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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Brotherhood’

The Curse of Sinai

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

The Sinai Peninsula is a huge area, approximately 61,000 square kilometers, which is almost three times the area of the State of Israel, and its population is approximately 550,000, less than one tenth of the population of Israel. The residents of Sinai, despite  being Egyptian citizens for the most part, are not of Egyptian origin: their Arabic dialect is Saudi Arabian, their culture is different from Egyptian culture and they identify with the state of Egypt about as much as the Bedouins in the Negev identify with the state of Israel. Why is this so? The reason is that the Bedouin will never identify with a state, since the state symbolizes order and the rule of law, whereas the desert is spontaneous and the law that rules within it is the law of the tribes. Only when the Bedouin is part of the governmental system and enjoys its benefits does he identify with the state, for example in Jordan, and even there it is not always guaranteed.

The Sinai Peninsula was never an integral part of Egypt; it was annexed only in the beginning of the twentieth century, when Britain – which ruled Egypt at the time – wanted to keep some distance between the Ottoman Empire and the Suez Canal. The Egyptian state never tried to impose Egyptian law and order upon Sinai and this is easy to prove: There are few roads in Sinai and between those roads are great expanses that are inaccessible to the branches of government: police, health services, educational services and infrastructure. Even the Egyptian army viewed Sinai only as a training area and an arena for battle with Israel, and in general, it can be said that Sinai has always been an unwanted burden to Egypt, a step-son who was not expected to amount to much.

After Israel conquered Sinai in the Six Day War (in June of 1967) the Sinai Bedouins came to an agreement with the IDF: if Israel would allow the Bedouins to have autonomy and live life as they pleased, they would not object to Israeli rule over the area. Israel ignored the poppy plantations that were cultivated in Sinai, which supplied a significant part of world opium consumption, and the Bedouins ignored the Israeli tourists on the Red Sea beaches who did not behave according to the acceptable rules of Bedouin modesty. The many tourist villages that were in Taba, in in Nawiba, in di-Zahab and in Ofira (Sharm e-Sheikh) at that time, provided a good livelihood to the Bedouins. The proximity of IDF bases also brought economic benefit to the Bedouins . The good relations between the Bedouins and Israel was based on the fact that Israel had no intentions of trying to turn the Bedouins into Israelis culturally, and that Israel let them live their lives according to the principles and laws that they have lived by from time immemorial.

An important detail to note is that the border between Israel and Egypt was a line on the map, not a physical fence or wall, and this enabled the Sinai Bedouins, together with their family members who lived in the Negev, to support themselves by smuggling goods, drugs, women and illegal immigrants seeking work into Israel. The Israeli authorities knew about this smuggling industry, but for years did very little in order to stop it, because it served the economic interest of both sides and because of the desire to maintain good relations with the Sinai Bedouins, who brought intelligence information to Israel and not just goods.

When Israel withdrew from Sinai in 1982, sovereignty over the peninsula was restored to Egypt but the Egyptian state did not return to the open areas or to the high mountains of the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian government limited itself to the scattered cities that were located on the shores: on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea – Rafiah, el-Arish, Sheikh Zayed, on the coast of the Red Sea – Taba, Dahab, Nawab, Sharm-e-Sheikh, and the coast of the Suez Bay — e-Tur, Ras Sudar, Abu Rudis, Port Fuad. In an attempt to deal with the problem of unemployment in Egypt, beginning in the days of Mubarak, the Egyptian government urged many youths to go to Sinai in order to work in the oil industry, the quarries and the tourism industry. The Egyptian government initiated agricultural projects in Sinai that depended on water brought from the Nile, and the entry of thousands of Egyptians into Sinai was perceived by the Bedouins as an attempt to overwhelm them, push them out of the area and deprive them of their livelihood. This is how the tension between the state of Egypt and the Bedouin population began in Sinai after the Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai peninsula.

Update: 250 Killed as Police Crush Cairo Sit-Ins

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Update from Sky News: More than 250 people have reportedly been killed as Egyptian security forces cleared two protest camps loyal to deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

Sky’s Sam Kiley, reporting from the Rabaa al Adawiya camp in Cairo, said it was “under very heavy gunfire” and was a “massive military assault on largely unarmed civilians in very large numbers”.

He added: “There are machine gun rounds and snipers on the roof that are preventing people from getting any closer to the field hospital.


Egyptian police broke up a Muslim Brotherhood sit-in near the Giza zoo in Cairo, in an attempt to clear the other at Rabaa El-Adawiya square after dawn on Wednesday. Egypt’s caretaker government has pledged to disperse the thousands of Islamists who were gathered in both venues, al Ahram reports.

The Cairo ambulance authority said five were killed and at least 52 wounded, but the Brotherhood put the death toll at 121, citing reports from a makeshift hospital located near the Rabaa sit-in.

Egypt’s state television said two policemen were killed and six wounded during the attempt to clear out the two sit-ins. All entrances to the sites are blocked by security forces.

Some 200 protesters were arrested on charges of carrying firearms, knives and gas canisters, the state news agency MENA reported.

“In accordance with government instructions to take necessary measures towards the sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda, and for the safety of the country, security forces started taking measures to disperse the sit-ins early Wednesday,” the interior ministry said in a statement.”

Live television footage showed riot police firing tear gas at protesters at one of the entrances of Rabaa El-Adawiya mosque in northern Cairo, where tens of thousands have been camping for six weeks to demand the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad accused police snipers of firing at Rabaa protesters from the rooftop of surrounding buildings.

Al-Nahar and ONTV satellite channels said their cameras were confiscated by police.

At the Nahda camp, extending down a palm tree-lined boulevard next to the Cairo zoo in Giza, police used loudspeakers to urge protesters to leave as sounds of gunfire rang out.

“Armed men in both camps fired at police forces once they started dispersing the sit-ins … police were able to control Nahda and are still combing the surrounding area,” the interior ministry said in another statement on its official Facebook page.

“The police forces only used tear gas despite being attacked by live ammunition [from protesters].”


Supporting ‘Peace Process’ and Muslim Brotherhood via Misinformation

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

There’s an Arab proverb that goes like this: When an enemy extends his hand to you cut it off. If you can’t, kiss it. Who do you think is being classified as the cutting or the kissing treatment today?

In contrast to the let’s-empower-our enemies approach, two of the best Middle East expert journalists in the world have just written from different perspectives on the real Middle East and the results are refreshing. But in other media the odds are fixed at four to one against sanity.

First, at one think tank, Khaled Abu Toameh has published, “Ramallah vs. the `PeaceProcess.’” He puts peace process in quotes to show his sarcasm. He tells the story of two Israeli Arab businessmen who wanted to open a Fox clothing store in the West Bank (like the one I shop at in Dizengoff Center).

Although given Palestinian Authority (PA) permission and having already made a big investment, they found themselves the target of attacks and calls for firing bombing the store. The assaults were even organized by PA journalists. So they gave up, costing 150 jobs for West Bank Palestinians. I could easily tell the same story a half-dozen times.

As Abu Toameh concludes: “This incident is an indication of the same`anti-normalization’” movement which [PA leader] Abbas supports will be the first to turn against him if he strikes a deal with Israel.” But, of course, for both the reason that this is a powerful radical movement and the factor that he is one of the leaders of the anti-peace camp, Abbas won’t make a deal ultimately.

Does John Kerry’s Peace Process Have a Chance? asks Aaron David Miller. And in subtle terms he answers: No. He writes:

“Neither Abbas nor Netanyahu wants to say no to America’s top diplomat and take the blame for the collapse of negotiations. This proved sufficient to get them back to negotiations, but more will be required to keep them there, let alone to reach an accord. Right now, neither has enough incentives, disincentives, and an urgent desire or need to move forward boldly.

“Unfortunately, right now, the U.S. owns this one more than the parties do. This is not an ideal situation. It would have been better had real urgency brought Abbas and Netanyahu together rather than John Kerry.”

In other words, Kerry wants and needs these talks; Netanyahu and Abbas don’t.

I mean it literally when I say that there are only two sensible people given regular access to the mass media on the Middle East, one is Miller the other is Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post. (If I have left someone out please remind me. But remember I said, regularly.)

If you want to know the real attitude consider this recent  exchange in Israel’s Knesset:

Jamal Zahalka of the Arab Communist Party, Balad,: “We, the Arabs, were here before you (the Jews) and we will be here after you!”

The prime minister asked permission to approach the podium and said in answer, “The first part isn’t true, and the second part won’t be!”

Remember that he Communist Party is the most moderate of the Arab parties. Fatah and  the PA are more radical and their leaders would not hesitate to repeat |Zahalka’s statement  Second, Zahalka wasn’t afraid to invoke genocide because he knew he was protected by democracy.

That’s the real situation. The Palestinian leadership’s goal of wiping out Israel has not changed. Only if it ever does will there be any chance of a two-state solution.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the equation the Washington Post has no less than four op-eds or editorials  in one week on why the  United States should support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

In Robert Kagan, “American aid Makes the U.S. Complicit in the Egyptian Army’s Acts” gives the realpolitik version. This is ludicrous. Was the U.S. thus complicit in the doings of every ally, including Egypt from 1978 to 2011? Should one dump good allies because of things they do, a debate that goes back to the onset of the Cold War.

And any way U.S. support for the army would be popular. Indeed, U.S. policy was “complicit” with the army coup against Mubarak and was complicit to the Mursi Islamist regime which it helped install, too!

Then we have the liberal human rights/democracy project view in Michele Dunne: “With Morsi’s ouster, time for a new U.S. policy toward Egypt,” because a U.S. policy supporting human rights must ensure that the totalitarian Muslim Brotherhood is part of the government (and no doubt would encourage stability) And we have, third, Reuel Marc Gerecht: “In Egypt, the popularity of Islamism shall endure,” which gives the conservative version for why we need the Brotherhood in power. Yet after all, just because the enemy can endure is not a reason to refuse to fight them. On the contrary, it is necessary at minimum to ensure it doesn’t become stronger.

El-Sisi Slams US for Abandoning the Egyptian People

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Egypt’s armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi lashed out at the U.S., urging the Administration to pressure the Muslim Brothers to end their resistance to the new rule.

In an interview with the Washington Post, El Sisi—who led the military coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi on july 3—is warning of police action that would put an end to the protests.

Despite the $1.3 billion in military aid the U.S. gives Egypt every year, El-Sisi accused President Barack Obama of abandoning Egypt.

“You left the Egyptians, you turned your back on the Egyptians and they won’t forget that. Now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians?” El-Sisi asked.

“The U.S. administration has a lot (of) leverage and influence with the Muslim Brotherhood and I’d really like the US administration to use this leverage with them to resolve the conflict,” he said, echoing accessions from the right in America, that Obama is still committed to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, despite their loss of popularity.

According to El-Sisi, the task of “removing” the Brotherhood protesters would not be assigned to the army.

“Whoever will clean these squares or resolve these sit-ins will not be the military,” he said, alluding to recorded massacres of unarmed Muslim Brothers by military units shooting into civilian crowds. “There is a civil police and they are assigned to these duties,” he clarified, shutting the doors a tad after the horses have all left the barn.

“On the 26th of [July], more than 30 million people went out onto the streets to give me support. These people are waiting for me to do something.”

According to Al Ahram, more than 250 Egyptian civilians have been killed since Morsi’s overthrow.

When asked whether he would seek the presidency, El-Sisi was vague:

“I want to say that the most important achievement in my life is to overcome this circumstance, [to ensure] that we live peacefully, to go on with our road map and to be able to conduct the coming elections without shedding one drop of Egyptian blood,” he said.

When he was pressed on his presidential ambitions, he responded that he is not the type who “aspire for authority.”

If ever there was a man with self-awareness issues… How does someone without aspirations for authority depose a legally elected president and impose a military junta in his place? Somebody hand that man a mirror…

In response to the obvious authority aspirations thing, El-Sisi defended his decision to overthrow Morsi, saying: “I expected if we didn’t intervene, it would have turned into a civil war. Four months before he left, I told Morsi the same thing.”

Except that now he has a real civil war on his hands – and it’s all the fault of the Muslim Brothers-loving Obama Administration.

“What I want you to know and I want the American reader also to know is that this is a free people who rebelled against an unjust political rule, and this free people needs your support,” urged the junta leader who shuns authority.

If you have access to Woody Allen’s last truly funny movie, “Bananas,” now would be a good time to watch it again…

America’s Real ‘Dangerous Slide’ to the Wrong Side

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Would you ever imagine that the leading American newspaper would openly advocate siding with radical Islamist forces in the Middle East against all of America’s allies and friends, and I mean with eyes wide open and with full awareness that it sought to overthrow them? Well, the day has come.

How has the argument for this strategy, which the Obama Administration is already pursuing being made?

A New York Times July 30th editorial entitled “Egypt’s Dangerous Slide” shows a real catastrophe for the United States. What is amazing is that it takes less than five minutes to deconstruct Obama Administration’s Middle East policy.

But be wary since if you do this—even once—you will be barred from 95 percent of mass media and academic jobs. [Note: What’s amazing about the previous sentence is that it is in fact accurate. That’s why the public debate is so bad.]
 
After all, we are at a moment when Israel-Palestinian talks haven’t even agreed on pre-conditions (a point which is usually reached before the two sides even begin talks) yet Secretary of State John Kerry predicts success within nine months (and the mass media quotes him without snickering).

“Deadly blundering by Egypt’s military rulers is making a bad situation much worse,” starts the editorial.

One of the most blatant, arrogant views of the American foreign policy establishment today is the frequency with which its members insist that leaders know nothing about their own countries. Thus, Obama, a man who has spent a few hours in Israel and has no empathy with it, can dare to say that he knows better what the country needs than does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Last weekend’s massacre of marchers supporting the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, will make national reconciliation and a return to democracy far more difficult.”

No kidding. First of all, there was never going to be conciliation. Second, the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t exactly eager to get national conciliation, a point  the editorial and the Obama Administration never mention.

Third, the military wants massacres because it seeks to intimidate the Brotherhood. That’s how things work in Egypt. In fact, that’s what happened last time, when the Brotherhood was crushed in the 1950s and 1960s, with its leaders sent to concentration camps, tortured, and hung. And that’s what the Brotherhood would be doing to its opposition if its regime had survived.The Brotherhood is portrayed simply as the victim.

In other words it is not Egypt’s leaders who don’t understand Egypt but rather America’s current leaders.

“The stakes are too high for any country to give up on the search for a peaceful resolution.”

No! Egyptians know that the stakes are too high not to give up on the search for a peaceful resolution. This is the Middle East. And this is true just like as with the Syrian civil war, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and every secular/nationalist/traditionalist versus give up on the search for a peaceful resolution Islamist battle in the region.But fourth the Brotherhood is also provoking a lot of violence which is neither reported or protested by the U.S. government. The Brotherhood is portrayed simply as the victim. That’s why millions of Egyptians now say they hate Americans. See here. And here. And a brutal murder of an anti-Mursj demonstrator here.

Al-Ahram writes: “The current misinformation campaign bears the hallmarks of a fully-fledged psychological warfare campaign aimed at deceiving the population.” Funny, it hasn’t fooled Egyptians but it has fooled the American elite.By the way, we should notice that Yusuf Qaradawi, the leading Sunni Islamist in the world, has just accused the military government of recruiting Egyptian Christians to kill helpless Muslims. Look for massacres of Christians in other Arab countries and Egypt. Perhaps the Obama Administration better worry about that. It is already happening.

In other words it is not Egypt’s leaders who don’t understand Egypt but rather America’s current leaders.

“Washington’s leverage has been limited, despite…its good intentions undermined by years of inconsistent American policies. President Obama urgently needs to rebuild that trust. And he cannot hope to do so by maintaining a cautious diplomatic silence while the Arab world’s most populous and most important country unravels.”

Where to begin! First, American policies have not been undermined by inconsistent policies. Doesn’t anyone know Egyptian history?

1952-1956: America supported the Egyptian military coup and even saved the regime! Only when President Gamal Abdel Nasser behave aggressively—not so much toward Israel but by conservative Arab states–and allied with the USSR, did America turn against him.

1956-1973: An anti-American regime allied with the Soviet Union and aggressive against America’s friends was opposed.

1974-2011: The United States was allied with a moderate regime.

Get it? It must be hard for the current establishment to understand so let me capitalize it and put in bold:

IT WASN’T AMERICA’S FAULT U.S. POLICY WAS ‘INCONSISTENT”; IT WAS EGYPT’S.
 
As for “good intentions” may I remind you that Obama did not have good intentions at all. Just like any British or American imperialist in a previous century, Obama has sought to overthrow regimes and replace it with a Muslim Brotherhood and thus inevitably Sharia regime.
 
How’s that for “good intentions?”

And if Obama wanted to rebuild trust–as opposed to protecting the Br0therhood’s interests–he would rebuild trust with the Egyptian army and people by supporting the  new government rather than seek to empower an anti-Christian, anti-Western, antisemitic, anti-American, homophobic, genocidal, anti-woman totalitarian-destined regime.

The editorial continued:

“Whatever Egypt’s new military strongman, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, thought he was doing by summoning people to Tahrir Square last Friday to demand a `mandate’ to fight terrorism, the result was to undermine Egypt’s prospects for stability even further. Whatever self-described pro-democracy groups thought they were doing by endorsing his call, the result was to strengthen the military and inflame raw divisions between civilian parties.”

He knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted to build and mobilize a civilian support base. And the civilian parties weren’t “inflamed,” they hate each other and know they are engaged in a life-and-death struggle.

“And whatever the Muslim Brotherhood leaders thought they were doing by urging followers to challenge security forces, the result was to add to the bloodshed and give the military new excuses for repression.”

Same patronizing tone. The Brotherhood knows what it is doing, too: it doesn’t want conciliation; it wants revolution.

“And things are likely to get worse until the military can be persuaded to hand over power and return to the barracks.”

Wrong again. They will get worse if the military does hand over power. For every day—except a few disastrous weeks under Mursi—during the last 61 years the army basically held power even if it was in the barracks.

“Other Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and its allied Persian Gulf emirates, are unlikely to help. They are more concerned with stamping out any potential political threat to their own autocratic rule at home than in encouraging democracy in Egypt.”

Of course because they understand Arab politics! And are they wrong? Listen to them. A Brotherhood takeover of Egypt would increase the political threat to them! Now you want to overthrow Saudi Arabia and any other remaining American friends in the Arab world?

“Israel has its own legitimate security concerns, mostly centered on preventing threats from Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula and Hamas-ruled Gaza.”

And in parallel you want to further undermine Israel’s security?

“That leaves the United States and the European Union.”

Right. If Egypt, the Arab states, and Israel don’t undermine their own security the United States and the EU will. People, think what you are saying here! Consider what insanity you are advocating!

In other words, the pro-Islamist forces are the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists (and in a sense the Taliban and al-Qaida) backed by the EU and United States, ([plus Turkey and Qatar along with Iran, Syria,  and Hizballah); while the anti-Islamist forces are the Arab countries and Israel?

Does that seem strange? .

“But Washington has been doing less than its share. Excessive concerns with maintaining good relations with Egypt’s generals and fears that a loosened military grip on Sinai and the Gaza border might throw off nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have wrongly muffled America’s public voice.”

I’m not believing this stuff. Let’s get tough with the generals, not the Islamists? And the best way to help peace talks is to return an Islamist regime in Egypt? That will surely quiet Hamas and the jihadists in Sinai and make Israel feel real secure. Oh by the way, the main threat to even the Palestinian Authority (PA) is Hamas! No doubt the PA will thank you, too.

“Most of all, President Obama needs to clarify what America stands for as Egypt struggles over its future.”
He sure does. By changing sides away from the Islamists and toward others, including Israel.

The Ever-Amazing Reb Elimelech (Part XV)

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Reb Elimelech maintained that just for him alone they will have to make a new Gehinnom, for the one that already exists is not adequate enough. He also commented – in his infinite humility – that the reason people come to him and request his assistance with children, health and parnassah is because it is his sins that are responsible for the absence of these blessings.

“I am not afraid of Gehinnom,” he used to say, “For once I know that it was the Holy One and His Heavenly Court that ordered that I descend there, I will jump in joy to fulfill the Heavenly command.”

Still, he did say about himself that he was certain that he would have a small portion in the World to Come. He came to this conclusion, so characteristically, because of how he envisioned the entrance exam. When the Heavenly Court will ask, “Did you learn Torah?” I shall reply, “no.”

When they will ask, “Did you daven?” I will be forced to respond in the negative as well. As to the query, “Did you perform any mitzvos or kind deeds?” honesty will compel me to reply “no” yet again.

At this point they will say, since you have been honest and spoken the truth, you are deserving of a small portion in the World to Come.

Reb Elimelech once went to visit his chassidim in a particular village, and when he departed all of his students escorted the master out of the town. He was riding in a wagon and soon more and more thronged to escort the great tzaddik.

Suddenly someone noticed that the wagon was empty – and Reb Elimelech was walking with the crowd! “Why has the rebbe descended from the wagon?” all wanted to know.

“When I saw,” responded Reb Elimelech, “how such a large group of Jews had joined together with such enthusiasm, I felt that I must also join them in this mitzvah…”

Although intense humility personified Reb Elimelech, he did not believe that this should be exclusively his domain. He maintained that the very root of one’s spiritual service and conduct must be humility, and by this he meant “honest humility,” for the opposite also existed.

There are those who portray themselves as humble and take pride in convincing others that they are humble. Reb Elimelech saw right through this and would call the fakers to task. Feigning humility, while feeling pride, was a cardinal offense to Reb Elimelech, for aside from the inexcusable dishonesty pride is a double-edged evil that leads to divisiveness.

Tradition has it that Reb Elimelech would only sleep in the beginning of the night until midnight. Then he would arise for his devotions, berating himself for having squandered time on sleep. It was also his custom not to retire until every coin that had made it into his home had been distributed to the poor.

Reb Elimelech was actually unable to fall asleep as long as there was a piece of currency – of even the slightest value – within the walls of his home. Whenever he was unable to fall asleep the house would undergo a thorough search for the errant coin. This inspection would encompass the floorboards and every pocket, drawer and surface until the coin was eventually discovered. Only when the money was dispatched to a poor family was the rebbe able to fall asleep.

One night, Reb Elimelech was unable to slumber. The family members searched frantically in any place that a coin might have been overlooked – but they searched in vain. Reb Elimelech proposed that maybe a chassid had arrived in town with money to be distributed but had yet to fulfill his mission.

The custom in those days – when travel was difficult, protracted and expensive – was that if a chassid were to travel to the rebbe, he would bring along with him pieces of paper with the names of the chassidim from that town together with money for pidyon nefesh that was to be handed to the rebbe.

Reb Elimelech suspected that this might be the cause for his inability to slumber. Thus, members of the household began to search all of the inns to see if anyone had recently arrived with pidyon money. Sure enough, someone fit the bill.

How Morsi Took Power in Egypt

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Earlier this year, most analysts in Egypt assessed Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi as the key figure in that country’s politics and President Mohamed Morsi as a lightweight, so it came as a surprise when Morsi fired Tantawi on Aug. 12, 2012.

This matters because Tantawi would have kept the country out of Islamist hands while Morsi is speedily moving the country in the direction of applying Islamic law. If Morsi succeeds at this, the result will have major negative implications for America’s standing in the region.

Tantawi, then the effective ruler of Egypt, had handpicked Morsi to become president, seeing him as the safest option, someone who could be manipulated or (if necessary) replaced. Toward this end, Tantawi instructed the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) to approve Morsi as a candidate, despite his arrest on Jan. 27, 2011, for “treason and espionage,” his time in prison, and despite the SCC having excluded other Muslim Brotherhood candidates, especially the rich, charismatic, and visionary Khairat El-Shater, on the basis of their own imprisonment. Tantawi wanted the obscure, inelegant, and epileptic Morsi to run for president because Shater was too dangerous and another Brotherhood candidate, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fettouh, too popular.What happened?

Sometimes after Morsi became president on June 30, Tantawi openly signaled his intent to overthrow him via a mass demonstration to take place on Aug. 24. His mouthpiece Tawfik Okasha openly encouraged a military coup against Morsi. But Morsi acted first and took several steps on Aug. 12: he annulled the constitutional declaration limiting his power, dismissed Tantawi, and replaced him with Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the head of military intelligence.

Morsi, in brief, pre-empted the impending military coup d’état against him. Tarek al-Zomor, a leading jihadi and Morsi supporter, acknowledged that “choosing Sissi to replace Tantawi was to stop a coup,” publicly acknowledging Morsi’s urgent need to act before Aug. 24. Hamdi Kandil, one of Egypt’s most prominent journalists, rightly characterized Morsi’s act as “a civilian coup.”

They missed one hidden factor: Brotherhood-oriented military officers turn out to have been far more numerous and powerful than previously realized: they both knew about the Aug. 24 plot plan and helped Morsi to beat it. If it was long apparent that some officers had an outlook sympathetic to the Brotherhood, the extent of their network has only just come out in the three months since the coup. How did Morsi pull it off? How did the lamb slaughter the butcher? Why did so many analysts not see this coming?

For example, we now know that Major General Abbas Mekheimar, the army officer assigned to oversee the purge of officers with Brotherhood or other Islamist affiliations, himself is aligned with the Brotherhood or perhaps a member of it. As for Sissi, while the Brotherhood denies his direct membership, one of its leaders says he belongs to its informal “family” – which makes sense, seeing that high-ranking public figures best advance its agenda when not formal members. His position as head of military intelligence gave him access to information about Tantawi’s Aug. 24 planned coup and historian Ali Al-Ashmawi found that Sissi tracked military officials loyal to Tantawi and had them discharged.

Where does this leave matters? Tantawi and company are safely pensioned off, and (unlike Hosni Mubarak) are not going to jail. Sissi’s military has retreated to roughly the same position that Tantawi’s military occupied before Mubarak’s overthrow in Feb. 2011, which is to say it is allied with the president and following his leadership without being fully subordinate to him. It retains control over its own budget, its promotions and dismissals, and its economic empire.

But the military leadership lost the direct political power that it enjoyed for 1½ years in 2011-12. In retrospect, this network should not be a great surprise, for it has a precedent: the Brotherhood had infiltrated the military in the 1940s, standing behind the “Free Officers” movement that overthrew King Farouq in 1952. After having been shut out in the period 1954-74, the Muslim Brotherhood then rebuilt its network of officers in ways invisible and unknown to outside observers, including ourselves. One top Brotherhood figure,Tharwat al-Kharabawi, now acknowledges that some of the organization’s members “became high-ranking leaders in the military.”

Morsi’s future is far from assured. Not only does he face competing factions of Islamists but Egypt faces a terrible economic crisis. Morsi’s power today unquestionably brings major short-term benefits for himself and the Brotherhood; but in the long term it will likely discredit Brotherhood rule.

In short, following thirty years of stasis under Mubarak, Egypt’s political drama has just begun.

Originally published at the Washington Times and DanielPipes.org on Nov. 14, 2012.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/how-morsi-took-power-in-egypt/2012/11/18/

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