Egyptian Presidential Candidate Supports Killing U.S. Soldiers

sabahiBY RYAN MAURO:

Hamdeen Sabahi, an anti-American secularist, has announced his candidacy for the Egyptian presidency, pitting him against General El-Sisi, the current Defense Minister. Sabahi may be anti-Islamist, but he’s also said he supports Al-Qaeda when it kills U.S. soldiers. The election is slated to be held sometime between February 17 and April 18.

Today, Sabahi is one of the most popular opposition figures in Egypt. He took part in both the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak and Mohammed Morsi. As the Arab media focuses on El-Sisi’s almost-certain presidential bid, the number one concern is a reverting to Mubarak-type rule. Sabahi is apparently the answer.

Sabahi is a secular, democratic foe of the Islamists and a civilian, whereas El-Sisi’s candidacy risks transforming Egypt into a military-run state with limited democratic features. As concern over Egypt’s democratic future mounts, Sabahi will look increasingly positive to the West.

That is why a statement Sabahi made in 2005 must be repeated over and over. In a televised interview, Sabahi said: “One must salute this organization [Al-Qaeda] when it kills any American soldier—a soldier, not a civilian. The presence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq as part of the resistance is a positive phenomenon that should be supported. I support Al-Qaeda when it kills Americans.”

El-Sisi is currently the frontrunner thanks to his crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood as well as support from the military establishment and Egypt’s Coptic Christians. However, confidence in him and the military is declining over time. The main political issue in Egypt is shifting from preventing Islamist rule towards curbing the power of the military establishment.

The trend indicates an opening for Sabahi (assuming the election is genuine). He has an established fan base from his previous presidential run. Unlike the other candidates, his support grew as he got more attention and scrutiny. In the first round of 2012’s presidential elections, Sabahi came in third place with 21.5%. He lost to Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, who then competed in a run-off.

Sabahi has a real chance of defeating El-Sisi in a fair vote if it comes down to the two of them. El-Sisi will have strong arguments in his favor, but it’s hard to see a compelling argument against Sabahi. On the other hand, Sabahi can present himself as the one who will stop Egypt from returning to both the Mubarak era and the Muslim Brotherhood era.

Read more at Clarion Project

Esman: Women are “Biggest Losers” in Arab Spring

Sec. of State Kerry Pushing Back on Pro-Brotherhood Policy

John Kerry

We must hope that Kerry’s public contradictions of administration policy reflect of a behind-the-scenes debate.

BY RYAN MAURO:

The disastrous effect of the Obama Administration’s support for theMuslim Brotherhood appears to be seen by Secretary of State John Kerry. In recent months, he has twice contradicted the administration’s policy with public statements against the Brotherhood and in support of the Egyptian military.

On August 1, Kerry enraged the Brotherhood by justifying the Egyptian military’s overthrow of President Morsi.

“The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descent into chaos, into violence,” he said, adding that the military was “restoring democracy.”

Then on November 20, Kerry said that the Muslim Brotherhood had “stolen” the Egyptian revolution that first toppled President Mubarak. He said that the Brotherhood won the elections afterwards because it was “the one single most organized entity in the state.”

The Brotherhood characterizes itself as the democratically elected representative of the Egyptian people. Kerry’s powerful statement undermines the Brotherhood’s claim to legitimacy and echoes the criticism of its opponents.

The Obama Administration as a whole, however, stands against the military intervention and cut off some military aid to Egypt in response. The policy is pushing Arab countries allied with the U.S. into the arms of Russia and has alienated the Egyptian population.

Read more at Clarion Project

Bahrain Crown Prince: U.S. Policy Will Lead to Arab -Russia Alliance

Bahrain Crown Prince

Using unusually hostile language, al-Khalifa said “America seems to suffer from schizophrenia when it deals with the Arab world.”

BY RYAN MAURO:

The Crown Prince of Bahrain, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, blasted U.S. foreign policy in a new interview and warned that its “schizophrenia” will lead the Arab world to ally with Russia.

Using unusually hostile language, al-Khalifa said American policy is “transient and reactive,” and “America seems to suffer from schizophrenia when it deals with the Arab world.” He specifically pointed to the nuclear deal with Iran and the U.S. support for the overthrow of Egyptian President Mubarak.

The Crown Prince detests Russian assistance to the Syrian regime, but said it proves that that Russia is more dependable.

“The Russians have proved that they are reliable friends,” he remarked.

The Bahraini Foreign Minister likewise expressed his view that the U.S. is not valuing Bahrain’s opinion.

“You do not need to reassure us. You need to listen to us, because we know Iran well,” he said.

Bahrain is governed by a pro-Western monarchy and is the base of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. It is an important strategic ally and an enemy of both Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2011, Saudi forces helped the Sunni Bahraini leadership crush an uprising by its Shiite-majority population.

Egypt has already turned to Russia after the U.S. cut off some its military aid following the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptians and Russians are on the cusp of signing a massive $2 billion arms deal that includes Mig-29 fighter jets, anti-tank missiles and air defense systems. Some reports suggest the number could be as high as $4 billion.

Read more at Clarion Project

 

Egypt’s Trial: True Justice will Reveal Morsi’s Alliances

20130829_MUSLIMBROTHERHOOD_MORSI_EGYPT_LARGEby ASHRAF RAMELAH:

On Monday, November 4th, an Egyptian Triple Seven elite military force helicopter transported former Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, out of secret hiding where he has been held in custody by authorities since July 3rd this year.  Morsi was flown to a courtroom inside Toro Police School to begin his trial for high treason and other suspected crimes. On the eve of his political career and presidential candidacy, Morsi sat in prison awaiting trial for spying against Egypt. Now he is accused of continuing these efforts during his presidency.

According to Egyptian news agencies, Morsi recently notified his family that he alone will defend himself before the judge and jury. Meanwhile, Muslim Brotherhood organizations across the world scramble to bring to Egypt lawyers from the West and East who will try to prove that Morsi is blameless and his trial unfair. This will not be easy. Egyptian attorneys are unified against foreign attorneys appearing in the courtroom on Morsi’s behalf.  In any case, proving Morsi’s innocence will be a herculean task.

In a country where no regulation or law exists to govern taping of conversations or, more aptly, where the Attorney General appointed by the President permitted secret recordings by Egyptian intelligence of the President’s meetings and phone conversations, judges dismissed by Morsi and now reinstated will be presented with tape recordings of Morsi’s discussions with Aymen Al Zawahiri of Al Qaeda.

These will show Morsi requesting the terrorist’s support. Morsi’s negotiation with the Al Qaeda leader delays application of the Iran and Taliban models for Egypt until a more receptive time and, in return for Al Zawahiri’s favor, the President agrees to immediately enforce Sharia law and release five thousand jailed terrorist-jihadists, including Aymen’s brother, Mohammed. All jihadists jailed under Mubarak were freed by Morsi within the first month of his installation to prove to Aymen Al Zawahiri that he could be trusted, according to leaked information paraphrasing the contents of the tapes.

Read more: Family Security Matters 

Egyptian military’s pact with Islamists

EGYPT-POLITICS-UNREST-DEMOBy Amir Taheri:

Sometime next week, Egypt’s military-run government will publish the “first draft” of a new constitution to replace the one worked out by the government of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

The coup that returned the military to power after a year-long interval was presented as an attempt to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from imposing an Islamist dictatorship with a constitutional facade. Highlighted were two articles in the Morsi constitution that identified the Islamic sharia as the source of legislation in Egypt and gave Al-Azhar, the official seminary, a virtual veto on certain issues.

The crowds that for weeks filled Tahrir Square called on the army to intervene to save the nation from a burgeoning sharia-based ­dictatorship. Well, when the new draft constitution — written by a 50-man committee appointed by the military — is published, the Tahrir Square crowds are likely to be disappointed. The two controversial articles will still be there, albeit under different numbers and with slight changes in terminology.

“Egyptians want to retain their Islamic identity,” says Kamal Halbawi, a former Brotherhood member who co-chaired the army-appointed drafting committee with Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister during the earlier military governments.

Thus Islamists, including the Salafist Nour ( Light) Party sponsored by Saudi Arabia will have no reason to be unhappy with the proposed draft.

The difference this time is that the new constitution also gives the military what the text drafted by Morsi denied it. The armed forces will get recognition for their “special status” and given a virtual veto on key aspects of security, foreign and even economic policies.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the junta formed after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, will be recognized as a constitutionally sanctioned state organ with “special responsibilities and prerogatives,” including the appointment of the defense minister and the supervision of the military budget, which will be spared public submission to the parliament.

Put brutally, the proposed draft constitution is a pact between a section of the military led by Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi and a section of the Islamic movement spearheaded by Salafists.

The faction led by Sisi represents a segment of the officers’ corps reluctant to abandon a system under which the army acted as a state within the state and seized control of perhaps 20 percent of the national economy. As always during the past 100 years, the military is using a pseudo-nationalistic discourse full of xenophobic shibboleths.

The Salafist faction hopes to seize the opportunity of its collaboration with the military to build its position within the Islamist constituency. With the Muslim Brotherhood banned and most of its leaders under arrest, the Salafists hope to seduce some of their followers, especially with the help of a deluge of Saudi money.

However, even when they add their respective bases of support, the Sisi faction of the military and the Salafist faction do not represent more than a third of the Egyptian electorate.

Read more at NYP

 

 

 

Islamist or Nationalist: Who is Egypt’s Mysterious New Pharaoh?

download (56)by Raymond Stock:

Egypt’s new de facto pharaoh, General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, is a man of mystery. Is he an Islamist, or a nationalist? Is he a person of high principle, or a lowly opportunist? And in a land which has known five thousand years of mainly centralized, one-man rule, with limited experience of democracy, when have we seen his type before, and where will he lead the troubled, ancient nation now?

These questions are crucial to knowing how the U.S. should react to al-Sisi’s removal of Egypt’s first “freely elected” president, Mohamed Morsi on July 3 in answer to overwhelmingly massive street protests demanding that he do so, and to the ongoing bloody crackdown on Morsi’s group, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), that began on August 14. Citing the ongoing, actually two-way violence in Egypt, President Barack Obama’s administration has now suspended much of our annual $1.6 billion aid to the country, save for money needed to maintain security operations along the Israeli border in Sinai and to directly support the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

Earlier, the administration had stopped the scheduled delivery of four out of twenty F-16s to Egypt, cancelled the bi-annual “Bright Star” joint training exercises that had been set for September, and launched a review of the bi-lateral relationship. There has now been a delay in paying the final $585 million tranche of this year’s aid package, pending that review, according to an October 9 report by the global strategic analysis firm, Stratfor.

However, the administration has been careful not to classify Morsi’s removal a “coup,” which under U.S. law would require an immediate cut-off of all of our aid to Egypt. That assistance is vital to the U.S.’ favored access to the Suez Canal, maintenance of the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty and crucial bi-lateral security cooperation against international terrorism. Nonetheless, the latest move puts the entire alliance at great risk, and plays into popular demands that Egypt switch to a more independent stance, or even adopt Russia as chief military supplier instead of the U.S., an idea made more enticing by Washington’s apparent weakness in surrendering its interests in Syria to Moscow, and its seeming haste to make concessions to Cairo’s post-MB regional antagonist in Tehran over the latter’s nuclear program.

Yet along with a number of key Congressional leaders and most of the mainstream media, Obama has been far more critical of al-Sisi and his use of force against a group that our government wrongly supported while in power under the illusion that it was “moderate,” than they have been of the violence and mayhem of the MB.

Meanwhile, the MB’s “peaceful demonstrators” have been busy burning scores of Christian churches and schools along with hundreds of Christian businesses while attacking other citizens, museums and public buildings, the police and the army, and waging an open war against the state in Sinai and around the country. As the total number of deaths in the past nearly two months of confrontations climbs toward the thousands, the MB clearly hopes to use its own “martyrs” (as both sides call their fallen) to generate sympathy for their unaltered goal of restoring Morsi to power. So far, however, it’s not working. Despite a surge in turnout at demonstrations it organized to coincide with the State’s grand celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the 1973 war on October 6, fewer and fewer people have been joining its protests, which have been tiny compared to the unprecedentedly-huge demonstrations against the Islamists.

THE SECRET THESIS

But what besides the obvious hard realities pushed al-Sisi to act when he did? What does he believe, and what does he want? A quiet man known for saying little and keeping his own counsel, in his year of study at the U.S. Army War College in 2006, al-Sisi produced a research paper or brief thesis on his views of Islam and the state. That document was first exposed by Robert Springborg, an expert on Egypt’s military, in a July 28 article in Foreign Affairs.

Springborg predicted that al-Sisi, who has sworn to swiftly restore democracy after a nine-month transition, intends to keep real power for himself. Furthermore, Springborg warned of his “Islamist agenda,” saying that he would not likely restore the “secular authoritarianism” practiced by Mubarak, but would install “a hybrid regime that would combine Islamism with militarism.” Intriguingly, though it holds no state secrets, the document was classified, and was only released under a Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch on August 8.

In it, al-Sisi declares, “There is hope for democracy in the Middle East over the long term; however, it may not be a model that follows a Western Template” (sic). By that, al-Sisi makes plain, he means that Middle Eastern democracy must be based not on secularism, but on Islam.

However, in an August 16 profile of the previously obscure general published by The Daily Beast by Mike Giglio and Christopher Dickey, those who know al-Sisi (few of whom will talk much about him) say that he grew up in a family that was both religiously conservative—not radical—but extremely nationalistic. And indeed it is that sense of nationalism which seems to have had the upper hand in motivating the actions he’s taken thus far.

The chaos, economic calamity, and political upheaval that have rocked Egyptian society since a much more limited popular uprising against longtime president Hosni Mubarak resulted in Mubarak’s ouster by the military on February 11, 2011 (at Obama’s thinly-veiled urging the night before)—and which led in part to al-Sisi’s move against Morsi—have all been seen before.

Read more at Middle East Forum