Monday, January 31, 2011

The Egyptian Revolt And Imperial Islamism

From The American Thinker:

January 31, 2011

The Egyptian Revolt and Imperial Islamism

By G. Murphy Donovan

The Arab revolt underway in Egypt may be unique. Previous popular uprisings were underwritten by anti-colonial sentiments. Contemporary revolts (including unrest in Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen, and Jordan) target nationalist or secular governments. The wealthiest Arab states, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, have been financing the ideological struggle against Arab secularism through surrogates like the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood (al Ikwan) for decades. Now the most populous state in the Arab League, Egypt, may fall to the Brotherhood like a ripe pomegranate.

A brief history of previous Arab revolts offers some perspective.

The corrupt Ottoman caliphate in Istanbul was the target for the first Arab revolt (1916-19). The goal of Sherif Hussein bin Ali was a unified Arab nation stretching from the Levant through the Arabian Peninsula. Bin Ali's revolt against the Turks was successful with the help of the British -- and then undermined by colonials with a different agenda. London had little sympathy for Arab nationalism; the English enemy in WWI was the German/Turkish axis.

Thus, the first conflict set the stage for an inevitable second revolt (1936-39) during WWII against the British and a nascent Zionist Movement. This uprising was limited to Palestine and was less successful than the first. Both revolts were, for the most part, footnotes to larger world wars where Arab interests were subordinated to big power politics.

Nonetheless, the two 20th-century Arab insurrections were part of a historical vector which eventually saw the creation of 22 separate nation-states. The vision of Arab unity, however, was savaged by centrifugal tribal and national sentiments. Still, those early revolutions laid the political and military foundation for the so-called Arab-Israeli struggle which has defined war and politics in the Middle East for the last sixt years. For many Arabs, including Arab-Americans like Edward Said and Helen Thomas, the creation of Israel was merely another vestige of colonial injustice.

Today, the ongoing revolt in Egypt is nothing like previous struggles. Sunni angst has turned inward after six decades of terror and thrashing against Israel and real or imagined enemies in Europe and America. The apostate is slowly replacing the infidel as a primary target. In the process, radical Sunnis may have adopted the Shia mold of irredentist renewal.

Compare the many futile and impotent Arab wars of the 20th century to the Persian revolution since 1979, a model of theocratic efficiency. Indeed, Iran is now on the cusp of first-world nuclear status, defying an impotent West and positioning itself to challenge Arab/Sunni hegemony within dar al Islam. Lebanon and Iraq are poised to join the Shiite Crescent, too. Persian revanchism could well be the new model for radical Sunni imperialism in the Arab world.

Al Jazeera has been covering the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts with breathless abandon, celebrating the disturbances as the legitimate and "peaceful" aspirations of an oppressed fellaheen. Somehow the looting, arson, and body bags in Cairo belie such arguments. Emirate propaganda organs like al Jazeera always speak with two voices; English language broadcasts offer dulcet tones of peace and moderation, putting the best spin on the insurrection, while Arabic language programs howl with hate and invective using expatriate Egyptian Brotherhood spokesmen.

Apologists defend the Muslim Brotherhood as a political reform movement and ignore the Qur'anic imperialism which underwrites the movement and its objectives. Indeed, the incendiary writings of Sayiid Qutb and, more recently, Yusuf al-Qaradawi (below), a Qatar-based firebrand, are almost exclusively predicated on Islamic religious literature.

Al-Qaradawi is an archetypical mouthpiece for the worst Brotherhood vitriol. He is the author of numerous books and tracts, but more significantly, he hosts the most popular broadcast on the al-Jazeera network. His show, "Sharia and Life," reaches over 50 million Arab-speaking viewers with a message that reeks of paranoia, misogyny, homophobia, racism, violent jihad, and all manner of anti-democratic venom. Recently one of his fatwas alleged that Hitler was "Allah's" messenger punishing the Jews. In another pronouncement, al-Qaradawi justified female circumcision and wife-beating. He actually claimed that some Arab women enjoy physical abuse. Al-Qaradawi also maintains a significant online presence.

It is no coincidence that al Jazeera and al-Qaradawi find refuge and financial support in Doha. The Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to paraphrase Churchill, seek to appease the Sunni crocodile, hoping that Arab autocrats will be eaten last. The many grievances of the Arab street are real enough; but al Jazeera, a Brotherhood flack, has been shut down in Egypt for prudent reasons.

The Muslim Brotherhood, officially illegal, is the largest and most well-organized political alternative to the Mubarak regime. Al Ikwan, like Hezb'allah in Lebanon, is in fact a government within a government -- sedition leavened with health and humanitarian services.

Throughout the current revolt, al Ikwan in Egypt has maintained a low profile for good reasons. If Mubarak is deposed by a "people's revolt," surely to be followed by some kind of "moderate" interim government, then the Muslim brotherhood is in the catbird seat to make Egypt's first legitimate election the last. Indeed, Egypt could be a replay of Algeria in 1991. Only this time, there is little chance that a theocratic electoral victory in Arabia's most populous nation will be nullified.

Al Jazeera and its American network "partners" seemed to be channeling Jimmy Carter on the Sunday morning chat shows. Christiane Amanpour on ABC spoke of a "popular uprising" and freedom. Martha Raddatz spoke of "human rights and democracy." Tom Friedman on NBC courted the "moderate Muslim center." Possibly worst of all was the BBC's Katty Kay suggesting that the Muslim Brotherhood be accommodated in any post-Mubarak government.

The hagiographic network coverage of the Egyptian revolt ignores every recent political precedent in the near East; the Iran revolt gave birth to the first Shia theocracy, and a recent election elevated terrorist Hezb'allah in Lebanon. The electoral victory of fundamentalism in Algeria in 1991 had to be undone by the Army. An election also brought terrorist Hamas to power in Palestine. And now Tunisia and Egypt are tottering towards the abyss. Electoral alternatives to the status quo in the Arab League are not likely to be enlightened or democratic.

The Irish, who know more than a little about the debits and credits of revolution, like to say that the "devil you know is better than the devil you don't." Mubarak may be a flawed ally, but other options are monstrous. Not only is Egypt a linchpin for Middle East stability, but it, like Turkey until recently, has been a bulwark against the worst excesses of Islamism. If Egypt falls to Islam's worst, the outlook for Israel and the rest of the Muslim world is bleak indeed.

The loss of Egypt to Islamic theocrats will be more consequential than the loss of Iran. Elections are just another arrow in the fundamentalist quiver. Unfortunately, too many naïve observers in the West confuse voting with democracy.

The stakes in this most recent Arab revolt have little or nothing to do with Egyptian or any other variety of Arab nationalism. Democracy, economics, and social justice are minor players, too. Another victory for Sunni radicals is the prize if the Egyptian revolt is successful. Egypt represents a tipping point -- a validation of Imperial Sunni Islam and another stimulus for religious extremism.

The author is a former Intelligence analyst with tours at HQ USAF, DIA, CIA, and NSA. He writes also at Agnotology in Journalism and G. Murphy Donovan.

Syria's Assad Running Scared

From The American Thinker;

January 31, 2011

Syria's Assad running scared

Rick Moran

Syria's President is reading the writing on the wall and is hurriedly calling for "political reform" in his country.

Now if we could only keep his hands off Lebanon.

The Wall Street Journal:

In a rare interview, Mr. Assad told The Wall Street Journal that the protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen are ushering in a "new era" in the Middle East, and that Arab rulers would need to do more to accommodate their people's rising political and economic aspirations.

"If you didn't see the need of reform before what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, it's too late to do any reform," Mr. Assad said in Damascus, as Egyptian protesters swarmed the streets of Cairo pressing for the resignation of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

The Syrian strongman, who succeeded his father, has always kept a tight leash on his country and tolerated little protest. His regime has also maintained a close partnership with Iran and militant groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

While much of the region's unrest has hit countries that have developed alliances with Washington, his remarks indicate that the ripple effects of the Egyptian unrest will reach out to Middle Eastern leaders who are both friend and foe of the U.S.

The WSJ is being too kind by referring to Damascus as keeping a "tight leash" on his country. In fact, Assad and his father before him initiated brutal slaughter to crackdown on anyone and any group that dared oppose his absolute authority.

But, as the Journal points out, Assad is in a little better shape than the governments of Egypt and Tunisia. First, his brutality has cowed all but the most courageous reformers. Put simply, those who could lead the kind of street demonstrations we've seen in Cairo are either dead or in jail.

Perhaps more importantly, the populace supports his anti-Western, anti-Israeli policies. He has also increased subsidies for basic goods which has earned him points with the poor and unemployed.

But even Assad is shaking in his boots as a result of the current wave of unrest in the Middle East. He may think his token reforms will save him. More likely, it will only whet the appetite of the people for greater freedom.

Posted at 09:36 AM

El Baradei: Muslim Brotherhood Islamist Take-Over A Myth

From The American Thinker:

January 31, 2011

ElBaradei: Muslim Brotherhood Islamist takeover 'a myth'

Rick Moran

This is truly bizarre. Liberal commentator Alan Colmes triumphantly posts a quote from ElBaradei that "proves" us wingnuts are not reality based by worrying about a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood:

Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading voice of Egypt's opposition, told Fareed Zakaria on CNN that the American conservative fear put forth by people like John Bolton and Thaddeus McCotter that the Muslim Brotherhood will step in and take over Egypt if Hosni Mubarak falls is a myth without "one iota of reality."

And Colmes believes him? Takes him at his word? Ha'aretz:

Gamal Nasser, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, told DPA that his group was in talks with Mohammed ElBaradei - the former UN nuclear watchdog chief - to form a national unity government without the National Democratic Party of Mubarak.

The group is also demanding an end to the draconian Emergency Laws, which grant police wide-ranging powers The laws have been used often to arrest and harass the Islamist group.

Nasser said his group would not accept any new government with Mubarak. On Saturday the Brotherhood called on President Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner following the resignation of the Egyptian cabinet.

What did Colmes expect him to say? He's coordinating with the Muslim Brotherhood to lead a new government. Of course he's going to downplay the MB's past and their radical, anti-Semitic policies that, if implemented, would destroy the Camp David Accords and threaten the peace of the region.

ElBaradei told CNN host Fareed Zakaria that the MB is just a bunch of puppy dogs, wouldn't harm a fly:

ELBARADEI: I'm quite confident of that, Fareed. This is a myth that was sold by the Mabarak regime, that it's either us - the ruthless dictators - or a Muslim al-Qaeda type. The Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the Iranian movement, has nothing to do with extremism as we have seen it in Afghanistan and other places. The Muslim Brotherhood is a religiously conservative group. They are a minority in Egypt. They are not a majority of the Egyptian people, but they have a lot of credibility because of liberal parties have been a struggle for thirty years. They are in favor of a secular state. they are of -they are in favor of an institution that have bread lines, they are in favor that every Egyptian have the same rights, that the state is in no way a state based on religion. And I have been reaching out to them. We need to include them. They are as much a part of society as the markets that started here. I think this is a myth that has been perpetuated and sold by the regime and has no iota of reality. You know Fareed, I worked with Iranians, I've worked here. It's 100 percent difference between the two societies.

It's a shame that Colmes doesn't know the Brotherhood's history. And there is no mention by ElBaradei of the MB's strong support for Hamas and Hezb'allah. The latter group is an Iranian proxy so he is whistling past the graveyard if he thinks (more likely he knows but is downplaying the danger) that the Brotherhood wouldn't try to initiate some kind of theocracy in Egypt.

Many liberals also take the Iranians at their word when they swear they aren't building a bomb. What is it about the left that causes them to believe our adversaries, but disbelieve our friends?

Mark Roth adds:

It is most interesting to note the influence of the Moslem Brotherhood and its proposed "partner" in the current Egyptian insurrection/rebellion/revolution. The Brotherhood's choice of a leader is Mohammed El Baradei, whose last position was a long-running head of the United Nations IAEA, the supposed UN nuclear watchdog.

For those astute enough to follow the arguments against el Baradei during his UN tenure, it was clear that, at least with respect to Iran, el Baradei was the fox in the henhouse. He served as chief of the IAEA from 1997 to 2009, during which time he repeatedly asserted that Iran was further from nuclear success than was actually the case. In this he promoted and protected Iranian nuclear development.

For the conspiratorially minded it is fuel on the fire that el Baradei was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2005. And that "Peace Prize" was for--increasing the risk of nuclear war? The very thing el Baradei was charged with preventing. Interesting.

And now, el Baradei is at the forefront of the "revolution" in Egypt. Coincidence?

It cannot be said that the UN was completely unaware of el Baradei's actions or of the inevitable and natural consequences of those actions, for, in truth and in fact, el Baradei was the UN agent in charge of the nuclear issue. And now, it stands revealed through the force of events, the extent of UN complicity in this entire affair and of the impact on the current Islamic uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt as well as on the current unrest in Jordan.

It should be abundantly clear at last that the UN is dominated by a coalition of leftists and Arabists actively working to damage what used to be known as "the free world." Among other things evident from this state of affairs, it is also clear that the US should and, in fact, must, terminate its support of the UN.

Posted at 10:22 AM

Turkey And The European Union: The Disappearing Vision

From Middle East Affairs Information Center:

Turkey and the EU: The Disappearing Vision

Posted on Mon, January 31, 2011 at 18:33 pm, in Belgium, Cyprus, European Union, Islamism, Turkey . Mon, Jan 10, 2011, Turkey Analyst, vol. 4 no. 1
By Gareth H. Jenkins

Turkey and the EU: The Disappearing Vision

This article was first published in the Turkey Analyst (, a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center.

On December 31, 2010, Belgium’s six month presidency of the EU closed without any chapters in Turkey’s membership negotiations being opened. It was the first time an EU presidency had been concluded without the opening of any chapters since Turkey’s accession process was launched in October 2005. Although at least one chapter is expected to be opened during the first half of 2011, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the impression that the accession process is still alive, much less that there is any realistic prospect of Turkey joining the EU in the foreseeable future.

Background: When membership negotiations were officially inaugurated in October 2005, the EU ruled that Turkey had already effectively fulfilled two of the 35 chapters of the process, leaving 33 to be discussed. But there were problems from the start. When it first came to power in November 2002, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had pushed through a series of liberalizing reform packages and vigorously lobbied the EU to be given a date for the opening of membership talks. In July 2005, the AKP even signed an agreement, commonly known as the Additional Protocol, promising to extend its 1996 Customs Union with the EU to the ten new members who had acceded in May 2004, including the Republic of Cyprus, which Turkey has long refused to recognize.

However, once accession negotiations had been launched, the AKP appeared to lose interest. The liberalizing reform process ground to a halt amid signs that the AKP did not fully understand the requirements of EU membership: not least that, although the EU described the accession process as “negotiations”, in reality it was a question of compliance with EU norms and standards. Instead, the Turkish government appeared to regard it as a process of “give and take”, in which it could obtain exemptions from the body of EU law, known as the acquis communautaire, on the grounds of Turkey’s exceptionality. Turkey also failed to honor its commitments under the Additional Protocol, steadfastly refusing to open its ports and airports to vessels and planes from Cyprus unless the EU also eased the international isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), the breakaway statelet in the north of the island which only Turkey recognizes. The result was to effectively index Turkey’s EU accession prospects to a settlement on Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974.

The AKP government’s failure to implement the Additional Protocol has also been a gift to those in the EU who are opposed to Turkey ever acceding; whether for practical reasons – such as the strain on the EU’s resources resulting from the membership of a relatively poor country of 75 million – or out of simple racial and religious prejudice. More insidiously, this instrumentalization of Turkey’s failure to honor the Additional Protocol enabled the AKP – sometimes sincerely, sometimes disingenuously – to claim that the expression of virtually any reservations about Turkey’s membership or any criticism of the failure to meet the standards required by the acquis communautaire were simply pretexts to mask a more visceral opposition to the country’s accession.

In December 2006, the EU froze eight chapters of Turkey’s accession process for three years pending the implementation of the Additional Protocol. It also ruled that no chapters could be closed until the deadlock was resolved. The sanctions were extended for another 12 months in December 2009 and renewed again in December 2010. In addition, France and Cyprus have used their individual rights as EU members to indefinitely block another nine chapters of Turkey’s accession process, meaning that a total of 17 of the 33 are currently suspended.

To date, 13 chapters have been opened, of which just one – on science and research – had been concluded by the time that the EU introduced its ban on the closure of any more chapters in December 2006. As a result, barring a resolution of the impasse over Cyprus, there are only three chapters that can currently be opened: on competition, on public procurement, and social policy and employment.

Cyprus (Kibris) blocking the entrance of Turkey into the European Union (Avrupa Birligi)

Implications: At its summit meeting in Brussels on December 17, 2010, the EU announced that it expected to open the chapter on competition during the Hungarian presidency of the EU in the first half of 2011. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has privately instructed EU Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış to try to ensure that the chapter on public procurement is also opened in early 2011 so that he can include the opening of two chapters in a list of the AKP’s achievements in the campaign for the Turkish general election in June 2011. However, EU officials remain skeptical and say that there is still much to be done before the chapter on public procurement can be opened.

There is also a general awareness in Brussels that, even if eventual Turkish membership is in danger of becoming only a hypothetical possibility, it is in both the EU’s and Turkey’s interests to keep the accession process alive as long as possible; not least because there is a fear that, without it, the AKP’s increasing authoritarianism could become even worse. If two chapters are opened in the first half of 2011, that would leave only one chapter unopened; and, without any chapters being opened or closed, the accession would soon lose any semblance of momentum.

In recent months, European officials have increasingly focused on trying to find a solution to the deadlock over the Additional Protocol and free up another 17 chapters. In private, Turkish officials have indicated that they are prepared to soften their insistence on full reciprocity; namely the lifting of all restrictions on EU trade with Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus in return for Ankara lifting its ban on Greek Cypriot ships and planes, what Bağış has described as “a port for a port”. In late 2010, Turkey and the EU appeared to be moving close to an agreement that would have involved merely a token easing of the international embargo on Northern Cyprus; only for the deal to be vetoed by Cyprus before Ankara had given its final approval. In 2011, the officials at the European Commission are expected to renew their efforts to find a solution. However, the Cypriot government has made it clear that it will veto any formula that could be interpreted as legitimizing the Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus by according it some form of international recognition. Yet Turkey is likely to insist on at least a partial relaxation of the international embargo on the TRNC, and recognition of its existence is inherent in any decision to allow contact with it.

As a result, the best hope of resolving the impasse over the Additional Protocol appears to lie in a solution to the Cyprus problem. However, there is currently little prospect of an imminent breakthrough. Indeed, there are signs that the latest round of UN-sponsored negotiations on Cyprus, which were initiated in September 2008, may be about to collapse. More than two years of talks have failed to produce substantive progress on any of the key issues dividing the two sides. In November 2010, during a meeting in New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and TRNC President Derviş Eroğlu that his patience was running out and gave them two months to come up with constructive plans for a solution. The two leaders are due to present their proposals at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 25, 2011. Unless there is a breakthrough, Ban Ki-moon is expected to announce – probably in April 2011 – that the UN will withdraw its good offices and scale back its representation on Cyprus. Although representatives of the Cypriot government and TRNC are likely to remain in contact with each other, in the absence of an outside intermediary to inject some momentum into the negotiations it is difficult to see how they will be able to reach an agreement.

Conclusions: Although it is debatable whether the AKP government is genuinely committed to EU membership and all the standards and obligations it entails, there is no doubt that few whether in the government or amongst the Turkish public now believe that the EU would ever allow Turkey to become a member even if it fulfilled at the criteria. Despite its failure to introduce any more EU-inspired liberalizing reforms and its increasingly assertive foreign policy, the AKP is unlikely to abrogate the accession negotiations while the process is still exhibiting visible signs of momentum. However, the same cannot be said of a process which is manifestly moribund, where no chapters can be closed and none are left to be opened; particularly if the AKP receives a further boost to its already excessive self-confidence by being returned to power with a large majority in the general election in June 2011.

If the European Commission succeeds in breaking the deadlock over the Additional Protocol or if there is unexpected progress on Cyprus, not only will there be many more chapters to be opened but – more importantly – Turkey will have an incentive to push through reforms and close some chapters. However, if, as currently seems likely, the efforts fail, the EU will run out of chapters to open in either late 2011 or early 2012. If that happens, it is probably only a matter of time before Turkey abrogates the accession process. In the words of one official from the European Commission: “We could find ourselves with a negotiating process in which there is no negotiating. And once that happens, there may be no way back.”

Gareth Jenkins, a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the CACI & SRSP Joint Center, is an Istanbul-based writer and specialist of Turkish Affairs.


American Federal Reserve/Government Economic Policy And Middle Eastern Food Riots

From The American Thinker:

January 31, 2011

America and the Middle East Food Riots

By Steve McCann

Perhaps the most overused but most accurate term used to describe the policies and ideology of the American left is the "Law of Unintended Consequences." There is virtually nothing that these people espouse that, once put in place, has not had detrimental effects on either the people of the United States or the world.

Today there is a global food shortage and skyrocketing prices. This has become the underlying factor in the riots in Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt, where up to 56% of a person's income is dedicated to the acquisition of food. These riots are now leading to the upheaval of governments and the very real possibility of the ascendancy of the radical elements into control.

While bad weather in various parts of the world is an element of the accelerating food prices, there are two other factors directly related to the United States and its policies.

First, because of the enormous deficits run up by the Obama administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress, the Federal Reserve has had to effectively print trillions of dollars, which have flooded the global market. Commodities are priced in dollars; consequently, emerging markets throughout the world, and the food sector in particular, are suffering from rapidly rising inflation.

The CRB food index is up an incredible 36% over last year. Raw materials are up 23%. Since 2009, the dollar has declined by over 13% against the Japanese yen and 25% against the Canadian dollar.

Larry Kudlow in the National Review writes in regard to the riots in Africa and the Middle East:

So I have to ask this tough question: Is Ben Bernanke's ultra-easy QE2 money-priming partially to blame.

But food riots in the North Africa/Middle East area are bumping smack into long-time resentment over autocratic government. If food is in fact the trigger for what may be a revolution in Egypt, then US monetary policy has to shoulder at least some of the blame.

An example of this inflation is in the price of wheat. The January 2011 future price is $335.00 per metric ton, while last year at this time, it was $157.00 per metric ton -- an increase of 113%. Not all of this increase is due to the inflationary impact of the dollar, but with global yields down due to weather factors, this foolish U.S. monetary policy has made matters needlessly worse.

The second factor in the overall global food situation is the American decision to, in essence, burn food in its cars, a policy championed by the environmentalists since the 1990s. In 2010, the United States produced 13.1 billion bushels of corn. Of that amount, 4.2 billion bushels went into ethanol (33% of total production). That represents for 2011, a year in which global stocks are down nearly 8%, over 14% of all corn grown in the world being used in the most inefficient manner possible -- being put into American gas tanks.

Thus, the future price of corn per bushel in January 2011 is $6.51, as compared to $3.84 in January 2010 -- an increase of nearly 70%. While the price spike is in part due to lower yields, had the corn destined for ethanol been put back into the overall corn stocks, the net effect would have been to offset this lower crop, and the global market would have maintained the 2010 price level despite the inflationary impact of the dollar.

There is no quicker way to foment riots and revolution than to deprive the populace of food, particularly when so much daily income goes into feeding oneself and one's family. The pictures we have seen in North Africa may well be repeated elsewhere throughout the world. This time, the "Law of Unintended Consequences" wrought by the policies of the American left and the Obama administration will be limited not only to the United States, but also to many throughout the world. If the riots in Egypt and the Middle East take a severe and radical turn, then the prospect of open warfare in that region, which will involve the United States, will become a near certainty.

Monday Iran Talking Points

From Blog:

1:50 PM (10 hours ago)Monday Iran Talking Pointsfrom Blog by Eli Cliftonfrom LobeLog: News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for January 31st, 2011:

Council on Foreign Relations: Elliott Abrams blogs on the jailed American hikers and USAID contractor in Iran and concludes that it is time for the Obama administration to ratchet up demands for their release. He asks rhetorically, “I hope we have conveyed to the regime that if a hair on their heads is injured, there will be hell to pay—immediately. Should we go further right now, and tell the ayatollahs to let them go by a date certain or suffer some sanction? Bluffing would be counterproductive, so if we make that statement we must follow through with a blow to some Iranian asset.” Abrams acknowledges that making demands for the prisoners’ release might backfire, but reminds his readers that American prestige is on the line. “[W]e are paying a price by acting as if we were Belgium or Costa Rica, unable to do more than wring our hands and plead. We are reducing respect for the United States in a capital where the level of respect matters, Tehran,” he writes. “We are allowing two fellow citizens to be used as human sacrifices by an odious regime that puts no value on human life, and pays little price for doing so.”

The Washington Post: Jennifer Rubin, writing on her Right Turn blog, attacks the Obama administration’s unwillingness to publicly denounce Hosni Mubarak or immediately cut aid to Egypt. She ends her post with a brief swipe at the administration’s hesitancy to take a harder line with Iran, writing, “[L]et’s not forget the most egregious mistake: failing to recognize the nature of the Iranian regime and confront the aggression of its proxies in the region.” She concludes, “Is it any wonder the Obama team is now struggling to keep up with events in Egypt?”

Tablet Magazine: The Hudson Institute’s Lee Smith examines the U.S.’s relationship to Egyptian protestors and the test of “George W. Bush’s Freedom Agenda.” He writes, “If Egypt moves out of the American fold, it might well align itself with Iran,” or worse yet, “…it would challenge the Iranians, in the way regional competition has worked since 1948—by seeing who can pose the greatest threat to Israel.” Smith takes issue with the media’s portrayal of Mohamed ElBaredei as a leader of the democracy movement. Attacking his record at the IAEA, Smith writes, “[T]his so-called reformer distorted his inspectors’ reports on Iran and effectively paved the way for the Islamic Republic’s march toward a nuclear bomb.” Smith concludes that liberal democracy in Egypt will fail because young Arabs have an irrational hatred of Israel and because “…the United States will not come to the aid of its liberal allies, or strengthen the moderate Muslims against the extremists… the Freedom Agenda is not going to work, at least not right now.” He continues, “The underlying reason then is Arab political culture, where real democrats and genuine liberals do not stand a chance against the men with guns.”

The Wall Street Journal: Former George W. Bush National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley writes about the possible outcomes of pro-democracy protests in Egypt. In one scenario, Mubarak rides out the crisis and calls for elections later in the year. Hadley compares this option to the government following Pakistani elections in 2008. “[I]t is a democratic government, and by its coming to power we avoided the kind of Islamist regime that followed the fall of the Shah of Iran and that has provoked three decades of serious confrontation with the U.S. and totalitarian oppression of the Iranian people,” writes Hadley, implying a surprisingly good human rights situation under the Shah’s rule.

Netanyahu Warns Against Islamist Take-Over Of Egypt

From Middle East Affairs Information Center:

Netanyahu Warns Against Islamist Takeover of Egypt

Posted on Tue, February 1, 2011 at 3:08 am, in Egypt, Germany, Islamism, Israel, Muslim Brotherhood .
Mon, Jan 31, 2011
Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister’s Office

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (R) - (Photo by GPO)

Netanyahu Warns Against Islamist Takeover of Egypt

A Jerusalem Post report:

The principle guiding Israel’s policy during these days of crisis and uncertainty in Egypt is to preserve the 30-year-old peace agreement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday, breaking ranks with other world leaders who have unceremoniously abandoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

He also warned that extreme Islamic radicals could take advantage of the upheaval in the country and gain control of Egypt, just as they did in Iran in 1979.

“More than 30 years ago there was a major change in our region,” Netanyahu said during a press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“The biggest Arab state, the one that led wars against Israel, made peace with us, and that created a new space in the region, for us and for Egypt.”

Therefore, “our goal was, and remains, to preserve that peace,” he said. “None of us want to go back to those difficult days. And we are all watching with anxiety, worry and hope that the peace will be preserved.”

As reported in Monday’s Jerusalem Post, Israel has agreed to let Egypt move several hundred troops into the Sinai peninsula for the first time since the countries reached peace three decades ago.

About 800 soldiers entered Sinai on Sunday and will be based in Sharm e-Sheikh.

Merkel deflected criticism that the West had abandoned Mubarak.

“We did not abandon Egypt,” she said. “Our conversations with Mubarak about human rights, the right to vote and freedom of expression took place all the time.”

Merkel said she spoke to Mubarak, and made clear that he had to start a dialogue with the opposition, “and with those among the people with complaints, and who were suffering from poverty and unemployment.”

Read full story here.

Netanyahu: Egyptian Extremists Represent ‘Tremendous Threat’

A CNN report:

Referring specifically to the Muslim Brotherhood (banned in Egypt, it is nonetheless that nation’s largest opposition group), Netanyahu noted that although the causes of the current upheaval in Egypt lay in economic and social strife rather than religious extremism, “there is a possibility that an organized force will take advantage of the situation.”

Comparisons of the uprising to that preceding the Iranian Revolution have abounded in the Western media. In 1978, a popular revolt against the shah was co-opted by Islamic fundamentalists, leading to the establishment of a strongly anti-West, anti-Israel theocracy in Tehran.

Read full story here.


Joint Press Conference between PM Netanyahu and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel

Translation by the Prime Minister’s Office:

Madam Chancellor, welcome to Israel, welcome to Jerusalem. I also wish to welcome the ministers of the German government who joined you on this important visit.

This is the third meeting between the Israeli and German governments. These meetings are another expression of the very deep, fundamental change that has occurred between Israel and Germany and between the Jewish and German peoples.

It began with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Chancellor Adenauer, continued with other Israeli prime ministers and successive chancellors in Germany, and we are continuing it, expanding it and deepening it today.

The Jewish people know that this is a different Germany – a Germany that stands with us in the effort to ensure the future, security and prosperity of the State of Israel, the Jewish state. My friend Angela Merkel, your visit here today is taking place at a time of great storms in our region. There is only one place whose stability cannot be questioned, and that is Israel.

Our partnership is based first and foremost on solid, deep and powerful common values, and also on shared interests. We witnessed it just a few minutes ago in the very concise but exhaustive discussions between our government ministers. We discussed a wide variety of issues that were finalized in seven agreements, in comprehensive talks between the ministers on issues pertaining to security, the economy, science and technology, environmental protection, arts, culture and more.

We also discussed at length our common goal of advancing peace and security in the region. I emphasized that the Government of Israel is committed to peace and that it will continue to work to advance a solution between us and the Palestinians. It is not simple. There are many issues that must be resolved if we are to forge a sustainable, lasting peace. But ultimately, the only way to achieve such a solution is not through unilateral actions or attempts to enforce peace from the outside. It can only be achieved by sitting together in an effort to resolve a complex and difficult conflict through direct negotiations.

Abu-Mazen is just ten minutes away from here, in Ramallah. I can come to him and he can come to me. Ultimately, even if it takes some time, there is no other way to achieve peace. We also want to ensure stability in this region so that peace can actually take root. Obviously, peace must also be anchored in security. I think everyone understands today that security arrangements are imperative, for two reasons: they sustain the peace and they are necessary should the peace unravel. We must be prepared for both these options, and therefore the discussion on these issues, on all issues of interest to us and to our neighbors, must be held in direct negotiations.

Security arrangements are also necessary because there are forces that seek to undermine peace, primarily the regime of the Ayatollahs in Tehran. Iran is working everywhere to undermine peace and stability. It operates in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza, and Africa. It is also developing the capability to threaten Europe. If this is what Iran is doing in the absence of nuclear weapons, imagine the enormous threat it would pose if it had such weapons in its possession.

Therefore, the effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities is an effort of peace, stability and responsibility, and I want to commend Chancellor Merkel for her clear, consistent and firm stand on this issue, a stand which is necessary now more than ever because Iran is sending a message to the international community, a very clear message that it has no intention of abandoning its ambitions to develop nuclear weapons.

That is why I think the international community must send an equally clear message that it is determined to thwart those ambitions, first of all by tightening the sanctions. I think it is important. I have talked about it many times. But in order for these sanctions to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program, Iran must know that if the sanctions fail, there is also another option, and the more credible that option is, the less likely it is that the international community will have to resort to it.

I told chancellor Merkel that in the 16 years during which I have talked about Iran’s nuclear weapons, there was only one year in which Iran actually halted its nuclear program, and that was in 2003, when it believed that the United States would resort to that other option. I believe that if the international community exercised judgment, showed determination and joined forces to ward off the threats to us all and to promote the peace we all strive for, we can succeed even in these difficult times.

Therefore, I want to thank you, Chancellor Merkel, for this visit and for the visit of the ministers of the German government. We appreciate the cooperation between our governments. I know that this cooperation does not simply happen on its own. It is the product of the effort, goodwill and guidance of leaders. So I want to commend you and thank you for all that you have done during your tenure as the Chancellor of Germany to strengthen the cooperation between Israel and Germany. I look forward to continue working with you in the years ahead to promote our shared goals, for the benefit of both our countries, and for regional stability and peace.

Welcome to Jerusalem, Angela, welcome, all of you. Thank you.

Questions and Answers

Question: Madam Chancellor, this morning, Ha’aretz published that Israel has asked its allies to preserve Mubarak’s stability and that of his regime, and to hold back on criticism about him. Do you accept this request and do you agree to the concept behind it, that if the regime collapses, extreme forces will rise to power, and what do you make of the cold shoulder that the American Administration has given the Egyptian President?

Regarding the relations between Israel and Germany, Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security is well known, as is its siding by Israel in regards to its right to defend itself. But contrary to that, Wikileaks documents have exposed that last November your National Security Adviser suggested that the American Administration threaten Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu that if he does not agree to the settlement freeze, they should not help him defend Israel’s right to self-defense and curb the Goldstone report – a report that accused Israel of war crimes. What is your response to this proposal made by your close adviser, and how do you explain the fact that Germany, of all countries, is helping accuse Israel of war crimes?

And regarding the freeze, on the same issue, do you continue to stand firm in your demand that Israel freeze construction before the start of negotiations? Or perhaps you understand, as has the American Government, that this demand is what is holding up the negotiations. Thank you.

And Prime Minister Netanyahu, AP news agency is publicizing that Israel has allowed two military regiments into the demilitarized area in the Sinai. Can you confirm this, and does Israel intend to continue assisting Egypt in its attempts to impose order there? Thank you.

PM Netanyahu: I cannot refer to everything that is written in the papers, but I would like to tell you what our policy is concerning Egypt. Over 30 years ago, a huge change occurred in the region. The largest Arab country, that had led the wars against Israel, this country – Egypt – made peace with Israel, and this created a new situation in the area, new for us and for Egypt itself.

Therefore, our objective has been and remains to preserve the peace. It is obvious that this is the top priority, I think not only for us, but for our friend Germany, certainly for our friend the USA, for all countries. All countries want peace to continue. Nobody wants to go back to those difficult times, and we are all following the events with concern and apprehension, hoping that peace will last.

Peace and stability are important. They are intertwined. We know that. That is why this is our policy. Our policy is to maintain the peace as much as we can. Throughout these decades, Egypt has upheld the peace agreement, did not violate it, and it has not violated it in the last few days either.

Question: This question is for both leaders. What is the lesson, in your opinion, that the leaders of the countries in the region should learn from the fact that the USA, and in its heel other European countries, abandoned Mubarak a moment after the tumult began? What message do you think the American policy sends to Jordan and other non-democratic countries?

And a question for you Mr. Prime Minister: Have you had a chance to speak with our ambassador to Egypt to get a report on what is going on?

PM Netanyahu: I spoke repeatedly over the past few days with the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Defense and with all our intelligence services, without exception. The Foreign Minister is briefing me on everything that comes from our embassy in Cairo, and I assure you that I brief him on everything that comes from the intelligence services.

Our problem is not whether we are updated. We have two problems. One is that we are concerned about our citizens there, and I think we have been handling this responsibly. We avoid delivering messages, but at the same time, we are taking the necessary steps, in full coordination between the Israeli government agencies.

The second problem is that the situation is very dynamic. We all know what we would like to see happening. I do not think that there are great differences here in the democratic world. Our most serious concern is that in a situation of rapid revolutions, and in the absence of the foundations of modern democracy, what could emerge, and has already emerged in a number of countries, including Iran, are repressive radical Islamic regimes that suppress human rights, allow no freedoms and no rights and also pose a terrible threat to the peace, stability and interests of all civilized people.

This is our concern. It is my concern. I think that many others share this concern. I assure you that I am constantly receiving reports, whenever necessary, given the circumstances and what’s at stake.

Question: Prime Minister, next week you will be in Munich and meet with the Quartet. Can the Israeli government offer anything new to the Palestinians?

PM Netanyahu: there is an old Hebrew saying “the wise man will remain silent at that time”. I don’t know how to translate it into German. Well, I have no intention of addressing possible developments in Egypt beyond what I said.

We hope that all the problems will be resolved in the best way. I did express a concern which I believe is shared by all the leaders I spoke to, and I spoke to many of them over the last few days. We all hope that the situation will be resolved peacefully, that stability will be restored and that the peace will be preserved. I think I can also say that the source of the instability and unrest does not stem from fundamentalist Islamic elements. It certainly is not true in Tunisia and I don’t think it’s true in Egypt. However, in a situation of chaos, an organized Islamic force can take over. It happened. It happened in Iran and in other places when an organized force took over following revolutions. The Foreign Minister reminded me yesterday that it also happened in the Bolshevik Revolution. There was a democratic regime, and Alexander Kerensky was simply ousted by the organized force that took over.

None of the leaders I have spoken to, without exception, want this to be the outcome. There are many other things we share, but right now this is one of the most important things that unite all those who strive for stability, progress and peace in this region and beyond.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office.


What could Possibly Go Wrong?...Obama White House Open To Role Of Islamists In New Egyptian Government

From Gateway Pundit:

11:06 PM (41 minutes ago)What Could Possibly Go Wrong?… Obama White House Open to Role of Islamists in New Egyptian Governmentfrom Gateway Pundit by Jim HoftJimmy Carter – Take Two…

An Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood supporter holds a banner reading in Arabic “Martyrs for Islam”, Sept. 22, 2006, Cairo. (fellowship of minds)

Brilliant. The Obama Administration supports the inclusion of Islamists in a new Egyptian government.

The LA Times reported:

The Obama administration said for the first time that it supports a role for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamist organization, in a reformed Egyptian government.

The organization must reject violence and recognize democratic goals if the U.S. is to be comfortable with it taking part in the government, the White House said. But by even setting conditions for the involvement of such nonsecular groups, the administration took a surprise step in the midst of the crisis that has enveloped Egypt for the last week.

The statement was an acknowledgment that any popularly accepted new government will probably include groups that are not considered friendly to U.S. interests, and was a signal that the White House is prepared for that probability after 30 years of reliable relations with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Monday’s statement was a “pretty clear sign that the U.S. isn’t going to advocate a narrow form of pluralism, but a broad one,” said Robert Malley, a Mideast peace negotiator in the Clinton administration. U.S. officials have previously pressed for broader participation in Egypt’s government.

What could possibly go wrong?

Egypt: Armed Gangs Attack Jails, Free Hundreds Of Islamic Jihadists

From Jihad Watch:

Egypt: Armed gangs attack jails, free hundreds of Islamic jihadists

Including 34 members of the Muslim Brotherhood. "Gangs free militants, foreigners try to flee Egypt," by Hamza Hendawi And Maggie Michael for Associated Press, January 30:

CAIRO - Gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn Sunday, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates as police vanished from the streets of Cairo and other cities.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo told its citizens in Egypt to consider leaving the country as soon as possible, and said it had authorized the voluntary departure of dependents and non-emergency employees, a display of Washington's escalating concern about the stability of its closest Arab ally....

Egyptian security officials told The Associated Press that army troops were hunting for the escaped prisoners, in some cases with the help of the police. State television also showed footage of what it said was dozens of prisoners recaptured by the army troops, squatting on dirt while soldiers kept watch over them....

President Barack Obama met with security aides Saturday afternoon and issued a plea for government restraint in Egypt, where Washington has long feared increasing influence by Muslim militants.

Egyptian security officials said that overnight armed men fired at guards in gun battles that lasted hours at the four prisons including one northwest of Cairo that held hundreds of militants. The prisoners escaped after starting fires and clashing with guards.

Those who fled included 34 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and best organized opposition group. The Muslim Brotherhood's lawyer, Abdel-Monaem Abdel-Maqsoud, told The Associated Press the 34 were among scores rounded up by authorities ahead of the large anti-government demonstrations on Friday. The escapees included at least seven senior members of the group....

Posted by Robert on January 30, 2011 5:33 AM

Tunisia: Thusands Greet Return Of Islamist Leader

From Jihad Watch:

Tunisia: Thousands greet return of "Islamist" leader

An "Islamist" is generally a proponent of political Islam. I generally tend not to use the word, because many draw a distinction between "Islamic" and "Islamist," implying (and sometimes asserting outright) that political Islam is a twisting and hijacking of the original, presumably non-political, non-supremacist Islamic religion. Since that is a false distinction, I shy away from the word. But in this case it is hard to know what to call Ghannouchi. This article suggests that Ghannouchi is anti-Sharia but is nonetheless an Islamist; this is a distinction that I cannot recall being made before, and I'm not sure what it means. Does the AFP author know what it meant when he or she wrote it? Did Ghannouchi really mean that he opposed the implementation of Sharia in Tunisia today? All open questions at this point.

"Thousands greet Tunisian Islamist leader's return," from AFP, January 30:

Thousands turned out Sunday to welcome Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi after more than 20 years in exile, as he eyed a political future for his Ennahda movement after the fall of Tunisia's regime.

"God is great!" Ghannouchi cried out, raising his arms in triumph as he walked into the arrivals hall of Tunis airport, with thousands of cheering supporters crowding around him before driving off to visit his family.

The crowd intoned a religious song in honour of the Prophet Mohammed, as supporters held up olive branches, flowers and copies of the Koran. [...]

There were also dozens of people protesting his arrival at the airport, holding up placards that warned against Islamic fundamentalism. [...]

Ghannouchi, a former radical preacher who says he now espouses moderate ideals similar to Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was persecuted in Tunisia ever since founding his Islamist movement in 1981....

The AKP is a pro-Sharia party that is slowly but surely dismantling Turkish secularism.

In contrast to his preachings from the 1970s in which he condemned the rise of secular ideas in his homeland and the advances in women's rights, Ghannouchi also said that Sharia Islamic law now had "no place in Tunisia"....

It's unclear what he means by this. Does he mean that it should not have a place in Tunisia, or simply that it does not actually have a place in Tunisia? If he is not pro-Sharia, what makes him an "Islamist," which is a word usually applied to exponents of political Islam?

Najwa, a teacher who said she was imprisoned for wearing an Islamic veil, said: "Everything that's said about him are lies... He's a moderate Islamist."...

Naima, who wore a veil, said: "Many people were imprisoned because of him, young people lost their future. No-one is happy about his return. He lived the good life in London while others paid a heavy price."

Some feminist groups are worried that Ghannouchi's return may signal a rise in political Islam that could endanger their hard-won rights.

Hundreds of women rallied in the centre of Tunis on the eve of Ghannouchi's arrival, saying they would defend their rigths against conservatives.

Asked about some of this concern on Sunday, Ghannouchi was dismissive.

"This fear is only based on ignorance," he said, because Ben Ali's regime had "worked to distort all its opponents, described them as terrorists or being against modernity. All of these allegations have no basis in reality."

Ghannouchi fled Tunisia two years after Ben Ali came to power in a bloodless coup in 1987. In elections in 1989, which were heavily falsified, an Islamist-backed coalition still managed to win 17 percent of the vote.

Shortly after that, persecution of leading Islamists began and Ghannouchi went first to Algeria and then to Britain in 1991. Hundreds of Islamist activists who stayed behind were thrown into prison, often on flimsy charges.

Posted by Robert on January 30, 2011 10:34 AM

Muslim Brotherhood And Hamas (Muslim Brotherhood In Palestine) Collaborating, Seeking To Increase Their Roles In Egypt

From Jihad Watch:

Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas collaborating, seeking to increase their roles in Egypt

No surprise here. After all, Hamas identifies itself in its charter as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. "Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas seek to increase role in Egypt : Stratfor," from International Business Times, January 29 (thanks to Mackie):

The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are collaborating and seeking to increase their roles in Egypt....

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic opposition party in Egypt, is picking up the pieces left by President Hosni Mubarak's police force by forming committees to protect public property. ...

The Muslim Brotherhood is also supplying protesters with food and first aid.

Moreover, there are unconfirmed reports that as Egypt's border with Palestine becomes unpatrolled, "Hamas armed men are entering into Egypt" and seeking collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas is a Palestinian/Islamic political/terrorist organization that was founded as an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"There is a great deal of concern building in Israel and the United States... [over] whether a political opening will be made for the Islamist organization in Egypt," said Stratfor.

Posted by Robert on January 30, 2011 10:50 AM

Muslim Brotherhood And El Baradei In Talks To Form Post-Mubarak Government In Egypt

From Jihad Watch:

Muslim Brotherhood, ElBaradei in talks to form post-Mubarak govt in Egypt

Such a government would be the first step toward an Islamic state in Egypt. "Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood eyes unity gov't without Mubarak," from Haaretz, January 30 (thanks to Benedict):

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group,is [sic] in talks with other anti-government figures to form a national unity government without President Hosni Mubarak, a group official told DPA on Sunday....

Gamal Nasser, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, told DPA that his group was in talks with Mohammed ElBaradei - the former UN nuclear watchdog chief - to form a national unity government without the National Democratic Party of Mubarak.

The group is also demanding an end to the draconian Emergency Laws, which grant police wide-ranging powers[.] The laws have been used often to arrest and harass the Islamist group.

Nasser said his group would not accept any new government with Mubarak. On Saturday the Brotherhood called on President Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner following the resignation of the Egyptian cabinet.

Speaking to CNN later Sunday, ElBaradei said he had a popular and political mandate to negotiate the creation of a national unity government.

"I have been authorized -- mandated -- by the people who organized these demonstrations and many other parties to agree on a national unity government," he told CNN.

"I hope that I should be in touch soon with the army and we need to work together. The army is part of Egypt," the opposition leader added....

Posted by Robert on January 30, 2011 11:44 AM

President Obama's Big Diplomatic Test: Egypt

From Red State:

President Obama’s Big Diplomatic Test - Egypt

Posted by Brian Darling (Profile)

Sunday, January 30th at 9:00AM EST


It is clear that the Obama Administration is facing a big diplomatic test in dealing with the fast developing situation in Egypt. On one side is the Obama Administration’s interest of promoting freedom and democracy for the people of Egypt. On the other side is the national security interest of maintaining a strong pro-Western U.S. ally in the Global War on Terror in Egypt. These are very difficult interests to balance.

The big fear in the West is that if this revolution is a success, and the Muslim Brotherhood or another extremist group seizes power in Egypt, the Egyptian people will not secure liberty and freedom. Two co-workers of mine at The Heritage Foundation, James Phillips and James Carafano, have produced excellent analysis that may help conservatives to navigate and understand this difficult issue.

Jim Phillips has written a new piece titled “Bringing Freedom and Stability to Egypt.” Phillips argues that the Obama Administration should demand an end to violence and a path to a free society of the government in Egypt.

The U.S. should demand that any new government that emerges act in the best interest of the Egyptian people—ending violence and putting the nation on a path to a free civil society and more liberal economy. This is the surest means to meet the needs and aspirations of the Egyptian people and retain an important ally and a force for peace and stability in a tumultuous region.

Phillips further raises a concern that the Muslim Brotherhood may hijack the Egyptian revolution.

The U.S. should demand that any new government that emerges act in the best interest of the Egyptian people—ending violence and putting the nation on a path to a free civil society and more liberal economy. This is the surest means to meet the needs and aspirations of the Egyptian people and retain an important ally and a force for peace and stability in a tumultuous region.

Phillips has 4 recommendations for the Obama Administration to demand of Egypt’s government.

1.Pledge to minimize the use of force and the loss life in its efforts to restore order;

2.Agree to open up the political system to allow meaningful participation by Egyptian citizens in forming a representative government;

3.Restore Internet service and access to the world; and

4.Release opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei from house arrest.

Jim Carafano of The Heritage Foundation has written a blog post on the Obama Doctrine titled “Obama Doctine is Failing in the Middle East.” Carafano argues that the Obama Doctrine failed the people of Iran when they rose up against a tyrannical government.

The Middle East was meant to be the crowning achievement of the Obama Doctrine. Once in the White House, President Obama focused laser-like on a “charm offensive” with Iran. When voices rose against the regime in Tehran in the wake of a disputed national election, Obama offered virtually no support for the cries for freedom. Nevertheless, the “playing nice initiative” with Tehran fell flat. Today, the regime is more aggressive than ever—backing a terrorist take-over of the government in Lebanon, snubbing Western nuclear negotiators, and promoting an Islamist agenda across the region.

Carafano concludes that the Obama Administration needs a new approach.

A new approach can start with Egypt where the White House needs to set clear and unequivocal expectations for how the government in Cairo should treat its own people.

Carafano argues that President Obama needs to finish the job in Iraq and to revitalize the U.S. partnership with Israel.

Next, the Administration must make clear it will finish the job in Iraq and keep the U.S. forces and resources in place that the government in Baghdad needs to complete its transition to a secure and sovereign state that can protect itself and look after the needs of its own citizens. Obama must also revitalize the partnership with Israel. Israel remains America’s most important and reliable ally in the region.

Carafano concludes with the thought that the White House needs to use sanctions and other toos to isolate the repressive regime in Iran.

And the White House must go after the regime in Iran. Sanctions and political isolation have hurt Iran, but the administration has been reluctant to press for further sanctions or ensure the full implementation of the ones on the books. That is a huge mistake. The most effective means to tame the regime in Tehran and help lay the foundation for its eventual demise is to stiffen U.S. resolve to isolate and punish the regime for fostering terrorism, promoting an Islamist agenda, pursuing nuclear weapons, and causing suffering and loss of liberty to the Iranian people.

The revolution in Egypt is developing minute by minute. This may prove to be the biggest diplomatic challenge for the Obama Administration to date. The President’s purported diplomatic acumen is being tested. The American people need to keep a close eye on every word uttered by President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to see what message the U.S. government is sending to the American people, the people and government of Egypt and the world

From Red State:

The American Left’s Role in Leading Mid-East Regime Change

What the U.S. State Dept, Unions and New Media Companies are doing to foment chaos

Posted by LaborUnionReport (Profile)

Sunday, January 30th at 12:30PM EST


“Twitter, Facebook, and various instant messaging platforms (SMS, Skype, Google Chat, etc.) act as force-multipliers for revolutionary movements…” — Jeffrey Carr


As the world watches Egypt crumble into chaos, with over 100 dead and 2000 injured, the Obama administration continues to be somewhat and rather curiously ambivalent. On the one hand, on Friday, Vice President Biden came to the defense of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, saying that he shouldn’t step aside. Yet, on the same day, the Telegraph (ala Wikileaks) reported that the U.S. had planned “regime change” for the “past three years” while both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton demand that internet be restored to the Egyptian protesters. This morning, Secretary of State Clinton again clarified the United States’ official position, ”We do not want to send any message about backing forward or backing back.”

For all the lack of clarity on where the Obama administration stands, one thing is becoming more and more clear: Signs are beginning to point more toward the likelihood that President Obama’s State Department, unions, as well as Left-leaning media corporations are more directly involved in helping to ignite the Mid-East turmoil than they are publicly admitting.

If it is indeed the case that the Obama administration, with help by private-sector companies and the union movement has led an “internet revolution” in the middle east and toppled two governments within a month, the longer-term ramifications for U.S. relations with other allies such as Saudi Arabia and certain other Arab monarchies, could prove to have much more far-reaching consequences.

The Role of Unions in the Tunisian Revolution.

Last month, a riotous and deadly revolution began in the North African nation of Tunisia, which led to the ouster of long-time ruler President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. According to a Huffington Post report:

After 23 years of iron-fisted rule, the president of Tunisia was driven from power Friday by violent protests over soaring unemployment and corruption. Virtually unprecedented in modern Arab history, the populist uprising sent an ominous message to authoritarian governments that dominate the region.


U.S. President Barack Obama said he applauded the courage and dignity of protesting Tunisians, and urged all parties to keep calm and avoid violence.

Although there have been numerous articles regarding the role of unions in the Tunisian “revolution,” perhaps none have been so clear as this one in the Huffington Post:

Though the movement appears to be a mix of grassroots spontaneity and targeted direct actions, it has achieved political valence through the savvy of organized labor activists. In the days leading up to the uprising, unions were feeding the foment of the demonstrators by calling strikes nationwide, including an 8,000 strong lawyer strike that paralyzed the courts.

As Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst commented:

Unlike the short-lived uprising in neighbouring Algeria or recent socio-economic protests in other Arab countries, the popular Tunisian uprising was immediately supported by all the opposition groups, from the Islamists to the Communists, as well as by the labour unions, which helped it spread to all major parts of the country, including the influential north.

While the General Tunisian Workers’ Union (UGTT) was initially involved in helping to set up a transitional government, its leadership has since pulled out due to a popular uprising from the rank-and-file workers. Nevertheless, the AFL-CIO announced on its blog that:

The global union movement is reaffirming its strong support for the General Tunisian Workers’ Union (UGTT) and the Tunisian people in their courageous struggle for equality, social justice, political freedom and democracy.


In a statement, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which includes the AFL-CIO, said it welcomes the fall of the dictatorship in Tunisia and fully supports UGTT ’s call for an end to corruption and nepotism and a genuine transition toward a true democracy.

As the Tunisian fires still burned with political confusion and turmoil, almost spontaneously, an explosion of unrest has thrown Egypt into chaos as well. However, as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin notes, the two events cannot be viewed separately:

Stephen McInerney of the Project for Middle East Democracy says that the events in Tunisia are anything but unique to that country. To the contrary, the massive protests in Egypt were “inspired by and a direct result of” recent events in Tunisia. Despite Feltman’s dim view of the trans-national nature of democratic movements, McInerney says, “I was in Cairo the day Ben Ali stepped down. Immediately the conversation was, ‘How do we translate this to Egypt?’”

In fact, the mass political protests in Egypt would not, he says, have been possible and would not have been so successful if not for Tunisia. A mass movement, run almost entirely by secular groups and directed solely at Egypt’s political system is “unprecedented,” he explains. The Muslim Brotherhood allowed its members to participate, but did not organize or populate the street demonstrations, he says. “Egyptians are watching very carefully what happens in Tunisia ” he reports. It sends a “powerful message” to Egyptians, Algerians and throughout the region that secular democracy can be theirs as well.

As the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, which works with other union around the globe, has been supporting Egyptian unions for quite some time, it is not surprising that it posted on its website support for the Egyptian protests as well: The Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services has issued a statement supporting the popular uprising in Egypt and calling on President Hosni Mubarak to respond to the people’s demands.

Is the State Department & New Media Companies Driving a Coup in the Middle East?

On Friday, the Egyptian government shut down access to the internet in an effort to keep protesters from communicating virally. This drew a sharp rebuke from the Obama Administration, including from President Obama himself:

President Obama called on Egypt to bring back the Internet and access to social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter that have been suspended this week by the government there.

“The people of Egypt have rights that are universal,” Obama said. “That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights and the United States will stand up for them everywhere.

“I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet, with cellphone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also wrote on Twitter, from his @PressSec account, on Friday “Very concerned about violence in Egypt — government must respect the rights of the Egyptian people & turn on social networking and internet.”

For an administration that seems to be trying to walk a fine line between supporting an ally and “respecting the rights of the Egyptian people,” a call to turn the internet back on seemed rather odd. However, it’s really not when the pieces of the puzzle are put into place.

One of the Wikileaks linked in the Telegraph article makes mention of this interesting passage:

On December 23, April 6 activist xxxxxxxxxxxx expressed satisfaction with his participation in the December 3-5 \”Alliance of Youth Movements Summit,\” and with his subsequent meetings with USG officials, on Capitol Hill, and with think tanks. He described how State Security (SSIS) detained him at the Cairo airport upon his return and confiscated his notes for his summit presentation calling for democratic change in Egypt, and his schedule for his Congressional meetings. xxxxxxxxxxxx contended that the GOE will never undertake significant reform, and therefore, Egyptians need to replace the current regime with a parliamentary democracy. He alleged that several opposition parties and movements have accepted an unwritten plan for democratic transition by 2011…

The Alliance of Youth Movements Summit referenced in the Wikileak was a summit held on December 3-5, 2008 and took place at the Columbia Law School in New York one month after Barack Obama was elected President.

According to the Summit’s press release:

From December 3 to 5, leaders of pioneering youth movements will launch a global network that seeks to empower young people to mobilize against violence and oppression. Brought together by Howcast, Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, the U.S. Department of State, Columbia Law School and Access 360 Media, leaders of the organizations will travel to New York City with the mission of crafting a field manual on how to effect social change using online tools.

Among the panelists that spoke at the 2008 summit were Sam Graham-Felson, Director of Blogging and Blog Outreach for 2008 Obama Campaign, Scott Goodstein, External Online Director for Obama for America, Joe Rospars, New Media Director Barack Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign, as well as Jared Cohen, Policy Planning Staff, Office of the Secretary of State (now with Google).

Since 2008, the Alliance For Youth Movements appears to have shortened its name to, although its facebook page still uses both and stating:

AYM identifies, connects, and supports youth activists from around the world who use technology to organize for social change. is non-profit 501(c)(3) organization comprised of individuals from technology companies, media, the NGO community and digital activists from around the world. We provide a global network that aims to support and sustain campaigns for nonviolent social change that harness 21st century tools to safeguard human rights, promote good governance and foster civic engagement.

On it’s homepage and blog, this weekend, it has a post entitled 5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT EGYPTIANS FROM ANYWHERE

It’s the weekend! And a possible revolution steams forward in Egypt. The stakes are incredibly high - a point underlined by the news that activists targeted for their involvement in the failed 2009 uprising in Iran were hung yesterday - so it makes sense that international onlookers are looking for any way that they might be able to help. Here are some ways to get involved if you’re not in Egypt but want to do something.

Note that a lot of these are for the more technically inclined. If that’s not you, one thing you can do is spread these tips who may be.

In other words, is a 21st Century private and public-sector partnership for regime change. This is an organization that has the biggest internet players, as well as the U.S. State Department involved and is openly working to support uprisings.

According to’s website, its list of private and public sponsors include Google, YouTube, Facebook, MTV, CBS News, MSNBC, as well as the Columbia Law School and the U.S. State Department.

As Jeffrey Carr notes on a Forbes post:

A powerful engine of change is rolling through Tunisia and Egypt, overthrowing the old ways of governing as well as those who govern. However, to call these history-making movements “Twitter revolutions” or anything similar does a huge disservice to the people involved.

Twitter, Facebook, and various instant messaging platforms (SMS, Skype, Google Chat, etc.) act as force-multipliers for revolutionary movements because they enable the entire world to bear witness and express support for the revolutionaries’ courageous acts.

Given the State Department’s involvement with a group committed to using the internet for “social change,” which calls into question both the President’s as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call to restore the internet, it appears the world may be witnessing the first internet-led attempts at “regime change,” orchestrated by President Obama and his allies on the Left.

Photo credit: Freestylee

[Emphasis added throughout.]

In An Islamic Country, Every Westerner Is A Potential Hostage

From Winds of Islam:

In an Islamic country, every Westerner is a potential hostage

by sheikyermami on January 31, 2011

The Paki’s will milk this for all its worth:

Pakistan says “law” must take its course in U.S. diplomat case

Islamic law, of course. Its not that they respect any international treaties, or ‘man made laws’ of the kuffar.

Under the pact of Umar, the kuffar (or kafir) is not allowed to carry a weapon or strike a Muslim. A Dhimmi is not allowed to act in self defense…..

An update from this:

Pakistan: U.S. Consular Employee Refuses to be Killed, Exports 2 Attacking Soldiers of Allah to the Virgins….

Islamic Sharia law trumps International Diplomatic Law:

Thanks to Weasel Zippers:

The Pakistanis are now claiming that Raymond Davis, the US embassy employee involved in the incident, is not in possession of a diplomatic visa. The US asserts that Davis “is a member of the US Embassy’s technical and administrative staff, and therefore entitled to full criminal immunity and cannot be lawfully arrested or detained.”

Raymond Davis, in custody

(Reuters) - Pakistan on Saturday said its legal process should be respected after the U.S. embassy called for the immediate release of an American diplomat who was arrested after he killed twoPakistanis this week.

The American, identified by Pakistani police as Raymond Davis, told a court on Friday he had acted in self-defense after fleeing what he said was a robbery attempt in the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday.

Davis has been remanded in police custody for six days for questioning.

“This matter is sub judice in a court of law and the legal process should be respected,” a Pakistani foreign office spokesman said in a statement.

The Inter’l Herald Tribune calls self-defense “double murder:”

Lahore double murder: US tones up push for immunity

The U.S. embassy said in a statement on Friday only that a staff member of the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore was involved in an incident involving “loss of life.”

In a statement on Saturday, the embassy identified him as a U.S. diplomat who it said had been unlawfully detained by authorities in Lahore, where the shooting took place.

It said the diplomat acted in self-defense when confronted by two armed men and had every reason to believe they meant to harm him, and said arresting the diplomat was a violation of international norms and the Vienna Convention.

In his initial statement, Davis told police that he was chased by the two men soon after he withdrew money from a cash machine. The men approached him when he pulled over at a traffic signal and they pointed a gun at him.

Davis then fired at the men, a police official said. Armed robberies and carjackings are becoming more common in Pakistan, but Westerners are rarely targeted.

The killings are likely to fuel anger against the United States in the mainly Muslim nation where anti-American sentiment runs high and anger at the U.S.-allied government is also growing due to its perceived ineptitude.

(Reporting by Augustine Anthony, Editing by Michael Georgy and Sonya Hepinstall)

What’s at stake:

1. The US statement defended Davis’ act saying: “The diplomat had every reason to believe that the armed men meant him bodily harm. Minutes earlier, the two men, who had criminal backgrounds, had robbed money and valuables at gunpoint from a Pakistani citizen in the same area.”

2. the local police and senior authorities failed to observe their legal obligation to verify his status with either the US Consulate General in Lahore or the US embassy in Islamabad, adding that the arrest and subsequent remand of Davis is a violation of international norms.

3. Every non Muslim is a hostage:

Interestingly, one military official is being said to have even suggested that the case could be “used for urging the United States government to dismiss the case filed against the director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)”, which is being heard by a court in New York.”

Egypt And The Failure Of The Obama Doctrine

From The Heritage Foundation:

Egypt and the Failure of the Obama Doctrine

Hundreds of Egyptians determined to drive President Hosni Mubarak from power spent all last night in Tahrir Square to keep the military from taking over the plaza. Today marks the seventh day of unrest in Egypt as the U.S. State Department began chartering evacuation flights for thousands of U.S. citizens stranded in the country. The longer the protests continue to rage, the more danger there will be that the army will wither into the crowds, throwing Egypt—and the region—into potentially violent chaos.

On Sunday, the military raised its presence, sending a column of tanks to enter Tahrir Square and buzzing the crowds with fighter jets. These actions came a day after the country’s most notorious prisons, Abu Zaabal and Wadi Natroun, were emptied of criminals and Islamic militants; uniformed police forces have all but disappeared (but appear to be trickling back to their posts today). Only the army and roving bands of armed vigilantes are in charge. With all but a few businesses closed and the economy at a complete standstill, it is unclear how long this standoff can last. One banner in Tahrir Square read: “The army has to choose between Egypt and Mubarak.”

There is a danger that the protests could lead to less, not greater, liberty in Egypt. While many of the groups organizing the protests (such as the April 6 Movement) do use pro-democracy rhetoric, there are powerful forces in the country that harbor Islamist goals that are incompatible with genuine democracy, including the anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood. As Egypt’s biggest and best-organized political group, the Brotherhood will be well-positioned to hijack a revolt.

Some in the West are hoping that former IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei can emerge as a leader of the opposition. There are even reports that the Muslim Brotherhood may endorse ElBaradei’s leadership. But ElBaradei’s hold on power is extremely weak. The New York Times reports that the crowd’s reaction to a Sunday speech by ElBaradei was mixed, with one Muslim Brotherhood supporter telling the Times: “ElBaradei doesn’t live here and doesn’t know us. We need a leader who can understand Egyptians.” For his part, ElBaradei seems completely out of touch with what the Brotherhood represents, telling ABC’s Christiane Amanpour: “The Muslim Brotherhood is in no way extremist.”

The Obama Administration’s response so far has been slow and they have sent mixed signals. On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden denied that President Mubarak was a dictator and stated that Mubarak should not step aside. And on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” But yesterday she appeared on Fox News and urged the start of an “orderly transition” to bring about a “democratic, participatory government” while stopping short of calling for Mubarak’s ouster.

The Obama Administration has been slow to embrace calls for liberty in Egypt is completely consistent with the Obama Doctrine as applied in the Middle East. When the Iranian people rose against the regime in Tehran in the wake of a disputed national election, Obama offered virtually no support for the cries for freedom. He was too committed to his engagement strategy with the Iranian regime, believing his “charm offensive” would be enough to deter them from pursuing nuclear weapons. Those efforts have completely failed. Nevertheless, the “playing nice initiative” with Tehran fell flat. Today, the regime is more aggressive than ever—backing a terrorist takeover of the government in Lebanon, snubbing Western nuclear negotiators, and promoting an Islamist agenda across the region. As Elliott Abrams, who coordinated the Bush Administration’s Middle East policy at the National Security Council, wrote in The Washington Post:

This has been the greatest failure of policy and imagination in the administration’s approach: Looking at the world map, it sees states and their rulers, but has forgotten the millions of people suffering under and beginning to rebel against those rulers. “Engagement” has not been the problem, but rather the administration’s insistence on engaging with regimes rather than with the people trying to survive under them.

To give Egyptians the greatest possible prospects for liberty, the Obama Administration should change course and press any government that emerges to:

Pledge to minimize the use of force and the loss life in its efforts to restore order;

Agree to open up the political system to allow meaningful participation by Egyptian citizens in forming a representative government; and

Restore Internet service and access to the world.

The Obama Administration should review U.S. assistance to Egypt and make further assistance contingent upon undertaking these actions.

Start The Twitter Revolution Without Me

From The CATO Institute:

Start the Twitter Revolution without Me

by Leon T. Hadar

Leon Hadar is a research fellow at the Cato Institute.

Added to on January 31, 2011

This article appeared on The American Conservative (Blog) on January 29, 2011.

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I liked Daniel Larison's comments on Egypt (which is not surprising) and also David Ignatius's recent op-ed on the topic (which surprised me). These are cool headed responses by grown-ups to the crisis — in contrast to the never-ending orgasmic vibrations that we've been getting from all our pseudo-laptop/iPad revolutionaries on the left and on the right who are just dying to watch live 24/7 blood flowing in the streets of Cairo, Sana'a Beirut, etc. and are urging Washington to force Mubarak and the rest of our friendly Mideast autocrats out of power. And after getting rid of them have — the wet dream of our Democracy Promoters — free and open elections, the sure cure for all of humanity's ills and the common baldness.

Last time we've tried doing that was in Iran in 1979 with the Shah — Jimmy Carter pressing the Iranian military to desert the Pahlavis. And later on we actually tried to do "regime change" in the region, and ended up helping wacky pro-Iran Shiite groups win elections in Iraq and Lebanon (and then have the Hamas getting elected in Palestine). In all these cases we became responsible — in practical and moral terms — for the election of characters that are not members of our fan club (which is understandable) — but who also hate women, Christians, Jews, gays, etc. and who are as ruthless and corrupt as their predecessors (surprise!). All things considered, if you were member of any of the above groups and others, you would probably rather be in the Shah's Iran and in Saddam's Iraq.

But, hey, our Democracy Promoters are so, so certain that the "good guys" will eventually win in Tunisia or Egypt (if they're so smart, why can't they tell us who is going win the next presidential election here). And when a Muslim Middle Eastern country does have a free and open election (Turkey), they don't seem to like the guys who win.

Leon Hadar is a research fellow at the Cato Institute.

More by Leon T. Hadar

As some who you are aware, I've been a long-time critic of the interventionist U.S. policy in the Middle East (including towards Egypt) and have called for a U.S. strategy of "constructive disengagement" from the region (including from Egypt). But my guess is that trying to get directly involved and taking active role in the current political turmoil in Egypt and elsewhere in the Mideast is a bad idea. It could actually raise the costs of U.S. intervention in the future (like being forced to free the hostages in the U.S. Embassy in post-revolution Sana'a and Cairo). So what to do? Let's try exercising some benign neglect, say, a mix of a wait-and-see approach and quiet diplomacy, as we also start a major reassessment of long-term U.S. policy in the Middle East, ensuring that we won't be subsidizing and protecting the Mubaraks of the future.