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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘salafists’

Invest or Gamble? Egypt Sells Islamic Bonds

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

The Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, headed by President Mohammed Morsi, is set to issue “Islamic bonds,” not to be confused with the highly successful Israeli bonds that helped the Jewish state get off it feet after its re-establishment in 1948.

Unlike Israel, modern Egypt has been around for a long time, but the Arab Spring rebellion that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has driven the country into bear-bankruptcy, despair and social rivalries that have pitted Muslim sects against each other as well as Christian Copts.

Morsi wants to sell bonds to ease the ballooning deficit. The bonds also represent another move to make Egypt an Islamic country.

Liberal Egyptians and the radical Muslim Salafist opposition party are against the sale of Islamic bonds. The liberals are against an Islamic state, while the Salafists are concerned that foreign investors will take over Egypt’s private assets. The law allowing the sale of Islamic bonds prohibits their sale for state-owned assets.

Common Sense on the Syria Mess

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“I know what the world thinks of us, we are Communists, and of course I have said very clearly that we are not Communists; very clearly.” –Fidel Castro, 1959

U.S. policy toward Syria has changed but it is too late. A senior State Department official said at the meeting just concluded of opposition groups: “We have to help the moderates, people like [Chief of Staff of the Free Syrian Army] Salim Idris….”

This is what I proposed two years ago but I have to admit that I almost never saw anyone else who suggested that the strategy should be to help the non-Islamists with money, weapons and diplomatic support.

Unlike Castro, the Islamists in Syria never lied about their goals and ideologies. Now the Islamists are far more powerful and well-armed than anyone else, courtesy of U.S. policy. Oh and there’s one more problem. Many or most of the Free Syrian Army’s troops, that is the supposed non- or anti-Islamist alternative, are also Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

So what’s there to do with revolutionary Islamists controlling Syria and sooner or later, though it might take a couple of years, taking over the whole country or at least gaining recognition as the legitimate government of Syria while the regime holds out in the northwest of the country?

That’s okay, says the main line of U.S. policy. We don’t care if they are America-hating fanatics who want to impose Sharia, suppress or even massacre Christians, and commit genocide against Jews. Just as long as they aren’t affiliated with al Qaeda.

Beyond this, there’s mostly wishful thinking. Compare these statements by a Turkish diplomat and a Saudi newspaper:

“Once Assad is gone, al Qaeda won’t stay long in Syria.”

“We know that there are radical forces like [al Qaeda] but do not overestimate them.”

But it seems impossible to get the mainstream debate to recognize the fact that the problem is not merely al Qaeda but other radical Salafists and another Muslim Brotherhood government.

What kind of situation would another Egypt bring about in the Middle East?

What will happen within Syria which historically is a far more radical entity (for historical, political culture, and geopolitical reasons) than Egypt? What will be the fate of all those modern-oriented women, liberals, Alawites, Christians, Druze, and Kurds?

Going beyond the largely worthless current debate on Syria let’s look ahead into the seemingly inevitable future. We can reasonably assume that the Assad regime might last another year or two but it will either retreat to the Alawite areas by then or have fallen totally. There is by the way another possibility. Rebels make advances in Damascus, then use the opportunity to announce the establishment of a provisional government there. The United States and other countries then recognize it–despite Assad’s continuing hold on much of the country–as the legitimate government of Syria.

Whatever happens, there will be a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria and Obama will support it. The Salafis will not rule but they will kill people, intimidate non- or anti-Islamist forces, and probably be the main force in various local areas of the country.

Many conservatives and Republicans favor more intervention which means in practice working even harder to install an Islamist regime in Syria. That’s a terrible idea. With few exceptions they never seem to grasp the point about supporting the non-Islamist forces and not just the Syrian rebels in general as if they were glorious freedom fighters.

A few other people favor supporting the Assad dictatorship to keep the Islamists out of power. (Note: These were suggested prior to reports about the regime’s use of chemical weapons). This is another terrible idea. Aside for morality and the impossibility of saving Assad, no Western country is going to adopt such a policy. Whatever its past, the Assad regime had in effect become an Islamist regime, a Shia Islamist regime, and its fall will weaken Iran and Hizballah.

The problem, of course, is that its fall will also strengthen the Sunni Islamists. According to estimates by my colleague, Dr. Jonathan Spyer:

Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al Qaeda, has about 6,000 fighters. The Syrian Islamic Front (dominated by Ahrar al-Sham) has about 13,000 fighters. And, the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front, which seems close to the Muslim Brotherhood, (including the Farouq Brigade of Homs; Suqour al-Sham of Idleb, and Tawhid Brigade of Aleppo) has about 40,000 fighters.

Gaza Terrorists Resume Aerial War on Israel

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Gaza terrorists attacked the western Negev with two rockets or mortar shells around 11 p.m. (4 p.m. EDT) Thursday, causing no injuries or damage.

The Color Red early warning siren of 15-20 seconds was not activated.

The latest violation of the Pillar of Defense ceasefire last November followed by 24 hours missile attacks on Eilat, which were probably lunched from the Sinai, officially under Egyptian rule but infested by Hamas and other terrorist gangs.

Terrorist in Hamas-controlled Gaza have attacked southern Israel with rockets or land mines at least three times the past month, and as usual, the government has said it won’t tolerate the challenge to Israel’s sovereignty. And, as usual, the IDF has responded “proportionately,” meaning hitting a couple of weapon factories and terrorist tunnels that are known to exist but are strafed only as an after-the-fact retaliation.

“We will not tolerate such incidents and will retaliate,” said Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, echoing statements made by his predecessor Ehud Barak.

Less than two weeks ago, Gaza terrorists detonated a bomb designed to blow up an army vehicle patrolling on the Gaza security road. No one was injured, but the vehicle sustained light damage.

Hamas has denied it arrested Salafist terrorists for rocket attacks on Israel two consecutive days earlier this month.

No matter who is in charge, the expected resumption of rocket attacks is a fact and marks yet another round of escalation of terror that follows every ceasefire, either by a few hours, days or weeks.

The government and the IDF repeatedly have gone along with Hamas’ game, agreeing to a ceasefire while openly stating that it won’t last.

Hamas is sitting on a huge stockpile of weapons, many of them far more advanced than mortar shells or rockets. Given its raison d’être of destroying Israel, every military officer knows full well that it is only a matter of time before Hamas uses the weapons against Israel.

After the Operation Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense counterterrorist operations four years ago and six months ago respectively, the IDF is ready for the next encounter, sooner or later.

Obama Picks up too Late on the Threat from Syrian Rebels

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

While far too late, the Obama administration may be adopting a sensible policy on Syria. The strategy, however, is unlikely to succeed. Oh, and there is also a very important clue—I think the key to the puzzle—about what really happened in Benghazi.

Let’s begin with Syria. As U.S. officials became increasingly worried about the visible Islamist domination of the Syrian opposition—which their own policies had helped promote—they have realized the horrible situation of creating still another radical Islamist regime. (Note: This column has been warning of this very point for years.)

So the response is to try to do two things. The first is to train, with Jordanian cooperation, a more moderate force of Free Syrian Army (FSA) units. The idea is to help the non-Islamists compete more effectively with the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist, and especially al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra group) affiliated units.

The second is supposedly to create a buffer zone along Syria’s borders with Jordan and perhaps later Israel and even Iraq in order to avoid the conflict spilling over—i.e., cross-border jihad terror attacks—to those countries. According to the Washington Post:

The last thing anyone wants to see is al-Qaeda gaining a foothold in southern Syria next to Israel. That is a doomsday scenario,” said a U.S. diplomat in Jordan who was not authorized to speak publicly on the subject.

Someone has also figured out that it isn’t a great idea to have a border with Iraq controlled by Syrian Sunni Muslim terrorist Islamists allied with the Sunni terrorists in Iraq who killed so many Americans. Well, might someone not have thought about that a year or two ago? Because, while nothing could have been more obvious there was no step taken to prevent this situation happening.

I should point out an important distinction. The problem is not merely al-Qaeda gaining a foothold but also other Salafists or the Muslim Brotherhood doing so. That, however, is not how the Obama administration thinks. For it, al-Qaeda is evil; the other Salafists somewhat bad; and the Muslim Brotherhood good.

What are the problems here? As so often happens with Western-formulated clever ideas to deal with the Middle East, there are lots of them:

–The United States has stood aside or even helped arm the Islamists through Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. So now the Islamist forces are far stronger than the non-Islamists. That cannot be reversed at this point.

–Might this buffer zone plan be laying the basis for a second Syrian civil war in which the Islamists band together against the FSA? In other words, here is this buffer zone that is backed by the West (imperialism!) to “protect” Israel (the Zionists!), Jordan (traitorous Muslims!), and Iraq (Shia heretics!)

–The training is limited and the FSA is badly divided among different commanders, defected Syrian army officers, and local warlords. The Brotherhood militia is united and disciplined. The result will be worse than Afghanistan because the Islamists would have both the government and the stronger military forces.

–A situation is being set up in which a future Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria can blackmail the United States. Either it will force Washington to accept whatever it does (including potential massacres) by threatening to unleash Salafist forces on its borders or it will actually create confrontations.

–Why isn’t the United States working full-time to stop the arms flows to the Islamists by pressuring the Saudis and Qataris (perhaps the point of Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip but hardly effective) and to rein in Turkey’s enthusiasm for a Syrian Islamist regime?

Speaking of Turkey, now we see the reason for the attempted Israel-Turkey rapprochement, because on top of everything else there will be a Kurdish-ruled zone not run by moderates but by the Syrian affiliate of the radical PKK, which is at war with Turkey.

–These proposed buffer zones would not receive Western air support or international forces. Israel has the experience of maintaining a buffer zone in southern Lebanon for years by supporting a militia group. It succeeded for a long time by sending in Israeli troops covertly and taking casualties. In the end, rightly or wrongly, the effort was given up. Now Hizballah—the equivalent though not the friend of the Syrian Salafists—is sitting on the border and already one war has been fought. It should be noted that Israel has by far the most defensible border with Syria.

The ‘Salafists’

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Germany yesterday (Wednesday) banned three Salafist Muslim groups which the Interior Ministry said wanted to overturn democracy and install a system based on sharia, or Islamic law. [Source: Reuters]. It’s the latest step taken by German authorities

who have increased surveillance of Salafists who espouse a radical version of Islam. The ministry said it has banned the organizations “DawaFFM” and “Islamische Audios”, as well as “An-Nussrah”, which is part of the “Millatu Ibrahim” group that was outlawed in June. [Reuters]

At the same time, German prosecutors said:

Police have foiled an attempted attack by Islamists against far-right targets… Police made four arrests on Wednesday after making raids in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Prosecutors in Dortmund said that a raid in Bonn, carried out by special police force commandos, had uncovered a firearm and a kilogram of possible explosives. Arrests also took place in Leverkusen and Essen. Authorities said they believed “imminent” terrorist activities were in the pipeline. A specific attack had reportedly been planned against the leader of the far-right Pro-NRW political party, Markus Beisicht. In addition, said the prosecutors, a ticked list of Pro-NRW party officials and journalists was found. The arrests came in the wake of raids across the states of NRW and Hesse, with computer equipment, propaganda material, cell phones and over 10,000 euros ($13,000) in cash seized… [Deutsche Welle]

Analysts of events in the Arab world and those parts of the world impacted by Arabs, Moslems and Islamist terror frequently refer to the Salafists. It is a slippery descriptor that is sometimes used in contradictory ways.

Wikipedia’s definition of Salafist Jihadism includes these elements:

* The term Salafist jihadism describes the beliefs of Salafi Moslems who, starting in the mid-1990s, became interested in violent jihad. * The Salafis distinguish themselves from those they call the “sheikists,” so named because… the “sheikists” had forsaken adoration of God for adoration of “the oil sheiks of the Arabian peninsula, with the Al Saud family at their head”… * Even more dangerous [according to the Salafists] was the Muslim Brotherhood, who [are] excessively moderate and lacking in literal interpretation of holy texts. * The number of Salafi jihadists in the world is less than one percent of the world’s 1.9 billion Muslims [source] meaning fewer than 20 million people. (What’s the fuss, right?)

What’s much less slippery is the way the Salafists are affecting the places where they live and operate. Here’s an extract from a hair-raising piece on the Al-Monitor site, called “Exclusive: Gaza Salafists Take Fight To Syria“, datelined yesterday. The writer, Asmaa al-Ghoul, is described as a journalist and writer from the Rafah refugee camp based in Gaza:

In a coffee shop in Gaza, Muhammad Hijazi, an expert on Islamic and Salafist groups, explained that Salafist jihadism is a global phenomenon, not a local one. It moves from certain regions of tension to others. It moved from Afghanistan to Iraq, then to Libya. He noted that its mission, at the beginning of the ’80s, was to fight the Soviet Union. However, after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Salafist jihadism took its mission to the socialist South Yemen. After the region fell to North Yemen, the Salafist jihadists moved to Chechnya, Caucasia and Sudan, then to Algeria,Iraq and Libya and now Syria. Hijazi said the members are getting to Syria through Iraq and Turkey, since the border is open. Many of them are currently involved in Jabhat al-Nusra. Salafists in Jordan constitute around half of the total number of militants in Syria, amounting approximately to 4,000 fighters and residing in rural areas. Moreover, he noted that they are financed by Gulf and Islamic charities, especially in Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabi ideology intrinsically supports this dogma, while some countries, like Qatar, are using Salafists for political ends and jihadist purposes. Hijazi considered unofficial political oil money to be the biggest sponsor for such movements. Hijazi added that Salafists in Gaza are supported by an international network of small associations, whose mission is to offer logistical support. Those provide individuals with money and means to move to regions of tension. Through them, Salafists get salaries, visas and tickets and are directed to the conflict regions, where there is a political vacuum. The associations make sure to help them move around easily, and often, the countries that are the source of financing are aware of that. He said he considered Syria a favorable environment, where this trend that opposes the revolution’s principles of liberalism can constantly grow, as long as money and weapons are available. [Source: Al-Monitor]

Notice how frequently money plays a key role in the way Islamist terror groups operate. It’s fundamental to their ability to live and fight. And despite the claims in the Wikipedia article, the Salafists have no problem at all turning to Saudi Arabia and Qatar for their oxygen. If this Gaza writer is to be believed, that information comes directly from the source.

In Sinai, Egyptian Police on Strike

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Israel’s border with Egypt [Project Sand Timer] is long (266 kilometers), and has enormous strategic importance given what happens on the far side. Though demarcated by a new steel fence, it constitutes a major headache for those charged with keeping Israel safe and secure.

The part-constructed fence already secures part of the border, but (a) it will be months before it is completed; (b) there is already at least one tunnel that brings ‘smugglers’ under it (see this Arab news report from yesterday); and (c) fences are of modest value against attacks by rocket-equipped terrorists.

We have written numerous times about the growing lawlessness of Egyptian Sinai and the danger of having the terrorists essentially in control is a huge one.

Now the Egyptian police, who do whatever it is they do down there, are on strike.

Egyptian police protest in Sinai, Cairo demanding weapons  | Ahram Online , Tuesday 5 Mar 2013

Dozens of police officers across different directorates in Sinai are on strike for the second day in a row. This includes officers in the directorates of Tour Sinai, Ras Sidr, Taba and Saint Catherine. Security personnel are protesting against what they describe as “inhumane and degrading” working conditions. They also demand that low-ranking officers and employees be armed so that they can defend themselves from the recurring dangers they are exposed to while on duty. The officers claim that their lives are in danger as ministry leaders refuse to allow them access to weapons, urging them to maintain self-restraint. They also demand to be awarded excellence bonuses on a regular basis. The officers said that they would be suspending work until their demands are fulfilled. In Cairo, dozens of police officers from the Old Cairo Police Directorate blocked off Salah Salem Street, a major thoroughfare leading to Cairo International Airport, early on Tuesday, bringing traffic flow to a complete halt. The officers were angry at the death of a fellow officer who died in the line of duty as he attempted to stop a bank robbery. They are demanding more access to live ammunition to defend themselves. Security forces managed to coax protesting officers into reopening the road to traffic.

This is not likely to produce a good result.

Visit This Ongoing War.

US Backs Islamists More than Egyptians Do

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Western observers, including the U.S. government view the situation in Egypt as improving. Actually, it’s getting worse, partly due to U.S. policy. In April, that will become even more obvious. Egyptian parliamentary elections are scheduled for April 22. Supposedly, the Muslim Brotherhood faces a setback. But that either isn’t true or doesn’t matter. On one hand, the Islamists as a whole are likely to emerge even stronger and more radical. On the other hand, if the non-Islamist coalition boycotts the election, as it has announced, the Brotherhood and the current regime will be a lot stronger.

Originally, I intended to write that there will no doubt be an assumption in Western reportage that if the “opposition” does participate and does better and the Brotherhood does worse that means moderation is gaining.

But by the time this is being published the mainstream media’s claims that things are going great had already begun. For example, here’s how the New York Times explains it all to you:

With the elections scheduled to begin in April, the Islamists who dominated the 2011-12 parliamentary and presidential votes appear more vulnerable than at any time since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago. But what possible reasons are there to believe this? There is no evidence that the Brotherhood or Salafists collectively will get a lot fewer votes. The most serious Egyptian poll shows that the Brotherhood might get just under 50 percent of the vote! Obviously that’s very tentative two months before the elections. So what did they get last time? Answer: 37 percent of the vote and about half the seats. True, this time the Salafist vote will be split so the two together can be expected to get fewer than the 64 percent of the vote and almost 75 percent of the seats they won the first time. But a large majority of Egyptians can be expected to vote for an Islamist regime. And if the moderates boycott, the Islamists could receive 90 percent of the seats!

The Islamists’ real problem is that there are now four Islamist parties, varying from moderately radical to incredibly radical here’s the list:

The Strong Egypt Party headed by Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh. Fotouh is presented as a moderate Islamist and will no doubt be the favorite of the U.S. Columnist and Editorialist Party. Yet, one might ask, if Fotouh is so moderate why was he endorsed in the first round of the presidential election by radical Brotherhood guru Yusuf al-Qaradawi and the Salafist al-Nur Party?

To keep an open mind, Fotouh is more moderate than the others and he opposed the constitution drafted by the Brotherhood. It is possible he could form an alliance with the National Salvation Front. But there’s something misleading here, too. Fotouh got an impressive 17 percent in the presidential election. Yet wasn’t this vote due almost completely to non-moderate Salafists who just didn’t want to back the Brotherhood presidential candidate in the first round after their own candidate was disqualified? If so, Fotouh’s party will be a failure.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. They received 37 percent of the votes and about half the seats in the original parliamentary election. If the National Salvation Front doesn’t boycott, the Brotherhood might lose seats but if the moderates don’t run in the election the Brotherhood will get even more seats.

The main Salafist party, al-Nur. This party won 27.8 percent in the original parliamentary election, but its candidate for president was disqualified. Al-Nur varies between critical support of the Brotherhood (“we’re all Islamists”) to just plain criticism (“the Brotherhood isn’t Islamist enough!”). Al-Nur would willingly become the Brotherhood’s coalition partner or at least support the regime from outside.

The People’s Party. The most radical forces in al-Nur have split from it, considering al-Nur to be too soft on the Brotherhood. They viewed the constitution–which provides for a transition to a Sharia state–too subtle.

So how will these parties split the Islamist vote? And will al-Nur and the People’s parties back Mursi for all practical purposes on the fundamental transformation of Egypt into a Sharia, Islamist state? Even if the two Salafist parties demand more, that doesn’t mean they will vote against the government to bring it down—they know they cannot win a majority on their own—and they aren’t going to ally with the hated “secularists.”

Two Years Later, Arab Spring’s Success Dubious

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012
It is now two years since the rude jolt that sent several Arab leaders hurtling to the hard ground of the reality that they themselves have had no small part in creating. Dozens of years of dictatorship, criminal neglect, political corruption, cronyism and nepotism, have turned the Arab world into a barrel of extremely explosive gun powder.  The Arab satellite media, especially Al Jazeera, the jihad channel of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been flooding the area with high octane gas fumes by broadcasting unrestrained propaganda against the Arab dictators – “the rulers of the 99 percent below zero” in their words – led by Mubarak, Asad, Qadhaffi and Saddam Hussein.
This channel served as the pyromaniac who carried the burning torch from one arena to another, from Tunisia to Egypt, from Libya to Yemen, from Bahrain to Syria as its spokesmen, headed by  the Emir of Qatar asked: “Who will be next?” The masses, addicted to this channel since the end of 1996, did what was expected of them by the people of the channel, chiefly the Emir of Qatar, Hamed bin Khalifa al-Thani, who built up tremendous power for himself by means of the  reckless satellite channel, which exerts control over the hungry, neglected, oppressed and wretched masses.
It is not within the scope of this article to give a detailed review of the last two years in each one of the states involved in the upheaval, but we shall mark the end point to which each of them arrived.
Tunisia – The Opening Shot
In December 2010, in the peripheral town of Sidi Bou Said, a young, unemployed man by the name of Muhammad bou Azizi immolated himself, and the flames ignited the fumes wafting around the Arab barrel of gun powder. The demonstrations caused president Zine al-Abadine bin Ali to flee the country, but not before he and his wife stole a ton and a half of gold from the central bank.
In elections held in 2011, the Islamic party, which had been banned until then, won first place. However, since it did not win a majority of seats in the parliament, it had to form a coalition with a secular party headed by Munsaf al-Marzouki, a liberal intellectual, who fought for years for human rights in Tunisia and lived in exile until 2011 because of his criticism of President bin Ali. The leader of the Islamic stream, Rashid al-Ghanoushi, offered  the secular al-Marzouki to serve as president of Tunisia, which made it easier for the secular sectors of society to accept the legitimacy of the new regime, even though the Islamic party was predominant.
From this point of view, the change in Tunisia is a source of inspiration, especially in light of the fact that it is the first experiment to create a democratic political system  after long years of the autocratic rule of presidents Bourugiba and bin Ali. The hopes of the citizens of Tunisia skyrocketed.
But the relative stability in the political arena did not bring about meaningful change in the life of the individual, especially in his economic situation. There are many reasons for this: the corrupt governmental system, large parts of which remain from the days of bin Ali and continued to conduct itself according to the practice of “a friend brings a friend”; the infrastructures are still in the same miserable state that they were in during bin Ali’s time; The investors do not rush to invest in initiatives in Tunisia that might create sources of livelihood; the economic crisis in Europe prevents significant growth  of production. The Tunisian citizen now understands that his political hopes, which were fulfilled well, did not translate into a significant improvement in his economic situation.
Another issue that did not undergo a meaningful change is the social stratification in Tunisia. The Tunisian population is polarized between the urban elite and the marginal layers that live in the agricultural suburbs and the desert, the greater part of whom live within a tribal framework. The city is much more open, secular and liberal than the periphery, which remain closed, religious and traditional.
The ethnic issue also has a negative influence on the sense of unity in Tunisia, because in addition to the Arabs who live there, there are also Berbers and Africans, who suffer from a negative image. This situation exists regardless of the regime and the change resulting from the removal of bin Ali has had no influence on the social stratification in Tunisia.
As a result of the economic difficulties, Tunisia has witnessed a series of protest demonstrations against the regime in recent months, mainly in the periphery. Things have even reached the point where President al-Mourzuki, who came last week to the town of Sidi Bou Said – the focal point from where the upheaval that eventually encompassed the Arab world began – in order to participate in a ceremony in memory of Muhammad Bou Azizi, was forced to retreat from the place because of the rocks that were rained down upon him, and because of the cries and curses that were hurled at him. He wanted democracy and got it right in his face, and the people wanted democracy but have now understood that it is not a money-printing machine.
There is not an optimistic forecast for Tunisia: the economic situation in the world in general and in Europe in particular is not expected to improve dramatically in the near future; the administration will not change its imbedded habits of corruption, and social stratification will continue to have a negative influence on opportunities for the country, especially for the youth who live in the social and economic periphery. The resentment that results from these flaws has a negative influence on political stability and the lack of stability may have a negative influence on investments and consequently on the economic situation as well.
For the Tunisian masses who support the Islamic movement it has become clear that the movement was no magic wand that can solve the country’s problems, and it is not clear if there is anything at all to the slogan “Islam is the Solution”, which was the watchword of the party.
Egypt – A Complicated Tangle
On the 25th of January, it will be two years since the beginning of the upheaval in Egypt. There are  are many significant accomplishments of the revolution: Mubarak, the corrupt dictator sits in the defendant’s cage, the heads of his government have been removed – some of them to prison – in disgrace, the Muslim Brotherhood has won the office of presidency and half of the seats of parliament, the military “has been put in its place” by an Islamic president, and even the president of the United States receives the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood as a fait accompli.
However, the situation in Egypt is complicated and complex on a number of levels:  the free youth of the revolution, the liberals, the secular, the educated and the unemployed, who with their bodies removed Mubarak and paid for the demonstrations against him in blood, have discovered that their revolution has been stolen from them. In their worst nightmares they did not foresee that the civil revolution would become an Islamic revolution. Women in casual shirts and jeans who demonstrated two years ago in Tahrir (“liberation”) Square did not expect that as a result of the revolution, representatives of the Salafist party, those who believe that “the best hijab for a woman is her house,” would occupy a quarter of the seats of parliament.
But the political disappointments – as great as they are – are much, much less disheartening than the economic ones. In Egypt too, most of the administration of the previous regime has remained in place, and it is filled with layers of hidden unemployment, excess employees, cumbersome bureaucracy, and nepotism. The chance that it will bring the country to a state of development and prosperity are no greater than in the days of Mubarak.
Tourism, which, in the days of Mubarak granted livelihood to millions of Egyptians, has disappeared and with it, this important source of livelihood for many Egyptians. These people today live far below the poverty line, which, in Egypt, is quite low to begin with. Foreign investors have refrained for the past two years from investing in Egypt, because the security situation is not stable and it is not clear to them if they will see any profit at all from their investment, which might go down the drain.
The lack of investments has a negative influence on the creation of new sources of employment for the masses of Egyptians who enter  the work force every year, to establish a family and to support it. The many unemployed university graduates who come up against the severe employment reality, cause an explosive social situation; the average age of  marriage is rising and has passed the 30 mark, establishing a family (“opening a home”) has become an impossible economic task for most of the youth and this is enough to launch them into the streets to let off the steam that has accumulated against the symbols of the regime, institutions of the state and police stations.
The constitution, which was recently approved, grants many authorities to the president at the expense of the other institutions, mainly the parliament, and it starts to smell like a dictatorship. Many – even among the religious sectors of society – ask if this is what the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power for.
The activity of parliament, which was elected about a year ago, was frozen by an edict of the court, and it doesn’t seem that the president is rushing to renew the activity of the parliament. He does not want to be called upon to answer embarrassing questions that might be addressed to him from parliament, which has authority  because it was chosen by democratic and fair elections. Morsi is not interested in a parliament that will pass budgetary laws that are not consistent with his opinion, and in general – the combination of a president with a clear cultural, social and political agenda and a parliament which is polarized within by various contradictory trends, is not a prescription for political stability, but rather for a dead end, with the two sides stuck in an embrace where each side sticks a knife into the other.
Two years after the upheaval in Egypt and this country seems like a rickety wagon with several formidable and powerful horses pulling it at full speed, but in different directions: the president, the constitutional committee, the members of parliament, the military, the government, which is always temporary, the secular street, the religious street, the Salafis and supporters of Mubarak.
The forecast for the future is not rosy, because the constitutional-governmental knot has a bad influence on the economy, which is collapsing in the first place, and the struggle for the cultural image of Egypt slips too many times into violence that causes more violence from the police and raises the ire of the public to levels reminiscent of the rage that accompanied the struggle against Mubarak.
In retrospect it could be that among the Muslim Brotherhood there are those who feel that it was a mistake on their part to try to drive the rickety Egyptian cart, because there is no chance to come to any positive goal, and they – despite inheriting a very difficult situation form Mubarak and Tantawi – will be identified with the failure.
Syria – The Next Massacre
For 21 months, since March of 2011, observers of the events have the sense that the collapse of Asad is near, and with his collapse the state will be broken up into homogeneous units: Kurds in the northeast of the country, Alawites in the west, Druze in the south, Bedouins in the East, Damascenes in the center and residents of Aleppo in the North. The idea that an autonomous Alawite unit might be established comes from information that the regime is streaming heavy weapons, ammunition and heavy equipment into the area of the mountains of Ansariyya in the West of the country, the traditional dwelling place of the Alawites, so that they will be able to defend themselves against the Muslims’ attack on the mountain and its inhabitants.
In recent days, information has begun to surface that units belonging to the Free Syrian Army are attacking the mountains of Ansariyya, and that tens of Alawite villages have been abandoned out of fear of Muslim knives that are filled with hatred for the Alawites and because of the Muslims’  strong desire to avenge upon them the deeds of slaughter that the regime has carried out against the citizens of Syria for the past two years, and also in previous periods, such as the period between 1976 and 1982, when the Muslim Brotherhood first arose, that ended in the slaughter of thousands of men, women and children in the city of Hama in February of 1982.
If this information is indeed correct and Asad’s opposition is indeed taking control of Ansariyya, this might be the physical end of the Alawaites and the end of their dream to control even themselves. The blood that will be spilled when the Muslims slaughter them will be much more than was spilled until today and it is not clear how much the world will feel compelled to help this group when push comes to shove and knives are at their throats.
What does this say about the future of Syria? It seems that Syria is sinking in a swamp of blood, fire and tears, as it is torn into pieces by hundreds of militias, some of which have cultural and religious orientation identical to that of bin Laden and al-Qaeda. This development might be very problematic for Israel because neighbors like these do not bode well and if heavy weapons or weapons of mass destruction fall into their hands, Israel might find itself  in the near future coping with threats that it is not used to.
Libya – Tribal Wars
In this country, stricken by tribalism, a coalition of tribes together with massive  NATO support succeeded to remove Qadhaffi, but since he was eliminated by his opposition more than a year ago, Libya has become an arena for battles between tribes over economic and governmental interests  and for territory and influence. Eastern tribal headquarters – Cyrenaica – are fighting against the tribes of the West – Tripolotania, and the southern tribes are enemies of all the others.
Libyan society is polarized also on an ethnic basis, around the Arab-Berber split that has economic and governmental implications as well. The prediction is that as long as Libya continues to be one state it will continue to be an arena for tribal struggles. Why? Because – that’s the natural situation between tribes, and especially those that live in the Sahara, who for hundreds of years and more, have developed strong and dangerous “atsabiyya” (tribal rivalry) , mainly towards “the other” (anyone who is different from him). The fact that weapons are widespread in the Libyan desert means that the violence inherent to the culture of the region, is turning the matter into something particularly deadly.
Qatar – Hypocrisy At its Worst
The upheaval in the Arab world is the result of a basically terrible situation created by the regimes, an atmosphere of enmity toward the regimes created by the Al Jazeera channel and the huge fire that Muhammad bou Azizi ignited. During the past two years, the principality of Qatar has been, and still is involved up to its neck in funding the chaos and sending various types of support to Libya and Syria, and the Al Jazeera channel, which is the operative agent, ignites the problem in Arab countries by calling for democracy, human rights and freedom of expression in these countries.
But Qatar itself cannot stand up to Al Jazeera’s standards when it comes to democracy: in the beginning of this December, the Qatari court sent a 36-year old poet by the name of Muhammad ben al-Dhiab  al-Ajami to prison for life, because while he praised the revolutions in the Arab world, he also criticized the Emir of Qatar. Al-Ajami went even further and called for revolution in Qatar, even though he knew that the punishment for this is death.
If the Emir of Qatar does not pardon al-Ajami, he will be inviting sharp criticism from anyone who has a mouth and a tongue in the Arab world, but he will pay no heed to the criticism and will continue to encourage the Muslim Brotherhood to take control of the rest of the countries of the Arab world, while shutting mouths in his own back yard.
A General Picture
Two years after the beginning of the upheaval in the Arab world, the  picture does not arouse too much optimism. The rulers of still more countries are standing on shaky ground, and the wave may reach them too.
Israel again appears as an island of stability and sanity in a roiling and stormy sea, where rickety boats are about to sink along with their inhabitants. May Allah save the Arab peoples.

Originally published at Middle East and Terrorism. Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/dr-mordechai-kedar/two-years-later-arab-springs-success-dubious/2012/12/25/

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