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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘SCAF’

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.

Morsi Instituting Sweeping Changes in Army leadership, Constitution, Political Appointments

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Egyptian president Morsi made several sweeping decisions on Sunday afternoon, announced by the presidential spokesperson in a televised statement.

Al Ahram reported that, to start, Morsi cancelled the addendum to the constitutional declaration, issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on June 17. The addendum included clauses that gave the armed forces a high level of autonomy; with SCAF retaining the final say in all military-related issues. It also stipulated that the head of the SCAF, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, was to remain minister of defense until a new constitution was drafted.

Next, Morsi issued a decision to retire Hussein Tantawi, the minister of defence and the general commander of the Armed Forces.

Morsi also retired Sami Anan, the Army’s Chief of Staff, from his duties. Both men were awarded state medals and appointed as advisors to the president.

The president next appointed the head of the military intelligence, Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, as Minister of Defence to replace Tantawi.

Sedky Sobhy, the commander of the Third Army, was appointed as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces.

Morsi also retired the Commander of the Navy, Mohab Memish, and appointed him as head of the Suez Canal Authority.

Reda Hafez, the commander of the Air Force, was also retired and appointed as minister of Military Production.

Mohamed El-Assar, the SCAF member in charge of armaments, was appointed as assistant to the Minister of Defense.

Finally, Morsi appointed Mahmoud Mekki, the deputy head of the Cassation (appellate) Court, as his Vice President.

Immediately following the announcement of their appointments, Mahmoud Mekki, Egypt’s new vice president, and Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the new minister of defense, were both sworn into office before President Morsi shortly after 5 PM on Sunday.

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

All Three Major Contenders Disqualified in Egyptian Presidential Race

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Al Ahram reports that the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) on Saturday disqualified 10 contenders from Egypt’s anticipated presidential elections, including Salafist Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, former Intelligence boss Omar Suleiman and Muslim Brotherhood financial genius Khairat El-Shater.

The body of judges, appointed by the current Egyptian military junta, SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces), has announced that it “thoroughly checked all applicants’ files and looked into the complaints lodged against them” before deciding their fate.

Apparently, Abu-Ismail was removed from the list of contenders because his mother holds a US citizenship. In Suleiman’s case it was his application, which did not include signatures from at least 15 governorates. And El-Shater was disqualified because of the time he spent in prison for being a Muslim Brother – even though he had received a pardon from SCAF, the same body which appointed the SPEC.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/all-three-major-contenders-disqualified-in-egyptian-presidential-race/2012/04/15/

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