Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Egypt, Tunisia and Libya: Revolution?

"The Egyptian police are no longer patrolling the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. Hamas armed men are entering into Egypt and are closely collaborating with the MB. The MB has fully engaged itself in the demonstrations, and they are unsatisfied with the dismissal of the Cabinet. They are insisting on a new Cabinet that does not include members of the ruling National Democratic Party."
Red Alert: Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood | STRATFOR


JP said...

This interesting article comments on the similarities and differences between the situations in Egypt & Tunisia. Since everyone's talking about the similarities, here's what he says about the differences:

Comment on What Happened
by Tarek Heggy
Hudson NY
February 1, 2011


Although one can find other common denominators between the "popular uprising in Tunisia" and the "popular uprising in Egypt", these are the six factors that identify the main similarities between them. If, however, one can speak of common factors, logic requires also shedding some light on the differences between "the Tunisian case" and "the Egyptian case."

The most important differences lie in the specificity, education, culture and economic status of the segments of the middle classes (medium-high, medium, and medium-low) of the two countries.

The quality of Tunisia's middle class is broader, more advanced and closer to European standards compared to Egyptian education, which lives on the edge of degradation at all levels and which has been penetrated by a backward and horrifying Wahhabi-Saudi culture.

Tunisian culture in the middle class is more marked by the progress of the modern world, and less influenced by traditional and conservative values that intellectually paralyze large segments of the Egyptian middle class.

In addition, the economic condition of the Tunisian middle class is much higher than the miserable economic condition of the Egyptian middle class, primarily based on the differences between in both their literacy rates, which in Tunisia is vastly higher, and their educational systems, as described above.

The second major difference concerns the trade unions in general and workers in particular. In Tunisia, union leaders have been appointed in a completely independent way, not by the political leadership and the government; the Egyptian trade union leaders, however, are mere "followers" of power. While union leaders in Tunisia belong to the left, trade union leaders in Egypt either serve the central government or are "closer to Islamists."

The third difference between Egypt and Tunisia is geographic: Whereas Egypt is close to Saudi Arabia, Gaza and Sudan, Tunisia is close to France, Italy and Spain. The cultural consequences of this geographical circumstance need not be explained.


JP said...

Turmoil in Egypt
by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
February 1, 2011

As Egypt's much-anticipated moment of crisis arrived and popular rebellions shook governments across the Middle East, Iran stands as never before at the center of the region. Its Islamist rulers are within sight of dominating the region. But revolutions are hard to pull off and I predict that Islamists will not achieve a Middle East-wide breakthrough and Tehran will not emerge as the key powerbroker. Some thoughts behind this conclusion:

An echo of the Iranian revolution: On reaching power in 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sought to spread Islamist insurrection to other countries but failed almost everywhere. …

Lack of ideology: The sloganeering and conspiracy theories that dominate Middle Eastern discourse are largely absent from crowds gathered outside of government installations demanding an end to stagnation, arbitrariness, corruption, tyranny, and torture.

Military vs. mosque: Recent events confirm that the same two powers, the armed forces and the Islamists, dominate some 20 Middle Eastern countries: the military deploys raw power and Islamists offer a vision. Exceptions exist – a vibrant Left in Turkey, ethnic factions in Lebanon and Iraq, democracy in Israel, Islamist control in Iran – but this pattern widely holds.

A military putsch? : Islamists wish to repeat their success in Iran by exploiting popular unrest to take power. Tunisia's experience bears close examination for a pattern that may be repeated elsewhere. The military leadership there apparently concluded that its strongman, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, had become too high maintenance – especially with his wife's family's flamboyant corruption – to maintain in power, so it ousted him and, for good measure, put out an international arrest warrant for his and his family's arrest.

That done, nearly the entire remaining old guard remains in power, with the top military man, Chief of Staff Rachid Ammar, apparently having replaced Ben Ali as the country's powerbroker. The old guard hopes that tweaking the system, granting more civil and political rights, will suffice for it to hold on to power. If this gambit succeeds, the seeming revolution of mid-January will end up as a mere coup d'état.

This scenario could be repeated elsewhere, especially in Egypt, where soldiers have dominated the government since 1952 and intend to maintain their power against the Muslim Brethren they have suppressed since 1954. Strongman Hosni Mubarak's appointment of Omar Suleiman terminates the Mubarak family's dynastic pretensions and raises the prospect of Mr. Mubarak resigning in favor of direct military rule.

More broadly, I bet on the more-continuity-than-change model that has emerged so far in Tunisia. Heavy-handed rule will lighten somewhat in Egypt and elsewhere but the militaries will remain the ultimate powerbrokers.

U.S. policy: The U.S. government has a vital role helping Middle Eastern states transit from tyranny to political participation without Islamists hijacking the process. George W. Bush had the right idea in 2003 in calling for democracy but he ruined this effort by demanding instant results. Barack Obama initially reverted to the failed old policy of making nice with tyrants; now he is myopically siding with the Islamists against Mr. Mubarak. He should emulate Bush but do a better job, understanding that democratization is a decades-long process that requires the inculcation of counter-intuitive ideas about elections, freedom of speech, and the rule of law.

JP said...

As posted in the Cuba thread:

The Tunisian Revolution As Seen By Cuba
Hudson NY
February 2, 2011

JP said...

Bloody well said.

How the Hard Left, By Focusing Only on Israel, Encouraged Arab Despotism
by Alan M. Dershowitz
Hudson NY
February 2, 2011

Now the hard left is finally talking about torture and other undemocratic abuses in Egypt and Jordan, as well as the despotism of virtually all Arab regimes. Do you recall any campus protests against Egypt or Mubarak? Do you recall any calls for divestment and boycotts against Arab dictators? No, because there weren't any. The hard left was too busy condemning the Middle East's only democracy, Israel. Radical leftists and campus demonstrators, by giving a pass to the worst forms of tyranny, encouraged their perpetuation. Now, finally, they are jumping on the bandwagon of condemnation, though still not with the fury that they reserve for the one nation in the Middle East that has complete free speech, gender equality, gay rights, an open and critical press, an independent judiciary and fair and open elections.

The double standard is alive and well on the hard left, and its victims include the citizens of Arab regimes who suffer under the heal of authoritarian dictators. Even more important they include victims of genocides, such as those perpetrated in Rwanda, Darfur and Cambodia—victims who did not prick the consciences of the hard left because the perpetrators were Arabs or Communists, rather than Americans or Israelis.

… In a recent op ed, Amnon Rubenstein, the conscience of Israel, has pointed out that the UN Human Rights Commission, to which both Egypt and Tunisia were elected, has gone out of its way to compliment both regimes. Egypt was praised for steps it has "taken in recent years as regard to human rights…." Tunisia was lauded for constructing "a legal and constitutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights." Israel, on the other hand, was repeatedly condemned for violating the human rights not only of Palestinians, but of its own citizens as well.

Nor do I recall Bishop Tutu urging the Cape Town Opera to boycott Egypt, Tunisia or Jordan as he urged them to boycott Israel. I do recall Jimmy Carter, who has falsely accused Israel of Apartheid, embracing some of the Arab's worlds worst tyrants and murderers. …

…. Among many on the hard left, … the views of convicted terrorists Marwan Barghouti are preached as gospel. This is what Barghouti, who is serving a life sentence for planning terror attacks against civilians, but who remains among the most popular Palestinian leaders, recently said about Israel: "The worst and most abominable enemy known to humanity and modern history." It is this skewed view of modern history that runs rampant through the hard left and that gives exculpatory immunity to Arab and Muslim tyrants.

There is only one acceptable standard of international human rights: the worst must come first. … This standard must be applied by individuals, such as Bishop Tutu, by organizations, such as the United Nations, by the media and by everyone who loves human rights. Until that standard is universally applied, despotism will continue…

The irony, of course, is that in the most repressive regimes, such as Iran, revolution is well nigh impossible. Revolution is far more likely to occur is moderately despotic regimes, such as Tunisia and Egypt, where at least some basic liberties were preserved. It is the citizens of the most despotic regimes that need the most help from human rights activists. But don't count on it because too many so-called "human rights" leaders and organizations misuse the concept of "human rights" to serve narrow political, diplomatic or ideological agendas. Unless we restore human rights to its proper role as a neutral and universal standard of human conduct, the kind of tyranny and despotism that stimulated the current protests will continue.

JP said...

I'd love to know who these analysts (my bold) known to the BBC are, and exactly what is moderate about the MB, whose distinguished history includes:

Muslim Brotherhood
Underground links to the Nazis began during the 1930s and were close during the Second World War, involving agitation against the British, Jewish immigration to Palestine, espionage and sabotage, as well as support for terrorist activities orchestrated by Haj Amin el-Hussaini in British Mandate Palestine, as a wide range of declassified documents from the British, American and Nazi German governmental archives, as well as from personal accounts and memoirs from that period, confirm. Reflecting this connection the Muslim Brotherhood also disseminated Hitler's Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion widely in Arab translations, helping to deepen and extend already existing hostile views about Jews and secular Western societies generally.

Hamas, remember, are the MB in Palestine.


Egypt protests: Israel watches anxiously
2 February 2011

Israelis are watching anxiously as anti-government protests continue in Egypt - one of the country's only friends in the Arab world. ... "We are concerned. We are watching this very anxiously," says Dan Gillerman, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. ...

"We are already facing Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and the prospect of, God forbid, an autocratic, fundamentalist, Islamic organisation taking over in Egypt is obviously not something we can ignore."

Mr Gillerman is talking about the Egyptian Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. Many analysts would disagree with his description, seeing the Brotherhood as a conservative, but more moderate, Islamic organisation.

JP said...

Some excellent general points about the nature of true democracy that are really about the overlap between two separate notions, democracy and liberalism. The interface (and often, contradiction) between these notions is well explored in a book I know Wembley also likes, Zakaria's The Future of Freedom.


Why Egypt Will Not Soon Become Democratic
by Daniel Pipes
The Economist
February 4, 2011

Two reasons lead me to assert that the Arab Republic of Egypt will not boast a democratic political system at this time next year.

First, democracy is more than holding elections; it requires the development of civil society, meaning such complex and counterintuitive institutions as the rule of law, an independent judiciary, multiple political parties, minority rights, voluntary associations, freedom of expression, movement, and assembly. Democracy is a learned habit, not an instinctive one, that requires deep attitudinal changes such as a culture of restraint, a commonality of values, a respect for differences of view, the concept of loyal opposition, and a sense of civic responsibility.

Further, elections need to be practiced to be made perfect. Ideally, a country starts electing at the municipal level and moves to the national, it begins with the legislative branch and moves to the executive. Simultaneously, the press needs to acquire full freedoms, political parties should mature, parliament should gain authority at the expense of the executive, and judges should adjudicate between them.

Such a transformation of society cannot take place within months or even years; the historical record shows that it takes decades fully to implement. It is out of the question that an Egypt with minor experience in democracy can put together enough of these components in twelve months to establish a fully democratic order.

Second, whichever scenario one plays out, democracy is not in the offing.

* If Hosni Mubarak stays in power, unlikely but possible, he will be more of a tyrant than ever. As shown by his actions in recent days, he will not go quietly.
* If the military asserts more directly the power that it has wielded behind the scenes since its coup d'état of 1952, Omar Suleiman, the newly-appointed vice president, would presumably become president. He would make changes to the system, eliminating the most obvious abuses under Mubarak, but not fundamentally offering Egyptians a say in the regime that rules them. Algeria 1992, where a military-backed government repressed Islamists, provides a precedent.
* As its logo suggests, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is not exactly a democratic organization.

If Islamists come to power, they will foment a revolution along the lines of Iran in 1979, in which their belief in God's sovereignty trumps political participation by the masses. The inherently anti-democratic nature of the Islamist movement must not be obscured by the Islamists' willingness to use elections to reach power. In the prescient words of an American official in 1992, the Islamists forward a program of "one person, one vote, one time."

However looked at – abstractly or specifically – Egyptians are in for a rough ride ahead, without imminent prospect of choosing their leaders.

JP said...

Lessons From Egypt: The United States Can Count On Israel, But Can Israel Count on the United States?
by Alan M. Dershowitz
Hudson NY
February 5, 2011

It's too early to learn all the possible lessons—and there will be many—from the current turmoil throughout the Middle East, but one important lesson is that there is only one democracy that the United States can always count on to remain a strong ally. That democracy is Israel. No one knows whether any or all of the Arab states that are currently in flux will pull an "Iran" on us - turning from friend to foe in the blink of an Ayatollah.

The optimists are hoping for more of a Lebanon than an Iran, but even Lebanon—with a better history of democracy than any other Arab country—is now essentially in the hands of Hezbollah. The United States cannot count on the new Egypt remaining an ally, even with the carrot of massive aid.

Some of the blame for this uncertainty falls on us for supporting friendly dictators, from the Shah to Hosni Mubarak to King Abdullah, but the reality is that the United States simply cannot rely on the increasingly vocal Arab street to support our interests. That is precisely why we have, rightly or wrongly, felt the need to cozy up to Arab tyrants who falsely promise us stability in exchange for financial and military support.

Not so with Israel. But the pressing question remains: Will the United States reciprocate, or will we be a fair-weather friend to our stalwart ally?

So far, we've been principled enough to reciprocate. United States administrations may prefer some Israeli electoral outcomes to others. We may prefer certain Israeli leaders over others. But in the end, we recognize that Israel is a stable democracy that does not need propping up from the outside.

The military aid we give Israel is not designed to protect a regime against its own citizens, as it is with regard to the aid to Jordan and Egypt. Our assistance to Israel is calculated to protect it from external enemies like Iran, sworn to its destruction.

The people of Israel may not love a particular American President or administration, but they love America and what we stand for. And Israel helps America - with intelligence gathering, development of military weapons, cyber technology defense and in numerous other ways. The relationship is a model of symbiosis.

But recent events in the Mideast, particularly the haste with which we abandoned Mubarak, our most loyal Arab ally, has raised questions among some Israelis as to whether Israel can always count on the United States.


Most Americans believe that it will always be in America's interests to support Israel because of its commitment to values akin to our own. But there are some Americans—from those on the extreme right like Sen. Rand Paul, to so-called realists like Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, to those on the extreme left, like Noam Chomsky—who would see no problem in abandoning Israel at the drop of a keffiyeh.

Accordingly, though most Israelis believe that America will always support its survival, many refuse to count on it. That's why they developed a long term strategy of self-reliance. The attitude of many Israelis can perhaps best be summed up by the important lesson Elie Wiesel has taught all Jews to learn from the Holocaust: "Always believe the threat of your enemies more than the promises of your friends."


JP said...

Tunisia: Al-Jazeera's Islamist Revolution
Hudson NY
by Tuvia Tenenbom
January 28, 2011


Al-Jazeera understands the power of pictures. It was a marvel to watch how it used this power after Ben Ali fled Tunisia. Al-Jazeera got its hands on a couple of soldiers who kissed demonstrators, plus two policemen who were seen crying -- or almost crying -- during the same demonstration. This video was shown again and again and again and again, creating the feeling that the "Army and Police are with you. Keep on going, Tunisians!" Once Al-Jazeera decided a situation was so, it could be made a reality. No one could argue: it was Democracy in the Making!

But in all the tumult, no one remembered to ask: "Why is Al-Jazeera not championing democracy in Qatar?" -- where Al-Jazeera is owned by the rulers there.


To understand why Al-Jazeera promoted all this, all you had to do was watch the Arabic Al-Jazeera while these demonstrations were going on. One of the first people Al-Jazeera put on its screen, and in its pages, was the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan.

And what does the Muslim Brotherhood -- and extremist and fanatic organizations --have to say about what is happening in Tunisia? They love it! They were, in fact, the first to support the "Tunisian Revolution" -- way before most in the West.

And why do extremists Muslims now support democracies? Do not expect them any day soon to support a new Iranian Revolution: Their support for "democracy" in Tunisia has to do with Ben Ali's policy of imprisoning Islamists -- a policy they distinctly do not like.

In Tunisia today, as in the rest of the Arab world, the wave of extremism is growing. More and more women wear the Hijab; mosques are getting fuller and fuller -- but for many, not fast enough: The only way to keep this trend gaining momentum is by getting rid of Ben Ali.

Enter Al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera, driven by extremist ideology, has been playing the game of news-manipulation for many years. Jerusalem is just one example: For years, the editors at Al-Jazeera have come up with the strangest of stories about what "the Jews" are planning in secret there -- building, for example, a synagogue right under the Al-Aqsa mosque! Yes, exactly there, deep in the belly of the earth. And Al-Jazeera could "prove" it. Always. Many a time, as those who follow Al-Jazeera know, violent demonstrations in Jerusalem occurred right after Al-Jazeera had come up with some bizarre story about yet another plan by the Jews to "storm Al-Aqsa." Do not question why "the Jews" were doing it: it did not really matter. Al-Jazeera always knew how to package its stories with captivating images and "detailed" maps. They are very convincing.

And Al-Jazeera keeps on doing it.

The "Al-Jazeera-Leaks," as some Arab news media call the recent Al-Jazeera stories about the "secret" Palestinian Authority's negotiations with Israel, is another example: It is an attempt by Al-Jazeera to discredit the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Just as the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority are gaining momentum -- and country after country is recognizing Palestine -- Al-Jazeera comes up with revelations that the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, and his underlings are selling the Holy Lands to the Jews for pennies -- they are the traitors. And who is not a traitor? Hamas! A simple equation, courtesy of Al-Jazeera. Only this news item is too big to be told just in Arabic: Al-Jazeera English is also joining in. A rarity.

As for Tunisia, it was not Twitter, Facebook, or the iPad that drove the Tunisian revolution -- it was only Al-Jazeera. It was not the hate of Ben Ali, as big as it was, but the love of Allah, which is much bigger.


JP said...

Egypt's Two Sets of Books
Hudson NY
by Tuvia Tenenbom
February 7, 2011

... [Obama] knows exactly what should be done, and this is why he constantly changes his mind. He presides over a country that gives billions to Egypt, because it is such a great country, but he wants this same country to change at once because it is such a bad country. ...

Other Western leaders agree with him. They say they believe that Egypt can be transformed into a democracy in just about 24 hours. How do they know? They read it in the papers. ... The papers said to be tougher on Mubarak, the White House immediately followed – Great! Shows the power of democracy. It takes less than one day after an opinion is published for it to become government policy. We must export this wisdom overseas. Egypt should become democratic - Today.

No, do not fear that the Muslim Brotherhood, or some other extremists, would take hold in Egypt. It will never happen. How do we know? The papers say so. Well, perhaps it did happen to the Palestinians and the Algerians: they held elections and the extremists won. But perhaps that is not really not happened; perhaps it just looked as if it did. Look at Turkey, what great democrat we have there: Erdogan. Soon women in Turkey will be allowed to wear the Burkah. Everywhere. Isn't this proof of democracy? You bet. How do you know? You read it in the papers - Western papers and Western websites, by Western journalists; some of the best of them. How do they know? They wrote it.


But imagine the day this brand of Democracy comes to Egypt, and the writers they follow are those of Al-Jazeera. Here is what was in Al-Jazeera in Arabic yesterday:

One picture: two old Egyptian women, grandmas, are on their knees on a prayer mat laid on a dirty ground next to a row of tough, young Egyptian security men. Both women are praying, and seem to be crying as well. The title above: "Ya Egypt, You Mother of My Soul." Next picture: Hosni Mubarak and Benjamin Netanyahu, Both are well dressed, sit in a gorgeously decorated room, smile and shake hands: great friends. Taken "last month," the caption says. The choice between the two pictures is clear: You are either with the crying grandmas on the dirty floor or with the smiling Zionist in the rich room. Nothing in between. Choose.

The day before, Al-Jazeera's website in Arabic ran an article about why Israel prefers to have Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's choice, as the head of the Egyptian government. The day before that, it showed a picture of a demonstrator holding an image of Mubarak with a Star-of-David on his forehead. There are no leaders in Egypt to follow Al-Jazeera, just plenty of demonstrators. And they do. They see these images and they know what they should do: Mubarak is a Jew-lover; he must go.

Two weeks ago, nobody knew what these demonstrations would become, but a Qatari knew – and made sure what they would become. This Qatari is Al-Jazeera. It pushed and pushed, and everybody fell into the pit - including our best journalists. They watch Al-Jazeera in English; the demonstrators watch Al-Jazeera in Arabic. The English Al-Jazeera fights for freedom; the Arabic Al-Jazeera fights against the Jew-lover. This is how a world might change.


The biggest story the Western can come up with is this: A country of 85 million - mostly very religious people - will be able to transform itself into a secular democracy at once. This is not imagination; this is naiveté. Well intentioned, perhaps, but still "let me be clear" naiveté.


Unless we make a real effort to learn the ways of the East, we had better not get involved. A little humility might help, too. None of us knows where this story will end; no matter what takes place in the next few days in Cairo, the story of Egypt is far from over – let alone the story of the Arab world. Al-Jazeera has more photos up its sleeves.

JP said...

The Egyptian Revolution May Produce a Lebanon-Type Islamic Regime
by Alan M. Dershowitz
Hudson NY
January 31, 2011


The short time outcome in Egypt may be the introduction of some structural democracy in the form of fairer elections. But the real test will be whether structural improvements will bring about real functional democracy—freedom of speech, assembly, press, religion and dissent. This will take more time to assess.

There are models for good outcomes, bad outcomes, as well as for in-between results. The paradigmatic horrible outcome was, of course, the structural democratic election of 1932 in Germany which brought to office Adolf Hitler who quickly ended any semblance of functional democracy. An in-between result is the Philippines, where there is more democracy than under the previous dictatorship, but not nearly as much as there should be. The good outcomes have mostly been in Europe, following the fall of the Soviet Union.


Iran is not an appropriate analogy. But neither is the Philippines nor the Czech Republic. The closest analogy may be Lebanon. Both Egypt and Lebanon have strong middle classes. They both have influential Christian minorities. They both have secular traditions. And they both have a well organized and well funded radical Islamic group vying for power and determined to turn the country into an Islamic theocracy.

There are important differences as well. The Egyptian army is strong, while Lebanon's is weak. And the Lebanese Islamic group has a strong militia, armed and financed by Iran, whereas the Muslim Brotherhood has little military support behind it—at least at the moment. But it is allied with Hamas, which is right across the porous border with Gaza.

The following scenario is possible, if not likely. Mubarak will leave. Someone like Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Laureate who ran the International Atomic Energy Agency, will serve as an interim leader. He is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, and, in turn, he has said nice things about the Brotherhood.


The Muslim Brotherhood is a violent, radical group with roots in Nazism and an uncompromising commitment to end the cold peace with Israel and replace it with a hot war of destruction. Its very name undercuts ElBaradei claims that "every Egyptian has the same rights" and that "the state in no way will be based on religion." Christians, women, secularists and other dissenters will not have the same rights as Muslim men. Right now the Brotherhood "are a minority," but they are the largest and best organized minority, and they don't play by the rules of democracy, using assassination and threats of violence to coerce support.

ElBaradei is their perfect stalking horse—well respected, moderate and compliant. He will put together a government in which the Brotherhood begins as kingmaker and ends up as king.

This will not produce functional democracy. Nor will it preserve peace in the region. The first casualty may well be the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority will be emboldened by the prospect of a powerful military ally on Israel's border. The Israelis will be reluctant to surrender any more territory if they can no longer count on peace with Egypt (and perhaps with Jordan).

The second casualty will be religious freedom for Egyptians, particularly Christians, but also secularists.

I have visited Egypt on several occasions, most recently a few months ago. Compared to other repressive dictatorships I have visited over the years, it was a 5 or 6 on a scale of 10 for the average Egyptian. The hard question is will it get better or worse. "It's too soon to say." My best guess is that it will get better for some and worse for others.

Andy said...

I thought Pipes and Dershowitz were all for democracy in the Middle East...Or is it that Egypt isn't ready for democracy? An argument that I recall the Neo Cons treated with scorn when applied to Iraq. Anyway, Peter Hitchens is at least consistent on this issue:

"Is it immoral to refuse to egg on a revolution abroad? Is it immoral to refuse to mistake general idealism in distant, unknown places most of us will never even visit, for practical neighbourly charity among those known to us? One contributor quotes William Blake against me. I quote Blake back at him:

‘He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars. General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite and flatterer’.

I regard most statements of joy in foreign revolutions as mere posturing, the use of someone else’s country as a moral playground in which one can be a utopian at no charge. By the time the utopianism has solidified into equivocal (or nasty) political reality, the journalistic poseur is long gone to a new playground and is generally not pressed to defend the regime his views may have helped to bring about . How many of those who posed about the place in former Yugoslavia ever even revisit Bosnia and Kosovo to review the paradise they helped to establish there? How many of those who confused a righteous loathing of apartheid with unconditional support for the African National Congress revisit the increasingly squalid state which the ANC has created in South Africa?"

Andy said...

Hitchens on Egypt cont.
" The ‘freedom’ (if such it be) of Egypt may lead to disadvantages for this country. What might they be? Most likely, more instability in the Middle East. This has limitless bad consequences for us. The last thing our weak, sick economy needs is a new Middle East war. Leave aside the destruction and loss of life, which all will deplore, the inevitable rise in the price of oil and severe inflation which will follow are exactly what we do not need. Most of the reports of the crowds in Tahrir Square (note by the way - as no reports have - the word ‘Tahrir’, meaning variously freedom and liberation, which also features in the title of the dread Hizb-ut-Tahrir party, ‘the Party of Freedom’) seem to me to have been unconsciously self-censored. I doubt that most of the reporters there have wanted to push the issue very hard. It might even be risky to do so, amid a crowd in times of tension. But during my only visit to Egypt (as mentioned in an earlier post) I found that, among all the highly-liberal, westernised and English speaking people I met - and very charming and pleasant they were too - there was an unremitting, bitter hostility to the State of Israel. I found this out because I was interested, and because I had discovered the same heated view among similar people I had met in Jordan a few months before. And when I mildly questioned it, I found myself met with something very close indeed to fury. It was clearly something I was not really permitted to discuss, immune to facts or reason. Now, if this is so among travelled, educated and wealthy intellectuals, how much more intense might we expect it to be among the Egyptian masses, exposed for decades to virulent anti-Israel propaganda, in most Muslim countries the only outlet for the incoherent anger that exists in the midst of the poverty and corruption? I have only once in the past few days seen a picture of a portrait of Hosni Mubarak defaced by demonstrators with a Star of David, to suggest that he is a Zionist puppet. But I wonder how many more there are which reporters or picture editors sympathetic to the protests (who might not have wanted to draw attention to this aspect of popular feeling) have decided not to mention or publish? This can happen. When I was in Gaza late last summer I came across - smack in the middle of the city where no visitor could miss it - a professionally executed and prominent wall-painting depicting an Israeli soldier as a hook-nosed child-killer in the style of Julius Streicher. Other journalists must have seen it, and been able to photograph or film it. But I had never seen it reproduced. The Arab and ‘Palestinian’ causes tend to be supported by the liberal left in Britain, and I am sure that most such people loathe anti-Semitism and regard themselves as anything but anti-Semitic. (Pedants’ corner. Yes, I know that Arabs are Semitic as well, but you know what I mean.) So when they find irrational Judophobia among their Arab friends, they pretend it is not there.'

Andy said...

Final P Hitch on Egypt:
"Now that is not to say that the current Egyptian regime is free of Judophobia. The armistice between Israel and Egypt is famously known as ‘The Cold Peace’, because of the way in which Egypt meticulously observes its letter, while not observing its spirit. One example: Israeli tourists go to Egypt. Egyptian tourists hardly ever go to Israel, and it is said they can run into trouble back home if they do so. There is no friendliness in the relationship, just a sullen acceptance of its political convenience. But the Egyptian regime overcome their dislike for reasons of state, reasons which a new government might not acknowledge (and by the way, how sure is everyone that the replacement government, whose nature is a complete mystery, would in fact be incorrupt and tolerant of criticism?). My worries about this are not in fact dependent on my support for Israel, though I’ve no doubt that my knowledge of this conflict makes me more aware of what is at stake. Even if you don’t like Israel I doubt very much if you want a new Middle East War. And the current Egyptian regime has prevented war in a highly sensitive part of the world for three decades. And Egypt, though less pivotal than it used to be, is a decisive voice in the Arab world. If it abandoned its peace with Israel, and aligned itself with Hamas in Gaza, I think many of us would find out very quickly how important Egypt’s future was to our stability and prosperity."

JP said...

Egypt, Israel and a Strategic Reconsideration
Statfor Geopolitical Weekly
By George Friedman
February 8, 2011

The events in Egypt have sent shock waves through Israel. The 1978 Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel have been the bedrock of Israeli national security. In three of the four wars Israel fought before the accords, a catastrophic outcome for Israel was conceivable. In 1948, 1967 and 1973, credible scenarios existed in which the Israelis were defeated and the state of Israel ceased to exist. In 1973, it appeared for several days that one of those scenarios was unfolding.

The survival of Israel was no longer at stake after 1978. ...


... The largest Arab country, ... Egypt could field the most substantial army. More to the point, Egypt could absorb casualties at a far higher rate than Israel. The danger that the Egyptian army posed was that it could close with the Israelis and engage in extended, high-intensity combat that would break the back of the Israel Defense Forces by imposing a rate of attrition that Israel could not sustain. ...

The solution for the Israelis was to initiate combat at a time and place of their own choosing, preferably with surprise, as they did in 1956 and 1967. ...
[In 1973] the Israelis defeated the Egyptians, but at the cost of the confidence they achieved in 1967 and a recognition that comfortable assumptions were impermissible in warfare in general and regarding Egypt in particular.

The Egyptians had also learned lessons. The most important was that the existence of the state of Israel did not represent a challenge to Egypt’s national interest. Israel existed across a fairly wide and inhospitable buffer zone — the Sinai Peninsula. ... Egypt had a greater interest in breaking its dependency on the Soviets than in defeating Israel. It could do the former more readily than the latter.

The Egyptian recognition that its interests in Israel were minimal and the Israeli recognition that eliminating the potential threat from Egypt guaranteed its national security have been the foundation of the regional balance since 1978. All other considerations — Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and the rest — were trivial in comparison. Geography — the Sinai — made this strategic distancing possible. So did American aid to Egypt. ...

The governments of Anwar Sadat and then Hosni Mubarak were content with this arrangement. ...


But now is 33 years later, and the world has changed. ... Mubarak has locked the younger generation, in their fifties and sixties, out of senior command positions and away from the wealth his generation has accumulated. They want him out.


... The demonstrators who wanted democracy are a real faction, but they don’t speak for the shopkeepers and peasants more interested in prosperity than wealth. Since Egypt is a Muslim country, the West freezes when anything happens, dreading the hand of Osama bin Laden. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was once a powerful force, and it might become one again someday, but right now it is a shadow of its former self. What is going on now is a struggle within the military, between generations, for the future of the Egyptian military and therefore the heart of the Egyptian regime. Mubarak will leave, the younger officers will emerge, the constitution will make some changes and life will continue.

The Israelis will return to their complacency. They should not. The usual first warning of a heart attack is death. Among the fortunate, it is a mild coronary followed by a dramatic change of life style. The events in Egypt should be taken as a mild coronary and treated with great relief by Israel that it wasn’t worse.

JP said...

Strator article cont'd


I have laid out the reasons why the 1978 treaty is in Egypt’s national interest. I have left out two pieces. The first is ideology. The ideological tenor of the Middle East prior to 1978 was secular and socialist. Today it is increasingly Islamist. Egypt is not immune to this trend, even if the Muslim Brotherhood should not be seen as the embodiment of that threat.

Second, military technology, skills and terrain have made Egypt a defensive power for the past 33 years. But military technology and skills can change, on both sides. Egyptian defensiveness is built on assumptions of Israeli military capability and interest. As Israeli ideology becomes more militant and as its capabilities grow, Egypt may be forced to reconsider its strategic posture. ...

Two things from this should strike the Israelis. The first is how badly they need peace with Egypt. ... Israel can fight many wars with Egypt and win. It need lose only one.

The second lesson is that Israel should do everything possible to make certain that the transfer of power in Egypt is from Mubarak to the next generation of military officers and that these officers maintain their credibility in Egypt. ... If the treaty with Egypt is the foundation of Israel’s national security, it is logical that the Israelis should do everything possible to preserve it.

... [I]t is in Israel’s national interest to minimize the intensity of the ideological and make certain that Israel is not perceived as a threat. In Gaza, for example, Israel and Egypt may have shared a common interest in containing Hamas, and the next generation of Egyptian officers may share it as well. But what didn’t materialize in the streets this time could in the future: an Islamist rising. In that case, the Egyptian military might find it in its interest to preserve its power by accommodating the Islamists. At this point, Egypt becomes the problem and not part of the solution.

... The future of Gaza or the precise borders of a Palestinian state are trivial compared to preserving the treaty with Egypt. If it is found that a particular political strategy undermines the strategic requirement, then that political strategy must be sacrificed.

In other words, the worst-case scenario for Israel would be a return to the pre-1978 relationship with Egypt without a settlement with the Palestinians. That would open the door for a potential two-front war with an intifada in the middle. To avoid that, the ideological pressure on Egypt must be eased, and that means a settlement with the Palestinians on less-than-optimal terms. The alternative is to stay the current course and let Israel take its chances. ...

There are those in Israel who would argue that any release in pressure on the Palestinians will be met with rejection. If that is true, then, in my view, that is catastrophic news for Israel. In due course, ideological shifts and recalculations of Israeli intentions will cause a change in Egyptian policy. This will take several decades to turn into effective military force, and the first conflicts may well end in Israeli victory. But, as I have said before, it must always be remembered that no matter how many times Israel wins, it need only lose once to be annihilated.

To some it means that Israel should remain as strong as possible. To me it means that Israel should avoid rolling the dice too often, regardless of how strong it thinks it is. The Mubarak affair might open a strategic reconsideration of the Israeli position.

JP said...

@Andy: "I thought Pipes and Dershowitz were all for democracy in the Middle East...Or is it that Egypt isn't ready for democracy?"

Pipes is saying no genuine democracy will happen, and I don't think Dershowitz comments in that article either way.

Here's some more from Pipes on the topic:


The Economist Debate
This house believes that Egypt will become a democracy within a year.

Defending the motion: Anoush Ehteshami, Professor, Durham University and Joint Director, Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World

Against the motion: Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford


Islam and Democracy - Much Hard Work Needed
by Daniel Pipes
National Post
February 7, 2011

With anti-regime demonstrations raging in Egypt, and the possibility of a new government led by or involving the Muslim Brotherhood, many are asking whether Islam is compatible with democracy? The answer is yes, it potentially is, but it will take much hard work to make this happen.

Present realities are far from encouraging, for tyranny disproportionately afflicts Muslim-majority countries. Swarthmore College's Frederic L. Pryor concluded in a 2007 analysis in the Middle East Quarterly that, with some exceptions, "Islam is associated with fewer political rights." Saliba Sarsar looked at democratization in 17 Arabic-speaking countries and, writing in the same journal, found that "between 1999 and 2005 … not only is progress lacking in most countries, but across the Middle East, reform has backslid."

How easy to jump from this dismal pattern and conclude that the religion of Islam itself must be the cause of the problem. The ancient fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc ... Put differently: of course, Islam is undemocratic in spirit, but so was every other premodern religion and society.

Just as Christianity became part of the democratic process, so can Islam. ... For Islam to encourage political participation implies a giant shift in approach, especially toward the Sharia, its law code. ... In short, the Sharia as classically understood cannot be reconciled with modern life in general, democracy in particular. For Muslims to achieve political participation means either rejecting the law's public aspects in total ... or reinterpreting them.

... Muslims have barely begun the long, arduous path to making Islam modern. In addition to the inherent difficulties of overhauling a seventh-century order to fit the ethos of a Western-dominated twenty-first century, the Islamist movement which today dominates Muslim intellectual life pulls in precisely the opposite direction from democracy. Instead, it fights to revive the whole of the Sharia and to apply it with exceptional severity, regardless of what the majority wants.


Yes, with enough effort and time, Muslims can be as democratic as Westerners. But at this time, they are the least democratic of peoples and the Islamist movement presents a huge obstacle to political participation. In Egypt as elsewhere, my theoretical optimism, in other words, is tempered by a pessimism based on present and future realities.

Andy said...

@JP - does Pipes think democracy has genuinely happened in Iraq or Afghanistan?

JP said...

I can't believe anyone thinks it's happened in Afghanistan*. I suppose in comparison to that then Iraq's further ahead, but I personally don't see more than a few trappings of democracy in Iraq.

Apart from the Zakaria book I alluded to, few people make the distinction between democracy and liberalism. One is a process, the other an outcome, and they are conceptually (and often practically) independent of each other. We in the West think of "liberal democracy" as being one thing that comes as a package, but that's a legacy of our own history.

Frankly in Iraq I don't even see much of the process (are all sides of the political debate entirely accepting that they should & will pass into opposition, perhaps forever, if such is the will of the people?), let alone anything that's part of liberalism (eg respecting minority rights, freedom of speech).

* I was gonna make a tasteless comparison along the lines of "having a vote doesn't mean you're a democracy any more than having a dick means you're a porn star", but I've decided to rise above such smut.

JP said...

A scary look into the true nature of the MB. Heggy runs briefly through the history of the MB, their political thinking, and he concludes with a list of pertinent questions that the MB should be called upon to answer:

The Reality of the Muslim Brotherhood
by Tarek Heggy
Hudson NY
February 11, 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood was launched in 1928 to restore a caliphate, a global religious government aimed at fighting the "non-believers" (specifically, Christians, Hindus, and Jews) and at spreading Islam.

This group's political thinking can be summarized as follows:

* Personal Freedoms: [the MB] call for the restoration of hisbah, which allows a private citizen to prosecute any individual who commits an act he considers a breach of the Sharia even if the plaintiff himself has not been personally injured by such an act.
* The Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Muslim Brothers … will never recognize the existence of Israel as legitimate.

* The Legal System: The Muslim Brothers call for the establishment of a constitutional and legal system based on the principles of Sharia, including the application of corporal punishments in the penal code (stoning, lashing, cutting off the hands of thieves, etc.)

Dialogue with Islamists should be based on seeking the answers to the following questions:

1. Some of the Muslim Brothers (MBs) now expound the idea that Copts (Egyptian Christians) are "Fully First Class Egyptian Citizens." Would this imply that a Copt could be, in principle, elected president of Egypt?

2. Would the Muslim Brothers follow the Saudi model of segregating girls from boys in educational institutions such as schools and universities as well as all other organizations?

3. Non-History-Related-Tourism (beach tourism) generates in excess of 75% of Egypt's tourism revenues. What are the Brotherhood's views on the sale of alcoholic beverages, gambling, and casinos, and women dressing in any way they choose?

4. What is the Brotherhood's opinion concerning the peace treaties between Egypt and Israel, and between Jordan and Israel?

5. What do the MBs think of the different forms of economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel (the Qualifying Industrial Zones [QIZ], in which joint enterprises receive special privileges for exporting goods to the United States, for instance?

6. How do the MBs describe the killing of Israeli civilians in Hamas or Islamic Jihad suicide operations?

7. Do the MBs believe that Sayyid Qutb's doctrine known as al-Hak'imiyya -- that government must be based exclusively on Allah's law and which rejects democracy and human law as apostasy -—is still the basis of their political system?

8. What are the views of the Brotherhood on women holding high government offices -- including ministries, the prime ministership, and Supreme Court judgeships?

9. What are the group's views on the vision of a "two state" solution for Israel and Palestine to live peacefully next to each other? Would they then accept and recognize the right of Israel to exist? Would they also accept that the Jewish section of Jerusalem is Israel's capital?

10. Egypt's legal system since 1883 has been based on the juridical notions of the European legal system. What are the Brotherhood's plans with this regard? And what do they think of physical punishments, such as the sanctions applicable in Saudi Arabia?

11. Like all modern societies, the Egyptian banking system is based on the notion of interests for lending and savings. Will the Brotherhood keep it?

12. Is Iran a factor of stability (or instability) in today's world?

Finally, one must know that the Brothers are likely to use taqqiyya [dissimulation], a principle which - according to some clerics such as Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taymiyya - allows Muslims to lie if so doing assists them in ultimately defeating the infidels.

JP said...

We're doomed.


Intel Dir. James Clapper Confused Over Brotherhood Aims
11 Feb 2011


[US Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper also characterized the Brotherhood in Egypt as a mostly secular umbrella organization. "The term 'Muslim Brotherhood' . . . is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaida as a perversion of Islam," Clapper said in response to a question from Myrick. "They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera . . . In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally."

Clapper's "secular" reference is odd, given the Brotherhood's motto is "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."

[Congressman Sue] Myrick said she was also concerned about the Brotherhood's attitudes toward government. "The danger of the Muslim Brotherhood is not just encouraging terrorism through their ideology, but also trying to take over government, so everyone has to succumb and live under their ideology," Myrick said.

The scope of the Brotherhood's vision for the United States was spelled out in a 1991 document called the "Explanatory Memorandum." In that memo, which federal prosecutors introduced as evidence in two trials of the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Brotherhood leaders said they planned to create an Islamic state in the United States.

In that document, the Brotherhood's stated goal was "a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."

JP said...

Haven't had time to listen to this myself, but there's a podcast of what must have been a very interesting debate last night at Intelligence Squared. Actually they seem to have a microsite for the whole topic which looks worth exploring.

Turmoil in the Arab world: is the genie of democracy out of the bottle?
I2 Debate
15 Feb 2011

Is democracy dawning in the Arab world? Or does the fall of Mubarak signal the start of military rule? Do the uprisings in North Africa mark the end of Arab authoritarianism? Or are they merely revolving doors for the next autocracy? Could…. or should… Western governments intervene to help push the democratic agenda?

These are some of the big questions that will be debated and discussed by a distinguished panel of experts at this Tuesday’s Intelligence Squared debate. The evening will be structured around four principle themes:

Speakers: Eugene Rogan and Nabila Ramdani

What were the key factors that led to the toppling of Mubarak? How was the “revolution” organised? Did it have less to do with freedom than with jobs and food prices? And why did the army refuse to take a tough line with the protestors? What will the generals do now?

Speakers: Tariq Ramadan and Deniz Kandiyoti

What degree of tolerance is the army likely to show towards the Muslim Brotherhood? Is the Brotherhood likely to seek alliance with secular parties? Are the Islamists likely to hijack the popular revolt in Egypt and beyond? Will the rights of women and other minorities be placed in jeopardy if they do?

Speakers: Edward Luttwak

The Muslim Brotherhood say that if they gain influence in Egypt they will rescind the peace treaty with Israel. How should the Israelis react? How are they likely to react? Wouldn’t the Israelis prefer to see the army stay in control rather than deliver Egypt to the vagaries of democracy?

Speakers: Roger Cohen and Rosemary Hollis

What should Western governments be doing in response? Should they be pressing the army to introduce democracy in Egypt? Should they be calling more stridently for democratic change in the region as a whole? Or should they be more concerned about ensuring regional stability? To what extent should we expect our governments to trade off our own national interests for the good of subjugated Arab peoples?

JP said...

Superb. It would benefit Egypt if America stopped praising democracy — a means — and started supporting freedom and universal rights — the desired end.

How to Create a Real Democracy in Egypt
Hudson NY
by Raymond Ibrahim
February 16, 2011 at 5:00 am

… “[D]emocracy" does not always lead to "universal rights" and or other advantages associated with this form of governance… as we have seen from the democratic election of Hitler in Germany; the Palestinians' election of a terrorist government, Hamas, in Gaza in 2006; the election of the ayatollahs in Iran…; the near-election of the Islamists in Algeria in 1991, or even the democratic acceptance of slavery and the disenfranchisement of women in both ancient Athens and the first years of America. "People-power"—literally, demos-kratia— was what America's founder saw as also capable of becoming mob rule, and the reason they insisted on an electoral college.

[In] Egypt… will "people-power" automatically lead to a more liberal, secular, and pluralistic society? … [The] majority of Egyptians were protesting not to see Islamic Sharia Law implemented - despite Al-Jazeera's and the Iranian media's propaganda - but for food and jobs.

That said, the Muslim Brotherhood's outspoken goal is to implement strict Sharia Law wherever it can; and if it is helped to power, Egypt will become considerably more fascistic and possibly even less free than it was under a dictatorship. This does not necessarily mean that Egyptians are Islamists; just that their choices were limited deliberately. As Mubarak suppressed and jailed anyone who promoted a real democracy, to show the West that the choice was between him and Islamists, he allowed the Islamists to function – even though they were officially outlawed - to be able to show them to visitors from the West to justify his position. He thereby brought into being the choice he talked about: whoever did not like his regime had nowhere to go except the Islamists.

Western democracies have built-in safeguards such as a constitution, rule of law, and a judiciary. But what sort of society does one create if all of these – the constitution, the law and the judiciary - are built on Islamist principles of Islamic Sharia ["The Way"] Law, agreed to by the majority? One creates a society in which women are legally subjugated and with unequal rights; adulterers are legally stoned to death; and homosexuals and apostates legally hanged. …

It would benefit Egypt as well as the region if America stopped praising democracy — a means — and started supporting freedom and universal rights — the desired end.

"Elections" are not the same thing as a "democracy;" the words are not synonymous. To avoid having a repressive government freely elected, it is first necessary, as outlined in The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky, to first introduce and firmly establish institutions of democracy – such as a free press; free speech; freedom for religion and freedom from religion; equal justice under law, including of property rights; laws based on individuals' rights; an independent judiciary; separation of mosque and state, and so forth. Elections can then be held at the end - after these building blocks for a free civil society – and real choices for the people - are able to function without religious or political interference. Rather than support any one mode of governance now, the U.S. could work with whoever will put in place and continue to build these institutions of a free society associated with democracy.

Such an approach would even have the added bonus of fending off the charge … that America is hypocritical for befriending and supporting dictators even as it constantly praises democracy. As with all forms of governance, democracy is only a means to an end; whether that end is good (freedom) or bad (tyranny) should be the ultimate measure of its worth.

JP said...

I have a lot of time for Halevy having read his book, and I hope his analysis is right. Luttwak, in the I2 debate the other day was similarly upbeat.

The Egyptian uprising has not damaged Israel’s strategic position
Efraim Halevy
February 21, 2011


Asked if the peace process with Israel was now dead, [Syria's Bashir] replied, “No, it is not dead because you do not have any other option; if you talk about a ‘dead’ peace process, this means everybody should prepare for the next war.” Parallel to this pronouncement, a long line of Egyptian figures proclaimed their belief that the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, even if not to their original liking, is here to stay. This has now been confirmed by the Egyptian High Command that has recently taken over in Cairo.

Neither the Syrian president nor the Egyptians have made these clear statements out of love for Israel; they have spoken out because the avoidance of any new war and the preservation of existing international treaties with Israel are vital strategic interests of both Syria and Egypt. Israel, post-Mubarak, has been confirmed by its two key neighbors from south and north as a vital bloc in the region.

There is an additional factor that refutes the dire prophesies which have filled Israeli and international media. The two largest armies in the region—that of Israel and that of Egypt—are both equipped by the United States. This means Washington is in a pivotal position to prevent a bloody confrontation from happening. The clear desire to avoid war is thus an aim of all three parties. This can and should become a primary building block for the creation of a fruitful relationship with any new Egyptian leadership.

... Israel can approach the scene unfolding around it with a large measure of justified self-confidence, knowing that it continues to operate from a position of strength. Some are saying that the Israeli-Palestinian track must go on hold because of the events in Egypt. The opposite is true. While the ultimate solution is at present out of reach—indeed, now would be a good time to admit that it has never been within reach due to insurmountable blocks on both sides — it is also quite conceivable that a Palestinian state can be born in the year 2011, even before all the I’s are dotted and all the T’s crossed.

Israel can similarly operate from a position of strength in facing up to the challenge from Iran. The Iranian people and even its oppressive regime cannot survive the North Korean-type isolation that would certainly be imposed should they ever cross the plank of nuclearization. As Israel and others continue to pursue a clandestine war with Iran—a war both sides prefer to cover with a cloak of secrecy — Tehran will gradually realize that the price exacted for its intransigence will be more than it can really pay. Meanwhile, as the regime increasingly strives to cut off its population from sources of reliable information, Israel is well-positioned to provide open-source, credible information to millions in Iran. This is a long haul, requiring patience, devotion, and endurance—and it has a true chance of paying off. Israel is already doing much in this field. It can and should do more.

In the end, despite the warnings of pundits, this is not a time for Israel to act out of fear. By understanding its relatively strong position, Israel can go a long way toward simultaneously safeguarding its own interests in the new Middle East and serving as a responsible and powerful local anchor of sanity in this unstable neighborhood.

JP said...

Revolution and the Muslim World
February 22, 2011
Strafor Geopolitical Weekly


[A]s you watch the region, remember not to watch the demonstrators. Watch the men with the guns. If they stand their ground for the state, the demonstrators have failed. If some come over, there is some chance of victory. And if victory comes, and democracy is declared, do not assume that what follows will in any way please the West — democracy and pro-Western political culture do not mean the same thing.

The situation remains fluid, and there are no broad certainties. It is a country-by-country matter now, with most regimes managing to stay in power to this point. There are three possibilities. One is that this is like 1848, a broad rising that will fail for lack of organization and coherence, but that will resonate for decades. The second is 1968, a revolution that overthrew no regime even temporarily and left some cultural remnants of minimal historical importance. The third is 1989, a revolution that overthrew the political order in an entire region, and created a new order in its place.

If I were to guess at this point, I would guess that we are facing 1848. The Muslim world will not experience massive regime change as in 1989, but neither will the effects be as ephemeral as 1968. Like 1848, this revolution will fail to transform the Muslim world or even just the Arab world. But it will plant seeds that will germinate in the coming decades. I think those seeds will be democratic, but not necessarily liberal. In other words, the democracies that eventually arise will produce regimes that will take their bearings from their own culture, which means Islam.

The West celebrates democracy. It should be careful what it hopes for: It might get it.

Andy said...

Peter Hitchens speculates that Iran may be involved in the revolutions sweeping across the middle east. Worth reading.


JP said...

My Optimism about the New Arab Revolt
by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
March 1, 2011

JP said...

So a no-fly zone would be tricky to implement, could kill more civilians than it saves, might not overthrow Gadaffi, and any military assistance that could do so might bring another Iraq-type insurgency with it.

After reading this article, I predict any support among Impdecers for a no-fly zone policy will plummet.

How a Libyan No-fly Zone Could Backfire
By George Friedman
March 8, 2011

JP said...

Unparodiable and thoroughly depressing.

Arab Press Ablaze with Rumors that Mu'ammar Gaddafi Is Secretly a Jew
Translating Jihad
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

See this thread for more conspiracy stories.

JP said...

3 Reasons I Like Gaddafi’s Latest Rant
Backspin Blog
March 7, 2011

You know hell’s freezing over when Gaddafi compares himself to Israel:

“Even the Israelis in Gaza, when they moved into the Gaza strip, they moved in with tanks to fight such extremists. It’s the same thing here! We have small armed groups who are fighting us. We did not use force from the outset . . . Armed units of the Libyan army have had to fight small armed al Qaeda bands. That is what’s happened.”

Here are 3 reasons to like Gaddafi’s rant.

1. Gaddafi acknowledges that Israel has a right to defend itself against Palestinian terror.
2. Gaddafi labels Hamas a terror organization. Full stop.
3. Gaddafi undermines the Goldstone report. After all, Libya was the key country trying to ram the Goldstone report through the UN.

JP said...

Why France Was So Keen to Attack Libya
by Soeren Kern
Hudson NY
March 23, 2011

Even before allied forces unleashed a "shock and awe" barrage of cruise missile attacks against Libya on March 19, French President Nicolas Sarkozy was quick to take the credit, saying France had "decided to assume its role, its role before history" in stopping strongman Muammar Gaddafi's "killing spree" against people whose only crime was to seek to "liberate themselves from servitude."

Sarkozy's newfound concern for Libyan democracy contrasts sharply from only three years ago, when Sarkozy welcomed Gaddafi with open arms during an extravagant five-day state visit to France. On that occasion in December 2007, Gaddafi breezed into Paris in his Bedouin robes, accompanied by an entourage of 400 servants, five airplanes, a camel and 30 female virgin bodyguards, and then proceeded to pitch his heated tent on the grounds of the palatial Hôtel de Marigny, just across the street from the Elysée Palace.

At the time, Sarkozy ridiculed critics of Gaddafi's visit by saying: "It is rather beautiful the principle that consists in not getting yourself wet, not taking risks, being so certain of everything you think while you're having your latte on the Boulevard Saint-Germain." He also asked: "If we don't welcome countries that are starting to take the path of respectability, what can we say to those that leave that path?" Meanwhile, Sarkozy's chief diplomatic advisor, Jean-David Levitte, insisted that Libya had a "right to redemption."


So what explains Sarkozy's about-face vis-à-vis Libya? His sudden support for the anti-Gaddafi rebels can be attributed to two main factors: opinion polls and the closely related issue of Muslim immigration.

Sarkozy's sudden zeal for the cause of democracy in Libya comes as his popularity is at record lows just thirteen months before the first round of the 2012 presidential election. With polls showing that Sarkozy is the least popular president since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958, he is betting that French voters will appreciate his efforts in Libya to place France at the center of the world stage and reinforce what Charles de Gaulle once famously called "a certain idea of France" as a nation of exceptional destiny.

Further, Sarkozy's main rival is not Gaddafi, but rather Marine Le Pen, the charismatic new leader of the far-right National Front party in France. ... Le Pen, who appeals to middle class voters, is riding high on voter dissatisfaction with the failure of the mainstream parties to address the problem of Muslim immigration. Since taking her post three months ago, Le Pen has single-handedly catapulted the twin issues of Muslim immigration and French national identity to the top of the French political agenda. In recent weeks, Le Pen has been a permanent fixture on prime-time television to discuss the threat to France of a wave of immigrants from Libya.


JP said...

Immaculate Intervention: The Wars of Humanitarianism
April 5, 2011
By George Friedman

There are wars in pursuit of interest. In these wars, nations pursue economic or strategic ends to protect the nation or expand its power. There are also wars of ideology, designed to spread some idea of “the good,” whether this good is religious or secular. The two obviously can be intertwined, such that a war designed to spread an ideology also strengthens the interests of the nation spreading the ideology.

Since World War II, a new class of war has emerged that we might call humanitarian wars … It is important to distinguish these interventions from peacekeeping missions… [which involve] soldiers, but they are not there to fight beyond protecting themselves.


In humanitarian wars, the intervention is designed both to be neutral and to protect potential victims on one side. … There is an ideology undergirding humanitarian wars, one derived from both the U.N. Charter and from the lessons drawn from the Holocaust, genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia …. According to this ideology, the international community has an obligation to prevent such slaughter.

This ideology must, of course, confront other principles of the U.N. Charter, such as the right of nations to self-determination. …. In internal unrest and civil war, …, the challenge of the intervention is to protect human rights without undermining national sovereignty or the right of national self-determination.

The doctrine becomes less coherent in a civil war in which one side is winning and promising to slaughter its enemies, Libya being the obvious example. … If the intervention is successful … the humanitarian warriors are … defining a nation’s history.

There is thus a deep tension between the principle of national self-determination and the obligation to intervene to prevent slaughter. … I call humanitarian wars immaculate intervention, because most advocates want to see the outcome limited to preventing war crimes, not extended to include regime change or the imposition of alien values. They want a war of immaculate intentions surgically limited to a singular end without other consequences. And this is where the doctrine of humanitarian war unravels.


My unease with humanitarian intervention is not that I don’t think the intent is good and the end moral. It is that the intent frequently gets lost and the moral end is not achieved. Ideology, like passion, fades. But interest has a certain enduring quality. A doctrine of humanitarian warfare that demands an immaculate intervention will fail because the desire to do good is an insufficient basis for war. It does not provide a rigorous military strategy to what is, after all, a war. Neither does it bind a nation’s public to the burdens of the intervention. In the end, the ultimate dishonesties of humanitarian war are the claims that “this won’t hurt much” and “it will be over fast.” In my view, their outcome is usually either a withdrawal without having done much good or a long occupation in which the occupied people are singularly ungrateful.

North Africa is no place for casual war plans and good intentions. It is an old, tough place. If you must go in, go in heavy, go in hard and get out fast. Humanitarian warfare says that you go in light, you go in soft and you stay there long. I have no quarrel with humanitarianism. It is the way the doctrine wages war that concerns me. Getting rid of Gadhafi is something we can all feel good about and which Europe and America can afford. It is the aftermath — the place beyond the immaculate intervention — that concerns me.

JP said...

Libya and the Problem with The Hague
July 11, 2011
By George Friedman

The war in Libya has been under way for months, without any indication of when it might end. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s faction has been stronger and more cohesive than imagined and his enemies weaker and more divided. This is not unusual. There is frequently a perception that dictators are widely hated and that their power will collapse when challenged. That is certainly true at times, but often the power of a dictator is rooted in the broad support of an ideological faction, an ethnic group or simply those who benefit from the regime. As a result, naive assumptions of rapid regime change are quite often replaced by the reality of protracted conflict.



The ICC has jurisdiction, under U.N. mandate, to prosecute individuals who have committed war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity. Its jurisdiction is limited to those places where recognized governments are unwilling or unable to carry out their own judicial processes. The ICC can exercise jurisdiction if the case is referred to the ICC prosecutor by an ICC state party signatory or the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) or if the prosecutor initiates the investigation him or herself.

The current structure of international law, particularly the existence of the ICC and its rules, has an unintended consequence. Rather than serving as a tool for removing war criminals from power, it tends to enhance their power and remove incentives for capitulation or a negotiated exit. In Libya’s case, Gadhafi’s indictment was referred to the ICC by the UNSC, and he was formally indicted in late June. The existence of the ICC, and the clause that says that it has jurisdiction where signatory governments are unable or unwilling to carry out their own prosecutions, creates an especially interesting dilemma for Gadhafi and the intervening powers.


Gadhafi is obviously aware of the Balkans precedents. He has no motivation to capitulate, since that could result in him being sent to The Hague, nor is there anyone that he can deal with who can hold the ICC in abeyance. In most criminal proceedings, a plea bargain is possible, but this is not simply a matter of a plea bargain.

Regardless of what a country’s leader has done, he or she holds political power, and the transfer of that power is inherently a political process. What the ICC has done since 2002 — and the ICTY to an extent before that — is to make the political process moot by making amnesty impossible.


Without a doubt, most of the men who have surrounded [Gadhafi] for years are guilty of serious war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is difficult to imagine anyone around Gadhafi whose hands are clean, or who would have been selected by Gadhafi if their hands weren’t capable of being soiled. Each of them is liable for prosecution by the ICC, particularly the senior leadership of the military; the ICC has bound their fate to that of Gadhafi, actually increasing their loyalty to him. Just as Gadhafi has nothing to lose by continued resistance, neither do they. The ICC has forged the foundation of Gadhafi’s survival and bitter resistance.



Consider a hypothetical. Assume that in the summer of 1944, Adolph Hitler had offered to capitulate to the allies if they would grant him amnesty. Giving Hitler amnesty would have been monstrous, but at the same time, it would have saved a year of war and a year of the holocaust. From a personal point of view, the summer of 1944 was when deportation of Hungarian Jews was at its height. Most of my family died that fall and winter. Would leaving Hitler alive been worth it to my family and millions of others on all sides?


JP said...

Can blossom come from the Arab Spring?
Sir Andrew Green (former British ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia)
24 Aug 2011

Those hoping for a transformation in Libya and Syria are in for a rude awakening.

Are we being thoroughly naive about the Arab Spring? The term itself is deeply misleading, with its connotations of Prague and peaceful progress towards democracy. Recent events have been more like a series of earthquakes than the green shoots of spring. Regimes have been destroyed; most have been shaken to their foundations. Populations don’t know how to put their shattered lives back together. Is it progress?

You might think I am being a little too pessimistic. But let’s consider Libya. Like many other countries in the region, it has been ruled by a ruthless dictator, expert in wielding raw power. The secret police were the key to this. We in the West can hardly imagine living in constant fear of a dawn commotion at our front door, being wrenched from our homes and families to be thrown into jail with the prospect of torture and indefinite detention in the harshest of conditions. One in four of your neighbours is likely to be an informer – perhaps even a member of your family. This iron hand is accompanied by skilful footwork as the ruler holds the ring between competing groups and distributes money, jobs and influence between them.

Let us not expect a blossoming of democracy in the wake of Gaddafi. These are revenge cultures and there are a great many people who have every reason to seek it, just as there are plenty of secret policemen who can feel the ground shaking beneath them.

Existing power relationships have been shredded and in Libya there is no mechanism for resolving the remaining tensions. Even in such a small, relatively wealthy country, there is a serious risk of chaos.

And that chaos may spread further. How will Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad react to developments in Libya? He will certainly not take Hillary Clinton’s advice and meekly hand over power to “democratic forces”. Syria, like most other countries in the region, is an extremely complex society. Myriad regional, ethnic and religious communities have been held together by the Alawite Assad dynasty – using the traditional methods, of course.

Many Syrians are deeply fearful of what might happen if the regime were to fall. It could be a bloodbath for the Alawites, leading to wider ethnic conflict. They have watched the ghastly events in Iraq in recent years and even give shelter to nearly a million Iraqi refugees. They also remember the events in their sister country, Lebanon, in the 1970s, when rival checkpoints were set up and anyone of the wrong religion was simply murdered.

Bashar is well aware of all this and so is not in the least interested in Western advice. He will cling to power by force while introducing some concessions in the hope of drawing the opposition’s teeth.

Internally, there are two dangers. One is that parts of al-Assad’s army will eventually refuse orders to fire on civilians. The other is that the opposition will progressively take up arms. Assad claims that there are already “armed gangs” at work. He means the Muslim Brotherhood who, in a long struggle, might well come to be the prime opposition to his regime, an unwelcome eventuality at a time when their rise is already causing alarm in the West. So much for the effortless blossoming of democracy. Whatever the outcome, the struggle will be long and deadly – and certainly no spring.

Andy said...

JP you were supportive of intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. But you appear more cynical about the Arab Spring...what's different?

JP said...

Don't really understand your question. Does supporting Western intervention in some vaguely* Middle Eastern countries (which have not necessarily turn out optimally) imply that you have to think that in the future, other different kinds of internal upheaval across some other Middle Eastern countries all have to turn out well?

* Afghanistan's not really Middle East

Andy said...

The arguments you made for spreading democracy to Iraq equally apply to Libya/Egypt/Syria. I wondered if your more wary position on the Arab Spring reflected a wider change of mind on Liberal Interventionism in general and the Iraq invasion in particular.

JP said...

I don't see anyone even *trying* to "spread democracy" to those three countries.

There's been a limited amount (certainly compared to Iraq/Afghanistan) of Western intervention (is it "liberal"? Hmm) in Libya, but for me the jury's out on whether the next guy in will be more or less of a colossal wanker than Gadaffi.

Andy said...

So you would support an Iraq style intervention in Libya/Syria et al?

JP said...

Doubt it.

Though maybe the UK should go it alone with our post-cuts military force of seven scarecrows.

JP said...

There's probably good work (political & financial support) that could have been done by the West in all those countries in terms of encouraging liberal elements within them, but I'm cautious as to whether replacing (with or without Western support) one lot of illiberal monsters with another lot is necessarily an improvement for the citizens of those countries, or the world.

My caution remains even if the new monsters were, by some miracle, to get elected to power.

Andy said...

I share that trepidation. But my impression was that you were less cautious before the Iraq invasion. Love your comment about the British 'Post cuts military force of seven scarecrows.'

Andy said...

Peter Hitchens blows a big raspberry at supporters of the Arab Spring (JP I think you'll agree with a lot of this):

"The moment has come to admit that I loathe the Arab Spring and almost everything about it.

It looks to me pretty much like a football crowd armed with AK-47s and bazookas, with the added ingredient of Islamic militancy. Why am I expected to like it?

For we are all supposed to approve of it. Every media outlet, every politician, every church pulpit, treats it as an unmixed Good Thing.

Not me. I look at these wild characters in baseball caps and tracksuit bottoms blasting ammunition into the sky (often killing or injuring innocents far away, but they don’t care) and I am mainly thankful that they are a long way off.

I suppose it is possible that this lot will miraculously create a law-governed democracy with freedom of speech and conscience. But I somehow shan’t be surprised if they don’t.

Just because existing regimes are bad, it does not follow that their replacements will be any better. The world has known this since the French Revolution of 1789, when bliss and joy turned to mass murder and dictatorship in a matter of months.

The test of any revolution comes not as the tyrant falls, but two or three years later, when the new rulers have shown us what they are really like. Power can be given (not often) or taken, and shared out in different ways. But it never ceases to exist.

Egypt’s upheaval has already begun to go bad. Libya’s has been plastered with danger signs from the start. The anti-Gaddafi rebels are an incompetent and fractious mess. They have already murdered one of their own leaders.

And – I think it very wrong that this aspect is played down so much – their victory would never have happened without Nato providing them with an air force, as it did for the equally suspect Kosovo Liberation Army in the early days of Blair.

We have given them the military gifts of cool self-discipline, long training and competence which we ought to reserve for ourselves and for protecting our own freedom and independence. If they don’t possess them, I don’t think they deserve to rule a country.

The official pretext, that we are ‘intervening to protect civilians’, is lying hogwash and should be laughed at every time it is used. In the past few days – according to reliable reports – Libya’s rebels have been guilty of indiscriminate shooting into civilian areas and the brutal and arbitrary arrests of suspected opponents.

It is false to claim, as some instantly will, that by saying this I am defending Colonel Gaddafi. I am not. He is indefensible.

The questions are these: Will what follows be better? Will the burned, bandaged bodies, the crammed morgues and the hospital wards full of stench, screams and groans have been worthwhile? Were we right to take sides?

Here are some problems for the cheerleaders of this event, most of them modern Left- liberals. The savage regimes that are now falling are the direct result of the destruction of the empires of Europe. America, which encouraged this, quietly hung on to its own large land empire. So did the USSR.

These campaigners for ‘colonial freedom’ argued – I recall them doing it – that it didn’t matter what sort of regimes arose when independence came. What mattered was that they would be free from us. That ‘freedom’ led directly to Colonel Gaddafi."
Article Here

Andy said...

Maybe the Daily Mash got it right:

"THE United Nations last night had its fingers crossed that the Libyan rebels it has just backed are not stark, raving lunatics.

He's probably very nice
After sanctioning military action against Colonel Gaddafi, British and US sources admitted they should probably have checked to make sure the anti-Gaddafi forces were in possession of at least a modicum of sanity.

A senior Foreign Office official said: "Everyone was speaking very quickly and we forgot to ask about their general mental health, what sort of things they believe in and whether they simply want to take over Libya so that they can fulfil their spiritual destiny of killing everyone in Europe with a sword.

"It'll be fine. I can see no reason why it should turn out to be like absolutely everything else."

A US state department source added: "It's fair to say that our general dicking about in Muslim countries hasn't always worked.

"We got rid of Saddam not realising that, as well as being a prick, he was also keeping the lid on a big basket full of fucknuts.

"And while Colonel Gaddafi is one of the great psychopaths of our time, he's still not as mad as Mullah Omar, who if you remember got his start in the insanity business through the US-backed mujahideen.

"Nevertheless I'm sure one of my colleagues has already mapped out a post invasion strategy for Libya that won't turn out to be a complete and utter piece of shit."

JP said...

Spot on!

Andy said...

Which Daily Mash or Peter Hitchens, or both?

JP said...

Libya: A Premature Victory Celebration
By George Friedman
August 30, 2011

Governments and media have decided that the war [in Libya] is over, despite the fact that fighting continues.



... From the beginning, there was an expectation that NATO intervention, first with a no-fly zone, then with direct airstrikes on Gadhafi’s position, would lead to a rapid collapse of his government and its replacement with a democratic coalition in the east.

Two forces combined to lead to this conclusion. The first consisted of human-rights groups outside governments and factions in foreign ministries and the State Department who felt an intervention was necessary to stop the pending slaughter in Benghazi. This faction had a serious problem. The most effective way to quickly end a brutal regime was military intervention. However, having condemned the American invasion of Iraq, which was designed, at least in part, to get rid of a brutal regime, this faction found it difficult to justify rapid military intervention on the ground in Libya. Moral arguments require a degree of consistency.

In Europe, the doctrine of “soft power” has become a central doctrine. In the case of Libya, finding a path to soft power was difficult. Sanctions and lectures would probably not stop Gadhafi, but military action ran counter to soft power. What emerged was a doctrine of soft military power. Instituting a no-fly zone was a way to engage in military action without actually hurting anyone, except those Libyan pilots who took off. It satisfied the need to distinguish Libya from Iraq by not invading and occupying Libya but still putting crushing pressure on Gadhafi.

Of course, a no-fly zone proved ineffective and irrelevant, and the French began bombing Gadhafi’s forces the same day. Libyans on the ground were dying, but not British, French or American soldiers. While the no-fly zone was officially announced, this segue to an air campaign sort of emerged over time without a clear decision point. For human-rights activists, this kept them from addressing the concern that airstrikes always cause unintended deaths because they are never as accurate as one might like. For the governments, it allowed them to be seen as embarking upon what I have called an “immaculate intervention.”



The question of the underlying reason for the war should be addressed because stories are circulating that oil companies are competing for vast sums of money in Libya. ...The problem is that going to war for oil in Libya was unnecessary. Gadhafi loved selling oil, and if the governments involved told him quietly that they were going to blow him up if he didn’t make different arrangements on who got the oil revenues and what royalties he got to keep, Gadhafi would have made those arrangements. He was as cynical as they come, and he understood the subtle idea that shifting oil partners and giving up a lot of revenue was better than being blown up.

Indeed, there is no theory out there that explains this war by way of oil, simply because it was not necessary to actually to go war to get whatever concessions were wanted. So the story — protecting people in Benghazi from slaughter — is the only rational explanation for what followed, however hard it is to believe.


JP said...

(Pt 2 of previous post)


... The belief of the human-rights community in an International Criminal Court (ICC) trying Gadhafi and the men around him gives them no room for retreat, and men without room for retreat fight hard and to the end. ...

Therefore, unless the U.N. Security Council publicly strikes a deal with Gadhafi, which would be opposed by the human-rights community and would become ugly, Gadhafi will not give up — and neither will his troops. ...

The war began with the public mission of protecting the people of Benghazi. This quickly morphed into a war to unseat Gadhafi. The problem was that between the ideological and the military aims, the forces dedicated to the war were insufficient to execute the mission. We do not know how many people were killed in the fighting in the past six months, but pursuing the war using soft military power in this way certainly prolonged the war and likely caused many deaths, both military and civilian.


A number of lessons emerge from all this. First, it is important to remember that Libya in itself may not be important to the world, but it matters to Libyans a great deal. Second, do not assume that tyrants lack support. Gadhafi didn’t govern Libya for 42 years without support. Third, do not assume that the amount of force you are prepared to provide is the amount of force needed. Fourth, eliminating the option of a negotiated end to the war by the means of international courts may be morally satisfying, but it causes wars to go on and casualties to mount. It is important to decide what is more important — to alleviate the suffering of people or to punish the guilty. Sometimes it is one or the other. Fifth, and most important, do not kid the world about wars being over. After George W. Bush flew onto an aircraft carrier that was emblazoned with a “mission accomplished” banner, the Iraq war became even more violent, and the damage to him was massive. Information operations may be useful in persuading opposing troops to surrender, but political credibility bleeds away when the war is declared over and the fighting goes on.

Gadhafi will likely fall in the end. NATO is more powerful then he is, and enough force will be brought to bear to bring him down. The question, of course, is whether there was another way to accomplish that with less cost and more yield. Leaving aside the war-for-oil theory, if the goal was to protect Benghazi and bring down Gadhafi, greater force or a negotiated exit with guarantees against trials in The Hague would likely have worked faster with less loss of life than the application of soft military power.

JP said...

Read the second half of the article (not excerpted here) to find yourself asking why there were no demos in Paris chanting at the French government "no war for oil".


Libya: The War for Radical Islam, and a Defeat for the United States
Hudson NY
by Guy Millière
September 12, 2011

This is the first time in history that Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood welcome what is supposed to be a « victory » for Western forces.

It is the presence of members of Islamic-terrorist movements among Libyan « rebels » --as well as the many atrocities committed by « rebel » forces against black Africans -- that the mainstream media are now largely ignoring.

Winning the war took five months – not exactly a demonstration of strength and may instead appear as a demonstration of weakness: if the U.S. military combined with the French and British armies needed five months to defeat a Third World dictator who had agreed to disarm, how can they possibly dissuade better equipped dictators?

Winning the peace looks like an impossible task, especially as nobody is in charge of this mission. The commander of the Tripoli Military Council, Adbelhakim Belhadj, is the former head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an al-Qaeda affiliate. The commander of the Benghazi Military Council, Ismail Al Salabi, is a former high level member of the same group.

Article 1 of the Draft Constitutional Charter for the Transitional Stage says : « Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia). »

Those who have guns in Libya today are people who have a jihadist past, and who, until recently, maintained close links with people against whom the U.S. military is now battling in Afghanistan.

Some members of the provisional government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), also belong to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. The President of the NTC, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, was Minister of Justice under Gaddafi until the war began. He was President of the Tripoli appeals court when the Bulgarian nurses were sentenced to death, and he twice upheld the death sentences. He was a zealous servant of the regime until the last minute. When he was dispatched by Gaddafi to negotiate with the « rebels » at the beginning of war, he defected.

At best, Libya will become a country where an appearance of democracy will cover the reality of an authoritarian Islamic regime.

At worst, the country will slide into a prolonged civil war, and become a rear base for radical Islam.


JP said...

Muslim Brotherhood Leader: "Every Israeli who enters Egypt - tourist or not - should be killed"
Translating Jihad
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Last month Dr. Salah Sultan, a member of Yusuf al-Qaradawi's International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, declared on al-Jazeera that the IUMS would restore the fatwa they issued in 1994, which stated that "every Zionist who enters Egypt - tourist or not - should be killed." Despite the importance of this fatwa for Egyptian-Israeli relations, this unfortunately received little attention in Western press.

JP said...

Deftly put by Pipes. He does actually go on to suggest what a consistent policy should look like.


Arab Spring, Muslim Winter
Daniel Pipes
December 2, 2011

Our policy towards these [Middle Eastern] upheavals has been inconsistent, to say the least. We applauded the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and we sat by quite complacently as the Saudis put down a rebellion in Bahrain. We used force against the despot in Libya; we have done nothing of the sort in Syria.

This inconsistency reflects more than the acknowledged amatureness, shortsightedness, and incompetence of the Obama Administration. It goes to something deeper. It goes to a conundrum that American foreign policy faces in the Middle East. As I put in an article recently, we are friendless in the Middle East. We have few allies.

And the conundrum is this: the despots, who we as Americans cannot warm to, whose regimes we would never want to live under, who impose military orders that are executed by ugly intelligence services — the despots are malleable, are without any world ambitions. They want to enjoy the good life. They want famous Hollywood actors and actresses to come celebrate their birthday parties with them. They want to keep pet tigers in their gardens. They want the finest things that Paris can offer.

They are not a threat to us. Usually — there are exceptions — but usually, they're not a threat to us. They repress millions of people to have the good life. Ugly to us, but not a threat to us.

Whereas in contrast, the democrats — the people we naturally have a feeling for — are, in fact, our very worst enemies. We just heard about Tunisia, Egypt — we will see likewise elsewhere. This has been the case since 1991 and the elections in Algeria. Wherever you look, it's the Islamists, the people who are most hostile to us, who represent a utopian ideological vision of the future, who are in line after the fascists and communists, trying to create a new man.

It is the Islamists who are popular, who have organized, who touch something that resonates in the Muslim populations, who have money, who have devoted cadres, who have years, if not decades, of experience, who are part of an international network, who have different means of accessing power — in some cases through NATO, in some cases through the ballot box — for example, in Turkey — some cases through revolution, as in Iran; some cases through military coup d'état, as in Sudan. There are many different ways to get to power. But democracy is one important way. And we find that they gain a plurality, if not a majority, in country after country. Because they are standing for something — integrity and a vision of the future.

So this is the conundrum. The people we can work with we despise. The people we admire are hostile to us. [This] makes it very difficult to have a policy.

JP said...

So the Brotherhood won 40% of the votes in the Egyptian election, as predicted by those with a clue (this excludes most mainstream Western media commentators). So there shouldn't be a surprise there.

But did you know that 25% of the vote was won by an Islamist party in comparison with which the MB are the moderates???

Read this article to learn about the wonderful Nour Party, and also get a very interesting clarification of the term "Salafist", and how it should not be confused with "Wahhabist".


The Nour Party - Egyptian Wahhabis Exploiting the 'Salafi' Mask
by Irfan Al-Alawi
December 19, 2011 at 4:30 am