Friday, December 20, 2013

Even Mushroom Clouds Have Silver Linings

by Abe Katsman

Unless you are President Obama, John Kerry, or an Iranian theocrat, the recent Geneva nuclear agreement with Iran looks more perplexing every day.  Questions abound regarding what, if anything, the Iranians actually conceded in Geneva in exchange for significant sanctions relief.  As the answers to those questions trickle in, the situation looks ever more menacing for Israel and Iran's Arab neighbors.  But even as the Iranian deal increases the prospect of a mushroom-clouded future Middle East, certain silver linings are emerging.

The deal struck in Geneva is far from settled.  It remains unclear when the clock begins to run on its six-month duration, or what terms were actually finalized.  The respective sides already disagree fundamentally on what terms are in the accord, even before the ink has dried on their signatures.  An interim agreement?  This is more like a preliminary introductory provisional interim draft.

Also worrisome is that the Iranians have proven to be more reliable than the Obama administration in terms of accurately reporting the contents of the agreement.  Obama and Kerry boasted disingenuously that the agreement "stops advancement" on Iran's plutonium bomb factory under construction at Arak and does not "grant" Iran any "right of enrichment." 

Yet they now concede Iran's claims that, under the deal, construction at Arak may proceed and Iran may still enrich uranium.  Something is very wrong when the foreign minister of Iran is more credible than the president of the United States.

The larger issue is that this administration has been folding up the American diplomatic and military umbrellas since early in Obama's first term, when it reneged on missile defense commitments to Poland and the Czech Republic.  America's unilateral retreat from world leadership became clearer in the Libyan episode, when the administration claimed to be "leading from behind."  And in Geneva, the French stepped up and took the lead role in responsibly negotiating with Iran.

Troubling as America's apparent declare-diplomatic-victory-and-get-out approach to squandering Iranian sanctions may be, it is making other countries scramble to adjust.  And that may prove useful, especially to Israel.

Recent Mideast realignment has already been working in Israel's favor.  Egypt, following the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government, has been extraordinarily cooperative with Israel, battling Islamists in the Sinai and clamping down on Gaza smuggling. 

Jordan, spooked by hundreds of thousands of potentially destabilizing Syrian refugees and always under threat from Palestinian activists, has also moved closer to Israel.  Not only did the Jordanians just announce a joint project with Israel to build a Red Sea-Dead Sea canal, but recently they took the extraordinary step of backing the Israeli position over that of Palestinian negotiators in terms of maintaining Israeli military control over the Jordan Valley.

But most interesting are new developments with the Sunni Arab Gulf states.  The Saudis, terrified of a nuclear Iran and sensing American abandonment, have been working to form a joint military command with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar.  While Arab unity has historically been bad news for Israel, this time feels different.

In the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend Mideast, the bigger the enemy, the more valuable the friend.  As Iran becomes a more threatening enemy to both Israel and the Saudi alliance, Jerusalem and Riyadh become more natural partners, past enmity notwithstanding. 

There has been a noticeable thaw between the diplomats of the two countries, including being seen huddling together at various international forums.  At the same time, support for bombing Iran expressed by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, revealed in WikiLeaks documents, indicates a heightening of historical Persian-Arab tensions. 

The Saudi contribution to a military strike against Iran could be significant.  Many observers assume that they would allow Israel access to their skies for a raid on Iranian nuclear installations.  Some even suggest they would provide staging areas and logistical support for an Israeli raid. 

But largely ignored is the Saudis' own military strength.  They have a significant, ultra-modern arsenal accumulated through years of massive military purchases, mostly from America, including 300 combat aircraft.  They don't use their military often, but they are well-equipped.  As American military action seems more remote, Saudi military capability becomes a bigger factor.

In another unprecedented sign of rapprochement, Israeli President Shimon Peres recently spoke from Jerusalem via satellite to 29 foreign ministers from Arab and Muslim countries at the Gulf Security Conference -- and reportedly received applause.

We should be careful not to sugar-coat the situation.  The Arab boycott of Israel is alive and well, and even the Peres address could not initially be publicized.  After years of demonization, deep hatred for Israel still exists within the populations of the Arab countries. 

But the sands are shifting.  Necessity and common interest should lead to greater Arab-Israeli cooperation and fewer public displays of belligerence.  That should lessen Israel's international diplomatic isolation and reduce Arab Israel-bashing with the Palestinian issue.

So, for those looking for silver linings to the Geneva agreement, consider this: Iran and America may have inadvertently done more to advance Mideast peace than all previous peace plans, conferences, and initiatives combined.

Abe Katsman is an American attorney and political commentator living in Jerusalem.  He serves as counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel.  More of his work is available at


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Europe Turns Blind Eye to Anti-Semitism

by Arsen Ostrovsky

It is inexplicable that the EU Fundamental Rights Agency has removed its very own "Working definition of anti-Semitism" from its website, while more than half of OSCE Member States continue to be in breach of EU laws to monitor anti-Semitic incidents.
Serious questions must be asked of the EU about its resolve to tackle this form of hatred, when it cannot even agree on how to define anti-Semitism or comply with the most elementary laws to help combat it.

Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, recently said anti-Semitism is "a crime against Europe and its culture, against man and its humanity. To be anti-Semitic is to reject Europe."

Van Rompuy's remarks were made just last month, upon the release of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency's (FRA) report on the disturbing, yet not surprising, findings of rampant anti-Semitism in Europe.

His comments echo those of other EU officials and European leaders.

Yet, for all the EU's rhetoric condemning anti-Semitism and calling for urgent steps to combat it, their actions portray a very different picture.

Take for example the above-mentioned FRA report on anti-Semitism, released November 8th. The report was an exhaustive study on "Jewish people's experiences of discrimination and hate crime" in eight EU member states - Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom – that combined, make up about 90% of the EU's Jewish population.

An image from the recent FRA report on anti-Semitism.

According to the report, two-thirds of the respondents considered anti-Semitism to be a problem in those states surveyed, with three-quarters indicating the level of anti-Semitism in their country had worsened in the past five years and a quarter saying they were afraid to openly identify as Jewish for fear of anti-Semitism.

Now comes the inexplicable news that FRA has removed its very own "Working definition of anti-Semitism" from its website.

According to FRA officials, the "Working Definition" was removed as part of a clearing out of all "non-official" documents because it was only a "discussion paper" that was "never adopted."

Although the "Working Definition," initially drafted in 2004 and which provided for a strong and exhaustive definition of anti-Semitism, was, regrettably, never formally adopted by the EU, it nonetheless provided an authoritative source of guidance and expert advice for EU institutions and member states in the fight against anti-Semitism.

Importantly, the "Working Definition" had also recognized that the vilification of Israel, and Israelis, as a form of anti-Semitism today.

It is simply unfathomable that an organization tasked with providing guidance and leadership on combating anti-Semitism, and which only weeks ago released a major report on the unprecedented rise in anti-Semitism across Europe, would now remove even the tenuous definition of the very crime it seeks to combat.

In addition to FRA, there is another major European-based body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is tasked with, among other matters, combating anti-Semitism.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the OSCE takes significant guidance on this from FRA.
The central part of OSCE's mission is the requirement for member states to collect information and monitor anti-Semitic incidents in their home states. Yet, in its most recent annual report for 2012, also released last month, only 27 of the 57 OSCE Member States submitted official statistics. Among the countries that did not submit the required official statistics include: France, Hungary, Greece, Russia and Belgium -- some of the very countries identified by FRA as having the highest levels of anti-Semitism.

Quite simply, without reliable data on anti-Semitic incidents, how can governments and Jewish communities properly assess levels of anti-Semitism or propose remedies?

With anti-Semitism in Europe having reached a level unprecedented since the end of the Holocaust, serious questions must be asked of the EU about its resolve to tackle this oldest and most enduring form of hatred, when it cannot even agree on how to define anti-Semitism or comply with the most elementary laws to help combat it.

So what should be done?

First, the EU should be pressed to immediately reinstate the FRA "Working Definition of anti-Semitism" as the legislative basis of the definition of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Any definition of anti-Semitism should also be done in conjunction with battling against Holocaust denial, which is gaining widespread prevalence with the rise of far-right neo-Nazi movements across many parts of Europe.

Under current EU law, Holocaust denial is punishable by a jail sentence of up to three years. However, EU countries that do not have such a prohibition in their own domestic legislation are not bound to enforce the EU law. At present, only 13 of the 28 EU member states have laws specifically criminalizing Holocaust denial.

Concurrently, European governments should also be pressed to monitor anti-Semitism, as already required under accords reached between the EU and OSCE.

And lastly, education, education, education. The history of the Holocaust and its lessons and implications should be compulsory study in high schools across Europe. People are not born to hate, they learn to hate.

If Herman Van Rompuy is sincere in saying that "to be anti-Semitic is to reject Europe," European political institutions must lead by example, with deeds, not just words.

Arsen Ostrovsky is an International Human Rights Lawyer, with a focus on Middle East foreign policy and international law.

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‘Rushing’ to War with Iran?

by Adam Turner

In November, there was some talk of “a march (or rush) to war” against Iran.
The Obama Administration used this line to dismiss those – including EMET – who dared to disbelieve the sincerity of negotiations regarding the Iranian regime’s program to develop nuclear weapons, and seek to expand U.S. sanctions against that nation so as to keep the pressure on them to prove their sincerity.

The major problem with this charge is that Iran and the U.S. are already at war.  And every few years, Iran or its proxies (most especially Hezbollah) conducts another hostile act, which results in the death or harming of Americans.

Here are just some of the acts of war Iran has conducted against the U.S.
In 1979, Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy, and took 52 (originally 66) of its personnel hostage for 444 days.  Iranian Foreign Minister I. Yazdi, along with other Iranian officials, indicated official Iranian support for the seizure when he said, “The action of the students enjoys the endorsement and support of the government.”  Reza Kahlili describes the seizure in his book A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran:
This was not a rout.  It was not an act of passion.  It seemed too managed for that.  The people who rushed in seemed to know one another and to know what to do.  Military members of the Guards arrived quickly.  I wondered how they heard about the break-in so fast.  Then the Komiteh, the religious police recently given official status by Khomeini, came and promised to keep order.  But the only thing they kept orderly was the takeover itself.  Busloads of people arrived and joined the demonstration, another sign that this gathering was not spontaneous.  Within minutes, the protesters controlled the compound.
For its illegal actions, the Iranian regime was cited by the International Court of Justice and by the U.N. through two U.N. Resolutions for its violation of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 the international treaty that governs diplomatic immunity.

Iran set up, continues to support, and often directs, Hezbollah, a State Department-listed Lebanese terror group that has kidnapped, tortured, harmed, and/or killed Americans.  In 1983, Hezbollah bombed the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut and killed 241 American servicemen who were sent to Lebanon for peacekeeping purposes.  Hezbollah is believed to have kidnapped and tortured to death U.S. Army colonel William Higgins and the CIA Station Chief in Beirut, William Buckley.  It kidnapped around 30 other Westerners between 1982 and 1992.  Imad Mughniyah, a former senior Hezbollah leader, was, prior to 911, “responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any other terrorist.”  He and two other members of Hezbollah, Hasan Izz-al-Din, and Ali Atwa, were on the FBI’s list of 22 Most Wanted Terrorists for the hijacking in 1985 of TWA Flight 847 during which a U.S. Navy diver was murdered.  In 2007, Hezbollah operative Ali Mussa Daqduq allegedly played a significant role in the killings of five U.S. soldiers in Iraq.  In 2011, the U.S. government seized drug profits linked to Ayman Joumaa, a drug trafficker and money launderer, linked to Hezbollah, and in April 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department took action against Hezbollah for working as a drug cartel.

Iran was involved in the 911 terrorist attacks.  A U.S. District Judge “ruled that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case.”  Also, post-911, the Iranian regime protected members of al-Qaeda, including the son of Bin Ladin, even as the latter planned and implemented other bombings that wounded or killed civilians.  Because of these and many other actions, the U.S. State Department describes Iran as the “leading sponsor of anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism.”

This position is neither controversial nor partisan.  Jeffery Goldberg noted in The Atlantic, Iran is “is waging war against the United States of America” in Iraq.  Michael Ledeen writing in The Weekly Standard, reaches the same conclusion saying, “(T)here is abundant evidence for Iranian involvement in Iraq, most including their relentless efforts to kill American soldiers.  The evidence consists of first-hand information, not intelligence reports.  Scores of Iranian intelligence officers have been arrested, and some have confessed.  Documentary evidence of intimate Iranian involvement with Iraqi terrorists has been found all over Iraq, notably in Fallujah and Hilla.”

These facts have been widely reported. During the U.S. occupation of Iraq (from 2003-2011), hundreds of American soldiers were killed or wounded by roadside bombs or other weapons that were constructed, and supplied, by Iran to Iraqi rebels.  The Iranians gave these IEDs to both Shiites and Sunnis alike.

Iran has consistently grabbed American citizens and held them hostage.  The latest three are:
• In 2007, former FBI agent Robert Levinson was seized.  (Even if reports that Levinson is a spy are true, Iran’s response of making him disappear is unusual and particularly aggressive.)
• In 2011, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati was taken while visiting his grandmother.
• In 2012, Pastor Saeed Abedini was grabbed while visiting relatives in Iran.

In 2011, Iran plotted to bomb a Georgetown restaurant to kill a prominent Saudi diplomat.  “The Justice Department unsealed charges against two Iranians — one of them a U.S. citizen — accusing them of orchestrating an elaborate murder-for-hire plot that targeted Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi envoy to Washington and a key adviser to King Abdullah.  The Iranians planned to employ Mexican drug traffickers to kill Jubeir with a bomb as he ate at a restaurant, U.S. officials said.”  Needless to say, this might have killed dozens, if not hundreds, of American civilians on our own soil.  Luckily, this bombing was prevented.

At the same time, the Iranian regime continues to pour out harsh rhetoric towards the U.S.  Every year since 1979, on November 4th, the day the Embassy was seized, the Iranian regime sponsors a “Death to America” day.  The Iranian regime continually refers to the United States, as “The Great Satan”, and Israel as merely “The Minor Satan.”   The Iranian regime promotes demonstrations where the American flag is spat on, burned, or tread upon.  They have even turned the Embassy that they illegally seized into an anti-American museum.

Of course, none of these facts really matter to the President, and his Administration.  As we have discovered, they live in a utopian dream world, where facts do not exist; red lines disappear; lies are true, and peace on earth only requires a little “smart diplomacy” by the Administration.

So, because President Obama believes that the U.S. and Iran are not at war, then we aren’t.  And, according to the argument of the Obama Administration, their critics are guilty of trying to march us into a war that – according to international law and common sense – we have already been embroiled in for almost thirty-five years now.

Adam Turner


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Yes, Support the Syrian Rebels

by Daniel Pipes

In April 2013, I published an article with the slightly inaccurate title, "Support Assad." Better would have been "Support Whichever Side Is Losing in the Syrian Civil War." Back then, it seemed that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was doomed; but already a month later, that was no longer the case and eight months on, a consensus has emerged that Assad is slowly winning.

For example, Jeffrey White, a Defense Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, writes in "The Syrian Regime's Military Solution to the War" that the Syrian civil war
could indeed have a military outcome, and in light of current trends, that outcome could be a regime victory. The outlines of a regime strategy for winning the war are visible. This strategy hinges on the staying power of the regime and its allies, the generation of adequate forces, operational success, and continued divisions within rebel forces. It is subject to serious constraints, especially limitations on the size and effectiveness of regime and associated forces, and "game changers" could alter its course. But a regime victory is possible—and that is what the regime is counting on. …

Barring a sudden collapse of the armed resistance, which for the Islamist core seems unlikely, the regime will only slowly defeat rebel forces and recover territory. But the regime is implacable and its allies are steadfast.
In light of these developments, it comes as no surprise that, John Hudson reports, "U.S. Weighing Closer Ties With Hardline Islamists in Syria":
As the moderate faction of the Syrian rebellion implodes under the strain of vicious infighting and diminished resources, the United States is increasingly looking to hardline Islamists in its efforts to gain leverage in Syria's civil war. The development has alarmed U.S. observers concerned that the radical Salafists do not share U.S. values and has dismayed supporters of the Free Syrian Army who believe the moderates were set up to fail.
On Monday, the State Department confirmed its openness to engaging with the Islamic Front following the group's seizure of a Free Syrian Army headquarters last week containing U.S.-supplied small arms and food. "We wouldn't rule out the possibility of meeting with the Islamic Front," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday. "We can engage with the Islamic Front, of course, because they're not designated terrorists ... We're always open to meeting with a wide range of opposition groups. Obviously, it may make sense to do so at some point soon, and if we have something to announce, we will."
Hudson notes that "Though the Islamic Front is not a U.S.-designated terrorist group, many of its members hold intensely anti-American beliefs and have no intention of establishing a secular democracy in Syria." Well, of course. But that need not be a problem, for neither side is pro-Amerian or intends to establish any kind of democracy, and we should not support either side in the hope that it will win, only that it will block the other side from winning.

In this light, I swallow hard and endorse supporting the Islamic Front. Again, not support it to win but to live to do battle another day against the foul Assad regime along with its Iranian and Hezbollah backers. (December 19, 2013)

Syria's Islamist rebels remain enemies, but they can be useful ones.

Daniel Pipes


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Israel May Attack Iran's Heavy-Water Reactor

by Israel Hayom Staff

Former U.S. government scientist writes in The Washington Times that if Iran does not uphold the Geneva Interim Accord, Israel would attack Iranian nuclear facilities • Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states would secretly applaud.

The heavy-water reactor at Arak
Photo credit: AFP

Israel Hayom Staff


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Egypt Buries the Brotherhood

by Daniel Greenfield

It’s not unusual for the United States and a Muslim country to be on the opposite sides of the War on Terror. It is unusual for a Muslim country to take a stand against terrorism while the United States backs the right of a terrorist group to burn churches, torture opposition members and maintain control of a country with its own nuclear program.

But that’s the strange situation in what Egypt’s public prosecutor has declared “the biggest case of conspiracy in the country’s history.”

The media assumes that the charges accusing Muslim Brotherhood leaders of conspiring with Hamas and Hezbollah, passing state secrets to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and plotting to help foreign terrorists kill Egyptian soldiers is a show being put on for Western audiences. They couldn’t be more wrong.

This isn’t about winning international PR points. It’s about destroying the credibility of the Brotherhood in the eyes of Egyptians and burying it along with what’s left of the Arab Spring in the waters of the Nile.

Obama assumed that cuts to military aid would force Egypt to restore the Muslim Brotherhood to power. He was wrong and the latest round of criminal charges show just how wrong he was.

The charges that the Muslim Brotherhood conspired with Hamas and Hezbollah to unleash a wave of terror against Egypt go to the heart of this struggle between the Egyptian nationalism of the military and the Islamic transnationalism of the Muslim Brotherhood. They paint the Muslim Brotherhood as not merely corrupt or abusive, the way that many tyrannies are, but as a foreign subversive element.

These aren’t merely criminal charges. They are accusations of treason.

There are two narratives of the Arab Spring. In one of them, the people rose up against the tyrants.  In the other an international conspiracy of Western and Muslim countries collaborated with the Muslim Brotherhood to take over Arab countries.

To destroy the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the state has to do more than accuse Morsi of abuses of power; it has to show that he and his organization were illegitimate because they were Un-Egyptian.

That will prove that the differences between Mubarak and Morsi aren’t incidental. Mubarak may have been thuggish and corrupt, but he was an Egyptian patriot. Morsi will be charged with being an Iranian traitor who conspired to take away the Sinai and turn it over to the terrorist proxies of a Shiite state.

The Egyptian public prosecutor’s charges speak of an Iranian conspiracy dating back to 2005 that saw Muslim Brotherhood members being trained by that country’s Revolutionary Guard and by Hezbollah. They allege that the Muslim Brotherhood had been preparing to declare its own separatist Emirate in the Sinai if it could not succeed in bringing Morsi to power.

Egypt had already accused Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders of being liberated from prison by terrorist infiltrators. It now accuses him of importing foreign terrorists to attack Egyptian soldiers  (which provided him with a pretext for bringing the Egyptian military under control by pushing out Field Marshal Tantawi and putting General Al-Sisi in command of the Egyptian military) and after Sisi’s overthrow of him, to intimidate Egypt into restoring him to power.

It’s all about Iran now. Wildly unpopular for its support of the Syrian government, an Islamic country whose religion the Sunni Muslims of Egypt do not recognize as Islam, it is the perfect target. The Muslim Brotherhood’s collaboration with a Shiite power murdering Sunnis is not just treason; it’s heresy.

But as cleverly convenient as the charges may be, it’s entirely possible that they are also true.
There is little doubt that Morsi conspired with Hamas. There is no reason for him not to have. Hamas is just the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza. And it is exactly this sort of transnational arrangement that makes Arab nationalists distrust the Muslim Brotherhood and its international network.

Morsi and Hamas’ actions after the murder of Egyptian soldiers in the summer of last year strongly suggest that there was coordination. Morsi was quick to exploit the attacks for a domestic power grab and a push into the Sinai and the Army of Islam, which was allegedly responsible for attacking Egypt, has worked together with Hamas and looks a lot like a Hamas effort at plausible deniability.

If there were really any doubt that the Egyptian military believed Hamas was responsible all along, not just when it became politically convenient to level those charges against Morsi, the way that it began treating Hamas even before the overthrow of Morsi should put any doubts to rest. Even before Morsi fell, Hamas had begun complaining that Egypt was treating it worse than Israel.

Hamas had every reason to exploit the Anti-Mubarak protests to help set Muslim Brotherhood members free. And once they were in power, it had every reason to intervene to keep them in power. The more the Egyptian military turned on Hamas, the more it was motivated to help Morsi hold on to power and to restore him to power once he had been overthrown.

Did Hamas really believe that it could work with the Brotherhood to carve out an Emirate in the Sinai? There’s no way to know. Hamas’ ambitions may have been no grander than protecting its smuggling network, but it certainly would have profited from a Muslim Brotherhood terrorist kingdom in the Sinai.

Iran is the joker in the deck. Would the Muslim Brotherhood have continued a conspiracy with Iran even after taking power? Ahmadinejad visited Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power and though he met with a mixed reception, the visit had the air of a victory lap. Adding to that impression were the Iranian warships passing through the Suez Canal.

The willingness of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza, to draw the bulk of its support from Iran, made it and its allied Muslim Brotherhood franchises vulnerable to charges of Shiite collaboration. Despite Qatar’s infusion of money, Hamas was never able to fully break with Iran even during the Syrian Civil War and before too long came crawling back to Tehran.

And now Hamas’ lust for Iranian money and weapons may end up putting a noose around Morsi’s neck.

The trial of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders is Egypt’s opportunity to frame the events of the last few years on their own terms. Egyptians are struggling to come to terms with what happened and they will be told that a foreign conspiracy bringing together Iran, Qatar and the United States took over their country for a little while before being forced out of office by civilian and military patriots.

And strangely enough, it will almost be the truth.

Daniel Greenfield


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by Clifford D. May

Less than a generation after World War II, in the midst of a Cold War whose outcome was far from certain, U.S. President John F. Kennedy famously proclaimed that Americans would "support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." More than half a century later, in an era fraught with conflict and tension, it may be time to ask: Is that still our credo? 

In particular, are Americans still committed to liberty -- a word that has come to sound old-fangled? Can our friends still rely upon our support -- even when the going gets tough? Do foes still have reason to fear us -- or have we become too war-weary to effectively oppose them? And those nations that profess friendship but seek to ingratiate themselves with our foes -- what are we to do about them?

These questions, I suspect, will require a great deal more study, thought and debate before they can be adequately answered. But 34 years after the Iranian Revolution, and 12 years after the attacks of 9/11, we at least should know our enemies. And we should have settled on a strategy aimed at defeating them. But we don't. And we haven't.

Many of us turn away from an uncomfortable truth: The ideologies most hostile to America and the West have arisen in what we have come to call the Muslim world. These ideologies are not just intolerant but supremacist -- which is why, within the Muslim world, religious minorities face increasing oppression and, in many cases, "religious cleansing," a trend Western governments, the U.N. and most of the media avoid.

A majority of Muslims do not embrace these ideologies. But for a host of reasons -- fear undoubtedly high among them -- neither are a majority of Muslims battling them or even denouncing them publicly and without equivocation. 

There is this positive development: In the media resistance to calling a spade a spade is, finally, breaking down. Take, for example, this recent New York Times headline: "Mali: French Troops Battle Islamists." That's accurate: The French have not intervened in Africa to battle "violent extremists."

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- no conservative -- has been both candid and articulate in his criticism of those who insist Islamism derives from "legitimate grievances" that the West needs to address. He does not hold with those who have convinced themselves that Islamists "are as they are because we have provoked them and if we left them alone they would leave us alone. … They have no intention of leaving us alone."

Blair also has made clear that he does not see the Islamic Republic of Iran as a "normal" state, seeking stability and interested in nuclear technology only to keep the lights on in schools and hospitals, or, at most, in response to legitimate security concerns. Rather, the ruling regime, he has said, has an ideological agenda, and is "prepared to back and finance terror in the pursuit of destabilizing countries whose people wish to live in peace."

That leaves America and its allies with a choice that Blair phrased concisely: "to be forced into retreat or to exhibit even greater determination and belief in standing up for our values than they do in standing up for theirs."

Blair made that statement in 2007. Over the years since, which alternative have Western leaders chosen? Recent negotiations between Iran, on one hand, and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia and China, plus Germany) on the other, have so far produced a Joint Plan of Action that is intended to be developed into a comprehensive agreement in 2014. Iran is to get relief from the economic pressures imposed by sanctions. In exchange, according to Secretary of State John Kerry, Iran's rulers are to make concessions that will ensure that they "cannot build a nuclear weapon." 

Most Americans are skeptical. A poll conducted this month by Luntz Global found that only 7 percent of respondents believe Iranian theocrats when they say they are not working to develop nuclear weapons. And more than three out of four fear that the Iranian regime would provide nukes to terrorist groups hostile to America and the West.

The average American, it appears, knows better than many within our political elites that those vowing "Death to America!" are our foes, and that they are unlikely to become our friends no matter how much "confidence-building" we do. They know, too, that our allies are those threatened by the same enemies -- and brave enough to side with us in common defense. But what are we to make of those nations that are not against us -- but also are not with us? 

For example, despite the much-vaunted "reset," it's become apparent that Vladimir Putin sees the diminishment of American power as a Russian national interest, even if that means he will have a nuclear-armed Iran not far from his southern border. 

Pakistan, founded as the world's first "Islamic republic" in 1956, can charitably be called America's least reliable ally. Since becoming nuclear-armed in 1998, it has been responsible for the proliferation of nuclear technology to any number of rogue regimes. At high levels within the country's powerful intelligence services, there are influential individuals whose sympathies lie with the Taliban and al-Qaida. And does anyone seriously believe that no senior Pakistani officials knew that Osama bin Laden -- along with three of his six wives and a passel of children -- had taken up housekeeping in the hill resort of Abbottabad?

Not long ago, the Republic of Turkey was regarded as the most Western of Muslim-majority nations, a proud member of NATO. But since Recep Tayep Erdogan, leader of the Justice and Development Party, was elected prime minister in 2003, Turkish nationalism has taken on an increasingly Islamist coloration.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has spent untold billions of petrodollars spreading Wahhabism, a fundamentalist and bellicose interpretation of Islam, around the world. At the same time, the Saudis have always felt more secure with great-power protectors -- the British before World War II, the Americans after. The Saudis are pragmatic enough to recognize the difference between a useful enemy (that would be Israel, a state that would never attack them without provocation) and a genuine threat (that would be Iran, whose rulers disdain monarchial rule in favor of velayat-e faqih -- the "guardianship of jurists," meaning mullahs who interpret Islamic law and combine religious and political power).

Also in this category of neither friends nor enemies -- what teenagers call "frenemies" -- is the Emirate of Qatar, which hosts America's most important military base in the Middle East while funding and directing Al-Jazeera, the popular Arabic television station that promotes Islamic rage, anti-Americanism, blood libels against Israelis and Jews, and outrageous conspiracy theories. In June of this year, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani was replaced by his son, Tamim. Will the young ruler move his small but rich and influential state closer to the U.S. and the West? Or will he seek to accommodate Iran and/or al-Qaida's growing network? Or will he continue to play both ends against the middle?

Qatar may be an example of the old adage that nations have no permanent friends, only permanent interests. I'm not convinced that always holds true. And even if it does, some nations' permanent interests permanently align. Those committed to the "survival and success of liberty" are our friends for the long haul; those intent on the destruction of liberty are not. It's as simple -- and as complex -- as that.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security.


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

UK: Charities for Terrorists

by Douglas Murray

Recently it was revealed that money from UK charities may have been filtered to the Islamist terror group al-Shabaab.
At the root of its problem is a question of identity and purpose. Is the Charity Commission -- recently dismissed by the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee as "not fit for purpose" -- an advocacy group or a policeman? The new head of the Commission…said such practices risked bringing the whole sector "into disrepute."

December is traditionally a time when people dig deep in support of good causes. But even if it is putting money in some carol singers' bucket, we must have the confidence that the money we are giving is actually getting to good causes -- and certainly not going towards activities which run completely against the spirit of charity.

Last week the BBC's Panorama delivered a damning exposé on some of Britain's most popular charitable organisations. For almost thirty years, Comic Relief has done a huge amount, at home and abroad, to help people in the most unimaginable situations, helping children in war zones and families through famines. But, as so often happens, Comic Relief appears to be a victim of its own success.

The Panorama investigation showed how, after raising almost £1 billion in recent years, Comic Relief often retains tens of millions of pounds in its bank accounts. The way in which they and other charities invest this money will shock many of its donors. For instance, it invested thousands of pounds in arms and tobacco companies. The program raised questions about practices at other charities. Save the Children, for example, was alleged to have changed its campaigning priorities in order to improve corporate relations with certain energy companies. All of which opens up a very difficult subject:

Because charities rely on people's good will, and because most do good work, the whole sector can develop a "halo effect." People assume that if something says it is a charity, and has charitable status, its activities are necessarily charitable and good. Sadly, this is not always true. Just as there are good teachers and bad teachers, good nurses and bad nurses, so you can have good charities and bad charities. And while the good can be very good, the bad can be appalling.

Bad charities use the "halo effect" as a kind of smokescreen. Sometimes -- as in questions of ethical investment -- there are questions about the input of the charity's trustees. On other occasions the abuses are so serious that they should really be a matter for the police.

To take just the most serious example, there are organizations that still enjoy all the tax and other advantages of charitable status in this country, but that are actually banned as terrorist entities in some of our nation's closet allies. Sometimes this is deliberate, sometimes accidental. Just recently it was revealed that money from UK charities may have been filtered to the Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab. Such activities – covering a range of communities – are a national disgrace. Yet they continue.

Another area of concern are organizations set up as charities, but which, in fact, act as the most lavish tax-avoidance schemes. For instance, the Cup Trust -- on which Labour MP and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge has been fixing her sights -- is a registered charity. In one year, it attempted to claim back £46m from the tax authorities in Gift Aid on £177m income. Yet in that same year it had given only £152,292 to good causes. This raises questions of oversight beyond the activities of any one charity.

Of course the body meant to oversee all charities in the UK is the Charity Commission. But it is a body rife with problems. It was recently dismissed by Hodge as "not fit for purpose." Whether that is a fair description or not is debatable. But it is certainly an organization with a fearsome task before it.

At the root of its problem is a question of identity and purpose. Is the Charity Commission an advocacy group or a policeman? Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross has recognized that the Commission must properly and fully carry out the diligent policing role which will stop wrong-doers damaging the reputation of charities as a whole. It is not an easy task. There are currently just 41 people available in the Commission's Investigations and Enforcement unit to deal with the most serious cases of abuse among those 160,000 charities.

To help him, however, Shawcross has overseen a transformation in the Commission's board. Only one member from the previous regime remains. New members include Peter Clarke, the former head of the anti-terrorist branch at the Metropolitan Police. His experience will make him invaluable in dealing with the intersection between charities and those who break the terrorism laws. Another new face, Nazo Moosa -- a highly respected figure from the world of finance -- will help the Commission come to grips with the forensic accounting needed to deal with the abuses which existed during the previous board's tenure.

And as we get to that time of year when charity should be on everybody's minds, there can be few more important tasks than cleaning up this issue. Giving generously to worthy causes is an important mark of a civilized and compassionate society. But for people to give generously, they must give with confidence. And if that confidence has been shaken by recent revelations, it must now be mended with great speed.

Douglas Murray


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

Moving U.S. Embassies: Vatican City? Jerusalem?

by Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison

The Obama administration is at pains to tamp down the latest controversy on the diplomatic front.  They are planning to move the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican.  They want it to be close to the United States Embassy to Italy, which is located in Italy's capital, Rome.

And the Washington Post is pooh-poohing claims by conservatives that this is a downgrading of the U.S. diplomatic presence at the Vatican.  The Post is even threatening to give former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush a "Pinocchio" if he doesn't knock off his criticisms of the Obama administration for the supposed closing of the U.S. Embassy.

Not at all, explains the Post, helpfully:

In March, Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy signed an action memo that would move the embassy to the same diplomatic compound as the embassy to Italy, which is slightly closer to the Vatican. The transfer would follow the British model: The U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and the embassy staff would be housed in a separate building, with a different entrance and address: Via Sallustiana 49. (The embassy to Italy, around the corner, is at Vittorio Veneto 121.) The U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Rome is already on the same property, with its own building, entrance and address (Via Boncompagni 2), having moved there last year.

But in the world of diplomacy, such signals are sent and received.  The idea of a U.S. Embassy to the Vatican has been fraught with controversy for decades.  President Harry Truman earnestly sought to establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican as a valued source of information for the United States.  The Vatican could have supplied us with intelligence about what was going on behind the Iron Curtain.

Truman's plans failed because of stout opposition from the then-powerful American Protestant establishment.  The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church loudly denounced the very idea.  Harry wanted to work with all the Christian believers of the world, to cooperate against the rising menace of atheistic communism.  "If a Baptist [like me] can see what's toward," an exasperated Truman wrote at the time, "why not a high hat Church of England Bishop?"

Forty years later, President Ronald Reagan, a trusted free world leader, and a popular figure in the American Evangelical community, reached out to Pope John Paul II.  Reagan opened a U.S. Embassy in the Vatican to only murmurs of disapproval from America's Protestants.  With the collapse of Communism, we saw how important a role the pope and his Polish and Catholic brethren throughout the Eastern bloc played in that world historical event.

So now, President Barack Obama wants to reassure us.  He's not downgrading our U.S. Embassy in Vatican City.  He's just going to re-locate it.  And this move has absolutely nothing to do with the lawsuits and vocal opposition of many Catholics to ObamaCare.

Many Americans of all faiths object to the HHS Mandate that would force Catholic hospitals and institutions, and businesses owned by Catholics, to offer health care plans that include drugs that kill nascent human lives.  This is in no way a retaliatory move.  Or so all the president's men -- and women -- keep telling us.

All the ex-U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican -- Republican and Democrat alike -- see this move for what it is.  They have vocally protested the Obama administration's slap at the Catholic Church.

Still, President Obama is determined to go ahead with this relocation.  Very well, Mr. President -- if you want to save funds and improve security, you can almost always make a plausible case.

How about moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?  Administrations of both parties have promised this, and promised it repeatedly.  And it has yet to happen.  Maybe if the U.S. stood by its commitments, America's diplomatic standing would be higher with friend and foe alike.

Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are senior fellows at the Family Research Council, in Washington, D.C.


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

Deterioration In Turkey-Egypt Relations Due To Turkish PM Erdogan's Opposition To Egyptian President Mursi's Ouster

by L. Lavi

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, founder of the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP), has consistently opposed Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi's July 3, 2013 ouster by Defense Minister 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi, branding it a military coup. Erdogan identifies with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) movement and, in contrast to many leaders of Arab countries who backed Mursi's removal, supports the MB's call to restore Mursi to the presidency, and its argument that his removal came as part of a military coup against a democratically and legitimately elected government.[1]
In his criticism of supporters of Mursi's ouster, Erdogan did not spare Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, saying that history would curse religious scholars like him.[2]
With the opening of Mursi's trial on November 4, the Erdogan government again voiced criticism of Egypt's regime and called for Mursi's release. Additionally, Turkey's ambassador to Cairo denied Arab media reports that following Mursi's ouster Turkey had hosted meetings of the MB's global organization.[3]

Erdogan's position against Mursi's ouster generated a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Egypt that led Egypt, in November 2013, to downgrade its relations with Turkey, declare the Turkish ambassador persona non grata and expel him, and refuse to return its ambassador, whom it had recalled in August. Prior to this, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry had canceled joint Egypt-Turkey military maneuvers and scrubbed an agreement to import Turkish cotton. Additionally, Egyptian security forces shut down the Turkish news agency's Cairo office. A public campaign to boycott Turkish products and Turkish television productions was launched in Egypt, and an attorney even filed a lawsuit against Egyptian President Adly Mansour and Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy demanding that relations between the two countries be severed.[4]

Ergodan was attacked in numerous articles in the Egyptian press; they called him narrow-minded and hypocritical, and depicted him as a leader who strove to be considered moderate and cultured but whose support for the Egyptian MB revealed his ugly face, his support for terrorism, and his hatred of democracy and freedom. They also said that his position on Mursi's ouster was because it signified the fall of the MB regime in Egypt and thus marked the collapse of his dream of reviving the Islamic caliphate – and also because he feared that he would suffer a similar fate.

The deterioration in Egypt-Turkey relations also impacted relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that was the first to grant Al-Sisi diplomatic and economic support once he had removed the MB from power. This found expression in Saudi press articles, published in both Saudi Arabia and London, which claimed that Erdogan's position towards Egypt was illogical and derived from his apprehension that his rule is unstable and his fear that the MB's plans for the entire region would collapse together with his dream to reestablish an Islamic caliphate.[5] However, on the official and diplomatic level, no change was discernible in Saudi-Turkish relations.[6]
It should be noted that Erdogan's views on Mursi's ouster are not shared by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who seeks to maintain normal Turkey-Egypt relations,[7] and are opposed by Turkish opposition elements.[8]
This report discusses the Turkey-Egypt diplomatic crisis and public and press reactions in Egypt to Erdogan's opposition to Mursi's ouster. 

Erdogan: Mursi Is Egypt's Legitimate President; His Deposers Betray The Islamic World

Since Mursi's removal, Erdogan has on numerous occasions expressed his anger over it, and has termed it a military coup. He has said on more than one occasion that he considers Mursi Egypt's legitimate president and that his position on this stems from his great respect for the Egyptian people, which elected Mursi by a majority of 52% in free and fair elections. Free elections, he said, are the only way to decide whether a ruler or a government will remain in power, and where such an election has been held, no one person is entitled to infringe on the will of all the others by removing the elected individual. Erdogan added that the forces behind Mursi's ouster in Egypt sought to do the same in Turkey with the June 2013 demonstrations at Istanbul's Taksim Square, but they were unsuccessful.[9] On another occasion, he said: "If we remain silent over the coup in Egypt, we will have no right to say a word if in the future the same trap is set for us."[10]

Calling Mursi's ouster a catastrophe, he wondered how the West could remain silent in the face of the violation of the democratic principles that it claimed to venerate.[11] He also criticized the Arab countries' support for Mursi's ouster, saying: "The Islamic world is like the brothers of the Prophet Joseph, who threw him into the pit; as in the story of Joseph, Allah will disgrace those who betrayed the Islamic world and their brothers and sisters in Egypt."[12]

In late August 2013, Erdogan harshly criticized the Egyptian army and Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, saying that both the army and Al-Azhar institutions had overstepped their role with their participation in a coup against a legitimate president.[13] On another occasion, Erdogan argued that Israel was responsible for Mursi's ouster.[14] On November 3, 2013, the day before Mursi's trial began, Erdogan said at a meeting of his party that "the Raba'a Al-'Adawiyya sign [depicted below][15] has become a global emblem of condemnation of oppression, persecution and massacres."[16]

 Erdogan flashes Rabaa Al-'Adawiyya sign (source: Al-Watan, Egypt, August 28, 2013) 

On November 21, 2013, as he departed for Russia, Erdogan said that he respects Mursi and admires his opposition to his trial, and added that he has no respect for his prosecutors. This was the last straw for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, which promptly decided to downgrade relations with Turkey.[17]

The Egypt-Turkey Diplomatic Crisis
Turkey-Egypt diplomatic relations deteriorated significantly due to Erdogan's position on Egypt's current regime, to the point where they were downgraded. 

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry first summoned Turkish Ambassador Huseyin Botsali in late July, and clarified to him that Turkey's statements regarding Egypt deviated from diplomatic norms and constituted flagrant interference in Egyptian affairs.[18]
On August 16, 2013, Turkey recalled its ambassador, and at the same time Egypt recalled its own.[19] Egyptian Ambassador 'Abd Al-Rahman Salah Al-Din said that his return to Turkey would be contingent upon the results of his country's reevaluation of its relations with Turkey, and that Turkey's position on Egyptian affairs is more than interference in them but constitutes incitement of other countries against Egypt. Salah Al-Din added: "Most unfortunately, the Turkish government is biased towards the MB, even though its relations with most of Egypt's parties and political and social forces were good."[20]
In early September 2013, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced that although the Turkish ambassador had returned to Cairo, Egypt's ambassador to Turkey would return to Ankara only after Turkish interference in Egyptian affairs had ceased.[21] Similarly, on October 7, Egyptian President 'Adly Mansour told the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the Egyptian ambassador "will not return to Turkey at this time, and will not [do so] until after the Turkish government acts with responsibility [befitting] the historic relations between the two peoples and the fraternal countries."[22]

In late October 2013, it appeared that the Turkish government was softening its tone towards Egypt, when Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said while on a visit to Kuwait that because Turkey wanted Egypt to be strong so that it could guarantee security and stability in the region, it would support any president elected by the Egyptian people, rather than specific groups or individuals. He clarified that Turkey's previous criticism of Egypt had stemmed not from disrespect but from its concern for Egypt.[23] In response, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr 'Abd Al-'Attey called these statements mere words, not a formal expression of a position, and added that unresolved problems with the Turks remained due to Erdogan's statements against the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and the June 30 revolution – and that these statements called for an apology. Al-'Attey added that for this reason, the Egyptian ambassador would not at this point be returning to Ankara.[24]
The Turkish government's statements on the occasion of the start of Mursi's trial showed that there was  actually no softening in the Turks' tone vis-à-vis Egypt. In addition to Erdogan's remark that Rabaa Al-'Adawiyya emblem symbolized the fight against oppression, Turkey's Foreign Ministry called, in an announcement, for the release of all political prisoners in Egypt, including Mursi, stating: "Turkey has always stood by the principle of legitimacy" – that is, it stood by the Mursi government.[25]

In response, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry called Erdogan's comments "part of a series of pronouncements and declarations by senior Turkish officials who insisted on distorting the facts in Egypt and challenging the will of the Egyptian people," and added that the Turkish Foreign Ministry's announcement "was a [further] expression of this and constituted unacceptable interference in Egypt's internal affairs."[26]

On November 12, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador for a rebuke, protesting statements by senior Turkish officials that it called "unacceptable interference in Egyptian affairs";[27] on November 23, it summoned him again and demanded that he leave the country as "persona non grata." The ministry stated in an announcement: "The Egyptian Arab Republic's government has followed with revulsion the Turkish PM's most recent statements on Egypt's internal affairs, made the day before yesterday [November 21] shortly before he left Moscow. [These statements] constitute a further link in the chain of his [expressions of] positions and statements that reflect an unacceptable insistence on challenging the will of the honorable Egyptian people and mocking its legitimate choices, and constitute interference in the state's internal affairs. Furthermore, they include lies and distortions of fact..."

The announcement continued: "Egypt, out of its great esteem for the historic relations between it and the friendly Turkish people, has repeatedly attempted to give the Turkish leadership an opportunity to act wisely and to place the supreme interests of the two countries and the two peoples above narrow partisan and ideological interests. But [despite this,] this leadership has gone too far in its unacceptable and unjustified positions – by attempting to incite the international community against Egyptian interests, by supporting meetings of organizations seeking to undermine stability in [Egypt – a reference to the abovementioned meetings of the international MB hosted by Turkey which Turkey claims did not take place]; and [by making] statements that at the very least constitute an insult to the popular will that was realized on June 30."

It added that "in light of the Turkish leadership's continuation of this unacceptable behavior," the Egyptian government had decided to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Turkey from the level of ambassador to the level of chargé d'affaire; to permanently transfer Egypt's ambassador to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry's general offices in Cairo (i.e. not to return him to Ankara); and to declare the Turkish ambassador persona non grata and demand his immediate departure from Egypt. It also clarified: "The Egyptian people and government esteem the Turkish people and blame the Turkish government for the current state of the relations between the countries and for its repercussions..."[28]

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman noted that relations with Turkey would not be completely severed and that diplomatic and economic relations would continue, because the true measure [of the relations between the countries] was Egypt's relationship with the Turkish people, which opposes Erdogan's position.[29]
Responding to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry's announcement, Erdogan again flashed the Rabaa Al-'Adawiyya sign, as he participated in a November 24 conference in the northern Turkish city of Trebizon. He said: "We always respect, and will continue to respect, those who honor the will of peoples. The position taken against our ambassador has led to a parallel measure on our part; we have instructed their ambassador to leave Turkey by November 29, 2013."[30] The Turkish Foreign Ministry also declared the Egyptian ambassador persona non grata and downgraded its relations with Egypt to that of chargé d'affaire, stating: "This situation grieves us, but the historical responsibility for it is borne by the provisional Egyptian government that took power in the July 3 coup..."[31]
At the same time, the deteriorating relations between the two countries found expression in other areas: In August, around the time when the ambassadors were recalled, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced the cancellation of the annual December joint naval maneuvers with Turkey.[32] Also in late August, the Egyptian Agriculture Ministry banned importing cotton from Turkey as well as agricultural cooperation with it. Senior ministry official Ahmad Rifaat said that the Egyptian economy would not be harmed by this measure, which, he said, was taken due to Turkey's interference in Egypt's internal affairs and due to reports of Turkish support for terrorist operations in Egypt.[33] The following week, it was reported that Egyptian security forces raided the Cairo offices of the official Turkish news agency Anadolu and shut them down.[34]
Displays Of Popular Egyptian Anti-Turkey Protest 

Egyptian anger against Turkey was noticeable on the popular level as well. For example, Egyptian attorney Lutfi Gayyid Ibrahim filed a lawsuit demanding that Egypt sever diplomatic relations with Turkey and recall its ambassador from Ankara, to protest Erdogan's interference in Egypt's affairs.[35] Additionally, throughout August, demonstrations were held outside the Turkish consul's residence in Port Said; protestors called on the Turkish government to respect the will of the Egyptian people and delivered a letter of protest to the consul condemning Erdogan's position and supporting the roadmap of Egyptian Defense Minister 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi. The letter stated: "We are saddened that the Turkish prime minister is biased towards an Egyptian faction whose failure in running the country is proven."[36]  Demonstrations were also held on November 16 outside the residence of the Turkish ambassador in Cairo.[37]

Demonstrators burn Erdogan's photo during November 16 demonstration outside the residence of the Turkish ambassador in Cairo 

In further protest over Erdogan's support for the MB, private Egyptian television channels, including CBC, Al-Kahera Wal Nas and Al-Nahar, halted their broadcasts of Turkish soap operas. CBC manager Muhammad Hani called this a harsh message reflecting Egyptians' opposition to Turkey's anti-Egypt position, as well as to Turkey's support for terrorism and the MB.[38] Additionally, Egyptian television host Neshat Al-Dihi resigned during the live broadcast of his weekly program on Turkey's official Arabic-language channel TRT in protest against Erdogan's position; he said that he would have been ashamed to continue working for the channel in the absence of a formal apology to Egypt by Erdogan.[39]
At the same time, popular campaigns for boycotting Turkish products emerged. The Union of Sufis in Egypt launched such a campaign, calling it "Safeguard Your Country," to protest against Erdogan's insult to the Sheikh of Al-Azhar. Union secretary Dr. 'Abdallah Al-Nasser Hilmi said: "We demand that the Turkish people swiftly remove Erdogan and his government, because this government is setting Turkey back, and is setting it in a hostile position vis-à-vis fraternal countries like Egypt and other Arab countries." The Coalition of Egyptian Sufis announced that it had approached Sufis in Turkey asking that they oppose Erdogan's position on Egypt as well.[40]

Calls for boycotting Turkish products also spread via social media:

A Facebook campaign to "Boycott Turkish Goods Because Of Erdogan" (source:Facebook, November 24, 2013)

 A campaign to boycott Turkish products: "Depose Erdogan, the MB agent" (source:Al-Fajr, Egypt, July 19, 2013)

"Boycott them!" (source: Al-Yawm Al-Sabi',Egypt, September 11, 2013)

"For my country's security and stability – boycott Turkish products" (source: Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', Egypt, September 11, 2013)
Articles In Egyptian Press Against Erdogan's Position On Mursi's Ouster

Al-Ahram Editorial: Erdogan's Position Stems From His Fear Of Ending Up Like Mursi

The Egyptian press has published numerous articles condemning Erdogan's position on Mursi's ouster. The official Egyptian Al-Ahram's August 29 editorial states: "No one knows for sure what Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants from Egypt and its people. Does he think that it was he who was running their affairs during the year of MB rule in Egypt? [Did he think] during the rule of ousted president Muhammad Mursi Egypt that Egypt had become an Ottoman province that belonged to him...? [Erdogan] is afflicted by a lack of the political balance [that is crucial] for great statesmen and leaders, especially for a substantial regional power such as Turkey. Since the removal of his only ally in the region, the statements coming out of his mouth have been inappropriate for diplomacy, for politics, or for relations between countries.

"The torrent of Erdogan's attacks on Egypt included his... assault on the Grand Imam – Al-Azhar Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayeb, the admired and internationally respected religious scholar. [It would seem] that Mr. Erdogan wanted the entire world to act according to his narrow view and his blind support of the MB regime. [Erdogan] did not like the Grand Imam's position and his support for Egypt or the June 30 revolution... We can't help but wonder... about the motives for Erdogan's and Turkish officials' attack on Egypt and its leaders, that has been continuing since the June 30 revolution. Does [this attack] stem from the loss of an ally and fellow member of the international [MB], or from fear of a similar fate?"[41]

Fortune teller to Erdogan: "Take heed before it is too late. You have no business in Egypt, unless you want to suffer the same fate as the MB" (source:, July 24, 2013)

Erdogan Threatens Egypt's National Security

Another Al-Ahram editorial states: "It is amazing that the Turkish prime minister persists in his stubbornness, and continues to destroy Egypt-Turkey relations... Instead of being concerned about the Arabs' and Muslims' most important problem – the liberation of Palestine and Al-Aqsa Mosque – Erdogan and his government are sunk in the swamp of Syria, supporting terrorist organizations, and even following [Sheikh Yousuf] Al-Qaradhawi and inciting against Egypt and its army. [Additionally, they are] hosting the global terrorist MB organization, to conspire against Egypt and its peaceful people..."[42]

Cairo University political science professor Nourhan Al-Sheikh wrote: "Shortly before the Arab Spring revolutions, the alliance between Erdogan and the MB was revealed, and both sides began together to plan how to enable the MB to hijack the revolutions of our free peoples in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and the rest of the Arab countries... Erdogan and his government blatantly interfered in Egypt's internal affairs in a way that threatens our national security by unprecedentedly supporting the MB. Erdogan even took the liberty of discussing Egypt's internal situation during meetings of the international MB in Istanbul, and of making decisions that could destabilize Egypt and enable extremist organizations to carry out terrorist activity in our beloved homeland, terrorizing Egyptians and killing our innocent civilians and soldiers..."[43]

Egyptian Politicians: Erdogan's Attitude Towards The MB Reveals His Hatred Of Democracy And Freedom

Columnist and Sadat Democratic Party head Dr. 'Effat Sadat[44] wrote in the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi': "I cannot describe Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's [reaction] to what happened to the MB in Egypt as anything other than 'Erdogan-like prostitution.' The Ottoman prime minister refuses to recognize the popular will that was expressed by protests unprecedented in history... 

"Over the last decade, Erdogan has tried to present himself as moderate and cultured, and to this end he licked the boots of the Europeans so they would add his country to the European Union – which they have so far refused to do. His hopes were eventually dashed, because of the exposure of his ugly face following the Egyptian people's June 30 revolution. [At that time,] Erdogan revealed his true face of hatred of culture, development, democracy, and belief in freedom of opinion and expression, by supporting the MB's terrorism. He even refused to recognize an entire people's right to live in honor and freedom. When some of his countrymen dared to peacefully oppose his policy, he brought them down, with barrages of gas and bombs, violence, condemnations, and false accusations...

"The Turkish prime minister did not stop at criticizing the events in Egypt and the [Egyptian] regime. He turned to insulting the [Egyptian] military, police, and national leaders, most recently the honorable Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayeb, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, in a desperate attempt to turn back the clock... 

"[Erdogan's] image of an ascetic Wali [Ottoman ruler], which he is trying to sell us, does not change [the fact] that Turkey leads the Middle East in prostitution and in alcohol and drug use. In fact, prostitution is legal in Turkey and is not considered a crime..."[45]

Egyptian Journalist: Mursi's Ouster Shattered Erdogan's Caliphate Dream

Ibrahim Khalil, former editor of the weekly Roz Al-Yousef, wrote: "What the Egyptians did [ousting Mursi] set fire to the expansion policy of which Erdogan had dreamed of for so long – as part of which Egypt would be a market for Turkish products. But the miracle worked by Egyptians on June 30 shamed Erdogan in front of his people. His support for the MB failed miserably... 

"Erdogan's shock over the end of the MB regime was deep, because he had banked on [the scenario of] the return of the Ottoman Caliphate, from Egypt to Turkey via Gaza and Syria, following the fall of Bashar Al-Assad. Erdogan's fantasy might have led him and his government to the unexpected act of supporting terrorism by smuggling funds – as was revealed by a complaint submitted to the [Turkish] prosecutor-general, claiming that the Turkish ambassador [to Cairo] transferred cash to the MB in diplomatic mail pouches..."

Khalil added: "During the rule of the ousted Muhammad Mursi, the Turkish ambassador was like a Turkish high commissioner in Egypt. He controlled investments and closed deals between the Turks and MB businessmen... 

"Isn't it time for the public to take initiative and boycott Turkish goods? The answer is very simple – Yes... Egyptians should rise to the challenge and take responsibility for knowing who is a friend and who is an enemy, who is exploiting their suffering and who rushes to their side in time of trouble – as the honorable Saudi King 'Abdallah did..."[46]

MB And Its Supporters Praise Erdogan, Condemn Turkish Ambassador's Expulsion 

Prior to his arrest by the new Egyptian regime, Egyptian MB Freedom and Justice Party deputy leader Dr. 'Issam Al-'Arian expressed his party's praise for Erdogan's position and for his refusal to meet with Egyptian leaders who were not elected by the people but were appointed by the coup's organizers. He added that Erdogan's position was is in line with democratic principles and constitutional values.[47]

The Egyptian daily Al-Watan quoted a security source at the Burj Al-Arab prison, where Mursi is held, as stating that Mursi had criticized the downgrading of Turkey-Egypt diplomatic relations and had said: 

"How can they do this? Erdogan's statements bother them because he tells the truth. How can they sever relations between powers like this... with such ease, after I strengthened Egypt's relations with an important country like Turkey within a short period?"[48]

Mamdouh Al-Wali, whom Mursi appointed head of Al-Ahram's board of directors and who was removed from the post following Mursi's ouster, criticized the downgrading of diplomatic relations, saying that it would negatively impact Egypt's economic situation. In an article on the MB website, Al-Wali assessed that Turkey would not keep its promise to increase investments in Egypt to $5 billion, and that it would reverse its intention to grant Egypt favorable credit terms valued at $1 billion. Al-Wali further assessed that flights and tourism between the two countries would be affected, as would relations between the Cairo and Istanbul stock exchanges and joint agreements on health care, energy, and electricity production. 

Al-Wali added: "It would appear that the damage to many sectors of the economy is the result of a decision by the coup government to deliberately downgrade diplomatic relations in order to humiliate the other side, without considering the negative economic consequences of this rash decision. [Other] countries in Africa and Europe have refused to recognize the military coup, yet we have not treated them like we treated Turkey – which is the regional and military power in the region that supports Egypt."[49]

The Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya organization, which supports the MB, also objected to the expulsion of the Turkish ambassador, calling it "an unacceptable escalation." An official in Al Gama'a's Building and Development Party, its political wing,, said that expelling the Turkish ambassador was not the solution because Egypt does not need additional rivalries in the world, and called on the Egyptian regime to reverse its decision. He added that Egypt would have been better off expelling the Israeli ambassador.[50]

Pro-MB demonstrator: "Don't expel the Turkish ambassador; he is the legitimate ambassador" (source: Al-Ahram, Egypt, November 25, 2013)

*L. Lavi is a research fellow at MEMRI.

[2], August 26, 2013.
[3], November 6, 2013.
[4] Al-Wafd (Egypt), September 16, 2013.
[5] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 17, 2013, July 21, 2013; Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), July 24, 2013.
[6] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), October 5, 2013.
[7] In July 2013, Gul sent greetings to Egyptian President 'Adly Mansour on the anniversary of the Free Officers' Revolution of 1952. Gul's senior advisor Arshad Hormozlu said, "The channels for dialogue with the new Egyptian leadership are open," and added, "We don't support one side, but [support] the Egyptian people that will decide for itself in its own appropriate way." A source close to Erdogan tried to play down the importance of Gul's position by saying that the position of president in Turkey is largely ceremonial. In response to the downgrading of Turkey-Egypt diplomatic relations, Gul said that he hoped that relations with Egypt would return to normal. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 25, 2013; Al-Wafd (Egypt), November 23, 2013.
[8]The leaders of Turkey's main opposition party, the Republican People's party (CHP), expressed their opposition to Erdogan's position by visiting Egypt in September 2013, at the invitation of the Egyptian authorities. In a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister  Nabil Fahmi, they expressed their respect for the will of the Egyptian people and noted that their visit was aimed at repairing the damage caused by Turkey's foreign policy. They also met with the Sheikh of Al-Azhar to convey their opposition to Erdogan's insult of him.  Al-Ahram (Egypt), September 11, 2013.
[9] Al-Masry Al-Yawm (Egypt), July 17, 2013.
[10] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 20, 2013.
[11] Al-Masry Al-Yawm (Egypt), July 17, 2013.
[12] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 20, 2013.
[13]Al-Watan (Egypt), August 28, 2013.
[14] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), August 21, 2013.
[15] The four-fingered gesture, associated with the Raba'a Al-'Adawiyya mosque in Cairo and the pro-MB sit-down strike that took place there and was violently broken up by Egyptian forces, has become known throughout the Arab world as a symbol of support for Musri and the Egyptian MB.
[16], November 6, 2013.
[17] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 24, 2013.
[18] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 31, 2013.
[19] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), August 17, 2013.
[20] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), August 19, 2013.
[21] Al-Ahram (Egypt), September 5, 2013.
[22] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 7, 2013.
[23] Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 27, 2013.
[24]Al-Ahram (Egypt) October 28, 2013.
[25], November 6, 2013.
[26] Al-Watan (Egypt), November 5, 2013.
[27] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 12, 2013.
[28]Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 23, 2013.
[29] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 24, 2013.
[30] November 24, 2013.
[31] November 23, 2013.
[32] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt) August 17, 2013.
[33] Al-Misriyoun (Egypt), August 24, 2013.
[34] Al-Watan (Egypt), August 30, 2013.
[35] Al-Hayat (London), July 21, 2013.
[36] Al-Ahram (Egypt), August 21, 2013.
[37] Al-Ahaly (Egypt), November 20, 2013
[38] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 20, 2013.
[39] Al-Wafd (Egypt), August 29, 2013.
[40] Al-Watan (Egypt), August 28, 2013
[41] Al-Ahram (Egypt), August 29, 2013.
[42] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 28, 2013.
[43] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 25, 2013.
[44] The Sadat Democratic Party was founded in 2013 by the nephew of the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, 'Effat Sadat, to replace 'Effat Sadat's previous party, the National Party of Egypt.
[45] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), August 31, 2013.
[46] Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), July 27, 2013.
[47], July 19, 2013.
[48] Al-Watan (Egypt), November 11, 2013.
[49], November 26, 2013.
[50] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 24, 2013.

L. Lavi


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