The military’s removal of President Mohammad Morsi opened up a can of worms from which the Egyptian polity is not likely to recover anytime soon.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood had been busy attempting to impose its socio-political will on a nation that was largely unwilling to go along with their agenda. The military was even more reluctant since it saw Morsi’s actions as destabilizing.
So, instead of waiting until new elections, the military did what it’s done repeatedly over the past 60 years. It deposed the existing regime and supplanted it with one favorable to its own agenda. After all, Nasser came to power in a coup. Sadat came to power from a coup. Mubarak came to power with the assent of the military, and the military then deposed Mubarak. Now, they’re facing an organized and militarized threat in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood is not backing down and yesterday’s clashes with police and security forces left more than 500 dead and thousands injured.
It’s only going to get worse from here because the Brotherhood’s leadership now believes that they have no other options in the political arena. The military’s effort showed the Brotherhood that they will not be allowed to wield political power, and that’s infuriating to the group, which actually won the right to govern in the historic elections following the coup that deposed Mubarak.
But what the Brotherhood doesn’t understand is that their heavy-handed wielding of political power was not without consequences. It was tremendously unpopular with a majority of Egyptians who saw it as an effort to impose social restrictions at a time when the economy continued to suffer from the very problems that led to Mubarak’s ouster.
The Brotherhood wasn’t dealing with the underlying economic and social conditions that led to an anemic economy, high unemployment, food shortages, and high costs for fuel and food.
The military’s brutal crackdown against the Brotherhood’s protest camps across Cairo forestalls any kind of reconciliation, as the lines in the sand have been drawn. The Brotherhood isn’t going to trust the military or attempts to bring it back into a political process, when their leader remains arrested and out of power. The military is losing in this as well, given that they overthrew a sitting government.
Worst of all, Egyptians are losing out because the political chaos is exacerbating the economic chaos and conditions are only going to get worse. Extremists are going to take advantage of the situation.
All of this presents huge challenges for foreign countries in trying to deal with the chaotic situation in Cairo. For the US, it means trying to remain above the fray but condemning the violence and a need to return to a political dialog. Critics of the Administration claim that it lost Egypt, but that ignores that the Brotherhood and the Egyptian military are the ones who brought this crisis upon itself. The US has little influence to play here, except perhaps as a mediator. The one area that the US has influence is on providing foreign assistance and military aid — withholding that aid could get the military to buy into reconciliation talks. But the Brotherhood isn’t going to go along with a deal that doesn’t end with Morsi back in the presidency.
So, until the sides see the futility of the continuing violence and shrink away from an open civil war, they will continue to run up the body count.
Perhaps you’ve been flooded with reports from across the Pond that the Royals have a new progeny. The media outlets have been 24/7 with coverage about Princess Kate being in labor and giving birth to a baby boy.
But that’s not nearly as newsworthy as what happened in a dusty and ancient part of the world.
Al Qaeda terrorists busted in to one of the world’s most notorious prisons and released more than 500 prisoners, including many senior members of al Qaeda.
Hundreds of convicts, including senior members of al Qaeda, broke out of Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail as comrades launched a military-style assault to free them, authorities said on Monday.
The deadly raid on the high-security jail happened as Sunni Muslim militants are re-gaining momentum in their insurgency against the Shiite-led government that came to power after the U.S. invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
Suicide bombers drove cars packed with explosives to the gates of the prison on the outskirts of Baghdad on Sunday night and blasted their way into the compound, while gunmen attacked guards with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
Other militants took up positions near the main road, fighting off security reinforcements sent from Baghdad as several militants wearing suicide vests entered the prison on foot to help free the inmates.
According to senior Iraqi security officials, most of those who escaped were senior members of al Qaeda in Iraq.
Considering the damage that al Qaeda inflicted on Iraq during the past decade, and the ongoing fight in neighboring Syria, the level of violence is sure to rise in both countries.
At the same time, US, Western, and even other Arab countries will have to be on the lookout for more terror plots as the al Qaeda regroups and reforms into new cells.
This is in response to a couple of other Pages posted regarding film footage of this week’s Israeli air strikes in Gaza, both of which questioned the authenticity of several BBC video clips that at least one Israeli blog & one far-right Israeli news outlet are presenting as “Pallywood” productions.
“Don’t give anyone your eyes.” —ProverbWhile I don’t deny that there have been numerous cases of staged or distorted videos, not to mention photoshopped images, it’s a mistake to take the default position that nearly everything coming out of Gaza (or the West Bank) is distorted without having sufficient proof of that being the case. Why? Because it’s dehumanizing. To be frank, I don’t give a damn if someone has a good reason for being cynical—just because something is understandable doesn’t make it okay. There have been many, many cases of women who have lied about being raped; does that make it okay to assume by default that all or even most women who claim to have been raped are lying? Of course not, no decent, rational person would think such a thing.
A wise man by the name of Bob Levin once relayed to me a (Jewish?) proverb that I’m going to paraphrase here: Don’t give anyone your eyes. Truer words were never spoken. Never, EVER let others tell you what you’re seeing.
So while this may be too long & boring for many of you, I want to make a point by illustrating just how easily our eyes can be deceived, by both our personal biases & preconceived notions and by the speed at which visual information flies by, causing us to miss many subtle details.
It’s competing with both baseball and football games tonight, so the audience for the final Presidential debate may not be as large as it was for the first two debates. But the “foreign policy” will start in about 30 minutes, heavily focused on the Middle East.
Expect Romney to hammer away at his dishonest “apology tour” talking point, and expect him to continue trying to confuse the Benghazi issue and smear Obama with it.
Expect Obama to bring up Osama bin Laden, and the fact that he’s basically obliterated the entire command structure of Al Qaeda and ended the war in Iraq.
Apparently Mitt Romney won two coin tosses, and gets to go both first and last. In with a lie, out with a falsehood.
Mitt Romney’s op-ed for the Wall Street Journal is just more of the same old hackneyed right wing talking points; Obama is weak, Obama apologizes for America, Obama hates Israel, we need to pump more money into the military so we can be even more threatening, etc.
But this pile of empty verbiage is amazing in at least one respect: somehow, Romney managed to write an entire piece about Middle East policy without mentioning either Iraq or Afghanistan. An odd omission, perhaps explainable by the fact that both of these long-term wars were fairly well devastating to the jingoistic “American strength” line Romney’s feeding to the right — so Romney just pretends they don’t exist.
The latest wingnut outrageous outrage revolves around President Obama’s use of the phrase “bumps in the road,” while speaking about the road to democracy and peace in the Middle East and the Arab Spring during an interview on 60 Minutes last night.
“I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights a notion that people have to be able to participate in their own governance … But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam. The one part of society that hasn’t been controlled completely by the government. There are strains of extremism, and anti-Americanism, and anti-Western sentiment.”
Ari Fleischer was one of the first out of the gate with his gross and morbid mischaracterization of President Obama’s comment:
I guess when u win a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing, an attack that kills an Ambassador is just a “bump in the road.”
This piqued my interest so off I went in search of others who have used this phrase when speaking about Middle East peace process or perhaps the Iraq War. I was able to immediately find two from the previous administration under George W. Bush…
I think it’s highly amusing that Mother Jones is using the Breitbart tactic of timed video releases against the right wing and Mitt Romney, and today they have another batch of videos from that fund-raising event at equity trader Marc Leder’s mansion. In the latest video, Romney is again saying things that he’d never utter in public — but feels no hesitation about saying to his super-rich backers when he thinks he’s off the record: SECRET VIDEO: On Israel, Romney Trashes Two-State Solution.
Mother Jones has obtained video of Romney at this intimate dinner and has confirmed its authenticity. The event was held at the home of controversial private equity manager Marc Leder in Boca Raton, Florida, with tickets costing $50,000 a plate. During the freewheeling conversation, a donor asked Romney how the “Palestinian problem” can be solved. Romney immediately launched into a detailed reply, asserting that the Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.”
Romney spoke of “the Palestinians” as a united bloc of one mindset, and he said: “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way.”
Romney was indicating he did not believe in the peace process and, as president, would aim to postpone significant action: “[S]o what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”
Romney did note there was another perspective on this knotty matter. He informed his donors that a former secretary of state—he would not say who—had told him there was “a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” Romney recalled that he had replied, “Really?” Then he added that he had not asked this ex-secretary of state for further explanation.
In three short paragraphs about President Obama’s speech this morning, the Associated Press warps the story beyond recognition: Obama says Palestine must be based in 1967 borders.
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is endorsing the Palestinians’ demand for their future state to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, in a move that will likely infuriate Israel. Israel says the borders of a Palestinian state have to be determined through negotiations.
In a speech outlining U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa, Obama on Thursday sided with the Palestinians’ opening position a day ahead of a visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu is vehemently opposed to referring to the 1967 borders.
Until Thursday, the U.S. position had been that the Palestinian goal of a state based on the 1967 borders, with agreed land swaps, should be reconciled with Israel’s desire for a secure Jewish state through negotiations.
Wow. Rarely have I seen such blatant distortion in a mainstream news release. Here’s the exact quote from Obama’s speech:
The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.
Note: he didn’t say “1967 borders,” he didn’t “side with the Palestinians,” and he absolutely did still insist on mutually agreed swaps and secure borders for both countries. It’s nothing but a re-wording of the same position the US has taken for many years.
Based on this distorted and very misleading AP article, Fox News instantly put together a screaming fake outrage headline, currently leading on their front page:
Drudge Report also jumped on it, running a huge headline: “OBAMA SIDES WITH PALESTINIANS!”
And of course, it’s already all over the right wing blogosphere that President Obama “told Israel to move back to the pre-1967 borders.”
No. He didn’t.
All this fake outrage spread throughout the Internet within minutes after the President’s speech, like a virtual wingnut flash mob.
I guess it’s too much to ask these people to report what the President actually said.
Ben Smith comments:
Count me among those who have covered spats between the U.S. and Israel in some detail, and are a bit perplexed why sources from the New York Times to Benjamin Netanyahu are acting as though a Rubicon has been crossed by Obama’s restating universal assumptions and U.S. policy, and meanwhile slapping down the key Palestinian diplomatic drive.
Jeffrey Goldberg comments:
I’m amazed at the amount of insta-commentary out there suggesting that the President has proposed something radical and new by declaring that Israel’s 1967 borders should define — with land-swaps — the borders of a Palestinian state. I’m feeling a certain Groundhog Day effect here. This has been the basic idea for at least 12 years. This is what Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat were talking about at Camp David, and later, at Taba. This is what George W. Bush was talking about with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. So what’s the huge deal here? Is there any non-delusional Israeli who doesn’t think that the 1967 border won’t serve as the rough outline of the new Palestinian state?
This section of Obama’s speech is certainly not “siding with the Palestinians” — in fact, he’s clearly saying that Palestinians will never have a state while they reject Israel’s right to exist:
For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.
President Obama’s speech on the Middle East is now under way…
A transcript: Obama’s Speech on the Middle East.