9/11/01 – 9/11/13 will be viewed by history as the 12 years of the US decline. // Yom Kippur 1973 – Yom Kippur 2013 will be viewed by history as the Middle East 40 years War. Both concepts became obvious in Israeli papers this week.
9/11/01 – 9/11/13 will be viewed by history as the 12 years of the US decline. // Yom Kippur 1973 – Yom Kippur 2013 will be viewed by history as the Middle East 40 years War. Both concepts became obvious in Israeli papers this week.
September 9, 2001 was when US oil-money-fed Saudi Arabia showed that flying oil containers are terrific ammunition in the hands of those ready do die for a cause. The US intelligence refused to see this coming and refused to learn the obvious lesson – stop importing oil from unstable-minds led countries. Just don’t do business with them. Instead the US thought to get a steadier hand on their oil – and decided to start with Iraq.
September 9, 2013 distinguishes itself with something that did not happen – rather then with something that did happen.
Yom Kippur 1973 came about because President Sadat of Egypt wanted to move the Middle East politics from the dead point created by the 1963 war. Sure the Arabs knew that in the field they stand no chance to win the 1973 war but in many ways came out winners because of the way the Israeli side felt self-secure. Some of this security came because of its dependence on the Kissinger Department of State that kept them from attacking the army gathering of Egypt and Syria.
The 40 years since were not used to bring the 1973 war to a solution.
Fast forward – Yom Kippur 2013 sees a superficially peaceful Israel and an economically successful island in the Middle East with Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq in turmoil. It is now the Syrian chemical weapons that dominate the news – and Iran’s effort to have a bomb as well as main danger to Israel. The US cannot be trusted anymore and for good reasons Israel is considered now the third most active foreign State spying on the US. Prime Minister Netanyahu keeps stressing that “If I am not for myself – who will.” He might be right in this – but the documents revealed this weak cry out -Is there no way to end this 40 years Yom Kippur War? Will the exit of the US help Israel go for true negotiations with the Palestinians who indeed are those that lost most from the Middle East upheavals with the other Arabs having kept them from creating their own State? At the same time -it is the Israeli Arabs, followed by the Palestinian Arabs who are relatively in strongest position in the world – something that should make them most interested in ending the state of no peace-no war. We are optimists and hope that these coming months will see moves in a positive direction.
We thought several years ago that Erdogan’s Turkey had a chance to grow by doing the right things in the Middle East – but neigh – he played himself out. Will it now be Putin who will take this mantle of Peace Maker?
Some more about the visit of UNSG Ban Ki-moon to Jerusalem, and what he learned about the Middle East from Israeli leaders on location. Will this show in the way the UN Secretariat speaks about the States of the region?
According to Al-Monitor:
“UN Leader’s Visit to Israel Shows Waning US Influence in Mideast.”
By: Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse Posted on August 23.
While on a visit to Israel on Aug. 15-16, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held some interesting talks, receiving the red carpet treatment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who oversees the slow yet chanceless negotiations with the Palestinians.
I would like to suggest to you not to talk about the settlements, Livni told Ban. At around that time, Israel was issuing new tenders for construction in the territories, mainly in Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs. Ban wanted to know why. Since your position on this issue is well-known, Livni replied, I would propose that you do not talk about it at this particular time. According to her, any statements to that effect at this juncture would only render the negotiations harder, forcing Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) to say something harsh, which could perhaps then undercut the possibility of progress. Abu Mazen cannot come off as more moderate than the UN. He, too, faces an opposition.
Livni explained to Ban how sensitive the situation was, imploring him not to make the same mistake the Americans had made during US President Barack Obama’s first term. Back then, the administration put Abu Mazen on a high horse from which one cannot dismount peacefully. You can only fall off, and they left him to his own devices. Finally, the negotiations resumed, she told him, and the future of the settlements will have to be determined in the bilateral discussions. That’s why at this point it’s better to be smart than right and leave the talking to us (the recent sentences are my own interpretation.)
Livni adopted the same approach when the discussion touched on the Palestinian prisoners-murderers whom Israel had released just two days earlier. What I would like to suggest to you, she said, is not to issue a statement in support of the release. When the secretary-general wanted to know why, she explained to him that some 85% of the Israeli public was opposed to the release. If you find out what those people were convicted of, you would understand too. No other country in the world would have released such prisoners. This is an open Israeli wound. This move is hard for everyone, myself included, mainly because Israel did not get anything real in return.
In other words, Livni suggested to Ban that he let the Israelis and Palestinians run their own affairs without interfering by making unnecessary statements. When all is said and done, the peace treaties that Israel signed with the Arabs — Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians in Oslo — were always accomplished through direct negotiations between the parties without involvement, interference, pressure or threats. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin made such a strategic decision and executed it, and the same is true of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The world can only stand in the way. Whenever the world meddled, wielded pressure or lectured, it all came crashing down.
Then, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s turn. That was interesting, too. Netanyahu is a weak prime minister, a failed manager and a controversial leader. However, when it comes to public diplomacy he is unmatched. Having studied Ban, he knew exactly how to strike a chord with him.
Netanyahu presented Ban the ongoing Palestinian incitement against Israel that comes across from the Palestinian curriculum which continues to call for Israel’s obliteration from the face of the earth, while describing Jews as “monkeys and pigs,” etc. Then it was time for [Prime Minister Netanyahu] Bibi to get to the punch line. The prime minister compared the Palestinian campaign of incitement and lies against Israel to North Korea’s unending and unbridled incitement against South Korea. Bibi had a long list of examples which left the secretary-general dumbfounded.
Then, as was to be expected, Bibi proceeded to discuss the Iranian nuclear program. He drew a similar comparison to North Korea, or, to put it more precisely, to North Korea’s nuclear project. Netanyahu masterfully delineated the similarities between Iran’s nuclear program and that of North Korea. The latter didn’t give a hoot about the world or the United States, until South Korea woke up one morning only to find out that its neighbor to the north has a nuclear bomb.
In that case, too, the world believed that diplomacy could postpone or do away with the bad news — a belief which proved to be baseless. When Netanyahu switched over to the Iranian nuclear project, he let Ban understand how dangerous Iran is to world peace — not just to Israel. He explained to the secretary-general how messianic Iran’s leadership is and how it is guided by radical religious edicts. The Iranians must not be allowed to do what the North Koreans did, Netanyahu said. Iran is a huge country with immense oil deposits and high capabilities. Such a country cannot be isolated the way the West has isolated North Korea. A nuclear Iran will exact a heavy price from the world — a price it cannot afford.
The comic relief in the meeting between Ban and Netanyahu took place when the Israeli premier started talking about “construction in the settlements.” Most of the construction takes place in Jerusalem — Israel’s capital. It is carried out in places that everyone understands will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement, Netanyahu explained. For example, we build in Gilo, which is a neighborhood in Jerusalem across the Green Line, the premier explained. Then took the UN secretary-general to the window and pointed out the neighborhood. Can you possibly imagine that we won’t be able to build here, a place you can see from the prime minister’s office? Bibi asked.
Fortunately, Ban is not familiar with Jerusalem.
On the one hand, Bibi is right. The Palestinians know all too well that Gilo will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement. On the other hand, you cannot see Gilo from the prime minister’s office. What Bibi showed Ban is the Israel Museum, which is not too far from his office. But Ban is from South Korea. As far as he is concerned, the Israel Museum can represent Gilo, can’t it?
Incidentally, Ban did not hear anything substantially different from the leader of the opposition, Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich (chairwoman of the Labor party). When it comes to these issues, there is a consensus in Israel.
Later during his visit, it felt like the UN secretary-general had listened closely to what the Israeli leadership had said to him in that room. His statements sounded relatively mellifluous to Israeli ears.
I would assume that Ban is well-aware of the fact that the only capital in the Middle East where he can move about freely nowadays — without the fear of being targeted by rockets, car bombs, chemical missiles, mass demonstrations or other similar perils — is Jerusalem. He cannot do this in Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Tripoli or Sanaa. Even Amman is not what it used to be. By way of comparison, Jerusalem and Ramallah are a paradise of leisure, although this is temporary, too. In the Middle East the tables can turn in a matter of a split second.
Since I last described here in Al-Monitor the relative quiet in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Israel was hit by rockets fired at Eilat on Aug. 13 (which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system) and at the Western Galilee on Aug. 22 (likewise intercepted). On Aug. 19, 25 Egyptian policemen were executed by armed militants in Rafah in the Sinai, a car bomb exploded in Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s Dahiyeh quarter in Beirut on Aug. 15 and the Syrian regime killed hundreds, if not thousands of civilians in a chemical attack in east Damascus on Aug. 21.
Whenever we think that the Middle East has hit rock bottom, we hear heavy pounding from below, and then it turns out that hitting rock bottom is still quite a ways away. There’s one truth, however, that’s emerging right before our eyes: The West is losing control over the events. Western deterrence is already nonexistent. The days when everybody would hold their breath waiting for the daily press briefing from the White House are long gone. US President Barack Obama has made a mockery of himself, so much so that nobody really cares about what America thinks, says or does.
This is best illustrated when drawing a comparison between the events in Cairo and Syria. The Americans had long ago set a “red line” for Syria, namely the use of chemical weapons.
However, when a high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer revealed that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the Americans gagged, got muddled, denied and ultimately confirmed this. Preposterously enough, they announced that “there might have been a possibility” that the Syrian regime had indeed masterminded the recent chemical attack in Damascus. Great. If that’s the case, what will you do? Nothing, it seems.
I’m not calling on the Americans to act in Syria. If I were the US president, I would not intervene in Syria no matter what. Anyone in his right mind has to steer clear from that. Intervention in Syria would pay off and be deemed legitimate only if it were supported by the entire international community. Since this is not going to be the case, there’s no point in goading this or that sheriff to hold the reins in Syria. The world has to come to terms with the new reality: You cannot avert every horror across the globe. Using moral principles, it’s very hard to decide between two similar devils — such as the warring factions in Syria.
It is against this backdrop that the Western conduct in connection with Egypt is becoming more perplexing. My friends, when will it dawn on you that what the Egyptian army is trying to do is to prevent replicating the harrowing reality in Syria? The nonsense of Western democracy and values are unsuitable for societies that still enslave women, minorities and weak castes.
The Americans placed their bet on the Muslim Brotherhood two years ago and now they find it hard to accept that they bet on the wrong horse. The Egyptian public doesn’t want “the brothers” to dictate their life, laws and customs. In Egypt, there are no checks and balances as one would find in a true democracy, at least not for now. So the only way of coping with the events is to determine that having the Egyptian army take control for a transitional period and disperse the riots with force is better than the alternative.
What’s the alternative? That’s simple. The alternative is an armed gang that takes 25 plainclothes men off two minibuses, forces them to lie on the ground and shoots all of them — one by one — to death in broad daylight. This is the face of radical Islam, of which all of us — regardless of religion, sex, color, race or nationality — should be afraid of.
Ben Caspit is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel.
We Just discovered a reference to our website that we want to bring to our readers’ attention:
That link leads to a lot of ALTNEULAND blog’s own information, but to toot our own horn we mention something they posted about us:
You can search for all Altneuland’s featured articles by clicking on the following search link:
The SustainabiliTank website includes substantial coverage of sustainable development and other green issues concerning Israel, which you can find here:
from SustainabiliTank: Israel
According to Pincas Jawetz, the publisher of SustainabiliTank ,
Israel is the country that stands most to gain from the world’s decreased dependence on oil. We always looked upon the Israelis as the potential natural leaders in developing alternate fuels. Israel has the manpower, scientific institutions, and the private enterprise needed for such an endeavor. In effect, going back to the 1950?s, it had people aware of the problems that come from being dependent on oil when living in an unfriendly neighborhood. Israelis worked on oil shales first, then on solar, biomass, and geothermal technologies; the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) has even created a “Commission for Future Generations” when it became obvious that for environmental reasons, as well as for sustainable development reasons, the world will have to switch to non-fossil fuels. Nevertheless, Israel itself did not implement these technologies, it also did not give away for free the technologies it did develop, perhaps because of political reasons resulting from the government’s close relation to the US. In effect the Environment Ministry became a repository for politicians with other aspirations. In its own interest, as journalist Thomas Friedman said – “petrolism” is the main reason for lack of peace in the Middle East – the Israeli government should have taken a more aggressive position on this subject, one seriously wonders why this did not happen.
We launched this Israel section on SustainabiliTank.info because we realized that above may change, if not through the leadership of the government, then at least through the push of NGOs and perhaps with the help of aggregates of local government.
Will UNSG Ban Ki-moon accept a role of military leader in cheerleading an unauthorized Kosovo-style air war on Assad’s chemical-force units? Putin and Rouhani do not like the application of gas in warfare either.
From UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who is now in Seoul, South Korea, noises that seem to say an intervention in Syria is now ripe. From New York, seemingly the US and all of NATO may be considering a War in Kosovo type of bombardment of the Assad troops. Even Russia says now that chemical gassing of civilians is unacceptable. Will Ban Ki-moon agree to be a war-leader in order to save the UN?
We find some sarcasm in the following:
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 23 — With a slew of articles coming out of Washington and other Western capitals predicting a military strike at Syria — “force but not boots on the ground,” as French foreign minister Laurent Fabius — now Russian news agency INTERFAX has UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon getting in on the act.
With a date line of Seoul, where Ban Ki-moon is these days, INTERFAX reports:
“Seoul. August 23. INTERFAX.RU – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the question of intervention in the situation in Syria, ‘a matter of time. All the technical and logistical preparation is now complete. Moment when we can do it (to intervene in the settlement in Syria – IF), and when all parties are ready to take part in it – it’s only a matter of time’ – said Ban Ki-moon in Seoul.”
That’s as run through Google Translate, but confirmed to Inner City Press by a native Russian reporter. [If deleted or changed, archive here.] It appears to come from the Ban Ki-moon remarks e-mailed out by his Spokesperson’s office about the
“Geneva II conference to resolve this crisis through dialogue and political resolution. We are working very hard to convene it as soon as possible. All the technical, logistical preparations are now complete. It is a matter of time when we can and the parties are ready to participate. I am going to convene it myself as soon as possible.”
That is, INTERFAX morphed “Geneva II conference” with “intervention.” As the story continued to circulate, one wondered if Ban’s spokesperson’s office had reached out, as it does from time to time to Inner City Press. Also, one wonders what a cartoon would look like of an intervention, convened by Ban Ki-moon himself?
Beyond this dark humor, there is a lot of mis-reporting on this issue. Some referred to the UN Security Council draft press statement which Russia and China asked to send to their capitals on August 21 as having been a “resolution.” And that… wasn’t INTERFAX.
Iran’s Rouhani ‘strongly condemns’ use of chemical weapons in Syria.Iranian president says world doesn’t know which Syrian party used the arms; in separate statement, leader says Israel ‘enjoys’ regional instability.
By Michal Shmulovich August 24, 2013
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria but said that the world has yet to figure out which party used them.
Rouhani called on the international community to prevent chemical weapons from being used after acknowledging, for the first time, that they had been used in Syria.
“Many of the innocent people of Syria have been injured and martyred by chemical agents. This is unfortunate,” Rouhani said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Aency, ISNA. “We completely and strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons.”
Iran’s Mehr news agency reported that the president called on the world community “to use all its power to prevent the use of such weapons anywhere in the world, particularly in Syria.”
Iran has previously pointed its finger at the Syrian rebels and “terror groups” fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad for being behind chemical weapons attacks.
Syrian anti-government activists accused Assad’s regime of carrying out a toxic gas attack outside Damascus this week and have reported death tolls ranging from 136 to 1,300. If confirmed, even the most conservative tally would make it the deadliest alleged chemical attack in Syria’s 2 1/2-year civil war, which the UN says has killed over 100,000 people.
The government has denied the allegations, saying they are “absolutely baseless.”
On Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Syrian government Friday to respond “promptly and positively” to his request for UN experts to investigate the alleged chemical weapons attack.
In a separate statement Saturday, Rouhani commented on Israel’s air raids on terror targets in southern Lebanon early Friday morning, which came hours after four rockets from Lebanon were fired into northern Israel.
The Iranian president said Israel reaps the benefits of such regional instability.
“These measures indicate that Israel is against the Islamic Republic [of Iran] and is against the whole region, including Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt,” Rouhani said, according to the Iranian news agency IRNA. ”The Zionist regime enjoys such instability in the region.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Above is clearly insane except the notion that even Iran thinks it is not nice to gas people – something Iran is guilty of having done itself in the past. Now accusing Israel of things they profess to dislike themselves is no way to show they made progress in their ethics. Today’s Iran is not much different from the Iran of the beginning of this year.</strong>
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Those killed in Egypt and Syria to be mentioned at the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish High Holidays Yizkor Services – a sign of simple humanity. Allah willing the people of the Middle East could take notice.
The reach of human compassion!
And from Rabbi Michael Lerner’s Tikkun Magazine:
Please urge them to check it out at www.beyttikkun.org/article.php/HH… [ www.beyttikkun.org/article.php/HH... ].
The Washington Post reports how the US and the EU, with the help of the UAE and Qatar who back opposing sides in Egypt, tried to broker a transition in Egypt – but seemingly the best they can do now is to leave it to the Egyptians to sort it out by themselves and bear the consequences.
By Anne Gearan and Colum Lynch, Saturday, August 17, 2013
But the military-backed government rejected the deal and ordered its security forces to break up the protests, a decision that has resulted in hundreds of deaths and street clashes that continued Friday in the capital.
The agreement nearly brokered two weeks ago sought statements of restraint from both sides and an inquiry into competing claims of violence and mistreatment, said Bernardino León, the European Union’s envoy for Egypt. That was supposed to be a prelude to talks between the Muslim Brotherhood and the government.
Former Egyptian vice president Mohamed ElBaradei appeared to back the deal but could not convince Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, the head of the military, León said. ElBaradei resigned after violence erupted.
The proposal was the result of weeks of visits and calls to Cairo by an unlikely diplomatic coalition representing supporters and opponents of Morsi and declared neutral parties, led by the United States.
The diplomatic squeeze play was meant to underline strong international opposition to any violent government action against Morsi’s supporters and to tell the Muslim Brotherhood it had no choice but to disband street encampments.
Together with Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns and the foreign ministers of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, León presented a proposal to scale back protests and initiate talks between the Muslim Brotherhood and the government, participants said.
“It was a quite simple package the four of us were supporting,” León said in a interview, but one that would be difficult to resurrect now.
The envoys had hoped to clear the squares without violence and set the stage for the transition to elections that the military had promised when it pushed Morsi from office on July 3, León said.
The failed proposal represented the most intensive U.S. involvement to try to avert bloodshed, and demonstrates the new limits of U.S. influence over both the military and Islamists backing Morsi. Both sides have harshly criticized Washington, and each has accused President Obama of backing its opponent.
For weeks before Wednesday’s government crackdown, Secretary of State John F. Kerry or Burns spoke nearly every day with the foreign ministers of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, whose influence with the opposing sides in Egypt was often stronger than Washington’s.
The two small, rich Gulf nations play outsize roles in regional foreign policy and tend to back different sides in Mideast conflicts. Along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the two Gulf states are sending more money to Cairo than the United States is, several officials involved in the effort said.
Throughout the six-week crisis, the United States has leaned on the UAE to intercede with the interim government and the Egyptian military, and used Qatar as a go-between with the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar, which has backed Islamist movements and is accused of backing militants in Syria, has emerged as a leading international backer of the Brotherhood.
“It’s natural that we would have interacted with these countries because they are the ones that are playing, that have strong relations, in Egypt,” a senior U.S. official said Friday as renewed street fighting killed at least 60 people, including eight Egyptian police officers.
The U.S. official and others interviewed requested anonymity in order to discuss closed-door diplomacy. None was optimistic that the kind of negotiation they had hoped to foster two weeks ago could resume anytime soon.
Numerous other countries were also pressing Egyptian authorities not to use force to disperse street encampments.
“Clearly nobody had enough clout with the military to say put this off another week, put this off another two weeks,” said F. Gregory Gause III, a professor of Middle East politics at the University of Vermont. “But I think that it’s a mistake to judge American influence in Egypt based on our ability to get them to fundamentally change the direction of domestic politics. We’re the most powerful country in the world, but states don’t give up power just because foreign patrons say do it.”
Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled bin Mohammed al-Attiyah and UAE chief diplomat Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan each made repeated visits to Cairo, sometimes overlapping with Burns and León, diplomats said.
Their joint proposal stressed the mutual goal of avoiding a bloody confrontation and left for later the hard questions of what to do with the jailed Morsi and the political participation of his backers in any future election.
The Muslim Brotherhood called Friday for continued daily protests in support of Morsi, while the government enforced a curfew and said it will use deadly force to stop attacks on government institutions.
Diplomatic efforts appeared at a standstill Friday. The European Union contemplated a pullback of aid to the interim government in protest of the deaths of about 700 people this week. Saudi King Abdullah, who frequently speaks for many Arab states, said he stands behind the Egyptian government in its fight against “terrorism and strife.” That suggested backing for the government’s hard line — just the opposite of the message the U.S.-backed proposal had sought to send.
At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power spoke in favor Thursday of efforts to pass a Security Council expression of concern about the prospect of deepening violence.
But U.N. Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson gave a gloomy assessment of prospects to negotiate a way out of the crisis, according to two diplomats in the room.
“Eliasson was skeptical about the possibility of a positive evolution of the situation in the short term, given the antagonistic positions of the Egyptian parties,” said one diplomat. “He said that none of the key players in Egypt are open to listening to advice coming from abroad. They are not open to confidence-building, bridge-building missions.”
Michael Hanna, an expert on Egypt at the Century Foundation, said in a telephone interview from Cairo that international diplomats there seemed at a loss.
“There is a sense that Egypt has crossed the line,” Hanna said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon marks territory in Jerusalem the day after the re-start of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations intent on unravelling the yarn of hatred that tied together the previous victims of Arab aggression and present victims of Arab Islamization – be it Sunni or Shi’ia. It is obvious to us that the Palestinians deserve a spot in the 21st Century Sustainable Future for All.
In Syria there is already a number for the dead well above 1.000,000 and in Egypt, without large efforts, that number can be surpassed. So, the UN Secretary General comes to the place that is these days the most peaceful in the region and marks territory.
It is just possible, that behind closed doors, the Israelis and the Palestinians of the West Bank under the Abbas leadership, may indeed be planning an agreement in order to avoid the ISLAMIZATION that is killing the region. It is in the best interest of the two sides to compromise behind closed doors and allow for a process of normalization and economic Sustainable Development in the spirit of the 21st Century to be presented later to the World at large. This clearly without the need of bickering sessions at the UN. No problem – when we reach that stage, the UN will be allowed to bless on the final agreed results. But the UN is no place to obtain any practical results.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon meets separately with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, August 15, 2013.
Then Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met Friday August 16th in Jerusalem with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and warned him of the dire security situation in the region.
He added that Lebanon based terror group Hezbollah was Iran’s main weapon against Israel, and warned Ban that the Israeli government has detected Hezbollah activity near Israel’s northern border, in violation of UN Resolution 1701.
“This organization is a state within a state. They get weapons from Iran and Syria,” he said.
“I think today everybody understands that the root cause of the instability in the Middle East and beyond has to do with the convulsion that is historic and cultural in nature of which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is merely one of many, many such manifestations,” said Netanyahu.
Ban thanked Netanyahu for his effort to restart peace talks, saying, “I’m here to urge all the leaders to continue along the path to peace and to underscore a shared commitment to walk together to make 2013 a decisive year for Israel-Palestinian peace and peace in the region.”
During his meeting with Ban, Peres also addressed the security situation in the region within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian Authority peace talks.
“Peace is a real need for both parties, none of us have an alternative. The overall situation in the Middle East is quite bleak and if we can achieve an agreement between us and the Palestinians it is good news in a region that needs good news,” he said.
In the meantime – as reported by Avi Issacharoff – the same day:
In Egypt – The military claims that armed Muslim Brotherhood supporters opened fire on the soldiers, killing close to 50 and injuring dozens more. Each side recruited the television channel that supports its agenda. The Muslim Brotherhood was backed by Qatar’s al-Jazeera, which broadcast pictures of corpses and injured protesters in an endless loop, while al-Arabiya, which is funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which support the Egyptian military, screened a video of supposed Muslim Brotherhood activists wearing masks and firing at unseen targets.
As expected, the bloodshed was condemned by prominent figures in the Arab world and by various political parties in Egypt. Leaders such as Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh — former Egyptian presidential candidate, and a former Muslim Brotherhood activist in his more distant past — who strongly opposed Mohammed Morsi while he was president, criticized the army and their excessive use of violence. Representatives of the extremist al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya organization, the al-Wasat Party and countries such as Qatar, Turkey and Iran, condemned the Egyptian military as well. And to top it all, Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, who was one of the first to stand by the military when protests against Morsi began on June 30, submitted his resignation.
The war for Egypt’s future has returned to international headlines and the Muslim Brotherhood is now demanding that el-Sissi be removed from power in order to restore peace. It is highly unlikely, though, that this will happen any time soon. Right now, Egypt is headed towards the unknown.
The days of Mubarak’s trial-and-error policies and mixed messages are over.
The army has entered a new era of all-out war against Islamic forces in Sinai and against the tunnels connecting the peninsula to Gaza, while at the same time, it is exerting force against the Muslim Brotherhood inside Egypt. The problem is that there are limits to the force and violence that can be applied, as the situation in Syria underlines. The Syrian army has been unable to suppress the opposition against Bashar Assad even as the death toll exceeds 100,000. Unlike in Syria, though, large portions of the Egyptian population support the military’s harsh policies.
Even as violence continues throughout Egypt, the army continues its efforts to destroy Jihadist headquarters in Sinai. Egyptian armed forces attack from the air and the ground and have managed to hit dozens of targets in the last week alone. The problem is that the number of armed activists that identify with al-Qaeda’s ideology is estimated at 3,000. It will be a long time before the Egyptian army will be able to declare victory in Sinai.
In Lebanon – Any four-year-old kid in Lebanon, and certainly in the Shi’ite community, knows who was responsible for Thursday’s attack in Hezbollah’s Dahieh stronghold of Beirut that killed at least 18 people. You don’t need to be an intelligence operative or a Middle East analyst to recognize that extremist Sunni groups operating as part of the Syrian opposition made good on their promise to strike at Hezbollah and its supporters on their home turf.
This was a response to the dominant involvement of Hezbollah in the fighting against the rebels in Syria. On Thursday evening, the “Brigade of Aisha” even issued a statement of responsibility to make it crystal clear to Hezbollah why it carried out the car bombing.
Yet despite this, a whole host of Lebanese politicians, not all of them Sh’iites, rushed to charge that Israel was involved – allegations ridiculous and in Lebanon too are considered an insult to the intelligence — even when they come from President Michel Suleiman, who claimed that the blast bore the fingerprints of the Israelis, or from Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a Middle East’s great opportunists, who leveled similarly ridiculous charges.
These politicians, including Suleiman, are worried that an attack like this will prompt a particularly violent Hezbollah retaliation. In pointing the finger at Israel, they are trying to manufacture a common enemy for all Lebanese. Suleiman, who only days ago demanded the disarming of Hezbollah, understands that an attack like this in Dahieh could eventually lead to a complete takeover by the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon and a cleaning out of all pockets of opposition — be they Sunni extremists or rival politicians.
Like many in Lebanon, Suleiman recognizes that the Syrian civil war, which has intermittently seeped into Lebanon, escalated to a still more dangerous level for his country. It was notable that the internet site of Hezbollah’s TV station Al-Manar was quick to publicize comments by the organization’s number 2, Naim Kassam, who said that Israel is deterred from confrontation with Hezbollah “and checks itself before risking any aggression against us.” This was Hezbollah telling all those politicians, and its own people, that, no, Israel isn’t the problem right now.
So, again, the UN Secretary-General is in Israel to mark Territory, but what has he done to bring attention AND ACTION to the problems of Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt – did he campaign in Saudi Arabia and Qatar to get them to stop pushing Islamic extremism?
Also, in Nairobi, Kenya, an airport fire took place on the anniversary of twin blasts at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people in 1998.
Kenya has also seen terror targeted at Israelis. In 2002, terrorists blew up an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, killing 13, and launched an unsuccessful attack on an Israeli plane departing from the airport there.
In May of this year, two Iranians were jailed for life for planning massive bombing attacks on Jewish, Israeli and Western targets in Kenya. Defense lawyers claimed that Israeli security official interrogated the two while in Kenyan custody. Kenya and Israeli security agencies have a long history of cooperation, dating back to the Entebbe hostage crisis in 1976.
Daniel Kahneman of Israel and Princeton, who established the link Psychology and Economics, will get the US Presidential Medal of Freedom: Israel of a split personality even before watching neighbouring Syria become the Spain of the 21st Century.
Israel’s Professor Daniel Kahneman, 79, who received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, has been named one of the 16 recipients of the 2013 United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is America’s highest civilian honor, recognizing individuals who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the U.S., world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
The awards will be presented at the White House later this year.
“Daniel Kahneman is a pioneering scholar of psychology. After escaping Nazi occupation [in France] in World War II, Dr. Kahneman immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces and trained as a psychologist. Alongside Amos Tversky, he applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is currently a professor at Princeton University,” the White House’s statement said.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1934, Kahneman spent his childhood years in Paris. After his family escaped the Nazis, he immigrated to Israel in 1948. Kahneman is professor emeritus at Princeton University’s Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as well as a fellow at Hebrew University and a Gallup Senior Scientist. He is considered one of the world’s foremost researchers in the fields of the psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic psychology.
JERUSALEM — Israel has just embarked, yet again, on U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians.
Zeev Elkin, the deputy foreign minister and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, gives it to me straight: “Netanyahu changed his mind. It was some kind of revolution. Ten years ago he was responsible for the decision of our party against a two-state solution.” He continues: “We have a big argument between him and us on this. I respect his position and he respects mine.” And what is Elkin’s position on two states for two peoples? “Now I don’t believe in it.”
Netanyahu is opposed by his own party. He is opposed by the man who is in effect his acting foreign minister. He is opposed by prominent members of his own government, including Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.
Israel has just agreed to release more than 100 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill. Elkin says he cannot understand how “to release terrorists and murderers with blood on their hands is something good for peace” but “building a kindergarten in Judea and Samaria is worse for peace.”
The West Bank is referred to as Judea and Samaria by religious nationalists and others committed to holding all Eretz Israel.
The gesture of goodwill comes as Israel Hayom reports that “as of July 1, 2013, the size of the Jewish Israeli population in Judea and Samaria stood at 367,000. In the first half of 2013, roughly 7,700 new residents were added. This is, as noted, a 2.12 percent rise in the population in a six-month period.” So this year, it seems, population growth has been faster in the West Bank settlements than in the rest of Israel.
Do goodwill gestures and settlement expansion make sense? Often Israel’s personality seems split. Its prosperity purrs. Its unease lurks. I listen to friends here. Like Goethe’s Faust, two souls seem to beat within them.
Yakov would be my liberal Israeli composite, an imaginary guy who spends a lot of his week working on a big business project in Turkey (“Don’t believe what you read in the papers”) while developing the killer app that will make his fortune in his spare time. His internal dialogue swings wildly between confidence and disquiet: “Hey, we just sold Waze, a navigation app for smart phones that helps you beat traffic, for over $1 billion to Google and now AOL is paying $405 million for another fruit of Israeli genius — don’t ask me what that does, puh-lease. And, hey, check out the Tel Aviv skyline. See the cranes? This place is Boomland, man. The French are pouring in — they even love our wine!”
Then a darker voice surfaces: “Woke up in a cold sweat. We’re isolated! Same old story, Jews getting blamed for everything. I know we don’t need the European Union, but what’s with cutting off E.U. funding to institutions based or operating over the Green Line? Talk about preempting a negotiation, it’s not like we know where the border is yet…. And Stephen Hawking, canceling his appearance at the Israeli Presidential Conference, how rude is that…. I mean, the Arabs hate us, O.K. The Turks pretend to hate us, O.K. The Persians try their best to hate us, O.K. But we’re part of the West, of Europe, they can’t hate the Jews (again), that’s not O.K.”
Yakov’s mood swings are sharpest over the conflict. A voice says: “I am completely supportive of the peace process — so long as it does not get to a solution. A solution could be problematic. You have to hand it to Netanyahu, by starting the peace process he has made peace. With Obama! Do I accept the idea of two states? Yes I do. Do I want two states? That is a different question … ”
At which point an angry voice will be raised: “Of course you don’t want two states.
Deep inside Yakov there is a white Ashkenazi Israeli liberal, that dying breed. He knows the Jews are not going away; nor are the Palestinians.
Another rebukes him: “You prefer Syria? You prefer Egypt? Our ‘conflict’ is a haven of Middle East stability.”
And that brings us to our own position:
Yes, Israel is troubled but when viewing the neighborhood it is nevertheless an island of peace already.
Syria is fractured many-ways and outsiders are pouring in to bolster their preferred sides. In a short time it will be like in Spain in the thirties – it will be the foreigners fighting each other on Syrian soil – and with the US and Russia backing different sides – if not careful – a major conflagration might occur – right there on the door steps of Israel. Who can dare to tell the Israelis to return the Golan Heights to Syria under such conditions. Do the Palestinians have a dream of becoming another Syria? If there is any chance for the Israelis and Palestinians to get together – this can come only when these two sides decide that the Syrian model is even worse and that a model of Israeli-Palestinian trust – in order to avoid the Syrian model requires the end of Hamas militancy – the closing of the door to the Outside Hezbollah movement and a true attempt at making peace based on aq psychology of the best economic joint interests. This is not just a dream – it is Nobel Prize material indeed. Syria is doomed by the Arab World at large and this ought to be the cause of the awakening of the Palestinians who finally ought to get it that their enemies are not just the Israeli invaders but as well the Arab despots that never cared about them but used them for their own methods of shunning internal criticism of the way they exploited their own States.
Without mentioning anymore The American Petroleum Institute on its electronic masthead or Chinawatch, the new income source from advertising, some of today’s main Headline issues are still in the Muslim oil sales countries of Iran and the Arab world.
“Everyone who voted for me or for other candidates and also those who did not vote at all are all Iranian citizens and have equal civil rights,” Rouhani said. “I am the legal representative of the entire nation.”
Rouhani, who won a landslide victory in the June 14 presidential election, wasted no time in distinguishing his style from that of his often-provocative predecessor, delivering an inauguration speech that touched on his campaign promises of improving the country’s economy, mending international relations and giving greater social freedom to Iranians, but not at the expense of national interests.
For the first time, foreign dignitaries were invited to the swearing-in of an Iranian president. Diplomats from dozens of countries and several heads of state, including president of neighboring Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, attended the ceremony.
Rouhani also used his first speech as Iranian president to send a message to the United States and its Western allies, which have imposed severe economic sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear program.
“The only way to interact with Iran is to have dialogue from an equal position, creating mutual trust and respect and reducing enmities,” Rouhani said. “Let me state it clearly that if you want a positive response, talk to Iran not with a language of sanctions but a language of respect.”
Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but the United States and its Western allies suspect that the country wants to build a nuclear weapon.
In Washington, White House press secretary Jay Carney congratulated Rouhani and said his inauguration “presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.”
“Should this new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, it will find a willing partner in the United States,” Carney said in a statement.
The two countries have not had diplomatic relations since 1979.
Although foreign policy issues are a priority for Rouhani, so, too, are regaining the public trust and helping repair the damage suffered in recent years by Iran’s economy, which faces an inflation rate of more than 40 percent, decimated purchasing power and rising unemployment.
“The government of hope and prudence wants to bring back happiness to Iranians’ lives,” Rouhani said, referring to his campaign’s motto. “To achieve this, we have to increase national wealth and power, and assign those with wisdom as decision makers, trust nongovernmental organizations, increase privatization and have trust in people.”
The event was presided over by the powerful siblings Ali and Sadegh Larijani, who are the speaker of the parliament and the head of the country’s judiciary, respectively, and longtime foes of Ahmadinejad.
Rouhani is likely to find a parliament more willing to cooperate with him than it was with Ahmadinejad, who had multiple public spats with the Larijani brothers.
“The experience of recent years shows that development of the country is only possible by applying scientific theories and that hasty and unplanned projects will result in economic chaos in the long run,” Ali Larijani said in his opening remarks, an apparent jab at the conservative management style of the Ahmadinejad government.
Although Rouhani has repeatedly stated his commitment to improving Iran’s relations with the rest of the world, Sadegh Larijani provided a reminder that no matter how committed to diplomacy the new president is, he will face challenges domestically from political figures who believe that the country must adhere to its fundamental ideological roots.
“The Islamic republic, while respecting other nations and using their experiences, will follow its own path based on the teachings of the Koran and sees no reason to imitate other countries,” Larijani said.
In indirect references to the civil war in Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Rouhani stuck to Tehran’s familiar lines.
Iran, he said, opposes “any change in political systems through foreign intervention,” an apparent reference to Western and Arab efforts to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Rouhani also submitted his list of cabinet nominees for parliament’s consideration, well ahead of the two-week deadline allotted in Iran’s constitution. Their résumés indicate that he will push early in his presidency to find diplomatic openings, perhaps even with the United States.
Several of the cabinet picks were educated in the United States, including the nominee for foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was a longtime ambassador to the United Nations and is perhaps the Iranian official best known to U.S. counterparts.
Zarif held the U.N. post in New York from 2002 to 2007 under President Mohammad Khatami and holds a PhD in international law and policy from the University of Denver.
Like Zarif, other nominees share Rouhani’s pragmatic approach to foreign policy, and most held positions in the cabinets of either Khatami or Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
The period from 1989 to 2005, when Rafsanjani and Khatami were presidents, is considered the brightest in terms of the economy and international relations in the Islamic republic’s 34-year-old history.
A link for those who try to understand the UN beyond what is dished out to them through the “house-press” – the matter of Yemeni Nobel Peace-Prize Winner Tawakkol Karman’s attempt at free speech about Egypt.
Tawakkol Karman is in the news:
Tawakkol Karman banned from entering Egypt
Yemeni activist and Nobel Prize winner, Tawakkol Karman, banned from entering Egypt and deported back to Yemen.
Tawakkol Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition of
All Nobel Peace Prizes · All Nobel Prizes in 2011. The Nobel Peace Prize 2011.
Egypt denies entry to Yemeni Nobel laureate
“Since UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with much fanfare put Tawakkol Karmen on his Post-2015 Development panel (while his Secretariat threatened the Press for signing her into the UN where she dared speak at the UN Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press has asked Ban’s three spokespeople for comment on her detention.
It will be, for the UN, a gut-check on the “Arab Spring.” Many expected Ban to follow the African Union and call the military ouster of elected president Morsi a coup. But Ban did not.
A high ranking UN official, nonetheless afraid of retaliation for speaking on the record, told Inner City Press this silence harmed what was left of the UN’s moral capital, to call things by their name. If the US called it a coup, financing would be stopped a matter of law. But why would the UN follow suit? How can the UN now denounce other future coups?”
On the day Inner City Press signed Tawakkol Karman into the UN, at her request, the Security Council was considering Yemen. She stepped to the UNTV microphone and spoke; halfway through the Council ambassador in the lead (or “with the pen”) on Yemen, the UK’s Mark Lyall Grant, came out and stood by – smiling. (The generally responsive Lyall Grant has also be asked if the UK has any comment.)
But after the UN initially didn’t air the footage of Tawakkol Karman speaking about Yemen – they blamed this on a cut cable – they told Inner City Press its accreditation was in jeopardy for signing her in.
Now the same Department of Public Information says Inner City Press accreditation can be suspended or withdrawn for hanging the sign of a new organization, the Free UN Coalition for Access, on the door of its shared office. According to the UN DPI, there can be only one media organization in the UN – one that it uses for its own purposes. One party systems? No comment on coups or detentions and banning?”
Al-Monitor gives a pretty good all-over coverage of the Middle East.
Today’s articles at “Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East” www.Al-Monitor.com include.
Egypt’s Precarious New Reality
UAE Needs More Transparency on Human Rights
The Struggle for Justice in Aleppo, a ‘Feral City’
Iran’s Ramadan: Behind the Canvas
Militants Target Baghdad Cafes, Liquor Stores During Ramadan
Netanyahu as Decider: Will He Go All the Way?
EU Decision Leaves Hezbollah More Resolute Than Ever
Hamas Hits Back at ‘Preposterous’ Egypt Claims
Can the Kurds Redeem Erdogan’s Faltering Image?
Turkey’s Missed Opportunities Barin Kayao?lu
Kerry aims for Israel-Palestine peace accord in 9 months
Iran to Face Food Shortage, Tons of Medicine Stuck in Customs
Battle for Oil Intensifies Between Syrian Kurds, Jihadists
Israelis, Palestinians Cautiously Restart Peace Talks
Muslim World Must Declare Zero Tolerance for Militant Jihadists.
By: Fahad Nazer for Al-Monitor Posted on July 28, 2013.
Islamo-fascism is a malicious term. It is meant to draw an analogy between the doctrines of contemporary militant Islamist groups and those of the defeated World War II Axis powers. Primarily used by people who are experts on neither Islam nor fascism, the term intends to stoke fears of “Islamic” armies marching across the world, oppressing non-Muslims and imposing Sharia. That is, unless they are first “stopped.”
While this narrative bolsters the argument of Islamist militants, who maintain that the West is waging a “crusade” against Muslims everywhere, Muslims are in dire need of a paradigm shift: They must re-evaluate the centrality of the doctrine of “jihad” in Islam, and consider its militant variant as more than a source of tension with the West.
Much like the ideology that brought unspeakable pain and destruction to the entire European continent and beyond, militant jihad — as opposed to its spiritual variant — must be seen as posing an existential threat to Muslim civilization.
As luck would have it, I was living in Washington, DC on Sept. 11, 2001; in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia on Nov. 20, 1979, when militants seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca and declared the coming of the mahdi (the Islamic equivalent of the Messiah); and in Alexandria, Egypt on Oct. 6, 1981, when militants assassinated President Anwar Sadat. I have also had the misfortune of attending a handful of Friday sermons delivered by Anwar al-Awlaki — the al-Qaeda propagandist who was killed in Yemen in 2011 — when I lived in Virginia. Just as importantly, I analyze the discourse of militant Islamists for a living. The tendency of a small but vocal minority of Muslims to advocate violent actions to correct perceived injustices is a serious malady that should concern Muslims everywhere.
Extremists readily declare Muslims with whom they disagree over doctrinal — or even political — issues to be “unbelievers,” and enjoin their followers to defend “true” Muslims against these “collaborators” who are assisting the West in its onslaught against Islam. This call to arms resonates when it is framed in the context of ongoing political conflicts in which Muslims are portrayed as being besieged by the “enemies of God.” One can see this phenomenon most clearly in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Contrary to their rhetoric, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Somalia’s al-Shabab, the different variants of Ansar al-Sharia and a host of other militant groups, including Hezbollah, have not engaged in a war against the West: Their victims have overwhelmingly been other Muslims.
A 2010 study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point confirmed what many of us Muslims knew all along: 85% of al-Qaeda’s victims between 2004 and 2008 lived in Muslim-majority nations. A more recent study by the RAND Corporation similarly found that about 98% of al-Qaeda’s attacks between 1998 and 2011 were “part of an insurgency where operatives tried to overthrow a local government or secede from it — and were not in the West.”
The ruthless terrorist attacks in places as varied as Baghdad, Peshawar, Sanaa, Algiers, Kandahar, Riyadh, Amman, Mogadishu and Timbuktu show the dubious nature of the militants’ claims. Both Sunni and Shiite militants who have jumped into the fray in Syria have characterized their brutal attacks against Muslims of the opposing sect as “jihad.”
While the West is mostly concerned with sporadic terrorist attacks that Islamist militants have conducted in cities such as New York, Madrid and London, Muslims should be more concerned about the sustained onslaught against Muslim-majority states. In places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, militants have eroded not only any semblance of peace and stability, but have injected an insidious sectarianism that has seriously weakened social fabrics. It is no wonder that nations where militants have established a foothold and continue to contest state legitimacy find themselves topping the lists of failed states year after year.
Oddly enough, the country most often singled out as the main “exporter” of militant Islam across the globe — Saudi Arabia — seems to appreciate the danger that this politicized jihad poses to Muslims more than most. While Saudi authorities have not completely expunged jihadist rhetoric from public discourse — the presence of Saudis among militants in Syria indicates that more work is needed — the multi-pronged approach Saudis have implemented to uproot militants and their ideology aims to delegitimize the notion that engaging in violence is the ultimate act of religious devotion.
The Saudi counter-terrorism effort has been part security operation, part public awareness campaign. Although authorities have arrested hundreds of militants and killed many of their leaders, it is the pre-emptive measures that authorities have taken that are the most noteworthy, as they target the root of the problem.
Saudi authorities suspended hundreds of mosque imams and school teachers who espoused militant views. They also apprehended militant sympathizers and put hundreds of them through rehabilitation programs that aim for the renouncement of their violent views. They have even revised their school curriculum, and tried to more narrowly define and limit the concept of jihad: when Muslims can wage it and who can declare it. Mosque imams have also been warned not to deliver politically charged sermons.
This holistic, zero-tolerance approach should be attempted in other Muslim-majority countries. Thousands of Muslims have already paid with their lives. To say that millions more lives are at stake is not an exaggeration.
Read more: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/original…
The more hopeful look at Egypt, and the 2013 World review of The Spring of the Human Condition. Will it ever come? More so now after the Egyptian Brotherhood showed their ineptess to lead a 21st Century focused country?
July 6, 2013
A Human Spring
LET ME come back to the story about Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Communist leader. When asked what he thought about the French Revolution, he famously answered: “It’s too early to say.”
This was considered a typical piece of ancient Chinese wisdom – until somebody pointed out that Zhou did not mean the revolution of 1789, but the events of May 1968, which happened not long before the interview in question.
QUESTIONS ABOUND. Why? Why now? Why in so many totally different countries? Why in Brazil, Turkey and Egypt at the same time?
We know how it started. In the souk of Tunis, of all places. I have been there many times, when Yasser Arafat was staying in that city. The market always struck me as a happy place, full of noise, eager shopkeepers, haggling tourists and local men with jasmine flowers behind their ears.
It was there that a policewoman confronted a fruit vendor and overturned his cart. He was mortally insulted, set himself on fire and set in motion a process that now involves many millions of people around the world.
The Tunis example was taken up by the Egyptian masses, who assembled in Tahrir Square and eventually overturned their dictator. Then it was our turn, and almost half a million Israelis went out into the streets to protest the price of cottage cheese. Then there were upheavals in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and other Arab states, collectively known as the Arab Spring. In the US, the Occupy Wall Street movement staged its own Tahrir Square in New York. And now millions are demonstrating in Turkey and Brazil, and Egypt is aflame again. One may add Iran and other places.
How did this come about? How does it work? What is the hidden mechanism?
And especially: why at this point in time?
I CAN think of two interrelated phenomena in contemporary life that make the uprisings possible and probable: television and the social media.
Television informs viewers in Kamchatka about events in Timbuktu within minutes. The huge demonstrations in Istanbul’s Taksim Square could be followed in real time by people in Rio de Janeiro.
Once upon a time, it took weeks for people in Piccadilly Circus in London to hear about events in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. After the battle of Waterloo, the Rothschilds made their killing by using messenger pigeons. In 1848, when revolution spread from Paris throughout Europe, it took its time, too.
Not any more. Brazilian youngsters saw what was happening in Gezi Park, Istanbul, and asked themselves: why not here? They saw that determined young men and women could withstand water cannon, tear gas and batons, and felt that they could do it, too.
The other instrument is facebook, Twitter and the other “social media”. Five young men sitting in a Cairo café and talking about the situation could decide to launch an online petition for the removal of the incumbent president, and within a few days tens of millions of citizens signed. Never before in history was such a thing possible, or even imaginable.
This is a new form of direct democracy. People don’t have to wait anymore for the next elections, which may be years away. They can act immediately, and when the groundswell is powerful enough, it can develop into a tsunami.
HOWEVER, REVOLUTIONS are not made by technologies, but by people. What is it that arouses so many different people in so many different cultures to do the same thing at the same time?
How to explain these simultaneous and parallel symptoms? Commentators use the German philosophical expression, Zeitgeist (“spirit of the times”). This explains everything and nothing. Like that other great human invention, God.
So is the Zeitgeist behind the upheavals now? Don’t ask me.
They are all made by young people of the so-called middle class. Not by the poor, not by the rich. Poor people do not make revolutions – they are too busy trying to feed their children. The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 was not made by the workers and peasants. It was made by disaffected intellectuals, many of them Jewish.
But at root, all these protests express a common disgust with politics and politicians, with a power elite that is seen as remote from ordinary people, with the immense power of a tiny group of the ultra-rich, with a barely understood globalization.
THE SAME mechanism that makes these revolutions possible also produces their outstanding weakness.
The model was already apparent in the Paris events of May 1968. These started with a student protest which was joined by millions of workers. There was no organization, no common ideology, no plan, no overall leadership. Activists gathered in a theater, debated endlessly, giving voice to all sorts of possible and impossible ideas. In the end there were no concrete results.
There was a certain spirit. Claude Lanzmann, the writer and director of the monumental film Shoah, once described it to me this way: The students were burning cars. So every evening I spent a lot of time finding a secure place for my car. Until I suddenly said to myself: What the hell! What do I need a car for? Let them burn it!
This spirit lingered for some time. But life went on, and the great event was soon just a memory.
This may happen again now. Again the same thing is happening everywhere: No organization, no leadership, no program, no ideology.
<strong>The very fact that everyone has a voice on facebook seems to make it easier to agree on “against” than on “for”. The young protesters are anarchist by nature. They abhor leaders, organizations, political parties, hierarchies, programs, ideologies.
You can call a demonstration on facebook, but you cannot hammer out a joint ideology that way. But, as Lenin once remarked, without a political ideology there is no political action. And he was an expert on the art of revolution.
There is a great danger that all these huge demonstrations will fade away some day – Zeitgeist again – without leaving anything behind, except some memories.
This has already happened in Israel. The mass demonstrations had some influence on this year’s elections, but the new parties are indistinguishable from the old ones. New politicians have taken the place of old politicians. But nothing real has changed. Neither on the national nor on the social level.
IN ANY democracy, real change can only take place through new political parties which enter parliament and make new laws. For this you need political leaders – now, in the era of TV, more than ever. It is not enough to generate a lot of steam – you need an engine to make the steam do useful work.
The brotherhood has failed. Power, after decades of persecution, went to their heads. They threw away caution.
Instead of building a new state on moderation, compromise and inclusion, they could not wait. So they may lose all.
The democratic revolutionaries have yet to prove that they are able to lead a country – in Egypt or anywhere else. They may yet launch a world-wide Human Spring. Or they may leave nothing behind, except a vague longing.
It’s up to them.
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)
Mohammed Badie, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, was arrested on Thursday.
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. …
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.’ ”
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.
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
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.
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.
Rachel Corrie Remembered by Family of Bulldozed Home Asmaa al-Ghoul.
My Turn as Witness to Gezi Protests Before US Congress Kadri Gursel.
July 4, 1976 marked to the US 200 Years of Independence, but the day was used by Arab Terror Inc. to highjack a loaded Air France passanger plane to Entebbe, Uganda, in an attempt to make waves and hold it for ransom. The main casualty turned out to be the leader of the rescue team – Yonathan Netanyahu, brother of the present Prime Minister of Israel. This year we have a new revolution in Egypt, and Snowden’s travels to grab our attention. Independence calls for daily nourishment.
Remembering Entebbe: Israel’s July 4th
July 4, 2013 t
Tags: Binyamin Netanyahu, Entebbe Israeli Soldier Operation, Yonatan Sayeret Matkal, terrorist incident that killed Yoni Netanyahu.
July 4 marks the 37th anniversary of Operation ENTEBBE, that was later renamed Operation Yonatan, Israel’s dramatic rescue of 103 hostages that took place on July 4, 1976, at Entebbe, Uganda.
On the 200 Year Anniversary of the US, Jews around the world held their breath as the terrorist incident ended in Entebbe with a relatively minimal loss of life. Pride and admiration for the daring and courage of Israel’s decision-makers and generals was the order of the day. It turned out that the most written-about human loss to the Israelis was Netanyahu’s older brother – a beautiful man and officer of the rescue team. He was still part of the military generation that called his team and said – FOLLOW Me! In effect there were also four passengers that were killed, one rescuer that was cought by Israeli fire, and one soldier who was left paralyzed.
Back in July 2001, during the height of the terrorist war that followed the Camp David talks, things were different. That year, an official State commemoration of the 25th anniversary took place at the Binyanei Hauma Convention Center in Jerusalem.
In a masterful, moving event that was at once entertaining and educational, the state of Israel marked the passage of a quarter of a century since the dramatic hostage rescue. If events such as that could be translated and exported, Israel ‘s image problems would be dramatically improved, and Jews the world over might even begin to regain pride in the Jewish State.
A TV documentary focused on Yoni Netanyahu’s career, featuring extensive photos, film clips, and interviews with his brothers and former girlfriend.
Interspersed with the film clips, an accomplished singing troupes of several army and air force divisions belted out some of the old rousing Israeli anthems.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres rose to speak and chose to address himself to the assembled young soldiers who filled the hall. He urged them not to think of the Entebbe fighters as legendary heroes. “Each of you has the potential to do the same thing,” he said. “You represent the best hope for the people.”
“We were so afraid of failure,” he says, his dark eyes looking unflinchingly at the camera. “But on the way back, I felt like it was Pesach. I recalled the words of the Hagaddah: ‘I and no angel: I and no messenger brought you out of the land of Egypt,’ ” concluded the pilot who wore no kippa. “If they told me now, 25 years later to go on such a mission, I’d go without hesitation. Ayn Lanu Eretz Acheret ! We have no other country,” he said, in a theme that was to echo throughout the evening.
One tall, balding man with a gray mustache said he was disappointed that his teenage son and his classmates knew nothing about Operation Yonatan. “We’re facing the same things today, they need more than virtual Zionism, ” he said.
Benny, a younger man who was only 13 years old when he was taken hostage by the terrorists, told the audience in a trembling voice that he remembers every moment of the torment. “I was a kid who saw death in front of him.”
Tzipi Cohen was only 8 years old when she witnessed her father Pasco bleeding to death as he was accidentally shot by Israeli soldiers in the confusion of the rescue. Pasco Cohen lifted his head to look for his son when the shooting started and became one of four Jewish hostages who perished in Uganda. His daughter ended her brief remarks by reiterating her gratitude to the IDF for saving all the hostages, despite her personal tragedy.
Hershko is completely paralyzed, but rolled to the front of the auditorium in his wheelchair to reminisce about the last time he ran or walked. “I remember what it was to be a fighter,” he recalled.
After presenting Hershko with a special medal commemorating Entebbe, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon delivered a speech that tied Israel’s efforts to combat terror in the 1970s to today’s struggle against the same enemy:
“In these confusing times, when there are those who question our capabilities or the justness of our cause, we return to those few hours when Israel stood up and in the face of the entire community of nations, waged a battle against violence and terrorism, proving that we can win.”
“These days, when we are in the midst of an ongoing battle against terrorism, violence and incitement, and when we are making a joint national effort to return to political negotiations without fire, we must rekindle the spirit of that operation. The secret of our strength lies in such spirit and faith, and if we learn how to renew it we will be able to meet all the challenges that still lie ahead.”
From Turkey on the Nile to Islamic Iran and onto Ramallah’s Manara Square, the HAARETZ of Israel is viewing political evolution in the Middle East. The good news is that there is an alternative to Islamism – the bad news is that chaos is an option.
www.haaretz.com/st/inter/Heng/new… – Morsi’s year – Morsi unilaterally decrees greater powers for himself, giving his decisions immunity from judicial review. The move sparks days of protests and it brings about his ouster.
Turkey on the Nile
The week that Hosni Mubarak was ousted, a senior Israeli official was asked what would happen in Egypt. The official answered in his favorite language, English: Turkey one, Turkey two or Iran – a seemingly democratic government run by the army, a seemingly democratic government run by Islam, or an Islamist regime.
Two and a half years later, the possibility of getting an Iran in Egypt can clearly be ruled out. The Nile country will not become a theocracy ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood in the near future. But from the beginning of 2011, the other two possibilities have been vying with each other in Cairo.
What is happening before our eyes is a well organized Egyptian attempt to replace the new Turkish alternative of religious rule in democratic guise with the old Turkish alternative of military rule in democratic guise.
But as Turkey one replaces Turkey two, a third option emerges – disorder. While the Islamic threat to Egypt’s future is diminishing, the new, growing threat is one of chaos. The good news is very good – political Islam is not invincible. The religious wave that flooded the Middle East in the past two years is not the last historic wave.
As of today, the Muslim Brotherhood failed to establish a lasting regime and a lasting reality. While the Soviet revolution founded a tyranny that lasted 70 years, the Sunni Islamic revolution didn’t set up a functioning political system to preserve its hegemony for even one year. Anyone who feared a century of dark caliphates was wrong. Anyone who believed in the new Egyptians’ life forces and desire for freedom was right. Within an extremely short time our neighbors from the south learned that Islam is not the solution, and that they must seek the solution elsewhere.
But the bad news is troubling. Egypt 2013 appears as a state with no solution. On the one hand the economy is collapsing and rapidly approaching meltdown. On the other hand there’s no civilian force to impose law and order. The expectations of the Google age are high, while the reality of hungry mouths is intolerable. Between the expectations and reality there is no meeting point, and between the spirit of freedom and the crumbling republic there is no starting point.
Consequently, Egypt is becoming a dysfunctional, hopeless, ungovernable state. Where Mubarak and Morsi failed, another failure is very likely. Two different trends dovetail at the pyramids’ foot. One is global – a rebellion of the urban middle class. What began in Tahrir, moved to Rothschild, erupted in Istanbul and boiled over in Rio De Janeiro has returned to Tahrir in a big way. As in the rest of the world, in Egypt the youngsters connected to the Internet are no longer willing to accept not being connected to the spigots of the government, and are therefore toppling it.
The second trend is an Arab one – the collapse of secular tyranny and the failure of religious tyranny have generated constant unrest. In the absence of a strong dictator, an intelligent Kadi or a Jeffersonian democracy, there is nobody to regulate public life and restrain the masses.
The merging of global rebellion with the Arab loss of fear has released in Cairo 2013 a concussion blast no regime can withstand. Not the previous regime, not the present one nor the next one. In the absence of a government, an exciting, terrifying situation of uprisings was created – uprisings that are leading Egypt to the brink of an abyss.
Ultimately, the only chance is Turkey one. In the present day Egypt and present day Middle East, anyone hoping for more than enlightened generals can give – will get less. But the question whether the Egyptian army will be able to give the people modern enlightenment remains open. Chaos crouches on the threshold. The new danger hovering over the Middle East is that of complete disorder.
An Egyptian renaissance
In 1918, ten years before the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt, a delegation ?(wafd in Arabic?) was organized, in order to demand that the British grant Egypt its independence. It was led by Saad Zaghloul, who was called “leader of the nation.” Before the delegation set off, prominent Egyptians signed a petition in support of the group using its power to work peacefully ?(salmiya in Arabic?) to achieve independence and “the implementation of the principles of freedom and justice.” On this basis, the al-Wafd party, which won most elections it contested, was later formed.
This is part of the explanation for the exhilarating phenomenon that is unfolding before our eyes, when 17 million Egyptians from across the country rose up against the Brotherhood. This flies in the face of those who tried to convince us that if the Brotherhood rose to power, total bedlam ? a war of Gog and Magog ? would erupt throughout the land. Well, the Brotherhood rose and the Brotherhood fell and amazingly the sun continues to shine. Egypt is returning to its roots. And Egyptian roots aren’t buried in violent religious profiteering or in the dictatorship of Mubarak, but in the magnificent heritage of Saad Zaghloul, which itself is the product of the Arabic renaissance that dates from the beginning of the 18th century until the start of the 19th century.
And thus, in January 2011, when the youth instinctually adopted the way of salmiya they were in fact continuing along the path their grandfathers chose 93 years ago. And now, in response to the demagoguery of the Brotherhood, which believes that the electoral ballots give them the power to destroy the democracy that brought them to govern, these youth have adopted the model of the petition from those days, in their call for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resign. To date, 22 million people have signed the petition.
True, in their return to the magnificent roots of the 7,000 year-old Egyptian civilization they had no choice but to pass through the dark halls of the Brotherhood, but within a year they passed the test. During these formative hours, the Egyptian people are returning to the heritage of their forefathers in its new incarnation: “Bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity.” All this is expressed quite beautifully in the famous 1919 song by Egyptian singer Sayed Darwish, “Oum Ya Masry” ?(“Rise, You Egyptian”?). Among the song’s lyrics it says, “Love your neighbor more than you love life. What does it mean Christians, Muslims or Jews…we are all the descendants of one grandfather.” Here you have the beautiful Egypt in three lines, which should be brought to the attention of those brainwashed by the nation state.
Last Sunday, Egyptian religious leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qardawi pleaded with the masses to give Morsi another year. At present, Morsi is asking for just half a year. To loosely translate an Arabic expression, “His time has passed.” Prominent Egyptian journalist Ibrahim Eissa has urged Morsi’s sons to convince their father to hop on a flight abroad in order to save him and the Egyptian people the shame of removing a president.
During Sunday’s giant demonstrations, the people’s anger was also directed at Ann Patterson, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt. According to author Alaa al-Aswany, Patterson is the one who convinced the American administration to support the Brotherhood, arguing that only the Brotherhood could protect American and Israeli interests. This is yet more proof of the stupidity of Middle East experts who see Arabs only through the lens of their dictators.
What’s more, Egyptians see a connection between, on the one hand, the pressure Morsi placed on Hamas to agree to a ceasefire with Israel in December and, on the other hand, American support for the draconian measures taken by the Egyptian president to undermine the legal system, including the passage of the controversial constitution. They see a connection between the love heaped upon Morsi by Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres and the steps Morsi took the day after the ceasefire agreement.
The day will come when the dramatic waves of change in Egypt sweep the entire Middle East. Israel, which is taking a position that contradicts the desire of the Egyptian people, would be wise to begin to change its way of thinking if it doesn’t want to find itself going against the current of the Arab Spring that is reawakening.
One day, Ramallah will rise up
One day the Palestinian people will rise up against their occupiers. I hope this day comes soon.
It’s true that this scenario seems unrealistic right now. The Palestinians are still bleeding from the second intifada, which only brought disaster upon them (and the Israelis). They are divided and torn, with no real leadership and lacking a fighting spirit, and the world has tired of their distress. The Israeli occupation seems as strong and established as ever, the settlements are growing, and the military is in complete control, with all the world’s governments silent and indifferent.
On the other hand, it is impossible to imagine that this scenario will not materialize. To our south, the Egyptian people are struggling over the nature of their regime, in a way that can only inspire awe. To the north, the Syrian people are also doing this, albeit in a much crueler fashion. Could it be that only the Palestinian people will forever bow their heads, submissively and obediently, to the Israeli jackboot? Don’t make the minister of history laugh.
The regimes against which most of the Arab nations are rebelling were generally less brutal than the regime of the Israeli occupation. They were also less corrupt, in the broad sense of the word. Most did not take over the lives of their subjects day and night, did not so drastically restrict their movement and freedom, did not systematically abuse and humiliate them in the manner of the Israeli regime. Moreover, they were not foreign regimes.
Therefore, the events at Tahrir Square will surely be replicated one day in Ramallah’s Manara Square. The masses will flood the Unknown Soldier’s Square in Gaza, push into Police Square in Hebron and storm all the checkpoints along their way. It is hard now to imagine it happening, but it is even more difficult to imagine that it will not.
It seems to happen when you least expect it. No Military Intelligence report will predict it, and no Shin Bet field coordinator will warn about it. The defense minister will act shocked, the prime minister will convene urgent consultations, and the finance minister will post something on Facebook. The president of the United States will call for calm, and who knows, maybe will send a special envoy. The world’s most powerful and especially most moral military will try to restore order, but the new order will assert its control over the army as well.
As with other unjust and evil regimes, which are always destined to fall, this regime also will fall – it’s just not clear when and how. Sometimes these regimes fall in the wake of terrible bloodshed, as in Syria, and sometimes they fall on their own, like a tall tree whose trunk has rotted, as happened in the Soviet Union, South Africa and Eastern Europe. One day it will happen here, too; there is no other way.
It would be best that this day come soon; too bad it hasn’t come yet. The Israeli public, which didn’t know how to end its occupation regime on its own, will also act surprised, and offended. Again they will say that “there’s no partner,” that “they’re like animals,” but no one will take these statements seriously. Israel will again play the victim, but few will be able to identify with it anymore.
Why is it best that this happens soon? Because as time passes, the damage and rage accumulate. Because there is no chance that Israel will end the occupation voluntarily. Because justice cries out for it to happen. Because whether the solution is one state or two, an Israel that isn’t an occupier, that is just and egalitarian, will be a different and infinitely better place to live.
Egypt after Morsi: Joy and Worry.
by Daniel Pipes
National Post headline: “Morsi’s departure leaves legacy of danger”
The overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt delights and worries me.
Delight is easy to explain. What appears to have been the largest political demonstration in history uprooted the arrogant Islamists of Egypt who ruled with near-total disregard for anything other than consolidating their own power. Islamism, the drive to apply a medieval Islamic law and the only vibrant radical utopian movement in the world today, experienced an unprecedented repudiation. Egyptians showed an inspiring spirit.
Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi announcing Morsi’s removal from office.
My worry is more complex. The historical record shows that the thrall of radical utopianism endures until calamity sets in. On paper, fascism and communism sound appealing; only the realities of Hitler and Stalin discredited and marginalized these movements.
In the case of Islamism, this same process has already begun; indeed, the revulsion started with much less destruction wrought than in the prior two cases (Islamism not yet having killed tens of millions) and with greater speed (years, not decades). Recent weeks have seen three rejections of Islamist rule in a row, what with the Gezi Park-inspired demonstrations across Turkey, a resounding victory by the least-hardline Islamist in the Iranian elections on June 14, and now the unprecedentedly massive refutation of the Muslim Brotherhood in public squares along the Nile River.
The crowds in Egypt this week have been numbingly large.
Egypt is a mess. Relations between pro- and anti-Muslim Brotherhood elements have already turned violent and threaten to degenerate. Copts and Shi’ites get murdered just because of their identities. The Sinai Peninsula is anarchic. The incompetent and greedy military leadership, which viciously ruled Egypt from behind the scenes between 1952 and 2012, is back in charge.
But the worst problems are economic. Remittances from foreign workers have declined since the upheaval in neighboring Libya. Sabotage against the pipeline sending natural gas to Israel and Jordan ended that source of income. Tourism has obviously collapsed. Inefficiencies mean that this hydrocarbon-producing country lacks the fuel to run tractors at full capacity. Socialist-era factories churn out sub-par goods.
Egypt imports an estimated 70 percent of its food and is running fast out of hard currency to pay for wheat, edible oils, and other staples. Hunger looms. Unless foreigners subsidize Egypt with tens of billions of dollars of aid a year into the indefinite future, a highly unlikely scenario, that hunger looks unavoidable. Already, about out of seven poor families have cut back on their food intake.
Adly Mansour, the interim head of government.
As these economic disasters hit, the year-long interlude of Islamist rule by Morsi & Co., which did so much to exacerbate these problems, may well be forgotten – and whoever inherits the rule will take the blame. In other words, the pain Egyptians have and will go through may be for naught. Who knows, they might in desperation turn again to Islamists to pull them out of their future predicament. Likewise, the Muslim Brotherhood’s brief time in power means other Muslim peoples will also not gain as they should from Egypt’s dire experience.
On another subject, Lee Smith of the Hudson Institute speculates that Egypt’s new rulers will see a short war with Israel as the only way to “reunify the country and earn Egypt money from an international community eager to broker peace,” as well as “return Egypt to its former place of prominence” in the Middle East. Such a war would likely achieve none of these goals – Egyptian forces would probably get clobbered, leaving the country yet poorer and weaker – but one cannot discount this possibility. Egypt’s military leaders have many times before engaged in follies against Israel.
In short, my joy at Morsi’s departure more than offset by my concern that the lessons of his misrule will not be learned.
Mr. Pipes DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum.
As I have said since the Egyptian Revolution, the United States supports a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people. The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties, but we are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law. Since the current unrest in Egypt began, we have called on all parties to work together to address the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people, in accordance with the democratic process, and without recourse to violence or the use of force.
The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.
The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties —secular and religious, civilian and military. During this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process, and free and fair trials in civilian courts. Moreover, the goal of any political process should be a government that respects the rights of all people, majority and minority; that institutionalizes the checks and balances upon which democracy depends; and that places the interests of the people above party or faction. The voices of all those who have protested peacefully must be heard – including those who welcomed today’s developments, and those who have supported President Morsy. In the interim, I urge all sides to avoid violence and come together to ensure the lasting restoration of Egypt’s democracy.
No transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people. An honest, capable and representative government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve. The longstanding partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on shared interests and values, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds.