civilian government due to be elected later this year, which is expected to include representatives of many of the groups that brought down Mubarak.

“There was no real end to the war with Israel, just a truce,” said Shadi Mohammed, a 26-year-old leader of the April 6 Movement that helped promote the Tahrir Square demonstrations. “That’s just my personal opinion, but there are a lot of people who think like I do.”

Mohammed Maher, a Muslim Brotherhood activist helping organize for the parliamentary vote, said that if his group gains influence through the elections, Egypt is likely to pursue closer ties with Gaza, opening border crossings and promoting trade as a way to undermine the Israeli blockade. The Brotherhood traditionally has focused on Gaza because the territory’s ruling Palestinian group, the Islamic Resistance Movement, known as Hamas, is an offshoot of the Brotherhood.

Shady Ghazali Harb, a 32-year-old surgeon in the Democratic Front Party who supports Mohamed ElBaradei, the former U.N. nuclear agency chief, also advocated stronger action to relieve besieged Palestinians in Gaza. “The environment there is inhuman,” he said. These goals for Gaza would mark a sharp change from the way Israel and Egypt have done business in recent years.

Mubarak, eager to maintain economic and military aid from the United States, cooperated closely with Israel in Gaza security matters, including attempts to halt arms and other smuggling along the border. The Egyptian intelligence chief, Gen. Omar Suleiman, was a trusted intermediary between the Israeli government and Palestinian militant groups. Suleiman is long gone, having dropped out of sight along with Mubarak.

“Mubarak believed the door to the United States was through Israel,” said Mona Makram-Ebeid, a founding member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and a former member of parliament who lectures at the American University in Cairo. “But that is no more.…” Makram-Ebeid, who sits on the protesters’ Council of Trustees of the Revolution, suggested treaty provisions limiting the number of Egyptian soldiers stationed along the Gaza border should be reviewed. But the main difference in Egyptian foreign policy is likely to be a demand for respect, she said, adding that many Egyptians felt humiliated by what she described as servile willingness by Mubarak to do what he was told by Washington.

“No more of the headmaster telling us what to do.…” she said.

EGYPT’S METAMORPHOSIS: CHAOS OR CALIPHATE?

 

 

 

STILL FIGHTING IN CAIRO
Mohamed El Dashan

Foreign Policy, March 7, 2011

 

While the world turns its attention to the riveting drama in Libya…the revolution next door in Egypt is entering a new phase—one that is just as exhilarating and consequential as the protests that drove President Hosni Mubarak from power in just 18 incredible days.…

The Egyptian people endured Mubarak’s reign for 30 years, but 33 days of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was all it took for them to threaten to take to the streets en masse to demand his ouster. Shafiq, who was appointed by Mubarak during the early days of the revolution in a blatant bid to seem reasonable without conceding much power, was widely seen, along with much of his cabinet, as a relic of the pre-revolutionary era and the man who had overseen—or at least failed to stop—some of the most violent attacks against peaceful demonstrators in Tahrir Square.

Shafiq has been replaced by Essam Sharaf, a former minister of transportation and member of the National Democratic Party’s Policies Committee—Mubarak’s Politburo, if you will. Sharaf has nevertheless acquired the reputation of being an honest civil servant.… He also earned points with the revolutionaries, having himself led a small protest at Cairo University a few days before Mubarak stepped down.

Shafiq’s sacking came just hours after a historic TV interview that saw the prime minister sourly criticized and altogether humiliated by the other panelists, and not long before a massive protest had been scheduled to call for his removal along with several members of his cabinet.… With Shafiq’s metaphorical scalp still fresh, the protest went ahead as planned, and Prime Minister Sharaf himself took the podium immediately after the Friday midday prayer. Flanked…by Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy (who occasionally grabbed the mic to shout a slogan or two), Sharaf was deferential. He saluted the revolution’s “martyrs” and pledged allegiance to the crowds.…

The events that followed took both the state and the revolution’s loose leadership by storm.… The evening of the protest, protesters raided the Alexandria headquarters of the state security apparatus. The next day, as the Army looked on helplessly, a crowd of about 2,000 people barged its way into the state security headquarters in Nasr City, an eastern neighborhood in Cairo, while another group of demonstrators demanded to enter the enormous state security building in 6th of October city, a western suburb of the capital—a sight that was repeated countrywide, from Marsa Matrouh in the northwest to Qena in the south.

The Nasr City takeover…was astonishing.… Amid the chaos, some offices were ransacked.… People entered the interior minister’s office and his private quarters…[and] sat on the bed or at his desk, posing for photos. Some pilfered souvenirs—a paperweight, a pen; some went all the way to unhook the “State Security Investigations” metallic signs and carry them out.… After the initial storming in, the Army had guarded the main door, blocking passage to new incoming protesters.… Only after several hours did they start shooing people out of the complex.

The next day was rather different. A small group of protesters surrounded the state security offices by Lazoghly Square, next door to the Interior Ministry. From the onset, the Army was less friendly and reacted unexpectedly violently as the crowd grew to a few hundred, beating them up with batons and electrified sticks. Later, hosts of thugs armed with batons, machetes, and swords joined from the opposite side of the square, pushing them back toward the soldiers. Eventually, as the Army fired in the air, protesters managed to run out of the square under the thundering sound of machine guns. Twenty-seven protesters were arrested.

The renewed demonstrations have provoked a fiery debate in Egypt. Some demand that protests be halted, as the Army…was, albeit slowly, responding to…requests. Others maintain that the demands go deeper than Shafiq’s head; the cleanup of the Mubarak gang is far from complete, and many pre-revolution grievances endure and need to be addressed. The Lazoghly debacle has only reinforced these concerns.

It was not the first time such a discussion has taken place—after every Mubarak speech since the beginning of the revolution, a number of voices suggested that this was “good enough” and that “we wouldn’t dare wish for that much three weeks ago.” But it was the first time this discussion has arisen since Mubarak’s abdication and the ensuing collective euphoria, which may be less unanimous than the past days have made it seem.…

All this debate may not ultimately matter much. As it stands today, Egypt is heading toward sharp bends and, save popular concerted action, there will be no one to pull the brakes. The revolution had no organized leadership, no public face—only occasional guidance. It now seems to have outgrown this phase and, whether it’s a peaceful demonstration on a Friday afternoon or the vengeful storming of a police dungeon, it will be difficult to get the street to listen to anyone.

 

CLASHES KILL 13 AS OLD WOES BESET NEW EGYPT
Matt Bradley & David Luhnow
Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2011

 

Clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims have killed more than a dozen people in recent days in Egypt, heightening a sense that the country’s post-revolutionary euphoria is yielding to enduring problems including sectarian violence, poverty and misogyny.

Coptic Christians angry at the burning of a church clashed…with thousands of Muslims in a largely Coptic Christian neighborhood near Egypt’s capital. At least 13 died and more than 100 wounded in a four-hour clash.… The fighting between different religious groups came just hours after several hundred men roughed up female demonstrators who had gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to mark International Women’s Day and demand expanded rights and opportunities.

In a separate tussle on Tahrir Square, the nerve center of Egypt’s recent revolt, scores of Egyptian troops and men armed with sticks moved…into the square and forced out several hundred protesters who had camped there for the past few days. Dozens of people were hurt.…

The military’s move came amid growing frustration that life hasn’t yet gotten back to normal after President Hosni Mubarak ceded power a month ago following massive nationwide protests. Various groups have continued taking to the streets to press their grievances. Workers have mounted strikes demanding their bosses be fired and salaries raised. Many police are reluctant to return to duty, fearing attacks by citizens angry at years of police corruption and alleged torture, and at police attacks on protesters during last month’s pro-democracy uprising. Egypt’s economy, meanwhile, is struggling to regain its footing after virtually all businesses shut down amid protests..…

Egypt’s latest sectarian unrest began last week after a mob of Muslims—furious over a rumored romance between a Coptic Christian man and a Muslim woman—torched a church near Helwan, an industrial city outside Cairo.… 2010 saw an…uptick in tension [between Muslims and Christians]. The year began with a shooting outside a church in Upper Egypt on Coptic Christmas that killed six worshippers.… Starting in the summer, Salafi Muslims began regular demonstrations outside churches in Alexandria and Cairo against the Coptic Church. The Salafis—who follow an ultra-conservative form of Islam widely practiced in Saudi Arabia—accused the church of having kidnapped two Christian women who were rumored to have tried to convert to Islam. [Then], on New Year’s Day in 2011, a bombing at an Alexandria church killed 23 people.…

Adding to sense of looming trouble is Egypt’s economy. The stock market was slated to reopen March 6 but a mob of angry retail investors demanded it remain shut until activity in the rest of the economy picks back up, avoiding what the protesters said would be unnecessarily large losses now.… Others want the market opened right away, saying the closed exchange is contributing to an overall sense of unease.… In a statement, Mr. Sharaf’s cabinet called on citizens to go back to work and “to delay factional protests and strikes so the government can return stability that would allow the national economy to overcome these difficult times.”

 

THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD’S COVER-UP
Ryan Mauro
FrontPage Blog, March 10, 2011

 

Al-Qaeda does its enemy a favor with its honesty. The Muslim Brotherhood does not make the same mistake. It is more politically savvy and aware of how it can manipulate the minds of Westerners with soft language. The Islamist group is trying to clean up its image, most recently by deleting its objectives from its English-language website.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism discovered that the English version of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website no longer includes its bylaws and it makes sense why. One of them is “the need to work on establishing the Islamic State, which seeks to effectively implement the provisions of Islam and its teachings” and “defend the [Islamic] nation against its internal enemies.” Another is to “insist to liberate the Islamic nation from the yoke of foreign rule, help safeguard the rights of Muslims everywhere and unite Muslims around the world.…”

There are other telling differences between the Arabic and English websites as well. The home page of the English site mentions “freedom.” The home page of the Arabic site has the official Muslim Brotherhood logo of two crossed swords and a Quran and an Arabic word that means “make ready.” Christine Brim writes that this phrase is taken from Quran 8:60 that states, “Make ready for an encounter against them, all the forces and well-readied horses you can muster, that you may overawe the enemies of Allah and your own enemies and others besides them of whom you are unaware but of whom Allah is aware.”

David Rusin, the director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum, [says] that the cover-up is aimed at encouraging those who naively believe the Brotherhood is moderate. “By scrubbing its English-language site, the Brotherhood aims to make it as easy as possible for those Westerners predisposed to willful blindness—a trait rather common in the Obama White House—to continue fooling themselves about the Brotherhood’s ultimate intentions,” he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood will finally have an opportunity to be a part of the Egyptian government and is pulling out all the stops to cast itself as a democratic voice of moderation that should be of no concern. It is registering in Egypt under the name, “Freedom and Justice Party” and says it does not intend to control the government.… “The Muslim Brotherhood are not seeking power. We want to participate, not to dominate,” a member of the group’s media office says. This calming statement is almost meaningless. The Brotherhood knows it is unlikely that it will attain a majority in the next government all on its own and therefore “dominate.” Like Hezbollah in Lebanon, it will win enough seats to be a decisive voice in parliament. It is quite conceivable that the Brotherhood could be part of a parliamentary majority if it forms a bloc with other parties. It will then be in a position to decide the government’s agenda without overtly controlling it.…

The Brotherhood has told its protesters to refrain from using religious language during demonstrations. One official told a protester to hide his Quran and instead hoist up an Egyptian flag. “Open it [the Quran]…but not for the media,” he instructed.… The group is even trying to cover-up its long history for fighting for the destruction of Israel. “We will respect the peace treaty with Israel as long as Israel shows real progress on improving the lot of the Palestinians,” said deputy head Mahmoud Ezzat, inserting careful language that leaves room for the Islamists to find a pretext to end the treaty.…

This statement is simply not credible. The Muslim Brotherhood has fully backed the violent jihad by its Palestinian wing, Hamas, to destroy Israel. When the revolution in Egypt got underway, a senior official flatly stated that the Egyptian “people should be prepared for war with Israel” and another deputy leader said, “After President Mubarak steps down and a provisional government is formed, there is a need to dissolve the peace treaty with Israel.…”

Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the most influential Brotherhood theologian who was asked to lead the group, is well-practiced in the game of semantics. He says Islam “has no problem with Judaism” but says Muslims are religiously obligated to fight the Jews for the Holy Land. He condemns killing American civilians but supports killing Israeli civilians, U.S. soldiers and says Muslims should fight alongside the Taliban. He says he is for freedom but supports executing apostates.

Al-Qaradawi speaks on behalf of the vague terms of “freedom” and “democracy” but Communists used the same terms as well. Al-Qaradawi’s “democracy” does not include secularism and he believes “freedom” can only truly be attained under Sharia. His vision of governance one where “any legislation contradicting the incontestable provisions of Islam shall be null and void because Islam is the religion of the State and the source of legitimacy of all its institutions.…” [Ed.—Please refer to the article Return of the (Genocidal) Native in the “On Topics” section for more anti-semitic quotations by Al-Qaradawi].

This deception is the central part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy in the United States as well. In 1993, the Brotherhood held a secret meeting in Philadelphia to plan its strategy. The president of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity later shut down for being a front for Hamas, said to Omar Ahmad, a co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, “War is deception. We are fighting our enemy with a kind heart and we never thought of deceiving it. War is deception. Deceive, camouflage, pretend that you’re leaving while you’re walking that way.… Deceive your enemy.” Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was recorded at that meeting saying that, “What is important is that the language of the address is there even for the American.” Omar Ahmad replies with, “There is a difference between you saying ‘I want to restore the ‘48 land’ and when you say ‘I want to destroy Israel.…’”

The Muslim Brotherhood is making over its image and is using carefully-worded language to put its adversaries at ease. The world must not be fooled. This group was created to establish a worldwide state governed by Sharia and for the Brotherhood, to abandon that goal is an act of apostasy.

 

BARACK OBAMA AND THE CAVALCADE OF NAIVETE
Barry Rubin
Rubin Reports, March 6, 2011

 

President Barack Obama told Democratic Party contributors  in Miami: “When you look at what’s happening…in the Middle East, it is a manifestation of new technologies, the winds of freedom that are blowing through countries that have not felt those winds in decades, a whole new generation that says I want to be a part of this world. It’s a dangerous time, but it’s also a huge opportunity for us.’’

Obama also said that the United States should not be “afraid” of change in the Middle East. Well, that depends on the kind of change, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t be afraid if Iran, Syria, and the Gaza Strip had revolutionary upheavals that installed moderate democratic governments, for example. But let me remind you once again, my theme from the first day of the Egyptian revolution has been that I’m worried because others aren’t worried. The more they show that they don’t understand the dangers, the greater the dangers become.

President Franklin Roosevelt said about the Great Depression that there was, “Nothing to fear but fear itself.” That is, Americans should be confident about their abilities to solve problems. But he didn’t say, when German forces seized one country after another, that Americans shouldn’t be afraid of change in Europe. Nor did he say, as the Japanese Empire expanded, that Americans shouldn’t be afraid of change in Asia. President Harry Truman didn’t say that Americans shouldn’t be afraid of change in Eastern Europe when the Soviets gained power over the governments there or China became Communist.

These (Democratic) presidents recognized the danger and worked to counteract it as best they could under the circumstances. In contrast, while giving lip service to the idea that it’s a “dangerous time,” Obama never points to what the dangers are because, frankly, he has no idea. All the points he makes about these changes are positive, cheerleading.

Yet if he’s right on what basis does the United States not want some regimes—Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority—to be overthrown? Why does he not make a differentiation between America’s enemies and America’s friends?

To show who is really being naive, he added: “All the forces that we see building in Egypt are the forces that should be naturally aligned with us. Should be aligned with Israel.” All the forces “should be” aligned with the United States and Israel! Well, maybe they “should be” but they aren’t. In fact, it is the exact opposite: all the forces that we see building in Egypt are forces that in fact are not aligned with the United States and Israel. Here we see the arrogance of someone who tells people in other countries what they should think instead of analyzing what they do think.

Of course, what happens—and we see this quite vividly—is that the intelligence agencies and media rewrite reality to say that these people are moderate because that’s what the president expects. Here are some historical parallels to Obama’s statements (I made them up):

1932: Germany should be aligned with the Western democracies and the United States because that is the way it will achieve prosperity and stability in Europe, two things that Germany desperately needs. Only 14 years ago, Germany lost a long, bloody war. Surely, the Germans have no desire to fight again and repeat their mistake of trying to conquer Europe!

1945: The Soviet Union should be aligned with the Western democracies and the United States because we have just been allies in a great war. Moscow must understand that the United States has no desire to injure it, wants to live in peace, and respects Soviet interests. Surely, Stalin will put the emphasis on rebuilding his country and not on expansionism abroad!

1979: The new Islamist regime in Iran should be aligned with the West and the United States because they accept the revolution there, want good relations, and are the customers for Iran’s oil exports.

1989: Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi regime should be aligned with the West and the United States because they backed him in his recent war with Iran and he fears the spread of revolutionary Islamism. Saddam will cause no trouble and will put the priority on rebuilding his country after a bloody eight-year-long war with Iran and providing better lives for his people.

1993: Yasir Arafat and the Palestinians should be aligned with the United States and eager to make a comprehensive peace with Israel since that is the only way they can get a state.  Now that they are going to have elections and be responsible for administering the West Bank and Gaza Strip certainly the PLO will cease to be revolutionary or terrorist.

Get the picture? And so when Obama says: “I’m actually confident that 10 years from now we’re going to be able to look back and say that this was the dawning of an entirely new and better era. One in which people are striving not to be against something but to be for something.”

Remember those words. He has absolutely no understanding of the Arabic-speaking world, the Muslim-majority world, or the Middle East whatsoever. How are these new regimes going to stay in power, smite their rivals, and make up for not delivering the material goods to their people? What is the world view of these forces? How do they perceive America, the West, and Israel? These are the questions that should be asked, and answered, in order to understand what the world will look like in a decade.

(Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center.)

 

 

EGYPT’S METAMORPHOSIS: CHAOS OR CALIPHATE?

 

 

 

STILL FIGHTING IN CAIRO
Mohamed El Dashan

Foreign Policy, March 7, 2011

 

While the world turns its attention to the riveting drama in Libya…the revolution next door in Egypt is entering a new phase—one that is just as exhilarating and consequential as the protests that drove President Hosni Mubarak from power in just 18 incredible days.…

The Egyptian people endured Mubarak’s reign for 30 years, but 33 days of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was all it took for them to threaten to take to the streets en masse to demand his ouster. Shafiq, who was appointed by Mubarak during the early days of the revolution in a blatant bid to seem reasonable without conceding much power, was widely seen, along with much of his cabinet, as a relic of the pre-revolutionary era and the man who had overseen—or at least failed to stop—some of the most violent attacks against peaceful demonstrators in Tahrir Square.

Shafiq has been replaced by Essam Sharaf, a former minister of transportation and member of the National Democratic Party’s Policies Committee—Mubarak’s Politburo, if you will. Sharaf has nevertheless acquired the reputation of being an honest civil servant.… He also earned points with the revolutionaries, having himself led a small protest at Cairo University a few days before Mubarak stepped down.

Shafiq’s sacking came just hours after a historic TV interview that saw the prime minister sourly criticized and altogether humiliated by the other panelists, and not long before a massive protest had been scheduled to call for his removal along with several members of his cabinet.… With Shafiq’s metaphorical scalp still fresh, the protest went ahead as planned, and Prime Minister Sharaf himself took the podium immediately after the Friday midday prayer. Flanked…by Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy (who occasionally grabbed the mic to shout a slogan or two), Sharaf was deferential. He saluted the revolution’s “martyrs” and pledged allegiance to the crowds.…

The events that followed took both the state and the revolution’s loose leadership by storm.… The evening of the protest, protesters raided the Alexandria headquarters of the state security apparatus. The next day, as the Army looked on helplessly, a crowd of about 2,000 people barged its way into the state security headquarters in Nasr City, an eastern neighborhood in Cairo, while another group of demonstrators demanded to enter the enormous state security building in 6th of October city, a western suburb of the capital—a sight that was repeated countrywide, from Marsa Matrouh in the northwest to Qena in the south.

The Nasr City takeover…was astonishing.… Amid the chaos, some offices were ransacked.… People entered the interior minister’s office and his private quarters…[and] sat on the bed or at his desk, posing for photos. Some pilfered souvenirs—a paperweight, a pen; some went all the way to unhook the “State Security Investigations” metallic signs and carry them out.… After the initial storming in, the Army had guarded the main door, blocking passage to new incoming protesters.… Only after several hours did they start shooing people out of the complex.

The next day was rather different. A small group of protesters surrounded the state security offices by Lazoghly Square, next door to the Interior Ministry. From the onset, the Army was less friendly and reacted unexpectedly violently as the crowd grew to a few hundred, beating them up with batons and electrified sticks. Later, hosts of thugs armed with batons, machetes, and swords joined from the opposite side of the square, pushing them back toward the soldiers. Eventually, as the Army fired in the air, protesters managed to run out of the square under the thundering sound of machine guns. Twenty-seven protesters were arrested.

The renewed demonstrations have provoked a fiery debate in Egypt. Some demand that protests be halted, as the Army…was, albeit slowly, responding to…requests. Others maintain that the demands go deeper than Shafiq’s head; the cleanup of the Mubarak gang is far from complete, and many pre-revolution grievances endure and need to be addressed. The Lazoghly debacle has only reinforced these concerns.

It was not the first time such a discussion has taken place—after every Mubarak speech since the beginning of the revolution, a number of voices suggested that this was “good enough” and that “we wouldn’t dare wish for that much three weeks ago.” But it was the first time this discussion has arisen since Mubarak’s abdication and the ensuing collective euphoria, which may be less unanimous than the past days have made it seem.…

All this debate may not ultimately matter much. As it stands today, Egypt is heading toward sharp bends and, save popular concerted action, there will be no one to pull the brakes. The revolution had no organized leadership, no public face—only occasional guidance. It now seems to have outgrown this phase and, whether it’s a peaceful demonstration on a Friday afternoon or the vengeful storming of a police dungeon, it will be difficult to get the street to listen to anyone.

 

CLASHES KILL 13 AS OLD WOES BESET NEW EGYPT
Matt Bradley & David Luhnow
Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2011

 

Clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims have killed more than a dozen people in recent days in Egypt, heightening a sense that the country’s post-revolutionary euphoria is yielding to enduring problems including sectarian violence, poverty and misogyny.

Coptic Christians angry at the burning of a church clashed…with thousands of Muslims in a largely Coptic Christian neighborhood near Egypt’s capital. At least 13 died and more than 100 wounded in a four-hour clash.… The fighting between different religious groups came just hours after several hundred men roughed up female demonstrators who had gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to mark International Women’s Day and demand expanded rights and opportunities.

In a separate tussle on Tahrir Square, the nerve center of Egypt’s recent revolt, scores of Egyptian troops and men armed with sticks moved…into the square and forced out several hundred protesters who had camped there for the past few days. Dozens of people were hurt.…

The military’s move came amid growing frustration that life hasn’t yet gotten back to normal after President Hosni Mubarak ceded power a month ago following massive nationwide protests. Various groups have continued taking to the streets to press their grievances. Workers have mounted strikes demanding their bosses be fired and salaries raised. Many police are reluctant to return to duty, fearing attacks by citizens angry at years of police corruption and alleged torture, and at police attacks on protesters during last month’s pro-democracy uprising. Egypt’s economy, meanwhile, is struggling to regain its footing after virtually all businesses shut down amid protests..…

Egypt’s latest sectarian unrest began last week after a mob of Muslims—furious over a rumored romance between a Coptic Christian man and a Muslim woman—torched a church near Helwan, an industrial city outside Cairo.… 2010 saw an…uptick in tension [between Muslims and Christians]. The year began with a shooting outside a church in Upper Egypt on Coptic Christmas that killed six worshippers.… Starting in the summer, Salafi Muslims began regular demonstrations outside churches in Alexandria and Cairo against the Coptic Church. The Salafis—who follow an ultra-conservative form of Islam widely practiced in Saudi Arabia—accused the church of having kidnapped two Christian women who were rumored to have tried to convert to Islam. [Then], on New Year’s Day in 2011, a bombing at an Alexandria church killed 23 people.…

Adding to sense of looming trouble is Egypt’s economy. The stock market was slated to reopen March 6 but a mob of angry retail investors demanded it remain shut until activity in the rest of the economy picks back up, avoiding what the protesters said would be unnecessarily large losses now.… Others want the market opened right away, saying the closed exchange is contributing to an overall sense of unease.… In a statement, Mr. Sharaf’s cabinet called on citizens to go back to work and “to delay factional protests and strikes so the government can return stability that would allow the national economy to overcome these difficult times.”

 

THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD’S COVER-UP
Ryan Mauro
FrontPage Blog, March 10, 2011

 

Al-Qaeda does its enemy a favor with its honesty. The Muslim Brotherhood does not make the same mistake. It is more politically savvy and aware of how it can manipulate the minds of Westerners with soft language. The Islamist group is trying to clean up its image, most recently by deleting its objectives from its English-language website.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism discovered that the English version of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website no longer includes its bylaws and it makes sense why. One of them is “the need to work on establishing the Islamic State, which seeks to effectively implement the provisions of Islam and its teachings” and “defend the [Islamic] nation against its internal enemies.” Another is to “insist to liberate the Islamic nation from the yoke of foreign rule, help safeguard the rights of Muslims everywhere and unite Muslims around the world.…”

There are other telling differences between the Arabic and English websites as well. The home page of the English site mentions “freedom.” The home page of the Arabic site has the official Muslim Brotherhood logo of two crossed swords and a Quran and an Arabic word that means “make ready.” Christine Brim writes that this phrase is taken from Quran 8:60 that states, “Make ready for an encounter against them, all the forces and well-readied horses you can muster, that you may overawe the enemies of Allah and your own enemies and others besides them of whom you are unaware but of whom Allah is aware.”

David Rusin, the director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum, [says] that the cover-up is aimed at encouraging those who naively believe the Brotherhood is moderate. “By scrubbing its English-language site, the Brotherhood aims to make it as easy as possible for those Westerners predisposed to willful blindness—a trait rather common in the Obama White House—to continue fooling themselves about the Brotherhood’s ultimate intentions,” he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood will finally have an opportunity to be a part of the Egyptian government and is pulling out all the stops to cast itself as a democratic voice of moderation that should be of no concern. It is registering in Egypt under the name, “Freedom and Justice Party” and says it does not intend to control the government.… “The Muslim Brotherhood are not seeking power. We want to participate, not to dominate,” a member of the group’s media office says. This calming statement is almost meaningless. The Brotherhood knows it is unlikely that it will attain a majority in the next government all on its own and therefore “dominate.” Like Hezbollah in Lebanon, it will win enough seats to be a decisive voice in parliament. It is quite conceivable that the Brotherhood could be part of a parliamentary majority if it forms a bloc with other parties. It will then be in a position to decide the government’s agenda without overtly controlling it.…

The Brotherhood has told its protesters to refrain from using religious language during demonstrations. One official told a protester to hide his Quran and instead hoist up an Egyptian flag. “Open it [the Quran]…but not for the media,” he instructed.… The group is even trying to cover-up its long history for fighting for the destruction of Israel. “We will respect the peace treaty with Israel as long as Israel shows real progress on improving the lot of the Palestinians,” said deputy head Mahmoud Ezzat, inserting careful language that leaves room for the Islamists to find a pretext to end the treaty.…

This statement is simply not credible. The Muslim Brotherhood has fully backed the violent jihad by its Palestinian wing, Hamas, to destroy Israel. When the revolution in Egypt got underway, a senior official flatly stated that the Egyptian “people should be prepared for war with Israel” and another deputy leader said, “After President Mubarak steps down and a provisional government is formed, there is a need to dissolve the peace treaty with Israel.…”

Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the most influential Brotherhood theologian who was asked to lead the group, is well-practiced in the game of semantics. He says Islam “has no problem with Judaism” but says Muslims are religiously obligated to fight the Jews for the Holy Land. He condemns killing American civilians but supports killing Israeli civilians, U.S. soldiers and says Muslims should fight alongside the Taliban. He says he is for freedom but supports executing apostates.

Al-Qaradawi speaks on behalf of the vague terms of “freedom” and “democracy” but Communists used the same terms as well. Al-Qaradawi’s “democracy” does not include secularism and he believes “freedom” can only truly be attained under Sharia. His vision of governance one where “any legislation contradicting the incontestable provisions of Islam shall be null and void because Islam is the religion of the State and the source of legitimacy of all its institutions.…” [Ed.—Please refer to the article Return of the (Genocidal) Native in the “On Topics” section for more anti-semitic quotations by Al-Qaradawi].

This deception is the central part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy in the United States as well. In 1993, the Brotherhood held a secret meeting in Philadelphia to plan its strategy. The president of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity later shut down for being a front for Hamas, said to Omar Ahmad, a co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, “War is deception. We are fighting our enemy with a kind heart and we never thought of deceiving it. War is deception. Deceive, camouflage, pretend that you’re leaving while you’re walking that way.… Deceive your enemy.” Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was recorded at that meeting saying that, “What is important is that the language of the address is there even for the American.” Omar Ahmad replies with, “There is a difference between you saying ‘I want to restore the ‘48 land’ and when you say ‘I want to destroy Israel.…’”

The Muslim Brotherhood is making over its image and is using carefully-worded language to put its adversaries at ease. The world must not be fooled. This group was created to establish a worldwide state governed by Sharia and for the Brotherhood, to abandon that goal is an act of apostasy.

 

BARACK OBAMA AND THE CAVALCADE OF NAIVETE
Barry Rubin
Rubin Reports, March 6, 2011

 

President Barack Obama told Democratic Party contributors  in Miami: “When you look at what’s happening…in the Middle East, it is a manifestation of new technologies, the winds of freedom that are blowing through countries that have not felt those winds in decades, a whole new generation that says I want to be a part of this world. It’s a dangerous time, but it’s also a huge opportunity for us.’’

Obama also said that the United States should not be “afraid” of change in the Middle East. Well, that depends on the kind of change, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t be afraid if Iran, Syria, and the Gaza Strip had revolutionary upheavals that installed moderate democratic governments, for example. But let me remind you once again, my theme from the first day of the Egyptian revolution has been that I’m worried because others aren’t worried. The more they show that they don’t understand the dangers, the greater the dangers become.

President Franklin Roosevelt said about the Great Depression that there was, “Nothing to fear but fear itself.” That is, Americans should be confident about their abilities to solve problems. But he didn’t say, when German forces seized one country after another, that Americans shouldn’t be afraid of change in Europe. Nor did he say, as the Japanese Empire expanded, that Americans shouldn’t be afraid of change in Asia. President Harry Truman didn’t say that Americans shouldn’t be afraid of change in Eastern Europe when the Soviets gained power over the governments there or China became Communist.

These (Democratic) presidents recognized the danger and worked to counteract it as best they could under the circumstances. In contrast, while giving lip service to the idea that it’s a “dangerous time,” Obama never points to what the dangers are because, frankly, he has no idea. All the points he makes about these changes are positive, cheerleading.

Yet if he’s right on what basis does the United States not want some regimes—Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority—to be overthrown? Why does he not make a differentiation between America’s enemies and America’s friends?

To show who is really being naive, he added: “All the forces that we see building in Egypt are the forces that should be naturally aligned with us. Should be aligned with Israel.” All the forces “should be” aligned with the United States and Israel! Well, maybe they “should be” but they aren’t. In fact, it is the exact opposite: all the forces that we see building in Egypt are forces that in fact are not aligned with the United States and Israel. Here we see the arrogance of someone who tells people in other countries what they should think instead of analyzing what they do think.

Of course, what happens—and we see this quite vividly—is that the intelligence agencies and media rewrite reality to say that these people are moderate because that’s what the president expects. Here are some historical parallels to Obama’s statements (I made them up):

1932: Germany should be aligned with the Western democracies and the United States because that is the way it will achieve prosperity and stability in Europe, two things that Germany desperately needs. Only 14 years ago, Germany lost a long, bloody war. Surely, the Germans have no desire to fight again and repeat their mistake of trying to conquer Europe!

1945: The Soviet Union should be aligned with the Western democracies and the United States because we have just been allies in a great war. Moscow must understand that the United States has no desire to injure it, wants to live in peace, and respects Soviet interests. Surely, Stalin will put the emphasis on rebuilding his country and not on expansionism abroad!

1979: The new Islamist regime in Iran should be aligned with the West and the United States because they accept the revolution there, want good relations, and are the customers for Iran’s oil exports.

1989: Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi regime should be aligned with the West and the United States because they backed him in his recent war with Iran and he fears the spread of revolutionary Islamism. Saddam will cause no trouble and will put the priority on rebuilding his country after a bloody eight-year-long war with Iran and providing better lives for his people.

1993: Yasir Arafat and the Palestinians should be aligned with the United States and eager to make a comprehensive peace with Israel since that is the only way they can get a state.  Now that they are going to have elections and be responsible for administering the West Bank and Gaza Strip certainly the PLO will cease to be revolutionary or terrorist.

Get the picture? And so when Obama says: “I’m actually confident that 10 years from now we’re going to be able to look back and say that this was the dawning of an entirely new and better era. One in which people are striving not to be against something but to be for something.”

Remember those words. He has absolutely no understanding of the Arabic-speaking world, the Muslim-majority world, or the Middle East whatsoever. How are these new regimes going to stay in power, smite their rivals, and make up for not delivering the material goods to their people? What is the world view of these forces? How do they perceive America, the West, and Israel? These are the questions that should be asked, and answered, in order to understand what the world will look like in a decade.

(Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center.)