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Author Topic: Egypt  (Read 113957 times)
Power User
Posts: 42478

« on: January 29, 2011, 11:54:02 AM »

Egypt gets its own thread for obvious reasons.  

I begin by noting how utterly vapid most of the coverage we are seeing is.   An internet friend is recommending

I have no idea whether he has lost his fg mind and am in Vancouver for a seminar at the moment, but perhaps one of us can take a look and report back whether it is worth the time.



Egypt's former air force chief and minister for civil aviation, Ahmed Shafiq, has
been designated the new prime minister by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and
tasked to form the next Cabinet, Al Jazeera reported Jan. 29. The announcement comes
shortly after Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman was appointed vice
president, a position that has been vacant for the past 30 years.
Mubarak is essentially accelerating a succession plan that has been in the works for
some time. STRATFOR noted in December 2010 that a conflict was building between the
president on one side and the old guard in the army and the ruling party on the
other over Mubarak's attempt to create a path for his son Gamal to eventually
succeed him. The interim plan Mubarak had proposed was for Suleiman to become vice
president, succeed Mubarak and then pass the reins to Gamal after some time. The
stalwart members of the old guard, however, refused this plan. Though they approved
of Suleiman, they knew his tenure would be short-lived given his advanced age.
Instead, they demanded that Shafiq, who comes from the air force -- the most
privileged branch of the military from which Mubarak himself also came -- be
designated the successor. Shafiq is close to Mubarak and worked under his command in
the air force. Shafiq also has the benefit of having held a civilian role as
minister of civil aviation since 2002, making him more palatable to the public.
Mubarak may be nominally dissolving the Cabinet, ordering an army curfew and now
asking Shafiq to form the next government, but the embattled president is not the
one in charge. Instead, the military appears to be managing Mubarak's exit, taking
care not to engage in a confrontation with the demonstrators while the political
details are being sorted out.

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.



The following is a report from a STRATFOR source in Hamas. Hamas, which formed in
Gaza as an outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB), has an interest in
exaggerating its role and coordination with the MB in this crisis. The following
information has not been confirmed. Nonetheless, there is a great deal of concern
building in Israel and the United States in particular over the role of the MB in
the demonstrations and whether a political opening will be made for the Islamist
organization in Egypt.

The Egyptian police are no longer patrolling the Rafah border crossing into Gaza.
Hamas armed men are entering into Egypt and are closely collaborating with the MB.
The MB has fully engaged itself in the demonstrations, and they are unsatisfied with
the dismissal of the Cabinet. They are insisting on a new Cabinet that does not
include members of the ruling National Democratic Party.
Security forces in plainclothes are engaged in destroying public property in order
to give the impression that many protesters represent a public menace. The MB is
meanwhile forming people's committees to protect public property and also to
coordinate demonstrators' activities, including supplying them with food, beverages
and first aid.

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.

« Last Edit: January 29, 2011, 11:56:37 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 9471

« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2011, 01:24:41 PM »

I don't know what to make of this story by the UK Telegraph:

Egypt protests: America's secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising
The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

By Tim Ross, Matthew Moore and Steven Swinford 9:23PM GMT 28 Jan 2011

The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.

On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.

The secret document in full:

He has already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by The Daily Telegraph.

The crisis in Egypt follows the toppling of Tunisian president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, who fled the country after widespread protests forced him from office.

The disclosures, contained in previously secret US diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website, show American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by the police.

Mr Mubarak, facing the biggest challenge to his authority in his 31 years in power, ordered the army on to the streets of Cairo yesterday as rioting erupted across Egypt.

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets in open defiance of a curfew. An explosion rocked the centre of Cairo as thousands defied orders to return to their homes. As the violence escalated, flames could be seen near the headquarters of the governing National Democratic Party.

Police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas and water cannon in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

At least five people were killed in Cairo alone yesterday and 870 injured, several with bullet wounds. Mohamed ElBaradei, the pro-reform leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was placed under house arrest after returning to Egypt to join the dissidents. Riots also took place in Suez, Alexandria and other major cities across the country.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, urged the Egyptian government to heed the “legitimate demands of protesters”. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said she was “deeply concerned about the use of force” to quell the protests.

In an interview for the American news channel CNN, to be broadcast tomorrow, David Cameron said: “I think what we need is reform in Egypt. I mean, we support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of the democracy and civil rights and the rule of law.”

The US government has previously been a supporter of Mr Mubarak’s regime. But the leaked documents show the extent to which America was offering support to pro-democracy activists in Egypt while publicly praising Mr Mubarak as an important ally in the Middle East.

In a secret diplomatic dispatch, sent on December 30 2008, Margaret Scobey, the US Ambassador to Cairo, recorded that opposition groups had allegedly drawn up secret plans for “regime change” to take place before elections, scheduled for September this year.

The memo, which Ambassador Scobey sent to the US Secretary of State in Washington DC, was marked “confidential” and headed: “April 6 activist on his US visit and regime change in Egypt.”

It said the activist claimed “several opposition forces” had “agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections”. The embassy’s source said the plan was “so sensitive it cannot be written down”.

Ambassador Scobey questioned whether such an “unrealistic” plot could work, or ever even existed. However, the documents showed that the activist had been approached by US diplomats and received extensive support for his pro-democracy campaign from officials in Washington. The embassy helped the campaigner attend a “summit” for youth activists in New York, which was organised by the US State Department.

Cairo embassy officials warned Washington that the activist’s identity must be kept secret because he could face “retribution” when he returned to Egypt. He had already allegedly been tortured for three days by Egyptian state security after he was arrested for taking part in a protest some years earlier.

The protests in Egypt are being driven by the April 6 youth movement, a group on Facebook that has attracted mainly young and educated members opposed to Mr Mubarak. The group has about 70,000 members and uses social networking sites to orchestrate protests and report on their activities.

The documents released by WikiLeaks reveal US Embassy officials were in regular contact with the activist throughout 2008 and 2009, considering him one of their most reliable sources for information about human rights abuses.
Power User
Posts: 42478

« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2011, 01:51:09 PM »

President Obama, say the 'D-Word'
US appears to shy away from talk about democracy in Middle East, despite
historic anti-government rallies in ally Egypt.
Mark LeVine Last Modified: 28 Jan 2011 12:36 GMT
 *Obama has 'sought to equate Egypt's protesters and government as equally
pitted parties in the growing conflict' [AFP]***

It's incredible, really. The president of the United States can't bring
himself to talk about democracy in the Middle East. He can dance around it,
use euphemisms, throw out words like "freedom" and "tolerance" and
"non-violent" and especially "reform," but he can't say the one word that
really matters: democracy.

How did this happen? After all, in his famous 2009 Cairo speech to the
spoke the word loudly and clearly - at least once.

"The fourth issue that I will address is democracy," he declared, before
explaining that while the United States won't impose its own system, it was
committed to governments that "reflect the will of the people... I do have
an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability
to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the
rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is
transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you
choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that
is why we will support them everywhere."

"No matter where it takes hold," the president concluded, "government of the
people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power."

*Simply rhetoric?*

Of course, this was just
 however lofty, reflecting a moment when no one was rebelling against the
undemocratic governments of our allies - at least not openly and in a manner
that demanded international media coverage.

Now it's for real.

And "democracy" is scarcely to be heard on the lips of the
his most senior officials.

In fact, newly released WikiLeaks cables show that from the moment it
assumed power, the Obama administration specifically toned down public
criticism of Mubarak. The US ambassador to Egypt advised secretary of state
Hillary Clinton to avoid even the mention of former presidential candidate
Ayman Nour, jailed and abused for years after running against Mubarak in
part on America's encouragement.

Not surprisingly, when the protests began, Clinton declared that Egypt was
"stable" and an important US ally, sending a strong signal that the US would
not support the protesters if they tried to topple the regime. Indeed,
Clinton has repeatedly described Mubarak as a family friend. Perhaps Ms
Clinton should choose her friends more wisely.

Similarly, president Obama has refused to take a strong stand in support of
the burgeoning pro-democracy movement and has been no more discriminating in
his public characterisation of American support for its Egyptian "ally".
Mubarak continued through yesterday to be praised as a crucial partner of
the US. Most important, there has been absolutely no call for real

Rather, only "reform" has been suggested to the Egyptian government so that,
in Obama's words, "people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate

"I've always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on
reform - political reform, economic reform - is absolutely critical for the
long-term well-being of Egypt," advised the president, although
vice-president Joe Biden has refused to refer to Mubarak as a dictator,
leading one to wonder how bad a leader must be to deserve the title.

Even worse, the president and his senior aides have repeatedly sought to
equate the protesters and the government as somehow equally pitted parties
in the growing conflict, urging both sides to "show restraint". This
equation has been repeated many times by other American officials.

This trick, tried and tested in the US discourse surrounding the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is equally nonsensical here. These are not two
movements in a contest for political power. Rather, it is a huge state, with
a massive security and police apparatus that is supported by the world's
major superpower to the tune of billions of dollars a year, against a
largely young, disenfranchised and politically powerless population which
has suffered brutally at its hands for decades.

The focus on reform is also a highly coded reference, as across the
developing world when Western leaders have urged "reform" it has usually
signified the liberalisation of economies to allow for greater penetration
by Western corporations, control of local resources, and concentration of
wealth, rather than the kind of political democratisation and redistribution
of wealth that are key demands of protesters across the region.

*Al Jazeera interview says it all*

An Al Jazeera English
Thursday with US state department spokesman PJ Crowley perfectly summed up
the sustainability of the Obama administration's position. In some of the
most direct and unrelenting questioning of a US official I have ever
witnessed, News Hour anchor Shihab al-Rattansi repeatedly pushed Crowley to
own up to the hypocrisy and absurdity of the administration's position of
offering mild criticism of Mubarak while continuing to ply him with billions
of dollars in aid and political support.

When pressed about how the US-backed security services are beating and
torturing and even killing protesters, and whether it wasn't time for the US
to consider discontinuing aid, Crowley responded that "we don't see this as
an either or [a minute later, he said "zero sum"] proposition. Egypt is a
friend of the US, is an anchor of stability and helping us pursue peace in
the Middle East".

Each part of this statement is manifestly false; the fact that in the midst
of intensifying protests senior officials feel they can spin the events away
from openly calling for a real democratic transition now reveals either
incredible ignorance, arrogance, or both.

Yet this is precisely an either/or moment. Much as former US president Bush
declared in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we can either be "with or against"
the Egyptian people. Refusing to take sides is in fact taking sides -the
wrong side.

Moreover, Crowley, like his superiors, refused to use the word democracy,
responding to its use by anchor al-Rattansi with the word "reform" while
arguing that it was unproductive to tie events in Egypt to the protests in
other countries such as Tunis or Jordan because each has its own
"indigenous" forces and reasons for discontent.

That is a very convenient singularisation of the democracy movements, which
ignores the large number of similarities in the demands of protests across
the region, the tactics and strategies of protest, and their broader
distaste and distrust of the US in view of its untrammelled support for
dictatorships across the region.

*Systematic silence*

Ensconced in a system built upon the lack of democracy - not just abroad,
but as we've seen in the last decade, increasingly in the US as well -
perhaps president Obama doesn't feel he has the luxury of pushing too hard
for democracy when its arrival would threaten so many policies pursued by
his administration.

Instead, "stability" and "reform" are left to fill the void, even though
both have little to do with democracy in an real sense.

Perhaps Obama wants to say the D-word. Maybe in his heart he hopes Mubarak
just leaves and allows democracy to flourish. By all accounts, the president
is no ideologue like his predecessor. He does not come from the
political-economic-strategic elites as did Bush, and has no innate desire to
serve or protect their interests.

Feeling trapped by a system outside his control or power to change, maybe
president Obama hopes that the young people of the Arab world will lead the
way, and will be satisfied by congratulations by his administration after
the fact.

But even if accurate, such a scenario will likely never come to pass. With
Egyptians preparing to die in the streets, standing on the sidelines is no
longer an option.

*A gift that won't be offered again*

The most depressing and even frightening part of the tepid US response to
the protests across the region is the lack of appreciation of what kind of
gift the US, and West more broadly, are being handed by these movements.
Their very existence is bringing unprecedented levels of hope and productive
activism to a region and as such constitutes a direct rebuttal to the power
and prestige of al-Qaeda.

Instead of embracing the push for real democratic change, however, surface
reforms that would preserve the system intact are all that's recommended.
Instead of declaring loud and clear a support for a real democracy agenda,
the president speaks only of "disrupting plots and securing our cities and
skies" and "tak[ing] the fight to al-Qaeda and their allies", as he declared
in his State of the Union address.

Obama doesn't seem to understand that the US doesn't need to "take the
fight" to al-Qaeda, or even fire a single shot, to score its greatest
victory in the "war on terror". Supporting real democratisation will do more
to downgrade al-Qaeda's capabilities than any number of military attacks. He
had better gain this understanding quickly because in the next hours or days
the Egypt's revolution will likely face its moment of truth. And right
behind Egypt are Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, and who knows what other countries,
all looking to free themselves of governments that the US and its European
allies have uncritically supported for decades.

If president Obama has the courage to support genuine democracy, even at the
expense of immediate American policy interests, he could well go down in
history as one of the heroes of the Middle East's Jasmine winter. If he
chooses platitudes and the status quo, the harm to America's standing in the
region will likely take decades to repair.
Mark LeVine is a professor of history at UC Irvine and senior visiting
researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in
Sweden. His most recent books are Heavy Metal Islam (Random House) and
Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books).*

*The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not
necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.*
Al Jazeera

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2011, 02:48:40 PM »

There are very few, if any would-be Thomas Jeffersons clad in man-dresses in Egypt. Democracy in Egypt will be the genesis of the Islamic Republic of Egypt.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2011, 04:35:09 PM »

It's the military that is the real government and they are not going to go peacefully.

I think the question is whether and to what extent the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamists have infiltrated the leadership. If the military holds firm it's entirely possible, although bloody, that the government can hold onto power. That doesn't necessarily mean Mubarak will be in power, but the military will be, and I think that is why this contrast makes it so important for people to understand, this is not a choice between the Mubarak government on one hand, and sweetness and light, Jeffersonian democracy on the other.

I don't think we have evidence yet that these demonstrations are necessarily about democracy. You know the old saying, "one person, one vote, one time." The Muslim Brotherhood doesn't care about democracy, if they get into power you're not going to have free and fair elections either.

And I think there is substantial reason, for example, to worry the minority Coptic Christian population, about 10% of the population will be very worried if the Muslim Brotherhood came to power.

Let's be clear what the stakes are for the United States. We have an authoritarian regime in power that has been our ally. We don't know at this point what the real alternatives are.

JON SCOTT, ANCHOR: If you are Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, or if you are President Obama at this moment, what do you do, what do you say? There have been a couple of cautious statements put out by the U.S. State department so far.

BOLTON: Those statements have been mush. I mean this is a case where we are far better advised to remain silent, try to understand better what's going on, what the stakes are, rather than making statements that other people are parsing to say, "oh, they are supporting the demonstrators," "oh, they are supporting the government." I think there is confusion inside the administration.

In all fairness, I think everybody, including leaders of the opposition, was caught off guard by the strength of the protests, but I do think it's important to underline that today is different from the previous days with the Muslim Brotherhood bringing its supporters into the streets, and that's why the stakes are even higher today and in the next few days than they have been.

I do think that the regime is under enormous pressure, there is no doubt about it, but I don't think that just because you have people climbing onto tanks you can assume that they are friendly to democratic values.

I think there is a lot of opposition to the regime and a lot of opposition by the Muslim Brotherhood that is determined to bring down this secular military government, and install one of very harsh Sharia law, which would have enormous implications for the United States, for Israel, for other Arab governments in the region.

You just mentioned the Suez Canal, how would you like the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of that waterway? I think that's the reason why the Obama administration should be working behind the scenes and try to understand better what the ground truth is in Cairo and the other major cities.

Read more:
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2011, 05:03:37 PM »

    The chances for democracy and liberalism are different in every country. Tunisia has a good chance because there is a strong middle class and a weak Islamist movement. But in Egypt look at the numbers in the latest Pew poll.

    In Egypt, 30 percent like Hizballah (66 percent don’t). 49 percent are favorable toward Hamas (48 percent are negative); and 20 percent smile (72 percent frown) at al-Qaida. Roughly speaking, one-fifth of Egyptians applaud the most extreme Islamist terrorist group, while around one-third back revolutionary Islamists abroad. This doesn’t tell us what proportion of Egyptians want an Islamist government at home, but it is an indicator.

    In Egypt, 82 percent want stoning for those who commit adultery; 77 percent would like to see whippings and hands cut off for robbery; and 84 percent favor the death penalty for any Muslim who changes his religion.

    Asked if they supported “modernizers” or “Islamists” only 27 percent said modernizers while 59 percent said Islamists:

    Is this meaningless? Last December 20 I wrote that these “horrifying figures in Egypt…one day might be cited to explain an Islamist revolution there….What this analysis also shows is that a future Islamist revolution in Egypt and Jordan is quite possible.

I worry that the 59 percent of Egyptians who prefer Islamists to modernizers are going to have to learn the hardest way possible–as the Iranians have and the people of Gaza are learning right now–that modernizers are better. There may not be another way.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2011, 09:53:06 PM »

A sobering reminder—based upon hard data—from an essay of mine published in April, 2007:

In a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/ interview survey of 1000 Egyptian Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007, 67% of those interviewed-more than 2/3, hardly a “fringe minority”-desired this outcome (i.e., “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate”). The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate is strongly suggested by a concordant result: 74% of this Muslim sample approved the proposition “To require a strict [emphasis added] application of Shari’a law in every Islamic country.”
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2011, 10:50:28 PM »

Friday, January 28, 2011
What the President Knew (and Didn't Know)

As the situation in Egypt spirals out of control, the Obama Administration is trying to play both sides of the fence--and put the best possible spin on a worsening crisis.

Friday evening, the White House announced that Mr. Obama had a 30-minute phone conversation with embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, encouraging him to restore cell phone and internet service in his country. Those communication channels were cut earlier in the day, part of Mubarak's attempt to complicate organization efforts by the opposition.

And, in an effort to distance the administration from Mr. Mubarak--a reliable U.S. ally for three decades--the White House trotted out political advisor David Axelrod for an "exclusive" interview with Jake Tapper of ABC. During their conversation, Mr. Axelrod eagerly volunteered that President Obama has "confronted" Mubarak on Egypt's human rights abuses "on several occasions" in recent years.

That message was clearly aimed at the growing throngs of protesters in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities. While the riots have not acquired an anti-American tone (at least not yet), many of those participating in the uprising openly chastised the U.S. for its long-time support of the Mubarak regime. That criticism will likely grow in the hours ahead, with word that the Muslim Brotherhood is now taking an active role in the protests. The Brotherhood (which has been officially banned in Egypt for decades) never misses an opportunity to attack the U.S., through propaganda or other channels. It's almost certain that the protests will become stridently anti-American in the next few days--if not sooner.

That's one reason Washington sent out feelers to the opposition on Thursday. But, on the other hand, we're not quite ready to thrown Mr. Mubarak overboard--at least not yet. When PBS anchor Jim Lehrer pressed Joe Biden on the Egyptian president's record, the Vice President refused to describe him as a dictator. That showed continuing support for the Mr. Mubarak--for that moment. But a few hours later, as protesters clogged the streets of Cairo once more, it became apparent that Washington was hedging its bets, demanding the Mubarak regime respect human rights, and that both sides refrain from violence. Mr. Mubarak wasn't exactly tossed under the bus, but it was hardly a rousing show of support.

Meanwhile, there are nagging questions about the U.S.'s role in forementing the rebellion and whether the President was surprised by the sudden threat to Egypt's stability. As for the first issue, the U.K. Telegraph reports that American diplomats aided an Egyptian dissident's participation in an activist's conference in New York in 2008, hiding his identity from Mubarak's security services. In return, the dissident told American diplomats in Cairo that a coalition of regime opponents would attempt to topple the Egyptian leader in 2011. So, if the Telegraph report is true--and they published a classified U.S. cable that supports the story--then Washington helped put these events in motion.

We should note, however, that the British paper failed to put this development into proper context; as the American Spectator reports, the dissident's support was part of a program, advanced by the Bush Administration, to support legitimate democratic reforms in Egypt and elsewhere. Since then, the Obama team has discontinued the initiative, and appears to be "winging it" on the current crisis. Foreign policy expert Robert Kagan told the Politicio that he was "stunned" by the lack of planning in response to (or in advance of) the current upheaval in Egypt.

The lack of preparation apparently extends to the State Department, which forgot about the Egyptian dissident's vow about a coup attempt in 2011. Indeed, the Obama Administration has been ad-libbing its way through the crisis all week. One of the key indicators: Friday's Presidential Daily (Intelligence) Brief, or PDB. Last night, NBC White House Correspondent Chuck Todd breathlessly reported that Mr. Obama's daily brief lasted 40 minutes and it was devoted entirely to the situation in Europe.

The focus is unsurprising, but the length is. During my own career as a spook, I briefed senior officers and civilian officials during several conflicts and crises, including the invasion of Panama; the First Gulf War and Operation Allied Force. The longest brief I ever delivered for any of those events was 10 minutes--including questions from the audience. Of course, my audiences were fully prepared for what was unfolding. Friday's marathon PDB suggests a commander-in-chief playing catch-up on fast-moving events.

If it's any consolation, he's not alone. This type of situation is the most difficult for any administration. There's little they can do, except observe and issue periodic statements designed not to inflame any of the factions.

But this situation is slightly different. The "dominoes" of U.S.-backed Arab governments are beginning to topple, across North Africa and into the Middle East. Think about the consequences of Islamist governments in control of Egypt (and the Suez Canal); Jordan and Yemen, among others. American access to key waterways could be effectively blocked, making it much more difficult to move warships between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, to the Persian Gulf.

Ironically, the canal is less important for U.S. trade; many of the tanker and container vessels moving crude and products to North America are too large to pass through the canal. However, access problems at the canal would have a devastating effect on the European economy, so there will be pressure from our NATO allies to keep the waterway open.

The loss of Egypt and Jordan would also have dire consequences for Israel. Thirty years of peace with those Arab neighbors would come to an end, and Tel Aviv would (again) be surrounded by hostile foes, committed to the eradication of the Jewish State, and supported by an Iranian regime on the verge of going nuclear. That must be a part of our strategic calculus as well. If Mubarak goes, the tenure of Jordan's King Abdullah will be measured in days, and the West Bank will probably fall under the control of Hamas as well. Meanwhile, Israel's most implacable foe (Syria) sits on the Golan Heights, while Hizballah controls the "new" government in Lebanon. If that isn't a nightmare scenario for Mr. Netanyahu, we don't know what is. What is the U.S. prepared to do to ensure Israel's security in that sort of environment.

And beyond that, how do we respond when the protest movement advances to the Persian Gulf Region? Those oil-rich states, long controlled by autocratic monarchs, are ripe for revolt as well. This is hardly a movement that is limited to Egypt or Tunisia, and there are plenty of Islamists (read: terrorists) ready to stoke the fires of revolution in places like Saudi Arabia; Oman, Dubai and Kuwait.

Despite those past "lectures" to Hosni Mubarak, it seems likely that Mr. Obama (and his administration) was blind-sided by this crisis. We can only hope that he gets up to speed quickly and develops some sort of strategy to protect U.S. interests, including the Suez Canal. The consequences of inaction would be enormous.
ADDENDUM: Recent bulletins from Cairo report that Mr. Mubarak has installed his intelligence chief, Omar Sulieman, as Egypt's new vice president. That's not the sort of move Mubarak would make if he was planning to surrender power. The new VP is well-known to U.S. intelligence officials; he's ruthless, extremely competent and not shy about cracking skulls to keep the regime in power. If Mubarak can retain the support of his army, the situation in Cairo (and other Egyptian cities) may resemble Tiananmen Square before the end of the weekend. What happens then is anyone's guess.

One more thought: that 40-minute PDB is also significant in this regard. While the presentation likely included video from media reporting, the unusual length also suggests a substantial stream of intelligence reporting on the uprising. That is encouraging, but it also raises the question of how much information Mr. Obama had received on conditions in Egypt before the uprising began.

Power User
Posts: 42478

« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2011, 01:05:20 AM »

I've been busy teaching all day and have just returned from a pleasant group dinner, so I have seen very little info today, but I would toss into the mix here a reminder that in the Bush era the much derided neo-cons sought to enable the US to avoid the sort of dilema in which in finds itself today with Egypt; indeed as GM's most recent post notes, the democracy activist was being helped in a Bush program.   This notion was also a core idea behind the second Iraq War albeit one viciously derided by the loyal and less than loyal opposition in the Democratic Party.

Where would we be now if candidate Obama, candidate Clinton, former Prez candidates Kerry and Gore, Senator Majority Leader Harry "We've already lost" Reid, second in line to the Presidency Nancy Pelosi et al had not advocated cut and run as the Surge was succeeding?  What if instead of calling General Petraeus General Betray-us, the Dems had not undercut our efforts?

It seems reasonable to me to think that many Iraqi politicians would not have been preparing for our exit.  It seems reasonable to me to think that we would still be welcome in Iraq and Iraq much sturdier in its democracy and the US in much higher repute in the Arab world for having fought for democracy. 

Wouldn't that be a good thing in this moment?

Just same ramblings before going to bed , , ,
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2011, 09:10:00 AM »

Egypt and Iran: Will We Again Fuel the Fires of Revolution?
If Obama emulates the horrendous decisions Jimmy Carter made during the Iranian revolution, radical Islam will spread through the region like a forest fire.
January 30, 2011 - by Abraham H. Miller

Egypt is the largest nation in the Arab world and the fulcrum of American foreign policy among Arab nations. Its streets are ablaze with fires; its police have been withdrawn and replaced by the army; an attempt by President Hosni Mubarak to quell the rioters has only inflamed them further. The Obama administration is responding as if it is tiptoeing through a mine field. Those waiting for American leadership have to contend with the empty platitudes of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is urging restraint on the Mubarak regime.

The scene is all too reminiscent of the Iranian revolution of 1979. Then, President Jimmy Carter not only demanded restraint but also had his administration work behind the scenes to bring down the shah. Carter believed he was watching a democratic revolution unfold, one led by Mehdi Bazargan, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh and Abulhassan Banisadr. Neither Carter nor his advisers understood that this democratic-centrist revolution, like those in Europe, would be short-lived. Bazargan resigned from the government over its authoritarian turn; Ghotbzadeh was shot by a firing squad; and Banisadr fled to France, where he currently lives under heavy police protection.

As someone who spent decades studying riots, revolutions, and other forms of civil violence, I have some advice for the administration:

Hillary Clinton might consider remaining silent for the duration of the event. One of the dramatic non-PC findings of the Kerner Commission Report on our own experiences with civil unrest is that even a legitimate government that hesitates in the face of riots will both inflame and contribute to the duration and intensity of violence. Riots end when there are swift, decisive, and appropriate responses to the violence. Riots persist when the police hesitate, when the police are restrained, and when the rioters feel they are in control.

Studies of revolution, including the Russian Revolution, show that the loyalty of several companies of armed, disciplined, and well-led soldiers willing to continually fire into the mobs would crush any revolution. Such an observation sounds barbaric until you consider the millions of lives that are needlessly wasted in a revolution and its aftermath. Imagine if the second Russian Revolution, the October Revolution, the one the Communists made, had been stopped in its tracks: no Lenin, no Civil War, no Stalin, no Gulags, no invasion of Poland, no totalitarian dictatorship. The taking of a few hundred or thousand lives in the streets of St. Petersburg would have saved the lives of countless millions.

Revolutions are like a cart running downhill, as Alexis de Tocqueville observed in his brilliant analysis of the French Revolution.  The American media is focused on the demand for democratic reform voiced by the mobs in the streets of Egypt. But revolutions don’t stop with the initial demands. Revolutions create power vacuums that draw new players with different agendas from those who initially sought to make the revolution. Revolutions move to the extremes, usually to the left. Those who join the mob to demand more liberty will ultimately create a regime that extinguishes all liberty. Did those who ran through the streets of Paris in July 1789 think they were revolting for the ensuing “Terror”? Did the workers who charged the Winter Palace in 1917 think they were fighting for the Gulag? Did Banisadr and Ghotbzadeh think they were replacing the shah of Iran with a theocracy?

The choice in the streets of Egypt is not Mubarak or democracy. It is Mubarak or the Muslim Brotherhood. It is the Muslim Brotherhood, like the ayatollahs of Tehran, who are the best situated to benefit from and direct the revolution, unless of course the Egyptian military holds firm.

If the Brotherhood comes to power, it will behave as did its proxy in Gaza: one man, one vote, one time, with the opposition shot in the legs and thrown off rooftops.

I will not write a brief for the oligarchy nor would I have written one for the shah. But just because you can visibly see evil does not mean that its elimination will produce something better.As the aphorism of revolution states, “Like Saturn, the revolution devours its own children.” And in so doing becomes something its creators never intended.

Our first order of business in Egypt is to produce stability and then to do something we have not done before: Assist the Egyptians in finding a mechanism for a transition to reform through an evolutionary rather than revolutionary path. The only institution capable of doing this is the Egyptian military. They should not be abandoned as was the Iranian military.

Had Obama done more than basked in the adulation of his Cairo speech and actually leaned on the regime to evolve toward a more legitimate and inclusive government, we might not be confronting the mess ahead of us.

For decades we have been dumping billions of dollars worth of advanced weapons into Egypt. A revolution means that those weapons could fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. This will tilt the balance of power in the Middle East. Emboldened by success in Egypt, radical Islam will next show its power in the Gulf and threaten the world’s oil supply. Already there are riots in Yemen.

The world as we knew it might just spin out of control. It remains to be seen if the Egyptian military, with or without our support, will rise to the task of restoring order and stability in Egypt and become a vehicle for vital political change. But if Obama emulates the horrendous decisions Jimmy Carter made during the Iranian revolution, radical Islam will spread through the region like a forest fire with the Saudis facing the ultimate conflagration.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association.
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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2011, 09:39:35 AM »

The Muslim Brotherhood is the Enemy
Posted by Frank Gaffney Jan 30th 2011 at 3:31 am

Suddenly, Washington is consumed with a question too long ignored:  Can we safely do business with the Muslim Brotherhood?

The reason this question has taken on such urgency is, of course, because the Muslim Brotherhood (or MB, also known by its Arabic name, the Ikhwan) is poised to emerge as the big winner from the chaos now sweeping North Africa and increasingly likely to bring down the government of the aging Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

In the wake of growing turmoil in Egypt, a retinue of pundits, professors and former government officials has publicly insisted that we have nothing to fear from the Ikhwan since it has eschewed violence and embraced democracy.

For example, Bruce Reidel, a controversial former CIA analyst and advisor to President Obama, posted an article entitled “Don’t Fear Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood” at the Daily Beast.  In it, he declared:  “The Egyptian Brotherhood renounced violence years ago, but its relative moderation has made it the target of extreme vilification by more radical Islamists. Al Qaeda’s leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, started their political lives affiliated with the Brotherhood but both have denounced it for decades as too soft and a cat’s paw of Mubarak and America.”

Then, there was President George W. Bush’s former press spokeswoman, Dana Perino, who went so far on January 28th as to tell Fox News “…And don’t be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This has nothing to do with religion.”

One reason we might be misperceiving the MB as no threat is because a prime source of information about such matters is the Muslim Brotherhood itself.  As the Center for Security Policy’s new, best-selling Team B II report entitled, Shariah: The Threat to America found:  “It is now public knowledge that nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB or a derivative organization. Consequently, most of the Muslim-American groups of any prominence in America are now known to be, as a matter of fact, hostile to the United States and its Constitution.”

In fact, for much of the past two decades, a number of these groups and their backers (including, notably, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal) have cultivated extensive ties with U.S. government officials and agencies under successive administrations of both parties, academic centers, financial institutions, religious communities, partisan organizations and the media.  As a result, such American entities have been subjected to intense, disciplined and sustained influence operations for decades.

Unfortunately, the relationships thus developed and the misperceptions thus fostered are today bearing poisonous fruit with respect to shaping U.S. policy towards the unfolding Egyptian drama.

A notable example is the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).  A federal judge in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial – which successfully prosecuted the nation’s largest terrorism financing conspiracy – found that CAIR was indeed a front for the Ikhwan’s Palestinian affiliate, Hamas.  Nonetheless,  Fox News earlier today interviewed the Executive Director of CAIR’s Chicago office, Ahmed Rehab, whom it characterized as a “Democracy Activist.”

True to form, Rehab called for the removal of Mubarak’s regime and the institution of democratic elections in Egypt.  This is hardly surprising since, under present circumstances, such balloting would likely have the same result it did in Gaza a few years back: the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood and the institution of brutally repressive theocratic rule, in accordance with the totalitarian Islamic politico-military-legal program known as shariah.

An important antidote to the seductive notions being advanced with respect to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – and, for that matter, in Western nations like ours – by the Ikhwan’s own operatives, their useful idiots and apologists is the Team B II report.  It should be considered required reading by anyone who hopes to understand, let alone to comment usefully upon, the MB’s real character and agenda.

For example, Shariah: The Threat to America provides several key insights that must be borne in mind in the current circumstances especially:

    * “The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928. Its express purpose was two-fold: (1) to implement shariah worldwide, and (2) to re-establish the global Islamic State (caliphate).

    * “Therefore, Al Qaeda and the MB have the same objectives. They differ only in the timing and tactics involved in realizing them.

    * “The Brotherhood’s creed is: ‘God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.’”

    * It is evident from the Creed, and from the Brotherhood’s history (and current activities)…that violence is an inherent part of the MB’s tactics. The MB is the root of the majority of Islamic terrorist groups in the world today.

    * The Muslim Brotherhood is the ‘vanguard’ or tip-of-the-spear of the current Islamic Movement in the world. While there are other transnational organizations that share the MB’s goals (if not its tactics) – including al Qaeda, which was born out of the Brotherhood – the Ikhwan is by far the strongest and most organized. The Muslim Brotherhood is now active in over 80 countries around the world.

Of particular concern must be the purpose of the Brotherhood in the United States and other nations of the Free World:

    * “…The Ikhwan’s mission in the West is sedition in the furtherance of shariah’s supremacist agenda, not peaceful assimilation and co-existence with non-Muslim populations.”

    * “The Ikhwan believes that its purposes in the West are, for the moment, better advanced by the use of non-violent, stealthy techniques. In that connection, the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to establish relations with, influence and, wherever possible, penetrate: government circles in executive and legislative branches at the federal, state and local levels; the law enforcement community; intelligence agencies; the military; penal institutions; the media; think tanks and policy groups; academic institutions; non-Muslim religious communities; and other elites.

    * “The Brothers engage in all of these activities and more for one reason: to subvert the targeted communities in furtherance of the MB’s primary objective – the triumph of shariah.”

In short, the Muslim Brotherhood – whether it is operating in Egypt, elsewhere in the world or here – is our enemy.  Vital U.S. interests will be at risk if it succeeds in supplanting the present regime in Cairo, taking control in the process not only of the Arab world’s most populous nation but its vast, American-supplied arsenal.  It is no less reckless to allow the Brotherhood’s operatives to enjoy continued access to and influence over our perceptions of their true purposes, and the policies adopted pursuant thereto.
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2011, 11:36:51 AM »

As the Muslim Brotherhood (sexist name?) represents a religion of peace, I don't know why Hillary Clinton's State Dept is urging the evacuation of Americans.  If I were Obama today I would appoint Keith Ellison to be our new Ambassador to Egypt and send Clinton and Ellison and a team of his political allies from CAIR in to set up open talks including all sides, all negotiations transparent and broadcast on CSPAN and Al-Jazeera.  This is the sit down with anyone moment candidate Obama longed for.  Can't we all just talk?  With any guts, he would send himself in.  Biden can watch the store while he's gone.
This excerpt from Global Research Intl Affairs, Barry Rubin

There are two basic possibilities: the regime will stabilize (with or without Mubarak) or power will be up for grabs. Now, here are the precedents for the latter situation:

Remember the Iranian revolution when all sorts of people poured out into the streets to demand freedom? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now president.

Remember the Beirut spring when people poured out into the streets to demand freedom? Hizballah is now running Lebanon.

Remember the democracy among the Palestinians and free elections? Hamas is now running the Gaza Strip.

Remember democracy in Algeria? Tens of thousands of people were killed in the ensuing civil war.

It doesn't have to be that way but the precedents are pretty daunting.
GM, good posts.  This one I don't think was Glen Beck's fault.

GM previously made this clear here, but others are picking up on it, the English translation sites of Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) have a different, more peaceful message than the Arabic sites, so watch what they do more than what (you think) they are saying. Also at Breitbart's big peace site:
Crafty's musings about Iraq war opposition is interesting.  Hard to say how it applies here.  The U.S. is in a spectator position at this point.  If/when the new regime attacks or threatens American interests, we are in one way in a stronger position with Obama.  He actually has an opposition that will stand behind him if he moves to defend America's interests.
These world developments that run a course that we cannot control or even influence should put one extremely focused thought in our minds.  Get our own act in order in terms of own freedoms, healthy economy, strong defense and secure borders.  As the Suez threatens to close or whatever happens next in the volatile middle east, what a shame and a sham that we have spent recent decades fighting off our own energy production.  With our own house in order, maybe we could lecture Hu or Chavez or Mubarek, or maybe we wouldn't have to so much.
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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2011, 01:53:07 PM »

"GM, good posts.  This one I don't think was Glen Beck's fault."


As far as Glenn Beck goes, you can accuse him of anything with no standard of proof required. I think he was behind JFK's assassination and smallpox in N. America as well. And if you disagree, you are obviously worse than Hitler.   wink
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2011, 04:14:51 PM »

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group,is in talks with other anti-government figures to form a national unity government without President Hosni Mubarak, a group official told DPA on Sunday.

Although the Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned from running for elections for parliament, some movement members have presented candidacy for parliament as independents.
Egypt protests - AP - Jan 29    

An army officer, borne on the shoulders of anti-government protesters, tearing up a picture of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in downtown Cairo, January 29, 2010.
Photo by: AP

Gamal Nasser, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, told DPA that his group was in talks with Mohammed ElBaradei - the former UN nuclear watchdog chief - to form a national unity government without the National Democratic Party of Mubarak.

The group is also demanding an end to the draconian Emergency Laws, which grant police wide-ranging powers The laws have been used often to arrest and harass the Islamist group.

Nasser said his group would not accept any new government with Mubarak. On Saturday the Brotherhood called on President Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner following the resignation of the Egyptian cabinet.

Speaking to CNN later Sunday, ElBaradei said he had a popular and political mandate to negotiate the creation of a national unity government.

"I have been authorized -- mandated -- by the people who organized these demonstrations and many other parties to agree on a national unity government," he told CNN.
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« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2011, 05:21:03 PM »

Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as "the president who lost Iran," which during his term went from being a major strategic ally of the United States to being the revolutionary Islamic Republic. Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who "lost" Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled.

The superficial circumstances are similar. In both cases, a United States in financial crisis and after failed wars loses global influence under a leftist president whose good intentions are interpreted abroad as expressions of weakness. The results are reflected in the fall of regimes that were dependent on their relationship with Washington for survival, or in a change in their orientation, as with Ankara.

America's general weakness clearly affects its friends. But unlike Carter, who preached human rights even when it hurt allies, Obama sat on the fence and exercised caution. He neither embraced despised leaders nor evangelized for political freedom, for fear of undermining stability.

Obama began his presidency with trips to Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and in speeches in Ankara and Cairo tried to forge new ties between the United States and the Muslim world. His message to Muslims was "I am one of you," and he backed it by quoting from the Koran. President Hosni Mubarak did not join him on the stage at Cairo University, and Obama did not mention his host. But he did not imitate his hated predecessor, President George W. Bush, with blunt calls for democracy and freedom.

Obama apparently believed the main problem of the Middle East was the Israeli occupation, and focused his policy on demanding the suspension of construction in the settlements and on the abortive attempt to renew the peace talks. That failure led him to back off from the peace process in favor of concentrating on heading off an Israeli-Iranian war.

Americans debated constantly the question of whether Obama cut his policy to fit the circumstances or aimed at the wrong targets. The absence of human rights issues from U.S. policy vis-a-vis Arab states drew harsh criticism; he was accused of ignoring the zeitgeist and clinging to old, rotten leaders. In the past few months many opinion pieces have appeared in the Western press asserting that the days of Mubarak's regime are numbered and calling on Obama to reach out to the opposition in Egypt. There was a sense that the U.S. foreign policy establishment was shaking off its long-term protege in Cairo, while the administration lagged behind the columnists and commentators.

The administration faced a dilemma. One can guess that Obama himself identified with the demonstrators, not the aging dictator. But a superpower isn't the civil rights movement. If it abandons its allies the moment they flounder, who would trust it tomorrow? That's why Obama rallied to Mubarak's side until Friday, when the force of the protests bested his regime.

The street revolts in Tunisia and Egypt showed that the United States can do very little to save its friends from the wrath of their citizens. Now Obama will come under fire for not getting close to the Egyptian opposition leaders soon enough and not demanding that Mubarak release his opponents from jail. He will be accused of not pushing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hard enough to stop the settlements and thus indirectly quell the rising tides of anger in the Muslim world. But that's a case of 20:20 hindsight. There's no guarantee that the Egyptian or Tunisian masses would have been willing to live in a repressive regime even if construction in Ariel was halted or a few opposition figures were released from jail.

Now Obama will try to hunker down until the winds of revolt die out, and then forge ties with the new leaders in the region. It cannot be assumed that Mubarak's successors will be clones of Iran's leaders, bent on pursuing a radical anti-American policy. Perhaps they will emulate Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who navigates among the blocs and superpowers without giving up his country's membership in NATO and its defense ties with the United States. Erdogan obtained a good deal for Turkey, which benefits from political stability and economic growth without being in anyone's pocket. It could work for Egypt, too.
prentice crawford
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2011, 09:19:59 PM »

  There seems to be any number of talking heads that think it's a forgone conclusion that Hosni Mubarak will be forced to step down; anyone thinking that doesn't understand the realities of the situation in Egypt or Mubarak. Since 1950 when Mubarak became a pilot in the Egyptian Air Force and working his way up through the ranks he has maintained extremely close ties to the military, his last post in 1972 was as the Commanding General of the Air Force and then his first government post was as Deputy Minister of Defence. The military is supremely loyal to him and he has a very high level of confidence in this loyalty. This is how he has survived all these years going against the wants of another Arab nations and many of his own people, in dealing with Israel and the U.S. and it would be a huge mistake for Obama to try and toss him under the bus. I'm not saying that the Egyptian people don't deserve better but the fact is the military is going to say who rules it, and that's not the people, the Muslim Brotherhood, or anyother opposition Party that might want to ride the unrest to power.
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« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2011, 09:27:24 PM »

I think the generals are loyal to Mubarak, I think there are serious questions as to the entire military structure's loyalty.
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« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2011, 09:46:09 PM »

Will Egypt's Military Officers Free the Revolution?

prentice crawford
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2011, 10:08:12 PM »

Woof GM,
 The Egyptian military is very well disciplined, trained and equipped and Mubarak owns them. The security forces and police were pulled out not because they weren't willing to fight against the protesters, they were pulled out to allow the criminals and radicals to pillage and burn leaving the elite business people and academics and their families unprotected. You see he doesn't need the military to get even with the ones that started the protest. As for the radicals he wants to know who they are and now they are showing themselves and he will deal with them later. It won't be long that the protesters will be asking for the police to come back and the military to restore order. Mubarak knows exactly what he's doing.
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2011, 10:09:48 PM »

I hope your analysis is correct.
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« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2011, 10:28:44 PM »


I asked General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey for his thoughts on the evolving situation in Egypt:

    Egypt is a few steps short of a disaster.  The corrupt, incompetent regime will not survive.

    Most likely outcome--- the Generals take charge, announce a reform government, start  the process of responding to the injustice and despair of the common citizen. Then the situation staggers along for some period.

    Worst outcome the Generals stand with the same gang that has looted the nation--- probably minus Mubarak. Then there is a possible civil war with the soldiers in many cases siding with the people not their officers. The only organized opposition is the Muslim Brotherhood which could then possibly gain power.

    Our central US foreign policy concern is the stability of the Peace Treaty with Israel.  At the end of the day if required--- we would go to war to prevent the annihilation of the Israelis.  This would be a terrible outcome for the entire region.

    And--- oh by the way---there is the matter of the Suez Canal and the flow of oil to a Europe with an increasingly ant-Israeli political stance.

    We have few good options.  The President and Secretary Clinton are carefully walking the line.  Oddly enough--- only the last Administration with President Bush and Secretary Condi Rice has ever taken a strong reform position with Mubarak.

    This one is important.  Egypt is central to peace in the region.  Their people have been ill-used by the Mubarak Regime.  Watch the enlisted soldiers of the Egyptian Army. If they go with the people--- there will be incredible bloodshed.

    Barry McCaffrey
prentice crawford
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2011, 10:53:16 PM »

 Hysterics. Yes, in situations like this anything can happen but that doesn't mean that it will or that it is even likely. Again I don't understand all the talking heads calling for all the gloom and doom; maybe they own gold? The mob will tire, the criminals and radicals will be rounded up, a few reforms to pacify the masses and some bullying of elites and academics to clip their wings and the shi#y little life of the populace will be restored and so will Mubarak.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2011, 11:24:30 PM by prentice crawford » Logged
prentice crawford
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2011, 04:43:02 AM »

 Life goes on.

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« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2011, 08:00:38 AM »

Cancer, Carter and Obama
January 30, 2011 - by Michael Ledeen

There are some eery similarities between Egypt 2011 and Iran 1979, and some of them are unfortunately about American leadership.  There are some big differences, too, but for the moment let’s just look at some parallels and try to draw some necessarily tentative conclusions.  After all, everything is up for grabs right now and things will probably change a lot in the next few hours and days.

First of all is prostate cancer.  The shah was dying of it and Mubarak is afflicted with it.  We know Mubarak’s got it.  We didn’t know the shah had it.  One of the effects of the disease and its treatment seems to be that the person has difficulty making tough decisions, and it inevitably forces him to think about his legacy.  The shah didn’t want to go down as a bloody dictator, and he rejected all appeals from his generals to open fire on the demonstrators.  This encouraged the opposition and discouraged the military commanders.

Second is the role of Washington.  Carter did not know what to do, and he was operating on the basis of very bad intelligence.  Above all, he (thanks to his CIA) had very little good information about Khomeini.  He and advisers like Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Iran desk officer Henry Precht and NSC staffer Gary Sick all permitted themselves to believe that we could continue to have very good relations with Iran even if the shah were overthrown.   They failed to see the nature and extent of the  Khomeini movement, saw it as a “progressive revolution,” and UN Ambassador Andrew Young famously called the ayatollah a holy man, and even “some kind of saint.”

I don’t know the quality of our intelligence on the Egyptian opposition, but if former Ambassador Martin Indyk is correct (and all I’ve got to go on is a Tweet saying he said it on BBC Arabic), the White House and State Department may be signaling approval of Mohammed al-Baradei.  According to Al Jazeera — a very unreliable source to put it mildly — Obama has told leaders in the Gulf that the United States favors a “peaceful transition” to greater democracy.

Well, so do I.  But Baradei is one of the last men I would choose for that role.  He doesn’t like America and he’s in cahoots with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.  He would be likely to try to replay the ghastly catastrophe of 1979.  Bad for freedom, bad for the Egyptian people, bad for America.   Does our intelligence community not know this?  And if they do, why is Obama tilting towards this outcome?  If he is, that is…

In 1979 we came down hard on the shah to show restraint towards the demonstrators, just as we are today with Mubarak.  I understand that no American government, let alone an Obama government, can openly say to Mubarak: “What are you waiting for?  Put it down!”  I don’t know what we’re saying privately.  Gates has apparently spoken to his counterparts in Cairo and Jerusalem.  What did they say?  I don’t know, obviously, but that conversation would go a long way to clarify the real facts.  I’ll bet you that there was some sort of deadline to Mubarak:  if you can’t establish control within x days, we will have to work with the opposition.  That would be normal and sensible.

The greatest American sin in 1979 was to confuse the shah.  He didn’t know what we wanted.  From the State Department he heard calls for sweet reasonableness, entreaties not to use live ammunition against the mobs, and so forth.  From Brzezinski he heard pleas to be strong.  Maybe even to crack down violently.  The shah didn’t know who to believe.  Then it got worse.  We sent a General Huyser to Tehran with two sets of instructions:  a) to support a military coup and b) to prevent a military coup.  So the shah and the generals stood by and watched, and Khomeini’s multitudes, who knew exactly what they wanted, fought all-out and won.

It follows that Mubarak has to know exactly what we want.  Do we know what we want?  My impression is that we are confused, just as in 1979.  Obama’s statement the other day (yesterday if I remember rightly) was not encouraging.  “The future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people” and we will support them.  What does that mean?  There’s a fight going on, and we have to take sides.  I think Mubarak is entitled to wonder just what we want, and that’s dangerous, because it means that his decisions will be driven at least in part by guesswork and suspicion.

As I’ve said, that we have come to this impasse shows a long-standing policy failure, just as it did in Iran in 1979.  We should have supported democratic opposition forces all along (footnote:  it’s quite amusing to hear former officials proclaiming “we can’t support dictatorship” when they did precisely that when they were in office.  Including some, like C. Rice, who promised to support democrats and then didn’t.).  But we didn’t, the London Telegraph’s misleading headline writers notwithstanding.  Now we have no attractive options.  Too bad.

So even if our intelligence is weak, we still have to make decisions, and the basic rule has to be the same as Hippocrates’ injunction to doctors:  don’t make things worse.  Don’t inflict an even worse tyranny on the Egyptian people, one that is likely to plunge the region into a big war.  If that means working with the generals to create a transition government that promises to shape a more attractive polity, so be it.  The lesser of two evils is a legitimate policy decision.

In fact, it’s the most common one.  I’m sure Obama hates being in this position, as any of us would.  But he’s got to make decisions.  Clearly and emphatically. And stay on top of it, which is not at all his style or inclination.

And that’s the final similarity with 1979:  the wrong American in the wrong job at a crucial time.  Let’s hope that the Almighty truly does protect the blind, the drunk, and the United States of America.

It’s even better to be lucky than to be smart.
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« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2011, 12:39:44 PM »

The Egypt Crisis in a Global Context: A Special Report

George Friedman

January 30, 2011 | 2253 GMT


It is not at all clear what will happen in the Egyptian revolution. It is not a surprise that this is happening. Hosni Mubarak has been president for more than a quarter of a century, ever since the assassination of Anwar Sadat. He is old and has been ill. No one expected him to live much longer, and his apparent plan, which was that he would be replaced by his son Gamal, was not going to happen even though it was a possibility a year ago. There was no one, save his closest business associates, who wanted to see Mubarak’s succession plans happen. As his father weakened, Gamal’s succession became even less likely. Mubarak’s failure to design a credible succession plan guaranteed instability on his death. Since everyone knew that there would be instability on his death, there were obviously those who saw little advantage to acting before he died. Who these people were and what they wanted is the issue.


Let’s begin by considering the regime. In 1952, Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser staged a military coup that displaced the Egyptian monarchy, civilian officers in the military, and British influence in Egypt. Nasser created a government based on military power as the major stabilizing and progressive force in Egypt. His revolution was secular and socialist. In short, it was a statist regime dominated by the military. On Nasser’s death, Anwar Sadat replaced him. On Sadat’s assassination, Hosni Mubarak replaced him. Both of these men came from the military as Nasser did. However their foreign policy might have differed from Nasser’s, the regime remained intact.


Mubarak’s Opponents


The demands for Mubarak’s resignation come from many quarters, including from members of the regime — particularly the military — who regard Mubarak’s unwillingness to permit them to dictate the succession as endangering the regime. For some of them, the demonstrations represent both a threat and opportunity. Obviously, the demonstrations might get out of hand and destroy the regime. On the other hand, the demonstrations might be enough to force Mubarak to resign, allow a replacement — for example, Omar Suleiman, the head of intelligence who Mubarak recently appointed vice president — and thereby save the regime. This is not to say that they fomented the demonstrations, but some must have seen the demonstrations as an opportunity.


This is particularly the case in the sense that the demonstrators are deeply divided among themselves and thus far do not appear to have been able to generate the type of mass movement that toppled the Shah of Iran’s regime in 1979. More important, the demonstrators are clearly united in opposing Mubarak as an individual, and to a large extent united in opposing the regime. Beyond that, there is a deep divide in the opposition.


Western media has read the uprising as a demand for Western-style liberal democracy. Many certainly are demanding that. What is not clear is that this is moving Egypt’s peasants, workers and merchant class to rise en masse. Their interests have far more to do with the state of the Egyptian economy than with the principles of liberal democracy. As in Iran in 2009, the democratic revolution, if focused on democrats, cannot triumph unless it generates broader support.


The other element in this uprising is the Muslim Brotherhood. The consensus of most observers is that the Muslim Brotherhood at this point is no longer a radical movement and is too weak to influence the revolution. This may be possible, but it is not obvious. The Muslim Brotherhood has many strands, many of which have been quiet under Mubarak’s repression. It is not clear who will emerge if Mubarak falls. It is certainly not clear that they are weaker than the democratic demonstrators. It is a mistake to confuse the Muslim Brotherhood’s caution with weakness. Another way to look at them is that they have bided their time and toned down their real views, waiting for the kind of moment provided by Mubarak’s succession. I would suspect that the Muslim Brotherhood has more potential influence among the Egyptian masses than the Western-oriented demonstrators or Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who is emerging as their leader.


There is, of course, the usual discussion of what U.S. President Barack Obama’s view is, or what the Europeans think, or what the Iranians are up to. All of them undoubtedly have thoughts and even plans. In my view, trying to shape the political dynamics of a country like Egypt from Iran or the United States is futile, and believing that what is happening in Egypt is the result of their conspiracies is nonsense. A lot of people care what is happening there, and a lot of people are saying all sorts of things and even spending money on spies and Twitter. Egypt’s regime can be influenced in this way, but a revolution really doesn’t depend on what the European Union or Tehran says.


There are four outcomes possible. First, the regime might survive. Mubarak might stabilize the situation, or more likely, another senior military official would replace him after a decent interval. Another possibility under the scenario of the regime’s survival is that there may be a coup of the colonels, as we discussed yesterday. A second possibility is that the demonstrators might force elections in which ElBaradei or someone like him could be elected and Egypt might overthrow the statist model built by Nasser and proceed on the path of democracy. The third possibility is that the demonstrators force elections, which the Muslim Brotherhood could win and move forward with an Islamist-oriented agenda. The fourth possibility is that Egypt will sink into political chaos. The most likely path to this would be elections that result in political gridlock in which a viable candidate cannot be elected. If I were forced to choose, I would bet on the regime stabilizing itself and Mubarak leaving because of the relative weakness and division of the demonstrators. But that’s a guess and not a forecast.


Geopolitical Significance


Whatever happens matters a great deal to Egyptians. But only some of these outcomes are significant to the world. Among radical Islamists, the prospect of a radicalized Egypt represents a new lease on life. For Iran, such an outcome would be less pleasing. Iran is now the emerging center of radical Islamism; it would not welcome competition from Egypt, though it may be content with an Islamist Egypt that acts as an Iranian ally (something that would not be easy to ensure).


For the United States, an Islamist Egypt would be a strategic catastrophe. Egypt is the center of gravity in the Arab world. This would not only change the dynamic of the Arab world, it would reverse U.S. strategy since the end of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Sadat’s decision to reverse his alliance with the Soviets and form an alliance with the United States undermined the Soviet position in the Mediterranean and in the Arab world and strengthened the United States immeasurably. The support of Egyptian intelligence after 9/11 was critical in blocking and undermining al Qaeda. Were Egypt to stop that cooperation or become hostile, the U.S. strategy would be severely undermined.


The great loser would be Israel. Israel’s national security has rested on its treaty with Egypt, signed by Menachem Begin with much criticism by the Israeli right. The demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula not only protected Israel’s southern front, it meant that the survival of Israel was no longer at stake. Israel fought three wars (1948, 1967 and 1973) where its very existence was at issue. The threat was always from Egypt, and without Egypt in the mix, no coalition of powers could threaten Israel (excluding the now-distant possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons). In all of the wars Israel fought after its treaty with Egypt (the 1982 and 2006 wars in Lebanon) Israeli interests, but not survival, were at stake.


If Egypt were to abrogate the Camp David Accords and over time reconstruct its military into an effective force, the existential threat to Israel that existed before the treaty was signed would re-emerge. This would not happen quickly, but Israel would have to deal with two realities. The first is that the Israeli military is not nearly large enough or strong enough to occupy and control Egypt. The second is that the development of Egypt’s military would impose substantial costs on Israel and limit its room for maneuver.


There is thus a scenario that would potentially strengthen the radical Islamists while putting the United States, Israel, and potentially even Iran at a disadvantage, all for different reasons. That scenario emerges only if two things happen. First, the Muslim Brotherhood must become a dominant political force in Egypt. Second, they must turn out to be more radical than most observers currently believe they are — or they must, with power, evolve into something more radical.


If the advocates for democracy win, and if they elect someone like ElBaradei, it is unlikely that this scenario would take place. The pro-Western democratic faction is primarily concerned with domestic issues, are themselves secular and would not want to return to the wartime state prior to Camp David, because that would simply strengthen the military. If they win power, the geopolitical arrangements would remain unchanged.


Similarly, the geopolitical arrangements would remain in place if the military regime retained power — save for one scenario. If it was decided that the regime’s unpopularity could be mitigated by assuming a more anti-Western and anti-Israeli policy — in other words, if the regime decided to play the Islamist card, the situation could evolve as a Muslim Brotherhood government would. Indeed, as hard as it is to imagine, there could be an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood designed to stabilize the regime. Stranger things have happened.


When we look at the political dynamic of Egypt, and try to imagine its connection to the international system, we can see that there are several scenarios under which certain political outcomes would have profound effects on the way the world works. That should not be surprising. When Egypt was a pro-Soviet Nasserite state, the world was a very different place than it had been before Nasser. When Sadat changed his foreign policy the world changed with it. If the Sadat foreign policy changes, the world changes again. Egypt is one of those countries whose internal politics matter to more than its own citizens.


Most of the outcomes I envision leave Egypt pretty much where it is. But not all. The situation is, as they say, in doubt, and the outcome is not trivial.
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« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2011, 01:03:27 PM »

FWIW. Morris opinion, one of many.  I admit he is not a noted scholar on Egyptian affairs but I like him and usually agree with him.  He notes this guy ElBaradei who is being touted by the media is actually no friend of the West it sounds. 

By Dick Morris01.29.2011
In the 1950s, the accusation “who lost China” resonated throughout American politics and led to the defeat of the Democratic Party in the presidential elections of 1952. Unless President Obama reverses field and strongly opposes letting the Muslim brotherhood take over Egypt, he will be hit with the modern equivalent of the 1952 question: Who Lost Egypt?

The Iranian government is waiting for Egypt to fall into its lap. The Muslim Brotherhood, dominated by Iranian Islamic fundamentalism, will doubtless emerge as the winner should the government of Egypt fall. The Obama Administration, in failing to throw its weight against an Islamic takeover, is guilty of the same mistake that led President Carter to fail to support the Shah, opening the door for the Ayatollah Khomeini to take over Iran.

The United States has enormous leverage in Egypt – far more than it had in Iran. We provide Egypt with upwards of $2 billion a year in foreign aid under the provisos of the Camp David Accords orchestrated by Carter. The Egyptian military, in particular, receives $1.3 billion of this money. The United States, as the pay master, needs to send a signal to the military that it will be supportive of its efforts to keep Egypt out of the hands of the Islamic fundamentalists. Instead, Obama has put our military aid to Egypt “under review” to pressure Mubarak to mute his response to the demonstrators and has given top priority to “preventing the loss of human life.”

President Obama should say that Egypt has always been a friend of the United States. He should point out that it was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel. He should recall that President Sadat, who signed the peace accords, paid for doing so with his life and that President Mubarak has carried on in his footsteps. He should condemn the efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood extremists to take over the country and indicate that America stands by her longtime ally. He should address the need for reform and urge Mubarak to enact needed changes. But his emphasis should be on standing with our ally.

The return of Nobel laureate Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has to Egypt as the presumptive heir to Mubarak tells us where this revolution is headed. Carolyn Glick, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post, explains how dangerous ElBaradei is. “As IAEA head,” she writes, “Elbaradei shielded Iran’s nuclear weapons program from the Security Council. He [has] continued to lobby against significant UN Security Council sanctions or other actions against Iran…Last week, he dismissed the threat of a nuclear armed Iran [saying] ‘there is a lot of hype in this debate’.”

As for the Muslim Brotherhood, Glick notes that “it forms the largest and best organized opposition to the Mubarak regime and [is] the progenitor of Hamas and al Qaidi. It seeks Egypt’s transformation into an Islamic regime that will stand at the forefront of the global jihad.”

Now is the time for Republicans and conservatives to start asking the question: Who is losing Egypt? We need to debunk the starry eyed idealistic yearning for reform and the fantasy that a liberal democracy will come from these demonstrations. It won’t. Iranian domination will.

Egypt, with 80 million people, is the largest country in the Middle East or North Africa. Combined with Iran’s 75 million (the second largest) they have 155 million people. By contrast the entire rest of the region — Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Jordan, UAE, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar combined– have only 200 million.

We must not let the two most populous and powerful nations in the region fall under the sway of Muslim extremism, the one through the weakness of Jimmy Carter and the other through the weakness of Barack Obama.

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« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2011, 01:10:47 PM »

"He notes this guy ElBaradei who is being touted by the media is actually no friend of the West it sounds."

I caught a bit on the radio from Limbaugh, who correctly pointed out how friendly the MSM is to the Muslim Brotherhood and how the same MSM is so biased and hostile towards the Tea Party.

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« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2011, 02:11:48 PM »

Egypt military promises no force against protests
By MAGGIE MICHAEL and HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Maggie Michael And Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press 7 mins ago

CAIRO – Egypt's military promised Monday not to fire on any peaceful protests and said it recognized "the legitimacy of the people's demands" ahead of a demonstration in which organizers aim to bring a million Egyptians to the streets to press for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

The military statement was the strongest sign yet that the army was willing to let the week-old protests continue and even grow as long as they remain peaceful, even if that leads to the fall of Mubarak. If the 82-year-old president, a former air force commander, loses the support of the military, it would likely be a fatal blow to his rule.

The announcement came after the latest gesture by Mubarak aimed at defusing the upheaval fell flat. Protesters in the street and his top ally, the United States, roundly rejected his announcement of a new government Monday that dropped his interior minister, who heads police forces and was widely denounced by the protesters.

In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs dismissed the naming of the new government, saying the situation in Egypt calls for action, not appointments.

The new lineup was greeted with scorn in Tahrir Square, the central Cairo plaza that has become the protests' epicenter, with crowds of more than 10,000 on Monday chanting for Mubarak's ouster.

"We don't want life to go back to normal until Mubarak leaves," said Israa Abdel-Fattah, a founder of the April 6 Group, a movement of young people pushing for democratic reform.

The mood in Tahrir — or Liberation — Square, surrounded by army tanks and barbed wire, was celebratory and determined as more protesters filtered in to join what has turned into a continual encampment despite a curfew, moved up an hour to 3 p.m. on its fourth day in effect. Some protesters played music, others distributed dates and other food to their colleagues or watched the latest news on TVs set up on sidewalks.

Young men climbed lampposts to hang Egyptian flags and signs proclaiming "Leave, Mubarak!" One poster featured Mubarak's face plastered with a Hitler mustache, a sign of the deep resentment toward a leader they blame for widespread poverty, inflation and official indifference and brutality during his 30 years in power.

A coalition of protest groups called for a million people to join protests Tuesday — and many protesters spoke of marching out of Tahrir Square to move toward one of the several presidential palaces around Cairo. That would be a significant step: For days, the military has allowed the crowds to gather freely, but only within the confines of Tahrir.

The military's statement suggested the army may allow the protesters to march out of the square as long as they don't engage in violence.

"Your armed forces, realizing the legitimacy of the people's demands and out of concern to carry out its responsibility to protect the nation and citizens, states the following," the spokesman, Ismail Etman said in the introduction of the statement. He said the military "has not and will not use force against the public" and underlined that the "the freedom of peaceful expression is guaranteed for everyone."

He added the caveats, however, that protesters should not commit "any act that destabilizes security of the country" or damage property.

Looting that erupted over the weekend across the city of around 18 million eased — but Egyptians endured another day of the virtual halt to normal life that the crisis has caused, raising fears of damage to Egypt's economy if the crisis drags on. Trains stopped running Monday, possibly an attempt by authorities to prevent residents of the provinces from joining protests in the capital.

Banks, schools and the stock market in Cairo were closed for the second working day, making cash tight. An unprecedented complete shutdown of the Internet was in its fourth day. Long lines formed outside bakeries as people tried to replenish their stores of bread.

Cairo's international airport was a scene of chaos and confusion as thousands of foreigners sought to flee the unrest, and countries around the world scrambled to send in planes to fly their citizens out.

**A big fcuking deal, as our esteemed VP would say.**

prentice crawford
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2011, 08:24:17 PM »

 The press has now jumped on the freedom and democracy bandwagon for the Egyptian protest, but where are the freedom and democracy folks? I haven't seen any. I've seen people that want Mubarak out because he has sided with Israel and the U.S. on a few matters. I've seen non democratic Arab and Islamic groups represented such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. I've even heard that the Egyptian Marxist Party has called on its members to help spread the protests throughout the country. The people there do say they want freedom but freedom to do what? What did the freedom and democracy movement in Iran do when the U.S. backed Shah fell?
 There is no doubt that Mubarak is a bad dude and shame on us for dealing with him but what choice do we have? The press is acting like we should just side on the freedom and democracy movement. Wait a minute, isn't that what we did in Iran? And what was our reward for that morally correct decision and politically obvious right thing to do? Did the people there get freedom and democracy? We need to be practical and realistic and yes it's a hard pill to swallow because we are freedom loving people, but a dictator in our hand is much much better than what will follow him in the vacuum that will be left.
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« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2011, 09:26:54 PM »

SNAFU:  Cluelessness and hypocrisy abound.

Sorry, I'm not buying this "Who lost Egypt?" analysis.  Mubarak is 82 and is dying of prostate cancer.  Transitions are often tricky in the absence of democracy. 

There may not be much we can do at this moment.  STFU has its merits sometimes.
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« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2011, 11:15:18 PM »

His age and cancer were not an issue recently, were they? Was a transition announced before the riots/protests?

Do you think that if we had a president with an actual resume, that there might be a different outcome?
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« Reply #31 on: February 01, 2011, 06:36:55 AM »

- FrontPage Magazine - -

Why Coptic Christians Fear a Revolution

Posted By Robert Spencer On February 1, 2011 @ 12:35 am

Forgotten in all the excitement over the revolution in Egypt has been the precarious situation of Coptic Christians there. Yet just weeks ago, Copts in Egypt experienced an unprecedented reign of terror. An Islamic jihad-martyrdom suicide bomber murdered twenty-two people and wounded eighty more at the Coptic Christian Church of the Saints in Alexandria, Egypt on New Year’s Eve. Just days later, as Christmas (which Copts celebrate on January 7) 2011 approached, an Islamic website carried this ominous exhortation: “Blow up the churches while they are celebrating Christmas or any other time when the churches are packed.” And if the Muslim Brotherhood takes power in Egypt, the treatment of the Copts is likely only to get worse.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton recently injected a note of realism into the mainstream media euphoria over the heroic “pro-democracy” demonstrators in Egypt. “The overthrow of the Mubarak regime,” Bolton warned, “will not by any sense of the imagination lead to the advent of Jeffersonian democracy. The greater likelihood is a radical, tightly knit organization like the Muslim Brotherhood will take advantage of the chaos and seize power.” And that will be bad news for Egyptian Christians: “It is really legitimate for the Copts to be worried that instability follow Mubarak’s fall and his replacement with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Apparently aware of this, the head of the Coptic Church, Pope Shenouda III, has forbidden Copts from participating in the demonstrations. It has been widely reported in the West that many Copts are defying this ban; on the other hand, however, a source on the ground in Egypt tells me that the news reports are wrong, and that Copts are not participating. Whatever may be the truth of the matter, it is certain that a Muslim Brotherhood state in Egypt would make their situation even worse than it is already.

Coptic Christians have suffered discrimination and harassment for centuries. A law dating from 1856 and strongly influenced by classic Islamic restrictions on subjugated non-Muslim dhimmi communities remains on the books to this day, and severely restricts the construction of new churches. That law is part of a pervasive tendency toward discrimination: Human Right Watch reported in January 2011 that “despite the fact that the Egyptian Constitution guarantees the equality of rights, there have been reported cases of widespread discrimination against Egyptian Christians.”

Discrimination and harassment have been daily features of Coptic life for years. In February 2007, rumors that a Coptic Christian man was having an affair with a Muslim woman – a violation of Islamic law – led to a rampage that resulted in the destruction of several Christian-owned shops in southern Egypt. A similar rumor induced Muslims to torch Christian homes in southern Egypt in November 2010. And besides physical attacks, Christians have been restricted from speaking freely. In August 2007, two Coptic rights activists were arrested for “publishing articles and declarations that are damaging to Islam and insulting to Prophet Mohammed on the United Copts web site.”

Authorities have even asserted that restriction on speech outside Egypt itself, in connection with people discussing the plight of the Copts. When Pope Benedict XVI spoke out in January 2011 against the persecution of Christians in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the world’s most prestigious Sunni Muslim institution, reacted angrily, breaking off dialogue with the Vatican and accusing the Pope of interference in internal Egyptian affairs. In a statement, Al-Azhar denounced the pontiff’s “repeated negative references to Islam and his claims that Muslims persecute those living among them in the Middle East.” This was not the first time Al-Azhar had moved against those who decried the persecution of Christians in Egypt rather than against the persecutors: just weeks before taking issue with the Pope’s statements, Al-Azhar demanded that Copts repudiate a U.S. report on Coptic persecution. The Mubarak government of Egypt, meanwhile, recalled its ambassador to the Vatican.

Mistreatment of Christians in Egypt frequently meets with indifference – or worse yet, complicity — from Egyptian authorities. In November 2010, Egyptian security forces opened fire on a crowd of unarmed Christians who were protesting against the discrimination and harassment they faced in Egyptian society; four people were killed. In June 2007, rioters in Alexandria vandalized Christian shops, attacked and injured seven Christians, and damaged two Coptic churches. Police allowed the mob to roam free in Alexandria’s Christian quarter for an hour and a half before intervening. The Compass Direct News service, which tracks incidents of Christian persecution, noted: “In April 2006, Alexandria was the scene of three knife attacks on churches that killed one Christian and left a dozen more injured. The government appeared unable or unwilling to halt subsequent vandalism of Coptic-owned shops and churches…”

The ordeal of Suhir Shihata Gouda exemplifies the experience of many Egyptian Christians, and principally of Christian women, who are frequently victimized by Muslim

men. According to the Jubilee Campaign, which records incidences of Christian persecution, a group of Muslims kidnapped Suhir and forced her to marry a Muslim. When her father complained to police, they beat and cursed him instead of registering his complaint. Finally, her new Muslim husband joined a mob that went to her father’s house and threatened to kill all the Christians in the area if the family complained to authorities again.

This persecution combined with denial in Egypt itself is bad enough, but even worse, Muslims are also targeting Copts worldwide. The Canadian Press reported in December 2010 that “the Shumukh-al-Islam website, often considered to be al-Qaeda’s mouthpiece, listed pictures, addresses and cellphone numbers of Coptic Christians, predominantly Egyptian-Canadians, who have been vocal about their opposition to Islam.” Accompanying this information were calls to murder those listed.

And all this has happened while Egypt has been ostensibly a secular state. If the Muslim Brotherhood ultimately succeeds in imposing Sharia in Egypt, Copts may come to look back at the age of Mubarak as the good old days.

Article printed from FrontPage Magazine:

URL to article:
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« Reply #32 on: February 01, 2011, 08:41:46 AM »

GM:  Are you saying that the US has the ability to choose the outcome here?
Expectations and Reality in Egypt

Tuesday is expected to be another day of mass protests calling for the immediate resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. What makes the crisis in Egypt so concerning for Egyptians and outside observers alike is the sheer opacity of the situation. From Mubarak to the military, to the United States and Israel, and the demonstrators on the streets, everyone is building their own wall of expectations of how this crisis will play out. But in reviewing those expectations, it is equally important to keep in mind the outlying factors that can break those walls down.

Mubarak, who shows no sign of going anywhere just yet, has the expectation that, in spite of him being the target of ire in these demonstrations, he has what it takes to ride this crisis out. More specifically, he is betting that the opposition will remain weak, disunited and unable to cohere into a meaningful threat. Now entering the eighth day of protests, Egyptians are growing weary of going days without working, getting a regular supply of food, having the trash picked up and most of all, living in fear of their homes, shops and banks getting robbed in the absence of police. Mubarak expects that by showing a willingness to negotiate with some of the opposition and holding out an elusive promise of elections, the majority of protesters will come to the conclusion that if they waited 30 years to get rid of Mubarak, they can wait another eight months if it means preventing the country from descending into anarchy. Those protesters that remain on the street will pare down rapidly and can be handled the old-fashioned way in a heavy-handed security crackdown.

Or so the expectation goes.

“Mubarak may be a good motivator to get people out on the streets, but hunger leads to desperation, and desperation can quickly spiral into anarchy.”
Watching from the sidelines, the United States, Israel and many other observers vested in Egypt’s fate are holding onto the expectation that the military, the traditional guarantor of stability in the country, will be able to manage the transition and prevent undesirable political forces from sweeping into power. The military has to gamble that the demonstrators, who largely perceive the military as their path to a post-Mubarak Egypt, will continue to support them in the interest of stability. The military is also trying to keep tabs on itself in watching for any potential coup murmurings arising from the lower ranks of the army, where an Islamist streak, albeit long repressed, remains. As long as the demonstrations can be contained and the military is able to assert its political authority regardless of what Mubarak does, the republic will be saved.

Or so the expectation goes.

Then we have the opposition, united against Mubarak and divided on pretty much everything else. The opposition expects that ire against Mubarak will sustain the demonstrations, force the president out and lead to legitimate elections, providing them with the political space and voice they’ve been demanding for decades. The expectation of ambitious groups like the April 6 Movement, driven mostly by Egyptian youths, is that a general strike called for Jan. 30 will be observed, and that the calls for mass demonstrations on the streets will soon reach the ears of even the small shopkeepers and peasants across the country, which will force the regime to bend to their demands. In other words, the opposition will be able to graduate from a motley crew of ideologies, religious orientations and political interests into a national protest movement before the regime develops the motivation and ability to attempt another major crackdown.

Or so the expectation goes.

The expectations of each of these stakeholders and the reality that waits may be a bridge too far. But there is one factor, less discussed, that could throw off all these expectations entirely: the price of bread. Though the government appears to have about a month of stable wheat supply and no major obstacles to importing more, the ongoing security crisis is causing problems as Egyptians line up outside bakeries in the hope of hording as much bread as possible. With a strain on supply and speculation increasing, the price of bread is climbing, with some reporters claiming the price has quadrupled in Cairo over the past few days. The last time Egypt had a bread crisis was in 2008, when the military took control over bread production and ensured distribution to prevent mass riots. Now, the military is stretched extremely thin, from trying to deal with Mubarak, govern the country, contain the demonstrations, deal with Egypt’s allies and patrol the streets. Mubarak may be a good motivator to get people out on the streets, but as singer-songwriter Bob Marley stated, a hungry mob is an angry mob. Hunger can lead to desperation, and desperation can quickly spiral into anarchy. The regime will look to the military to help enforce price controls on wheat, distribute bread and keep the most destitute Egyptians from joining the demonstrations.

Or so the expectation goes.

« Last Edit: February 01, 2011, 10:06:35 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #33 on: February 01, 2011, 10:28:21 AM »


A clear strategy to support Mubarak from the start would have made a difference. The right incentives for Egypt's military could have had them quickly put down and isolate the protests/riots.

You fight a fire when it's small, not when the whole forest is ablaze.
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« Reply #34 on: February 01, 2011, 11:03:46 AM »

For the high level officials reading the forum, I propose we designate any unused monies marked for Egypt that are withheld for not meeting our conditions be immediately transferred to Israel for defense assistance.  See if that keeps the canal open and the focus on Egyptian domestic priorities.
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« Reply #35 on: February 01, 2011, 11:22:42 AM »

"Sorry, I'm not buying this "Who lost Egypt?" analysis."

Neither do I.  I posted more for the arm chair opinion on this guy,  ElBaradei (and not the critical opinion of Bama).

I still suspect someone in the US is propping him up and promoting him.  Apparantly the vast majority of Egyptians don't know of him.  So who outside Egypt is making him *the guy*?

My concern, nobel peace prize or not, he does not appear to be in our best interests.

He is an Egyptian Muslim first.
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« Reply #36 on: February 01, 2011, 11:25:21 AM »

Opposition And Army Plan Mubarak's Demise

1:17pm UK, Tuesday February 01, 2011

Dominic Waghorn, in Cairo
The Muslim Brotherhood has told Sky News it is in talks with other opposition groups and the army about the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.
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« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2011, 11:30:22 AM »

Another dubious pick for Peace Prize?  Arafat, Gore, Bamster, and ElBaradei?

***Meanwhile, these paragraphs from today's NYT story about Washington sizing up ElBaradei as a potential leader of Egypt rang all too true:

But now, the biggest questions for the Obama administration are Mr. ElBaradei's views on issues related to Israel, Egypt and the United States. For instance, both the United States and Israel have counted on the Egyptians to enforce their part of the blockade of Gaza, which is controlled by the militant Islamist group Hamas.

But in an interview last June with the London-based Al Quds Al-Arabi, Mr. ElBaradei called the Gaza blockade "a brand of shame on the forehead of every Arab, every Egyptian and every human being." He called on his government, and on Israel, to end the blockade, which Israeli and Egyptian officials argue is needed to ensure security.

Ah. Now we're learning something important here. The Times goes on to detail the deep distrust of ElBaradei among neocons. Cirincione, fyi, is a good guy:

Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund and a friend of Mr. ElBaradei, said Monday that Mr. ElBaradei wanted Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Israel, along with India and Pakistan, is not a signatory.

One senior Obama administration official said that it was not lost on the administration that Mr. ElBaradei's contentious relations with the Bush administration helped explain why he was now being viewed by some as a credible face of the opposition in Egypt.

"Ironically, the fact that ElBaradei crossed swords with the Bush administration on Iraq and Iran helps him in Egypt, and God forbid we should do anything to make it seem like we like him," said Philip D. Zelikow, former counselor at the State Department during the Bush years. For all of his tangles with the Bush administration, Mr. ElBaradei, an international bureaucrat well known in diplomatic circles, is someone whom the United States can work with, Mr. Zelikow said.

However, he allowed, "Some people in the administration had a jaundiced view of his work."

Among them was John Bolton, the former Bush administration United States ambassador to the United Nations, who routinely clashed with Mr. ElBaradei on Iran. "He is a political dilettante who is excessively pro-Iran," he complained.

Meanwhile, at The Nation, Ari Berman notes:

ElBaradei's emergence has angered pro-Mubarak neoconservatives, such as Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vide president of the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, which is closely aligned with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. "There is a myth being created that ElBaradei is a human rights activist," Hoenlein told an Orthodox Jewish website on Sunday. "He is a stooge of Iran, and I don't use the term lightly. When he was the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, for which he got a Nobel Peace Prize, he fronted for them, he distorted the reports."

So this is what's going on, probably. The administration is feeling some heat from these kinds of sources. Ultimately, Obama and Clinton do not, I would expect and hope, agree with Bolton and Hoenlein. And ultimately, I would expect and hope, ultimately meaning pretty soon, they will embrace Mubarak's ouster more publicly.

But these are complicated things. I know that this thread is now going to be full of indignant fulmination against Israel. That's not my intent. My intent is to show that there are a lot of factors in play here. I want to be clear that I obviously do not think the administration should sit on its hands here for Israel's sake; what's going on in Tahrir Square is inspiring and quite clearly deserves the support, issued in the right way at the right time, by the United States of America. Rather, I am saying that the US, given its role in the world, has to weigh things more carefully than any other country in the world does before it speaks and acts. I think we'll do the right thing, but the right thing must be done at the right time in this case.****
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« Reply #38 on: February 01, 2011, 11:42:19 AM »

"I know that this thread is now going to be full of indignant fulmination against Israel."

It is?
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« Reply #39 on: February 01, 2011, 11:56:12 AM »

American Liberals and the Streets of Cairo

      Leon Wieseltier

The contours and consequences of the uprising in Egypt—which, after decades in which Hosni Mubarak destroyed the civil society of his country and stifled the most elementary aspirations of his people, was perfectly inevitable—are still unclear. About the justice of the protestors’ anger there can be no doubt. But the politics of the revolt are murky. Its early stages have not been the work of the Muslim Brotherhood, but it is hard to believe that the Islamist organization will not be tempted to play the Bolshevik role in this revolution: it has the ideology and the organization with which to seize control of the situation, and it is the regime’s most formidable political adversary. The army may decide, with the government seriously wounded and robbed of any semblance of legitimacy, to do more than bring order to the streets. Mubarak, in a characteristic act of a failing dictator, has fired his cabinet, as if the ire of the Egyptian people was directed at his ministers: a pathetic move that brings to mind the memory of the Shah of Iran’s eleventh-hour reshuffle of his doomed government. We know this script. The political popularity, and political authority, of Muhammed ElBaradei is also hard to measure.

What is not unclear, however, is that the Obama administration, and American liberals more generally, have been caught intellectually unprepared for this crisis. The administration’s predicament, it must be said, is strategically complicated: since Mubarak may fall, it cannot afford to alienate the protestors, but since the protestors may fail, it cannot afford to alienate Mubarak. Our officials have been improvising, not altogether brilliantly. Joe Biden fatuously declared that “I would not refer to [Mubarak] as a dictator.” Robert Gibbs said that “this is not about taking sides.” Hillary Clinton, who used to speak warmly of Mubarak as “family,” has called for “restraint” and “reform” and “dialogue,” and warned that a crackdown could affect American aid to Egypt—as if anything but a crackdown is to be expected from Mubarak. And Barack Obama is also trying to finesse things, urging Mubarak to transform “a moment of volatility” into “a moment of promise”—the eloquence is irritating: there are times when the power of language is not the power that is needed—and proclaiming that “the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people.”

Continue? There is nothing wrong with crisis management in a crisis, but the problem that the Obama administration now confronts is precisely that it has not been a cornerstone of American policy toward Egypt to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people. It has preferred cronyism with the regime occasionally punctuated by some stirring remarks. What we are witnessing, in the confusion and the dread of the administration, are the consequences of its demotion of democratization as one of the central purposes of American foreign policy, particularly toward the Muslim world. There were two reasons for the new liberal diffidence about human rights. The first was the Bush doctrine, the second was the Obama doctrine. The wholesale repudiation of Bush’s foreign policy included the rejection of anything resembling his “freedom agenda,” which looked mainly like an excuse for war. But whatever one’s views of the Iraq war, it really does not seem too much to ask of American liberals that they think a little less crudely about democratization—not only about its moral significance but also about its strategic significance. One of the early lessons of the rebellion against Mubarak is that American support for democratic dissidents is indeed a strategic matter, and that the absence of such American support can lead to a strategic disaster. Such are the wages of realism. It is a common error that prudence is thought about the short-term; the proper temporal horizon for prudential thinking is distant and long. Realism does not equip one for an adequate appreciation of the historical force of the democratic longing. In this sense, realism is singularly unrealistic. It seems smart only as long as the dictators remain undisturbed by their people, and then suddenly it seems incredibly stupid.

Obama replaced the freedom agenda with an acceptance agenda. His foreign policy has been conducted in a vigorously multicultural spirit. He rightly sensed that an emphasis upon democratization was a critical emphasis—a castigation of the existing dispensations in countries ruled by autocracies and authoritarianisms, and he did not come to castigate. He came in friendship, to “restore America’s standing.” He sought to do so with an embrace of differences, an affirmation of religions, a celebration of civilizations. As a matter of principle, such assertions of respect are right and good. But what if the positive tone misses the point—not about the dignity of other peoples, but about their actual circumstances? Of what use is happy talk to unhappy people? Do societies desperately in need of secularization and its blandishments really need the American president to cite their Scripture to them? In accordance with his warm new priorities, democracy was the fourth of Obama’s five themes is his speech in Cairo in 2009, the one called “A New Beginning.” When he finally got around to it, he introduced it this way: “I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.” Or: the United States will no longer bother you about how you are living. He then proceeded to a fine little sermon about the virtues of government “through consent, not coercion,” but said nothing about the political conditions in Egypt. The Cairo speech did not discomfit the Mubarak regime. I imagine that many of Obama’s listeners in Cairo that day are on the streets of Cairo today, and some of them attacked the American Embassy.
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« Reply #40 on: February 01, 2011, 12:04:45 PM »

Far worse than the old boss.....,0,7079100.story?track=rss

Reporting from Washington —
The Obama administration said for the first time that it supports a role for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamist organization, in a reformed Egyptian government.

The organization must reject violence and recognize democratic goals if the U.S. is to be comfortable with it taking part in the government, the White House said. But by even setting conditions for the involvement of such nonsecular groups, the administration took a surprise step in the midst of the crisis that has enveloped Egypt for the last week.
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« Reply #41 on: February 01, 2011, 12:48:28 PM »

Remember El Baradei tried to swing the 2004 election in the US with his false report of weapons the Americans failed to secure.

El Baradei refers to 'the people who organized the demonstrations' approving of him.  Maybe he could tell us who finds him respected and qualified, and why.

Like Time Magazine honoring Hitler and Khomeini, the Nobel 'Peace Prize' has strange meanings.  A 2009 Nobel winner hosted a State Dinner for the man who holds a 2010 winner in jail, and Arafat the Godfather of modern terrorism won one.
prentice crawford
« Reply #42 on: February 01, 2011, 06:19:06 PM »

 Mubarak said he is stepping down at the end of this term which would be in September. I think that was expected but what is not so clear is who will take his place and how. It still appears to me that Mubarak and the military are not going to let government just go into chaos and that they will dictate who controls the government. Of course anything can happen and outside forces may try to foment somekind of insurgency out of the riots and continue to try and bring about a situation where there's a vacuum that radical elements can fill. As time goes on I see that as being even less likely just for the fact that the state of constant unrest is unsustainable, people are already going hungry and basic services are out.
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« Reply #43 on: February 01, 2011, 07:52:48 PM »

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Feb. 1 he would not seek another term as president in elections slated for September but that he will complete his current term. In a televised national address, his second since the Egyptian unrest began the previous week, Mubarak said he would use the remainder of his term to oversee the transition of power. He also called on the parliament to amend the Egyptian Constitution’s Article 76 (which narrows the pool of potential presidential candidates) and Article 77 (which allows for unlimited presidential terms). It is currently unclear whether these measures will be considered.

The opposition immediately rejected the pronouncement. Each political concession offered during this crisis by the Egyptian political establishment — which until this point had ruled with absolute authority since the 1950s — has only emboldened the opposition. Unrest is thus likely to continue, which means the Egyptian military likely will attempt to force Mubarak to step down before the elections. However, even this will not likely resolve matters, as the need to create a neutral caretaker government until elections can be held will be the basis for further struggles between the regime and the opposition.

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« Reply #44 on: February 02, 2011, 08:50:11 AM »

According to the report, between 1990 and 2003 Egypt used its two research reactors at Inshas in the Nile Delta to irradiate “small amounts of natural uranium,” conducting a total of 16 experiments. 

According to the IAEA, none of the experiments fully succeeded; but in each case, they should have been reported to the agency under terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act.

Finally, Egypt had to admit that it had not fully disclosed the extent of its nuclear facilities.

It failed to declare the pilot plant used for the plutonium and uranium-separation experiments and did not provide design information for a new facility under construction, also at Inshas.

This facility could be used for more extensive experiments, the IAEA believed, and noted that Cairo should have notified the IAEA of its decision eight years ago.

Chided, but not accused of clandestine action
The IAEA declared the lapses a “matter of concern” and promised to pursue verification.

“The agency’s verification of the correctness and completeness of Egypt’s declarations is ongoing, pending further results of environmental and destructive sampling analyses and the agency’s analysis of the additional information provided by Egypt,” the report said.

Still the IAEA did not accuse Egypt of having a clandestine nuclear weapons program and the Egyptian government, in a statement issued in response, tried to downplay the concern, claiming “differing interpretations” of Egypt’s safeguards obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty had led to the problems.

And Cairo continued to emphasize that its “nuclear activities are strictly for peaceful purposes.”

Albright and others are not so certain.

Cause for concern?
“Egypt has been playing games and it just doesn’t fly that they didn’t know what they had to report. They knew, but didn’t want to report it, and the elimination of this doesn’t eliminate the concern,” Albright said. “Egypt is developing very slowly a capability if they decide to go nuclear.”

William M. Arkin, an NBC News analyst, said that Egypt’s revelations show that “it had gone a lot farther than Iran” in terms of experimentation with separation of plutonium, adding that if the United States had discovered such experiments in Iran, it would no doubt be raising the stakes in the current standoff with Tehran.

One reason Arkin and others cite for the seeming imbalance in criticism for the two countries’ nuclear advances is the U.S.-Egypt relationship.

The U.S. has provided Egypt with $1.3 billion a year in military aid since the Camp David peace accords in 1979, as well as an average of $815 million a year in economic assistance.

By most estimates, Egypt has received more than $50 billion in U.S. aid since 1975 and has proven one of the most reliable U.S. allies in the war on terror.

In fact, Albright, Arkin and National Defense University researcher Judith Yaphe believe that there is a connection between Iran’s nuclear ambitions and those of Egypt.

Efforts to counter Iranian program
Yaphe, who has written extensively on the effect an Iranian nuclear weapon would have on other countries in the Middle East, says part of the issue is pride.

“How can you, as an Egyptian, sit by and let Iran go past you in this area? For Egyptian scientists, it’s a loss of face,” Yaphe said. “Egyptians look very hard at what Iran has done. Iran has the money, but you don’t need a lot of money if you already have the basic infrastructure.”

Albright agreed that Iran is driving Egyptian plans, but suggests it’s more about strategy than pride. “Now, they have to be worried about Iran, as well as Israel.”

A former senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that it may not just be Iran and Israel that worry Egyptian defense officials.

“They now know that Libya, with whom they have had volatile relations the past two decades, had a nuclear program under way,” the official said, noting Libya’s admissions that it had acquired nuclear weapons development technology from Pakistan in the 1990’s.
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« Reply #45 on: February 02, 2011, 09:02:51 AM »
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« Reply #46 on: February 02, 2011, 09:51:12 AM »

Obama’s Brotherhood Moment

Posted By Robert Spencer On February 2, 2011 @ 12:45 am

Game over: Barack Obama has endorsed a role for the Muslim Brotherhood in a new, post-Mubarak government for Egypt.

This should come as no surprise. Obama has behaved consistently all along, from his refusal to back the protesters in Iran, who were demonstrating against an Islamic Republic, to his backing of these protesters in Egypt, to whom he has just given a green light to establish a government that, given numerous historical precedents, will likely be the precursor to an Islamic Republic.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that a post-Mubarak Egyptian ruling group “has to include a whole host of important nonsecular actors that give Egypt a strong chance to continue to be [a] stable and reliable partner.”

Robert Malley, an Obama adviser and Mideast negotiator for Bill Clinton, explained that Obama’s expression of willingness to see the Brotherhood as part of a ruling coalition in Egypt was a “pretty clear sign that the U.S. isn’t going to advocate a narrow form of pluralism, but a broad one.”

In The Post-American Presidency, Pamela Geller and I profile Robert Malley, Samantha Power, and other fierce foes of Israel in the Obama Administration. In light of the information we reveal in the book, the Administration’s stance toward the Muslim Brotherhood comes as no surprise. But the ideology and goals of the Muslim Brotherhood will come as a surprise to most Americans, especially now that the mainstream media is retailing numerous soothing falsehoods about the group. Thus they warrant a closer look.

Contrary to claims that it is a moderate organization, the Muslim Brotherhood is actually the prototypical Islamic supremacist, pro-Sharia group of the modern age. Founded by Hasan al-Banna in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood emerged as a response to colonialism and Western influence in the Islamic world. Al-Banna wrote that “a wave of dissolution which undermined all firm beliefs was engulfing Egypt in the name of intellectual emancipation. This trend attacked the morals, deeds and virtues under the pretext of personal freedom. Nothing could stand against this powerful and tyrannical stream of disbelief and permissiveness that was sweeping our country.” His remedy? Restoration of Islamic law as the ruling principle of governance.

Al-Banna consequently decried Kemal Ataturk’s abolition of the Caliphate in secular Turkey, which he complained separated “the state from religion in a country which was until recently the site of the Commander of the Faithful.” Al-Banna characterized it as just part of a larger “Western invasion which was armed and equipped with all [the] destructive influences of money, wealth, prestige, ostentation, power and means of propaganda.”[1]

Al-Banna’s Brotherhood had a deeply spiritual character from its beginning, but it didn’t combat the “Western invasion” with just words and prayers. In a 1928 article al-Banna decried the complacency of the Egyptian elite: “What catastrophe has befallen the souls of the reformers and the spirit of the leaders?…What calamity has made them prefer this life to the thereafter [sic]? What has made them…consider the way of struggle [sabil al-jihad] too rough and difficult?”[2] When the Brotherhood was criticized for being a political group in the guise of a religious one, al-Banna met the challenge head-on:

We summon you to Islam, the teachings of Islam, the laws of Islam and the guidance of Islam, and if this smacks of “politics” in your eyes, then it is our policy. And if the one summoning you to these principles is a “politician,” then we are the most respectable of men, God be praised, in politics . . . Islam does have a policy embracing the happiness of this world. . . . We believe that Islam is an all-embracing concept which regulates every aspect of life, adjudicating on every one of its concerns and prescribing for it a solid and rigorous order.[3]

Al-Banna wrote in 1934 that “it is a duty incumbent on every Muslim to struggle towards the aim of making every people Muslim and the whole world Islamic, so that the banner of Islam can flutter over the earth and the call of the Muezzin can resound in all the corners of the world: God is greatest [Allahu akbar]! This is not parochialism, nor is it racial arrogance or usurpation of land.”[4]

In the same article al-Banna insisted that “every piece of land where the banner of Islam has been hoisted is the fatherland of the Muslims” — hence the impossibility of accommodation with Israel, against which the Brotherhood and its offshoots still struggle. But the problem was not just Israel, which after all did not yet exist when the Brotherhood was founded. According to Brynjar Lia, the historian of the Muslim Brotherhood movement: “Quoting the Qur’anic verse ‘And fight them till sedition is no more, and the faith is God’s’ [Sura 2:193], the Muslim Brothers urged their fellow Muslims to restore the bygone greatness of Islam and to re-establish an Islamic empire. Sometimes they even called for the restoration of ‘former Islamic colonies’ in Andalus (Spain), southern Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and the Mediterranean islands.”[5]

Such a call might seem laughable except that the Brotherhood also had weapons and a military wing. Scholar Martin Kramer notes that the Brotherhood had “a double identity. On one level, they operated openly, as a membership organization of social and political awakening. Banna preached moral revival, and the Muslim Brethren engaged in good works. On another level, however, the Muslim Brethren created a ‘secret apparatus’ that acquired weapons and trained adepts in their use. Some of its guns were deployed against the Zionists in Palestine in 1948, but the Muslim Brethren also resorted to violence in Egypt. They began to enforce their own moral teachings by intimidation, and they initiated attacks against Egypt’s Jews. They assassinated judges and struck down a prime minister in 1949. Banna himself was assassinated two months later, probably in revenge.”[6]

The Brotherhood was no gathering of marginalized kooks. It grew in Egypt from 150 branches in 1936 to as many as 1,500 by 1944. In 1939 al-Banna referred to “100,000 pious youths from the Muslim Brothers from all parts of Egypt,” and although Lia believes he was exaggerating at that point, by 1944 membership was estimated as between 100,000 and 500,000.[7] By 1937 it had expanded beyond Egypt, setting up “several branches in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Morocco, and one in each of Bahrain, Hadramawt, Hyderabad, Djibouti and,” Lia adds matter-of-factly, “Paris.”[8] These many thousands, dispersed around the world, heard al-Banna’s call to “prepare for jihad and be lovers of death.”[9]

The Brotherhood’s ability to attract Muslims in all these disparate societies indicates the power of its religious appeal. It wasn’t offering Muslims a new version of Islam, but a deeply traditional one. The call to restore the purity and vitality of Islam has always struck a chord among Muslims; and the Islam the Brotherhood preached was the traditional one of a total Islamic society, one that could not abide accommodation—let colonial subjugation—to the West. Al-Banna told his followers: “Islam is faith and worship, a country and a citizenship, a religion and a state. It is spirituality and hard work. It is a Qur’an and a sword.”[10]

Al-Banna is a revered figure in the Muslim world today, and by no means only among radicals. His grandson Tariq Ramadan, the well-known European Muslim moderate, praises his grandfather for his “light-giving faith, a deep spirituality, [and] personal discipline.”[11] And many of al-Banna’s writings are still in print and circulate widely.

The Brotherhood has never rejected or renounced al-Banna’s vision or program. And now it is closer to implementing it in its homeland than it ever has been before – no little thanks to Barack Obama.

[1] Brynjar Lia, The Society of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, Ithaca Press, 1998. P. 28.

[2] Lia, p. 33.

[3] Lia, pp. 68-9, 75-6.

[4] Lia, p. 79.

[5] Lia, p. 80.

[6] Martin Kramer, “Fundamentalist Islam at Large: The Drive for Power,” Middle East Quarterly, June 1996.

[7] Lia, pp. 153-4.

[8] Lia, p. 155.

[9] Jonathan Raban, “Truly, madly,deeply devout,” The Guardian, March 2, 2002.

[10] Shaker El-sayed, “Hassan al-Banna: The leader and the Movement,” Muslim American Society,

[11] Tariq Ramadan, “Foreword,” in Hassan al-Banna, Al-Ma’thurat, Awakening Publications, 2001. Reprinted at

Article printed from FrontPage Magazine:

URL to article:
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« Reply #47 on: February 02, 2011, 02:38:18 PM »

The Neocons Split with Israel Over Egypt

Feb 2 2011, 8:37 AM ET By Jeffrey Goldberg
Well, this is interesting. The neoconservative (or liberal interventionist) wing of American Jewish political thought (not that all neocons are Jewish, God forbid anyone should think that!) is cheering on the revolution in Egypt, while the Israeli government, and much of Israel's pundit class, is seeing the apocalypse in Mubarak's apparent downfall. Writing in The Times today, Yossi Klein Halevi captures the despairing mood of the Israeli policy elite:

    "(T)he grim assumption is that it is just a matter of time before the only real opposition group in Egypt, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, takes power. Israelis fear that Egypt will go the way of Iran or Turkey, with Islamists gaining control through violence or gradual co-optation.

    Either result would be the end of Israel's most important relationship in the Arab world. The Muslim Brotherhood has long stated its opposition to peace with Israel and has pledged to revoke the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty if it comes into power. Given the strengthening of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas's control of Gaza and the unraveling of the Turkish-Israeli alliance, an Islamist Egypt could produce the ultimate Israeli nightmare: living in a country surrounded by Iran's allies or proxies.

But the neoconservatives, who have made democracy promotion in the Middle East an overarching goal, are scratching their heads at what they see as Israeli shortsightedness. I asked Elliott Abrams, formerly of the Bush Administration National Security Council, and now at the Council on Foreign Relations, what he makes of the Israeli longing for Mubarak. He was scathing in his response:
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« Reply #48 on: February 03, 2011, 07:20:00 AM »

FWIW here's this from the op-ed page of Pravda on the Hudson-- is there any merit here?
Egypt’s Bumbling Brotherhood
Published: February 2, 2011
AS Egyptians clash over the future of their government, Americans and Europeans have repeatedly expressed fears of the Muslim Brotherhood. “You don’t just have a government and a movement for democracy,” Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, said of Egypt on Monday. “You also have others, notably the Muslim Brotherhood, who would take this in a different direction.”

The previous day, the House speaker, John Boehner, expressed hope that Hosni Mubarak would stay on as president of Egypt while instituting reforms to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists from grabbing power.

But here’s the real deal, at least as many Egyptians see it. Ever since its founding in 1928 as a rival to Western-inspired nationalist movements that had failed to free Egypt from foreign powers, the Muslim Brotherhood has tried to revive Islamic power. Yet in 83 years it has botched every opportunity. In Egypt today, the Brotherhood counts perhaps some 100,000 adherents out of a population of over 80 million. And its failure to support the initial uprising in Cairo on Jan. 25 has made it marginal to the spirit of revolt now spreading through the Arab world.

This error was compounded when the Brotherhood threw in its lot with Mohamed ElBaradei, the former diplomat and Nobel Prize winner. A Brotherhood spokesman, Dr. Essam el-Erian, told Al Jazeera, “Political groups support ElBaradei to negotiate with the regime.” But when Mr. ElBaradei strode into Tahrir Square, many ignored him and few rallied to his side despite the enormous publicity he was receiving in the Western press. The Brotherhood realized that in addition to being late, it might be backing the wrong horse. On Tuesday, Dr. Erian told me, “It’s too early to even discuss whether ElBaradei should lead a transitional government or whether we will join him.” This kind of flip-flopping makes many Egyptians scoff.

When the army allowed hundreds of Mubarak supporters and plainclothes policemen through barricades on Wednesday to muscle out protesters, the Muslim Brotherhood may have gained an opportunity. It might be able to recover lost leverage by showing its organizational tenacity in resisting the attempts to repress the demonstrators.

Nonetheless, the Brotherhood did not arrive at this historical moment with the advantage of wide public favor. Such support as it does have among Egyptians — an often cited figure is 20 percent to 30 percent — is less a matter of true attachment than an accident of circumstance: the many decades of suppression of secular opposition groups that might have countered it. The British, King Farouk, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar el-Sadat all faced the same problem that Hisham Kaseem, a newspaper editor and human rights activist, described playing out under Mr. Mubarak. “If people met in a cafe and talked about things the regime didn’t like, he would just shut down the cafe and arrest us,” Mr. Kaseem said. “But you can’t close mosques, so the Brotherhood survived.”

If Egyptians are given political breathing space, Mr. Kaseem told me, the Brotherhood’s importance will rapidly fade. “In this uprising the Brotherhood is almost invisible,” Mr. Kaseem said, “but not in America and Europe, which fear them as the bogeyman.”

Many people outside Egypt believe that the Brotherhood gains political influence by providing health clinics and charity for the poor. But the very poor in Egypt are not very politically active. And according to Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Council, the group has only six clinics in Cairo, a city of 18 million. Many of the other clinics are Islamic in orientation simply because most Egyptians are Islamic. The wealthier businessmen who often sponsor them tend to shun the Brotherhood, if only to protect their businesses from government disapproval.

Although originally the Brotherhood was organized into paramilitary cells, today it forswears violence in political struggle. This has made it a target of Al Qaeda’s venom. In January 2006, Ayman al-Zawahri, the former leader of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda’s leading strategist, blasted the Brotherhood’s willingness to participate in parliamentary elections and reject nuclear arms. You “falsely affiliated with Islam,” he said in vilifying the group. “You forget about the rule of Shariah, welcome the Crusaders’ bases in your countries and acknowledge the existence of the Jews who are fully armed with nuclear weapons, from which you are banned to possess.”


People in the West frequently conflate the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda. And although their means are very different, even many Egyptians suspect that they share a common end that is alien to democracy. When I asked Dr. Erian about this, he retorted that the United States and Mr. Mubarak had conspired after Sept. 11 to “brainwash” people into thinking of all Muslim activists as terrorists, adding that “the street” knew the truth.

The street, however, manifests little support for the Brotherhood. Only a small minority of the protesters in Tahrir Square joined its members in prayers there (estimates range from 5 percent to 10 percent), and few Islamic slogans or chants were heard.
Obviously the Brotherhood wants power and its positions, notably its stance against Israel, are problematic for American interests. “Israel must know that it is not welcome by the people in this region,” Dr. Erian said. Moreover, the Brotherhood will probably have representatives in any freely elected government. But it is because democracies tolerate disparate political groups that they generally don’t have civil wars, or wars with other democracies. And because the Brotherhood itself is not monolithic — it has many factions — it could well succumb to internal division if there really were a political opening for other groups in Egypt.

What we are seeing in Egypt is a revolt led by digitally informed young people and joined by families from all rungs of society. Though in one sense it happened overnight, many of its young proponents have long been working behind the scenes, independent of the Brotherhood or any old guard opposition. Egyptians are a pretty savvy lot. Hardly anyone I talked to believes that democracy can be established overnight.

The Brotherhood leadership talks of a year or two of transition, although that may reflect a vain hope of using that time to broaden its popular support enough to reach a controlling plurality. The more common assessment even among democracy advocates is that the military will retain control — Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief and new vice president, will be acceptable to Egyptians if the army gets rid of Mr. Mubarak now — and over the next decade real democratic reforms will be instituted.

“Egypt is missing instruments essential to any functioning democracy and these must be established in the transition period — an independent judiciary, a representative Parliament, an open press,” Mr. Kaseem said. “If you try to push democracy tomorrow we’ll end up like Mauritania or Sudan,” both of which in recent decades have had coups on the heels of democratic elections.

A military in control behind the scenes — for a while — is probably the best hope for a peaceful transition. “Let the U.S.A. stay away,” urged Mr. Kaseem, who insisted that he is pro-American and abhors the Brotherhood. “They are only bungling things with calls for immediate reforms and against the Brotherhood. We are handling this beautifully. Even a military leader with an I.Q. of 30 wouldn’t go down the same path as Mubarak because he would understand that the people of Egypt who are out in the streets are no longer apathetic, their interests are mostly secular, they are connected and they will get power in the end.”

If America’s already teetering standing among Egyptians and across the Arab and Muslim world is not to topple altogether, the United States must now publicly hold Mr. Mubarak responsible for the violence and privately inform the Egyptian Army that it cannot support any institution that is complicit.

But there is little reason for the United States to fear a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood. If Egypt is allowed to find its own way, as it so promisingly began to do over the past week, the problems of violent extremism and waves of emigration that America and Europe most fear from this unhappy region could well fade as its disaffected youth at last find hope at home.

Scott Atran, an anthropologist at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, the University of Michigan and John Jay College, is the author of “Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood and the (Un)making of Terrorists.”

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« Reply #49 on: February 03, 2011, 07:36:07 AM »

"How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Muslim Brotherhood."

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