Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mordechai Kedar: The Moment of Truth Draws Near


 by Mordechai Kedar

Note: This article was written on Friday, July 5, after Mursi was deposed.

Tahrir Square is filled with rejoicing, because the masses of restless youth have succeeded in removing the "ikhwanji" (denigrating term for "Brotherhood man")  Mursi from the president's seat, and it might almost seem as if the problem of political Islam's control of Egypt has been solved. They seem to think that forty million religious Egyptians have disappeared together with their dreams of realizing the fulfillment of their slogan, "al-Islam hu al-hal", "Islam is the solution" to all problems relating to the individual, family, society, state and the entire world.

But reality is more compelling than any decision of the Egyptian Chief of Staff, since he cannot ensure that the Muslim Brotherhood movement will always remain a civil movement without a combative militia. He is well aware that radical and violent organizations have arisen from this movement, such as Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, which attacked tourists during the 1990s and whose spiritual leader
- Sheikh Amr Abd al-Rahman - tried to topple the World Trade Center in New York in 1993. Or the Egyptian Jihad organization, which assassinated President Sadaat in October 1981, and whose leader - Ayman al-Zawahiri - is deeply involved with the al-Qaeda organization.

The names of organizations such as "al-Takfir wal-Hijra" (Excommunication and Emigration) and "Al-Nagun min al-Nar" (Saved from the Inferno) fill senior officers of the Egyptian army will dread, because they know that there are enough people among the Egyptian population who identify with the radical ideas of these organizations and would set off car bombs and cause mass murder among people that they suspect of helping to remove the Muslim Brotherhood from power, after they had won it legitimately in fair, democratic elections.  The crowds of cars and people in Egyptian cities' streets make it impossible to prevent terror attacks, and one small explosion would be enough to create waves of drivers
and pedestrians who would run over and kill anyone they came across.

The crowds in the streets of Egypt will increase during the month of Ramadan, which begins on July 9, next week, and religious sensitivities will be heightened as well, which might impel people to deeds and actions that they might not ordinarily do in normal times. The prices of food and clothing, which rise steeply in Ramadan, together with the deterioration in the economic situation, especially among the weak sectors, increase the frustrations of the disillusioned population, and their desire to take revenge on those who brought the present miserable situation upon them increases as well. The radicals see the army and the restless youth as the natural targets, so city squares and military facilities might be the main objectives for terror attacks.

Today, Friday, July 5, will be the first test of the revolution, because the masses that will stream from the mosques into the streets at the end of afternoon prayers might be brainwashed by the Friday sermons in the mosque. The state does not monitor most of the mosques in Egypt, so their preachers can say anything they want to their flock, without fear. Even if today passes peacefully, difficult and important questions are in store for Egypt, primarily whether to allow the Muslim Brotherhood to run in elections for parliament or the presidency. Or perhaps Egypt will return to the way it was in the days of Mubarak, when the Brotherhood was forbidden to appear as a party on the political stage, and here Egypt is confronted with the question "to be or not to be": if it is democratic, how can it prevent the Brotherhood from competing for seats in the parliament or the presidency, and if Egypt does not allow them to run democratically, then it has gone back to being a dictatorship, so what has the rebellion against Mubarak achieved?


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures

Dr. Mordechai Kedar
( is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.

Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.

Intricacies of Egypt's Coup d'état Explained

by Daniel Pipes

Events in Egypt this week prompt many responses. Here are some thirteen (complementing my article suggesting that Morsi was removed from power too soon to discredit Islamism as much as he should have).

Was Morsi the democratically elected president of Egypt? Every press account affirms he was but that is wrong. I co-authored three articles on this topic with Cynthia Farahat, looking at the first round of parliamentary elections ("Egypt's Sham Election"), the second round ("Don't Ignore Electoral Fraud in Egypt"), and the presidential elections ("Egypt's Real Ruler: Mohamed Tantawi"). In them, we documented the extensive manipulation of the 2011-12 elections, which we saw as "a ploy by the ruling military leadership to remain in power." I remain puzzled and frustrated why these elections, with their don't-pass-the-laugh-test results, continue to be portrayed as legitimately democratic. That they were not skewers the whole business about the military overthrowing a legitimate leader.

Morsi was never in command: Obviously, he did not control the military, but he also did not control the police, the intelligence services, the judiciary, or even the Presidential Guard assigned to protect him. As one report from Cairo put it, "in a sign of how little Mr. Morsi ever managed to control the Mubarak bureaucracy he took over, the officers of the Presidential Guard … burst into celebration, waving flags from the roof of the palace." In other words, Morsi always sat in his office at the sufferance of the deep state, the very agencies that brokered his "election" in June 2012.

Morsi sat on the right side of Sisi, denoting his authority, but we now know who really ruled.
There are only two powers, the military and the Islamists: This sad truth has been confirmed repeatedly in the past 2½ years of Arabic-speaking upheaval, and it has been confirmed again now in Egypt. The liberals, seculars, and leftists do not count when the chips are down. Their great challenge is to become politically relevant.

1952, 2011, 2013: The Egyptian military has now thrice in modern times overthrown existing leaders – a king, a former air force general, and a Muslim Brotherhood figure. No other institution in Egypt enjoys its power. In both 2011 and now, the street demonstrators congratulated themselves on deposing the president, but had the military sided with those presidents and not the demonstrators, the former would still be in office.

The Safi line of consumer products, one of the Egyptian military's profit centers.
Military, Inc.: The military officer corps has a vast and unhealthy control over the country's economy. This interest transcends all else; officers may disagree on other matters, but they concur on the need to pass these privileges intact to their children. Conversely, this materialism means that they will make a deal with anyone who guarantees its privileges, as Morsi did (adding new benefits) a year ago.

Ruling from behind the scenes: The 1½ years of direct military rule by Mohamed al-Tantawi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) from February 2011 to August 2012 went badly; this presumably explains why Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi immediately handed the government over to a civilian.

Coups d'état have changed: On the evening of July 22, 1952, Col. Gamal Abdul Nasser told Anwar el-Sadat to come to Cairo from Sinai. But Sadat took in a movie with his family and nearly missed the overthrow of the monarchy. This anecdote points to two huge changes: First, the overthrows are now part of a national catharsis, as opposed to the obscure and furtive effort back then. Second, it's now the top military figures who remove the head of state and not hot-headed junior officers. Put differently, Egypt has entered the more sophisticated arena of the Turkish-style coup d'état, all four of which were carried out by heads of the military, not lesser officers.

The military's fascism: Hillel Frisch notes that Sisi's reference to "the will of the people," when the people are clearly very divided, points to his and SCAF's inherently dictatorial vision. True, and there's nothing new here; military men have since 1952 ruled Egypt with this sort of anti-democratic pomposity.

Analogy to Algeria: The Algerian army's intervened in the political process in 1992, just as Islamists there appeared to be on course to winning elections; this offers a comparison to the current situation in Egypt and raises the prospect of years of civil insurrection. But the analogy is not useful for Algeria experienced nothing like the mass opposition to Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt. It would be surprising if the Egyptian Islamists resorted to violence after their earlier experiences with this tactic and after seeing the vast numbers of their engaged opponents.

Is Sisi in league with the Salafis? It was striking that Sisi invited Galal Morra as one of the select group attending his declaration that Morsi had been removed from office, and all the more striking so because Sisi's plan of action corresponds to the Salafis' own ideas. In particular, he neither appointed a leftist like Mohamed ElBaradei as interim head of government nor did he scrap the existing, Islamist constitution , but only suspended it.

Adli Mansour a mere figurehead? That's what the smart money is saying. But they said the same about Anwar el-Sadat after Gamal Abdul Nasser's sudden death in 1970, only to be proven wrong. Mansour could well be transient but it's too soon to know, especially given his near anonymity.

Anne W. Patterson, "hayzaboon": The U.S. ambassador to Egypt has been a disgrace, siding with the Muslim Brotherhood. Being the object of loathing on the streets of Cairo and called "old hag" has been her not undeserved reward for this betrayal of American principles.

Morsi and Patterson, reviled together.

Will Saudi Arabia fund Egypt? David P. Goldman notes the Saudi monarchy's fear of the Muslim Brotherhood as a republican rival to its power and its huge relief at Morsi's expulsion. He raises the prospect that Riyadh, with reserves of $630 billion, could without much of a stretch provide the $10 billion or so needed annually to keep Egyptians from starving. This is probably the only solution in sight for Egypt's hungry population. But will the gerontocracy open its purse?

Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Dismiss the Egyptian People and Elect a New One

by David P. Goldman

As Communist writer Bertolt Brecht offered after East German workers rose against their Moscow-backed masters in 1953, perhaps the Egyptian government should dismiss the people and elect a new one.

Don't laugh. Mexico did this after the debt crisis of the early 1980s: it dismissed the fifth of its population that moved to the United States. China has dismissed its rural population and recreated a new urban population, by 2020 shifting the equivalent of twice the American population from countryside to city.

Egypt's problem is that it has no practical way of acting on Brecht's advice. The Egyptian people are dying; the question is whether they will die slower or faster. I prefer slower, so I am pleased by this turn of events.

Starvation is the unstated subject of this week's military coup. For the past several months, the bottom half of Egypt's population has had little to eat besides government-subsidized bread, and now the bread supply is threatened by a shortage of imported wheat. Despite $8 billion of aid from Qatar and smidgens from Libya, Turkey, and others, Egypt is struggling to meet a financing gap of perhaps $20 billion a year, made worse by the collapse of its major cash earner — the tourist industry. Malnutrition is epidemic in the form of extreme protein deficiency in a country where 40% of the adult population is already "stunted" by poor diet, according to the World Food Program. It is not that hard to get 14 million people into the streets if there is nothing to eat at home.

Nearly half of Egyptians are illiterate. Seventy percent of them live on the land, yet the country imports half its food. Its only cash-earning industry, namely tourism, is in ruins. Sixty years of military dictatorship have left it with college graduates unfit for the world market, and a few t-shirt factories turning Asian polyester into cut-rate exports. It cannot feed itself and it cannot earn enough to feed itself, as I have explained in a series of recent articles. Someone has to subsidize them, or a lot of them will starve. Unlike Mexico, Egypt can't ship its rural poor to industrial nations in the north.

Egypt's people embraced the military because they remember that the military used to feed them. In fact, the military probably can alleviate the food crisis, because — unlike the Muslim Brotherhood– Egypt's generals should be able to count on the support of Saudi Arabia. Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz congratulated Egypt's military-appointed interim president on Wednesday night, while the United Arab Emirates expressed "satisfaction" at the course of events. Only the crazy emir of Qatar, the patron of al-Jazeera television and an assortment of Islamist ideologues, had backed the Brotherhood — and his son replaced him last week. The Saudi monarchy hates the Brotherhood the way Captain Hook hated the crocodile: it is the only political force capable of overthrowing the monarchy and replacing it.

Former President Morsi seized power from the military in August 2012, the day that the visiting emir of Qatar appeared in Cairo with a $2 billion pledge to the regime. At the time I warned (in a note for the Gatestone Institute) that "Qatar's check to the Muslim Brotherhood makes Egyptian stability less likely." I argued at the time:
Qatar's $2 billion is a drop in the bucket; it just replaces the reserves that Egypt lost last month. So is a $3.5 billion IMF loan, under discussion for a year. The Obama administration has been telling people quietly that the Saudis will step in to bail out Egypt, but the Qatari intervention makes this less likely. The eccentric and labile Emir is the Muslim Brotherhood's biggest supporter; its spiritual leader, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (who supports suicide bombings against Israel) lived in exile during the Mubarak regime. Qatar funds al-Jazeera television, the modern face of Islamism. The Saudis hate and fear the Brotherhood, which wants to overthrow the Saudi Monarchy and replace it with a modern Islamist totalitarian political party. Qatar has only about $30 billion in reserves and can't sustain Egypt for long.
Qatar is something of a wild card: it is ruled by an Emir without even the checks and balances that arise from having a large family behind a monarchy, as in Saudi Arabia. The whimsical Emir just bought the Italian firm of Valentino as a gift for his fashion-conscious second wife — not a dress, but the entire company. His support evidently emboldened the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to take on the military in the aftermath of the Sinai crisis. But that makes stability in Egypt less rather than more likely, because it gives the Saudis, the only funder capable of bailing out Egypt, reason to stand aside.
Qatar has spent nearly a third of its foreign exchange reserves in a Quixotic effort to project power in Egypt, which might explain why the old emir abdicated in favor of his son. With the Muslim Brotherhood out of the way in Egypt, the Saudis have uncontested influence with the military. Presumably the military will suppress the Brotherhood unless it chooses to dissolve spontaneously. No one should mourn the Brotherhood, a totalitarian organization with a Nazi past and an extreme anti-Semitic ideology.

The notion that this band of Jew-hating jihadi thugs might become the vehicle for a transition to a functioning Muslim democracy was perhaps the stupidest notion to circulate in Washington in living memory.

The Saudis have another reason to get involved in Egypt, and that is the situation in Syria. Saudi Arabia's intervention in the Syrian civil war, now guided by Prince Bandar, the new chief of Saudi Intelligence, has a double problem. The KSA wants to prevent Iran from turning Syria into a satrapy and fire base, but fears that the Sunni jihadists to whom it is sending anti-aircraft missiles eventually might turn against the monarchy. The same sort of blowback afflicted the kingdom after the 1980s Afghan war, in the person of Osama bin Laden. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been fighting for influence among Syria's Sunni rebels (as David Ottaway reported earlier this week at National Interest). Cutting off the Muslim Brotherhood at the knees in Egypt will help the KSA limit potential blowback in Syria.

Egypt probably can be kept on life support for about $10 billion a year in foreign subsidies, especially if the military regime can restore calm and bring the tourists back (although that is a big "if" — one of President Morsi's last acts was to appoint as governor of Luxor province an associate of the Islamist terrorists who massacred 62 tourists in Luxor in 1997). With about $630 billion in foreign exchange reserves, Saudi Arabia can carry Egypt for a couple of years while the Syrian crisis plays out. Saudi Arabia also has covered a good part of Turkey's huge payments deficit during the past couple of years, which means that Ankara will dance to Riyadh's tune.

This is the background to the Saudi monarch's enthusiastic statement of congratulations to the Egyptian military, released almost immediately after the takeover was announced:
In my own name and on behalf of the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I congratulate you on assuming the leadership of Egypt at this critical point of its history," said the king in a cable carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). "By doing so, I appeal to Allah Almighty to help you to shoulder the responsibility laid on your shoulder to achieve the hopes of our sisterly people of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
At the same time, we strongly shake hands with the men of all the armed forces, represented by General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who managed to save Egypt at this critical moment from a dark tunnel God only could apprehend its dimensions and repercussions, but the wisdom and moderation came out of those men to preserve the rights of all parties in the political process.
Please accept our greetings to you and deep respect to our brothers in Egypt and its people, wishing Egypt steady stability and security.
I expect Saudi Arabia to offer Egypt subsidized oil as well as cash for urgent food purchases, allowing the military to appear as national saviors — at least for the time being. It is not clear what the Muslim Brotherhood will do, but apart from seeking martyrdom, there is not much that it can do.

In the Beltway, to be sure, the same folk on left and right who thought the "Arab Spring" would usher in a golden era of Muslim democracy are wringing their hands over the tragic fate of Egypt's first democratically elected government. These include Republicans as well as Democrats, whom I qualified as "Dumb and Dumber" in a May 20 essay for Tablet. The sequel — call it "Dumb and Dumberer" — is still playing on CNN and Fox News. No matter: the important matters are now in the competent hands of Prince Bandar, whose judgment I prefer to that of John Kerry or Susan Rice or John McCain any day of the week. The best-case scenario would be for the grown-ups in the region to ignore the blandishments of the Obama administration as well as the advice of the Republican establishment, and to do what they have to do regardless.

Americans who want to conduct a great experiment in democracy will have to take their laboratory somewhere else.

David P. Goldman is an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum, and the author of How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam Is Dying, Too) and the essay collection It's Not the End of the World, It's Just the End of You.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Egypt Unmoored

by Joseph Klein


On July 3, 2013 – the eve of our own Independence Day celebration – millions of Egyptians who had protested in the streets against the Muslim Brotherhood-backed regime of President Mohammed Morsi last weekend got their wish. The Egyptian military followed through on its threat and removed Morsi from power, as the protesters demanded. The military had given Morsi 48 hours to enter into meaningful reconciliation talks with the opposition. Morsi ignored the ultimatum and gave a defiant speech instead.

The armed forces also suspended the unpopular constitution that Morsi and his Islamist allies had rammed through, which the opposition considered a dangerous blueprint for the institution of strict Islamic law on the Egyptian people and for the trampling of minority rights. Pending new presidential elections, which could take several months to set up, the military named the chief justice of Egypt’s constitutional court as interim president and announced the formation of a technocratic government.

At a press conference following the official announcement of Morsi’s removal, General Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi outlined a roadmap that he claimed would “put an end to the state of division” besetting the country. Emphasizing the military’s stated objective of inclusive civilian rule rather than a return to a military dictatorship, General Al-Sisi surrounded himself with top Muslim and Christian clerics as well as the Nobel Prize Laureate, diplomat and secularist leader Mohamed El-Baradei.

Cairo’s Tahrir Square, filled with anti-Morsi protesters, erupted in celebration at the news of Morsi’s ouster with loud cheers and continuous fireworks.

In another part of Cairo, however, Islamist backers of Morsi cried foul at the forcible removal of Egypt’s first democratically elected president and vowed to fight for Morsi’s restoration to power. Clashes have already been reported between Morsi supporters and the military.

As for Morsi himself, he has reportedly been under house arrest and cut off from outside communications. However, he managed to issue a statement to his supporters decrying what he called a “complete military coup.” While declaring that the “revolution is being stolen from us,” he finally offered to sit down and “negotiate with everybody.” But it was too little too late.

The military was taking no chances and moved preemptively to detain many of Morsi’s senior aides and some leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, including the chief of its political party.

Civil war cannot be ruled out as a possible outcome, although there is a split within the Islamist ranks. The ultraconservative Islamist Nour Party leadership decided to stand with the military and endorse its action. They apparently sensed an opportunity to position the Salafist party as a credible Muslim alternative to its rival, the Muslim Brotherhood, by winning favor with the military and the opposition at the same time.

Dire predictions that Egypt could go down the same path as Syria are premature. First of all, unlike the situation in Syria where Sunni-Shiite hatreds are fueling the deadly sectarian conflict, such sectarian divisions are not expected to play a major role in Egypt. Secondly, while the entry of foreign jihadist fighters into Egypt cannot be ruled out, Saudi Arabia – which has helped bankroll the arming of the jihadist opposition to the Syrian regime – has already congratulated Egypt’s new transitional head of state. Third, defections from the Egyptian military are less likely than those experienced by the Syrian military, at least so long as the Egyptian army does not turn its guns on wide portions of the Egyptian civilian population.

The military claims that it does not want to rule the country and only intervened as a last resort to carry out the expressed will of the people. More likely, the truth is that the military intervened when it realized that the protests against the Muslim Brotherhood-led government would continue to escalate and threaten the semblance of national stability that the military depends on to preserve its own privileged status in Egyptian society.

“Egypt’s military leaders are not ideologically committed to one thing or the other,” said Steven A. Cook, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, as quoted by the New York Times. “They are willing to make a deal with virtually anyone, and this one didn’t work out, clearly,” he added, referring to the failure of the Morsi regime to maintain relative domestic peace and to improve the disastrous economy.

Another expert, Michael Wahid Hanna of the Century Foundation, agreed with this assessment of the military’s agenda, according to the New York Times. He said that the military does not want the responsibility of being the “front-line actors” on the political stage. They have seen how quickly the people will turn on whomever is very visibly running the government if economic and political conditions are not to their liking. The military, Hanna said, “just want things to settle down.”

President Barack Obama once again demonstrated his fecklessness in dealing with the volatile Middle East. Appearing to hold out the possibility of a lifeline of sorts to the Morsi regime, Obama said he was “deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian Constitution.”

Obama also said he was ordering an assessment of what the military’s action meant for U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. However, he avoided for the moment referring to the military’s action as a “coup” since that explicit label could trigger a statutorily required suspension of American military aid to Egypt.

Obama’s hypocrisy came to the fore when he urged the Egyptian army to refrain from “arbitrary arrests” of Morsi and his supporters. Obama is worried about the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, but showed little concern while Morsi’s government was arbitrarily arresting its opponents and persecuting the Christian minority.

The Obama administration is apparently so upset with the nullification of the democratic election of Morsi as president that it fails to grasp the underlying mass popular forces that led to the nullification. The Arab Spring “revolution” in the streets of Cairo that Obama praised so highly in 2011 reached a more intense phase in the summer of 2013 because the Morsi regime subverted the revolution’s purpose, as articulated by many of its youthful leaders who started the ball rolling – the end of autocracy of all stripes.

Morsi’s rush to impose the Muslim Brotherhood’s rigid concept of Islamic law on the Egyptian people and his government’s trampling on the rights of minorities prevented the rise of viable competing opposition organizations that would be free to make their case to the people in advance of the next round of elections. By removing all checks and balances to his own powers and squelching popular voices of dissent, Morsi was effectively rigging the political system to ensure the dominance of Muslim Brotherhood political power for the long term. That is a subversion of a truly functioning democratic process.

Barack Obama made a tragic mistake in 2009 when he sided with the Iranian mullahs and ignored the pleas for help by waves of Green Revolution dissidents protesting the fraudulent “re-election” of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president. Now, four years later, Obama is over-solicitous to the Islamists who forfeited their legitimacy by betraying the revolution that helped propel them to power in the first place.

Joseph Klein


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama Administration Middle East Policy: See What I’ve Been Trying to Tell You?

by Barry Rubin

photo: White House
A self-interview

First, I want to apologize that I have often used intemperate language to describe U.S. policy and the people making it in the last 4.5 years. Perhaps I have put off some of you who would otherwise have been persuaded that something is very wrong. Therefore, I have tried to do another version of this approach. Remember, I’m not responsible for the way the questions are phrased here.

Q: How can the United States become the ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, a one-time Nazi collaborator which has never changed its political line since; a movement to impose Sharia states and restore the caliphate; a movement that is genocidal against Jews, and is also anti-Christian, anti-Shia (all Shia, not just the Islamists), wants to kill gays and make women into second-class citizens?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: How can the United States—the very same politicians—oppose support for the pro-American Nicaraguan Contras against the pro-Communist Sandinistas but now support with arms the ant-American Syrian rebels—Brotherhood and worse?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: How can the U.S. government stand by passively and watch four American officials be murdered by al-Qaida in Libya?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: How can the U.S. government pretend that the Israel-Palestinian peace process is going to work when the Palestinians refuse to negotiate for a dozen years, and the Palestinian Authority, because of Hamas ruling Gaza, doesn’t even represent the Palestinians?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: How can the U.S. government support the Mursi Egyptian regime—anti-American and wanting to install Sharia in a strict version—yet refuse to back the pro-American Mubarak regime?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: How can the U.S. government allow internal influences on itself by the Muslim Brotherhood?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: How can the U.S. government censor what the military and FBI teaches the people on the front lines of the counterterrorist struggle so that they don’t even understand political Islamism?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: How can Israel be constantly criticized for intransigence despite the risks and concessions it has taken during the last 21 years while the Palestinian Authority is portrayed as moderate and flexible when it won’t even talk and continues to glorify terrorists and almost always reject Israel’s existence?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: How can the Western media portray the new Iranian president as a moderate when he has always been a mainstream regime security official and hasn’t even done anything yet?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this? Next thing you know he’ll get the Nobel Peace Prize without having done anything.

Q: How can the U.S. government ignore a dozen years’ record of an Islamizing regime in Turkey, the destruction of democratic institutions, and now the violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q; How is anti-Israel sentiment reaching record heights in the American elite without any real reaction from the American Jewish community and support for the actual policies—though not the cultural-ideological manifestations—by American Jewish politicians?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: How can U.S. policy negotiate with the Taliban when anyone should see that this will signal the Afghan government that it cannot trust Washington and there’s also that little matter of September 11?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: How can the U.S. government and media constantly criticize Israel as intransigent when the Palestinian Authority has refused to negotiate seriously for 12 years while Israel has been ready to talk at any time without preconditions and has repeatedly made concessions to encourage talks?

A: Pretty amazing isn’t it? Can Americans really not realize this?

Q: Well, don’t you have anything else to say?

A: Sure. Look, I don’t have any problem understanding why this is U.S. policy. Some people tell me that while my ideas are good my harsh language prevents serious open-minded others from listening to it. I think the rules have changed. That dissent is kept out of the mass media as much as possible. Why don’t I hear what I’m saying with nicer wording? Doesn’t the strength of the argument and evidence prevail any more? Isn’t the crisis  bad enough to justify urgency and strong warnings? Have’n't my predictions been accurate? If you want take my arguments, change the wording, and explain in a polite way the worst Middle East policy in U.S. history go right ahead. Oh, and remember how many people are dying, being oppressed, and injured because of these policies.

What I cannot understand is that about half the American people, and more than half of American Jews who are facing the government that has been more indifferent to U.S. interests, that is signalling a desire to appease enemies and jettison friends, and an indifference to Israel’s security (I mean regional mainly, not so much bilateral) greater than any administration in history, seem as if they don’t realize it after four years of  error.

Posted originally via RubinReports 

Barry Rubin


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Caroline Glick: Israel’s Reviled Strategic Wisdom

by Caroline Glick


Originally published in The Jerusalem Post

On Wednesday, Egypt had its second revolution in as many years. And there is no telling how many more revolutions it will have in the coming months, or years. This is the case not only in Egypt, but throughout the Islamic world.

The American foreign policy establishment’s rush to romanticize as the Arab Spring the political instability that engulfed the Arab world following the self-immolation of a Tunisian peddler in December 2010 was perhaps the greatest demonstration ever given of the members of that establishment’s utter cluelessness about the nature of Arab politics and society. Their enthusiastic embrace of protesters who have now brought down President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood regime indicates that it takes more than a complete repudiation of their core assumptions to convince them to abandon them.

US reporters and commentators today portray this week’s protests as the restoration of the Egyptian revolution. That revolution, they remain convinced, was poised to replace long-time Egyptian leader and US-ally Hosni Mubarak with a liberal democratic government led by people who used Facebook and Twitter.

Subsequently, we were told, that revolution was hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. But now that Morsi and his government have been overthrown, the Facebook revolution is back on track.

And again, they are wrong.

As was the case in 2011, the voices of liberal democracy in Egypt are so few and far between that they have no chance whatsoever of gaining power, today or for the foreseeable future. At this point it is hard to know what the balance of power is between the Islamists who won 74 percent of the vote in the 2011 parliamentary elections and their opponents. But it is clear that their opponents are not liberal democrats. They are a mix of neo-Nasserist fascists, communists and other not particularly palatable groups.

None of them share Western conceptions of freedom and limited government. None of them are particularly pro-American. None of them like Jews. And none of them support maintaining Egypt’s cold peace with Israel.

Egypt’s greatest modern leader was Gamal Abdel Nasser. By many accounts the most common political view of the anti-Muslim Brotherhood protesters is neo-Nasserist fascism.

Nasser was an enemy of the West. He led Egypt into the Soviet camp in the 1950s. As the co-founder of the Non-Aligned Movement, he also led much of the Third World into the Soviet camp. Nasser did no less damage to the US in his time than al-Qaida and its allies have done in recent years.

Certainly, from Israel’s perspective, Nasser was no better than Hamas or al-Qaida or their parent Muslim Brotherhood movement. Like the Islamic fanatics, Nasser sought the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of the Jews.

Whether the fascists will take charge or not is impossible to know. So, too, the role of the Egyptian military in the future of Egypt is unknowable. The same military that overthrew Morsi on Wednesday stood by as he earlier sought to strip its powers, sacked its leaders and took steps to transform it into a subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood.

There are only three things that are knowable about the future of Egypt. First it will be poor. Egypt is a failed state. It cannot feed its people. It has failed to educate its people. It has no private sector to speak of. It has no foreign investment.

Second, Egypt will be politically unstable.

Mubarak was able to maintain power for 29 years because he ran a police state that the people feared. That fear was dissipated in 2011. This absence of fear will bring Egyptians to the street to topple any government they feel is failing to deliver on its promises – as they did this week.

Given Egypt’s dire economic plight, it is impossible to see how any government will be able to deliver on any promises – large or small – that its politicians will make during electoral campaigns.

And so government after government will share the fates of Mubarak and Morsi.

Beyond economic deprivation, today tens of millions of Egyptians feel they were unlawfully and unjustly ousted from power on Wednesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists won big in elections hailed as free by the West. They have millions of supporters who are just as fanatical today as they were last week. They will not go gently into that good night.

Finally, given the utter irrelevance of liberal democratic forces in Egypt today, it is clear enough that whoever is able to rise to power in the coming years will be anti-American, anti- Israel and anti-democratic, (in the liberal democratic sense of the word). They might be nicer to the Copts than the Muslim Brotherhood has been. But they won’t be more pro-Western.

They may be more cautious in asserting or implementing their ideology in their foreign policy than the Muslim Brotherhood. But that won’t necessarily make them more supportive of American interests or to the endurance of Egypt’s formal treaty of peace with Israel.

And this is not the case only in Egypt. It is the case in every Arab state that is now or will soon be suffering from instability that has caused coups, Islamic takeovers, civil wars, mass protests and political insecurity in country after country. Not all of them are broke. But then again, none of them have the same strong sense of national identity that Egyptians share.

Now that we understand what we are likely to see in the coming months and years, and what we are seeing today, we must consider how the West should respond to these events. To do so, we need to consider how various parties responded to the events of the past two-and-ahalf years.

Wednesday’s overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government is a total repudiation of the US strategy of viewing the unrest in Egypt – and throughout the Arab world – as a struggle between the good guys and the bad guys.

Within a week of the start of the protests in Tahrir Square on January 25, 2011, Americans from both sides of the political divide united around the call for Mubarak’s swift overthrow.

A few days later, President Barack Obama joined the chorus of Democrats and Republicans, and called for Mubarak to leave office, immediately. Everyone from Sen. John McCain to Samantha Power was certain that despite the fact that Mubarak was a loyal ally of the US, America would be better served by supporting the rise of the Facebook revolutionaries who used Twitter and held placards depicting Mubarak as a Jew.

Everyone was certain that the Muslim Brotherhood would stay true to its word and keep out of politics.

Two days after Mubarak was forced from office, Peter Beinart wrote a column titled “America’s Proud Egypt Moment,” where he congratulated the neo-conservatives and the liberals and Obama for scorning American interests and siding with the protesters who opposed all of Mubarak’s pro-American policies.

Beinart wrote exultantly, “Hosni Mubarak’s regime was the foundation stone – along with Israel and Saudi Arabia – of American power in the Middle East. It tortured suspected al- Qaida terrorists for us, pressured the Palestinians for us, and did its best to contain Iran.

And it sat atop a population eager – secular and Islamist alike – not only to reverse those policies, but to rid the Middle East of American power. And yet we cast our lot with that population, not their ruler.”

Beinart also congratulated the neo-conservatives for parting ways with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who counseled caution, and so proved they do not suffer from dual loyalty.

That hated, reviled Israeli strategy, (which was not Netanyahu’s alone, but shared by Israelis from across the political spectrum in a rare demonstration of unanimity), was proven correct by events of the past week and indeed by events of the past two-and-a-half years.

Israelis watched in shock and horror as their American friends followed the Pied Piper of the phony Arab Spring over the policy cliff. Mubarak was a dictator. But his opponents were no Alexander Dubceks. There was no reason to throw away 30 years of stability before figuring out a way to ride the tiger that would follow it.

Certainly there was no reason to actively support Mubarak’s overthrow.

Shortly after Mubarak was overthrown, the Obama administration began actively supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood believed that the way to gain and then consolidate power was to hold elections as quickly as possible. Others wanted to wait until a constitutional convention convened and a new blueprint for Egyptian governance was written. But the Muslim Brotherhood would have none of it. And Obama supported it.

Five months after elections of questionable pedigree catapulted Morsi to power, Obama was silent when in December 2012 Morsi arrogated dictatorial powers and pushed through a Muslim Brotherhood constitution.

Obama ignored Congress three times and maintained full funding of Egypt despite the fact that the Morsi government had abandoned its democratic and pluralistic protestations.

He was silent over the past year as the demonstrators assembled to oppose Morsi’s power grabs. He was unmoved as churches were torched and Christians were massacred. He was silent as Morsi courted Iran.

US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and Obama remained the Muslim Brotherhood’s greatest champions as the forces began to gather ahead of this week’s mass protests. Patterson met with the Coptic pope and told him to keep the Coptic Christians out of the protests.

Obama, so quick to call for Mubarak to step down, called for the protesters to exercise restraint this time around and then ignored them during his vacation in Africa.

The first time Obama threatened to curtail US funding of the Egyptian military was Wednesday night, after the military ignored American warnings and entreaties, and deposed Morsi and his government.

This week’s events showed how the US’s strategy in Egypt has harmed America.

In 2011, the military acted to force Mubarak from power only after Obama called for it to do so. This week, the military overthrew Morsi and began rounding up his supporters in defiance of the White House.

Secretary of State John Kerry was the personification of the incredible shrinkage of America this week as he maintained his obsessive focus on getting Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.

In a Middle East engulfed by civil war, revolution and chronic instability, Israel is the only country at peace. The image of Kerry extolling his success in “narrowing the gaps” between Israel and the Palestinians before he boarded his airplane at Ben-Gurion Airport, as millions assembled to bring down the government of Egypt, is the image of a small, irrelevant America.

And as the anti-American posters in Tahrir Square this week showed, America’s self-induced smallness is a tragedy that will harm the region and endanger the US.

As far as Israel is concerned, all we can do is continue what we have been doing, and hope that at some point, the Americans will embrace our sound strategy.

Caroline Glick


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