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Posted on on July 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

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Crackdown on Morsi Backers Deepens Divide in Egypt.

As prosecutors arrested dozens of top Muslim Brotherhood members, a senior Egyptian jurist was sworn in as acting head of state.…

CAIRO — Remnants of Egypt’s old government reasserted themselves on Thursday within hours of the military ouster of the country’s first freely elected president, in a crackdown that left scores of his Muslim Brotherhood backers under arrest, their television stations closed and former officials

For Islamists, Dire Lessons on Politics and Power (July 5, 2013)
Prominent Egyptian Liberal Says He Sought West’s Support for Uprising (July 5, 2013)
Even as Army Seizes Power, Egyptians Claim Revolt as Their Own (July 5, 2013)

Mohammed Badie, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, was arrested on Thursday.
Readers’ Comments

The actions provided the first indications of what Egypt’s new political order could look like after Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president in power for only a year, was deposed by Egypt’s military commanders on Wednesday evening.

The commanders, who installed an interim civilian leader, said they had acted to bring the country back together after millions of Egyptians demonstrated against Mr. Morsi, claiming he had arrogated power, neglected the economy and worsened divisions in society.

Mr. Morsi’s downfall and the swift effort that followed to repress the Muslim Brotherhood enraged its constituents. They called for demonstrations nationwide on Friday, which could provide a telling test of the interim government’s claims of inclusiveness toward all segments of Egypt’s population. …
By late Thursday, it was already clear that the forced change of power, which had the trappings of a military coup spurred by a popular revolt, had only aggravated the most seething division — that between the Muslim Brotherhood and the security apparatus built up by Hosni Mubarak, the president toppled in Egypt’s 2011 revolution.

The divisions belied a stately ceremony in the country’s highest court, where a little-known judge was sworn in as the new acting head of state. The interim president, the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, said he looked forward to parliamentary and presidential elections that would express the “true will of the people.” Mr. Mansour praised the military’s intervention so that Egypt could “correct the path of its glorious revolution.”

Fighter jets screamed through the Cairo skies, and fireworks burst over huge celebrations in Tahrir Square.

At the same time, security forces held Mr. Morsi incommunicado in an undisclosed location, Islamist broadcast outlets were closed and prosecutors sought the arrest of hundreds of Mr. Morsi’s Brotherhood colleagues, in a sign that they had the most to lose in Egypt’s latest political convulsion.

“What kind of national reconciliation starts with arresting people?” asked Ebrahem el-Erian after security officials came to his family home before dawn to try to arrest his father, Essam el-Erian, a Brotherhood official. “This is complete exclusion.”

Many of the most significant political shifts pointed to the reassertion of the “deep state,” a term often used for the powerful branches of the Mubarak-era government that remained in place after he had been deposed. …

Dozens were arrested, including Mohamed Badie, the group’s supreme guide; his deputy, Rashad Bayoumi; and the head of its political wing, Saad el-Katatni. Also on the wanted list was Khairat el-Shater, the group’s powerful financier and strategist.

The arrest campaign recalled the Muslim Brotherhood’s decades as a banned organization under autocratic rulers.

“This is a police state back in action, and the same faces that were ousted with the Mubarak regime are now appearing on talk shows as analysts,” said a Brotherhood spokesman, Gehad el-Haddad, during an interview with Al Jazeera’s English satellite channel.

He repeated a conspiracy theory often cited by Islamists: what appeared to be an easing of electricity cuts and petrol shortages in recent days indicated that the shortfalls had been artificially created to feed discontent.

“Did someone push a magic button, or was this all part of a plot?” Mr. Haddad asked.

In a statement, the Brotherhood denounced “the military coup against the elected president and the will of the nation” and said it would refuse to deal with any resulting authority. Mr. Morsi’s supporters said their protests on Friday would be meant to “denounce the military coup against legitimacy and in support of the legitimacy of President Morsi.”

Much remains unclear about the new political structure that will emerge, though Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning diplomat, has been chosen to represent the liberal opposition.

In a telephone interview, Mr. ElBaradei sought to justify the military’s intervention, calling it a chance to fix the transition to democracy that he said had gone off track after the ouster of Mr. Mubarak.

“We just lost two and a half years,” he said. “As Yogi Berra said, ‘It is déjà vu all over again,’ but hopefully this time we will get it right.”

He also defended the arrests of Islamists, saying that he had been assured they would receive due process and that the shuttered television outlets had incited violence.

“I would be the first one to shout loud and clearly if I see any sign of regression in terms of democracy,” he said. …

The pre-Morsi foreign minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, was also back in the post on Thursday. Mr. Amr had continued to serve under Mr. Morsi but had been sidelined as Mr. Morsi sent other aides to meetings with President Obama and other officials, and he resigned during Mr. Morsi’s final days, a major blow.

Mr. Amr held a series of meetings with the foreign news media on Thursday aimed at refuting the idea that Egypt had undergone a military coup. He also laughed about his relationship with Mr. Morsi, suggesting he had given his foreign counterparts his own view of Egypt’s affairs. …


For Islamists, Dire Lessons on Politics and Power.

From Benghazi to Abu Dhabi, Islamists are drawing lessons from the ouster of Mohamed Morsi that could shape political Islam for a generation.…

CAIRO — Sheik Mohamed Abu Sidra had watched in exasperation for months as President Mohamed Morsi and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood bounced from one debilitating political battle to another. …

But at the same time, Sheik Abu Sidra said, Mr. Morsi’s overthrow had made it far more difficult for him to persuade Benghazi’s Islamist militias to put down their weapons and trust in democracy.

“Do you think I can sell that to the people anymore?” he asked. “I have been saying all along, ‘If you want to build Shariah law, come to elections.’ Now they will just say, ‘Look at Egypt,’ and you don’t need to say anything else.”

From Benghazi to Abu Dhabi, Islamists are drawing lessons from Mr. Morsi’s ouster that could shape political Islam for a generation. For some, it demonstrated the futility of democracy in a world dominated by Western powers and their client states. But others, acknowledging that the coup accompanied a broad popular backlash, also faulted the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood for reaching too fast for so many levers of power. …

“The message will resonate throughout the Muslim world loud and clear: democracy is not for Muslims,” Essam el-Haddad, Mr. Morsi’s foreign policy adviser, warned on his official Web site shortly before the military detained him and cut off all his communication. The overthrow of an elected Islamist government in Egypt, the symbolic heart of the Arab world, Mr. Haddad wrote, would fuel more violent terrorism than the Western wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. …

In Egyptian Sinai just hours later, thousands of Islamists rallied under the black flag of jihad and cheered widely at calls for “a war council” to roll back Mr. Morsi’s ouster. “The age of peacefulness is over,” the speaker declared in a video of the rally. “No more peacefulness after today.”

“No more election after today,” the crowd chanted in response. ,,,

In Syria, where the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood once hoped to provide a model of moderation and democracy, some fighters battling President Bashar al-Assad now say it is the other way around. Egyptian Islamists “may have to pursue the armed option,” said Firas Filefleh, a rebel fighter in an Islamist brigade in Idlib, in northern Syria. “That may be the only choice, as it was for us in Syria.” …

“The practices that we see today will split the Islamists in half,” said Saeed Nasar Alteneji, a former head of the Emirates group, the Islah association. “There are those who always call for centrism and moderation and peaceful political participation,” he said. “The other group condemns democracy and sees today that the West and others will never accept the ballot box if it brings Islamists to power.”

“And they have lots of evidence of this,” he said, now citing Egypt as well as Algeria.

Other Islamists, though, sought to distance themselves from what they considered the Egyptian Brotherhood’s errors.

As the military takeover began to unfold, Ali Larayedh, the Islamist prime minister of Tunisia, emphasized in a television interview that “an Egypt scenario” was unlikely to befall his Ennahda movement because “our approach is characterized by consensus and partnership.”

Emad al-din al-Rashid, a prominent Syrian Islamist and scholar now based in Istanbul, said that he “expected this to happen” because of the Muslim Brotherhood’s style of governance. “The beginning was a mistake, a sin, and the Brotherhood were running Egypt like they would run a private organization, not a country,” he said. “They shouldn’t have rushed to rule like they did. If they had waited for the second or third elections, the people would have been asking and yearning for them.”

Hisham Krekshi, a senior member of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood in Tripoli, Libya, said the Egyptian Brotherhood “were not transparent enough. They were not sharing enough with other parties. We have to be sure that we are open, to say, ‘We are all Libyans and we have to accept every rainbow color, to work together.’ ”

Even among Egyptian Islamists there have been signs of dissent from the Brotherhood leadership. The largest ultraconservative party, Al Nour, had urged the Brotherhood to form a broader coalition and then to call early presidential elections, and it finally supported the takeover.

Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a relatively liberal former Brotherhood leader and presidential candidate popular among many younger members, also urged Mr. Morsi to step down to defuse the polarization of the country.

But, said Ibrahim Houdaiby, a former Brotherhood member, “the feeling of exclusion might actually lead to the empowerment of a more radical sentiment in the group that says, ‘Look, we abide by the rules, we were elected democratically, and of course we were rejected, and of course by a military coup, not by popular protest.’ ”


Op-Ed Columnist
Defending the Coup

There are reasons to celebrate the fall of the Islamists and Mohamed Morsi’s government in Egypt.…

… World events of the past few months have vindicated those who take the substance side of the argument. It has become clear — in Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Gaza and elsewhere — that radical Islamists are incapable of running a modern government. Many have absolutist, apocalyptic mind-sets. They have a strange fascination with a culture of death. “Dying for the sake of God is more sublime than anything,” declared one speaker at a pro-Morsi rally in Cairo on Tuesday.

As Adam Garfinkle, the editor of The American Interest, put it in an essay recently, for this sort of person “there is no need for causality, since that would imply a diminution of God’s power.” This sort of person “does not accept the existence of an objective fact separate from how he feels about it.”

Islamists might be determined enough to run effective opposition movements and committed enough to provide street-level social services. But they lack the mental equipment to govern. Once in office, they are always going to centralize power and undermine the democracy that elevated them.

Nathan Brown made that point about the Muslim Brotherhood recently in The New Republic: “The tight-knit organization built for resilience under authoritarianism made for an inward-looking, even paranoid movement when it tried to refashion itself as a governing party.”

Once elected, the Brotherhood subverted judicial review, cracked down on civil society, arrested opposition activists, perverted the constitution-writing process, concentrated power and made democratic deliberations impossible.

It’s no use lamenting Morsi’s bungling because incompetence is built into the intellectual DNA of radical Islam. We’ve seen that in Algeria, Iran, Palestine and Egypt: real-world, practical ineptitude that leads to the implosion of the governing apparatus.

The substance people are right. Promoting elections is generally a good thing even when they produce victories for democratic forces we disagree with. But elections are not a good thing when they lead to the elevation of people whose substantive beliefs fall outside the democratic orbit. It’s necessary to investigate the core of a party’s beliefs, not just accept anybody who happens to emerge from a democratic process.

This week’s military coup may merely bring Egypt back to where it was: a bloated and dysfunctional superstate controlled by a self-serving military elite. But at least radical Islam, the main threat to global peace, has been partially discredited and removed from office. …

In reality, the U.S. has no ability to influence political events in Egypt in any important way. The only real leverage point is at the level of ideas. Right now, as Walter Russell Mead of Bard College put it, there are large populations across the Middle East who feel intense rage and comprehensive dissatisfaction with the status quo but who have no practical idea how to make things better. The modern thinkers who might be able to tell them have been put in jail or forced into exile. The most important thing outsiders can do is promote those people and defend those people, decade after decade.

It’s not that Egypt doesn’t have a recipe for a democratic transition. It seems to lack even the basic mental ingredients.

Op-Ed Contributor
Demoting Democracy in Egypt

America’s acceptance of a coup will lead Islamists to lose faith in elections.…

DOHA, Qatar — WHEN Mohamed Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president last year, it was an especially sweet victory for the Muslim Brotherhood, the region’s oldest and most influential Islamist movement. After a long history of repression, the Brotherhood had finally tasted triumph. But their short-lived rule ended Wednesday when Egypt’s army deposed Mr. Morsi. …

Now supporters of the Brotherhood will ask, with good reason, whether democracy still has anything to offer them. Mr. Morsi’s removal will breathe new life into the ideological claims of radicals. Al Qaeda and its followers have long argued that change can’t come through the democracy of “unbelievers”; violence is the only path. As the Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri once said, “What is truly regrettable is the rallying of thousands of duped Muslim youth in voter queues before ballot boxes instead of lining them up to fight in the cause of Allah.”

Al Qaeda’s intellectual forebears emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, and were shaped by events that bear an eerie similarity to those of this week. In 1954, a popularly backed Egyptian Army moved against the Muslim Brotherhood, arresting thousands and dismantling the organization. Prison had a radicalizing effect on Sayyid Qutb, a leading Brotherhood ideologue, who experienced torture at the hands of his captors before being executed in 1966. Many of Mr. Qutb’s followers later left the Brotherhood’s embrace and went their own way, setting up militant organizations that would begin perpetrating acts of terrorism.

In 1954, no one could have guessed that the brutal crackdown against the Brotherhood would set in motion a chain of events that would have terrible consequences for the region and America. …

In hundreds of interviews that I’ve conducted with Muslim Brotherhood leaders and activists in Egypt and Jordan over the past decade, many have brought up Algeria and the so-called American veto — the notion that the United States and other Western powers would simply not allow Islamists to assume power through democratic elections.

The subversion of democracy in 1992 in Algeria wasn’t widely reported in the West, nor was it seen as particularly important. This time, in Egypt, it happened while the whole world was watching.

Along with 1954 and 1992, 2013 will stand as a historic moment in Islamist lore, shaping future generations of Islamist activists and deepening their already powerful narrative of persecution, repression and regret. America is blamed for enough as it is. There is no need to add another grievance to the list. …

Shadi Hamid is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow in Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution.


And from by David P. Goldman of PJ Media
July 4, 2013…

Dismiss the Egyptian People and Elect a New One.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former President Morsi seized power from the military in August 2012, the day that the visiting emir of Qatar appeared in Cairo with a $2 billion pledge to the regime. At the time I warned (in a note for the Gatestone Institute) that “Qatar’s check to the Muslim Brotherhood makes Egyptian stability less likely.” I argued at the time:

Qatar’s $2 billion is a drop in the bucket; it just replaces the reserves that Egypt lost last month. So is a $3.5 billion IMF loan, under discussion for a year. The Obama administration has been telling people quietly that the Saudis will step in to bail out Egypt, but the Qatari intervention makes this less likely. The eccentric and labile Emir is the Muslim Brotherhood’s biggest supporter; its spiritual leader, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (who supports suicide bombings against Israel) lived in exile during the Mubarak regime. Qatar funds al-Jazeera television, the modern face of Islamism. The Saudis hate and fear the Brotherhood, which wants to overthrow the Saudi Monarchy and replace it with a modern Islamist totalitarian political party. Qatar has only about $30 billion in reserves and can’t sustain Egypt for long.

Qatar is something of a wild card: it is ruled by an Emir without even the checks and balances that arise from having a large family behind a monarchy, as in Saudi Arabia. The whimsical Emir just bought the Italian firm of Valentino as a gift for his fashion-conscious second wife — not a dress, but the entire company. His support evidently emboldened the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to take on the military in the aftermath of the Sinai crisis. But that makes stability in Egypt less rather than more likely, because it gives the Saudis, the only funder capable of bailing out Egypt, reason to stand aside.

Qatar has spent nearly a third of its foreign exchange reserves in a Quixotic effort to project power in Egypt, which might explain why the old emir abdicated in favor of his son. With the Muslim Brotherhood out of the way in Egypt, the Saudis have uncontested influence with the military. Presumably the military will suppress the Brotherhood unless it chooses to dissolve spontaneously. No one should mourn the Brotherhood, a totalitarian organization with a Nazi past and an extreme anti-Semitic ideology.

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

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

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

This is the background to the Saudi monarch’s enthusiastic statement of congratulations to the Egyptian military, released almost immediately after the takeover was announced:

In my own name and on behalf of the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I congratulate you on assuming the leadership of Egypt at this critical point of its history,” said the king in a cable carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). “By doing so, I appeal to Allah Almighty to help you to shoulder the responsibility laid on your shoulder to achieve the hopes of our sisterly people of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

At the same time, we strongly shake hands with the men of all the armed forces, represented by General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who managed to save Egypt at this critical moment from a dark tunnel God only could apprehend its dimensions and repercussions, but the wisdom and moderation came out of those men to preserve the rights of all parties in the political process.

Please accept our greetings to you and deep respect to our brothers in Egypt and its people, wishing Egypt steady stability and security.

I expect Saudi Arabia to offer Egypt subsidized oil as well as cash for urgent food purchases, allowing the military to appear as national saviors — at least for the time being. It is not clear what the Muslim Brotherhood will do, but apart from seeking martyrdom, there is not much that it can do.


The ALMONITOR of July 5, 2013:

Was Morsi’s Ouster a Coup Or a New Egyptian Revolution? Wael Nawara for Al-Monitor.

Morsi Regime Figures Arrested as Interim President Takes Oath -Mohannad Sabry for Al-Monitor.

Saudi Arabia Pleased With Morsi’s Fall – Madawi Al-Rasheed for Al-Monitor.

Does Rouhani Hold ‘Key’ to Release Mousavi, Karroubi? Mani Fardad.

Iraqi Provinces Consider More Autonomy in Managing Oil Wealth Omar al-Shaher.

EU Loses Patience With Israel Akiva Eldar.

Hamas Isolated After Coup in Egypt Shlomi Eldar.

Israeli Social Justice Movement Enters Local Politics Mazal Mualem.

What Happened to Fadel Shaker? An Al-Monitor Correspondent in Beirut.

Would Military Rule Work in Lebanon? Elie Hajj

Rachel Corrie Remembered by Family of Bulldozed Home Asmaa al-Ghoul.

My Turn as Witness to Gezi Protests Before US Congress Kadri Gursel.

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