President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the Egyptian security forces’ brutal campaign against Muslim Brotherhood opponents has convinced him to cancel a major joint US-Egypt military drill that takes place every two years and is a source of prestige to the Egyptian army.
“We want to sustain our relationship with Egypt [but] our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets,” he said.
Obama did not hint of a more severe reaction, such as reducing military aid to Egypt. GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a fierce critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, openly hinted that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is partly to blame for the violence in Egypt.
“As we predicted and feared, chaos in Cairo,” McCain tweeted. “Sec Kerry praising the military takeover didn’t help.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday urged that the Egyptian military regime, which it blessed for getting rid of Mohammed Morsi, hold elections like those of last year, when Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi won and was blessed by the Obama administration.
The elections followed the revolution against Hosni Mubarak, whom Washington had blessed for years as its closest ally in the Middle East except for Israel.
“The United States strongly supports the Egyptian people’s hope for a prompt and sustainable transition to an inclusive, tolerant, civilian-led democracy,” Kerry told reporters in Washington.
The State Dept. has a short memory, which apparently is part of its curriculum for learning the Middle East.
Every American administration for years had known that Mubarak was a ruthless autocrat. But as he long as maintained stability, profited from U.S. arms sales and limited his anti-Israel positions to speeches for the masses, everyone was happy – except the Egyptians.
After Mubarak’s goon squads murdered nearly 1,000 people opposing his regime, President Barack Obama turned his back on Mubarak and hastened his departure, as would any country that favors human rights.
Then the United States misread the Arab street for a change. Just as the State Dept. under the Bush administration failed to realize that the Hamas terrorist organization would win the Palestinian Authority’s first and last democratic elections eight years ago, the Obama administration did not realize that after Mubarak comes the radical Muslim Brotherhood.
Instead of standing up for human rights and condemning the fiercely anti-Israeli and anti-Christian group, Washington embraced it, figuring it’s best to make friends with those in power in order to tell them what to do. But it seems that the world does not always act as the United States wants.
Those warm embraces and blessings lasted for less than year. While the State Dept. spent months of pretending that Morsi was instituting reforms while it ignored his actions in the opposite direction, the Egyptians had enough and launched the country’s second Arab Spring rebellion in two years.
The State Dept. backed the ouster of Morsi, despite his having been democratically elected, and gave its blessings to the army, which it was sure would serve only as an interim government.
Here is a statement that could have been made during the rebellion against the Mubarak regime: “We and others have urged the government to respect the rights of free assembly and of free expression, and we have also urged all parties to resolve this impasse peacefully and underscored that demonstrators should avoid violence and incitement.”
That actually was said on Wednesday by Kerry, who condemned the same army he backed a month ago.
“The United States strongly condemns today’s violence and bloodshed across Egypt,” he said. “It’s a serious blow to reconciliation and the Egyptian’s people’s hopes for a transition towards democracy and inclusion.”
More accurately, it is a blow to the United States, which just can’t get it right in the Middle East, let alone Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Violence is simply not a solution in Egypt or anywhere else,” he said, ignoring the fact the violence is a way of life in most Arab countries, where “might is right.” The Arab Spring revolutions have shown that there is a choice.
One option is a ruthless autocratic regime that suppress freedom, beats up anyone who says “boo” and also maintains stability, especially for the rich ruling class.
The other option is mass violence and instability.
According to Kerry, “Violence only impedes the transition to an inclusive civilian government, a government chosen in free and fair elections that governs democratically, consistent with the goals of the Egyptian revolution.”
That brings him to the logical conclusion that elections are needed. The sooner they come, the more violent they will be.
Kerry concluded his remarks with what should be viewed as a worrisome statement: “The United States remains at the ready to work with all of the parties and with our partners and with others around the world in order to help achieve a peaceful, democratic way forward.”
The video below shows some of Wednesday’s violence. It is more or less a replay of Mubarak’s violence in 2011. In between, there were elections, which were both the outcome and precursor of violence.
Egyptians officials have admitted that 278 people, including 43 policemen, were killed in Wednesday’s violence, while the Muslim Brotherhood movement claims that more than 2,000 were killed. The true numbers are likely somewhere between the two.
The death toll was the highest since the uprising in 2011 against Hosni Mubarak. Thousands were wounded on Wednesday, and supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi attacked at least seven Coptic Christian churches and more than 20 police stations.
Relative calm returned Thursday morning, but the crisis is far from over. The Egyptian military, now the official ruler of Egypt for at least 30 days, is trying to maintain a calmer position following the extreme condemnation of the violence by the United States and the United Nations.
Vice-president Mohamed ElBaradei, a pro-reform leader in the interim government, quit Wednesday night following the announcement of the month-long state of emergency.
The United States is considering canceling a joint military drill with Egypt that is held every two years. Washington already has postponed the delivery of four more F-16 warplanes to Egypt in light of the military coup that ousted Morsi from power.
In a graphic reminder of how close Egypt is to the edge, if it hasn’t crossed that line already, Islamic supporters in Egypt were caught on camera throwing two youths off the roof of a building. If that wasn’t enough, they began beating the boy’s crushed bodies, reminiscent of the act of cannibalism that underscored the complete breakdown of civilization in Syria, when a Syrian rebel ate the heart of a Syrian soldier, on camera.
The youths were celebrating the overthrow of the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi. The Islamists decided to put an end to that.
Islamic and revolutionary opponents have been fighting in the streets since the military coup. The Islamists seem to have an actual majority in Egpyt, where between 30% – 50% of the nation are illiterate.
As an aside, following the precedent of Hamas’s violent coup in Gaza, Judea and Samaria will clearly descend into the same chaos and anarchy if Kerry has his way, and a Palestinian state is created on this side of the Jordan river.
The Syrian government issued a travel advisory today to Syrian citizens, warning them against traveling to Turkey, for their own safety, according the Syrian government’s official news site, SANA.
The Syrian foreign ministry warned its citizens about the deteriorating security situation in several Turkish cities, and the escalating protest violence between the Turkish government and Turkish protesters.
Syria even called on Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to stop the violent repression of the protesters, and if he can’t, then to resign.
The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry advises the Syrian citizens against traveling to Turkey during this period for fear for their safety, due to the security conditions in some Turkish cities that have deteriorated over the past days and the violence practiced by Erdogan’s government against peaceful protesters.
The advisory is similar to the one that Turkey published against travel to Syria.
The Syrian civil war has left 80,000 people dead. Turkey, which shares a border with Syria, has taken in a few hundred thousand Syrian refugees who fled from the violence.
When we think of warfare, most of us think of tanks roaring across the desert, dogfights in the air, infantry battles, or even guerrilla war, in which shadowy figures strike and then melt away. But when enemy populations are closely intermingled, then warfare can also comprise what we normally think of as crime. So when one population deliberately targets another in order to damage morale, to increase insecurity and even to drive them out, and when they do it for nationalistic motives, it can be more than a nuisance — it can be war.
This kind of warfare is traditional in the Middle East, where simple banditry is often more than that. I’ve written about how thefts and vandalism in the Galilee and the Negev have given rise to vigilante groups to protect farmers from wholesale loss of animals, machinery and crops to Bedouin and Palestinian thieves.
But today a far worse situation has arisen in Judea and Samaria where attempted murder — and sometimes the attempts are successful — is a daily occurrence. Although one often hears that terrorism in Israel has become far less frequent recently, this is simply not true. It is just much less likely to make the news if it occurs in Judea and Samaria, or if it happens to that less-than-human being, a ‘settler’.
There are multiple reasons for this. Palestinian Arab ideology encourages them to see themselves as oppressed, so anything they do is “justified.” Parents often encourage their children to act out their feelings of victimization, or at least accept their behavior, even when it’s violent. Official Palestinian media and schools continually glorify all forms of ‘resistance’, even murder.
The Israeli police are in general ineffective and outnumbered. The IDF operates with strict rules of engagement, and anyway is the not the best tool — after all, armies are, or should be, designed to kill people — to deal with theft, arson, vandalism and harassment (which, nevertheless, often turns into murder).
And then there is most of the Israeli and international media, which seem to believe that if a ‘settler’ gets hurt, it’s his or her own fault for living in a place where, “Palestinians want the land for their future state.” According to them, the solution to the problem is “peace” and a “two-state solution.”
Anyone with sense enough to listen to what the Palestinian Arabs themselves say knows that they consider Haifa, Acco, Yafo, Lod, etc. Arab land too. I suspect that if the Jews abandoned everything but downtown Tel Aviv, the violence would follow them there.
These reports are translated and publicized by Yehudit Tayar for Hatzalah Yehudah and Shomron with the clearance and confirmation of the IDF. Hatzalah Yehudah and Shomron is a voluntary emergency medical organization with over 500 volunteer doctors, paramedics, medics who are on call 24/7 and work along with the IDF, 669 IAF Airborne Rescue, the security officers and personal throughout Yesha and the Jordan Valley, and with MDA [Magen David Adom]. …
From the reports which we received here is a partial summary of the hundreds of attempts to murder innocent Jews during the past week;
3 IDF soldiers, 9 civilians, and 3 policemen were injured:
• Civilian injured from rocks a Sinjal, child injured moderately from bottle thrown on bus at the Mt. of Olives, young civilian injured from rocks near Ofra, 5 children moderately from rocks between El Hadar and Efat,
• IDF soldier moderately [injured] from rocks near the Tunnel Road, IDF soldier moderately in his head from rocks near T Junction in Etzion, IDF soldier moderately at El Fuar, Border policeman moderately from rocks at Abu Dis, 2 policemen moderately at the Temple Mt., Fireman moderately injured from rocks at Issawiya during attempt to extinguish a fire at Opharin Base.
We received reports of at least 143 Molotov Cocktail attacks:
100 at Azoria, 6 Abu Dis, 9 Shuafat Refugee Camp, 1 at bus at El Arub, 5 at car and 1 at security vehicle near Ofra, 4 Kever Rachel, 3 at security force at Tunnel Road checkpost, 4 at security force El Fuar, 3 at security force at Parsa Junction,1 thrown by rioters at Shuafat which caused a fire to break out near Pisgat Ze’ev, 1 at Ophrit Base, 2 at the security fence near Ja’ama. [Molotov cocktails, of course, are gasoline bombs that can and have burned people to death or scarred them for life -- ed]
10 explosive devices at Azaria
5 Arab rioters attacked a yeshiva student on his way to the Kotel (Western Wall)
3 PA policemen were apprehended who were involved in the murder of Ben Zion Livnat HY”D, after they had beenreleased from prison by the PA after serving short sentences.
Arab with improvised weapon caught in his car at Bene Naim
This week also there were scores of attempted murder of innocent men, women and children by Arabs attacking with rocks thrown on the roads at the cars as they drove in their vehicles:
A partial list of the places where the attacks occurred:
160 turn – Hevron, Policeman checkpost – Hevron, Adoriam Junction Southern Hevron Hills, El Fuar, near the Tunnel Road checkpost, Har Homa-Tekoa Highway, near the Spring by Hevron, El Arub, H Junction, T Junction by Tekoa, Arab Tekoa, between Efrat and El Hadar, Halhul, luben A-Shrakia, Postmans Junction Benjamin Region, Ras Karkar, Wadi Haramia, Sin’jil, Dir Abu Mishal, Nebe Zalah, near Ofra, Abud bypass, near Na’alin, Betliu, El Moyar, near Ba’al Hazor, Shokba, Abu Dis, Azaria, the Temple Mt., A’Zaim checkpost, Ras hamis, Issowiya, at the almond grove in Yitzhar, between Ariel and Nofei Nechemia, a rock barricade between Tapuah and Migdalim, Pundok, Gat Junction, this week also Beduin damaged property near Retamim. [This is the kind of attack that killed Asher Palmer and his son in 2011 andcritically inured a young girl this March -- ed].
Here is a short video to give you a taste of what “stoning” is like:
For decades in the Middle East the most reliable political tool often seemed to be the Israel card, the idea that by condemning Israel, blaming it for the Arab world’s problems, and claiming that those who were insufficiently militant on the issue were traitors.
But the Israel card doesn’t work anymore, at least not in the way it used to do so. True, the rise of revolutionary Islamism has focused more hatred against Israel. Yet at the same time—and this analogy is imperfect—it is less of a single-issue movement. As revolutionary Islamists seek to destroy their rivals (nationalist, moderates, and each other) and fundamentally transform their own societies, they are kept pretty busy.
Jibril Rajoub, a senior Fatah official and supposed moderate, may insist that Israel is the main enemy of the Arabs and Muslims, but the Arabs and Muslims aren’t paying much attention. The Palestinian Authority which his group runs–and which rules only on the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -.ed]–has no Middle Eastern patron at all.
The Sunni-Shia conflict is deepening, with clashes already taking place in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and above all Syria. Indeed, the Syrian civil war is a full-scale contest between the two blocks. Even Muslim Brotherhood think-tanks have said that the Shia, and especially Iran, are more dangerous threats than is Israel.
The chance that these two blocs would cooperate against Israel is close to zero. It was different a few years ago.
Before the “Arab Spring,” Iran seemed set to become the region’s Muslim superpower. If Tehran obtained nuclear weapons (sometimes referred to as the “Islamic bomb”) it was expected to wield growing influence throughout the Arab world.
Today, however, that situation has reversed itself. Sunni Arabs, whether they are Islamists or anti-Islamists, openly hate and fear Iran. A nuclear weapon in Tehran’s hands would not increase its strategic or political influence. Iran faces a Sunni wall against its ambitions and it is almost without Arab allies.
As for Hizballah, Iran’s sole reliable ally, it is not able to attack Israel from southern Lebanon. Thousands of its soldiers are tied up in Syria to keep an arms’ supply open, help the Bashar al-Assad regime win, and protect Shia villagers. It also faces growing opposition from Sunni Muslims, financed by the Saudis and stirred up by hatred over Hizballah’s actions in Syria, within Lebanon itself. Plus the fact that the Lebanese don’t want to be victimized by Hizballah going to war with Israel given the damage suffered in the late round in 2006.
And what of the Syrian regime itself? For decades it held Syria together in large part by portraying itself as the most courageous, militant force rejecting peace with Israel and striving to wipe that country off the map. As late as three or four years ago, President Bashar al-Assad’s strong support for Hizballah, opposition to the “peace process,” and championing of Sunni terrorists in Iraq was enough to hold the country together. Yet the seeds of Sunni Islamism he planted in Syria because it supported him at the time have now blown up in his face. His anti-Israel credentials don’t matter anymore in mobilizing support for his continued rule.
This disintegration and the multiplication of issues and enemies is not, of course, due only to the Sunni-Shia issue. There has also been a sharp revival of Arab identity against the Turks and Persians. The region’s history of such ethnic clashes has been revived. If the Syrian civil war ends in a rebel victory, the winners will soon turn against their Turkish patrons. Indeed, while the trade between the two countries is still growing, the Syria issue has driven a deep rift between Turkey and Iran, who are supporting opposite sides.
Even Muslim Brotherhood Egypt and Muslim Brotherhood Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have fallen out, albeit perhaps temporarily. The Egyptian government is unhappy that Hamas has not cracked down enough on the Salafists in Gaza and the Sinai who want to attack it.
In addition, Egypt—busy with internal transformation, domestic conflicts, and economic problems, wants Hamas to keep things quiet on its border with Egypt. Israeli officials describe current security cooperation with the Egyptian government, or at least the intelligence services and military, as being quite good. Disputes between Muslim Brotherhood groups and even more radical Salafists are creating problems in Egypt and Syria.