Saturday, October 4, 2014

PM Netanyahu: Iran’s 'Making Bombs' - Mark Langfan

by Mark Langfan

17 countries around the world like Mexico, Canada, Indonesia and others, have civilian nuclear energy. They don't have one centrifuge.
In one of his last, and perhaps his best, interviews before returning home to Israel for Yom Kippur 5775, a somewhat hoarse, but determined, PM Binyamin Netanyahu told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record,” “They're [Iran’s] making bombs. That's what they're trying to do. That's what their whole program is about, making bombs.”

Netanyahu explained that if President Barack Obama, in a nuclear “bad deal,” were to allow the Iranians to keep “thousands of centrifuges,” he would be, in effect, “giving [the Iranians] the capacity in short order, a few weeks, a few months to operate those centrifuges, enrich enough uranium, that's what you need, enriched uranium, to make a core of a nuclear bomb.”

The prime minister explained that though the Iranians “say they need it for civilian” non-military nuclear program, “That's not true. 17 countries around the world, big countries, like Mexico and Canada and Indonesia and others, have civilian nuclear energy. They don't have one centrifuge. Because the centrifuge you really need is for one thing, not for civilian nuclear energy, but for making a bomb, for military use.”

The Prime Minister started out the interview by explaining Israel’s place in the world’s strategic landscape, “They call us the Small Satan because we are just a frontal position, a forward position of the United States. They want to destroy us so they can get to you.

“The greatest danger is that any one of these groups, either ISIS on the radical Sunni side, or Iran that leads the radical Shiites, that any one of them would get nuclear weapons is a tremendous threat to the future of our world, a tremendous threat not only to Israel but to the United States as well. That has to be prevented.”

As for recent pro-Iran press pieces that claim that to enlist Iran to help in the fight against ISIS, Obama should give in on the nuclear issue, Netanyahu was crystal-clear, “I’ve heard in the press that people are saying, well, let's reward Iran for fighting ISIS with, you know, what they want on the nuclear deal. What for? They are going to fight ISIS anyway. If Assad came to you and said, well, I will fight ISIS if you give me back my chemical weapons, you would laugh them out of court. That's about the same absurdity.”

In closing, the Prime Minister reformulated and hammered home what was his main “Militant Islam” message throughout his 2014 UN General Assembly tour, that “Militant Islam” wants “to bring us back to the early Medieval Period where women are chattel and minorities are subjugated. And everyone they consider an infidel is given a choice, convert or die. That's insane. But this insanity, coupled with the weapons of mass destruction, could lead to catastrophe.”

Nuclear centrifuges separate the heavier isotope of uranium U238 from its lighter cousin uranium isotope U235, which is the critical isotope for nuclear bombs. Sources such as A. Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, estimate the amount of highly enriched U235 necessary for an implosion-type uranium nuclear bomb to be 10kg-18kg, and for a simple gun-type bomb – about 40 kg.

Mark Langfan


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

How Turkey Went Bad - Daniel Pipes

by Daniel Pipes

Only twelve years ago, the Republic of Turkey was correctly seen as a stalwart NATO ally, the model of a pro-Western Muslim state, and a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. A strong military bond with the Pentagon undergirded broader economic and cultural ties with Americans. For those of us who work on the Middle East, time in Istanbul, Ankara, and other Turkish cities was a refreshing oasis from the turmoil of the region.

And then, starting with the still-astonishing election of 2002, the country dramatically changed course. Slowly at first and then with increasing velocity since mid-2011, the government began breaking its own laws, turned autocratic, and allied with the enemies of the United States. Even those most reluctant to recognize this shift have been forced to do so. If Barack Obama listed Turkey's dominant political leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as one of his five best foreign friends in 2012, he showed a quite different attitude by having a mere chargé d'affaires represent him at Erdoğan's presidential inauguration a few weeks ago – a public slap in the face.

Obama and Erdoğan, not quite best buddies anymore.

What caused this shift? Why did Turkey go rotten?


To understand today's unexpected circumstances requires a quick glance back to the Ottoman Empire. Founded in 1299, its control over substantial part of the European continent (mainly the Balkan area, named after the Turkish word for mountain) made it the only Muslim polity to engage intensely with Europe as Western Christians rose to become the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet. As the Ottoman Empire weakened relative to other European powers over the centuries, how to dispose of it became a major concern of European diplomacy (the "Eastern Question") and the empire came to be seen as potential prey (the "sick man of Europe.")

From the Ottoman perspective, the endlessly unresolved question was what to adopt from Europe and what to reject. In general, the Ottomans found military and medical innovations to be the most palatable. In other areas, they dithered; for example, while the Jews published the empire's first movable-type book in 1493, Muslims waited centuries until 1729 - to follow suit. In other words, accepting European ways was a slow, difficult, and sporadic process.

Among other attributes, Atatürk was a Western-style dandy.
The Turkish defeat in World War I occurred against this backdrop, prompting the army's outstandingly victorious general, Mustafa Kemal, to seize power and close down the empire in favor of the Republic of Turkey, far smaller and limited mainly to Turkish language-speakers. For the new country's first 15 years, 1923-38, Mustafa Kemal (who renamed himself Atatürk) dominated the country. A strong willed Westernizer who despised Islam, he imposed a sequence of radical changes that characterize the country to this day, and make it conspicuously different from the rest of the Middle East, including laicism (i.e., secularism on steroids), codes of law based on European prototypes, the Latin alphabet, and family surnames.

In some cases, Atatürk advanced well ahead of his countrymen, such as when he proposed placing pews in mosques or changing the call to prayer from Arabic to Turkish. Starting almost immediately after his death in 1938, a reversal from his secularism began. But the Turkish military, in its dual role as the country's ultimate political power and the self-conscious heir of Atatürk's legacy, placed limits on these changes. The first serious efforts began with the advent of democracy in the 1950s, with many subsequent efforts, none successful.

The military, however, is a force neither for creativity nor intellectual growth, so the adages of Atatürk, unceasingly repeated over the decades, became stale and restricting. As dissent increased, the parties holding to his 1920s vision stagnated, degenerating into corrupt, power-seeking organizations. By the 1990s, their revolving-door governments had alienated a sizeable portion of the electorate.

The AKP's Rise

Seizing the moment, Erdoğan and another Islamist politician, Abdullah Gül, founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2001. Promising good government and economic growth based on conservative values, it performed impressively in its inaugural election of November 2002, winning just over one-third of the vote. But because the pashas of the old-line parties refused to cooperate among themselves, only one, the Republican People's Party (CHP), won more than the minimum 10 percent of the vote the constitution requires to gain representation in parliament.

With nearly half the votes thus wasted, the AKP's 34 percent of the vote translated into 66 percent of the seats in parliament, turning a handsome plurality into a resounding victory. In the subsequent elections of 2007 and 2011, its opponents learned not to squander their votes, so the AKP had the ironic fate of increasing its percentage of the vote (to 46 and 50 percent) while losing seats in parliament (to 62 and 59 percent).

Erdoğan vigorously controlled himself at first, focusing on economic growth and removing the detritus of Turkish public life, such as the long-standing refusal to acknowledge that Kurds are not Turks, settling the Cyprus problem, and joining the European Union. He went from strength to strength, wracking up Chinese-like rates of economic growth, emerging as a power broker in the Middle East (for example, between Jerusalem and Damascus), and emerging as the West's favorite Islamist. In the process, he seemed to solve the centuries' old conundrum of Islam vs. the West, finding a successful blend of the two.

Bringing the military to heel, however, remained the long-term AKP goal: it was the necessary condition to achieving its ultimate goal of reversing the Atatürk revolution and returning Turkey to an Ottoman-like domestic order and international standing. This it achieved with surprising ease; for reasons still unclear, the leadership of the armed forces quietly endured the conspiracy theories flung at it, the arrests of top officers, and finally the firing of the general staff. The anticipated high drama resulted in hardly a whimper.

As the military surrendered, Erdoğan took aim at his domestic rivals, especially his long-time ally, the Islamist Fethullah Gülen, the leader of a massive national movement with networks placed in key government institutions. Erdoğan's populist flamboyance played very well with his constituency - Turks who felt oppressed by Atatürkism. Encouraged, he emerged as a full-blown bombaster in June 2013 with the Gezi Park demonstrations in Istanbul, lashing out against fellow citizens with demeaning insults and bringing a group of soccer fans to trial on charges of attempting to overthrow his government.

Dramatic evidence of AKP corruption that came to light in December 2013 prompted not a retreat but the arrest of the police who uncovered the problem. This aggression extended to opponents in the media, parliament, and even the justice system. As Erdoğan demonized his critics, he delighted his base, winning each election and accruing more personal power, reminding some of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez.

Turks note that Erdoğan and Hugo Chávez (both born in 1954) share important traits.

Foreign Policy

International relations followed the same outlines, with an initial set of modest foreign goals becoming, over time, ever grander and more hostile. A "zero problems with neighbors" policy enunciated by his chief foreign policy advisor, Ahmet Davutoğlu, began successfully: a joint vacation with the tyrant of Damascus, helping the mullahs in Tehran avoid sanctions, and mutually beneficial if tepid relations with the Jewish state. Even long-time foes such as Greece and Armenia benefited from his charm offensive. The great powers sought good relations. The AKP's neo-Ottoman dream of acquiring primacy among its former colonials seemed attainable.

But then Erdoğan displayed the very arrogance abroad that he had unleashed at home, and to much worse reviews; if half the Turkish electorate applauded his tongue-lashings, few foreigners did. As the Arab upheavals changed the Middle East beginning in 2011, Erdoğan and Davutoğlu found their accomplishments slipping away, to the point that Ankara now has poor to venomous relations with many of its neighbors.

The break with Bashar al-Assad of Syria, perhaps the most dramatic of his losses, has had many negative consequences, bringing to Turkey millions of unwelcome Arabic-speaking refugees, causing a proxy war with Iran, obstructing Turkish trade routes to much of the Middle East, and creating jihadi forces which produced the Islamic State and its self-proclaimed caliphate. Turkish support for the Sunnis of Iraq precipitated a collapse in relations with Baghdad. A Nazi-like hostility to Israel terminated Ankara's strongest regional bond. Erdoğan's ardent support for Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, which lasted one year, 2012-13, transmuted later into open hostility toward its successors. Threats against the Republic of Cyprus in the aftermath of its discovery of gas, further soured an already adversarial relationship. Turkish contractors lost more than $19 billion in Libya's anarchy.
Internationally, a feint in the direction of buying a Chinese missile system brought security relations with Washington to a new low. Calls for the millions of Turks living in Germany not to assimilate into that country created tensions with Berlin, as did Ankara's possible role in the murder of three Kurds in Paris.

These outrages have left Ankara nearly friendless. It enjoys warm relations with exactly one government, Qatar (national population 225,000), along with the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq and with the Muslim Brotherhood, including that organization's Hamas and Syrian offshoots. Strangely, despite this thundering failure, Erdoğan continues to endorse the failed "zero problems" policy.


Erdoğan's impressive record of electoral success and expanded power faces three challenges over the next year: electoral, psychological, and economic. His ascent to the presidency on August 28 requires constitutional changes for him to become the strong executive president he aspires to be. In turn, those changes require the AKP to do well in the June 2015 national elections; or, alternatively, to make substantial concessions to Turkish Kurds to win their support for his ambitions. Now that the party finds itself in the untested hands of Davutoğlu, recently promoted from foreign minister to prime minister, its ability to win the necessary seats is in doubt.

Second, Erdoğan's fate depends on Davutoğlu remaining his faithful consigliere. Should Davutoğlu develop independent ambitions, which is entirely possible, Erdoğan will find himself limited to a mostly-ceremonial post.

Lastly, the shaky Turkish economy depends on foreign hot money seeking higher rates of return, vast undocumented flows of money from the Gulf States whose provenance and continuity are both questionable, and a host of infrastructure projects to continue growing. Here, Erdoğan's highly erratic behavior (ranting against what he calls the "interest lobby" and against rating agencies such as Moody's and Fitch, and even against the New York Times) discourages further investment while a huge debt overhang threatens to leave the country bankrupt.

Hot money has paid for infrastructure in Turkey, including the third Bosporus bridge.
So, while his unbroken record of success makes one inclined to bet on Erdoğan's continuing domination of Turkish politics, major obstacles do exist that could end his winning streak. His symbiosis of learning from the West while remaining loyal to Islamic ways might yet implode.

U.S. Policy

With its youthful population of 75 million, a central location, control of a key waterway, and eight mostly problematic neighbors, Turkey is a highly desirable ally. In addition, it enjoys a position of prominence in the Middle East, among Turkic-speakers from Bosnia to Xinjiang, and among Muslims worldwide. The U.S.-Turkish alliance that began with the Korean War has been highly advantageous to Washington, which is understandably loath to lose it.

That said, one side alone cannot sustain an alliance. Ankara's record of friendly relations with Tehran, support for Hamas and the Islamic State, undermining the authority of Baghdad, virulence toward Israel, and threats against Cyprus make its membership in NATO questionable at best and duplicitous at worst.

Washington must signal that the bully tactics winning votes within Turkey fail in the rest of the world. The Wall Street Journal has helpfully proposed moving a U.S. military base in Turkey to Iraqi Kurdistan. Erdoğan's increasingly dictatorial rule must be repudiated as should Ankara's continued occupation of Cyprus, its support for terrorists, and its antisemitic effusions. Beyond these steps, the time has come for the U.S. government to make clear that unless major changes occur quickly, it will push for Turkey's suspension and eventual expulsion from NATO.

If Erdoğan insists on acting the rogue, then that's how its former ally should treat him.

Daniel Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.


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

The Enemy of my Enemy is my Enemy - Yoram Ettinger

by Yoram Ettinger

The idea that the enemy of my enemy is my potential ally underlies the 2014 Western policy toward Iran, the enemy of Islamic State. It underlay U.S. policy toward Iraq's Saddam Hussein -- the enemy of Iran -- until his occupation of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. 

The reckless policy toward Iraq in 1990 triggered a conventional conflict, a $1.25 trillion cost to the U.S. taxpayer, 4,500 U.S. military fatalities, a surge of anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism, and a dramatic destabilization of the Persian Gulf. The misguided characterization of Iran could produce a nuclear conflict, a mega-trillion dollar cost to the U.S. taxpayer, an unprecedented level of fatalities, a tidal wave of global anti-U.S Islamic terrorism, and tectonic eruptions of insanity throughout the globe.

During 1989-1990, upon the conclusion of the Iraq-Iran war, the U.S. administration portrayed Iraq's Saddam Hussein -- the enemy of America's enemy, Iran -- as a potential ally, enhancing Baghdad's strategic capabilities through an intelligence-sharing agreement, supplies of sensitive dual-use systems and the extension of $5 billion loan guarantees. Instead of constraining Saddam's regional maneuverability and inherent, violent, megalomaniac expansionism, the U.S. administration chose to ignore Saddam's core, imperialistic, rogue, radical, anti-U.S. ideology, which triggered the Iraq-Iran war. 

The larger, historical, ideological, complex context was overtaken by a narrowly and simplistically designed policy du jour. The recklessness of "the enemy of my enemy is my potential ally" was underlined by an intense U.S.-Iraq diplomatic traffic. For example, Saddam's meeting with Ambassador April Glaspie on July 25, 1990, which convinced Saddam that he could invade Kuwait with impunity. 

Thus, an erroneous U.S. policy led to Iraq's plunder of Kuwait, and consequently to the First Gulf War (1991), the devastatingly costly Second Gulf War (2003-2010) and possibly the third Gulf war. 

The victory of wishful thinking over reality was also the basis for Israel's 1993 policy toward the PLO -- the enemy of Hamas -- which was gullibly expected to align itself with Israel's war on Palestinian terrorism, in return for the unprecedented Israeli territorial concessions of the Oslo process. Instead, since 1993, Israel has been a victim of an unprecedented wave of PLO/Hamas anti-Israel terrorism, reinforced by daily hate education and incitement in Mahmoud Abbas' schools, mosques and media, as well as a surge of terrorism from 2000-2003, the 2006 Hamas takeover of Gaza and the 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014 wars against Palestinian terrorism in Gaza.

The assumption that "the enemy of my enemy is potentially my friend" underestimates the following endemic, unique features of Iran's ayatollahs and mullahs: the compulsive, core, Islamic, supremacist, megalomaniac, anti-infidel, anti-U.S. ideology; the perception of the U.S. as the "Great Satan" and the chief obstacle to an imperial Islamic Iran; the intimate military ties with America's enemies and adversaries; the sponsorship of global anti-U.S. jihadist terrorism, including in Iraq and Afghanistan; a 30-year track record of non-compliance and deceit in their negotiation with the West; Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's key role in misleading the West; the clear and present danger posed by a nuclear Iran to the survival of Saudi Arabia and other pro-U.S. oil-producing Arab regimes and to global and homeland security, national security and economy; the impact of Iran's occupation of Iraq's Shiite section upon the stability of the Gulf; the egregious violations of human rights by Iran's minority, tyrannical, ruthless regime which sent 500,000 children to clear minefields during the Iraq-Iran War; and the ineffectiveness of sanctions, and any diplomatic option, when applied to rogue regimes, bent on domination, and the rejection of peaceful coexistence. 

"The enemy of my enemy is my potential ally" worldview has been nurtured by the same foreign policy establishments that have systematically misread the Middle East: misjudging the rise of Islamic State; overestimating the will of the U.S.'s Arab allies to fight and the capabilities of Iraq's military; underestimating the developments in Syria; welcoming the Arab tsunami as an "Arab Spring" transitioning toward democracy; crowning the Palestinian issue as the core cause of the Middle East turbulence and the crown jewel of Arab policy-making; encouraging the toppling of pro-U.S. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the rise of the anti-U.S. Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood terror organization; giving Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi the cold shoulder; jumpstarting the 2006 Hamas takeover of Gaza; legitimizing Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas in 1988 and embracing them as a messengers of peace in 1993; underestimating Palestinian/Iranian hate education as the most effective manufacturing line of terrorism and the most authentic reflection of the respective leadership; courting Saddam Hussein in 1990; punishing Israel for destroying Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, which spared the U.S. a nuclear confrontation in 1991; the abandonment of the pro-U.S. Shah of Iran, and welcoming the rise of anti-U.S. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini; initial opposition to Prime Minister Begin's 1977 direct peace negotiations with Egypt, and so on. 

The deficient threat assessment of a nuclear Iran has crowned Teheran's ayatollahs and mullahs as the top beneficiaries of the confrontation with Islamic State, rewarding them with what they want most: additional time required to obtain nuclear capabilities.

Reality checks and common sense indicate that the U.S. does not have a potential ally in the battle between Iran and Islamic State. Both are sworn enemies (amenable to tactical, provisional negotiations and truces) bent on Islamic supremacy, terrorism and "Death to America."

The nature of the ayatollahs and mullahs on the one hand, and the assumption that they are potential allies of the U.S. on the other hand, constitutes a self-destruct oxymoron, which could entail a devastating nuclear cost.

Yoram Ettinger


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

Netanyahu’s Statements and Policies - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

 Although commentators overlooked it, the Obama administration did it again. They blindsided Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the eve of his trip to Washington.

The last time it happened was in May 2011 when US President Barack Obama set out his policy toward Israel and the Palestinians as Netanyahu was in flight, en route to Washington to meet with him.

In that speech Obama announced his support for an essentially full Israeli withdrawal to the entirely indefensible 1949 armistice lines in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Obama adopted this position despite the fact that Netanyahu and the Israeli public rejected it and viewed it as a threat to Israel’s survival.

This time the Obama administration didn’t blindside Israel on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit with another hostile pronouncement in relation to the Palestinians. This time they did so in relation to Iran.

In an address on Saturday night before the National Iranian-American Council, Phillip Gordon, the White House’s coordinator for the Middle East, said that if US-Iranian talks on Iran’s nuclear weapons program lead to an agreement, they can pave the way for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In his words, “A nuclear agreement could begin a multi-generational process that could lead to a new relationship between our countries.”

Gordon’s statement was a blunt departure from the White House’s previous position that the only gain Iran would make by obeying binding UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit the Islamic theocracy from enriching uranium would be the abrogation of economic sanctions that were adopted to force Iran to end its illicit nuclear activities.

In accordance with US law, diplomatic relations with Iran are contingent on Iran’s cessation of support for terrorist organizations and other unlawful activities.

In his remarks to NIAC – a group that the vast majority of Iranian-Americans view as the unofficial lobby of the Iranian regime – Gordon said that due to the importance of the nuclear issue, to make progress in nuclear talks, the US is willing to ignore Iran’s support for terrorism and other crimes.

In his words, “The nuclear issue is too important to subordinate to a complete transformation of Iran internally.”

FACED WITH this boldfaced US declaration that it will not only do nothing to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, but is also endorsing continued Iranian sponsorship of Hezbollah, Netanyahu opted to avoid yet another direct confrontation with the White House. Rather than directly call the administration out for its role in enabling Iran to become a nuclear state, Netanyahu sufficed with his usual rhetoric. He gently chided Obama for his pro-Iranian policy during his public remarks at the White House. And in all of his public statements, Netanyahu underlined how and why Iran and its nuclear weapons program are a greater threat to the free world than Islamic State.

There are probably two reasons for Netanyahu’s reticence. First, a confrontation would be futile.

Even before Gordon’s speech, it was obvious to Netanyahu that Obama’s goal is not to prevent Iran from getting nuclear bombs. The goal of Obama’s Iran policy is to reinstate US-Iranian relations.

Obama sees himself as a reincarnation of Richard Nixon. He will be for US-Iranian relations what Nixon was for US relations with Communist China.

Obama doesn’t mind if Iran has a bomb in the basement so long as he can drink tea with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the drawing room.

Given Obama’s absolute commitment to his goal, there was no point in having a confrontation with him. Netanyahu’s rejection of Obama’s position, made through his repeated warnings, was directed toward other ears. Netanyahu’s statements and warning were directed toward the American media, the American public and the American political class. His goal is to develop and strengthen support for an Israeli policy that would run counter to Obama’s policy of embracing Iran even at the cost of enabling Iran to become a nuclear power.

The only problem with Netanyahu’s rhetoric is that it isn’t credible. At this point, it is hard to believe Netanyahu has a policy to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

During his five-and-a-half years in office, Netanyahu has taken only sporadic action against Iran.

The cumulative impact of those actions has been limited, in part due to the Obama administration’s policy of leaking Israeli operations to the media.

Moreover, in light of the episodic nature of these actions, it is hard to view them as integrated components of an overall strategy whose aim is to destroy or significantly degrade Iran’s nuclear installations. In other words, it doesn’t appear that Israel has a policy of any kind for dealing with Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

All we have is Netanyahu’s Churchillian rhetoric, which in itself will do nothing to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

As the media analysts were quick to point out, whereas Netanyahu sought to focus his discussions with Obama on Iran, Obama was keen to focus his discussions with Netanyahu on the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s unwillingness to focus specifically on the Palestinian issue was notable mainly because in his limited remarks on the issue, he signaled that he has a new strategic vision and policy for contending with the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

The first aspect of Netanyahu’s apparently emerging policy came out on Monday during his speech at the UN General Assembly. There Netanyahu criticized PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas more honestly and assertively than he ever has before.

Slamming Abbas for his libelous charge that Israel enacted a genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, Netanyahu said that the deranged moral universe in which Israel can be accused of genocide is “the same moral universe where a man [Abbas] who wrote a dissertation of lies about the Holocaust, and who insists on a Palestine free of Jews, judenrein, can stand at the podium and shamelessly accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing.”

Netanyahu then further distanced himself from the PLO-centric framework for building peaceful relations between Israel and its neighbors. He noted that the rise of Sunni jihadist forces and the Iranian nuclear threat have brought major Sunni Arab states to the conclusion that their best bet is to work with Israel to meet and surmount the growing dangers. This new regional landscape in turn can provide a means of resolving the Palestinian conflict with Israel in a manner that will not endanger Israel.

Netanyahu’s suggestion, repeated at the White House Wednesday, that neighboring Arab states may develop new means of resolving the Palestinian issue, rings true in light of the diplomatic support Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates gave Israel in its war against Hamas this summer. And even though the Egyptian government later denied the reports, talk persists that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi did in fact offer the Palestinians sovereignty over a large swathe of Sinai adjacent to Gaza as a means of establishing a viable Palestinian state without sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

The assessment that a policy is slowly being developed along these lines was reinforced on Tuesday by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Repeating Netanyahu’s reference to a regional alliance structure that can be used to resolve the Palestinian conflict with Israel, Ya’alon said that it is irrational to even consider an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria in the aftermath of the war in Gaza.

The emerging policy apparently involves the application of Israeli sovereignty over all or parts of Judea and Samaria, along the lines I set out in my book The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, in combination with an Egyptian offer of Sinai territory to the Palestinians in conjunction with the demilitarization of Gaza.

From the administration’s behavior following Obama’s meeting with Netanyahu on Wednesday, we learned that the administration is adamantly opposed to any revision of the current PLO-centric framework, which is predicated on Israeli concessions to an intransigent PLO.

Shortly after Netanyahu left the White House, the administration bitterly attacked and threatened Israel, because the Jewish state refuses to obey the administration and deny Jews the right to buy and own property in eastern, southern and northern Jerusalem. The administration was enraged because in line with Israel’s refusal to adopt anti-Semitic housing policies, the Jerusalem Planning Board approved the construction of housing for Jews and Arabs in the city.

Also on Wednesday, Channel 10 reported that Secretary of State John Kerry is seeking to scuttle the developing Israeli alliance with Egypt and other anti-jihadist Sunni states by bringing Qatar, Hamas’s principal Sunni state-sponsor, into the mix. Kerry is reportedly trying to organize a regional peace conference that would coerce Israel into accepting the so-called Saudi Peace Initiative from 2002. That initiative would require Israel to surrender to all the PLO’s territorial demands and accept millions of foreign, hostile Arabs into its shrunken, indefensible territory.

In light of Obama’s absolute commitment to the anti-Israel, PLO-centric policy model for dealing with the Palestinian rejection of Israel, for the next two years there will be no change in US policy on the issue.

Under these circumstances, Netanyahu’s task is to lay the foundation in Washington for support for an Israeli policy that abandons the PLO as a partner and moves beyond the failed two-state model. Here, Netanyahu’s statements at the UN and the White House indicate that this is the path he has embarked upon.

Unfortunately, while Netanyahu may prefer to lay the groundwork for a new policy indirectly and cautiously, Abbas’s bid to convince the US to support the passage of a Security Council resolution that would require Israel to withdraw from Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem a week after the 2016 presidential elections will likely force Netanyahu present an alternative to the PLO-centric two-state plan sooner rather than later.

After the 2016 elections, Obama will be unconstrained by concerns for Democratic candidates.

Most of the Security Council resolutions against Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria were passed after the 1980 presidential elections when the then lame duck Jimmy Carter felt free to attack Israel at will.

To avoid a repetition of that experience in late 2016, Netanyahu will have to offer an alternative to the failed two-state plan ahead of the 2016 presidential nominating conventions.

Netanyahu’s statements in the US this week present us with a mixed picture of his leadership.

Netanyahu appears more resolute on the Palestinian threat than he has in the past. This is a good thing. But on the most pressing threat Israel faces today, his strong words rang hollow. The only way to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power is for Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear installations. Until Israel adopts a policy for doing so, words will not suffice.

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit


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

The Few Brave Men of Turkey - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

It is not easy to fight anti-Semitism in a country where there are 400,000 potential jihadists and anti-Semitism is an award-winning virtue.
The human rights activists, instead of finding anti-Semitism investigated, may in the end find themselves investigated.
The Turkish head of the physics department at Bilecik University, who proposed to revive the Nazi death camps, a month later was awarded a fund to sponsor his research from Turkey's state scientific institute.

This summer, a former al-Qaeda offspring metamorphosed into a regular army and captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria. It first flagged itself as the Islamic Army of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL], then reflagged itself simply as the Islamic State [IS]. It declared the Islamic caliphate in the lands it captured and has since killed tens of thousands of "infidels," including, primarily, Shia Muslims. It has beheaded the Western captives it held, declaring them casualties in its jihad against the Christian world. Its methods of imposing Salafism were denounced as "too extreme" even by al-Qaeda.

Against this backdrop, a recent survey by the prominent Turkish pollsters Metropoll found that 84% of the Turks think that ISIL (or IS) "is not acting on religious motives." Almost a third of the Turks think that the Islamists, with whom they now share a 900-mile border, do not pose a security threat to their country, although ISIL in June attacked the Turkish consulate in Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city, and took hostage 46 Turks, including the consul general – only to release them recently in exchange of an unknown number of imprisoned militants.

There is a tricky finding in the same survey. Metropoll found out that "only a mere five percent of Turks say they feel sympathetic to ISIL." The Turks (and the world) should be happy that only a marginal fraction of their countrymen feel sympathetic to a group that kills in the name of a specific interpretation of Islam. What is five percent, after all? Sadly, that is not the case.

If a mere 5% of the Turks feel sympathetic to ISIL, it means there are nearly 400,000 souls residing in Turkey who feel sympathetic to jihadists. And that is too many. If 10% of ISIL sympathizers in Turkey decided to join the jihad, that would mean 40,000 new jihadists willing to fight across the border in Iraq and Syria, or inside Turkey if they think Ankara allied with the West against their Salafist comrades. Metropoll's survey has revealed, once again, that Turkey is fertile ground for Islamic radicalism.

That is hardly any surprise. Earlier this year, a study by the Anti-Defamation League found 69% of the Turks to be anti-Semitic as opposed to 56% in Iran. More recently, Gonzo Insight, a Turkish research company, found that 27,309 Turks had tweeted 30,926 contents explicitly supporting "Hitler's Holocaust of Jews." Not just ordinary Turks, but apparently more important ones. Samil Tayyar, for instance, a member of parliament from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) tweeted, addressing "Jews," that "may you never be deprived of a Hitler!" Tayyar has never been taken to the disciplinary board of the AKP party, which has governed Turkey since 2002.

In another revealing example, Ali Ihsan Goker, head of the physics department at the Bilecik University, challenged Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at Brooklyn College, City University of New York: "Treblinka will be ready soon. Constructing the railway to transport jews at the moment," the Turkish professor wrote on Twitter. (Treblinka was a Nazi death camp in Poland, established in the summer of 1942 as part of Operation Reinhard. Under this plan, the Nazis sought to murder all the Jews living in the area of Poland known as the "General Government".)

Later the same day Goker also tweeted, "if I was PM I would round up the stranded israelis here and send to deportation camp at once"

A tweet by Professor Ali Ihsan Goker, head of the physics department at the Bilecik University, Turkey.

The Turkish professor proposed to revive the death camps of the Holocaust era because Fishman had written in Haaretz, "However, it seems safe to say that in the wake of the current atmosphere of blatant anti-Semitism, more Jewish families [in Turkey] will be convinced that the time has come to leave, a decision already made by many of the Jewish members over the last decade. If they stay, they are choosing to survive within their own psychological and physical bubble, or to carry on by ignoring the fact that many of their compatriots see them as the enemy." (July 23, 2014)

What happens if a university professor in a sane country in the year 2014 proposes to rebuild concentration camps to kill "all the Jews?" Indictment for hate speech? Termination of academic contract? Both? In Turkey, the man was awarded a fund to sponsor his research. The sponsorship came, a month after his proposal to rebuild the death camps for Jews, from Turkey's state scientific research institute.

But Aykan Erdemir, an opposition member of parliament from the social democrat Republican People's Party, wrote last week: "The fact that there is no sanctioning against anti-Semitic [behavior] reveals the mentality that governs."

He is right. And brave, too. It is not easy to fight anti-Semitism in a country where there are 400,000 potential jihadists and anti-Semitism is an award-winning virtue.

Another brave group of men is from the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association. On Sept. 16, they presented a thick dossier to the ministries of justice and interior, demanding that "the rising anti-Semitism in Turkey be thoroughly investigated."

In reality, the MP Erdemir and the Human Rights Association are just too naïve. Erdemir, with his case, will most probably cost, not add, votes to his party. And the human rights activists, instead of finding anti-Semitism investigated, may in the end find themselves investigated.

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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

Should Washington Withhold Aid to Egypt? - Yehuda Blanga

by Yehuda Blanga

Despite having signed a peace treaty with Israel, Egypt's armed forces continue to receive thousands of tanks and hundreds of planes from Washington. "There's no conceivable scenario in which they'd need all those tanks short of an alien invasion," declares Shana Marshall of George Washington University.
Two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the attendant weakening of the radical Arab camp, and three-and-a-half decades after the conclusion of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the removal of the foremost threat to Egyptian security, Cairo's continued acquisition of thousands of tanks and hundreds of fighting aircraft seems to make no sense. Yet Washington's withholding of $1.3 billion in annual military aid following the Egyptian army's July 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi sparked an angry retort, with the military regime threatening to turn to its former Russian patron.

Why does Cairo continue to adhere to this anachronistic military and strategic raison d'être? Has the U.S. administration overplayed its hand by assuming that the threat of military aid suspension could be leveraged to obtain political influence? And what are the implications of this episode for Egypt and the Middle East as a whole?

View from the Nile

Despite its 1979 peace agreement with Israel, Egypt has yet to internalize the idea that it is at peace with its neighbor to the east. What prevails between the two countries is a "cold peace" as the Mubarak regime made no attempt during its 30-year reign to further the normalization of bilateral relations or to modify public opinion and perceptions of Israeli citizens in particular and of Jews in general.[1] Thus, "establishment Egypt" and, all the more so, the public at large still view Israel as a potential adversary with whom strategic parity is imperative. Former defense minister Muhammad Tantawi alluded to this in his remarks to the People's Assembly in February 1996:

Peace does not mean relaxation. The endless development of military systems and the arms race prove that the survival is for the strongest. … Military strength has grown to be a prerequisite of peace.[2]

Egyptian officers, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, attend courses at U.S. institutions such as the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Accordingly, the Egyptian armed forces have conducted large-scale exercises that simulate a frontal attack on the country—usually from the east. In the three largest such exercises—held in September 1996, April 1998, and February 2009—Egyptian troops simulated parrying an Israeli invasion by transitioning from defensive to offensive operations, crossing the Suez Canal, and regaining full control of the Sinai Peninsula.

As a result, the Egyptian defense establishment has pursued a policy of strategic parity with Israel, manifested in a prolonged and comprehensive modernization program that began in the early 1980s and continued for more than twenty years. By the end of the process, the Egyptian armed forces had been transformed into a modern Western military organization and had cast off the Soviet influence that dated back to the mid-1950s.[3] As of 2014, Egypt has the tenth-largest military in the world with approximately 460,000 soldiers in the standing army.[4]

A prominent symbol of Egypt's abandonment of the Soviets is the fact that Egyptian officers (including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi) attend courses at U.S. institutions such as the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. In contrast to the past, when the course of study for Egyptian officers included Marxism and the nature of the work of the communist party, they now study democracy and the primacy of civilian authorities over the military. According to Robert Scales, a retired Army major general who served as commandant of the Army War College, "This new generation of Egyptian officers has been exposed to the American military and is impressed not just in the way we fight our wars but also about the relationship between the military and society."[5] However, the July 2013 coup raises serious doubts about how deeply these democratic ideals have been assimilated.

In addition, Egyptian armed forces collaborate in joint exercises with various Western and Middle Eastern militaries: In 2009, the Egyptian military carried out maneuvers with the French, Italian, British, Dutch, and German armed forces while joint Egyptian-Turkish and U.S.-Egyptian exercises were held in 2012.[6] The pinnacle of this military collaboration is Operation Bright Star, a joint U.S.-Egyptian exercise that has been held roughly every two years since 1980. However, the exercise planned for 2011 was cancelled due to the events surrounding the ouster of President Husni Mubarak that year, and then in 2013, President Obama canceled the exercise because of the Egyptian military's toppling of Morsi. Both cancellations have had important repercussions on U.S.-Egyptian relations.

View from the Potomac

Since 1979, Egypt—along with Saudi Arabia—has been one of two cornerstones of U.S. policy in the Arab world. It has served as a mediator in Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; it has worked to moderate and counter trends toward radicalization in the Arab world; and it provides military support for U.S. forces stationed in the region. Egypt's geostrategic importance lies in the fact that it is a bridge between East and West, located as it is at the intersection of the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, and most importantly through its control of the Suez Canal. In order to move quickly between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, the U.S. fleet transits the Suez Canal with permission from the Egyptian authorities. Any delay or restrictions would require the United States government to station naval forces near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and round it in order to reach the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. As a result, Washington would appear to have a vital interest in maintaining good ties with Cairo, despite the regime changes there since 2011.

The other main component of the continued military assistance to Egypt has to do with benefits to the U.S. military industry. Every year since 1986, Congress has approved US$1.3 billion in military assistance to Egypt, the second-largest aid package after that given to Israel.[7] But the Egyptian military does not receive this sum in cash: As in the Israeli case, a sizable portion of that largesse is paid out to American military contractors who assemble tanks and warplanes and send them on to Egypt.[8]

Since 1986, Washington has transferred 221 F-16 fighter jets with a total value of $8 billion to Egypt as part of its military aid package despite the fact that U.S. military advisors have been saying for years that Cairo had more than enough planes and tanks and does not need any more.[9] Likewise, over a thousand Abrams tanks have been transferred to Egypt since 1992 at a total cost of $3.9 billion though close to 200 of them are in mothballs and have never been used.[10] Such an arrangement can have economic benefits within Egypt as well: The Abu Zaabal tank repair factory (aka Factory 200) in Helwan is the site of a joint production of Abrams tanks that employs thousands of local workers.[11]

As a result, American defense contractors make millions of dollars annually and employ tens of thousands of workers as a direct result of U.S. military aid to Egypt and other countries in the Middle East.[12] In the words of Bruce Barron, president of Barron Industries of Oxford, Michigan, a manufacturer of Abrams M1A1 parts that the United States sends to Egypt: "The aid that we give to Egypt is coming back to the U.S. and keeping 30 of my people working."[13] In turn, the owners of small businesses like Barron Industries work in concert with large corporations such as General Dynamics to operate a lobby of local politicians, business-people, and unions who alert members of Congress to the domestic ramifications that cuts in military production or freezing projects might entail.[14]

U.S. Aid: Protest and Reconciliation

American defense contractors make millions annually and employ tens of thousands of workers as a direct result of military aid to Egypt and other countries in the Middle East. These Abrams tanks are assembled at a General Dynamics plant in Lima, Ohio.
This then is the backdrop to the controversy surrounding the suspension of U.S. military aid to Egypt that first arose during the events of January and February 2011 when security forces acting on behalf of the Mubarak regime used brutal force against demonstrators. The idea of suspension was dropped after the fall of Mubarak and in light of the subsequent coordination and collaboration between the Egyptian high command and its U.S. counterpart. Washington also felt that since Egypt was headed toward free and democratic elections, continued aid would promote this goal and enhance the country's stability.[15]

The question of the continuation of military assistance came up a second time after the ouster of President Morsi in July 2013 in what was, for all intents and purposes, a military coup, albeit one with massive popular backing. American aversion to such nondemocratic changes of government was reflected in a law that, with a few exceptions, prohibited economic aid "to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree."[16] Though the Obama administration initially refrained from describing Morsi's removal in these terms,[17] the military's meddling in Egyptian politics was not the only thing that irked Washington; there was also the fact that the armed forces embarked on a violent campaign to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood. In late July, the scheduled delivery of four F-16s to Egypt was frozen. Then on August 15, Obama cancelled the joint U.S.-Egyptian exercises scheduled for September and, along with senior administration officials, condemned the violent dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood supporters from outdoor rallies the previous day.[18]

Sisi: "You [the United States] turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won't forget that."

Reaction by senior members of the Egyptian military and the interim regime to the administration's responses was not long in coming. Against the backdrop of criticism, Egypt's new headman Sisi granted an interview to The Washington Post in which he attacked the Obama administration: "You [the United States] left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won't forget that." He added that freezing delivery of the fighter planes was "not the way to deal with a patriotic military" and complained about the lack of U.S. support for "a free people who rebelled against an unjust political rule."[19] His criticism was echoed shortly afterward by Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi, who added that Egypt had received military aid from Russia for many years in the past, and he, therefore, saw no reason to worry.[20]

In contrast with these strong, albeit restrained, statements by official Cairo, anger was expressed in a much more forceful and unambiguous fashion on the popular level. In July, shortly after the coup, Husam Hindi, a leader within the Tamarod (Rebellion) movement that led the campaign to oust Morsi, called for the masses to take to the streets "and defend the revolution" against the Muslim Brotherhood, which, he charged, was collaborating with the United States to undermine the legitimacy of the revolution. The Brotherhood, he claimed, had a long history of close ties with the Obama administration as seen by the major role it played "in exerting pressure on Hamas to reach a ceasefire during the latest Israeli aggression [Operation Pillar of Defense]." [21]

When Washington threatened to cut off U.S. aid to Egypt, Tamarod launched a "Ban the Aid" protest campaign,[22] followed shortly afterward by the "Reviving Sovereignty" campaign. Protesting what its leaders called the U.S. attempt to meddle in Egypt's internal affairs, it posted a petition on its official website calling for the suspension of U.S. aid and disavowal of the peace treaty with Israel:

Mahmud Badr (above), a Tamarod co-founder, minced no words when he attacked Obama for condemning the June 30 revolution, declaring in no uncertain terms that Egypt no longer needed U.S. aid: "I tell you, President Obama, why don't you and your small, meaningless aid go to hell?"
After the unacceptable American intervention in Egyptian affairs, and how the U.S. supports terrorist groups in Egypt, I demand, as an Egyptian citizen who signed this petition, to hold a referendum on two matters. The first to refuse U.S. aid ... in all its forms. The second, to cancel the peace agreement between Egypt and the Israeli entity and rewording security agreements in order to ensure the rights of the Egyptian state in securing its borders.[23]

Mahmud Badr, a Tamarod co-founder, minced no words in attacking Obama for condemning the June 30 revolution. He urged Washington not to meddle in Egypt's internal affairs, especially not in the struggle by the military and by demonstrators against "the Brotherhood's terrorism," declaring in no uncertain terms that Egypt no longer needed U.S. aid: "I tell you, President Obama, why don't you and your small, meaningless aid go to hell?"[24] For Badr and the members of his protest movement, violent struggle and bloodshed were the necessary price for saving the nation from the Muslim Brotherhood.[25]

Roughly two months later, on October 9, Washington ratcheted up pressure on Egypt's interim government announcing a decision "to maintain our relationship with the Egyptian government while recalibrating our assistance to Egypt to best advance our interests." The communiqué stressed that Cairo would continue to receive aid for health care, education, and the private sector and that the United States would continue to help Egypt safeguard its borders, fight terrorism, and maintain security in the Sinai Peninsula along with providing training to the Egyptian military and spare parts for U.S. military equipment in Egypt. But, the State Department added, the administration had decided to freeze the transfer of major weapons systems and funds to the military regime until the formation of a democratic, civilian government elected in free and fair elections.[26]

The Obama administration seriously miscalculated how its statements and actions would be perceived by both the Egyptian public and its leadership.

In reaction, the spokesman for Egypt's Foreign Ministry, Badr Abd Atti, released an official communiqué stating that the move raised many serious questions about the administration's willingness to provide permanent strategic support for Egypt's security. While Cairo was interested in maintaining its warm relations with Washington, it would preserve its full independence when making decisions about its internal affairs and would not be influenced by external players.[27]

The following week, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy made similar re-marks, decrying the fact that tension between Washington and Cairo had reached a critical level. Nevertheless, the freezing of aid was something that the Egyptian people would be capable of handling: "The Egyptian people will not hesitate to bear the consequences of such a situation in order to preserve their freedom of choice after two revolutions."[28] Cairo should open its doors to other powers that had influence in the international arena. Such a move would give it multiple and diverse channels of action and pave the way for close ties with Russia and China. Fahmy added that there was a positive side to the U.S. decision: "It will equally serve Egypt and the U.S. because both will reconsider and better estimate their relationship in the future."[29]

The Obama administration seriously miscalculated how its statements and actions would be perceived by both the Egyptian public and its leadership. Not only did it fail to appreciate the depth of public revulsion with the Brotherhood's highhanded attempts to turn Egypt into an Islamist theocracy, but perhaps more importantly, it did not grasp how its response was seen as an insult and an attack on national pride. Egyptians perceived the United States government as acting as if it had bought their country with its aid then tried to use it to meddle in local politics.

Official Cairo handled the matter with restraint and responsibility. The statements released by the leadership reflected a desire to maintain strategic ties with the United States but also managed to defend national honor. At the same time, Sisi and his colleagues paved the way for the entry of additional players—Russia and China —who would be able to provide weapons and equipment to the Egyptian military.

Ramifications of U.S. Aid Suspension

Washington has sent a message both to its Middle Eastern enemies and allies that its word and "friendship" were highly iffy.

There appear to be three main consequences to the reduction in U.S. military assistance to Egypt though not all are restricted to Egypt proper. Thanks to its role in Mubarak's ouster, Washington has sent a message to both its Middle Eastern enemies and allies that its word and "friendship" were highly iffy. If a faithful ally like Mubarak—who had maintained close ties to the United States and served its interests well for thirty years—could find himself thrown under the bus when in trouble, no one was safe.

Doubts about U.S. reliability were reinforced by the administration's criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood's subsequent overthrow. The ouster of the Brotherhood—a religious and political force clearly identified as opposing Western values—should have actually served U.S. interests, but instead Washington condemned it as well as the Egyptian military, considered by most to be more secular and moderate, and thus more aligned with Washington and its values. Not only did statements about the need to freeze military aid contribute to the destabilization of the Egyptian street, they were also viewed as providing encouragement to Islamist groups and displaying a distinct lack of support for the will of the millions of demonstrators from the anti-Morsi camp. Washington's reluctance to aid post-Morsi Cairo was seen as proof of U.S. disloyalty to its allies and, among some, as evidence of the need to make war against it and the treachery it represents.[30]

The second consequence is tied to Israeli- Egyptian relations, in as-much as every discussion in which the issue of U.S. aid comes up includes the status of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. While the United States is not a legal party to the Israel-Egypt peace accord, and the accord itself does not include any clauses that obligate Washington to provide either Egypt or Israel with economic or military aid, the U.S. did append two attached memoranda setting forth its obligations to both sides. As a mediator between the sides and as the party that sought to ensure a regional balance of power, stability, and Israeli-Egyptian cooperation, Washington has, with congressional approval, traditionally given aid to both Egypt and Israel. [31] As a result, an Egyptian claim that peace with Israel is linked to U.S. military and economic aid is not entirely unjustified. Indeed, there is a fear in Israel that a cutback or freeze of U.S. military aid to Egypt will have a negative impact on security cooperation between Jerusalem and Cairo or, even worse, on the peace agreement itself. Israel believes that the U.S. aid money is Egypt's sole reason for adhering to the peace treaty and that, without it, the Egyptian regime will feel no obligation to maintain it.[32]

Following Mohamed Morsi's overthrow, relations between Moscow and Cairo have grown closer. On November 13, 2013, for the first time since Egypt changed its orientation from East to West in the mid-1970s, a Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov (second from left), and a defense minister, Sergei Shoygu (right), visited Egypt. Then-Egyptian minister of defense Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (second from right) and foreign minister Nabil Fahmy (left) met with their Russian counterparts.
The third and final outcome of either the threat or an actual reduction in U.S. aid is the growing role of other states, above all Russia, in the affairs of the Middle East. The United States under Obama is perceived as a weakened power on a slow retrenchment from the region.[33] As nature—and seemingly geopolitics—abhors a vacuum, U.S. diffidence is encouraging rival powers to play a greater role in Egypt and one that bodes no good for the long term. American history can be instructive here.

During the 1950s, the Eisenhower administration tried to exploit U.S. military, technical, and economic assistance to persuade Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt to join an alliance to defend the region from communism. When courting Cairo failed, Washington refused to provide the Egyptians with requested weapons and later withdrew its offer to fund the construction of the Aswan high dam.[34] The strategy was a failure as Moscow quickly provided arms to Cairo through Czechoslovakia. Nasser was initially unwilling to chain himself to any major power, instead maneuvering adroitly between Washington and Moscow. In a long and patient process that developed over subsequent years, Soviet ties turned into dependence—one that increased markedly in the aftermath of the 1967 war. Two factors were largely responsible for this. For one thing, the Soviets never set conditions for assistance to an Arab country. For another, "the absence of any statement that the Middle East was vital to American interests"[35] was seen as a green light by Russia to become fully involved.

Although the Cold War ended in the late 1980s, a resurgent Russia under Vladimir Putin still views the Middle East as critical to its political and military interests and would love nothing better than to curtail U.S. hegemony in the region. Since the outbreak of the recent Middle Eastern upheavals, Moscow has sought to increase its influence in the region by protecting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and inserting itself repeatedly in the confrontation between the West and Iran over the latter's nuclear capabilities.[36]

Under a contract to be funded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Russia will supply the Egyptian military with a variety of weapons.

Following Morsi's overthrow, relations between Moscow and Cairo have grown closer. In September 2013, the Egyptian foreign minister visited Moscow; in October, the head of Russian military intelligence visited Cairo. A month later, an Egyptian delegation visited Moscow to express gratitude for Russian support for the "June 30 Revolution" overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood. On November 13, 2013, for the first time since Egypt changed its orientation from East to West in the mid-1970s, a Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and a defense minister, Sergei Shoygu, visited Egypt together. Two months later, in mid-February 2014, Defense Minister Sisi and Foreign Minister Fahmy visited Moscow where a meeting between Russian president Putin and Sisi was the centerpiece of the visit.[37]

The conversations between the Egyptian military and political leadership and their Russian counterparts focused on strengthening relations between the two countries and collaboration in a variety of fields including nuclear power. But the capstone of these contacts was Russian-Egyptian cooperation on military matters and the drafting of a comprehensive weapons deal that, according to various reports, is worth between two and three billion dollars. Under this contract, to be funded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Russia will supply the Egyptian military with MiG-29 planes, MI-35 attack helicopters, air defense missile complexes, anti-ship complexes, light arms, and ammunition. [38]

In return for these arms, Egypt has agreed to provide the Russian navy with port services in Alexandria and to strengthen the two navies' cooperation in the Mediterranean Sea. Syria already allows Russian navy ships to use its port of Tartus, but in the event of the fall of the Assad regime and a loss of use of those facilities, Moscow is looking for a "Plan B."[39] Enhancing its ties with Cairo is a significant step for Russia in its quest to maintain an important strategic goal—a continued presence in the Mediterranean, a goal that becomes even more pertinent with the recent annexation of Crimea on the Black Sea. [40]


Economic stagnation, growing terrorism, and spreading violent, domestic opposition to the interim government tops the list of internal and external challenges facing Egypt. In contrast to the pre-1979 peace agreement, when Israel was considered the foremost threat, Cairo needs to address the menace posed by organizations associated with global jihad—especially those that operate in the Sinai Peninsula—by means of a new strategic view that encompasses the appropriate means to combat it. The age of classic war in the region, involving large scale air-supported tank maneuvers, is apparently over and there is no longer any need to keep accumulating massive quantities of heavy weapons. The threats posed by Islamist terrorist organizations operating in the Sinai require a new strategy focused on low-intensity counterinsurgency measures.

At the same time, Washington would be advised to look beyond the specifics of military aid to its long term interests. Military aid has significance beyond maintaining the power of the Egyptian military: It demonstrates the depth of U.S. support for an ally and, practically speaking, constitutes a declaration of loyalty to the close bond between the two countries. Any cutback or curtailment of aid to Egypt will be understood by any moderate and secular wings of the Egyptian regime—and by the Islamist opposition—as a U.S. vote of non-confidence in its allies, specifically in Egypt but also throughout the Middle East. Such measures by Washington are creating an opening for outside players—who are neither necessarily moderate nor pro-Western—to penetrate Egypt and the rest of the region, thereby damaging U.S. interests.

In the short term and in the wake of a reduction in assistance, Egypt will not break decisively with the U.S. government as doing so would achieve precisely the opposite of the goals sought by Sisi and the members of the National Salvation Front. Egypt would be further destabilized, losing its main supplier of military equipment, ammunition, and spare parts, and slide even further down the economic slope it has been on since February 2011. On the other hand, opening the Egyptian gates to the Russians, Saudis, and others would win these countries power and influence that over the long run could distance Egypt from its U.S. patron. For this reason, if Washington wants to continue to influence Cairo's political considerations, it should open its military depots to it, rather than slam the doors shut in its face.
Yehuda Blanga is a lecturer in the department of Middle Eastern studies at Bar Ilan University and a visiting scholar at The Moshe Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University.

[1] See, for example, Fares bila Jawwad, YouTube, accessed June 6, 2014.
[2] "Egyptian Defense Minister Addresses People's Assembly Committee," Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Near East and South Asia (FIBS-NES), Cairo MENA, Feb. 6, 1996.
[3] Sinn Fine, "Haiyum Hamitsri Vesikuei Hamilhama Bamizrah Hatichon," Nativ 77, Nov. 2000, pp. 26, 31.
[4] Mark Thompson, "Strong and Silent," Time Magazine, Feb. 14, 2011; "Military Balance Files: Egypt," The Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv, accessed June 6, 2014.
[5] Thompson, "Strong and Silent"; Foreign Policy, July 2, 2013.
[6] "Military Balance Files: Egypt."
[7] Jeremy M. Sharp, "Egypt: Background and U. S. Relations," Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., June 27, 2013; Fine, "Haiyum Hamitsri," p. 32.
[8] Jeremy M. Sharp, "Egypt: Background and U. S. Relations," Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2014, p. 23; National Public Radio, Aug. 3, 2013.
[9] Bloomberg News Service (New York), Aug. 20, 2013; Planet Money, National Public Radio, Aug. 3, 2013.
[10] Sharp, "Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations," June 27, 2013, p. 32; "Military Balance Files: Egypt."
[11] Sharp, "Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations," June 27, 2013, p. 32.
[12] Reuters, May 24, 2012; David Schenker, "Inside the Complex World of U.S. Military Assistance to Egypt," The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, D.C., Sept. 4, 2013.
[13] National Public Radio, Aug. 3, 2013.
[14] Ibid; Reuters, May 24, 2012.
[15] Robert Gibbs, press secretary, White House, Washington, D.C., Jan. 28, 2011; The Guardian (London), Jan. 29, 2011.
[16] Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, pub. law 111-117, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 111th Congress, Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2009.
[17] NBC News, Aug. 2, 2013.
[18] Reuters, Aug. 15, 2013.
[19] Lally Weymouth, "Rare Interview with Egyptian Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi," The Washington Post, Aug. 3, 2013.
[20] ABC News, Aug. 20, 2013; al-Watan (Cairo), Oct. 12, 2013.
[21] Elaph (London), July 6, 2013.
[22] Ma'an News Agency (Bethlehem), Aug. 17, 2013.
[23] Al-Ahram (Cairo), Aug. 18, 2013; al-Balad (Beirut), Aug. 17, 2013.
[24] Reuters, Aug. 17, 2013.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Press statement, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., Oct. 9, 2013.
[27] Al-Wafd (Cairo), Oct. 10, 2013.
[28] Al-Ahram, Oct. 16, 2013.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Al-Youm al-Sabe'a (Cairo), Aug. 18, 2013; al-Masri al-Youm (Cairo), Aug. 18, 2013.
[31] Sharp, "Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations," Jan. 10, 2014, p. 18-9; Special International Security Assistance Act of 1979, pub. law 96-35, The Library of Congress, S. 1007, July 29, 1979.
[32] Schenker, "Inside the Complex World of U.S. Military Assistance to Egypt"; Globes (Rishon Le-Zion), July 4, 2013; Haaretz, July 9, 2013; Galei Zahal radio (Haifa), Oct. 10, 2013.
[33] Daniel W. Drezner, "Does Obama Have a Grand Strategy?" Foreign Affairs, July-Aug. 2011.
[34] "Soviet Penetration of the Middle East," May 12, 1970, Israel State Archives (hereafter ISA), Foreign Ministry (hereafter FM), 4605/2; William J. Burns, Economic Aid and American Policy toward Egypt, 1955-1981 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985), p. 16; Ofer Mazar, Betsilo Shel HaSphinx (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense, 2002), pp. 15–28.
[35] "Soviet Penetration of the Middle East," May 6, 1970, ISA, FM 4605/2.
[36] Alexander Orlov, ed., "Blizhniy Vostok: Vozmozhnye Varianty Transformatsionnykh Protsessov," Institute of International Studies, University MFA Russia, Apr. 2012; Zvi Magen, "Ruhot Shel Shinuy MeRussia," Mabat-Al, 470, Oct. 2013; Nael Shama, "Cairo and Moscow: Limits of Alliance," Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2013.
[37] Egypt State Information Service, Cairo, Nov. 13, 2013.
[38] Ibid.; al-Ahram, Nov. 19, 2013; Daily News Egypt (Cairo), Nov. 20, 2013; RIA Novosti (Moscow), Feb. 14, 2014.
[39] Al-Ahram, Nov. 19, 2013.
[40] Ibid.

Yehuda Blanga is a lecturer in the department of Middle Eastern studies at Bar Ilan University and a visiting scholar at The Moshe Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University.


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