Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Egypt isn't moving toward democracy, it's moved into martial law and where it goes is now subject to debate."

From Reuters, 12 Feb, by Samia Nakhoul and Andrew Hammond* 2011:

...Behind the celebrations, there was a note of caution over how far the armed forces under Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's veteran defense minister, were ready to permit democracy, especially since the hitherto banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is one of the best organized movements.

"This is just the end of the beginning," said Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Egypt isn't moving toward democracy, it's moved into martial law and where it goes is now subject to debate."

U.S. officials familiar with the Egyptian military say Tantawi, 75, has long seemed resistant to change.

Suleiman, a 74-year-old former spy chief, annoyed some this week by questioning whether Egyptians were ready for democracy.

Al Arabiya television said the army would soon dismiss the cabinet and suspend parliament. The head of the Constitutional Court would join the leadership with the military council.

The best deterrent to any attempt to maintain military rule could be the street power of protesters who showed Mubarak they could render Egypt ungovernable without their consent.

But as continued turmoil in Tunisia shows a month after the overthrow of the strongman there inspired young Egyptians to act, any government will face huge social and economic problems.

*Reporting by Samia Nakhoul, Edmund Blair, Marwa Awad, Yasmine Saleh, Dina Zayed, Shaimaa Fayed, Alexander Dziadosz, Sherine El Madany, Patrick Werr, Alistair Lyon, Tom Perry, Andrew Hammond, Jonathan Wright, Peter Millership and Alison Williams in Cairo and Christian Lowe in Algiers; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Louise Ireland.

The greatest enemies of Egyptian democracy are amongst it's protestors

From an op-ed by Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism and Islamism:

...not just Israelis -- are concerned that Egypt’s revolution could be commandeered by radicals...

...Do the Egyptians demonstrating in Tahrir Square appreciate how threatening the Muslim Brotherhood is to the freedom they hope to win?

...I make no brief for Mubarak whose goal has been to create a pharaonic dynasty, not leave a democratic legacy. But I couldn’t help but recall that exactly 32 years ago, I was in Iran covering an upheaval very similar to the one now taking place in Egypt. And I knew young people, educated in America and Europe, secular, liberal and excited about the fall of the Shah and the prospect of a new, free, democratic and prosperous Iran.  They firmly believed that the Ayatollah Khomeini not only tolerated them -- he valued them. After all, the revolution succeeded because, for the first time, the radical clerics had been joined by students, merchants, socialists, communists and other groups.

Before long, Khomeini and his followers had all the levers of power in their hands. My friends were sent to the gallows and the prisons or – if they were lucky – managed to flee into exile.

No, it doesn’t have to be that way in Egypt. It helps that the Muslim Brotherhood apparently has no charismatic leader, no Egyptian Khomeini. But it’s also true, as Omar Suleiman, now Egypt’s vice president, told FBI Director Robert Mueller five years ago (according to WikiLeaks disclosures), that the Muslim Brotherhood has spawned “11 different Islamist extremist organizations, including Egyptian Islamic Jihad …” which today is a dominant faction of al-Qaeda.

So the question now is what can be done to help those who sincerely want a free, democratic and prosperous Egypt, and what can be done to prevent anti-democratic forces from hijacking whatever democratic processes may be put in place
  • as the Khomeinists did in Iran in 1979,
  • as Hamas did in Gaza in 2006 and
  • as Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon right now
with little resistance from the U.S. or Europe or, needless to say, the U.N.

If the Muslim Brotherhood is made to compete in a war of ideas, there is a decent chance  it will lose. It’s one thing for the Brothers to proclaim: “Islam is the solution!” It’s another for them to explain why it’s okay if their policies scare off tourists and investors, lead to wars Egypt may not win, while deepening poverty and decreasing freedom for the vast majority of Egyptians.

Of course, Iran’s rulers, Hezbollah and Hamas do not rely on op-eds and television debates to advance their arguments. They murder those who disagree with them.

Stalin mused: “Death solves all problems -- no man, no problem.” The Muslim Brotherhood goes further. Just last year, its “Supreme Guide,” Muhammad Badi', gave a sermon in which he said it was his hope and plan to raise “a jihadi generation that pursues death, just as the enemies pursue life." As a campaign slogan, that may not be as catchy as “Hope and Change.” As a campaign strategy, it conveys distinct advantages.

And just this week, Kamal al-Halbavi, a senior member of the Brotherhood told the BBC that he hoped Egypt soon would have a government “like the Iranian government, and a good president like Mr. Ahmadinejad…”

Americans don’t have enormous leverage to influence events on the ground in Egypt -- but neither are Americans without leverage. Surely, we can and should identify those who are sincerely fighting for freedom and democracy and support them. This would begin to level the playing field. Apologists for the Muslim Brotherhood invariably talk about the organization’s wonderful “social programs,” its provision of food and medicine to the poor. Where do you think the money for all that comes from? Bake sales?

It is in Egypt’s national interest -- and America’s, and, yes, Israel’s -- that Egyptians such as Dina Guirguis achieve their dream: opening a space for freedom and democracy in the heart of the Arab and Muslim Middle East. We do them no favor by not telling them this hard truth: Their most determined opponents are on the barricades with them.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Israel has Never Looked So Good

... For decades now, they have been warning us that if you want "peace in the Middle East," just fix the Palestinian problem. A recent variation on this theme has been: ...if all those Jews in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would only "freeze" their construction, then, finally, Palestinian leaders might come to the table and peace might break out.
...What bloody nonsense....While tens of millions of Arabs have been suffering for decades from brutal oppression, while gays have been tortured and writers jailed and women humiliated and dissidents killed, the world -- yes, the world -- has obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

...As if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has anything to do with
  • the 1,000-year-old bloody conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or
  • the desire of brutal Arab dictators to stay in power, or
  • the desire of Islamist radicals to bring back the Caliphate, or
  • the economic despair of millions, or
  • simply the absence of free speech or basic human rights throughout the Arab world.
While self-righteous Israel bashers have scrutinized every flaw in Israel's democracy -- some waxing hysterical that the Jewish democratic experiment in the world's nastiest neighborhood had turned into an embarrassment -- they kept their big mouths shut about the oppression of millions of Arabs throughout the Middle East.

They cried foul if Israeli Arabs -- who have infinitely more rights and freedoms than any Arabs in the Middle East -- had their rights compromised in any way. But if a poet were jailed in Jordan or a gay man were tortured in Egypt or a woman were stoned in Syria, all we heard was screaming silence.

...Do you ever recall seeing a UN resolution or an international conference in support of Middle Eastern Arabs not named Palestinians?

Of course, now that the Arab volcano has finally erupted, all those chronic Israel bashers have suddenly discovered a new cause: Freedom for the poor oppressed Arabs of the Middle East!

...Yes, imagine if Israel bashers had spent a fraction of their energy fighting the lies of Arab dictators and defending the rights of millions of oppressed Arabs. Imagine if President Obama had taken one percent of the time he has harped on Jewish settlements to defend the democratic rights of Egyptian Arabs -- which he is suddenly doing now that the volcano has erupted.

... right now, when I see poor Arab souls being murdered for the simple act of protesting on the street, I've never felt more proud of being a supporter of the Jewish state.

Egypt - it's not the fall, it's the landing....

Christian Friends of Israel Speak Up in Support

From Israel Today Magazine, Thursday, February 03, 2011, by Ryan Jones:

Joel Osteen and his wife Victoria, pastors of the 43,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, are in Israel this week to express their love and support for the Jewish people and their state.

Osteen, who is watched by an estimated seven million television viewers every week ...invited the Israeli consul general in Houston to his church and announced that he would be leading a group to Israel.

“As Christians, Victoria and I feel that it is important to stand in support of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people,” Osteen said in a statement released to the press. “That’s our Christian roots. That’s where our faith started.”

On Thursday, the Osteens hosted a Night of Hope at the Jerusalem Theater that will be broadcast around the world by Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) this weekend. The Osteens also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres during their stay.

Israelis are hoping the visit will spark a new wave of Evangelical Christian tourism and support from those who may have previously not seen Israel as an important issue for the Church.