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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Cairo’

It’s Official: Egyptian Military Strongman to Run for President

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

The Egyptian general who deposed Muslim Brotherhood-backed former President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, announced late Wednesday he will run for president. Abdul Fatah el-Sisi, who holds the rank of Field Marshal as head of the country’s armed forces, is also the Defense Minister in Egypt’s current transitional government.

“These recent years of our nation’s history have conclusively shown that no one can become president of Egypt against the will of the people or short of their support,” Sisi said in his speech on national television. “Never can anyone force Egyptians to vote for a president they do not want. Therefore I am here before you humbly stating my intention to run for the presidency of the Arab Republic of Egypt . . . Only your support will grant me this great honor.”

Following el-Sisi’s announcement, Interim President Adly Mansour issued a statement saying he had promoted Egyptian military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Sedki Sobhi to the rank of first lieutenant general.

According to the state-run Al Ahram newspaper, el-Sisi met earlier with military officials to tell them he was stepping down. The meeting was also expected to help determine who would succeed the Egyptian strongman to the post. Today (Thursday) he is expected to submit his official resignation to President Mansour at a Cabinet meeting.

The radical Islamist opposition movement in Egypt hates el-Sisi and continue to riot against the transitional government that succeeded Mohammed Morsi. They also perceive el-Sisi to be instrumental in this week’s Supreme Court decision to sentence 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death. Ongoing street violence and bloody clashes with police by Islamist opposition forces have led to at least one death this week, according to Al Ahram, quoting figures from Egypt’s health ministry, with eight others injured in the riots.

El-Sisi has also been largely responsible for Egypt’s recent cooperation with Israel in clearing and destroying the terrorist smuggling tunnels that have honeycombed the area under the borders between Egypt, Gaza and Israel, a move that has earned the military leader the enmity of terrorists in Sinai and Hamas leaders in Gaza.

The general is widely supported by moderates on both sides of the border who would like to see the country get back to a “normal life” and by those in Egypt who are heartily sick of the violence and lack of tourism in a nation that once played host to regular visits from wealthy international clientele.

Muslim Brotherhood Terrorists Kill Egyptian Soldier

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Four masked Muslim Brotherhood gunmen  killed one soldier and wounded three others on Thursday and fled on two motorcycles, Egyptian officials and eyewitness said.

The rare attack on an army bus in the capital came eight months after Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a military coup. Previous attacks in Cairo have targeted policeman, and Thursday’s assassination of a soldier is bound to spark a strong retaliation form the regime and possibly provoke a new round of violence that has marked day-to-day life in Egypt since the rebellion against Hosni Mubarak three years ago.

Russia Buying Out US Influence with $2 Billion Arms Deal for Egypt

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Egyptian army chief and probable next president, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, landed in Moscow Wednesday and is expected to sign up with Russia for a $2 million arms deal in another move that could diminish American influence over Cairo as well as the entire Middle East.

After the Obama administration openly warned the Egyptian regime last year,it could face cuts in military aid from Washington because of its undemocratic policies, Saudi Arabia stepped into the break to offer help to Egypt.

The United States pooh-poohed the idea that it was losing its clout in Cairo, but Russia now is set to take advantage of Saudi financial aid to Egypt and boost its defense sales and to further erode the Obama administration’s position.

Al-Sisi’s is on his first foreign visit since he replaced ousted president Mohammed Morsi. Russia’s foreign and defense ministers visit Cairo last November.

Russia has become a major thorn in the side of President Barack Obama over Syria and Iran. At the same time, the Arab world is increasingly fed up with the president’s foreign policy. Obama’s “engagement” with Iran has disappointed Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The former American administrations’ military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have left behind anarchy, violence and rabid anti-Americanism.

It is no wonder that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is willing to go for broke for a deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. That would restore America’s shine to some extent, but if a deal is made, which is unlikely, and if it falls apart in the future, which is more than probably, the United States will be in a weaker position in the Middle East.

Today the Brotherhood, Tomorrow Hamas

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

After crushing the Muslim Brotherhood at home, Egypt’s military rulers are going after Hamas in the Gaza Strip, senior Egyptian security officials told Reuters on Tuesday. Now they go about toppling Hamas, which took over in Gaza in 2007.

Last month, Egypt’s public prosecutor accused Hamas of conspiring with the Brotherhood and Iran to launch terrorist attacks in Egypt.

“We know Hamas is the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood are terrorists and no country could develop with terrorists in or around it,” the security official said.

Wait – is anybody writing this down? Someone should tell Bibi that the Egyptians have finished reading his book and are now busy applying his ideas. The good ones, before he turned his back on them.

Since rising to power in a military coup in the summer, the Egyptian junta has been laboring to undermine Gaza’s economy by destroying the bulk of the 1,200 tunnels used to smuggle food, cars and weapons. In that area, too, Egypt has been a lot more heavy handed than the IDF. Essentially, using a team of bulldozers, the Egyptian army, over a period of ten days or so, razed everything that stood up alongside the Gaza border up to where the Israeli border begins. They created a broad no man’s land over the caved in tunnels, making passage into their side a life threatening proposition.

Egypt’s Junta has cracked down hard on the Brotherhood, to the point where nowadays almost its entire leadership and thousands of its rank and file members are behind bars.

And so, today, while Egyptians continue to vote on the first day of polling in the constitution referendum – their junta’s first electoral test since Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in July; and while as many as nine Egyptians have already been killed in local clashes, the new Pharaohs are setting their sights on another target.

“Gaza is next,” one senior security official told Reuters. “We cannot get liberated from the terrorism of the Brotherhood in Egypt without ending it in Gaza, which lies on our borders.”

It looks like Hamas will be facing growing resistance and street protests, much like those that took down two consecutive regimes in Egypt (until the junta got it right). The rulers of Cairo will be financing and supplying these protests, until Hamas cries uncle and takes a boat ride to Turkey.

Assuming they’ll still have friends up there by that time.

Egypt does view Hamas as an existential problem, seeing as the terrorist government has been supporting al Qaeda-inspired gangs that attack security forces in the Sinai peninsula. According to Reuters, those attacks have longs since crossed the Suez Canal and spread to Egypt’s large cities.

A Hamas official said the comments made to Reuters by Egyptian officials “showed Cairo was inciting violence and trying to provoke chaos.”

Yes, I admit, some news items are more fun to write than others. This one – top ten.

The Hamas forces are estimated at 40,000 soldiers, police and security forces. They rule over a population of 1.8 million people, if any of those numbers can be trusted.

“We know that Hamas is powerful and armed but we also know that there are other armed groups in Gaza that are not on good terms with Hamas and they could be used to face Hamas,” another Egyptian security source told Reuters. “All people want is to eat, drink and have a decent living, and if a government, armed or not, fails to provide that, then the people will rise against it in the end.”

And, naturally, the more people starve, the easier it will become to lure them out into the streets, at which point the Hamas thugs will crack down on them, cameras will snap, mayhem will erupt, until something will give.

Israel Finally Names New Ambassador to Egypt

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

The Israeli foreign ministry has named Middle East specialist Chaim Koren as the next ambassador to Egypt after several months of being without an envoy. The government did not state when Koren will take up his new post.

He has been serving as non-resident ambassador to South Sudan. Koren speaks Arabic and previously has served on the embassy staff in Cairo as director of the ministry’s political planning division.

Anti-Israel violence following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi as president of Egypt forced Israel to law low diplomatically and pull outs embassy staff from Cairo.

Putin to Visit Cairo, After US Abandons Ally Further

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit Egypt in November, the first Russian president to visit Egypt since Egypt lost the war with Israel in 1973, according to a report in Makor Rishon.

The visit will come on the heels of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Cairo in the beginning of November.

The presidential trip is part of a dramatic series of improvements in Cairo-Russian relations, clearly filling in the vacuum that the U.S. has almost inexplicably left behind.

The visit also comes following meetings between Jerusalem and Russia’s Foreign Ministry this week.

According to Sergey Vershinin, Russia’s director for Middle East affairs in their Foreign Ministry as well as Russia’s representative to the Quartet, Israel expressed deep concern about the the loss of U.S. aid to Egypt, and that if Egypt doesn’t find a new source of funding, the economic situation in the country will worsen and cause “instability”.

Vershinin said that Russia will be investing in improving Russia-Egypt relations, though he cautioned that it won’t return to the levels it was at under the USSR.

“We won’t be returning to the days of Aswan,” Vershinin said, referring to when Egypt began its romance and alliance with Russia, after the U.S. withdrew its offer invest in the Aswan Dam in 1956.

It may not return to those levels, but one certainly can’t deny the feeling of déjà vu.

Update: Egypt Wrongly Identified US Citizen Who Hanged Himself

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

An American citizen, now identified as James Lunn after Egypt said he was retired U.S. Army officer James Henry, hanged himself in an Egyptian prison cell Sunday after having been held for six weeks following a terrorist attack in the area.

Lunn who used his shoelaces to hang himself in his cell in the Suez City of Ismailia, one day after American consulate officials visited him. Egyptian officials had told him they were extending his detention by another 30 days.

Police arrested him on August 28 for violating a dusk-to-dawn curfew between El Arish and Rafiah, which straddles the Gaza border. Authorities then discovered he was carrying a map and some kind of undefined electronic device, shortly after terrorists killed five Egyptian policemen in a bomb attack. Egyptian police did not produce any evidence or charges connecting Henry to the explosion.

The only official comment after his suicide was statement by U.S. Embassy official in Cairo, who said , “A U.S. citizen prisoner in Ismailia died from an apparent suicide. The embassy is in contact with authorities regarding the case and continues to provide all consular services.” He also said that Lunn had not told Consulate officials of any mistreatment.

The suicide follows by one month the death of a French man at the hands of other prisoners, who killed him during severe beatings. Last week, two Canadians in the area were beaten up by police officials. They were preparing a documentary about Gaza doctors,

Sunday’s suicide may complicate matters for the regime, which already faces cuts in military aid form then Obama administration because of its failure to advance new elections following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, although he was voted into office in free elections a year ago.

Obama Tries to Buy Democracy in Egypt with Cut in Military Aid

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The Obama administration is cutting back military aid to Egypt in another effort to force democracy on a Muslim country that has become more unstable and violent with every American move to prove to Egyptians it knows what is best for them.

U.S. State Dept. assistant spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Wednesday, “The President has…been clear that we are not able to continue to with business [with Egypt] as usual. As you know, we have already announced that we are not proceeding with the delivery of certain military systems… We will continue to support a democratic transition and oppose violence as a means of resolving differences in Egypt.”

The American government is suspending shipments of F-16 warplanes, Apache helicopters, 1,000 M1 tanks, spare parts needed for maintenance and missiles, among other items.

The cut in aid is “pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The last time the United States tried that game, it resulted in the election of the Muslim Brotherhood government. One year later, the Obama administration saw its game plan went awry, and it backed the ouster of the democratically-elected government.

In other words, it wants the Egyptian military regime to get off its horse and take another crack at corrupting Islam with democratic elections.

If “corrupt” sounds too harsh, here is what former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, born and raised in Iraq and a lot more in tune with the Arabic mentality that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and a long line of “have a nice day” predecessors.

He told Voice of Israel radio the Americans do not understand that democracy contradicts Islamic law.

But the Obama administration insists on forcing a round pole into a square hole.

Mubarak was an autocrat and a dear friend of several U.S. governments, but when the Arab Spring rebellion brought out the worst of Mubarak, with nearly 1,000 Egyptians brutally killed, the Obama administration jumped on the anarchists’ bandwagon and encouraged his overthrow.

Once it appeared the radical Muslim Brotherhood would be a dominant force, it did somersaults away from a strong policy of staying clear of the Brotherhood and instead began embracing it, despite its open anti-American and anti-Israel agenda.

The White House and Foggy Bottom congratulated the Muslim Brotherhood on winning the elections because it was a victory for democracy.

The rest is history. After one year, the Brotherhood proved just as corrupt and brutal as Mubarak, but politically ignorant.

So the Obama administration decided that democracy is not such a great idea when radical Muslims win.

Out goes the Muslim Brotherhood and in its place comes a “temporary” military regime, desperately trying to save Egypt from bankruptcy and from Hamas and Al Qaeda terrorists and  a few other fanatical groups vying for 72 virgins.

But the military regime was not very polite to the Brotherhood and brutally killed protesters. That is what Mubarak did. That is what the Brotherhood did. It seems that is the way things run in Egypt.

But Washington knows better and now is holding back some military aid, which will make it even harder for the regime to combat terrorists, such as those who killed four Egyptian soldiers Thursday morning in a car bomb explosion in the Sinai.

“We’ll see, next time, when a U.S. aircraft carrier wants to go through the Suez Canal, whether it goes to the front of the line,”  David Schenker, director of the Arab politics program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Bloomberg News Wednesday He added that  Egyptians “do a lot of things that are very helpful to us and they can be less helpful.”

The American government has thrown itself in a corner with a law that requires the suspension of aid to countries where there has been a coup d’etat, which the administration refuses to admit occurred in Egypt.

Despite the new suspension in military aid, the United States still is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Egypt.

Paul Gamble, Director of the Africa & Middle East team of Fitch’s Sovereign Ratings Group, told Asharq Al-Awsat. “This does not mean any less money is going to the Egyptian economy, so it really does not have an impact. It’s more a political gesture.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/obama-tries-to-buy-democracy-in-egypt-with-cut-in-military-aid/2013/10/10/

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