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Archive for the ‘Egypt’ Category

US Middle East Allies Split with Obama on Egypt

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 25, 2013

The Obama Administration once again finds itself taking the opposite position of its allies.  As reported in the Wall Street Journal in Allies Thwart America in Egypt, America’s allies in the region oppose Obama policies towards Egypt and more specifically the Muslim Brotherhood.

President Obama’s overall policies towards in Middle East have been a dismal failure.  This started with his apology tour to Cairo shortly after his election to his first term.  Since then the Arab Spring has led to civil war in Syria with over 100,000 being killed.  In Libya, after helping takedown Dictator Qaddafi, the American consulate in Benghazi was attacked with four Americans including the US Ambassador murdered.  The violence in Iraq has grown and Iran continues marching down the path towards obtaining nuclear weapons.  Adding insult to injury, Obama played a key role in downward spiral in Egypt when he threw former ally Hosni Mubarak under the bus, which led to the Muslim Brotherhood taking control.

Not surprising given the chaos in the Middle East, our closest allies in the region are long past being nervous with American policies.  This has led to an unlikely alliance of policy between Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and yes Israel.  All have the clarity of vision to understand what Obama either ignores or is unconcerned with: the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization that cannot coexist with secularists.  While the Obama Administration threatens Egypt with America’s $1.5 billion in annual aid, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have given Egypt $12 million of emergency aid.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to decide who is more important to Egypt.

Muslim_Brotherhood_EmblemAs reported by the Journal, prior to Egyptian military’s overthrow of the Morsi government the Obama Administration tried to persuade the military not to intervene.  The Egyptian military ignored this request.  After the overthrow the Administration asked the military to negotiate a political solution with the Muslim Brotherhood.  The military has done the opposite, harshly cracking down on the Brotherhood.  This led Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to state the obvious: “Our ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited.”  Seemingly to put an explanation point on this obvious reality, the Egyptian military released former Egyptian leader Mubarak from jail.

While President Obama continues with the mistaken belief that the Muslim Brotherhood can coexist with secularists, Saudi King Abdullah has appropriately labeled them terrorist and extremist.  This demonstrates just how out of touch Obama is with the realities of the Middle East.  The Obama position with the Brotherhood is akin to suggesting the Ku Klux Klan should be a part of the American government.

It is not surprising that the President finds himself on the opposite side of our allies’.  This has been his modus operandi since the day he became president.

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Egyptians Speaks, Obama Dithers

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 5, 2013

MorsiIt was only one year ago that Egypt held its first presidential election and the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Morsi, was elected president.  This was disappointing to many in the West since the Brotherhood has been a supporter of terrorism and is virulently anti-Semitic.

Morsi’s was elected by a small margin, mainly because the Muslim Brotherhood was the best organized party after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak.  The election of a radical and anti-democratic candidate such as Morsi has historical precedent in contemporary democracies.  For example Hitler was elected Chancellor in Germany with only about a third of the popular vote.  It was the opposition’s inability to compromise and coalesce around an opposing candidate that brought the Nazis to power in Germany in the early 1930s and led to the tragedies of WW-II and the Holocaust.

MubarakIn recent weeks Egyptians by the millions went to the streets to demonstrate against Morsi.  That opposition was created by Morsi’s failed policies that further strangled the Egyptian economy and threatened to bring Sharia law to Egypt.  Democracy cannot coexist with Sharia law.  In addition minorities including Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who represent ten percent of the country, were being persecuted.

On Sunday the Egyptian military threatened to step in and demanded Morsi compromise with the opposition in order to stop the chaos in the country.  Morsi refused and on Wednesday the military removed him from office and temporary put in place a member of the judiciary as a caretaker leader.

Political elitists now argue whether the Egyptian military’s actions were that of a coup.  This is but an argument over semantics.  Clearly the Egyptian military removed Morsi from office.  It is just as clear that a Morsi/Muslim Brotherhood led Egypt was bad for the West, bad for secularists Egyptians, and a catastrophe to religious minorities in that country.  What will come of the military’s action is left to history and Egyptian people.

President Obama seems to inevitably end up on the wrong side of issues.  On the business side he chose losers such as Solyndra.  His record on foreign affairs is just as bad.  In 2010 Obama refused to side with the Iranian street protesters against the mullahs.  In Libya, Obama helped Barack Obamaarmed the rebels who threw out Qaddafi with some of the arms ultimately ending up in the hands of terrorists and likely used in the attack against the American Benghazi consulate.  In Syria Obama did not side with the protesters in the early days when it was a democratic movement, but now will arm rebels, some of who are radical Islamists.

In Egypt Obama has backed the wrong side twice.  He was quick to throw Mubarak under the bus just weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton championed Mubarak’s cause.  Now he dithers on Egypt’s current turmoil saying that he is: “deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution.”

The Arab Middle East is in the most chaotic state it has been in a generation.  In addition, the Iranians are four years closer to an atomic weapon than the day Obama took office.  Add to this North Korea’s belligerence and America’s worsening relations with Russia and it tells the story of a foreign policy in disarray.  This may explain why the Noble Prize folks gave Obama the Peace Prize before he took any foreign policy actions.

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Egyptian Military Threatens Morsi

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 2, 2013

The growing chaos in Egypt has resulted in its military threatening to overthrow the government of President Mohamed Morsi.  On Monday, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, leader of the Egyptian Armed Forces, gave an ultimatum to Morsi to resolve the crisis within 48 hours or risk military intervention.

According to the New York Times, the protest against the Morsi government across Egypt involve crowds that exceed even the huge protests in 2011 that resulted in the overthrew of Dictator President Hosni Mubarak.  At least 16 people were killed on Monday.  Making matters worse for Morsi, the police have reportedly been backing the protesters.

The protesters have various grievances that include Morsi’s power grab, attempts to invoke Islamic law, and the disenfranchisement of secularists and minority religions including Christians who make up proximally 10% of the Egyptian population.  In addition, the Egyptian economy is in shambles.

Egypt rejoins the growing list of Arab countries in turmoil since Barack Obama took office.  While Obama’s foreign policies exasperated tensions in the region, they are not the root cause of the current chaos.  The deteriorating situation in the Middle East is a result of diplomats internationally and specifically in the United Nations who proffered the false narrative that the Middle East would become peaceful if only the Israelis and Palestinians could make peace.  That theory has finally had a stake put through its heart.

While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stoked certain tensions in the Middle East, it was cover for deeper problems.  More significant challenges in the Middle East include the more dangerous Sunni-Shia conflict that has been ongoing for centuries.  Should Iran obtain nuclear weapons this conflict will become extremely dangerous on a worldwide basis.  In addition, the intolerance preached by religious leaders in many Arab countries has hindered their economic growth in the contemporary world.  The diplomats and world leaders who have and continue to ignore these realities are directly to blame for the growing crisis in the Middle East.

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Egypt and the Arab World’s Devolution

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 4, 2012

When the Arab Spring started two years ago, Progressives, the Leftist media, and the inept US State Department cheered on believing the revolutions would result in Western-style democracies.  Reality has proven they could not have been more wrong.

The Arab Spring that started in Tunisia, moved throughout the Middle East.  In Libya, with the support of NATO, Qadhafi was kicked out, but replaced by a shaky government that has led to quasi-anarchy and the killing of the US Ambassador and three other Americans.  The Civil War in Syria continues with approximately 40,000 being killed in an outcome still to be determined.  However, it is likely that the Sunni Islamists will ultimately take power.

In Egypt, where the mainstream media parked itself for weeks televising the party (revolution) in Cairo, the country has been taken over by the radical Muslim Brotherhood.  Its leader, Morsi after being democratically elected, has taken total power in the country by decree.

One country still showing signs of stability in the Middle East is Iran, America’s greatest adversary in the region.  At best, all that can be said about the Obama Administration’s Middle East policies is that they have led to no positive benefit towards American interests.  A more realistic interpretation is that the President’s foreign policy has led to increased turmoil in the Middle East and a substantial degrading of American interests.

How the crisis in the Middle East plays out will be determined within the coming months.  Certainly the signs are ominous for the West.  Within the Arab world, Egypt and to a lesser extent Syria, is ground zero.  International expert George Friedman of Strafor.com has published Egypt and the Strategic Balance.  This article, republished below with permission of Stratfor, offers great insight into the strategic struggles occurring within the Middle East.  President Obama would do well to consider an expert such as Friedman for the next Secretary of State, rather than a lifetime State Department stooge like Susan Rice.

Egypt and the Strategic Balance, George Friedman, December 4, 2012

Immediately following the declaration of a cease-fire in Gaza, Egypt was plunged into a massive domestic crisis. Mohammed Morsi, elected in the first presidential election after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, passed a decree that would essentially neuter the independent judiciary by placing his executive powers above the high court and proposed changes to the constitution that would institutionalize the Muslim Brotherhood’s power.  Following the decree, Morsi’s political opponents launched massive demonstrations that threw Egypt into domestic instability and uncertainty.

In the case of most countries, this would not be a matter of international note.  But Egypt is not just another country.  It is the largest Arab country and one that has been the traditional center of the Arab world.  Equally important, if Egypt’s domestic changes translate into shifts in its foreign policy, it could affect the regional balance of power for decades to come.

Morsi’s Challenge to the Nasserite Model

The Arab Spring was seen by some observers to be a largely secular movement aimed at establishing constitutional democracy.  The problem with this theory was that while the demonstrators might have had the strength to force an election, it was not certain that the secular constitutionalists would win it.  They didn’t.  Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and while there were numerous claims that he was a moderate member, it was simply not understood that he was a man of conviction and honor and that his membership in the Brotherhood was not casual or frivolous.  His intention was to strengthen the role of Islam in Egypt and the control of the Muslim Brotherhood over the various arms of state.  His rhetoric, speed and degree of Islamism might have been less extreme than others, but his intent was clear.

The move on the judiciary signaled his intent to begin consolidating power.  It galvanized opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood, which included secular constitutionalists,  Copts and other groups who formed a coalition that was prepared to take to the streets to oppose his move.  What it did not include, or at least did not visibly include through this point, was the Egyptian military, which refused to be drawn in on either side.

The Egyptian military, led by a young army officer named Gamal Abdel Nasser, founded the modern Egyptian state when it overthrew the British-supported monarchy in the 1950s.  It created a state that was then secular, authoritarian and socialist.  It aligned Egypt with the Soviet Union and against the United States through the 1970s.  ,After the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who was later assassinated by Islamists, shifted Egypt into an alliance with the United States and signed a peace treaty with Israel.

This treaty was the foundation of the regional balance of power until now. The decision to end the state of war with Israel and use Sinai as a demilitarized buffer between the two countries eliminated the threat of nation-to-nation war between Arabs and Israel.  Egypt was the most powerful Arab country and its hostility to Israel represented Israel’s greatest threat.  By withdrawing from confrontation, the threat to Israel declined dramatically.  Jordan, Syria and Lebanon did not represent a significant threat to Israel and could not launch a war that threatened Israel’s survival.

Egypt’s decision to align with the United States and make peace with Israel shaped the regional balance of power in other ways.  Syria could no longer depend on Egypt, and ultimately turned to Iran for support.  The Arab monarchies that had been under political and at times military pressure from Egypt were relieved of the threat, and the Soviets lost the Egyptian bases that had given them a foothold in the Mediterranean.

The fundamental question in Egypt is whether the election of Morsi represented the end of the regime founded by Nasser or was simply a passing event, with power still in the hands of the military.  Morsi has made a move designed to demonstrate his power and to change the way the Egyptian judiciary works.  The uprising against this move, while significant, did not seem to have the weight needed either to force Morsi to do more than modify his tactics a bit or to threaten his government.  Therefore, it all hangs on whether the military is capable of or interested in intervening.

It is ironic that the demands of the liberals in Egypt should depend on military intervention, and it is unlikely that they will get what they want from the military if it does intervene.  But what is clear is that the Muslim Brotherhood is the dominant force in Egypt, that Morsi is very much a member of the Brotherhood and while his tactics might be more deliberate and circumspect than more radical members might want, it is still headed in the same direction.

For the moment, the protesters in the streets do not appear able to force Morsi’s hand, and the military doesn’t seem likely to intervene.  If that is true, then Egypt has entered a new domestic era with a range of open foreign policy issues.  The first is the future of the treaty with Israel.  The issue is not the treaty per se, but the maintenance of Sinai as a buffer.  One of the consequences of Mubarak’s ouster has been the partial remilitarization of Sinai by Egypt, with Israel’s uneasy support.  Sinai has become a zone in which Islamist radicals are active and launch operations against Israel.  The Egyptian military has moved into Sinai to suppress them, which Israel obviously supports.  But the Egyptians have also established the principle that while Sinai may be a notional buffer zone, in practice the Egyptian military can be present in and responsible for it.  The intent might be one that Israel supports but the outcome could be a Sinai remilitarized by the Egyptians.

A remilitarized Sinai would change the strategic balance, but it would only be the beginning.  The Egyptian army uses American equipment and depends on the United States for spare parts, maintenance and training.  Its equipment is relatively old and it has not been tested in combat for nearly 40 years.  Even if the Egyptian military was in Sinai, it would not pose a significant conventional military threat to Israel in its current form.  These things can change, however.  The transformation of the Egyptian army between 1967 and 1973 was impressive.  The difference is that Egypt had a patron in the Soviet Union then that was prepared to underwrite the cost of the transformation.  Today, there is no global power, except the United States, that would be capable of dramatically and systematically upgrading the Egyptian military and financially supporting the country overall. Still, if the Morsi government succeeds in institutionalizing its power and uses that power to change the dynamic of the Sinai buffer, Israel will lose several layers of security.

A New Regional Alignment?

A look at the rest of the region shows that Egypt is by no means the only country of concern for Israel.  Syria, for example, has an uprising that, in simple terms, largely consists of Sunnis, many of which are Islamists.  That in itself represents a threat to Israel, particularly if the relationship between Syria and Egypt were revived.  There is an ideological kinship, and just as Nasserism had an evangelical dimension, wanting to spread pan-Arab ideology throughout the region, the Muslim Brotherhood has one too.  The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is also the most organized and coherent opposition group in Syria.  As Morsi consolidates his power in Egypt, his willingness to engage in foreign adventures, or at least covert support, for like-minded insurgents and regimes could very well increase.  At a minimum Israel would have to take this seriously. Similarly, where Gaza was contained not only by Israel but also by pre-Morsi Egypt, Morsi might choose to dramatically change Egypt’s Gaza policy.

Morsi’s rise opens other possibilities as well.  Turkey’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party is also engaged in a careful process of reintroducing Islam into a state that was militantly secular.  There are fundamental differences between Egypt and Turkey, but there is also much in common.  Turkey and Egypt are now engaged in parallel processes designed to create modern countries that recognize their Islamic roots. A Turkish-Egyptian relationship would both undergird the Egyptian regime and create a regional force that could shape the Eastern Mediterranean.

This would, of course, affect American strategy, which as we have said in the past, is now rapidly moving away from excessive involvement in the Middle East.  It is not clear how far Morsi would go in breaking with the United States or whether the military would or could draw a line at that point.  Egypt is barely skirting economic disaster at the moment because it is receiving a broad range of financial aid from the West. Moving away from the United States would presumably go well beyond military aid and affect these other types of economic assistance.

The fact is that as Egypt gradually evolves, its relationship with the United States might also change.  The United States’ relationship with Turkey has changed but has not broken since the Justice and Development Party came to power, with Turkey following a more independent direction.  If a similar process occurred in Egypt, the United States would find itself in a very different position in the Eastern Mediterranean, one in which its only ally was Israel, and its relationship with Israel might alienate the critical Turkey-Egypt bloc.

Prior to 1967, the United States was careful not be become overly involved in protecting Israel, leaving that to France.  Assuming that this speculation about a shift in Egypt’s strategic posture came to pass, Israel would not be in serious military danger for quite a while, and the United States could view its support to Israel as flexible.  The United States could conceivably choose to distance itself from Israel in order to maintain its relationships with Egypt and Turkey.  A strategy of selective disengagement and redefined engagement, which appears to be under way in the United States now, could alter relations with Israel.

From an Israeli point of view — it should be remembered that Israel is the dominant power in the region — a shift in Egypt would create significant uncertainty on its frontier.  It would now face uncertainty in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, and while unlikely, the possibility of uncertainty in Jordan. Where previously it faced hostile powers with substantial military capabilities, it would now face weaker powers that are less predictable.  However, in an age when Israel’s primary concern is with terrorist actions and uprisings in Gaza and the West Bank, this band of uncertainty would be an incubator of such actions.

The worst-case scenario is the re-emergence of confrontational states on its border, armed with conventional weapons and capable of challenging the Israeli military.  That is not an inconceivable evolution but it is not a threat in the near term.  The next-worst-case scenario would be the creation of multiple states on Israel’s border prepared to sponsor or at least tolerate Islamist attacks on Israel from their territory and to underwrite uprisings among the Palestinians.  The effect would be an extended, wearying test of Israel’s ability to deal with unremitting low-intensity threats from multiple directions.

Conventional war is hard to imagine.  It is less difficult to imagine a shift in Egyptian policy that creates a sustained low-intensity conflict not only south of Israel, but also along the entire Israeli periphery as Egypt’s influence is felt.  It is fairly clear that Israel has not absorbed the significance of this change or how it will respond. It may well not have a response.  But if that were the case, then Israel’s conventional dominance would no longer define the balance of power.  And the United States is entering a period of unpredictability in its foreign policy.  The entire region becomes unpredictable.

It is not clear that any of this will come to pass.  Morsi might not be able to impose his will in the country.  He may not survive politically.  The Egyptian military might intervene directly or indirectly. There are several hurdles for Morsi to overcome before he controls the country, and his timeline might be extended for implementing changes.  But for the moment, Morsi appears in charge, he seems to be weathering the challenges and the army has not moved.  Therefore, considering the strategic consequences is appropriate, and those strategic consequences appear substantial.

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Egypt’s Morsi Seizes Dictatorial Power

Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 28, 2012

Democratization was an unlikely outcome of the so-called Arab Spring in Egypt.  When tens of thousands then protested and rioted in Tahrir Square, Progressives worldwide cheered while dreaming of a Western-style democracy to replace the country’s dictator, American ally Hosni Mubarak.  With any understanding of history and the Middle East, that outcome was nothing but a dream.

Those with more realistic expectations realized that the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Islamic movement, would ultimately gain control of Egypt as a result of the revolution that ousted Mubarak.  While secular Egyptians were unprepared for a change in power, the Muslim Brotherhood was organized and ready to fill the vacuum.  Its former leader, Mohamed Morsi, was elected Egypt’s president and has now shown his autocratic and radical Islamist roots.

While a new Egyptian constitution is being crafted, it is being done so by Morsi allies intent on inflicting Islamic law in the document.  On Friday, Morsi took the next step towards dictatorship when by presidential edict he seized additional unchecked authority by placing himself above judicial review with the authority to replace public prosecutors at will.  In addition, Morsi has removed legal appeals for some “crimes”.  Typical of autocrats when seizing power, Morsi claimed to have taken the action to protect democracy.  However, his true intent comes through when he said: “God’s will and elections made me the captain of this ship.”

Reaction in Egypt to Morsi’s power grab was swift and violent.  Thousands are again protesting in Tahrir Square, with some placing blame the United States.  However, this time the Progressive Western press is giving little attention to the protests.  It is again evident that news coverage has become subservient to political views.

The Obama Administration was swift in supporting the Tahrir Square protesters when they were against Mubarak.  So far it’s reaction to Morsi’s undemocratic actions have been muted with State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, saying: “The current constitutional vacuum in Egypt can only be resolved by the adoption of a constitution that includes checks and balances, and respects fundamental freedoms, individual rights and the rule of law consistent with Egypt’s international commitments.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s creed statement is: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”  That does not leave much wiggle room for a constitution and makes the US State Department’s statement border on infantile.

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Egyptian Pres. Morsi’s Doubletalk

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 23, 2012

The New York Times interviewed Egyptian President Morsi’s just prior to his first visit the United States as Egypt’s leader.  The interview was telling on various fronts.

Morsi justified Egypt’s slow reaction to the recent riots at America’s Cairo embassy stating: “We took our time.  We can never condone this kind of violence, but we need to deal with the situation wisely”.  That is but an excuse for allowing Egyptian thugs to attack and damage American property.

Morsi went on to state that it is America’s obligation to repair relations with Arab countries stating: “Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region.”  While there is some truth to the claim of America’s past actions, the fact that he repeated them even though President Obama has been on a charm offensive to the Arab world for over 3 1/2 years indicates what Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood desire is even still much more.  Exactly what it is of the United States and West being demanded was purposely left nebulous by Morsi.

Morsi went on to repeat the often used excuse by Muslims for the dislike of the West blaming the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian matter stating: “as long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled”, referring to the Camp David Accord.”  This is lame on various fronts.  First, how is it America’s responsibility to create a compromise between two Middle Eastern entities and adversaries?  Bill Clinton came close late in his second term only to have a permanent solution rejected by Palestinian Pres. Arafat.  What Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood really desire is for America to impose a solution on Israel that will basically end Israel as a Jewish majority country.

An indication that the Arab-Israeli conflict is but an excuse for perpetrating violence against the United States and other countries are the many acts of violence perpetrated in or by Muslim majority countries that clearly are not related to this issue.  Examples include Iraq invading Iran in the early 1980s, Iraq invading Kuwait in the early 1990s, the Taliban’s brutality in Afghanistan even before 9/11, Pakistan’s backing of terrorists who attack India and other interests, the Muslim-backed conflicts and civil wars in Africa, and the Muslim based attacks and rebellion ongoing in Nigeria.  Clearly, if Israel did not exist these conflicts would be ongoing and the West would continue to be considered infidels as they had been long before Israel came into existence.

An indication of the tilted approach towards mutual understanding was indicated when Morsi said : “a shared objective [between Western and Islamic countries], each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion.”  These words are hollow as shown by the violent reactions by Muslims worldwide to an obscure and tasteless video.  Free speech is a centerpiece of the American Constitution.  The call by many Islamic leaders to curtail free speech in the United States if Islam does not like the words indicates an unwillingness to live by Morsi’s words.

President Morsi earned a PhD from the University of Southern California in the early 1990s.  Evidently, while Morsi came to the US for an education, his experience did not convince him of the attributes of America’s free society.

Morsi was a leader in the radical Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.  During the interview, Morsi said of the Brotherhood: “I grew up with the Muslim Brotherhood.  “I learned my principles in the Muslim Brotherhood.  I learned how to love my country with the Muslim Brotherhood.  I learned politics with the Brotherhood.  I was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.” A slogan that is at the center of the Brotherhood reads: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”  The fact that the Brotherhood has not repudiated this goal is a clear indication of the incompatibility between the Brotherhood and Western democracies.

The challenge for the United States is to create policies that allows diverse cultures to peacefully coexist.  That approach should begin with a realistic use of Morsi’s own words: “a shared objective [between Western and Islamic countries], each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion.”  This solution demands free speech in the United States and this Country abiding by our Constitution.  The United States must conversely accept Islamic-based countries have the absolute right for their own self determination, whether this be a free society or one ruled by Sharia law.  Those who visit or live in the United States or a Muslim majority country must live by the rules of those countries.  Instead of continuing his apology approach, President Obama would do well to state such a clear understanding.

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Egyptian – American Relations Deteriorating

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 27, 2012

TheNew York Times reported on the deteriorating relationship between the United States and its former ally, Egypt.  This week Egyptian government prevented six Americans from leaving the country.  They are members of nongovernmental organizations including Sam LaHood, director of the International Republican Institute.  The action against the Americans was in response to President Obama’s warning that the United States might halt its annual $1 billion military aid unless Egypt took more democratic steps.

It was slightly less than a year ago that the Obama Administration backed the demonstrators in Cairo that were calling for the ouster of longtime American ally, Hosni Mubarak.  It is evident that the results of the so-called “Arab Spring” in Egypt were not as Obama and the State Department desired.  Now, a former ally has become an adversary.

When Barack Obama was running for the presidency he promised to improve America’s stature throughout the world.  One of his first actions as president was a speech in Cairo to the Muslim world.  He also went on a worldwide tour apologizing for past American actions.  These rather bizarre actions could be justified if the world became a safer or America was more respected.  With the opposite happening, the failures of Obama’s foreign policy are quickly approaching those of his economic mismanagement.

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Egyptian Riots Kill 24

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 12, 2011

MSNBC reported on riots that occurred in Egypt on Sunday killing two dozen and injuring over 200.  It started with peaceful protests by Christians, who make up 10% of Egypt’s population.  A military vehicle then jumped over a sidewalk running over at least 10 people, according to eyewitness reports.  That led to further escalations with mobs in Cairo attacking cars suspected of having Christian passengers.  It was also reported that the police did little to confront the thugs.

When the Arab Spring hit Egypt early year, some in the West including President Obama, saw the downfall of Hosni Mubarak as an opportunity to bring Western style democracy to that country.  That view was overly optimistic and naive.  The Muslim Brotherhood is the most organized and powerful political force in Egypt.  Its credo is: God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.

The Brotherhood’s significant popularity in Egypt makes it unlikely that minority rights will be honored in that country, a sure prescription for violence and persecution.

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“Revolution” Foster’s Anti-Christian Acts in Egypt

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 25, 2011

The Egyptian protests that led to the ouster of the dictator Hosni Mubarak is often referred to as a revolution.  Revolutions, however, lead to changes in governmental structures, not merely a change in the leader as occurred in Egypt.  Currently, the Army who previously controlled Egypt still rules it.  Whether the movement ultimately leads to a revolution remains in the hands of history.

Initially the protests gave Egyptians high hopes for the positive change.  However, the months that followed have offered a stark reality.  The economy has slowed significantly and there are signs of a virulent form of Islam taking hold in the country.

Egypt’s largest minority is the Christian Coptic’s that make up 10% of this Muslim country of 83 million.  The Wall Street Journal reported that since Mubarak’s ouster the Copts have come under increased discrimination with churches burned, people killed and other acts of violence and intimidation.

During the protests some in the West have focused the concern of radical Islam taking hold in Egypt through the Muslim Brotherhood, the best organized political movement in Egypt.  While the Brotherhood has its roots in radical Islam, it has attempted to put on a more moderate face in recent years.  No such concern for moderation is shown by another Egyptian Islamic group known as Salafis.

Salafism has its roots in Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi radical teaching of Islam that include strict adherents to Shariah law with no rights for women or tolerance for other religions.  It is this version of Islam that led to the 9/11 massacre and in fact Osama bin Laden belonged to the jihadi version of Salafism.

Salafis’ beliefs forbids Christians to hold political power over Muslims.  Salafi cleric Abdelmoneim Shehat has on fact said: “If the Christian is efficient, he could be a deputy or an adviser“.  This racist belief makes it clear that Salafis cannot peacefully coexist with Christians on an equal basis.

There are ominous signs jn Egypt.  However, the beliefs of the Salafis, Wahhabis and Muslim Brotherhood are not new nor are they more radicalized since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.  These beliefs are coming out of the closet and their proponents are no longer creating the ruse of desiring coexistence with others.

It should be clear by now that the narrative created in recent decades that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the central issue in the Middle East is without merit.  Take Israel out of the Middle East and:

  • Salafis will persecute Copts in Egypt
  • Syrian Alawites will kill Syrian Sunnis
  •  The Lebonese will resort back into civil war between Christians and various Muslim groups
  • Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites will be at war
  • The Kurds will be at war with the Turks
  • The Libyan tribes will remain at civil war
  •  The secular Palestinian Fatah organization will be a war with the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas
  •  Yemen and Bahrain will continue with deadly protests
  • And the big one, the Sunni Saudis and Persian Shiites will have their war

In an effort to camouflage its role in the violence, Safwat Hegazy, a Saudi-trained preacher and one of Egypt’s most influential Salafi voices, blamed the sectarian violence in Egypt on the United States and Israel. Scapegoating is an art form in the Middle East that can be matched no where else.

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After the Egyptian Revolution Comes Economic Despair

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 16, 2011

The Egyptian revolution that led Dictator Hosni Mubarak’s ouster of was a nightly news spectacle in the West.  The press and some in the U.S. government cheered on the protestors proclaiming it a freedom revolution with any outcome that led to Mubarak’s downfall being positive.  Unfortunately, reality does not match this Progressive narrative.

Shortly after Mubarak’s downfall, the television camera’s departed and Egypt has once again been relegated to the back pages of newspapers.  But all is not well in this most populated Arab country.

The New York Times has reported on the implosion of the Egyptian economy since the protests that ignited the peoples’ hopes for unrealized economic benefits.  The tourist industry, a key part of its economy, has collapsed with Egypt’s total annual growth dropping from 5% to 2%.

There now is jockeying for power in the new Egypt.  As would be expected, some promote market-based solutions for Egypt.  Others suggest a more Leftist approach that includes taxing the wealthy and increasing the number of government employees.

However, Egypt’s most organized and powerful political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, offers an Islamist-based economic solution that would require all Egyptian Muslims to give 7.5% of their annual incomes for charity as a surtax called “zakat”.  According to Brotherhood economist Abdel Hafez el-Sawy, “We don’t want to force Christians to do something they don’t want to do.  We are looking for a way for the government to institutionalize this mechanism so we can fix the poverty problem we have.”  This idea that will not work economically or socially.  Raising taxes has never led to economic growth.   The zakat will further inflame ethnic tensions with Egypt’s 10% Coptic Christian minority that is already being persecuted in.

The Arab world is in turmoil with the long-term outcome impossible to determine at this time.  There are various root causes for the sad state of these countries that include:

  • The willy-nilly manner in which the modern Arab countries’ borders were drawn up by European powers after World War I.
  • These countries were used as pawns by both sides during the Cold War.
  • Corrupt Arab leadership that used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an excuse to consolidate power and ignore human rights in their own countries.

In addition, the corrupt United Nations stood by, accepting grotesque behavior from Arab countries.  The UN gave the Arab dictators legitimacy by incredibly placing some like Syria and Libya on its Huma Rights Commission.  As Syrian protestors continue being murdered by Bashir Assad, as Libyans continue dying in a civil war, and as Egyptians start going hungry from a disintegrating economy, the United Nations adds to the blood already on its hands.  As long as the United States foots a lion share of the bill for this corrupt organization, we too must accept responsibility for its failings

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