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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Mubarak’

U.S. Security Interests in Egypt Slipping Away

Monday, September 10th, 2012

How much recent events have eroded U.S. security interests in Egypt depends on how deeply rooted those interests were in the first place. Although the Mubarak government did some things we wanted it to do, it did other things that were anathema. Mubarak, with U.S. complicity and Israeli acquiescence, fed the growth of a military that could be used for good or ill while he fed the Egyptian people lies about Israel, about war, about Jews and about peace. In the bigger picture, Egypt always saw itself with Arab and Sunni and larger Muslim responsibilities as well as responsibilities to its non-Muslim patron, whether the U.S. or Russia before it.

The smart bet was never on Egypt as an actual ally – which presumes a certain fundamental alignment – but on the understanding that things would be worse if Mubarak weren’t there. The now-complete demise of military structure embodied in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) – America’s erstwhile ally – was utterly predictable.

In March, Secretary Clinton handed over $1.25 billion to the SCAF in defiance of Democratic Sen. Leahy’s “hold” on the money pending “democratic reforms.” Thus emboldened, the SCAF amended the 1971 constitution to deprive the incoming president of, among other things, the right to declare war. While the State Department publicly demanded complete civilian rule, it was privately relieved to think that the military body in which the U.S. had invested so much money, training and technology would still hold the power of the peace treaty with Israel.

Relief was short-lived. After the terrorist attack in Sinai that killed 16 Egyptians before moving on to Israel, President Morsi channeled Rahm Emanuel and effectively fired the entire leadership of the SCAF. As the end of August, without a murmur of dissent, the Egyptian government restored the right to declare war to the president with the concurrence of Parliament.

The dregs of the SCAF may or may not be asked for an opinion. The President may or may not consult with the revived National Defense Council, which consists of government officials including parliamentarians, ministers and representatives of branches of the military, and meets at the request of the President. In any event, the “representatives of branches of the military” are younger, more Islamist-leaning officers who were not part of the SCAF. They know the lucrative, U.S.-funded military/industrial complex that enriched Sadat, Mubarak, Suleiman and Tantawi won’t be there for them.

The case looks cut and dried – our friends are out; others are in; we lose. Sure enough, President Morsi went to Iran and earlier this week, Egypt declined a U.S. request that an Iranian ship passing through the Suez Canal be inspected for illegal arms. But neither is a new position – they are the evolution of Egyptian, not Muslim Brotherhood, positions.

In April 2011, two Iranian military vessels passed through the Canal under the eyes of the provisional government, which claimed it could not stop a ship from a country with which it was not at war. As I wrote at the time: “[There is] the possibility of Egyptian complicity… this was the first Iranian military passage through the Suez Canal since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 because Egypt has considered Iran to be hostile. Egypt is, in any event, bound by the Security Council to ensure that passing ships comply with the terms of the embargo. According to some reports, the two Iranian naval ships were ‘routinely’ inspected by Egyptian authorities; according to others, Iranian diplomats simply ‘assured’ the Egyptians the ships were not carrying weapons. If the Egyptians did not actually inspect the ship’s cargo, they were snookered. If inspectors checked, found the weapons but still authorized the passage, then an entirely new challenge to sanctions enforcement may be emerging. It is not reasonable to think the inspectors checked and didn’t see the weapons.”

The two ships were later stopped and boarded by the Israeli Navy, and 50 tons of weapons – including Chinese C-704 anti-ship missiles and radars – were impounded. If the administration was surprised, it shouldn’t have been. A decade ago I wrote for JINSA:

The U.S. cannot continue to support dictatorial regimes with no internal legitimacy and whose populations revile us in part because we support the dictatorship. At some point those dictatorships will fall – because, as the President so rightly said, the U.S. will work to establish freedom, liberty and tolerance around the world, and the Arab and Islamic world isn’t exempt. When they fall, we want to be on the side of the people.

The Sectarian Genie: The Sunni-Shi’ite Struggle Released by the Arab Spring

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The Islamic Oral Law (the Hadith) quotes the prophet Muhammad who stated: “My nation will be split into seventy two factions, and only one of them will escape Hell.”  Since Muhammad closed his eyes for eternity in the year 632 CE, the Muslims – regarding this tradition – have been absorbed by two questions, one theoretical and one practical. The theoretical one is: which is the correct and righteous faction which is destined to inherit Paradise, and which are all of the other factions to whom the gates of Hell are open wide to receive them. The practical question, which stems from the theoretical, is how each faction verifies that it – the correct and the righteous – is the one that will live in an earthly paradise, and how can it make concrete life hell for the other factions.


These questions were first dealt with immediately after Muhammad’s funeral, when the Muslim elders met to decide who will be the Caliph, Muhammad’s successor. Ali bin Abi Talib, Muhammad’s cousin, who was also his son-in-law, claimed that the caliphate belonged to him, but his claim was not accepted and three others were named as caliphs before him. He waited twenty-four long years until he was named as the fourth Caliph. During this time he consolidated around him a support group, who were even willing to engage in violent battle in order to take over the status of sovereignty. They were the first Shi’ites. The meaning of the word Shi’a in Arabic is “faction”, meaning the faction of Ali.

After Ali was murdered in 661, his son, Hussein, continued to claim that the leadership belongs to him, because he was of the clan of Hashem, the family of the Prophet, and not the Caliphs of the Umayyad clan, a branch of the Quraysh tribe, which seized control. Because of this claim he was seen as a rebel and in the year 680 he was caught by the army of the regime near the city of Karbala in Southern Iraq, and slaughtered together with most of his family and supporters. This event was the seminal event of the Shi’ites until today, and the Shi’ites mark the “Ashura” – the “yahrzeit” – of Hussein with memorial rites, some of them beating and wounding themselves until they bleed.

Over the years, Shi’a developed its own theology and religious laws so different from that of Sunni, which is mainstream Islam, that there are those who claim that the Sunna and the Shi’a are two different religions. Many Sunnis see Shi’ites as heretics of a sort, and more than a few Shi’ites see Sunnis in the same way. Many Shi’ites see Sunni as najas, or unclean. The Shi’ites say that their claim to leadership is based on two chapters in the Qur’an, while the Sunnis claim that these two chapters are a Shi’ite forgery. For all of history the Shi’ites have been considered as a group which is rebelling against the regime and therefore the judgement for a Shi’ite is death. In areas where the Shi’ites have ruled, this was the fate of the Sunnis.

The struggle between the Sunna and the Shi’a continues in full strength until today, with Iran leading the Shi’a side while Saudi Arabia is in the forefront of Sunni Islam.

In Saudi Arabia, the Hanbali school leads, with its extreme Wahhabi version of Islam, according to which the Shi’ites are heretics. Therefore the Shi’ites who live in Eastern Saudi Arabia are ground into dust: they are forbidden to sound the call to prayer on loudspeakers because their call includes a Shi’ite addendum. They are forbidden to mark the Ashura publicly and they are forbidden to demonstrate. The Saudi regime relates to them with fierce determination and zero sensitivity.

The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) which cost one million people their lives on both sides, was part of the struggle between the Shi’a and and the Sunna, because Saddam Hussein was Sunni. In Lebanon, the Shi’ite Hizb’Allah fights the Sunnis and their friends over hegemony in the Land of the Cedars, and in Bahrain the Farsi-speaking Shi’ite majority has been trying for years to free itself from the Sunni minority which rules over it with an iron fist and an outstretched arm. This past year, when the spirit of the “Arab Spring” brought the Shi’ite majority into the streets, Saudi Arabia occupied Bahrain and forced the sectarian genie back into its bottle.

Egypt: What Happened?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

The recent political developments in Egypt since the fall of its president, Hosni Mubarak, on February 11, 2011 have been stressful and troublesome. Mubarak’s fall was unavoidable, mainly because of his determination to have his son, Gamal Mubarak, succeed him. Gamal Mubarak’s succession was refused my most the Egyptians not only because of its humiliating nature — a son of the President of the Republic inheriting Egypt as if it was a private property — but equally because of Gamal Mubarak’s oligarchic power and wealth that dominated political life in Egypt. In November, 2010, the Gamal Mubarak faction made its fatal mistake when they monopolized 98% of the seats of the Egyptian Parliament.

Since the fall of Mubarak, Egypt’s military rulers – the SCAF – have made a number of fatal mistakes that strengthened the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] and weakened liberals. The first grave mistake was to delegate an Islamist, Tarek al Bishry, to draft the constitutional amendments that were endorsed by a popular referendum on March 19, 2011. Instead of starting democratic reform by drafting a new democratic constitution, the committee decided to start the process not only by electing a new parliament that was overwhelmingly Islamist, but by giving this new parliament the right to draft the constitution. The plea by Egyptian intellectuals to have the constitution drafted by a committee of educated, intellectual figures was ignored by the ruling SCAF, which incorrectly calculated that members of the Ikhwan, who had far more outreach and popularity, would accept playing whatever role the SCAF designed for them.

The victory of the Islamic groups in the parliamentary election of November 2011 was a natural result of the following factors: A) the 19/3/2011 constitutional amendments, B) reliance on a number of Islamist advisers, including Essam Sharaf, who was Prime Minister for a number of months, and C) the unjustified rush, driven by the Islamist advisers, that was characterized by early parliamentary elections, and also by totally disregarding the article in the constitution that bans political parties that have a religious agenda.

Since the Islamists’ triumph in November, 2011, the battle stood mainly between the Ikhwan, who became excessively confident that Egypt would ultimately fall into their hands, and the members of the military SCAF, who were focused mainly on protecting the military establishment’s various assets, benefits, merits and immunity. For instance, the Ikhwan announced their intention to give the leadership of the army, intelligence service, security services, and the Ministry of Interior to MB figures – certainly not on SCAF’s recommendation, but mainly to figures known for their sympathy with the MB.

The Ikhwan benefited enormously when SCAF pressed Ahmed Shafeeq to run for Egypt”s Presidency. It was not difficult for the Ikhwan to launch a campaign of character-assassination against Shafeeq, who was a member of Mubarak’s narrow circle as well as Mubarak’s last Prime Minister.

The Obama administration’s support for the Ikhwan was of immense value to its candidate. In parallel to the strong support of the Obama administrating, huge Qatari funds were also instrumental.

Although there were rumors that Ahmed Shafeeq won more votes, the SCAF chose to announce Morsy’s victory, probably to avoid consequences similar to what happened in Algeria slightly more than 20 years ago, when a civil war broke out after the Algerian president cancelled the results of the parliamentary elections when they seemed to be overwhelmingly in favour of the Islamists. It is rumored that in case Ahmed Shafeeq were to be announced as victorious, a violence would have exploded all over Egypt.

The Obama administration’s support for the Ikhwan emanates from an extremely flawed understanding of the Ikhwan‘s agenda, which has been unchanged since its inception in 1928. The two pillars of this project have been: First, abolishing the entire judicial and juridical system that had been introduced in Egypt in 1883 and was based on the French legal system, the Napoleonic Code. Instead, the Ikhwan would introduced a legal system based on Islamic Sharia law, including amputating hands, stoning and whip-lashing. Second, reviving the political vision of a Caliphate, which aims at uniting all Muslim societies under a single ruler, similar to the Ottoman Empire abolished by Kemal Ataturk ninety years ago.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Muslim Brotherhood Victory Upends Mubarak Legacy

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi is the declared winner of Egypt’s presidential race and his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, continues to lie near death in a coma – just like the legacy he tried to craft for himself and his country.

Mubarak, 84, once the entrenched leader of his land, was supposed to be leaving behind an Egypt preeminent in the region and at peace with its neighbors. The final moments of his public career, however, are now another dramatic episode of the so-called Arab Spring, which began in late 2010 when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire to protest his country’s government.

Since then, popular uprisings have threatened or toppled Arab leaders once firmly in power not only in Egypt and Tunisia but also in Bahrain, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

For his part, Mubarak once wielded the type of power that ultimately did him in when early last year his country’s powerful military – whose air force he once commanded – sided with throngs of protestors across the nation, but particularly in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Mubarak subsequently was sentenced to prison for the deaths of hundreds of those protesters.

Despite new demonstrations in recent weeks – this time against the military – the grip of the armed forces on the country does not seem threatened for now. The Egyptian military has rewritten the country’s constitution and persuaded judges to strip much of the power of the presidency. The judges have dissolved the country’s parliament, which had a Muslim Brotherhood majority following last year’s elections.

During Mubarak’s reign from 1981, just after Anwar Sadat’s assassination, until early last year, the Muslim Brotherhood was a target of the now-ailing leader’s security apparatus. But on Sunday, Egypt’s electoral commission said Morsi would be sworn in as the president, having bested Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak’s last prime minister and reportedly the favored candidate of the country’s powerful military.

Israel’s government reacted cautiously.

“Israel appreciates the democratic process in Egypt and respects the results of the presidential elections,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. It added, “Israel looks forward to continuing cooperation with the Egyptian government on the basis of the peace treaty between the two countries, which is a joint interest of both peoples and contributes to regional stability.”

Israeli and American leaders are clearly nervous; the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders have said they would honor but reexamine the landmark 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

News of Mubarak’s deteriorating condition prompted renewed consideration of what the deposed president bequeathed Egypt. Gabi Ashkenazi, the former chief of staff of the Israeli military, spoke last week in Jerusalem at the President’s Conference of Mubarak’s importance not just in upholding the peace treaty with Israel, but in encouraging other Arabs to do the same.

“When Arafat was slow to sign the Oslo Accords, Mubarak was the one who forced him to the table to sign – even using undiplomatic language,” Ashkenazi recalled, referring to Oslo II, signed in September 1995 in Egypt.

Mubarak, in a televised ceremony, literally nudged then-Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat to the table as a bemused Yitzhak Rabin, then the Israeli prime minister, looked on. Israelis present insisted they heard Mubarak whisper to Arafat, “Sign, you dog.” “Try to think of an Egyptian president today doing that,” Ashkenazi said.

It was a concern echoed across the ocean, where Shaul Mofaz, the Kadima Party leader, inaugurated his first Washington visit in his new role as deputy prime minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recently formed national unity government.

“Whatever happens, we will be facing a more radical regime,” Mofaz told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank ahead of a series of meetings with top U.S. officials. He called the need to preserve his country’s peace with Egypt the “highest Israeli goal.”

Joel Rubin, the director of government policy at the Ploughshares Fund, a body that promotes peace initiatives, said the very autocracy that spooked Arafat and others into heeding Mubarak ultimately turned on his enterprise.

“Mubarak’s legacy is that he created a state system that collapsed underneath him,” said Rubin, a former Senate staffer and State Department Egypt desk officer who has visited Egypt multiple times. “He certainly maintained peace with Israel – a cold peace, but he kept the border relatively calm and fought against extremist groups in the country. But he left a crushing legacy on the economy and political system. Stability under strongmen is never really stable.”

Losing Candidate Shafiq Fleeing Egypt Ahead of Corruption Charges

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Ahmed Mohamed Shafik Zaki, who came second in Egypt’s presidential runoff election last week, is reported to have boarded a flight to Abu Dhabi Early Tuesday morning. He was seen off along with his three daughters to the Cairo airport VIP section by two employees of his campaign, then took a bus to the old terminal.

According to Al Ahram, several corruption complaints have been filed with the Office of the Prosecutor against Shafiq, who served as Mubarak’s last prime minister.

A high-level judicial source told Al Ahram that a Justice Ministry investigator, will receive this week the report prepared by experts in the Illicit Profiteering and Real Estate Agency who have examined procedures for the allocation of land sold by the Cooperative for Construction and Housing for Pilots, which was headed by Ahmed Shafiq in the 1990’s.

Former MP Essam Sultan of Al-Wasat Party issued a complaint against Shafiq as the former head of the cooperative, accusing him of selling a large piece of land to Alaa and Gamal Mubarak in 1993, at an extremely low price of only 75 piasters (about 12.5 cents) per square meter (about 10.5 sq. ft.).

The office of the prosecutor general Abdel Meguid Mahmoud has also transferred a complaint to El-Seidi against former president Hosni Mubarak Ahmed Shafiq, and former agriculture minister Youssef Wally, for illegally seizing 119 feddans of land (about 125 acres).

According to the complaint, the defendants seized land that belongs to fish farms, and illegally allocated it to the Pilots’ Association for Land Development, which was headed by Shafiq.

In the months following the ousting of Mubarak, more than 30 separate lawsuits of corruption were filed against Shafiq.

Bon voyage.

Mubarak on Life Support

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Doctors reportedly have put former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak on life support as turmoil once again threatens to sweep the country.

The state news agency Mena said Mubarak was “clinically dead” when he arrived at the hospital and that doctors used a defibrillator on him several times. The initial report said the efforts were not successful.

Mubarak, 84, has been ailing since early 2011, when he was ousted by the army after mass protests.

The worsening of his condition on Tuesday, reported by various media citing unnamed military officials, comes two weeks after his life sentence for his role in ordering the deadly quelling of the 2011 protests, when hundreds were killed by pro-government militants.

Thousands Protest Egyptian Election Results, Set Ablaze Establishment Candidate’s HQ

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Thousands gathered overnight in Tahrir Square, Cairo, to demonstrate against Egypt’s election results which will pit deposed ruler Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq against Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi in a runoff election on June 16 and 17, al Ahram reports.

According to Egypt’s Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) officially announced on Monday the results of the first round, with Mohamed Mursi at the head of the pack with 5,764,952 votes, and Ahmed Shafiq second with 5,505,327 votes.

46.42 per cent of eligible voters participated in the first round.

On Monday night, Shafiq’s presidential campaign headquarters in the upscale Dokki neighborhood in Cairo were ransacked and set on fire.

“They seemed to know what they were after and they went directly to the storage rooms and set them on fire using petrol bombs,” Ahmed Abdel Ghani, 30, a member of Shafiq’s campaign, told Reuters.

The main headquarters villa did not burn, but protesters destroyed computers inside.

Graffiti on the wall outside the villa read: “No to Shafiq, no to feloul” (an Arabic word referring to the “remnants” of Mubarak’s era).

“We are sending a message to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) that we will never accept Ahmed Shafiq as our next president. He is the second Mubarak and was even in the Air Force like the ousted leader,” Aly, 24, a pharmacist, told al Ahram. “Personally I think the elections were rigged to put Mursi first, as it would have been a crisis if Shafiq was top – but, make no mistake, Shafiq is the military’s man.”

Soon the number of protesters in the square grew to thousands, led by former presidential contender and a left-wing labour lawyer Khaled Ali, who marched to Talaat Harb Square and around downtown Cairo before coming back to Tahrir Square.

“Smash Shafiq on his head,” the marchers chanted, holding Mubarak’s prime minister’s presidential campaign posters upside down with his face crossed out.

Others chanted “Down with the dogs of the military regime” and called on bystanders in balconies to join them.

One protestor held a poster saying “If Shafiq wins, we are all dead.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/thousands-protest-egyptian-election-results-set-ablaze-establishment-candidates-hq/2012/05/29/

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