The American Kafir

2012/06/27

The Evils of the Muslim Brotherhood: Evidence Keeps Mounting

Egypt’s longtime banned Muslim Brotherhood—the parent organization of nearly every subsequent Islamist movement, including al-Qaeda—has just won the nation’s presidency, in the name of its candidate, Muhammad Morsi. That apathy reigns in the international community, when once such news would have been deemed devastating, is due to the successful efforts of subversive Muslim apologists in the West who portray the Brotherhood as “moderate Islamists”—forgetting that such a formulation is oxymoronic, since to be “Islamist,” to be a supporter of draconian Sharia, is by definition to be immoderate. Obama administration officials naturally took it a step further, portraying the Brotherhood as “largely secular” and “pluralistic.”

Back in the real world, evidence that the Brotherhood is just another hostile Islamist group bent on achieving world domination through any means possible is overwhelming. Here are just three examples that recently surfaced, all missed by the Western media, and all exposing the Brotherhood as hostile to “infidels” (non-Muslims) in general, hostile to the Christians in their midst (the Copts) in particular, and on record calling on Muslims to lie and cheat during elections to empower Sharia:

Anti-Infidel:

At a major conference supporting Muhammad Morsi—standing on a platform with a big picture of Morsi smiling behind him and with any number of leading Brotherhood figures, including Khairat el-Shater, sitting alongside—a sheikh went on a harangue, quoting Koran 9:12, a favorite of all jihadis, and calling all those Egyptians who do not vote for Morsi—the other half of Egypt, the secularists and Copts who voted for Shafiq—”resisters of the Sharia of Allah,” and “infidel leaders” whom true Muslims must “fight” and subjugate.

The video of this sheikh was shown on the talk show of Egyptian commentator Hala Sarhan, who proceeded to exclaim “This is unbelievable! How is this talk related to the campaign of Morsi?!” A guest on her show correctly elaborated: “Note his [the sheikh’s] use of the word ‘fight’—’fight the infidel leaders’ [Koran 9:12]; this is open incitement to commit violence against anyone who disagrees with them…. how can such a radical sheikh speak such words, even as [Brotherhood leaders like] Khairat el-Shater just sits there?” Nor did the Brotherhood denounce or distance itself from this sheikh’s calls to jihad.

Anti-Christian:

It is precisely because of these sporadic outbursts of anti-infidel rhetoric that it is not farfetched to believe that Morsi himself, as some maintain, earlier boasted that he would “achieve the Islamic conquest (fath) of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizya.”

Speaking of Christians, specifically the minority Copts of Egypt, in an article titled “The Muslim Brotherhood Asks Why Christians Fear Them?!” secularist writer Khaled Montasser, examining the Brotherhood’s own official documents and fatwas, shows exactly why. According to Montasser, in the Brotherhood publication “The Call [da’wa],” issue #56 published in December 1980, prominent Brotherhood figure Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah al-Khatib decreed several anti-Christian measures, including the destruction of churches and the prevention of burying unclean Christian “infidels” anywhere near Muslim graves. Once again, this view was never retracted by the Brotherhood. As Montasser concludes, “After such fatwas, Dr. Morsi and his Brotherhood colleagues ask and wonder—”Why are the Copts afraid?!”

Lying, Stealing, and Cheating to Victory:

Read it all at Investigative Project On Terrorism

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum

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2012/04/12

Egyptian court clears way for Salafi presidential candidate in election race

Source Al Arabiya News

Egyptian court clears way for Salafi presidential candidate in election race

By AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCIES

An Egyptian court has ruled that the mother of a popular ultraconservative Islamist viewed as one of the strongest contenders for president is not a U.S. citizen, likely clearing the way for him to run in May elections.

Hazem Abu Ismail (For more read the article linked below the video) is a 50-year-old lawyer-turned-preacher with a large following of enthusiastic supporters, particularly from the country’s ultraconservative Salafi movement.

The country’s electoral commission last week said it received documents confirming that Ismail’s mother was an American citizen, effectively disqualifying him from the race.

“On Saturday, the high electoral committee received a letter from the Foreign Ministry informing it that Nawal Abdel-Aziz, mother of Hazem Abu Ismail, obtained American nationality on Oct. 25, 2006,” the commission chief Hatem Degato told Reuters.

Begato said on Thursday that the agency had received information according to which Abu Ismail’s mother had “used an American passport for travel to and from Egypt” before her death.

But the Cairo Administrative Court on Wednesday said authorities did not have sufficient documents to prove she was a U.S. citizen.

Under the country’s electoral law, all candidates for the presidency, their parents and their wives must have only Egyptian citizenship.

Abu Ismail advocates a strict interpretation of Islam similar to the one practiced in Saudi Arabia and has become a familiar sight in Cairo, with his posters adorning many cars and micro buses.

“Our only demand is to cancel the negative decision of the refusal of the interior ministry to give [Abu Ismail] a certificate that his mother doesn’t hold dual citizenship,” said Gaber Nassar, Abu Ismail’s lawyer early on Wednesday before the ruling was announced, according to Daily News Egypt.

The session was adjourned repeatedly during the day as supporters of the Salafi candidate filled the court room and also demonstrated outside the State Council. It was the second hearing; the first was on Tuesday.

On Friday, thousands of people rallied in central Cairo in support of his candidacy.

“The people want Hazem Abu Ismail! No to manipulation!” the demonstrators shouted after making their way through central Cairo to Tahrir Square, epicenter of last year’s revolt which toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

The protesters, including women in full Islamic veil, carried portraits of Abu Ismail and waved their fists, angrily condemning any attempt to disqualify their candidate.

Abu Ismail launched his candidacy on March 30 with a large motorcade that took him to electoral commission headquarters in Cairo.

He would compete with more moderate Islamist candidates such as senior Muslim Brotherhood figure Khairat el-Shater and former regime figures such as ex-foreign minister Amr Mussa.

Islamists have made big strides since Mubarak’s ouster, winning majorities in elections to both houses of parliament.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won the most seats in parliamentary elections earlier this year, but the Salafists captured nearly a quarter themselves.

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Related Article Egyptian Presidential Candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail – “U.S. Authorities Refused to Investigate 9/11, Which Was ‘Fabricated’ To Defame Islam”

2012/04/07

Over US mother, Islamist likely out of Egypt race

Source Seattle Times

Over US mother, Islamist likely out of Egypt race

Egypt’s election commission confirmed Thursday that the mother of a popular Islamist presidential hopeful was an American citizen, effectively disqualifying him from the race and likely boosting the chances of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate.

By MAGGIE MICHAEL

Associated Press

Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a likely candidate for the presidency, outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo

CAIRO —Egypt’s election commission confirmed Thursday that the mother of a popular Islamist presidential hopeful was an American citizen, effectively disqualifying him from the race and likely boosting the chances of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate.The ruling is likely to draw an uproar from supporters of Hazem Abu Ismail, a 50-year-old lawyer-turned-preacher who in recent months vaulted to become one of the strongest contenders for president, with widespread backing from ultra-conservative Muslims known as Salafis.

The announcement is particularly embarrassing for Abu Ismail, who used anti-U.S. rhetoric in his campaign speeches and rejected “dependency” on America. In recent weeks, he repeatedly denied reports that began circulating that his late mother held U.S. citizenship.

A law put in place after last year’s fall of President Hosni Mubarak stipulates that a candidate may not have any other citizenship than Egyptian – and that the candidate’s spouse and parents cannot have other citizenships as well.

The commission, however, did not outright disqualify Abu Ismail because it has not yet begun the process of vetting would-be candidates’ applications.

Abu Ismail is likely to fight for a way to stay in the race. Late Thursday, he urged his supporters to be patient because he was still fighting to prove that his mother’s documents didn’t amount to a full citizenship. He said the controversy was a mere plot to “slander” him.

“It has become clear to us that there is a big and elaborate plot, tightly prepared for a long time from many directions, internally and externally,” he said, without naming anyone.

Before the commission’s announcement, Abu Ismail’s campaign was vowing to hold a huge rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday against what they see as a conspiracy to keep him out of the race.

“The massive army of his supporters will rally because we will not be silent over forgery and games,” said his campaign chief Gamal Saber.

As Sunday is the cut-off date for hopefuls to apply to run, the field for the May 23-24 election is beginning to become clearer after weeks of uncertainty. Barring last minute surprises, it appears to be headed to a contest focused between the Brotherhood candidate Khairat el-Shater and largely former regime figures, the popular ex-foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Moussa and a former prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq.

Abu Ismail’s disqualification would remove el-Shater’s main competitor for the powerful Islamist vote. The Brotherhood, which is the country’s strongest political movement, announced last weekend that el-Shater – its deputy leader – would run. Since then, el-Shater has been heavily courting Salafis, a movement that is more hard-line than the fundamentalist Brotherhood.

Another significant Islamist candidate remains, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, a reformer who was thrown out of the Brotherhood last year and is trying to appeal both to religious and more secular-minded Egyptians.

Moussa’s chances were boosted Wednesday when former Mubarak-era strongman and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman announced he would not run. Though widely distrusted as a symbol of the old regime, he might have found support among the liberals and moderates that Moussa is courting and who fear the Islamists’ rising power.

On Thursday, the 61-year-old el-Shater waved at some 3,000 supporters chanting, “Islam is back,” as he entered the election commission headquarters to formally submit his papers to run. He handed in more than 250 endorsements from lawmakers from the Brotherhood party and the Salafi Al-Nour Party, needed to qualify to join the race.

To run for president, a candidate needs endorsements from lawmakers or a party. Otherwise, the candidate must gather some 30,000 endorsements from the public across different parts of Egypt.

Just a week ago, Abu Ismail flexed his muscles by submitting his documents amid a giant rally by his supporters, who stretched from his home to the commission headquarters. He handed in some 150,000 public endorsements, five times the required number.

His face – smiling, with a long, conservative beard – had become ubiquitous in Cairo and other cities because of a startlingly aggressive postering campaign that plastered walls and lampposts with his picture and the slogan, “We will live in dignity.”

Abu Ismail rose to fame through his religious sermons and TV programs promising to guide Muslims to the “right path to Islam.” He joined early on in the protests against Mubarak last year and after his fall struck a defiant tone against the military generals who took power.

When reports concerning his mother began circulating, Abu Ismail insisted she only had a Green Card to visit her daughter, who is married to an American, lives in the United States and has citizenship there.

But in a statement Thursday on the state news agency MENA, the election commission said it received documents from the Interior Ministry proving that Abu Ismail’s mother had a U.S. passport she used to travel a number of time to the U.S.. The mother also traveled to Germany and Egypt using the U.S. passport in 2008 and 2009, it said.

The commission starts reviewing would-be candidates’ papers after Sunday’s deadline.

Egypt: ‘Islamocracy’ under Military Rule

Source JCPA

Egypt: ‘Islamocracy’ under Military Rule

By Jacques Neriah

A year after the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt seems to be drifting into an unparalleled and unprecedented form of government and a unique political experiment in the Arab world: power and authority are being divided between Muslim fundamentalists led by the Muslim Brotherhood and their rivals in ideology, the Salafists. Both are partisans of an Islamocracy (meaning a combination of theocracy and democracy), with Field Marshall Mohammad Hussein Tantawi orchestrating the twenty or so members of the Army General Staff, acting as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), as the supreme rulers of Egypt. The only remaining question is: to what extent will each of the contenders avoid stepping onto his neighbor’s turf? In other words, will the Islamists, as the main hijackers of the democracy movement in Egypt, accept that the military will remain the source of power and authority in their Islamocracy?

Indeed, the transition process of handing power from the military to the “democratically” elected civilian bodies seems to be stuck and has become the focus of friction between the SCAF and the Islamists, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the great winners of the parliamentary elections organized in 2011-2012. The military is not in a hurry to subordinate itself to the civilian authorities, while the Islamists, although eager to capture power as the legitimate winners of the democratic process, behave as if they are afraid to provoke the military. They fear a confrontation that could lead to widespread bloodshed, similar to Algeria in 1990 when Islamists won the first free elections in the young nation’s history, triggering a civil war with 20,000 casualties before Abdelaziz Bouteflika returned to power with army support.

As a result, the two sides in Egypt periodically check the extent of their authority and assess the limits to which they can act independently without provoking a reaction by the other side. From this perspective, it seems obvious that the episodes of violent confrontation that have occurred in Egypt in the process of political transition are not due to a lack of experience but rather are the result of a strategy on the part of the SCAF. According to Stephan Roll from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, this strategy has three additional components: gauging public opinion, obscuring decision-making processes, and playing the various political parties and movements off against one another. This strategy became evident in the debate over the design of the new Egyptian Constitution. In March 2011 the SCAF announced that a new constitution would be drafted by a constituent assembly. However, in late 2011 when it became clear that the Islamists would dominate the process after winning the elections, secular-oriented politicians pressed for the adoption of “supra-constitutional principles” that would guarantee the establishment of a democratic state with civilian rule. The SCAF tried to use those demands to its own benefit by introducing a document outlining principles of a revised constitution that granted the military even greater authority than it had possessed under the previous constitution: complete control over the defense budget and veto power over all decisions affecting the military. Massive protests convinced the SCAF to withdraw the motion.

On the other hand, since the beginning of the January 25 revolution against Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood has avoided any direct confrontation with the SCAF. Members of the Brotherhood appear to repeatedly seek dialog with the SCAF. The Muslim Brotherhood strategy remains the same as it was under the previous regime: to change the system from within. The Muslim Brotherhood received 41 percent of the Egyptian vote, with 26 percent going to Muslim extremists known as Salafists, a jihadist movement that believes in “holy war” against the “crusaders,” i.e., Christians and Jews. In Arnaud de Borchgrave’s words, “what these two branches of Islam have in common is their idea of “free” elections – one-man, one-vote, one-time. After their expected victory, Egyptians can forget about another free election as far as anyone can peer into the future.”

Indeed, since the Brotherhood is focused on domestic policy, it should have no intrinsic problem accepting the fact that the military will decide on matters of national security and foreign policy, at least initially. This does not mean that motions in the National Assembly will not be raised and discussed and attempts will even be made to constantly undermine the authority of the SCAF. Recent months have provided sufficient proof that although the legislators in the National Assembly have debated and made decisions on crucial issues, the SCAF has either ignored these decisions or worse, adopted steps completely opposed to the decisions of the National Assembly.

Key Issues

a. The NGO Issue: The SCAF decided to release the American defendants in the court case involving pro-democracy NGOs (including the son of the U.S. Transport Secretary), who had been barred from leaving Egypt, after the State Department paid $300,000 bail for each of them. The judge appointed to deal with the case decided on the first day of hearings that the case would be adjourned for a few months. The SCAF is clearly indicating to American legislators that it is still to be considered a U.S. ally and that no limitations should be put on the $1.3 billion in U.S. aid that finances as much as 80 percent of Egyptian military procurement. This contrasts very clearly with the March 11 National Assembly vote to order an end to this aid, a reflection of tensions with the U.S. over the NGO activists charged with illegal activity.

b. Relations with Israel: Even though the atmosphere in Cairo today is not in favor of Israel (as it never really was in the past), the SCAF has given its approval for the continued presence of the Israeli ambassador in Cairo. The SCAF accepted Israel’s regrets for the killing of several Egyptian soldiers in the aftermath of a terrorist action on the road to Eilat in summer 2011. In March 2012, Egyptian intelligence head Murad Mowafi again brokered a cease-fire between Israel and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza. For the eleventh time, Egypt has repaired the gas pipeline with Israel and beefed up its troops in Sinai in its quest to “reconquer” this part of Egypt which had been left to al-Qaeda and Bedouin operatives.

c. The Challenge from Within: Following the departure of the American NGO defendants, Egypt’s parliament voted on March 10 to begin steps to withdraw confidence from the military-appointed government, a move that will pressure the SCAF to appoint a new cabinet led by the Muslim Brotherhood. A vote of no-confidence would take Egypt into new political waters and could set the stage for a confrontation if the SCAF refused to yield to the will of the National Assembly. It could also complicate negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over a $3.2 billion loan the government of Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri is seeking in order to stave off a looming financial crisis after more than a year of political and economic turmoil. The problem for the Egyptian government is that it could not afford to continue antagonizing Washington for too long. Egypt is rapidly running out of foreign exchange reserves. The financial shortfall was created both by the collapse in business and the tourist trade following the revolution, and also as the long-term consequence of an unsustainably high and growing level of public subsidies. The IMF loan is vital if the country is to prevent a severe financial crisis.

d. Domestic Repression: According to several sources, more than 12,000 civilians have been detained by military tribunals in the past year – more than in the Mubarak era that lasted over 30 years. One year after the president’s fall, not a single senior officer in any Egyptian security force has been convicted in the killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising. Only recently did an Egyptian court rule as illegal the so-called “virginity tests” endured by hundreds of women who were arrested at rallies, demonstrations or protests. This procedure, performed by male doctors, was used as customary practice by the military.

e. The Trial of Former President Hosni Mubarak: The trial of the former president was slow to start after the revolution. Since he left office, Mubarak has spent no time in prison, instead remaining under 24-hour medical watch at advanced medical facilities. His defense lawyers have been allowed to call hundreds of witnesses, a process that could delay his trial indefinitely. And while Mubarak is granted all of the protections of due process, civilians facing much lesser charges are being tried rapidly in military tribunals. Lawyers, victims, and revolutionary groups have questioned the intentions of the SCAF or government prosecutors to deliver true justice.

To sum up, it seems that the military has managed to outmaneuver other forces in the country (Islamists, revolutionary youth, liberals, business elites, and even foreign governments) by creating conditions on the ground whereby everybody discreetly feels the military should play a role in safeguarding the political process, despite calls for its complete marginalization from political life. It is no coincidence that the only actual democracy Egyptians have ever experienced in five millennia was between 1946, the end of the British mandate, and 1952 when Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser and his “Free Officers” seized power and overthrew the monarchy. Egypt’s military held power for the next 60 years (18 years under Nasser, 12 with Anwar Sadat, and 30 with Hosni Mubarak) and it does not seem likely that Field Marshall Tantawi would be the last of Egypt’s military rulers. Nevertheless, unlike the past, there might be a situation of co-existence between the military and the growing power of Islam in Egyptian society. On this front the military can do very little. The external expressions of Islamocracy are widespread today in Egypt. It would be a fair assessment to say that they are here to last. But in no way does this have to be antagonistic to the actual military rule that still prevails in Egypt.

In today’s reality, a power-sharing arrangement between the SCAF and the Islamists seems very likely. One possible compromise would be to delineate specific areas as domains under the authority of the president-elect, with the establishment of a National Defense Council, much as the SCAF is today, to support him in these policy areas. Such a body is already provided for in the old constitution (Article 182), but it has only an advisory role. The executive roles adopted by the SCAF are pure improvisations because of the political vacuum created by the resignation of Mubarak. Such an alternative could appease the military but would limit the powers of the president and the Islamist-led National Assembly. In other words, it would be the continuation of the situation that prevails today in Egypt. Such an arrangement between the parties would hold as long as the specter of civil war remained present or as long as the Islamists continue to accept the supremacy in power of the military. Any detected weakness in the behavior of the military would be interpreted as a sign to end the de-facto arrangement.

About Jacques Neriah

Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.

2012/04/06

Muslim Brotherhood seeks U.S. alliance as it ascends in Egypt

Source Washington Times

Muslim Brotherhood seeks U.S. alliance as it ascends in Egypt

Vows to honor treaty with Israel

By Ben Birnbaum

A lawmaker from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said Thursday that there would be “no referendum at all” on the country’s peace treaty with Israel, hours after the Islamist group’s presidential candidate made his unexpected bid official.

“We respect international obligations, period,” Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a lawmaker from the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), told The Washington Times.

Mr. Dardery was on a good-will tour of Washington this week with three other Muslim Brotherhood representatives. Long shunned by Washington, the group has sought to soften its image in the West as it prepares to assume greater power in post-revolution Egypt.

On Thursday, the White House downplayed the significance of a meeting between administration officials and the Brotherhood’s envoys.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the FJP representatives met with “midlevel” officials from the National Security Council and that it was a reflection of the new politics in Egypt and the “prominent role” the group now plays in Cairo.

“We have broadened our engagement to include new and emerging political parties and actors,” Mr. Carney said.

“Because of the fact that Egypt’s political landscape has changed, the actors have become more diverse and our engagement reflects that,” he said. “The point is that we will judge Egypt’s political actors by how they act, not by their religious affiliation.”

Presidential ambitions

The Muslim Brotherhood’s ascendancy to power in the aftermath of longtime President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster last year has raised concerns among secular Egyptians and Coptic Christians, as well as U.S. and Israeli officials, about how the fundamentalist group would rule Egypt’s 85 million people and conduct its foreign relations.

Asked whether a Brotherhood-led government would put the 1979 Camp David Accords to a referendum, as many of the group’s leaders have promised, Mr. Dardery said no.

“No referendum at all concerning international obligations,” he said. “All our international agreements are respected by the Freedom and Justice Party, including Camp David.”

Meanwhile, FJP presidential candidate Khairat al-Shater filed papers Thursday with Egypt’s High Presidential Elections Commission. Egyptians will vote in the presidential election’s first round May 23 and 24, with the top two vote-getters facing off in a June 16 runoff.

The Brotherhood had promised not to field a presidential candidate but changed course Saturday, citing threats to democracy from the military council that has ruled Egypt since Mr. Mubarak stepped down in February 2011.

In Washington, Mr. Dardery said the Brotherhood fielded a candidate “to make sure that [the] democracy road is protected by the people of Egypt,” arguing that the military council had refused to give the parliament sufficient authority.

Mr. Shater, a businessman with a reputation for cunning pragmatism, joins a crowded field that includes Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik and moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abdoul Futouh. Salafist preacher Hazem Abu Ismail was disqualified Thursday, increasing Mr. Shater’s chances for victory.

Doubts about democracy

A poll taken by Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper found that 58 percent prefer an Islamist candidate.

With Mr. Shater’s entry, some analysts now doubt that Mr. Moussa – once considered the overwhelming favorite – will make the runoff.

“Egypt is not moving toward a democracy,” said Eric Trager, an Egypt analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It is moving toward a competitive theocracy in which the Muslim Brotherhood is pitted against more fundamentalist Salafists.

“The question is only which interpretation of the Shariah will be legislated, not whether Egypt will be a theocratic state.”

The FJP and the hard-line Salafist Nour Party won two-thirds of the seats in recent parliamentary elections and now dominate the constituent assembly tasked with writing Egypt’s new constitution.

The prospect of unchecked Islamist control has frightened secular Egyptians as well as the country’s large Coptic Christian community, which has faced escalating violence over the past year.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said this week that U.S. officials “want to see Egypt move forward in a democratic transition, and what that means is you do not and cannot discriminate against religious minorities, women, political opponents.”

Egypt’s Islamist tide also has sparked concerns in Israel, which has maintained a cold but stable peace with its southern neighbor since 1979.

“The Muslim Brothers will not show mercy to us, they will not give way to us, but I hope they will keep the peace,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday. “It is important for us, but I think that it is also important for Egypt.”

Despite Mr. Dardery’s statements Thursday, many analysts remain skeptical about the Brotherhood’s true intentions.

Trouble in the Sinai

“Their discourse back at home about Israel being an enemy is consistent with where they have been all along, and I don’t think we should expect any change,” said Steven Cook, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of “The Struggle for Egypt.”

“I think their hope is that they can put [the peace treaty] to the side at least for the moment, but the fact that they called for this referendum, the fact that they’ve used this issue makes it hard to believe that they wouldn’t bow to any political pressure [on Israel].”

Israel has had tense relations with Egypt’s military council, which the Jewish state says has not done enough to prevent terrorists from operating in the Sinai Peninsula.

Early Thursday, Mr. Netanyahu warned that the Sinai is becoming a “terror zone” after a rocket fired from the territory struck the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat. No injuries were reported.

The prospect of a further deterioration in relations between the two countries would raise difficult questions for Washington, which has given Egypt roughly $2 billion in aid annually since 1979.

“If they no longer respect agreements reached under previous governments, then they’re not a country worthy of our support,” said Rep. Gary L. Ackerman of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East and South Asia subcommittee.

But Mr. Ackerman, echoing a now-common school of thought in Washington, told The Times that Mr. Shater’s candidacy might be a positive development given the alternative.

“If I was writing the morning line on who can beat the Salafists, it’s the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “And if I have to choose between horrible and not that great, I’ll take not that great.”

Susan Crabtree contributed to this report.

As a Side Note:

A 1991 document written by U.S. MB leader Mohammed Akram (a.k.a. Mohammed Adlouni)explains the goal of the Brotherhood in America, which he identifies as “settlement:”

The general strategic goal of the Brotherhood in America which was approved bythe Shura [Leadership] Council and the Organizational Conference for 1987 is“enablement of Islam in North America, meaning: establishing an effective and sta-ble Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood which adopts Muslims’causes domestically and globally, and which works to expand the observantMuslim base; aims at unifying and directing Muslims’ efforts; presents Islam as acivilization alternative; and supports the global Islamic state, wherever it is.” …Thepriority that is approved by the Shura Council for the work of the Brotherhood inits current and former session is “Settlement.”

The document goes on to explain that “settlement” is a form of jihad aimed at destroying Westerncivilization from within and allowing for the victory of Islam over other religions:The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist process” with all that the wordmeans. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sab-otaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so thatit is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have notprepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and workwherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is noescape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slack-ers and the Mujahidin be equal.

In another part of the document titled “The Process of Settlement,” the author explains that forthe Brotherhood’s goals to be accomplished, it is necessary to have a strong organizational base:In order for Islam and its Movement to become “a part of the homeland” in whichit lives, “stable” in its land, “rooted” in the spirits and minds of its people,“enabled” in the life of its society, [with] firmly established “organizations” onwhich the Islamic structure is built and with which the testimony of civilization isachieved, the Movement must plan and struggle to obtain “the keys” and the toolsof this process in carrying out this grand mission as a “Civilization-Jihadist”responsibility which lies on the shoulders of Muslims and—on top of them—theMuslim Brotherhood in this country….”

Read the entire PDF here Muslim Brotherhood of the United States

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2012/03/26

Egypt working to prevent Iran attacks on Israeli targets, sources say

Filed under: Egypt, Iran, Israel, MIddle East, National Security, Nuclear — - @ 5:33 pm

Source Harretz

Egypt working to prevent Iran attacks on Israeli targets, sources say

A high-ranking official in Jerusalem said last week that Iranian military experts have been active on Israel’s southern border, as well as in Sinai and the Gaza Strip.By Avi Issacharoff

Egyptian security forces thwarted an attempt by Iran to blow up an Israeli ship in the Suez Canal, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported on Saturday.

The attack was being planned by two Egyptians who were recently arrested and interrogated, the prosecution in Egypt’s state security court reportedly claimed.

An investigation allegedly revealed that the men, Suleiman Razek Abdul-Razek and Salameh Ahmed Salameh, had received their instructions from Iranian agents. They reportedly asked a third person, Mohammed Zakri, to carry out the attack in exchange for 50 million Egyptian pounds.

The two men denied any involvement.

Hezbollah terror cells in Egypt – including the Suez Canal – have been found to be planning terror attacks in the past. Israeli officials have recently warned that Iran is setting up terror infrastructure on Egyptian soil to prepare for an operation.

Sources said on Saturday that they have no information to support the Egyptian newspaper’s report. However, they attribute importance to the very fact that the claim was published. Although a few months ago Egypt allowed Iranian destroyers though the Gulf of Suez to the Mediterranean – the ships docked at a Syrian port – it prohibited Iranians from striking Israeli targets in its territory; Egypt also threatened to prosecute anyone who was found to be attacking Israeli targets in coordination with the Iranians, according to a report.

A high-ranking official in Jerusalem said last week that Iranian military experts have been active in Sinai and the Gaza Strip.

“We can see signs that Iran is building a terror infrastructure throughout Sinai,” he said. The official added that although Israel has responded to every Egyptian request to beef up its forces in Sinai, no significant Egyptian operation has taken place in Sinai since the Egyptian revolution last year.

Several terror groups are now at large in Sinai, the source claimed: local Bedouin, who are adopting the ideology of the Global Jihad; groups supported by Iran who are trying to recruit and train militants not only in Sinai but throughout Egypt; and Palestinian organizations. Joining them are Global Jihad militants from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the official said, adding that Israel and Egypt share a common interest in combating these terrorist elements. The official said the Iranians are urging and directing Palestinians to carry out attacks, and that they have tried to encourage Hamas to do so as well.

“It must be remembered that a host of Palestinian organizations are using Sinai to carry out attacks,” the official said, adding that since ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi’s fall, Libya has become a huge arms depot, where weapons are transferred to Egypt and then the Gaza Strip.

Iranian intelligence has been increasingly involved in events on Israel’s southern border, both in Gaza and Sinai. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week directly accused Iran for the escalation on the Gaza border two weeks ago.

2012/03/24

U.S. Aid Goes to Egypt Whether Legal or Not

Source  Stop RadicalIslam.org

U.S. Aid Goes to Egypt Whether Legal or Not

With or without the required Congressional approval, it appears that U.S. President Barak Obama will begin sending aid to the newly elected Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt.

Congress has withheld the annual $1.5 billion aid since the crisis with the American NGO workers began. In addition, a law passed by the U.S. Congress in December prohibits sending the aid unless the U.S. State Department can avow that Egypt is beginning to give basic freedoms and human rights to its citizens.

News outlets across America are reporting that Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are planning to circumvent that law on national security grounds. The sources cited in the reports are senior administration officials and others who have been privy to this information but who are not at liberty to speak publicly.

Administration sources explained that “national security grounds” means that withholding the aid will worsen America’s ties with Egyptians leaders, including the military, which still holds the power over the government.

Under the plan, as reported by The New York Times, Egypt would receive incremental amounts of the aid money, not in a lump sum as has always been the practice. The idea of the smaller sums would be so that the U.S. could maintain at least a modicum of pressure on Egypt.

Obama is also wary of creating mass unemployment among the many U.S. defense contractors that benefit from the Egyptian aid money during an election year. Human rights organizations have commented on the pressure exerted by the Pentagon to release the funds.

“That’s not a negligible factor. If contracts can’t be paid, production lines will shut down and jobs will be lost,” acknowledged one senior administration official. “But those aspects have to be balanced against other factors such as our ability to work with the new government, how much democratic progress has been made and where we still have concerns.”

At the same time, the U.S. would like to see who will win the Egyptian presidential elections, although with an Islamist majority recently elected to the Egyptian parliament, there is no reason to believe the presidential election will not go the same way.

2012/03/11

Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood: Unexpected Adversaries

Source Article Link: Stratfor

Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood: Unexpected Adversaries

ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images
A demonstrator steps on an ostrich egg with a drawing of Saudi King Abdullah on March 17 in Ankara

Summary

The political gains of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have breathed new life into long-suppressed political Islamist forces across the Arab world. While it may appear on the surface that Saudi Arabia is supportive of the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, its Sunni co-religionists, a quiet but growing dispute between Saudi Arabia and Turkey over the increasing regional clout of the Muslim Brotherhood reveals the Saudi royal family’s long-standing aversion to the world’s oldest and largest Islamist movement.

Analysis

In Egypt’s first parliamentary elections since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB’s) Freedom and Justice Party won just under half of the seats available. The party, and by extension the MB, are expected to take a leading role in the next Egyptian government.

At first glance, an Islamist movement taking power in one of the Arab world’s most significant countries would seem to be a development that Saudi Arabia — a country where Islam is central to the state’s cultural and political identity — would welcome enthusiastically. However, Riyadh is increasingly worried about the political movement’s growing popularity throughout the region, and the consequences that the rise of a republican form of Islamism may bring for the Saudi royal family’s absolute monarchy.

Competing Intellectual Roots

The ideological and political divide between the Saudi political establishment and the MB is rooted in each of their histories. The majority of Saudi Arabia’s citizenry adheres to Wahhabism, an ideology founded by Muhammad ibn Abdel-Wahhab, who sought to purify the creed and religious practices of Muslims in 18th-century Arabia. Wahhabism was based on ibn Abdel-Wahhab’s austere interpretation of the teachings of the Salaf (the companions of the Prophet Mohammed and the subsequent two generations). Wahhabis thus prefer the term Salafists to describe their following. In the Salafist view, any deviation from the prophet’s core religious principles represented a contamination of the religion and was rejected outright.

An alliance was forged in 1744 between ibn Abdel-Wahhab and the patriarch of the Saudi ruling family, Muhammad bin Saud, effectively dividing the religious and political domains of the Saudi state. With the al Saud family running the political affairs of the state, the descendants and associates of ibn Abdel-Wahhab were able to exert their authority through the religious establishment without needing to engage in political activity.

The Muslim Brotherhood, on the other hand, took a more adaptive approach toward Islam. Blending modern Western political thought with Islamic tradition, the movement that the MB founded saw Islamic ideology as a political remedy to the ills that had afflicted the Islamic world in the preceding several centuries. By 1928, when Hassan al-Banna founded the MB in Egypt, it had more than two generations of Islamic political thought in the late Ottoman period to draw on in making the case that a political ideology embedded in Islam constituted the necessary response to European secularism. This would help revive the Islamic world and effectively compete with the West. In contrast to the largely apolitical Salafists, the MB Islamists actively sought the creation of Islamic states throughout the Arab and Muslim world to counter the rise of secular Arab nationalism.

Threats to the Saudi Monarchy

When the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was firmly established in 1932, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was still in its nascent stages and thus did not pose a threat to the Saudi royal family. However, by the late 1940s the MB not only had emerged as a major social and political movement in Egypt, but it was also spreading as an organization across the Arab world. At this point, the Saudi royal family started to view the spread of the Muslim Brotherhood’s variant of Islamism with suspicion. After all, the Brotherhood’s call for a republican form of Islamic governance stood in stark contrast to the monarchical system from which the Saudi royals derived their power.

But before they could deal with MB-style Islamism, the Saudi royals had an even bigger threat to address. The founding of the Egyptian republic in 1952 under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser marked the advent of secular left-wing Arab nationalism in the region. With Soviet backing, Nasser made it his mission to export his ideology to the Arab world. Nasserism threatened to rip the carefully balanced foundation of the Saudi kingdom out from under the Saudi royals. At the same time, the secular-nationalist movement also impeded the rise of the political Islamists and drove many of the MB groups in the Arab world underground.

The spread of Nasserism thus led to a strange, temporary alliance between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi royal family. The Saudi royal family tried to use the Muslim Brotherhood to counter Nasserism across the Arab world, while many MB leaders fled to the Saudi kingdom for refuge. Among these leaders was Muhammad Qutb, the brother of MB figure Sayyid Qutb, who was one of the most influential Islamist thinkers of the 20th century and was executed in Egypt in 1966.

An exchange of ideas between the two camps was almost inevitable, as Salafists and MB Islamists joined in fighting Soviet-backed Nasserism throughout the Islamic world. Afghanistan was perhaps the most visible battleground, where volunteer fighters from both the Salafist and MB Islamist trends shared ideas, resulting in some degree of synthesis of thought. The MB ideology more or less retained its basic character during this time, but Salafism, which had been largely devoid of political philosophy, became heavily influenced by the ideas of prominent figures like Sayyid Qutb, thereby diluting the Salafist support network in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps the most notable example of this dynamic was the relationship between Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian religious scholar affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and the leader of the Arab fighters in 1980s Afghanistan. Through Azzam’s mentoring, bin Laden’s Salafist ideas underwent a radical transformation. It was not until Ayman al-Zawahiri began mentoring bin Laden in the early 1990s that bin Laden began to embrace jihadism.

The Spread of Islamism to the Kingdom

The Saudi monarchy witnessed its first major Islamist challenge in 1979, when the Iranian revolution led to the foundation of an Islamic republic. This was the first modern example of an Islamic state, the creation of which supported the Muslim Brotherhood’s premise that a state can be ruled under Islamic norms. Though the Saudi royals were concerned that the Iranian revolution would inspire similar transformations across the Islamic world, they could take comfort in the fact that the ethno-sectarian makeup of the mainly Persian Shiite state would limit its ability to export its Islamist model to the mostly Sunni Arab world. The 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, during which the region was largely split along ethno-sectarian lines, also helped Saudi Arabia contain the Islamist threat from Iran.

What the Saudi royals could not prevent was the spread of Islamist ideas in the kingdom itself. This became clear in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. After Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait in an attempt to change the regional balance of power, the Saudis relied heavily on the United States to ensure Saudi Arabia’s national security. The monarchy was harshly criticized by many in the Saudi religious establishment as well as civil society because the war had laid bare the inherent weakness of the kingdom. Calls for reform grew in intensity among a group of Sunni religious scholars who sought the rights to critique the government, widen the sphere of policy-making beyond the royal family and hold the Saudi rulers accountable for their policy decisions. This reformist trend was referred to as the Sahwah, or awakening.

The Saudi royals first attempted to appease these Salafist scholars as well as the non-religious voices of dissent by issuing the Basic Law, the country’s first attempt at and closest thing to a constitutional framework, in 1992. The move only emboldened the reformists, eventually leading in 1994 to a government crackdown on the dissenters, which led to the arrest of many prominent ulema, or religious scholars. The crackdown exacerbated rifts within the Salafist establishment. Those who remained loyal to the kingdom and remained strict adherents to traditional Salafist ideas were pitted against those who had taken a critical stance on the monarchy. The former accused the latter of being Islamist deviants and branded them Ikhwanis and Qutbis, negative references to the Muslim Brotherhood and Sayyid Qutb, respectively.

Though the Salafist splits endured in the early 1990s, the Saudi royal family contained the Sahwah trend at home and was relieved to see the MB kept under tight control by the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian regimes. However, another Islamist threat was developing under the leadership of bin Laden, whose move to engage in armed rebellion against corrupt regimes and their international patron, the United States, was heavily influenced by the ideas of Sayyid Qutb.

Bin Laden had already broken with the al Saud family over its decision to allow half a million U.S. troops to be stationed in the kingdom during the Gulf War. At the same time, a large number of celebrated Saudi veterans of the 1979-1989 insurgency in Afghanistan were returning home with ideas that fused together jihad, Islamic governance and an intense anger toward the al Saud family for allowing U.S. troops to use their country as a base from which to kill Muslims in Iraq. In the early 1990s, bin Laden still engaged in debates with the monarchy over its policies, but the monarchy cast aside bin Laden’s transnational jihadist views as another deviant, and thus illegitimate, extension of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist ideology.

Post-9/11 Complications

The 9/11 attacks put the Saudi royal family in the uncomfortable position of having to answer to the West for al Qaeda’s radical interpretation of Salafism. The United States, unlikely to see the nuances of Salafism as the Saudis did, saw the radical fringe of Salafism espoused by al Qaeda as the Saudi kingdom’s responsibility to contain.

By 2003, Saudi Arabia had become a major target of the jihadist movement and saw an urgent need to drastically reform Salafism in the kingdom to both keep the royal family standing and crush the jihadist threat. A major effort was initiated by the kingdom to reinforce its historical alliance with the ulema. The message was fairly simple: If al Qaeda’s rebellion succeeded on the Arabian Peninsula, the Saudi royals would not be able to hold the Western powers back from intervening, thereby creating an even bigger crisis of legitimacy for the royal family and the ulema that could break apart the foundation of the Saudi state.

The bulk of the ulema received the message. The same religious, tribal, security and commercial channels that al Qaeda relied on to build its network were turned on the group when religious leaders aligned with the royal family led a campaign to expose al Qaeda’s ideological deviance from traditional Salafist thought and rapidly undercut the legitimacy of the jihadist movement in the kingdom.

But the Saudis still faced a major legitimacy issue. The Saudi government’s efforts to reform Salafism were designed to exclude any notion of political reform that would threaten the monarchy. The jihadist movement had already made the case that political dialogue with the Saudi rulers to avoid rebellion was impossible when there were no political institutions in the kingdom to work through to begin with. At the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood used the rise of al Qaeda to distinguish itself as the legitimate Islamist mainstream while labeling the Salafists, al Qaeda and their affiliates as the radical fringe.

Where they were permitted to participate, Islamist political forces across the region began rising to power via elections. In 2002 alone, MB-style Islamist political forces in Turkey, Morocco and Pakistan made substantial gains in polls. In 2005 candidates from the still-banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, running as independents, won 25 percent of the parliamentary seats. That same year, the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood took the majority of seats won by Sunnis in the second post-Saddam Hussein parliamentary elections. Even a militant strand of MB ideology, Hamas, swept the polls in the Gaza Strip when it made its electoral debut in 2006.

In a more isolated case in Bahrain, where the Sunni monarchy rules over a mostly Shiite population, the Saudi and Bahraini royals resorted to supporting both Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood in the broader strategic interest of countering the main Shiite parliamentary bloc.

Saudi Arabia was thus caught between the jihadists of al Qaeda and the Islamist political movements that derived from the Brotherhood. Further complicating matters for the kingdom were the repeated calls by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush for Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other U.S.-backed Arab allies to move toward democratic reforms. From the Saudi point of view, a democratic opening would only help the MB by legitimizing their Islamist political ideology and undermining the monarchy. Saudi Arabia was able to manage this array of challenges in the 2000s, but the Arab unrest that defined the region in 2011 is once again threatening to unhinge Saudi Arabia’s containment strategy toward Islamism.

The Saudi Response to the ‘Arab Spring’

The spread of Arab unrest from North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula has compounded the number of threats facing the Saudi kingdom. At the most basic level, Saudi Arabia has been deeply disconcerted by the fall of long-standing autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. These were all leaders who emerged from the Nasserist tradition, but the very idea that these once-stalwart regimes have succumbed to domestic pressures has made the Saudi royal family nervous for itself and its fellow Arab monarchies. The last thing Saudi Arabia wanted to hear in the midst of the unrest was more democratic pronouncements from the United States that would embolden the Saudi reformist camp.

Yemen’s political crisis, which Saudi Arabia had no choice but to mediate, has reopened fissures in the state and provided jihadists from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula with an opportunity to try to revive their militant nodes in the Saudi kingdom and greater space for the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood, the al-Islah party.

Then there is the issue of Iran. The spread of Shiite unrest in the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, where it threatens the minority Sunni monarchy in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province, has reinforced a Saudi imperative to contain Iran’s regional rise. Once the unrest spread to Syria, a close ally of the Iranian regime, Saudi Arabia (along with Turkey, the United States, Qatar and other Arab states) recognized a historic opportunity to dislodge Iran from the Levant. The challenge Saudi Arabia faces is that its containment strategy against Iran in Syria runs counter to Saudi Arabia’s imperative to contain Islamism as a political ideology.

The Muslim Brotherhood has factored prominently into nearly every case of Arab unrest. The strength of the MB branches varies greatly from country to country, but even after decades of political repression, the MB and its affiliates have been able to maintain the largest and most organized civil society networks. When power vacuums are created in autocratic states, the MB networks are typically best positioned to convert public support for their social services into votes. This dynamic was most clearly illustrated in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing emerged as the single-largest party in the parliament. More liberal incarnations of the MB in Tunisia and Morocco also made significant political gains in 2011.

The unrest in Syria represents yet another complication for the Saudi regime. Saudi Arabia is certainly enticed by the prospect of undercutting Iran’s leverage in the Levant, but it also cannot ignore the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood as a powerful force in the opposition movement. The Sunni armed resistance operating under the label of the Free Syrian Army takes care to publicly distance itself from any Islamist ideology in the hopes of attracting Western support, but local anecdotes and the limited polling that has been done by journalists embedded among Sunni protesters has so far revealed strong support for the MB should the political struggle come to a vote.

Saudi Arabia is thus caught between a geopolitical imperative to contain Iran and a domestic strategic imperative to contain Islamism as a political force. This dilemma has put Saudi Arabia directly at odds with Turkey, the rising regional counterweight to Iran and Saudi Arabia’s co-collaborator in backing the Syrian Sunni opposition against the al Assad regime. Turkey’s own liberal Islamism, shaped by Sufi Islamic culture, Ottoman religious values and Kemalist secularism, is distinct from the MB’s conservative model of Arab Islamism and allows far more room for secularist practices, but the two strands share a basic ideological principle in using Islam as a path toward governance. Whereas Turkey is actively trying to mold the MB in Syria according to its own moderate Islamist vision, Saudi Arabia would like nothing more than to see the MB marginalized in the Syrian opposition.

Saudi Arabia has resorted to its old tactics of funneling support to Salafists to serve as a counter to the MB Islamists. In Egypt, for example, the Salafist bloc surprised much of the Egyptian populace and wider region when it came out with more than a quarter of the seats in both the upper and lower houses of parliament, coming second only to the Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia reportedly played an important role in providing funding and support to the Salafist bloc. In Syria, Saudi Arabia is also likely to channel its support to Salafist groups to compete with Turkey’s backing of the MB.

The strategy of supporting Salafists comes with risks, however. The Salafists were latecomers to politics, whereas the MB was born as a political movement, and the Salafists lack the broad appeal of the MB Islamists and their affiliates. The Salafists, in sticking to a more puritanical strain of thought, have not engaged in the same intellectual rigor that the Islamists have in evolving their political ideology. In the classical Salafist view, it is anathema to think of the law of man supplanting the law of God. Though the Salafists have proved capable of making notable political gains in Egypt and can at the very least undermine the MB’s ability to dominate the broader Islamist political scene, they alone cannot compete effectively with the MB ideology.

Moreover, there are a range of Salafists in the Levant who have embraced jihadism and have been utilized by various state intelligence agencies in the region to carry out attacks. These Salafist-jihadists may be a useful tool for Saudi Arabia to use to try to destabilize and ultimately topple the Syrian regime in order to counter Iran. However, given the evolution of Salafist-jihadists, especially over the past decade, it is unlikely that Saudi Arabia’s control over Salafists in the Levant is as tight as it would like it to be.

Divisions among foreign backers of the Syrian opposition constitute one of many impediments to the mission in Syria. The United States and other Western stakeholders are already unnerved by the idea of secularism giving way to Islamism in Syria. They are certainly not going to be supportive of a Saudi strategy that favors more radical Salafists over those who at least present themselves as moderates. Turkey is also much closer to the Syrian situation than Saudi Arabia, and Turkey is not going to pull back from its agenda to see the MB rise in Syria as a dominant political force.

The Risks of Accommodating MB-Style Islamists

Whether or not the Saudi royals are ready for the challenge, the MB Islamists are on the rise and have far more room to expand their political legitimacy than they did one year ago. In the past, Saudi Arabia could rely on its shared interests with Arab regimes, particularly in Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, to keep Islamists tightly contained. Now, even in cases where the regimes have remained intact, Arab leaders are having to make political concessions to Islamists for fear of creating a larger conflict at home and inviting more pressure from the West to undergo democratic reforms.

Saudi Arabia is still deliberating how exactly to manage this Islamist threat. Debates are likely under way within the royal family over whether Saudi Arabia has no other choice but to reach an accommodation with some of the more viable MB-like Islamist organizations. Such an accommodation would allow Saudi Arabia a means of influencing the political evolution of the states in question and would theoretically develop a unified Sunni bulwark against Iran.

But this problem is not just confined to the foreign policy sphere. If Saudi Arabia decided to work with the MB abroad, it would be only a matter of time before the royal family faced an emboldened reformist movement at home. The reformist trend, largely based in the Red Sea coastal region of Hejaz, is backed by such Saudi notables as business tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and has the potential to develop into a broader movement.

The Saudi royals are deeply divided over how to manage this issue when it emerges in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah and the al Faisal clan have been more open to the idea of limited Salafist democratization, but the king’s most likely successor, Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz of the Sudeiri clan, has taken a far more conservative approach toward reforms and wants to see the religious and political affairs of the state clearly delineated, in line with the kingdom’s founding principles. Complicating matters further, those currently debating this topic among the current Saudi leadership are all very old and, in some cases, approaching their deathbed. When the second generation of Saudi rulers takes over in the next decade, it is unlikely to agree on how to divide power, much less how to manage a growing Islamist threat to the monarchy.

The rise of political Islamists challenges the historical Saudi claim that their ulema-backed political system is the authentic model of governance, whereas parliamentary elections and Islam simply cannot coexist. Indeed, the political gains of the MB and its affiliates across the region have exposed the obsolescence of the Saudi model and have raised questions about the future moves of the nontraditional Salafists who carry political ambitions. To date, the dominant question confronting Saudi Arabia has been whether it can manage a division of power within the monarchy once the sons of the kingdom’s founder are gone. An equally critical question for the longer term is whether the Saudi royals will be able to manage what may be an inevitable transition to a legitimate constitutional monarchy.

2011/11/18

U.S. Officials Meet With Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Leader At Party Headquarters

Filed under: Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, National Security, Obama — - @ 9:23 am

Source Link: FamilySecurityMatters.Org

U.S. Officials Meet With Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Leader At Party Headquarters

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The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood website has reported that its Vice-Chairman Dr. Essam El-Erian met with two U.S. government representatives at the Party headquarters on Monday. According to the report:

Vice Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Dr. Essam El-Erian, received at the party headquarters on Monday, Jacob Wells (a representative from the US State Department’s Near East office), and  Peter Chi, (under-secretary for economic and political affairs at the  American Embassy in Cairo.)

El-Erian stated that the FJP recognizes the US role in the region and the world. He expressed his hopes that the US would begin to listen to the voice of the Arab people and respect their wishes in building strong Arab democratic systems. “The Arab people wish to establish democratic states inspired by the Arab and Islamic cultures advocating religious values, ​​and adding a new example to democratic systems in the world”, he stated.

He called on the US to respect the people’s choice in free and fair elections, and to cooperate with the new democratically elected Arab governments. El-Erian stressed: “Democracy means peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region. This is in the best interests of the whole world”.

For his part, Jacob Wells stated that the US administration was reviewing its former stances. The US respects the Arab people’s desire to build a democratic system, he said, and it is significant that the rights and freedoms of all including women and minorities be protected.

El-Erian explained that Egypt’s citizens live in equality. “We believe that no citizen should be treated differently or regarded a minority. History has proven that mutual respect, tolerance, coexistence and compassion between the people have always been present. Any tensions were a result of unordinary circumstances”, he said.

Ending the meeting, El-Erian emphasized that the U.S. administration should support the Palestinian rights, and respect the will of the Palestinian people to secure a free and independent State. “The US should do what’s morally correct and condemn the repeated attacks and arrests of the Palestinians, by the Israeli occupation forces,” he added.

An October post reported what was described as the first ever official meeting of U.S. officials with members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Meanwhile, Egyptian media reported on remarks made by Dr. El-Erian at a recent conference and translated here:
At a conference attended by some 5,000, Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, Dr. Essam el-Erian, Vice President of the “Freedom and Justice” party, the Brotherhood’s political wing, declared that “No one in Egypt—not a Copt, a liberal, a leftist, no one—dares say they are against Islam and the application of Sharia: all say they want the Islamic Sharia [applied]. And when referendum time comes, whoever says ‘we do not want Sharia’ will expose their hidden intentions.” He went on to threaten Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces with “massacres” if it interfered in politics and Islam’s role in the constitution and addressed the nation’s Coptic Christians as follows: “You will never find a strong fortress for your faith and rights except in Islam and Sharia,” adding, “Our Lord has commanded us to be just, and we have learned it from Islam. We do not wish to hurt anyone…”
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  4. Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Leader Says Israel Peace Treaty Up To Egyptian People
  5. Former Deputy Leader Of The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Resigns; Joins El-Fotouh Party

2011/11/04

Arab Spring or Islamist Surge?

Source Article Link: National Interest

Arab Spring or Islamist Surge?

By Benny Morris

Rioting in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011 unleashed a tidal wave of unrest across the Arab world that was soon designated the “Arab Spring.” Enthusiasts in the West hailed a new birth of freedom for a giant slice of humanity that has been living in despotic darkness for centuries. But historians in fifty or a hundred years may well point to the 1979 events in Teheran—the Islamist revolution that toppled the Shah—as the real trigger of this so-called “spring” (which is looking more and more like a deep, forbidding winter). And the Islamist Hamas victory in the Palestinian general elections of 2006 and that organization’s armed takeover of the Gaza Strip the following year probably signified further milestones on the same path.
For, if nothing else, the past weeks’ developments have driven home one message: That the main result of the “Arab Spring” will be—at least in the short and medium terms, and, I fear, in the long-term as well—an accelerated Islamization of the Arab world. In the Mashreq—the eastern Arab lands, including Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq—the jury may still be out (though recent events in Palestine and Jordan are not encouraging). But in the Maghreb—the western Arab lands, from Egypt to the Atlantic coast—the direction of development is crystal clear.

In Tunisia the Islamist al-Nahda (Ennahda) Party won a clear victory in the country’s first free elections, winning some 90 out of 217 seats in the special assembly which in the coming months is to chart the country’s political future. Speculation about whether the party is genuinely “moderate” Islamist—as its leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, insists—or fundamentally intent on imposing sharia religious law over Tunisia through a process of creeping Islamisation a la the Gaza Strip and Turkey is immaterial. The Islamists won, hands down and against all initial expectations—and in a country that was thought to be the most secular and “Western” in the Arab world. Freedom of thought and religious freedom are not exactly foundations of Islamist thinking, and whether Tunisian “democracy” will survive this election is anyone’s guess.

To the east, in the tribal wreckage that is Libya, the Islamist factions appear to be the major force emerging from the demise of the Qaddafi regime. In the coming weeks and months we are likely to see movement toward elections that will hammer down another Islamist victory.

And much the same appears to be emerging from the far more significant upheaval in Libya’s eastern neighbor, Egypt, with its 90 million inhabitants—the deomographic, cultural and political center of the Arab world and its weather vane. The recent crackdown, by a Muslim mob and then the ruling military, against Coptic Christian demonstrators (protesting the destruction of a church) was only, I fear, a taste of things to come. All opinion polls predict that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood—which has long sought the imposition of strict sharia law and Israel’s destruction—will emerge from next month’s parliamentary elections as the country’s strongest political party, perhaps even with an outright majority. An Islamist may well win the presidential elections that are scheduled to follow, if the army allows them to go forward.

And the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip has become, following Mubarak’s fall, a lawless, Islamist-dominated territory. Egyptian writ runs (barely) only in the northeastern (El Arish-Rafah) and southeastern (Sharm a-Sheikh) fringes. The peninsula’s interior is in the grip of Islamists and bedouin gunmen and smugglers and has become a major staging post for Iranian arms smuggling into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

For months now the Egyptian natural gas pipeline to Israel (and Jordan) has been cut, the military unable to prevent continued incidents of Islamist-beduin sabotage. The severance of the gas export—in effect, a continuing Egyptian violation of an international commercial agreement—has meant that Israel has had to dole out hundreds of millions of additional dollars for liquid fuel to run its electricity grid.

And last week witnessed a further, violent aftereffect of the “Arab Spring”—three Grad rockets (advanced Katyushas), launched from the Gaza Strip, landed 20-25 miles away in open fields outside the central Israeli cities of Ashdod and Rehovot. There were no casualties and air force jets hit what Israel called “terrorist” targets in the strip in retaliation (apparently also causing no casualties).

But the direction is clear. After the Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange, the region may be heading toward increased violence. If so, such violence would be part and parcel of the unfolding Islamisation of the region—both in terms of the anti-Zionist Islamist ethos and attendant concrete developments on the ground, one of which is the giant arms smuggling operations that have followed the downfall of Gaddafi. Thus, the “Arab Spring” has brought both Islamization and chaos (and the Islamization will only benefit from this transitional chaos). Ordinary smugglers have collaborated with Islamists to plunder Qaddafi’s armories, and the Middle East’s clandestine arms bazaars are awash with Grads and relatively sophisticated shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles. Israeli intelligence says that many of these weapons have recently made their way into the Gaza Strip via the Sinai Peninsula. One anti-aircraft missile was fired at an Israeli helicopter in a recent skirmish on the Sinai-Israel border.

All these developments suggest an accelerating trend in the Middle East that is far different rom what many Western idealists anticipated when they coined the term “Arab Spring.” It’s a trend that could severely alter Muslim-Western relations across the board.

Benny Morris is a professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His most recent book is One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict (Yale University Press, 2009).


Links:
[1] http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=250&username=nationalinterest
[2] http://nationalinterest.org/profile/benny-morris

How Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood will win

Source Article Link: Foreign Policy

How Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood will win

By Shadi Hamid

The performance of the Islamist party Ennahda in the October 23 Tunisian elections, in which it won 41.5 percent of the seats, has refocused attention on the upcoming Egyptian elections scheduled to begin on November 28. Some analysts have minimized the Muslim Brotherhood’s prospects for success by pointing to polls suggesting that the group — the largest and best organized in Egypt — hovers between 15 to 30 percent approval. It may be true that the Brotherhood isn’t as popular as we might think. But elections aren’t popularity contests. In fact, as the campaign unfolds, it appears likely that Egypt’s Islamists will do even better than expected, just like their Tunisian counterparts.

In the run-up to the Tunisian elections, Ennahda was polling around 20 percent. Yet they ended up with nearly double. In elections — particularly founding elections in which new parties need to introduce themselves to voters across the country — organization and strategy are what counts, not high approval ratings. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood excels on both counts. While most liberal and leftist parties are effectively starting from scratch, the Brotherhood already has a disciplined ground game, fine-tuned from three decades of contesting syndicate and national elections.

During last November’s parliamentary contest — arguably the most fraudulent Egypt had ever seen — I had the chance to witness the Brotherhood’s “get-out-the-vote” operation up close. One Brotherhood campaign worker, perhaps unaware it would sound somewhat implausible, told me that the organization has an internal vote turnout of nearly 100 percent. In other words, everyone who is an active Muslim Brotherhood member is expected to vote and actually does. Even if this is a stretch, it is true that the Brotherhood, in part because it is a religious movement rather than a political party, has the sort of organizational discipline of which competing parties can only dream.

This discipline is deeply rooted in the organization’s culture. Each Muslim Brotherhood member signs on to a rigorous educational curriculum and is part of something called an usra, or family, which meets weekly. If a Brother chooses to stay home on election day, other Brothers will know. But it’s not just a matter of peer expectations. At each polling station, there is a Brotherhood coordinator who essentially does a whip count. Because the number of voters at a particular polling station can be quite small — with the number of Brothers in the hundreds — this is feasible in many districts. The “whip” stays there the entire day, watching who comes and goes and tallies up the figures. If you were supposed to go and didn’t, the whip will know. Perhaps sensing my skepticism, one such whip assured me, “Well, you have to understand — I know every single Brother who lives in the area.

With an electoral system that is, in the words of one activist, “algorithmically complicated,” knowing your district takes on even more importance. As Daphne McCurdy pointed out in a recent POMED report on Tunisia, “Most polling in Tunisia has focused on nationwide levels of support, entirely overlooking variation within specific electoral districts.” Ennahda was the only party that had coverage throughout the country, with tailored strategies for each district, including rural areas. Here, the Brotherhood has yet another built-in advantage. With 88 deputies in the previous parliament (2005-2010), the group was able to provide a greater array of services on the local level and build stronger relations with constituents.

What about the Brotherhood’s competition? The Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), is joined by Ayman Nour’s liberal al-Ghad party, the Nasserist Karama party, and a smattering of smaller parties, forming the “Democratic Alliance” list. There are four other major lists, three of which have a liberal or leftist orientation (Egyptian Bloc, the Revolution Continues, and the Wafd list). With their considerable funding and patronage networks, the right-of-center Wafd party, headed by multi-millionaire Al-Sayyid Badawy, and remnants of the old ruling National Democratic Party, are also well positioned to secure a significant share of the vote.

For their part, the newly formed liberal parties have suffered from an inability to articulate a clear ideology or agenda — a major failing in a country where “liberalism” continues to have a negative connotation. Many liberal parties have sometimes appeared to stand for little more than not being Islamist, opting to stoke public fears of impending theocracy. Such a strategy is likely to backfire in a country where 67 percent of Egyptians say that laws should strictly follow the Quran’s teachings, while another 27 percent say that they should in some way follow the values and principles of Islam, according to an April Pew poll. In Tunisia, the Progressive Democratic Party, which positioned itself as the anti-Islamist choice, got pummeled in the polls, while the two liberal parties that maintained good relations with Ennahda — Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol — faired relatively well, finishing in second and third place respectively.

This leaves an obvious course for leftist and liberal parties, one that offers considerably more promise — a razor-sharp focus on Egypt’s mounting economic troubles. But this, too, is challenging, as most parties — leftist or not — use similar rhetoric on the economy: Poverty is bad; jobs are good; social justice is better, and so on. As Ayesha Sabayala of the Economist Intelligence Unit pointed out regarding Tunisia, “If you look at parties’ manifestos, with the exception of the far left parties, most have the same economic objectives: to reduce unemployment and increase infrastructure in interior.” The Muslim Brotherhood has smartly positioned itself as a voice for the poor, even though its economic platform (something designed more for foreign investors and the international community) is surprisingly free market-oriented. Recently, for example, the group launched “Millioniyyat al-Khayr” (the million-man act of goodwill), an initiative to provide 1.5 million kilos of meat to 5 million Egyptians for the Eid al-Adha holiday.

There is still the possibility that the Brotherhood may underperform — as they did in the recent Doctors’ Syndicate elections. But, be careful what you wish for. The alternative to moderate Islamists may very well be less moderate Islamists. Well before the Arab Spring, Brotherhood leaders often told me that their youth were increasingly being swayed by Salafi ideas. One Brotherhood official told me that Salafis outnumbered them five to one. Salafi groups have repeatedly sounded ambitious notes, with one leader claiming that they would win 30 percent of the seats. Ambitious as they are, Salafis are political novices, with virtually no experience running parliamentary campaigns. But they are proving quick learners and have managed to unify their ranks, bringing together four Salafi parties under the banner of the “Islamic alliance.” Moreover, liberal claims (or hopes) that Salafis are well outside of the mainstream may be wishful thinking. In a December 2010 poll, 82 percent of Egyptians said they favored stoning adulterers, while 77 percent supported cutting off the hands of thieves. The only movement besides the Brotherhood with a nationwide grassroots base, Salafis have taken to organizing traffic in congested areas of Alexandria, engage in door-to-door education campaigns, and provide health services to the poor.

These elections, then, are not necessarily about ideas. They are about voters. And, in this respect, Egypt’s elections are looking a lot like they do in the United States. The “good guys,” whoever they are, don’t always win. Indeed, if Islamist parties do as well they might — winning upwards of 50 percent of the vote — the alarmism and hand wringing from Western quarters will be considerable. The important metric for Egypt’s troubled transition, though, isn’t who wins, but rather, if Egyptians have the opportunity to choose their own representatives free of intimidation and interference. Democracy, as Western democracies have long known, is about the right to make the wrong choice.

Shadi Hamid is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. 

2011/11/03

PM Netanyahu’s Speech at Opening of the Knesset’s Winter Session

Source Article Link: Israel Prime Minister Office

PM Netanyahu’s Speech at Opening of the Knesset’s Winter Session

October 31, 2011

Photo By GPO

The Knesset is returning to its winter session at a time when the most dramatic events of our time are taking place in our region.

The Arab street has awoken; old regimes have toppled, others are swaying and new ones are rising.

No-one can guarantee how good or how stable these new regimes will be, nor their attitude towards Israel. Unfortunately, this attitude, which left much to be desired to begin with, is not expected to get any better in some, or most, of the new regimes, not in the foreseeable future.

These new regimes depend on the masses, the raging masses, of which many of the people have been systematically poisoned with anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist propaganda. This incitement began even before the State of Israel was established, and continues at full steam today.

If the results of the elections in Tunisia a few days ago are anything to go by, we will probably see the rise of other governments with a dominant Islamist component.

In most countries in the region, the Islamist movements are the strongest, most organized power, while the liberal forces, striving for freedom and progress, as we define the terms, are divided and weak.

If the positions of the religious extreme do not become more moderate, I doubt that any of the high hopes that blossomed in the Arab spring, will be realized.

It is possible that these hopes will only be fulfilled a generation from now, after this wave subsides, when progress will be given a chance to lead the Arab world along a new path.

If I had to summarize what will happen in our region, I would use two terms: instability and uncertainty.

The collapse of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, the bloody incidents in Syria, the American forces leaving Iraq, the new government in Tunisia, the upcoming elections in Egypt and many other events – these are all expressions of the immense changes occurring around us. These changes can increase the instability within these countries, and the instability between countries.

Regional powers who have control in the Middle East will try to ensure they have greater influence on the new regimes – influence that will not always support us or be of benefit to us, to say the least. One of these regional forces is Iran, which continues its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran would pose a dire threat on the Middle East and on the entire world. And of course, it poses a grave, direct threat on us too.

To cope with the instability and the uncertainty we are faced with, we need two things: strength and responsibility. Strength in all areas: security, economy, society, everywhere; and responsibility in navigating the stormy sea in which we are sailing. We must continue to strengthen Israel in all areas of security so that we can respond to the new challenges and threats we are facing.

Only a few days ago we were reminded that one of the challenges we face is dealing with the tens of thousands of rockets and missiles in the hands of our enemies, and aimed at our cities.

The Iron Dome batteries and other defense systems provide only a partial solution. They boost the protection of the citizens of the South, and I intend to deploy these systems in other places in the country. But a security philosophy cannot rely on defense alone. It must also include offensive capabilities, which is the very foundation of deterrence.

We operate and will continue to operate intensely and determinately against those who threaten the security of the State of Israel and its citizens.

Our policy is guided by two main principles: the first is “if someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first,” and the second is “if anyone harms us, his blood is on his own hands.”

For two thousand years our people could not realize these two basic principles of self defense. The Jewish people paid the ultimate price in the history of the world due to this inability.

This changed when the State of Israel was established, and the Israel Defense Forces was founded. The governments of Israel acted on these principles: they fought those who threatened us and attacked those who harmed us.

Since assuming the office of Prime Minister, I have instructed the IDF and security forces to act systematically and decisively against the terrorist leaders and those who carry out the attacks.

That is what we did with the terrorist group from the Sinai a couple of months ago. The person who initiated and organized the attack was eliminated several hours later. That is also how we acted this weekend. And I would express my appreciation once more to the IDF soldiers, to the armed forces and the intelligence units who work tirelessly, around the clock, morning-evening-night, to protect our country and all of us.

We will continue to act strongly to defend ourselves, and we will continue to conduct ourselves responsibly in the complex reality of our region. Some of the Members of Knesset may not have noticed that we live in a complex reality.

We witnessed this complexity two months ago, when an enraged mob attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo. The mob didn’t care whether we have a treaty or not. Its intentions were clear and its message was obvious. Those were intense and complex moments. I thank Defense Minister, Barak and Foreign Minister, Lieberman. We worked together with the US Administration and the Egyptian Government and we brought the incident to its conclusion, bringing those who were trapped in the embassy, ​​and their families, home.

Reality, which is changing before our very eyes, presents many obstacles that we are faced with from time to time. It also provides us with opportunities that we do not necessarily see. In this changing world, Israel is rapidly becoming a leading force in the cyber field, known as the war of computers.

Thanks to our special abilities in this area, large, important countries want to cooperate with us. This opens up opportunities for establishing new partnerships that were not available to us in the past and I anticipate that it will become a major factor on the international level. In order to strengthen our standing in the cyber arena, I recently established the National Cyber ​​Directorate. That is the future, and we are already there.

Fostering the strength and responsibility required to fortify Israel’s security is also paramount in our quest for peace. In the Middle East, peace is made with the strong, not with the weak. The stronger Israel is, the closer peace will be.

The people in Israel are united in their desire for peace. Yet we seek real peace; peace that is anchored in the right of the Jewish people to a nation-state in its homeland; peace that is based on security.

We are willing to compromise, but not to discard our security. Even before the earthquake shook our region, I stood firm on Israel’s security interests, and today more than ever.

I assure you that in the negotiations for peace, we will continue to insist on our national interests, first and foremost, security.

Last weekend it was said that I am a tough bargainer. I know that was said as criticism, but I take it as a compliment.

Well, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, President Abbas, I am not tough when it comes to peace. I am tough about the security of the State of Israel and its citizens, and I will continue to be so – that is my utmost duty, my very basic responsibility as the Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

I am willing to make real peace with our neighbors, but I am not willing to risk our security and future. Any peace deal must be accompanied by firm security agreements on the ground; otherwise it just will not last.

For the negotiations to end, they first need to be started. I have called upon the Palestinian leadership time and time again to enter direct negotiations without delay. I appealed to them to do so in my Bar Ilan Speech, I asked them to do it in my speech at the Knesset, I urged them to do it in my speech at the American Congress and I recently proposed it to them at the United Nations , and dozens of other times in between.

I also accepted the Quartet’s proposal for direct negotiations with the Palestinians with no preconditions. Regrettably, the Palestinians continue to refuse to engage in direct negotiations with us. Instead of sitting at the negotiation table, they decided to join the Hamas and take unilateral steps at the United Nations.

We will not idly sit by while these steps harm Israel and severely violate the most basic obligation that the two parties took upon themselves in the peace process – to resolve the conflict between us only through direct negotiations.

Unfortunately, while we support the foundation of a Palestinian state as part of a peace agreement, the Palestinians are trying to reach a Palestinian state without a peace agreement. That is the essence of our reality and anyone with eyes to see and a sense of decency knows it.

And I will not agree to that.

No responsible leader would.

Our friend, the United States, stands firmly at our side and opposes the Palestinian unilateral steps at the United Nations, and we are very grateful for that.

I know that there are those who have doubted the Israeli-American relations. But the alliance between us is deeply rooted and solid. The cooperation between the United States and Israel encompasses many important areas.

The alliance is based on the strong support of the American people for Israel, on shared values ​​and common goals. This support has become even stronger in the last few years.

Like us, the United States attaches great importance to the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

These treaties are an anchor of stability in the region and are clearly an Israeli interest.

Over the last year we also enhanced our ties with other countries in the region from Greece to Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria.

And regarding Turkey, we see that even when we disagree, we help each other out in times of need due to natural disasters.

That is what Turkey did during the Carmel forest fire and it is what we did after the earthquake in Turkey last week.

I hope that we find the way to improve the relations between the two countries in the future.

Strength and responsibility, they are the driving force behind our actions in the political and security arena, and they are our compass.

The same means are needed for successfully dealing with the great challenges in the economic and social area.

Over the last few years, the world economy has been in a crisis which is not over yet. The sea is stormy there too.

Major Western countries that did not act responsibly, that did not heed the danger, were occupied with chatter and did not do what was required of them – those countries now find themselves on the verge of bankruptcy. Not only have their credit ratings gone down, but many, many people are unemployed.

So far this economic storm has skipped over Israel. There is no doubt that the responsible way in which Israel has conducted itself over the last decade contributed to that fact.

There is one golden rule that every citizen knows from his own home economy: over time, if you spend more money than you make, you will eventually go bankrupt. The overdraft grows and you collapse. This is true for a family and it is true for a country. There are countries around the world that forgot the rule, and are now paying dearly. Israel acted differently, responsibly.

Israel acted differently, responsibly. That is how I acted as Finance Minister, it is how the finance ministers after me acted, and it is how we act today. But you cannot generate the growth that is vital for creating jobs, growth that is vital for resources, for education, health, you cannot generate growth only by responsibly sticking to the budget. In order to make the market grow one must encourage competition. Not cartels, not monopolies, but fair, supervised competition that benefits the consumer. Competition is not the enemy of the consumer. On the contrary – it is the consumer’s greatest friend. It reduces prices, improves service, reduces gaps, and raises the standard of living. Lack of competition in Israel is one of the most severe causes for the increase in the cost of living, and that is why a year ago, Mr. Speaker, not now, not two or three months ago, I established the Committee on Increasing Competitiveness in the Economy. That is why we are advancing the section of the Trajtenberg Committee’s recommendations on increasing competition in the market, and for good reason.

Yesterday, at the Cabinet Meeting held in Tzfat, we approved the recommendations of the committee dealing with taxation; we cancelled the planned increase on excise tax, a step that benefits every Israeli citizen; we reduced the purchase tax and duty on commodities; we gave extra tax credit points to fathers of children up to the age of three, which will be very helpful for young couples. But these are only the first steps.

I am pleased that all the Members of Knesset want to help, and you will all have the opportunity to do so, as I plan to introduce several bills to the Knesset during this session that will help the citizens – guaranteed. Education for preschoolers will cost less, the burden of taxes will not be so heavy and housing will be more available. I am aware of the real difficulties which you speak about, Mr. Speaker, and I am committed to solving them, including resolutions that we will pass during this session, and I hope the opposition will help too.

Members of Knesset, I promised that I would give you an answer. We are committed to acting with the utmost social sensitivity to change priorities, but I do not accept the claim that the free-market system has collapsed, that we must return to a centralized economy run by clerks, an economy in which the government must be involved in everything and control everything, an economy in which the citizens will have to run around government buildings and beg before the bureaucratic powers. We have been there and we are not going back. That is how to kill an economy, how to destroy it.

MK Gilon is concerned about social needs. But you cannot take care of these things if you do not create the resources, and the resources are not generated by the government, but by the free, open economy. So we must balance the needs of economic growth with social needs, and that is precisely what we are doing and are going to do. […] And invest in the periphery of Israel.

Yesterday, we inaugurated, with you, Mr. President, a new medical school in Tzfat. This is great news for the Galilee. After a decade of promises, we will soon start moving military bases to the south, which is great tidings for the south. We are a government that not only promises but does, a government that not only talks about things but realizes them. We are building highways, interchanges, overpasses, trains, and we are finally easing Israel out of the Hadera-Gedera traffic jam.

Yesterday, at Tzfat, I gave an account of my grandfather and father going there 91 years ago. They went from Yaffo or Neve Tzedek, that what Tel Aviv was at the time. They took the Emek (Valley) railroad. They arrived in Tzemach and sailed in a stormy sea to Tiberius. And from there they continued up. Before leaving for Tzfat I asked my father, and he said “a hard, harsh journey.” That is how he described it. Through Rosh Pina, having to change the horses with carriage. This trip, this journey took three days, 91 years ago. A few years ago it would take three hours. I asked the Mayor of Hatzor HaGlilit, Swissa, how long it takes him now. He said one hour and 40 minutes. I told him it’s going to be faster. Not only because of the interchange at HaMovil Junction which has opened up the Galilee, but soon there will be interchanges at Golani Junction and Amiad Junction, and in our vision, among others, there will be one multilane highway, with no traffic lights, all the way from Metula to Eilat. It is not impossible, but it hasn’t been done. We are doing it. We are bringing the periphery of Israel closer.

Our goal is to strengthen the periphery and bring it closer to the center, but ultimately, when the drive to most areas in the country will be so short, we will be able to cancel the term ‘periphery.’ There is no reason in our country … I want to tell you, our country is huge, in spirit, in actions, our nation is skillful, but our country is tiny, and there is no reason why there are places that are cut off, disconnected, distant in such a small country. Therefore, in addition to the roads and the trains and the interchanges and the overpasses – and the entire country can see the great things we are doing at huge investment, whether they want to admit it or not – we are diligently developing the two largest areas of the country, the Galilee and the Negev. That way we will get people out of Gush Dan, we will better their lives and improve the lifestyle of the residents of the Galilee and the Negev, Jews and non-Jews alike. That is a very important social step.

But the biggest social revolution we are creating is in education. After many years of decline – and it was measured; it has been tested in IDF reading tests, standardized tests, international tests – for the first time since the reforms were implemented, and new changes are being introduced now, we can already see a change in direction, we can see an improvement in the test results of Israeli children.

And after a decade we began salvaging higher education. Two years ago, Nobel Prize laureate Ada Yonath, said that she was afraid that without investing in education and in higher education, we would not have any more Nobel Prize winners. And I took what she said seriously, and Professor Trajtenberg who we all now know, is committed to helping create a revolution in higher education.

We have invested, we have started to invest over NIS 7 billion in a multi-year plan, and I was so happy to hear from our new Nobel Prize laureate Professor Dan Shechtman, that he can see the changes that our government is leading. And he is right, because we launched the program to save higher education. I want to promise you, we will continue to invest and we will see many more Israeli Nobel Prize laureates.

Members of Knesset, I have spoken, and I must admit not always successfully, about strength and responsibility.

I also want to talk about something that links the two: unity. Two weeks ago we brought our soldier Gilad Shalit home after being held captive by Hamas for over five years. Like everybody else, I was extremely moved when I saw Gilad step off the helicopter. For a few days the entire country was united, unified, excited about one soldier whom we had brought home. Last week, in coordination with Egypt and with the help of the American government, we released Ilan Grapel, who made aliya alone, volunteered to serve in the paratrooper unit and was injured during the Second Lebanon War. We will continue to work for the release of Uda Tarabin who has been imprisoned in Egypt for 11 years. And I want to tell you and the entire people of Israel, I never, not for a moment, forget Jonathan Pollard, who has been in jail in the United States for 26 years. We will continue to do everything we can to bring him to Israel and we will not cease to try to obtain information about the fate of our missing soldiers.

The unity that brings us to work together for one soldier is a testament to the ability of our people to come together in times of trouble. It is an expression of our strength, our responsibility, our mutual accountability. I believe in the power of this unity in times of trouble in the Knesset too. I believe that in spite of all the disagreements, at the moment of truth we will rise above them and work together for the important and common goals. These are the things that guide us: strength, responsibility and unity. We have one country, together we can protect it.

Thank you.

Another flotilla heads to Gaza

Source Article Link: YNet

Another flotilla heads to Gaza

Two ships carrying 27 activists from around world depart from Turkey en route to Gaza; slated to reach Strip on Friday

By Yitzhak Benhori

'Tahrir' ship before setting sail

New flotilla: Activists in New York announced Wednesday that two ships carrying 27 activists from five states, including the US, are currently sailing through international waters in the Mediterranean Sea en route to Gaza. The vessels departed from Turkey.

“The Canadian ship Tahrir and Irish ship Saoirse have successfully reached international waters, initiating ‘Freedom Wave to Gaza’. The boats have embarked from Turkey and are on the Mediterranean Sea,” the organisers from Ustogaza group said in an e-mailed statement.

The activists said they did not announce the step in advance in order to prevent US and Israeli pressure on countries where their ships docked. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) called for an end to the blockade on Gaza and said it supported flotilla efforts to end the isolation of Palestinians in the Strip.

The organization, which provides legal aid to terror suspects held in Guantanamo, criticized US Congress for supporting the blockade.

One of the organizers, Jane Hirschmann, pledged to send more ships to show solidarity with Gaza’s population which she said was being imprisoned. “We shall not keep silent,” she said.

Ben, a left-wing activist in the West Bank told Ynet that on board the ships are citizens from the US, Canada, Ireland, Austria, Denmark and the Palestinian Authority. He noted that the ships originally departed from Ireland and Canada.

“The reason we didn’t publically announce the flotilla before reaching international waters was to prevent delays or sabotage which plagued past flotillas,” he said.

Ben added that the ships are slated to reach Gaza shores on Friday and that the activists do not intend to confront IDF soldiers. “There are no weapons on board and we pledged not to use any form of violence but passive resistance,” he noted. According to Ben, the ships carry humanitarian aid worth $30,000.

IDF to stop flotilla

The government has instructed the IDF to stop any vessel trying to break the siege. The IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit said that Israel intends to offer the activists to transfer the humanitarian aid to Gaza via the Ashdod Port or Egypt. The Navy will not allow the ships to reach Gaza and is preparing to stop it.

The army’s information suggests that among the activists on board the vessels are journalists and an Arab-Israeli citizen. The flotilla was organized by Irish and Canadian pro-Palestinian groups and not the IHH, the army estimates.

IDF officials also believe that the ships carry little medical equipment as the flotilla’s purpose is to create provocation and not necessarily help the Palestinians.

Flooding web with updates

Meanwhile, the activists on board the ships are flooding the web with updates on their mission. Various websites have started following the vessels and are reporting on their whereabouts in the Mediterranean. They were last spotted east of Rhodes.

On activist wrote on his Twitter page that authorities have reduced the number of passengers on board each ship to 12. A journalist participating in the flotilla reported that the Turkish coast guard did not approach the ships.

Prior to setting sail the activists were documented in a video uploaded to the internet. Michael Coleman said he was “the Australian representative on the freedom flotilla. And yeah, there is a sense that this could possibly be déjà vu. I went home from the last flotilla feeling quite frustrated.”

The Alarab website posted a message from Majed Kiyal, a Haifa resident who is also participating in the flotilla.

MK Hanin Zoabi, who participated in 2010’s Gaza flotilla said: “This flotilla is proof that even the Palmer Report could not render an inhumane siege legal.” Zoabi expressed support of the activists and warned against a violent reaction by the IDF.

Elior Levy, Reuters, Hassan Shaalan, Roi Kais and Moran Azulay contributed to this report

Egypt’s Massacre of Christians

Egypt’s Massacre of Christians

by Raymond Ibrahim
Western media coverage of the recent massacre of Coptic Christians in Cairo, Egypt—in which the military killed dozens of Christians and injured some 300—was, as discussed earlier, deplorable. It merely repeated the false propaganda of the complicit state-run media, without checking facts. Since then, further proofs of the lies and brutality surrounding the massacre have emerged; they are compiled in the following report which consists of facts and videos from Arabic sources—many of which have not appeared in the Western media.

This report documents: 1) the activities of the Supreme Military Council of Egypt and de facto ruler; 2) the lies and duplicitous tactics of both the Military Council and its media mouthpiece, Egyptian TV; and 3) the anti-Christian sentiment pervading all aspects of this incident.

The Egyptian Military

Along with a new report by Magdi Khalil asserting that the day before the planned march, a “death squad” of snipers hid atop buildings and shot at protesters, armored vehicles intentionally chased after and ran over protesters, killing and mutilating many:

  • Here is perhaps the clearest video; it shows a high-speed armored vehicle willfully plowing over unsuspecting Christian demonstrators.
  • This video shows another armored vehicle chasing protesters, and a soldier opening fire    into the fleeing crowds.
  • This video shows high-speed armored cars running amok in the middle of the crowds, including chasing protesters on the curb, as well as soldiers beating protesters.
  • As for eyewitness testimonies attesting to the brutality of the massacre, they are many, and include Muslims.

The Tactics of the Military Council ( or “War is Deceit”)

After the incident and notwithstanding crushing evidence, Egypt’s Military Council held a news conference wherein senior official, Mahmoud Hegazy, spun lie after lie:  he stated that the military would “never, never run over civilians; that the very idea was “impossible, impossible!” and “Shame on those who accuse the Egyptian military of such things!… Never has our military run over a single person, not even when combating the Enemy [Israel].”

Hegazy portrayed the Christian protesters as the aggressors, attacking and killing “honorable” soldiers.  To prove his point, he showed an image of a protester on top of a stalled armored vehicle, throwing a rock at the soldier inside, and a video of a military vehicle—that he claimed was  hijacked by a protester—driving wildly into the crowd.

Hegazy’s deceit lies in the fact that the “hijacked” vehicle running amok, and the one stalled and attacked by a protester, were one and the same vehicle: Al Dalil revealed that both vehicles had the same identification number.  In other words, when the vehicle in which a soldier was chasing and running over protesters finally stalled, the protesters then attacked it.  Egypt’s leaders willfully manipulated the footage to exonerate themselves and portray the Copts as violent aggressors.

Egyptian military mows down Christians with armored-vehicles:

Several eye-witnesses, including Muslims, further stated that, to hide the “evidence,” they saw soldiers hurling the mutilated bodies of those run over into the nearby Nile River.  Likewise, among the slain, a dead Muslim soldier, whom the military said was killed by protesters, was actually killed by friendly-fire—although there are indications that he may have died elsewhere, and his corpse thrown among the dead for show.

As Copts have long suspected, the “thugs” (al-baltagiyya) who always appear in protests attacking Christians seem to be men whom the military uses to create an excuse to open fire and exercise brutality. Muslim eyewitnesses say they saw the thugs coming with State Security: Al Dalil showed a video clip of a soldier exposed dressed as a civilian, interspersed among Coptic protesters, and other videos showing the thugs cooperating with the military.

This video might offer the greatest proof: Days before the massacre, when Copts were protesting the destruction of their latest church, around 20 Egyptian soldiers and security personnel captured a protester and mercilessly beat him (while calling him an “infidel,” to put the beating in context).  Mixed among the military (camouflage uniforms) and security (black uniforms) is what appears to be a plainclothes civilian, who proceeds to stab the Christian protestor in the head with a knife several times; the victim later received 20 stitches. The plainclothesman is most likely a member of the military or security, dressed as a civilian for stealth purposes, otherwise he would not have been able to move among them so casually.

The Role of the Egyptian State Media (or “War is Deceit”)

Read the rest of the article at FrontPageMag.com

2011/10/31

Tunisia Tests Arab Democratic Gains

Source Article Link: Folksmagazine

Tunisia Tests Arab Democratic Gains

by Stephen Schwartz

The Tunisian Republic, where the “Arab Spring” began at the end of last year, has now passed the first test of democracy in the region undergoing upheaval since then. On Sunday, October 23, the country held free elections for its new constituent assembly.

But there was an ambiguous aspect to the success of the balloting process. A plurality of 41 percent was received by Ennahda (Renaissance), the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), delivering 90 of 217 assembly seats to the Islamist party. Ennahda has proposed its secretary general, Hamadi Jebali, as the country’s new prime minister, and has commenced negotiations for a coalition with the secularist Congress for the Republic (CPR) and the leftist Ettakatol party, according to BBC News.

Ennahda and its top leader, Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi, have presented a version of MB ideology mentored by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish initials as the AKP). Among other links with the AKP environment, several books by Ghannouchi have been published in Turkish. In addition, Ghannouchi’s views have, for some years, been promoted by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), a U.S.-based think tank known for its outreach to radical Islamist regimes and groups in Iran, Sudan, and in the West.

Ghannouchi and Ennahda have declared that, as in Turkey, where the AKP and Erdoğan have won three national elections since 2002, Ennahda promises Islamic policies while respecting the secular basis of the Tunisian state. But also as in Turkey, such pledges may cover intentions by Ennahda as a party not so thoroughly committed to reliably equable governance as one might hope. The Turkish AKP includes numerous activist cadres from the ultra-radical Milli Gorus or National Vision movement of Necmettin Erbakan, which is distinguished by flamboyant Jew-baiting and other conspiratorialist views. Erdoğan has conducted a long and alarming judicial offensive against alleged opponents of the AKP inside the military and media (the “Ergenekon conspiracy”).

The AKP administration has threatened naval action in the Mediterranean to assist the Hamas regime in Gaza. Erdoğan ‘s government has pursued an expansion of Turkish Islamist influence beyond his country’s borders, westward into the large Turkish diaspora in Germany and the Netherlands, as well as in the former Ottoman provinces in the Balkans. Similar AKP initiatives are visible eastward in the Turkic-speaking ex-Soviet nations of Central Asia, and southward in the Arab countries, including Syria (where the AKP government has taken its distance from the bloody dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad). In North Africa, aside from its relationship with Ennahda, the Erdoğan government was quick to inject itself into the recent civil conflict in Libya.

AKP is the party on which Tunisia’s Ennahda has modeled itself, although the latter cannot hope for such an ambitious field of foreign operations as the AKP has assumed. But Ennahda possesses an asset that AKP lacks. That is, the secular state within which the Turkish neo-fundamentalist party operates remains largely intact. The Turkish army, formerly the protector of the state from religious penetration, has been reduced in its power yet still constitutes a significant factor. But the Tunisian secularist state of Zine El Abedine Ben Ali was overthrown, and the constituent assembly to which the Ennahda deputies were elected is responsible for writing a new constitution. By contrast, the Turkish AKP has managed to amend the national constitution, but has not proposed a completely new political foundation for the state.

In addition, even if it cannot play the role in transnational politics undertaken by the Turkish AKP, Ennahda and Ghannouchi’s notable success at the ballot box will doubtless have an important impact in the Arab countries. At the end of November, Egypt will begin a series of parliamentary elections. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the country on the Nile, is recognized as its best-organized political and social force, and has created a political front for the vote, titled the Freedom and Justice Party. Candidate registrations for the Egyptian elections were closed on October 24, with Islamist parties claiming a majority of those accepted to run for 498 seats. According to the news portal bikyamasr.com, 6,700 candidates were registered, representing 47 political parties.

The Egyptian MB has taken cues from the Turkish AKP and the Tunisian Ennahda in offering a new image of itself as an epitome of moderation. The Freedom and Justice Party has said it will contest no more than half of the seats to be awarded in the voting, and has formed an alliance with the New Wafd Party, the heir to a liberal nationalist party, the Wafd or “Delegation” created in the 1920s. The original Wafd was banned after the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, from which the pan-Arab revolutionary platform of Gamal Abdel Nasser emerged. The Egyptian MB resembles the Turkish AKP in its broad support among the aspiring middle class, and the MB’s alignment with the New Wafd Party underscores this aspect of its profile, although Turkey is, at least for now, economically better-off than Egypt. The MB’s Freedom and Justice Party and the New Wafd Party have combined under the rubric of a “Democratic Alliance.”

The Egyptian MB possesses, on its own, a large enough constituency to achieve its electoral goals, so that it needs no particular help from either the AKP or Ennahda. But the reaction of the international community to the success of the Tunisian Ennahda may well affect the psychological state of the MB and its partisans in the Egyptian elections.

That is, if elections are held in Egypt. Unlike the Turkish army, which has been curbed by the AKP, and the Tunisian state apparatus, which was deposed, the Egyptian armed forces were largely unaffected by the events of the “Arab Spring,” and could intervene to reinforce the military rule under which Egypt has been governed since 1952. Further, the Tunisian outcome is liable to be irrelevant in responding to one of the most disturbing aspects of the Egyptian chapter in the “Arab Spring:” the emergence of an ultra-fundamentalist Wahhabi party, Nour (“Light”) competing with the Egyptian MB in radicalism. Nour has joined two other radical Islamist groups, in an electoral list titled the “Islamist Alliance.” The Wahhabis, inspired by the Saudi ultra-fundamentalist, exclusivist, and violent sect, are often flattered by the label of “Salafis,” because of their purported emulation of the “aslaf,” the Islamic forerunners, made up of the companions and successors of Muhammad.

On October 27, Matt Bradley of The Wall Street Journal reported at length on a feature of the Egyptian context different from the situations of Turkey and Tunisia. Egyptian secularists have “discovered” the very large presence of spiritual Sufi Islam in Egyptian life, and are assessing whether mobilization of Egyptian Sufis may produce an effective counterbalance to the MB and Wahhabis. Bradley notes that Egyptian Sufis claim 15 million adherents, which would outnumber the combined voters for the MB and the Wahhabis. Egypt is indeed one of the outstanding Muslim countries in its Sufi legacy and institutions, with, as Bradley points out, a substantial Sufi presence in rural Egypt, giving them credibility as challengers to the MB and Wahhabis.

Egyptian Sufis have come under physical attack from the resurgent Wahhabis, who condemn Sufi spiritual practices as heretical. Sufi mosques and shrines have been targeted for destruction by Wahhabis, who seek to prohibit milad, the celebration of the birthday of Muhammad, which they consider a dilution of Islamic monotheism and which some Wahhabis assail as an alleged imitation of the Christian worship of Jesus. Milad is, however, deeply engrained in the Egyptian collective sensibility and cannot be removed from it.

The Egyptian Tahrir (Liberation) Party was formed in February with the participation of a leading Sufi sheikh, Mohamed Alaa Abul Azayem of the Azeemia Sufi order, who called for resistance to the fundamentalists. It will present 80 candidates at the polls. A similar Democratic People’s Party has been established and has recruited thousands of Sufis. The latter party has reached out to the Egyptian Coptic Christian population, which has suffered atrocities from Wahhabi fanatics and army units following the overthrow of the Mubarak regime, and the electoral list of the Democratic People’s Party will include a group of Copts.

Sufi politics may, however, be difficult to organize, as the WSJ‘s Bradley pointed out in his reportage. Some Sufi movements, or tariqas, have cleaved to Islamist ideology, and while Sufis have a reputation for non-involvement in political activity, Sufis vary in their attitudes to the state. The Naqshbandi Sufi movement, for example, claims spiritual descent from the first of Muhammad’s four “righteous caliphs,” Abu Bakr, while other Sufis assert their origins in the example of Imam Ali, the fourth of the “righteous caliphs.” The Naqshbandis have historically sought to protect the Islamic state and a rigid standard of Islamic law from alleged dilution, by placing their sheikhs and adherents close to or in positions of political authority. The Turkish AKP has drawn support from semi-clandestine Sufi movements that survived under the secularist regime in that country, after the public suppression of the Sufi orders in the aftermath of the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate.

The ideological underpinnings of the AKP include followers of the Nurcu movement of Said Nursi (1877-1960), who began as a Naqshbandi Sufi, but gravitated to the jihadist Sufism of the Qadiri tariqa. A series of such Sufi-inspired figures has been prominent in the revival of Islamist politics in Turkey, culminating in the foundation of the AKP. A variant in this evolution is represented by the Turkish Islamist movement of Fethullah Gulen, whose network of schools, newspapers, and policy institutes has extended far beyond Turkey and the Turkish diaspora, into Western civil society, as well as Pakistan and other countries.

It is a matter of their physical survival for the Sufis of Egypt and other countries to defend themselves against militant fundamentalists, especially the acolytes of Wahhabism. Pakistan is already undergoing a crisis in which the Barelvi Muslims, who are Sunnis with a strong internal attachment to Qadiri and Naqshbandi Sufism, have abdicated their responsibility for defending their shrines and personal security against a brutal offensive by the Deobandis, Wahhabis, and others bent on wrecking their sacred sites and killing them. Indeed, the Pakistani Barelvis, who represent a majority of South Asian Muslims in the diaspora community of Britain, have shown that some Sufis cannot be expected to resist the onslaught of fundamentalist violence on their own. Similar examples are found in other Muslim communities.

The Turkish and Pakistani examples indicate that the Sufis, long neglected in Islamic life and treated as a manifestation of “folk Islam” by academic experts, may prove either complicit with Islamists or passive in the face of homicidal aggression against them. Such an outcome would represent a profound deviation from the path of love, mercy, and mutual respect between all human beings taught in Sufism. As a Muslim Sufi myself, I hope sincerely that the Egyptian Sufis can mobilize to defend their shrines, their communities, and the stability of their nation against both the “neo-fundamentalism” of the refurbished MB and the bloodthirsty schemes of the Wahhabis.

Tunisia’s election was a first test, but only the first. Events in Egypt will have a much greater impact in the Islamic lands and the world as a whole.

Where are the Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama Administration Taking America?

Source Article Link: Family Security Matters

Where are the Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama Administration Taking America?

Dr. Essam Abdallah

–       In this article, published in the leading liberal pan Arab “Elaph, Egyptian liberal writer Dr. Essam Abdallah exposes the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood within the Obama Administration and the campaign led by CAIR and its allies against Middle East Christians, US experts and American Muslim reformers. Abdallah’s article is powerful evidence to a reckless policy of backing Islamists, perpetrated by the Obama Administration and its advisors on Islamic affairs.  The Editors. 

Disturbing reports are coming out of Washington, D.C.

These reports reveal the depth of the below-the-surface coordination between the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya and Jordan. This bloc of regimes and organizations is now becoming the greatest Islamist radical lobby ever to penetrate and infiltrate the White House, Congress, the State Department and the main decision making centers of the US government. All of this is happening at a time when the US government is going through its most strategically dangerous period in modern times because of its need to confront the Iranian Mullahs regime, which is expanding in the Middle East, as well as penetrating the United States, via powerful and influential allies.

It looks like the near future will uncover many surprises after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, as we realize more and more that the popular revolts in the Arab world – and the Obama Administration’s position towards them – were determined by political battles between various pressure groups in Washington.  Moreover, pressures by these lobbying groups have left an impact on the region’s events, the last of which was the canceling of the visit of Maronite Patriarch Rahi to Washington. A number of Arab and Western news agencies have leaked that one of “those who sought to cancel this visit was Dalia Mujahid, a top advisor on Islamic and Arab affairs at the State Department, who is of Egyptian origin. And that”, said the reports, “came at the request of the high command of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who wish to see the US Administration support the Islamist Sunni current.”

Also very noticeable at this point is the growing domination of Islamist forces around the Mediterranean: the victory of the Nahda Islamist Party in Tunisia, the declaration by (TNC Chairman) Mustafa Abdeljalil that Libya is an Islamist state and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. These developments wouldn’t have happened without the approval of the United States. A document published in Washington indicated that Egypt will face more violence and tensions while moving to the Pakistani, rather than the Turkish, model. Egypt will be ruled by an opportunistic bourgeoisie and a regime declaring itself Islamist, and it will be backed by a military institution. The military will be used by the Islamists to maintain power but the armed forces, the parliament, the regime and the constitution will all become Islamist.

In return, the Maronite Patriarch is denied a visit to Washington, Coptic Christian churches are destroyed in Egypt, and Coptic demonstrators are massacred at Maspero in Cairo by the Egyptian military, demonstrating that the goal is to suppress Christians in the Middle East, who are – as Patriarch Rahi said – paying a high price for the revolts of the Arab Spring. Rahi expressed his concerns about the fate of Syrian and Lebanese Christians and sees, as does the world, the flight of millions of Iraqi and Middle Eastern Christians from their homelands as a result of events in Iraq, and the methodic persecution against the Copts. The Christians of Egypt aren’t only facing suppression and ethnic cleansing but a form of genocide.

The real question now is: who is allowing the Muslim Brotherhood lobby to damage the relationship between the US Administration and millions of Middle East Christians? This lobby was able to delay meetings between leaders from Coptic Solidarity International, including Magdi Khalil and Adel Guindy, with the US Government. Similar obstructions have been happening with Chaldean and Assyrian delegations over the past few years. Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood has waged a hysterical campaign against prominent experts in counterterrorism such as Steven Emerson, Daniel Pipes, John Guandolo and Robert Spencer. One particularly rough campaign was waged by CAIR against Professor Walid Phares, one of the most important, and even prescient, experts in counterterrorism and Jihadist movements in the US. In his book, “The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East”, Dr. Phares predicted its evolution and the shape of coming Islamist regimes in the region.

But the Muslim Brotherhood’s campaign is not limited to liberal Arabs, Christians, Jews and Atheists. It has also targeted Muslims who oppose the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) lobby such as Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD); Sherkoh Abbas, from the Syrian Kurdish Council; Farid Ghadri; the Somali-American author Ayan Hirsi Ali; Ali al Yammi; Tarek Fatah and many more.  Attacking Muslim liberals in the West helps the Muslim Brotherhood’s project in the radical Islamization of the Middle East, but it does not at all help US interests. Oppressing opposition, diversity, pluralism, and shedding human rights and freedoms are in direct contradiction to the values defended, and sacrificed for, by America’s founding fathers as well as by all those who fought wars for America throughout her history.

These intimidation and suppression campaigns directed against Arab and Middle East Christians – and against intellectuals and researchers opposing the Muslim Brotherhood and its sinister ties to Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran – in fact are aimed at America’s ability to become aware of the threat all of them pose to American freedoms. For American strength isn’t only in its navies and military power, but in its Constitution and the laws which provide the moral force for all other distinctly American liberties.

Note that the US Constitution did not include any suppressive articles (regarding freedom of religion or freedom of speech), the lack of which is the case in many Middle Eastern countries. Rather, it was written in the spirit of a Jeffersonian federal democracy based on individual freedoms.

So, all things considered both here and in the Middle East, where exactly are the Obama Administration and the Muslim Brotherhood lobby, together, taking America? And why?

Dr. Essam Abdallah is an Egyptian liberal intellectual who writes for the leading liberal pan Arab “Elaph”.

2011/10/29

Turkey and Islamism – The Start of a Beautiful Friendship?

Source Article: Family Security Matters

Turkey and Islamism – The Start of a Beautiful Friendship?

By Darlene Casella

At the end of Casablanca, when Rick and Louis walk off into the fog, Renault says: “I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”

Something similar is happening with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Except he is walking off into the sunset with many Islamist Middle Eastern leaders saying “I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”

When President Barak Obama announced the decision to withdraw military forces from Iraq, circumstances in the Middle East immediately changed.

Turkey is a multi dimensional political player in the Middle Eastern chess game. She sits on the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Bosporus, and shares a maritime border with the former USSR.   Her contiguous neighbors are Bulgaria and Greece on the European side of the Bosporus and on the Asian side Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan elevates himself as an assertive player.  In September 2011 Turkey agreed to station high powered U.S. radar on its territory as part of a missile defense system to protect NATO allies from the threat of long range Iranian rockets.  As Turkey refuses to share data with Israel; the radar systems will operate separately.   The system will be integrated with U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers equipped with Aegis ballistic missile defense systems.

Turkey faces a challenge with Kurdish Separatists.  They want self determination. Turkey considers this a threat.  During WWI, elimination of Kurdish identity was accomplished by deportations, death marches and forced Turkification.  According to the Journal of Genocide Research, more than 350,000 Kurds perished.  This was similar to the Armenian marches at the time.  Currently about 18% of the population is Kurdish.  The primary Kurdish populations are in Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, they live around the triangle where the three countries meet.

Kurds carry out ongoing attacks on Turkish military. The conflict has intensified.   On October 20, 2011 an attack at the Turkish Iraqi border killed at least 24 Turkish soldiers.

President Erdogan said “Whoever in secret or openly supports terrorism, the breath of the Turkish State will be on their necks.”  Turkey responded with attacks involving warplanes, and 10,000 troops which pursued the militants over the border into Iraq.   Erdogan does not tolerate Kurdish terrorist attacks in Turkey on military targets; however he condones attacks on innocent Israeli civilians by Hamas from Gaza.

For decades Turkey was one of the United States’ most dependable allies.  Now the region is in turmoil.  A void left by declining American power, is being filled by Erdogan.  He challenges America on two important issues:  Iran’s nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Erdogan is building connections throughout the region.  He does this by creating economic integration with roads, railroads, airports, oil and gas pipelines.  For Arabs Erdogan is becoming a regional hero.

Azerbaijan was elected to the non=permanent membership of the UN Security Council in October 2011.  Subsequently, President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Erdogan have created a Strategic Cooperation Council between their countries.

Agreements were signed in Izmir between Azerbaijan and Turkey which remove remaining hurdles to the Southern Gas Corridor.  This involved Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR and the Turkish pipeline company BOTAS.  Energy Ministers from each country signed intergovernmental agreements on the sale and transportation of Azerbaijani gas to and through Turkey.

Each day 1500 trucks bring Turkish goods into Iraq.  Trade between the two countries last year was more than $6 billion.  It is a huge and growing export market for Turkey.  The Nabucco gas pipeline project is an $11 billion project that will bring Iraqi gas to Europe through Turkey.  The Turks also have stakes in other oil and gas projects that all organized in Basra, Iraq.  Turkish companies have refurbished the Sheraton Hotel in Basra and Turkish Air has four flights a week between Istanbul and Basra.  They sell amusement rides and candy and opened an international Fair Ground organized for Iraq’s petroleum industry.  Turkish companies make up 75% of all foreign companies in Iraq.   There are four Turkish Consulates in Iraq.

Erdogan continues a hostile stance towards Israel.  He blockades Armenia and attacks Kurdish rebels.  However he faults Israel for the Gaza blockade and takes the side of Hamas terrorists in Gaza.  Erdogan threatens military action regarding gas fields in the Mediterranean off the coast of Israel.  He backs Lebanon in a dispute of previously agreed upon maritime borders with the United Nations.  Turkish war ships are off the north coast of Cyprus in an effort to thwart drilling of discovered gas fields in the area.  Turkey maintains 30,000 troops in Northern Cyprus which Turkey calls Turkish Cyprus, something which no nation legally acknowledges.

Last month Erdogan went to Egypt for meetings with the top military leaders seeking strategic alliances and diplomatic ties between Egypt and Turkey.  During this trip he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He has also visited Jordan’s King Abdullah II.   In Istanbul last week Turkey, Afghanistan, and Pakistan agreed to hold military drills together.

It is speculated whether Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks the greatness of the former Ottoman Empire.  Perhaps Erdogan believes that he is the reincarnation of the 16th century Islamist, Suleiman the Magnificent!


Family Security Matters Contributor Darlene Casella was, before her retirement, an English teacher, a stockbroker, and president/owner of a small corporation. She lives with her husband in La Quinta, California, and can be reached at thedeadseawest@aol.com.

2011/10/28

US denies sale of F-16 jet to Egypt in Grapel deal

Source Link: JPost
F-16 fighter jet in flight
Photo by: REUTERS

US denies sale of F-16 jet to Egypt in Grapel deal

Ma’an news agency report: US participated in negotiations, worked to sweeten deal over dual US-Israeli citizen Grapel, held on spying charges.

By JPOST.COM STAFF

The US on Thursday denied reportsthat they agreed to sell an F-16 fighter plane to Egypt in connection with the release of Ilan Grapel.“There is no truth to [these] press reports,” a US statement read. “Since 1982, the US government has sold over 220 F16s to Egypt as part of our long standing bilateral defense relationship,” the statement continued.

Palestinian Ma’an news agency on Thursday quoted Egyptian military expert General Sameh Sayf al-Yazal as saying that the United States was called into the negotiations to help Egypt exact the best possible deal for Grapel’s release.

According to the report, Israel refused to release all 81 Egyptian prisoners in Israel for a deal that included both Grapel and Ouda Tarabin, an Israeli Beduin who, like Grapel, is being held in Egypt on spying charges.

Grapel is expected to be released on Thursday after five months in prison in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners. He is expected to fly from Cairo to Ben Gurion airport at 5 p.m., and meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem before setting on his way.

2011/10/15

Muslim Brotherhood Gaining Foothold in U.S. Gov’t?

I am always happy when I read articles by the “professional” writers concerning the danger of the Muslim Brotherhood. Believe me it is a great relief knowing I am not alone about my worries concerning the evil, the Muslim Brotherhood, wishes upon America and the West.  W

H/T The Blaze

Source Article Link CBN News

Muslim Brotherhood Gaining Foothold in U.S. Gov’t?

By Erick Stakelbeck

WASHINGTON — They were the first modern terrorists and the forerunner of al Qaeda. But these days, the Muslim Brotherhood is becoming mainstream not only in Egypt, but in Washington, D.C.

While the final chapter of the so-called Arab Spring has yet to be written, it appears that radical Islamic forces could emerge as the big winners. None more so than the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Jordan, the Brotherhood has used unrest to increase its influence.

The group is also making inroads closer to home, according to one expert.

“Their goal is primarily deception, manipulation and intelligence gathering,” former FBI Special Agent John Guandolo said.

Guandolo said Brotherhood operatives have infiltrated the halls of power in Washington, D.C.

“What we’re seeing not just inside the White House, but inside the government entities, the national security entities, the State Department — is a strong push by the Muslim Brotherhood to get their people not just into operational positions, but policy positions — deeper, long term, bureaucratic positions,” he told CBN News.

Chief among their operatives is the Islamic Society of North America or ISNA, according to Guandolo.

In 2007, ISNA was named as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history.

Likewise, the FBI has uncovered internal Muslim Brotherhood documents naming ISNA as “one of our organizations and the organizations of our friends.”

Nevertheless, when President Obama wanted a Muslim to pray at his inauguration, his administration turned to ISNA’s then-president Ingrid Mattson.

And at a recent White House Iftar dinner, current ISNA head Mohammed Majid sat just a few feet from the president.

“Moahmmed Majid was sitting at the front table right in front of Barack Obama. But when the official list of White House attendees was published, his name was curiously missing,” said terrorism expert Patrick Poole, a columnist with Pajamasmedia.com.

Another American-Muslim group linked to both the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

The FBI refuses to meet with CAIR over its ties to terrorism.

But top White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett recently praised the group for taking part in an MTV “anti-bullying” campaign.

“The U.S. government knows that these are Muslim Brotherhood operatives because federal government prosecutors have gone into federal court and said that they’re Muslim Brotherhood operatives,” Poole explained.

One such operative is Kifah Mustpaha. In 2010, he was given a tour of both FBI headquarters and the National Counterterrorism Center, despite longstanding ties to the terror group Hamas.

Hamas identifies itself as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“We know that the Muslim Brotherhood, from their own documents, has said that they want to infiltrate all levels of government and civil society here in America to destroy from within,” Poole said.

The Obama administration seems to see the Brotherhood as an ideal partner for its Muslim outreach policies.

Earlier this year, National Intelligence Director James Clapper drew criticism when he called the group “largely secular.”

“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,” he said.

Obama administration officials say they are now engaged in dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

That policy apparently extends to the Brotherhood in America as well.

 

Please read what Billy Hallowell wrote titled Is the Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrating the American Government over at The Blaze

2011/10/10

Christians In Fear of Islamic Uprising in Egypt

As someone who has been writing about the Persecution of Christianity in the name of Islam as well as the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the latest attacks in Egypt doesn’t surprise me. The Coptic Christians were in Egypt well before Islam was born. For those who do not know about Coptic Christianity here is a brief history:

The history of the Coptic Church in Egypt is basically the history of Christianity in Egypt, for the current Coptic Church is a direct evolution from those earlier times. However, it traditionally begins with the visit of the Holy Family to Egypt. Copts relate that the blessing of Christianity on their country goes back to the days when Jesus was a young boy. The holy family, consisting of the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph traveled to Egypt and lived there for some time. Numerous traditions exist about the exact locations that the holy family visited and many take annual pilgrimages following this route (it is also a popular tourist route) However, historically it was Saint Mark the Evangelist, during the first century AD, who actually is considered to be the founder of the church. He preached and suffered martyrdom in Alexandria around the time that Nero ruled Rome.

The Obama Administration has a history of overlooking the Muslim Brotherhood, for example:

  • January of 2010 the Barack Obama administration has lifted an entry ban preventing Muslim Brotherhood leader Tariq Ramadan from entering the United States.

For those who are not aware of the documentation found by the FBI when investigating the Holy Land Foundation trial, one of the documents introduced during the trial was an 18-page memorandum written in 1992 by Mohammed Akram, a member of the American branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It described the role the group sees for itself in America:

“The process of settlement in America is a Civilization-Jihadist process with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is 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.”

With friends like the Obama Administration, who needs enemies.

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