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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Al Jazeera’

Egypt is Boiling

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

During the years of Mubarak’s rule, he had only three true supporters: his wife Suzanne and his sons Gamal and Alaa. All of the other figures that surrounded Mubarak were politicians and sycophants who took advantage of their proximity to the president to extract favors as long as he was able to grant them. The moment that they felt that he was weak, they abandoned him to the fate of dismissal and the defendant’s cage. In contrast, in Mursi’s case there were, and still are, tens of millions of supporters who are ready at a moment’s notice to fight to the end, in order to return him to power. This is the reason for the contrast between the ease with which Mubarak was taken down and the difficulties that the army has been experiencing in its attempts to stabilize the state since Mursi was thrown out of office about three months ago, at the beginning of July of this year (2013).

The most important and sensitive indicator of the current state of political stability is what is happening in the educational system: If the schools open on schedule, students go to school as usual and studies in all of the institutions are conducted normally, it is a sign of a stable state, and a functional government, based on legitimacy and wide public acceptance. When life is disrupted, the first thing to be harmed is the educational system because parents don’t send their children out into the streets in a situation that they consider to be dangerous.

The Egyptian school year was supposed to begin these days. But despite the fact that many of its leaders are behind bars, the Muslim Brotherhood came out with the rhyming slogan: “La Dirasa wala tadris hata yarga al-Rais” – “No school and no instruction until the president’s return”.

The universities are more than just institutions of higher learning, because they also serve as a meeting place, a place to express solidarity and a field of activity for the young guard, the energetic ones of the Muslim Brotherhood, who are quite aware that after they successfully finish their academic studies, there will be several years of searching for work in their field, and many frustrations and disappointments stemming from the widespread protectionism that exists within the Egyptian job market, and certainly within the governmental job market.

Today, when the average age of marriage has risen to over thirty years of age because of economic difficulties, the young men and women channel their energies, their frustrations and their aggression into the political arena, in the absence of any other legitimate channel in a conservative society such as Egypt’s.  Because of their age and family status, the pupils and students do not yet need to submit to the need for bribery and flattery that family heads have to, in order to maintain their livelihood, and this allows them to say, and even to shout, truth to power and its henchmen.

In high schools, colleges and universities throughout Egypt, and especially those in indigent and traditional areas, there are many demonstrations these days. Although these demonstrations are mostly peaceful in character, they express the emotions of the masses, who are enraged that the revolution has led to the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some of the youths are armed, mainly with knives and handguns, and there is high potential for violence to break out.

In parallel with the teachers’ strike there have been attempts to organize commercial strikes, but these attempts have failed because many of the unemployed in Egypt are street vendors who are not unionized, so it is difficult to get them to cooperate, since their income will suffer.

As of this writing, the UN Economic Council in New York is currently conducting activities, where Egypt is represented by Nabil Fahmi, the army-appointed Foreign Minister in the current military government. This is another reason for ferment among the supporters of the deposed president, Mursi, and they have been organizing protest demonstrations in front of UN representatives in Egypt. These demonstrations, should they become habitual, might bring about a violent response from the army, similar to the violent evacuation of Rabia al-Adawiya Square last month (August, 2013), which cost the lives of dozens of people.

Egypt: al Jazeera ‘National Threat,’ Bans Channel, Arrests Journalists

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Egyptian ministers announced that al Jazeera’s channel in Egypt is a national threat.  They have banned the affiliate and arrested four of its journalists.

In their statement, the Egyptian ministers of investment, telecommunications and information accused al Jazeera Mubashir Misr of spreading lies and rumors damaging to Egyptian national security and unity.

The statement read: “Al Jazeera Mubashir Misr does not have a legal basis for its presence in Egypt, and it has been shown that it does not possess any of the licenses and permits that it requires to conduct its operations on Egyptian territory.”

The Egyptian government took this step the day after Al Jazeera Mubashir Misr broadcast a message from the Muslim Brotherhood’s spokesman Mohamed El-Beltagy.

Beltagy, speaking from an undisclosed location, criticized the interim Egyptian government. The Brotherhood’s spokesman also emphatically denied that his organization is a terrorist organization.

While it may be fine for an American politician from the Republican party to go on the air and criticize U.S. President Barack Obama, things don’t go down quite the same way in Egypt, or, for that matter, in any Muslim country in the Middle East.

Although they cannot actually block al Jazeera from its communications satellite, Egypt’s ministers of investment, telecommunications and information issued a public statement banning the channel for using satellite transmitters without an official license.

In addition to making the announcement banning the Qatari channel, the offices of Al Jazeera’s Mubashir Misr were raided and four of its journalists were arrested. Correspondent Wayne Hay, cameraman Adil Bradlow and producers Russ Finn and Baher Mohammed were detained on Tuesday, the network said on Thursday, calling the arrests “a campaign against al Jazeera in particular,” the Guardian reported.

In addition to the detention of the al Jazeera journalists, Egyptian officers also located and arrested Mohamed el-Beltagy, as well as the  former Labor minister Khaled al-Azhari.

The arrests, in turn, prompted the Muslim Brotherhood to ramp up calls for nationwide protests against Egypt’s military-backed government. The Egyptian government immediately responded to the call by warning that live ammunition would be used against protesters who attack public institutions.

Friday will be another day of violence in Egypt.

Qatar’s Risky Overreach

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Originally pubished at The Investigative Project on Terrorism.

With seemingly limitless wealth and a penchant for often supporting both sides of the argument, the State of Qatar has become a highly significant player in Middle East power-politics. Recent events in Egypt and Syria, however, have put the brakes on Qatar’s ambitions. In this second part of his analysis of its attempt to influence regional politics, Paul Alster considers how much its flamboyant foreign policy, centered on furthering the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood, might be coming back to haunt Qatar.

July 3 was not a good day for Mohammed Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood’s man was ousted from power after just a year as Egypt’s president, having lost the essential confidence of the country’s powerful military leaders. July 3 was also a black day for the State of Qatar, the country which had nailed its colors and its money firmly to the Muslim Brotherhood mast, and which suddenly found itself the target of outrage on the Egyptian street and beyond.

Morsi came to power in a democratic election, but misinterpreted the meaning of democracy. He and his Muslim Brotherhood backers – primarily Qatar – appeared to believe that having won the election, they could run the country according to their decree, not according to democratic principles as the majority had expected. A series of draconian laws, a spiralling economic crisis, and a feeling on the Egyptian street that the Muslim Brotherhood was paid handsomely by foreign forces, spurred street protests of historic proportions, prompting the military to intervene.

With Morsi gone, Qatar suddenly became “persona non grata” in Egypt.

Qatar sought to extend its influence and Muslim Brotherhood-inspired view of how countries like Egypt, Syria, Libya, and others should be. Qatar was also playing a power-game against Saudi Arabia, another hugely wealthy regional power whose vision of an even more strictly Islamist way of life for Muslims drove a wedge between the two parties.

Another seismic change hit the region just nine days before Morsi’s fall. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani – in power since overthrowing his own father back in 1995 – voluntarily abdicated in favor of his 33-year-old son, Sheikh Tamim.

Tamim, educated in England and a graduate of the prestigious Sandhurst Military Academy, became the region’s youngest leader, with the eyes of the world watching to see if he would maintain his father’s aggressive policy of extending Qatar’s regional influence. Few could have imagined that he would very quickly find himself at the center of a major political crisis as Egypt – a country in which Qatar had so much credibility and money invested – imploded before his eyes.

Within hours of Morsi’s departure, the streets of Cairo were awash with anti-Qatari banners accompanied by the obligatory anti-US and anti-Israel slogans. Al Jazeera – a staunch promoter of the Muslim Brotherhood view in Egypt – was vilified, its reporters attacked on the streets, its offices ransacked. Al Jazeera also had been hit seven months earlier after supporting Mohammed Morsi’s crackdown on young Egyptian demonstrators opposed to the rapid Islamisation of Egypt under the new government.

In the first part of my analysis of Qatar’s policy in the region, I focused on Al Jazeera’s huge influence on opinion in the Arab world and the West, portraying the Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood version of events in a way that the uninformed viewer might believe to be objective reporting. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Al Jazeera’s carefully crafted smokescreen as the moderate voice of the Arab world has taken a significant battering with the events in Egypt. That should serve as a wake-up call to those trumpeting the imminent launch of Al Jazeera America scheduled for August 20.

“There is a lingering perception in the U.S. –right or wrong – that the network [Al Jazeera] is somehow associated with terrorism, which could slow its progress in gaining carriage,” Variety Magazine‘s Brian Steinberg suggested last month.

Dubai-based writer Sultan Al Qassemi observed in Al-Monitor: “Qatar has dedicated Al Jazeera, the country’s most prized non-financial asset, to the service of the Muslim Brotherhood and turned it into what prominent Middle East scholar Alain Gresh [editor of Le Monde diplomatique and a specialist on the Middle East] calls a ‘mouthpiece for the Brotherhood.'” The channel has in turn been repeatedly praised by the Brotherhood for its ‘neutrality.'”

The Economist, reporting in January, reflected the growing dissatisfaction amongst many in the Arab world. “Al Jazeera’s breathless boosting of Qatari-backed rebel fighters in Libya and Syria, and of the Qatar-aligned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, have made many Arab viewers question its veracity. So has its tendency to ignore human-rights abuses by those same rebels, and its failure to accord the uprising by the Shia majority in Qatar’s neighbor, Bahrain, the same heroic acclaim it bestows on Sunni revolutionaries.”

In June, a vocal and agitated group of nearly 500 protesters took to the streets in Benghazi, Libya – the city where U.S Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three colleagues were killed last fall – demanding that Qatar stop meddling in Libyan internal affairs.

“Much of the opposition was directed at Qatar which protesters claimed was supporting Libyan Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Middle East Online reported at the time. “Analysts believe that Qatar is trying to take advantage from a scenario repeated in both Tunisia and Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood, which was an active participant in revolutions, seized power,” the story said.

To the casual observer, it might appear strange that the country that was perhaps as instrumental as any in helping bring about the downfall of the hated Colonel Muammar Gadaffi in Libya back in 2011 should be the target of such vitriol. Qatar, a close U. S. ally, was the main conduit through which weapons transfers were made to Libyan rebels who eventually overpowered forces loyal to the long-time dictator.

As Libyans attempt to create a new order in their fractured country, many now believe that the Qatari regime’s Salafist sympathies contribute to a growing influence of radical Islamist groups in Libya with similar ideological beliefs to the Qatari royals. Concerns had surfaced as early as January 2012.

“But with [Muammar] Gaddafi dead and his regime a distant memory, many Libyans are now complaining that Qatari aid has come at a price,” reported Time magazine’s Steven Sotloff. “They say Qatar provided a narrow clique of Islamists with arms and money, giving them great leverage over the political process.”

Sotloff quoted former National Transitional Council (NTC) Deputy Prime Minister Ali Tarhouni as saying, “I think what they [Qatar] have done is basically support the Muslim Brotherhood. They have brought armaments and they have given them to people that we don’t know.”

And then there’s the question of Qatar’s meddling in Syria’s civil war.

“I think there are two [Qatari] sources of mostly ‘soft’ power – their money and Al Jazeera,” Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli military intelligence, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “They are using their soft power to advance their regional goals. In Libya it was not necessarily a negative. In Syria they are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood [allied to the Free Syrian Army].”

“Now, what you have to assess,” Yadlin continued, “is whether the Muslim Brotherhood is better than Bashar [al-Assad], and whether the Muslim Brotherhood is better than the Jihadists and the Al Nusra Front [supported by Saudi Arabia].”

Yadlin’s pragmatic view reflects the dilemma of many considering intervention on behalf of the rebel forces in Syria. Is it better to try to arm the moderate elements of the FSA and have them replace the Assad regime? Would risking weapons supplied by the West and countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia falling into the wrong hands, possibly usher in an even more dangerous Jihadist regime that could destabilise the region even further?

Qatar played on these fears by presenting the Muslim Brotherhood as a relatively moderate force, but many now fear it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and no less dangerous than the Al Nusra Front terror group, which was added to the UN sanctions blacklist May 31.

Writing for the Russian website Oriental Review.org on May 23, Alexander Orlov reminded readers that Qatar was on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism during the 1990s, and sheltered Saudi nationals who were later revealed to have contributed to the 9/11 atrocities. He suggests that the U.S. turned a blind eye to Qatar’s previous record in return for using the massive Al Udeid facility as a forward command post in 2003 for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Orlov reminds us that Qatar was a major financier of the Islamist rebellion in Chechnya in the 1990s, and that after the Islamists had been routed by the Russian army, the [now former] Qatari emir gave sanctuary to one of the most wanted leaders of the Islamist rebellion, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, a figure who has inspired Chechen Islamists ever since. Yandarbiyev was subsequently assassinated by a car bomb in the Qatari capital Doha in 2004.

Qatar long ago signed up to the Muslim Brotherhood cause. It believed that this alliance would promote Qatar to being the foremost player in Sunni Muslim affairs at the expense of its main rival, Saudi Arabia. Recent events suggest that gamble may have blown up in its face.

Sheikh Tamim’s rise to power appears to have created an opportunity to mend bridges with Saudi Arabia after his father Sheikh Hamad’s antagonistic relationship with Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia was a key Brotherhood supporter from the 1950s until the 9/11 attacks. Then, in a bid to distance itself from the damning fact that 15 of the 19 bombers were Saudis, Riyadh insisted that Muslim Brotherhood radicalization of the bombers was a significant factor. Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad quickly stepped into the breach and became the Muslim Brotherhood’s biggest supporter, offering Doha as a base for spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

It is significant, then, that the new Qatari leader’s first foreign visit was to Saudi Arabia. He arrived there last Friday, reported the Gulf Times. “Talks during the meeting dealt with existing fraternal relations between the two countries and ways to develop them in various fields,” the official Qatar News Agency said.

Tamim’s outreach to Saudi Arabia suggests that the two countries may be on the verge of rapprochement. Where that development leaves the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar’s huge investment in underwriting the Egyptian economy, the funding of rebel forces in Syria, and Qatar’s previous foreign policy in the region, remains to be seen.

The choices Qatar’s newly appointed young leader, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, makes over the next few weeks and months may have a significant impact on regional politics and on Qatar’s future role on that stage for years to come.

“I suspect the Qataris will draw back somewhat,” former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan told Reuters. “Their infatuation with the Muslim Brotherhood has probably been dampened. They’re likely to come around to a position closer to the Saudis.”

JewishPress.com Editor Holds His Own on Al Jazeera

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

It’s no secret that Al Jazeera is an Islamic propaganda network.

So, I would say it takes a brave Jew to go on to an Al Jazeera anti-Zionist show, to argue head to head, three on one, while standing his ground.

But that’s what JewishPress.com Contributing Editor Yishai Fleisher did. In fact, it’s obvious he scored quite a few points there, for the good guys, and would have scored more if he had been allowed to talk and respond to the lies and demagoguery – but Al Jazeera didn’t want that to happen.

You can fast forward past the anti-Israel garbage and just listen to Yishai. He did a great job.

Activist: Al Jazeera TV Misrepresented Pro-Israel Muslim

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Sinem Tezyapar, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, has written The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on behalf of Turkish Muslim leader Adnan Oktar, regarding an Al-Jazeera TV interview with Oktar, dated September 28, 2007, titled “Turkish Thinker Adnan Oktar Tells about His Struggle against the Freemasons.”

According to Tezyapar, Oktar’s references to Zionism in the video are not subtitled correctly.

“I assume that Al Jazeera might have edited and translated them in a way that is coherent to its own ideology,” she notes, saying that “if you will listen to the Turkish original uncut film which was recorded and broadcast on Harun Yahya (Oktar’s literary pseudonym) websites,” he does not object to Zionism. He merely entertains the idea that had Zionism been an expansionist ideology, Oktar would have resisted it. But the Arabic voice over translation depicts him as actually objecting to Zionism.

In her letter to MEMRI, Tezyapar provides the original Turkish transcript, and the following English translation:

ADNAN OKTAR: Zionism is the same, of course. If there is an ideology that aims to rule the world, that rejects other religions, that claims the dominion of a single religion and rejects other people and tries to impose its ideology on them, I will of course fight it. But if somebody does not espouse such ideas, then there is nothing I can say. The Jews are a People of the Book. If they want to practice their own religion, if they want to live in their own country, they should stay and live freely in their own country. I respect that, but, if they say “This is not enough for me. I am going to rule the whole world and will destroy all other religions, so that only I survive”, that I cannot accept.

Tezyapar then requests that the service edit the clip accordingly, or remove it altogether, since it is misleading.

She offers “many links where Mr. Adnan Oktar advocates the rights of Jews to dwell in the Holy Land, to have their own sovereign state.”

We’ll keep you posted.

Al Jazeera: US ‘Increasingly Irrelevant’ to the Arabs

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

“U.S. policy in the Arab world has long been widely unpopular, to put it mildly,” on Sunday Sarah Mousa wrote in Al Jazeera. Although President Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo were met with great enthusiasm, she continues, “the Arab uprisings transformed many peoples’ views on the role played by the US in their region. While Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did offer verbal support to most of the protest movements, hypocritical selective support, initial American hesitation in backing the uprisings and past policies bolstering dictatorships were not forgotten.”

Mousa, a graduate from Princeton University and a 2010-2011 Fulbright Scholar in Egypt, states: “More crucially, it became clear to many that the outcome of the uprisings was up to them, and not to U.S. policymakers. In the case of Egypt, U.S. statements only called for Hosni Mubarak to step down when it became entirely clear that it was inevitable. While the gesture may have been appreciated by parts of the Egyptian opposition, it was not viewed as a significant turning point.”

Obama’s visit to Israel and the PA were received coolly by Palestinians, writes Mousa. “Young activists referred to the speeches as ‘insipid’ and ‘sycophant.’ The part of Obama’s Jerusalem speech that many Palestinians paid most attention to was an interruption by Palestinian audience member Rabeea Eid: ‘Did you really come here for peace or to give Israel more weapons to kill and destroy the Palestinian people? Did you happen to see the apartheid wall on your way here? There are Palestinians sitting in this hall. This state should be for all of its citizens, not a Jewish state only.'”

We’ve all seen the clip where, as the noisy Eid was being dragged out of the hall, Obama referred to the interruption as a good display of “lively debate.”

Recordings of the incident quickly spread throughout the Palestinian Internet. Obama’s failure to effectively address Palestinian rage on the student’s points, just as Eid was being dragged away and handcuffed, made him a mockery in Palestinian eyes, argues Mousa.

“The U.S. is increasingly irrelevant to movements throughout the region,” she concludes. “In his March visit to Cairo, Secretary of State John Kerry extended invitations to meet with members of opposition parties. Many turned him down. Distour party member Gamila Ismail explained her rejection of the invitation in a scathing letter to Kerry, in which she criticized self-interested U.S. policy that has supported repressive regimes in Egypt for decades.”

Ismail also wrote Kerry: “This is a revolution that will teach the world, as Obama, your president, has said. And we want to teach the world and be a model for it. And we will become different than what you see. Your embassy reports see that we do not deserve anything except this [limited] amount of democracy. And that this [limited] amount is ‘enough’.”

Interestingly, as America is achieving a steady decline in reliance on Middle Eastern oil, American foreign policy no longer views the region with the urgency it did only a decade ago – and the Arab intelligence gets it.

How I wish Benjamin Netanyahu would get it, too.

Why Hagel is Really Scary: He’s Typical of the Ruling Elite

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“Joab came to the king [David] in his quarters and said, “Today you have humiliated all your followers, who this day saved your life, and the lives of your sons and daughters…by showing love for those who hate you and hate for those who love you. For you have made clear today that the officers and men mean nothing to you.” –II Samuel, 19: 6-7

If Chuck Hagel is so much dumber than you why is he the one being nominated by President Barack Obama to be secretary of defense? Answer: Hagel knows how to be dumb in the right way.

In other words, He’s simultaneously even dumber than you think but also, to use an old expression, dumb like a fox. Let me explain.

In his public self-management and especially during his confirmation hearings as secretary of defense, Hagel handled himself in a manner that showed he is incapable of fulfilling a cabinet-level position.

Here’s the main example.

Hagel said, “I support the president’s strong position on containment.” Now the truth is that there’s nothing wrong with that. He did not say the president’s position advocating containment of Iran. Contrary to the way that many writers are portraying it, what he said wasn’t incorrect, just ambiguous. He could easily have recovered.

So then some of his handlers asked him to clarify and what did he do?

“I was just handed a note that I misspoke,” he announced, “that I said I supported the president’s position on containment. If I said that, I meant to say that we don’t have a position on containment.”

Now this management alone is enough to bar him from handling one of the most important and complex jobs in the world. Let’s count the ways:

–Never admit that you’ve just been told you were wrong! He should have pocketed the note without mentioning it and simply added to his statement. What he did instead is on the level of stupidity of a television host being shown a cue card reading, “Wrap up the show, moron!” and then reading that aloud to the live audience.

–Instead, He should have said something like this: “I do not want any ambiguity in my clear statements of support for the president and for a tough policy on Iran. I support the president’s position of asserting that containment is insufficient and that our goal is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, leaving all options open for doing so.”

In other words, he doesn’t just not know the facts; he doesn’t know how to be a high-level official at all. He doesn’t just not know the details of international affairs; his thought is simply not coherent at all. And unlike Obama and Kerry, he doesn’t know how to hide his radicalism behind smooth phrases.

–And then he makes it worse by saying that the administration doesn’t have a policy on containment! Of course, the U.S. government does have a position on containment of Iran! It is supposedly against doing that. [Accepting that Iran has nuclear weapons and then trying to limit the damage by isolating Iran, surround it with forces, installing anti-missile and early-warning stations, etc.] President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and two now ex-defense sectaries along with tens of others expressed it daily. [Of course, it is 99 percent likely that they will end up trying containment anyway.]

For Hagel, that’s a triple goof, sort of equivalent to an Olympics gold medal winning move by a figure-skater, only in reverse!

But I have a theory. As everyone knows, Hagel is a “Republican.” Perhaps Obama was conspiring to make Hagel secretary of defense, have him show how dumb and incompetent he was, and then lead the public to conclude that all Republicans are dumb and incompetent. Brilliant as always!

Want proof? How about Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, arguably the dumbest—I didn’t say most terrible but just dumbest—member of Obama’s cabinet who is a—wait for it—Republican!

Seriously though. Can you imagine the kind of mentality that would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and the national security of the country in the hands of a man like Hagel?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/why-hagel-is-really-scary-hes-typical-of-the-ruling-elite/2013/02/05/

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