46 thoughts on “Israel Encouraged Egypt’s Junta to Smash Islamists – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. The only thing I’d add, Richard, is that Israel’s hat was always in the ring with the most brutal of the despots…it was created by Britannia and the extension of European antisemitic ethnic cleansing policies.
    Instead of Madagascar, it was realised by the WASP Nato empire that the Jews, via Zionist fantasies, could be installed as a garrison on the vital oil jugular that is Suez.

    1. @Damien Flinter:

      Many thanks for your warm compliments and nice explanation and addition.

      Is your information, that we the Israelis only a garrison on Suez, a fairy tale or do you have any real proof for it? When I say proof, please, don’t tell me that Mr. XXYY wrote a book about it, proof means proof.

      1. @Eli: While I agree with your view of Damien’s overstatement, I reject your invitation that he or you delve into a deep discussion of the history of Zionism, the Mandate, Britain’s role in the creation of Israel, etc. Stay on topic and encourage others to do so as well.

    2. @Damien Flinter:

      the Jews, via Zionist fantasies, could be installed as a garrison on the vital oil jugular that is Suez.

      Your comment contained a few parts truth and many parts overstatement. It’s far more credible when you stick to facts & don’t try to overdramatize (as the above quotation indicates).

      1. Not sure where you see the overstatement, Richard.
        Israel was a project devised by Hertzl as a reaction to European antisemitism. Most Jews greeted it with derision as a pipedream/fantasy(and many still think it a perversion). It was a minor issue until post-war Britain and the US blocked refugee access and diverted the survivors of Naziism to Palestine. Irgun and the Stern Gang took it from there.
        Western industries(and their military enforcers) were transferring from coal to oil, and its moguls realised the strategic importance of the region(as did their wealthy bankers).
        Suez was, and remains, one of the most vital trade(and thus military)conduits on the planet, even with the arctic routes opening due to ice retreat. Even before the canal it was a vital overland transfer trade jugular.
        The ’56 Suez adventure was reined in by Washington for what it was…but Aipac ensures that won’t happen again.
        Kindly elaborate as to where I overstate or misread.
        I have not stated that the garrison was the sole motive(as Eli implies). I am aware of the complexities; but am unconvinced that I overstate.
        There are combined Nato excercises taking place currrently in the Gulf, and Mediterranean fleets do not relish the Cape route in an ’emergency’. A second blockage will not be allowed…particularly in our increasingly fraught times.
        Hence the military in Egypt (garrison?)needed reinstating.

          1. Flinter’s comments are not true or false, they are a metaphoric rehash of history. This is probably off-topic and I understand Richard’s apprehension about getting into a pissing contest on history when it’s irrelevant to this post, sort of.

          2. I think your editorial foray is off topic.
            As is Davey’s(below) ad hominem.
            My facts stand, and if Davey wants a ‘pissing contest’ let him provide his historiographical credentials.
            The day history is ‘irrelevant’ to this topic is the day hasbara, spin and propaganda finally supplants any attempt at objective analys leading to progress out of the current(more than metaphorical)bloody and expanding tailspin.
            I suggest, Davey, you correct my historical facts if you can, and leave the style to the intelligence and taste of readers to judge for themselves.
            Sort of.

          3. Oh,…angry, angry. I intended no ad hominim — please point it out. The phrase “pissing contest” is often used to signal a known or anticipated series of arguments and that is what was intended. I don’t find that your history remarks, including the colorful metaphor for what has transpired, essentially wrong-headed at all. History is hardly irrelevant in general, and I sympathize of this, but I understand the hesitation here to rehash the ground simply because it is dressed in new imagery.

            As to “facts” — which ones are you asserting? The US and GB did block immigration, but it was at the behest of Zionists, it likely did not reflect policy overall or an unwillingness to take substantial numbers. The realization of the “strategic importance” of the region might not necessarily have led to “garrisoning” the region, but rather to an accommodation with Arab aspirations and non-support of the Zionist state. Many argue this point. You see, what you call “facts,” are interpretations.

            And this is precisely the “pissing contest” which Richard, I think, wished to sideline. Sort of.

          4. Sorry if I angered, Davey..I thought your ‘rehash’ was a dismissal.
            I think yoiu underestimate the deep dyed antisemitism in both the UK and US..I’ve lived in both…and it was a major factor in blocking the refufees from entry..not least from established Jews.
            The illusion of Jewish monocultural unity is also a Zionist fantasy, like all uber exclusivist and exceptionalising nationalisms.
            No offence intended. My ‘facts’ are founded.

  2. An extremely interesting piece was published this morning by Yossi Beilin in IsraelHayom (page 9)
    In it Beilin states that one of his Egyptian sources told him that the last elections were actually won by Ahmad Shafik and not Muhhamad Morsi, but the military forged the results in fear of the MB reaction.

    The fight between the Muslim Brotherhood and Secular Egyptian is nothing new.

    1: King Farouk banned the Muslim Brotherhood after the assassination of the Egyptian prime-minster Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi on December 28, 1948. Hassan al-Banna himself was killed by government agents in Cairo in February 1949.

    2: When Nassar came into power the ban against the MB was removed. A MB member Abdul Munim Abdul Rauf tried to kill Nassar on October 26,1954 and as a result the Brotherhood was outlawed again and Sayyid Qutb was imprisoned.

    3: in 1964 Nassar legalized the Brotherhood and released all prisoners

    4. in 1966 after failed attempts to assassinate Nassar, the Muslim Brotherhood leadership was executed and the organization banned again.

    5. The Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Saddat.

    This is not a political party in the western terms, this is a group that will use whatever it can to raise to power including assassination of political figures. Due to the long bloody history between the MB and the Secular officers i seriously doubt Sisi needed anyone’s advice weather Saudi or Israeli. He gave them a chance serving under Morsi for a year denying requests of his fellow officers to act before (per Yossi Beillin) and when nothing changed and things worsened acted.

    As for the US contacts with Egypt.
    The us will not sever it’s relations with the Egyptian regime because of American Interest. the US wan’t priority in crossing the Egyptian airspace and the Suez Canal, specially considering the growing chances with hostilities braking with Iran, and the growing terror threat in Sinai and Yemen. And it’s US interest that the the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt will be maintained and the military aid to Egypt is part of the contract. Also one should consider the the Egyptian army can use the said 1.3 Biliion Dollars only in the US purchasing US made products. With the economy the way it is last thing Obama wants is to hurt US companies.

    With respect to the famous influence of the Jewish Lobby in the US. This Lobby is unsuccessful, and had been for years in releasing Johnathan Pollard, which shows you that despite the urban legend about the influence of the said Lobby reality is totally different. The notion about the ultimate unlimited powers of the Jewish Lobby is border line antisemitic.

    1. @Burak: The last historical evidence you offered to buttress your view of the MB was from 35 yrs ago. You offered nothing for the period from then till now. While there is no doubt that the MB is an Islamist party which combines political with religious/theological ideas, and hence is problematic to democrats like me (or you, I presume), the Brotherhood is entirely different entity than it was in 1982.

      History proves with very few exceptions that when radical insurgent groups are permitted access to the system through elections they generally turn from revolutionary violence to responsible attempts at governance. It also proves that when extremist militarized regimes attempt to criminalize or eradicate such groups, it leads to absolute social chaos.

      As for your claim that the MB will use “whatever it can to raise [sic] power…” This is an opinion unfounded in fact. It is a duplication of alarmist Israeli views of Islamist regimes everywhere including Iran, Lebanon, & Gaza. This sort of false perception of reality is what has led Israel into so many of its military [mis]adventures.

      The us will not sever it’s relations with the Egyptian regime

      I do so love it when Israelis with no special expertise in the field tell us what the U.S. electorate or U.S. presidents will or won’t do. They have far less knowledge than any average U.S> citizen by and large yet presume far superior knowledge. It’s impressive, but again is part of the Israeli delusion of omniscience & omnipotence in ME affairs. A severe mental delusion with potentially grave consequences.

      the Egyptian army can use the said 1.3 Biliion Dollars only in the US purchasing US made products.

      This is going to shock you but…$1.3-billion in military exports isn’t even a drop in the ocean of the U.S. economy. Stopping these purchases will hardly even impact the companies whose products will no longer be bought by Egypt.

      This Lobby is unsuccessful, and had been for years in releasing Johnathan Pollard,

      False. Interesting that you use the case of Pollard to measure the success of the Lobby. Also interesting that you join anti-Semites in calling it the “Jewish,” rather than Israel lobby. As for being “borderline anti-Semitic:” that would be YOU.

      Using Pollard as a yardstick of success only confirms that you Israelis treat the lobby as an extension of your own foreign policy. That makes Aipac and all the others foreign agents who should be so designated under U.S. law. Further, Pollard is a traitor who did more damage to U.S. security interests than most other captured spies. His freedom would be a slap in the face to every U.S. official trying to protect those interests. It would be slap to the American people as well. That’s why the lobby has failed. Not because it isn’t generally successful at almost every other mission it undertakes.

      1. Exactly. The mere fact that the “Jewish” Lobby undertakes such a project underscores its “ties” to a foreign government and seriously questions the loyalty of the Lobby agencies including, alas, AIPAC. This effort will not play well with Americans and should be exposed repeatedly. (Considering the consequences, it is a wonder that the Lobby would take on such a project at all. It suggests how flawed their vision really is.)

  3. @ Richard (Is this the custom on this website when approaching someone ?)
    “the Brotherhood is entirely different entity than it was in 1982.”
    in what way is the brotherhood different ?

    “History proves with very few exceptions…..”
    I am here to learn, could you list few of those organization’s that became moderate when burdened with governing responsibility ? If you would have listened to the Tamrod people before the current revolution started, then Morsi tried to implement a religious out of date agenda onto the Egyptian society which brought the current revolution.

    “As for your claim that the MB will use “whatever it can to raise [sic] power…” This is an opinion unfounded in fact. ”
    First what is [sic] ?. Second it is not unfounded in fact it is founded in the history. The history of the last 75 years. You think that the MB is a different organization, in what way ?

    “This is going to shock you but…$1.3-billion in military exports isn’t even a drop in the ocean of the U.S. economy.”
    Nonsense. 1.3 Billion dollar is 10% of the yearly sales of L3 communications (within the top 25 US companies, and there are only 5 companies earning more then L3. ) it’s more then a chunk of change and surely not something to underestimate. Cutting military Aid to Egypt will result in job loss in the US something president Obama and the Democrats can not allow to happen prior to the 2014 mid term elections.

    “It would be slap to the American people as well. That’s why the lobby has failed. Not because it isn’t generally successful at almost every other mission it undertakes.”

    No doubt that releasing Pollard would be a slap on american hands as you stated. But that’s my point exactly. Though from an Israeli perspective pollard should be released and it is a consensus within the Israeli society , from the american perspective he shouldn’t. If the Jewish lobby (and i refer to it as the Jewish lobby because AIPAC is all Jewish) was a blind folded servant of the Israeli government or if the lobby were to have the ultimate power as you attribute to it, AIPAC would have been successful in bringing Pollard’s release. I fear that neither his true. AIPAC is not a blind folded servant of the Israeli government interest nor it has ultimate powers. AIPAC did try to influence Pollards release.

    1. @Burak: The Brotherhood actually had power for a year with an elected president. In its entire prior history, it never achieved this. It didn’t do a particularly good job while it was in power. But if you compare how it did to how Mubarak did, the MB only did worse because expectations were much higher for it. This is a substantial difference from the MB which was engaged in terror attacks & had its members executed or imprisoned after assassinating Sadat.

      Some of the revolutionary groups which turned from violence to governing have been the ANC in S. Africa, Mau-Maus in Kenya, the Indonesian resistance to the Dutch, the IRA, the American revolutionists, and even Zionist right wing groups like Etzel and Lehi. There are many other such examples.

      The MB will not use whatever it can to regain power. There are things it would never do in order to gain power. I doubt very much it would mow down 1,000 soldiers & police officers in order to regain power. Unlike you, I believe firmly that even such Islamist groups have principles & limits they place on their actions. It is the State unfortunately, with huge levels of force at its disposal which often uses unlimited force to gain its will.

      Egypt doesn’t spend all that $1.3 billion with one U.S. defense contractor. It spreads the money out over multiple companies. Therefore, the spending as spread out among all these companies doesn’t amount to a huge cut in revenue. As for U.S. jobs, our economy is on the mend & as far as I’m concerned it will do us and the world good to try to figure out alternative exports to that military gear exported to Israel & Egypt. American ingenuity should allow us to figure this out.

      As for Aipac, you are again wrong there. Aipac loves non-Jews especially evangelical Christians like John Hagee. In fact, the Israel lobby loves pro-Israel non-Jews more than Jews who don’t fall to the siren song of pro-Israelism. The Israel lobby is very beholden to non Jews for support. And that increases by the day as Jewish support falls. That’s only one reason not to call it the “Jewish lobby.” Another being that not all Jews agree with the Israel lobby or Aipac. Many Jews who do support Israel (critically) do not support the lobby. So to call it “Jewish” is wrong & plays into anti-Semitic tropes.

  4. @ Richard
    1st. I think that you are over simplifying the reasons for Morsi’s & MB failure. From what i read it seems that the main reason was their attempt to implement a stricter religious based system as the governing system in Egypt, which in turn stood against everything the previous revolution professed. That imho was the building block, on top of that you are right the expectations were a bit unreal, but i think that people feared the outcome mostly due to the Iranian example. Religious system means less freedom, at least the way religion is interpreted in that part of the world.

    2nd I think that the way to measure if an organization has changed is by looking at his agenda, i do not think the MB agenda has changed over the years hence personally i see no change, what guided them before seems to be guiding them now, and youtube is packed with links showing guns and ammo that were found in MB supporters camps all over Cairo including the Mosque, inside coffins etc. President Obama’s facebook page was packed yesterday with links this is only one of them https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=owIS8IqiRek.

    I have no idea what’s worse, killing 1000 people on the street or denying freedom from entire nation. Non seems like a good option to me but when i weigh 1000 people on one side and the freedom of an entire nation on the other, it’s a very tough call. Don’t get me wrong i object the killing of innocent people, in Israel, in Gaza and in Egypt regardless of who execute the killings may it be IDF, Fatah, Hamas or the Egyptian Army. From looking at the videos aired yesterday and the day before, i don’t think the Egyptian army planned to kill those people, it seems they encountered heavy resistance and live fire all over Egypt. Democracy in Egypt is fragile, there is no tradition of Democracy like in the US or even Israel, the measures used by both sides are out of the scope for both you and I, unfortunately not for them.

    3rd The revolutionary groups you mentioned, was any of them religious ? I think a fair comparison in that sense is the Iranian regime, and i do not think it gotten any better after it gained power, on the contrary.

    4th With respect to the Egyptian military aid budget, you’re right. What about other US interest in Egypt ? Suez Canal passage ? Air Space passage ?

    5th AIPAC, i always though that AIPAC was an organization of Jews and other Organization though might be pro-israelis are not part of AIPAC, am i wrong ?

    Thank you for your response i did learn a lot from it.

    1. @Burak: The Brotherhood failed for many reasons but not because they were attempting to implement sharia. On the contrary, their failure came from a inabiilty to compromise with other elements in the policitial landscape, an inability to share power, attempts to write supreme presidential power into law, and a refusal to appoint non-MB politicians in any meaningful political posts.

      The failure of your argument about the MB not “changing its agenda” may be seen by your refusing to offer any proof of your claim. As for YouTube videos, which you appear to believe will cement your claim, they don’t. You offer fraudulent claims by the army concerning MB violence, weapons, etc all of which have been disproven by credible media reports. I do not accept discredited claims as truth here. So do not bring discredited claims and attempt to offer them as true.

      How in God’s name can you claim the MB “denied freedom to an entire nation.” That’s both lame and preposterous. They won an election and were Egypt’s rightful rulers. The way to remove them short of impeachment or parliamentary action (avenues that were precluded thanks to the perversion & frustration of democracratic interests by the Old Guard dominated judiciary) is through new elections.

      Egyptians didn’t turn against the Brotherhood because it denied them freedom as you claim. But because the Brotherhood were incompetent rulers and instilled no confidence in the people that they could rule. That is a far different basis for unpopularity than what you claim.

      As for whether the army intended to kill civilians or not–the plain fact supported by every serious international media outlet is that they not only intended to murder the Brotherhood protesters, but that they’d planned to do so for some time; and that they may indeed intend to totally eradicate the MB if they can get away with it.

      I’m going to lay out some very clear rules for you: you may not offer your opinion on such issues unless you can support it with an independent credible source. So I don’t want to hear your opinion about what the army intended in similar comments from you. I’m not interested in hearing your opinion when it so flagrantly contradicts reality as supported by far more credible sources than you. I’m on the verge of moderating you, but will give you another chance before I do so. But the next time there will be no “next times.”

      Democracy in Egypt isn’t ‘fragile’ as you claim. It is dead.

      As for whether you’re “learning a lot” from my responses, I seriously doubt that. Your responses don’t show any growth in your perspective or moderation of your opinions. They’re still largely based on ignorance, faulty sources & prejudice. When am I doing to see some of this “learning” you claim you’re experienced??

  5. The article you refer to is very interesting indeed.

    That Israel has lobbied Washington NOT to stop the military aid is, in all honesty, exactly what anyone would expect, and that AIPAC marchs in lockstep with the Netanyahu government is, again, no big surprise.

    Nothing to see here, folks, just move along, move along….

    But this sentence is a real eye-opener ‘n’ no mistaking:
    …”and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.”

    Now that is a step waaaaaaaay beyond Israel lobbying the US government to adopt a certain policy, since it amounts to Israel actually stepping in and actively working against the US as it attempts to carry out a policy.

    Joe Biden keeps arguing that “There must be no daylight – I repeat, no daylight – between the USA and Israel”

    Well, heck Joe, here is a situation where there isn’t just “daylight” between you ‘n’ your supposed-ally.
    This is a situation where your faux-ally has made the decision to take on the role of an enemy.

    Perhaps you should do something about that before they make a habit of it….

  6. Richard,
    I appreciate your in depth posts, and your diligent reporting of sources, which take considerable time and effort, I am sure.
    It’s not easy to know what is happening anywhere, once one realizes that standard news coverage is, often, not representative, of broader or differing realities on the ground, at any given time.
    Thank you for your valuable posts, which also provide opportunities for interested parties to provide insights, and viewpoints.

  7. In a previous column, you were very critical of the Egyptian military for supposedly cooperating with Israel, regarding the alleged drone strike in the Sinai. What exactly would you like them to do in support of the Palestinians? Cancel the peace agreement? Violate the force restrictions in the Sina and move what forces they have up to the Israeli borderi? Fully rearm and pose a dirct military threat against Israel? Withdraw their ambassador? Step up the media campaign against Israel? Completely open the border with Gaza? What would you advise a “true friend” of the Palestinians in a position of power in Egypt to do for them?

    1. First, it’s ironic that you, an Israeli Jew, are asking me, an American Jew what I think Egypt’s generals should do in ruling their country. That’s a place I have no business going.

      But in general terms, any Egyptian government must represent the interests of Egypt’s citizens. Not it generals or fat cats. Nor it’s western benefactors. Though there is much I’m critical of regarding Erdogan’s rule in Turkey, I think he’s walked a fine line regarding Israel. He’s shown his disapproval of Israel’s policies without fomenting war or violence. He’s expressed solidarity with Gaza, demanded compensation for the Mavi Marmara massacre. But his policies have been measured, while being critical.

      1. In spite of doing a lot of talking, Erdogan has not actually accomplished anything regarding the Palestinians. There is no agreement on compensation regarding the Mavi Marmara, and I don’t believe there will be one, Israel’s policies with Gaza are not influenced by Turkey’s position and I don’t believe any of Israeli’s policies take into consideration Erdogan’s views and wishes. In any event, his position seems to have been weakened, although not mortally damaged by the mass protests against his rule. It is interesting that although in both Turkey and Egypt, the anti-Islamist forces are quite large, in Turkey maybe half the population, and in Egypt a majority, but in both cases, they are politically disunited and weak. In Egypt it was the army that stepped in, in Turkey the army has been neutralized.

        Regarding the violence in Egypt, all the reports I have heard claim that a majority of the population supports what the army is doing, in spite of the mass violence. It doesn’t seem to have shocked the population, except for the MB supporters. This is a sign of a badly divided citizenry which has very bad impliciations for the future….a lack of wilingness to find national unity through compromise. Very ominous….looks something like Syria or Iraq, although Egypt doesnt have the sectarian and ethnic divisions those countries have.

        1. @bar kochba: Your comment betrays a curious ignorance about how countries determine their foreign policy and what the schedule is for determining success. Turkey has many elements of its foreign policy. The Palestinians are but one of many. Erdogan realizes that he must pick and choose his battles and the timing of his initiatives. He has wisely used the Mavi Marmara massacre in order to promote awareness in the world both of Israel’s aggression & the illegality of the Gaza siege. In some ways it doesn’t matter whether Israel agrees to a settlement or not. If it agrees, it will have admitted wrongdoing & weakened its position. If it refuses it will continue to cast itself as a stubborn country unwilling to accept responsibility for its violations of international law (like murdering Turks in international waters).

          But unlike you, I believe there will be such an agreement. I remind you & readers of just how many of your “predictions” have proven wrong including that Obama would lose his first presidential election. You don’t have a terribly reliable record.

          Israel is deeply afraid of the role Turkey may play in further ostracizing it both in the region & on the world stage. If you think Israel doesn’t give a crap how one of the most powerful Muslim countries in the world conducts relations with it, you’re deluded.

          As to whether Erdogan has been weakened or not, again the quality of your analysis of world events is quite suspect. If Erdogan has been weakened it has been domestically. His foreign policy remains cogent and matters both in the region & world. Even if Erdogan is weakened or falls, the Turkish secular opposition does not have the power to replace him. He will likely be replaced by someone like Abdullah Gul, who is also an Islamist and whose policies toward Israel won’t be substantially different.

          Anti-Islamists are “half the population” is Turkey? What are you smoking? Some pretty powerful stuff. Erdogan’s party won a massive victory in virtually every election it contested since it came to power. The opposition is not unified. I can’t tell whether you’re merely ignorant or are trying deliberately to disseminate information that is false. If the latter, I do not permit lies to be published here. In fact, I challenge you to present any credible polling that substantiates this claim. If you offer none then I will expect you to admit this and retract this claim. If you do not, I may restrict your comment privileges.

          As for Egypt, I dare you to present any “report” that claims “a majority of the population supports what the army is doing.” How can anyone know this for a fact? Has there been an election to determine this question? A credible poll? No to both. So once again you’re spinning facts out of thin air. The most you can say is that some reporters in Egypt believe there is strong civilian support in some sectors for the coup. But that is a far cry from saying the majority supports it. As for whether the massacres have shocked the population or not–how would you know? Which journalist has said they haven’t? Again, the fact that reporters have interviewed a few government supports or even paid thugs who’ve defended the massacres doesn’t mean much & certainly not that the majority are not shocked by them as you imply.

          BTW, the lack of willingness to find compromise which you find so ominous was brought about solely by your friends in the army who were boosted by their Israeli, Saudi & Qatari friends into mounting the coup. The NYT and other publications have proven definitively that the MB was perfectly willing to negotiate and compromise & that western interlocutors had cemented a deal on which the army reneged: again after intervention from your Israeli officials. So the obstinacy is all on the part of the generals & their Likud friends.

          1. “Qatari friends” is unlikely, perhaps you meant Emirati? Qatar and Turkey were strong supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brothers.

        2. @ bar_kochba132

          “It is interesting that although in both Turkey and Egypt, the anti-Islamist forces are quite large, in Turkey maybe half the population, and in Egypt a majority”

          This falsehood is wishful thinking, an obsession for Western and Occidentalist secularists, ranging from neoconservatives to twittering liberals, usually white, usually privileged, in addition to the original enemies of Islamism — Iranians who wanted the Shah, ultra-Kemalists in Turkey and wealthy elites in Egypt — who just cannot accept, who simply cannot get it into their heads, that enormous swathes of the population in these important countries, outside the cities, outside the cafés, outside the bourgeoisie, outside the Anglophonosphere, indeed the great majority of the people, either believe in or give their support to political Islam, and have for understandable reasons no faith left in any other political ideas, least of all Western-style, secular-liberal globalism, which they distrust and despise along with everything it stands for — understandably. At least informed Israelis tend to see the truth that moderate Islamism is currently the dominant paradigm among the common people in much, though not all, of the Arab world (although they instead make the equally unfounded assumption that all Islamists are evil barbarians). The fact that a military establishment has successfully suppressed Islamism for so long in Egypt and Turkey does not mean that it was never there, or that most people dislike it. In reality most people have just had no say in the affairs of these states for most of their modern history. Now they do, and they speak the language of Islamism.

          I am, as you can see, challenging your speculations in the strongest terms, and will maintain that position until you show either hard data, or even any kind of logical reasoning at all, that will support your claims, which as far as I can see you have not.

          “all the reports I have heard claim that a majority of the population supports what the army is doing, in spite of the mass violence.”

          What reports, exactly? Contrary to your suggestion, Esam al-Amin writing for CounterPunch on August 16 claims the following:

          “In fact, one month after the coup, the Egyptian public opinion has sharply turned against it. On August 6, the respectable Egyptian Center for Media Studies and Public Opinion published a poll showing that 69 percent of the Egyptian public rejects the military coup, while 25 percent supports it, with 6 percent refusing to give their opinion. Of those who reject it, only 19 percent identify themselves with the MB, 39 percent with other Islamist parties, while 35 percent are unaffiliated but feel that their votes were invalidated by the coup. Of those who support it, 55 percent in the poll consider themselves former Mubarak regime loyalists, while 17 percent identify themselves as Coptic Christians opposed to Islamists’ rule. Moreover, 91 percent of those who refused to give an answer belong to the pro-Saudi Salafist Al-Noor Party, which initially supported the coup before it pulled back and withdrew from Sisi’s roadmap.”


          Furthermre, on July 11, only a week after the military coup, the Middle East Monitor published the following:

          “A report from the Egyptian Centre for Media Studies and Public Opinion has revealed that most people in Egypt are opposed to the removal of President Mohamed Morsi from office. Only 26 per cent support the coup, with 63 per cent against it; 11 per cent of respondents did not give an opinion.

          The questionnaire was based on a random sample of the Egyptian public. The Integration Egypt website said that the questionnaire’s credibility rate is more than 95 per cent.”


          “It doesn’t seem to have shocked the population, except for the MB supporters.”

          What do you base this on? (Your observations from the beach at an Egyptian tourist resort?)

          I won’t bother to contradict your analysis of Erdogan’s role vis-a-vis the Palestinians, since I would only be repeating what Mr. Silverstein has already said.

          The one thing I agree with in your comment is that the politically active sectors of the Egyptian populace do appear strongly polarized, a condition which gets worse with every confrontation. This, of course, has been the strategy of the Armed Forces from the start. And as you say, it does not bode well for the future. I too fear the prospect of a civil war. But it is not yet credible to suggest that the majority of the Egyptian people “lack willingness to find national unity to compromise”. For the record, I don’t believe that’s true of Iraq or Syria either. These are all conflicts engineered by minority interests represented by the belligerent parties and their backers.

          1. You forgot to add the disclaimer of Islamic Middle East Monitor:
            “Dear readers, please note that the survey was conducted by the Egyptian Center for Media Studies and Public Opinion and NOT The Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research (Bassera).”

            Poll performed by the latter:
            Approximately 71% of Egyptians do not sympathize with the demonstrations in support of former President Mohammed Morsi by Dr. Magued Osman
            Interviews on July 20/21

            I checked out your link to poll [ecmeg.com] registered to someone with a name identical to an Egyptian journalist but no identity of an address. The site was created on May 5, 2013. Make your own judgement, IMO highly suspect.

          2. @ Oui: No, I didn’t “forget” to add their “disclaimer”. It’s there for anyone to see who, as you did, follows the link I provided.

            I’ve cited two polls by ECMEG, which Esam al-Amin calls respectable, about a month apart, showing widespread disapproval of the coup.

            You’ve cited one poll by Baseera, showing a lack of sympathy for the pro-Morsi demonstrations in Cairo in mid July.

            Now, this Baseera was started in April 2012, and is still run, by a number of thoroughly Westernized, American-educated businessmen — including Ahmad Galal, the CURRENT FINANCE MINISTER OF THE JUNTA’S PSEUDO-GOVERNMENT. Several of the other founders, including the CEO, Magued Osman, signatory to the poll you quote, are Mubarak-era establishment figures, some with careers in the pre-Brotherhood caretaker government.

            So yes, I’m sure everyone will make their own judgment, and from where I’m standing it doesn’t change anything.

        3. If the MB lacked support, how did it win an election? It won because the “majority” of citizens did not support military rule. And now Egypt is right back to military dictatorship ala Mubarak, a situation friendly to Israel. What a surprise! One can simply infer that the US and Israel has had a hand in the coup. These “actors,” the West and Israel, have fractured political life throughout the region, a risky strategy.

      2. Politics is about power, Erdogan plays that part very well building a relationship with Europe and the GCC states while serving natonal interests. Erdogan’s power stems from representing fat cats and we know how he serves Western benefactors (NATO/USA) and Turkish citizens. I think you underestimate him, connect the dots. Indication of Erdogan’s authoritarian rule by naming Istanbul’s third Bosphorus bridge after “Yavuz Sultan Selim.” I too favored Turkey’s prominence until recently after observing Erdogan’s role in Syria and the riots in Istanbul.

        Now considered Qatar’s foreign policy blunder, billions of dollars used in bankrolling revolutions in Libya, Syria, and Egypt. [source Gulf News]

          1. @Oui: But Israel DID support the coup. I’d be willing to bet that Israel weighed in with the generalissimos even before the coup happened. So is Erdogan far off the mark? Probably not.

            Again, I find your comments here to be off topic. I don’t like commenters who are regularly off topic. I don’t want to moderate you. But if you continue to do this you will be moderated.

        1. @Oui: You attempt to bring “facts” to bolster your argument which you think will shock or disturb me. Or the facts aren’t necessarily facts at all, but your opinion guised as fact. As far as I’m concerned Erdogan is a flawed ruler. But as far as foreign policy is concerned I think he’s been pitch-perfect including regarding Egypt. His denunciation of the coup was eloquent.

  8. I fear that focusing the world’s attention has encouraged Assad to go for broke.
    The Daily Mail’s pictures of Sarin victims around Damascus look like it to me: far more conclusive Sarin symptoms than before.

    Also, dead by the hundred rather than the dozen, which is nearer to what one would expect from a non-degraded Sarin strike.

    I suspect that the previous incidents were intended to be this bad, but that the sarin in those munitions was chemically degraded by age.

    Even so, what’s apparently happened is still not as bad as I’d expect a strike with full-strength Sarin to be.

    I am afraid that it can get worse. Especially if someone has supplied enough sarin precursor chemicals for Assad to make the stuff fresh.

    1. @ Fred Plester: With all due respect, this seems quite off topic to me. Perhaps Mr. Silverstein will write about the alleged chem attack, so we should postpone our discussion until then; I will only remark that, if anyone asks me to believe that the Syrian government finally invited a team of 20 expert weapons inspectors to investigate the use of chemical weapons, on Sunday — and then carried out a major chemical attack in the vicinity on Wednesday — then they’re going to have to present hard proof to make that seem credible. As of the moment, no such proof exists; only videos from the opposition, which experts have looked at and are skeptical about. Haaretz reports extensively on such skepticism:


      ‘”Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and a leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from the footage so far: “None of the people treating the casualties or photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective gear,” he says, “and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed.” This would seem to rule out most types of military-grade chemical weapons, including the vast majority of nerve gases, since these substances would not evaporate immediately, especially if they were used in sufficient quantities to kill hundreds of people, but rather leave a level of contamination on clothes and bodies which would harm anyone coming in unprotected contact with them in the hours after an attack. In addition, he says that “there are none of the other signs you would expect to see in the aftermath of a chemical attack, such as intermediate levels of casualties, severe visual problems, vomiting and loss of bowel control.”‘

      The story goes on for several paragraphs, as you’ll see, pointing out the unresolved questions of this matter.

      Other outlets reflect these ambiguities and skeptical concerns, including the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/world/middleeast/syria.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      1. They are not wearing NBC gear because they do not have any.

        American experts and media have got the message from the American government, that since the use of chemical weapons commits Obama to action, there ain’t no use of chemical weapons. Russia Today, of course, will blame the rebels every time.

        They did wash down casualties with hoses before treating them (previous incidents they tried to give them oxygen first, which is getting things in the wrong order).

        Sarin in skin contact can take up to eighteen hours before symptoms appear. I don’t think the doctors in the footage are clever liars or fraudsters, “brave” might be a better word. My own experience of Arab soldiers informs me that a high risk of dying in the attempt to help someone in peril, will not necessarily deter them. Land-based helicopters with no floats on at all, will be “hovered” with skids in the sea to rescue ship-wrecked fishermen, for example, leaving me to make the avionics work again afterwards.

        Since the UN inspectors will not be allowed to visit the scene, their presence in Damascus is irrelevant.

        If this is off topic, it’s for Richard to be rude to me, not you. I’ve never known him to hesitate when it was necessary.

        Almost certainly, this happened when it did precisely because Egypt is the issue of the hour, and something else has happened in Syria which is suddenly displacing very, very large numbers of Syrians into Northern Iraq/Kurdistan.

        It wasn’t initially clear who the refugees were, but they appear, based on interviews with the one BBC journalist to reach where they were, to be either pro-government or people with neutral views, chased out of the country by an Islamist militia.

        The gas attack may be retaliation for this.


        Also, the official opposition spokesman said something about “ballistic rockets” being used, but those actually at the scene say it was rockets fired from helicopters, which makes much more sense. A new, very basic but not exactly homemade, helicopter-launched rocket has begun to appear and has been found with both explosive and some odd kinds of chemical filling.


        Newspaper articles about “stocks” of Sarin are so much gas, because Sarin is not stable in storage and has a useful life measured in months at most, more usually weeks. The attack could only be done by a party able to make fresh sarin: captured stocks would be mainly breakdown products by now. Which may be why a new, cheap but effective rocket has been speedily but carefully developed and field tested over the past six weeks or so.

        The agent is not necessarily sarin: Soman would have been easier to make and probably to store: the Nazis succeeded in making this a few years before they mastered sarin. As the Indian school meals disaster recently proved, some undiluted commercial pesticides are quite a lot more toxic than some listed chemical weapons and work by a similar mechanism as nerve gas.

        The expert you quote clearly hasn’t seen all the material that was on the BBC, let alone that which they couldn’t broadcast because it was too shocking.

        Unresolved questions can be used as an excuse for ignoring the bleeding obvious, at times.

        1. To clarify:
          if the agent really was sarin, it would have to be fairly freshly made to be as potent as this agent evidently was.
          So if sarin, probably government.

          If one of the other possibilities, which might be stable in storage for longer, then the list of possible culprits grows, but NOT if the delivery system was, as it appears to have been, rockets fired from HELICOPTERS. The rockets themselves look like the sort of very basic thing made by Russia and Britain during WW2, and might be fabricated by anyone with a reasonably good sheet metal workshop. (They all adhere to pattern, so there are blueprints and proficient fabricators.)

          But ONLY government forces are operating helicopters in Syria at the present time.

  9. See:

    This follows a huge movement of refugees from Syria into Iraqi Kurdistan, so either there was a whole haystack of straws in the wind, or there was another attack like this a few days ago in a more rural location, which got everybody moving.

    There’s been discussion on the Brown Moses bog recently, about a new type of improvised rocket that was clearly able to carry chemical and not just explosive payloads.

  10. Mubarak ran a kleptocracy, which destroyed the Egyptian economy. The army would have defended an economically competent regime, but he never represented that and they knew it.

    The Muslim Brotherhood, simply do not perceive the economy in the same way as anybody else, and they didn’t attach much importance to fixing what everyone else, including the army, saw as problems. (Not unlike the Taliban, in fact.)

    There was no way that the army was going to put up with a government that was effectively ignoring the economy. Israel may have shouted encouragement, but I really doubt it had any effect on the army’s decisions.

    Assad runs a kleptocracy, and has ruined Syria economically. But there’s nobody out there in the opposition who shows any sign of economic competence whatsoever, so it’s a choice of who controls the anarchy amidst an economy at the “Mad Max” level. In Somalia, Yemen and North Western Pakistan, the Islamists have had some success in keeping control of the rubble (and preventing any progress or repair), so it must seem to them that they’ve a fair chance of controlling Syria, provided that it doesn’t ever climb out of the state of collapse.

    So the real problem, in both Egypt and Syria as well as several other places, is that the Islamists are trying to modify the environment so that it will support Islamists and nobody else. The Brotherhood started burning churches and trying to impose their own view of Islam on what, in Egypt, is a largely moderate Muslim majority. And the Islamists in Syria seem to have actively driven Kurds and Christians in particular over the Iraqi border in recent weeks. But if they reduce the overall level of economic activity to a point where the population can only just narrowly avoid starvation by going to the mosque or the militia compound and meekly accepting what is doled out, then there’s no actual need for overt ethnic or sectarian cleansing. Only compliant families will survive anyway.

    When the Islamist militias first started in Syria, they were doing what the Muslim Brotherhood has long done in Egypt, and engaged in “charity” work and fed the poor, but in the process made sure that neither the poor nor anybody else would be fed without them.

    What I think has happened, is not that Israel berated the Egyptian army into action, though I’ve no doubt it was trying to; rather, the Egyptian army and a large part of the civil population, realized for themselves that what was happening would soon make pretty well everyone dependent on handouts at the mosque and therefore put the Brotherhood into eternal and total power. At the same time, the Syrian army was seeing the larger part of the civil population that was either supportive of it, or at least didn’t hate it, being herded over the border into Iraq, concurrent with a widespread and growing dependence of the rest of the civil population on the Islamist militias for food.

    Both armies suddenly saw themselves on the brink of something irreversible, and the result was atrocity in both cases.
    The successful strategy in both cases would be to feed civilians, regardless of their perceived allegiance, and try and restore economic activity rather than state control. Egypt and Syria are not separate topics: they’re the same topic.

    The British army in Helmand learned to measure success by the number of markets and market stalls that were open, rather than by who was sitting on top of which hill. If people can feed themselves without having to submit to anyone’s heavily-loaded charity, all other human rights will follow. If they can’t, no other human rights will matter.

    Gas attacks in Syria and the storming of mosques in Cairo, are an attempt to frighten people away from those offering them the chance to surrender their freedom for bread. But you can’t frighten people away if that’s the choice. You’ve got to provide another way for them to get the bread.

    1. @Fred: You’re stretching the boundaries of the comment threads by posting post-length comments full of your own personal analysis of a broad array of issues. I certainly don’t mind reasonable length comments on these subjects, when you get into hundreds of words, you’re breaking the spirit of the threads as I see them.

      You need to consider publishing your own blog for such long monologues. And you need to post shorter comments. Personally, I think monograph length comments drag the threads down. Most people just don’t want to read them.

    2. @ Fred Plester: You raise some interesting arguments; however, I take issue with: “The Brotherhood started burning churches …”

      I’m not sure whether in this particular context you mean it figuratively, or if you refer literally to the attacks on Coptic Churches in the aftermath of the August 14 massacre on the pro-democracy camps. Up until recently I casually accepted the allegation that enraged Brotherhood supporters were responsible for these attacks (although I considered it unremarkable and understandable, given the context of August 14, and the Coptic support for Sisi), but lately I’ve noted that such eminent voices as that of Tariq Ramadan have strongly questioned the idea that the Brotherhood was behind the church attacks. I’d just like to raise that for the record.

      Your larger point of radical Islamism alienating people seems to have merit, but the notion that the Morsi government was deliberately trying to put a relatively advanced nation of more than 80 million people on the dole, as part of a socio-political strategy, does not strike me as realistic, but rather as an extreme caricature. And the idea, whether you mean it objectively or as percieved by their opponents, of the MB in “total and eternal power” is equally laughable. Furthermore, your characterization of Morsi’s mismanagement of the economy lacks nuance and makes it seem as though the government pursued a kamikaze course. Here is an article by John Wight which discusses the very real obstacles any post-Mubarak government had to contend with, including the role of the IMF:

      “By the time Morsi came to power as the nation’s first ever democratically elected president, Egypt had experienced a drastic fall in both foreign investment and tourism revenues, leading to a 60% drop in foreign exchange reserves, a 3% drop in growth, and a rapid devaluation of the Egyptian pound. All this led to mushrooming food prices, ballooning unemployment and a shortage of fuel and cooking gas.”


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