July 24, 2013
Egypt: Preparing The Repression
The situation in Egypt keeps escalating. After the military coup against former president Morsi the Muslim Brotherhood decided to not accept it and to regain power. They took to the streets to demonstrate and are holding sit-ins. There was violence against their demonstrations as well as violence coming from them. But the situation seemed somewhat stable as the coup government established itself without much trouble and the protests in Cairo seemed to dwindle.
The ruling military though has a different view. For them the situation in the Sinai is a crucial issue. There militant Jihadists, some of them foreigners and equipped with weapons smuggled in from Libya, have attacked army position and camps and seem to develop capabilities that could soon allow them to launch attacks into the Nile delta. Under former president Morsi those Jihadist were relatively safe. Morsi pardoned many of them and freed them from Egypt's jails. The army was not allowed to go after them. This was one of the main motives for the coup.
Three days ago five people, including four army personal, were killed in a coordinated Jihadist attacks in the Sinai. Yesterday 19 army personal were injured in another attack. Today one soldier died in yet another attack. The army has deployed two additional battalions to the area but the Sinai is a wide and whoever wants to hide there will find ways to do so.
The Brotherhood has somewhat endorsed these attacks and suggested that it can control them:
Mohamed el-Beltagy, one of the hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders placed on the wanted list after the ouster of Morsi, took refuge among tens of thousands of Morsi supporters in Cairo. In a televised interview, he stated, "Attacks in Sinai would stop the second President Mohammed Morsi is reinstated."
For the military the Muslim Brotherhood protests in Cairo and the threat from the Sinai belong together. It is looking for ways to harshly clamp down on both.
The military chief General Al-Sisi has now called for large demonstrations to support a crack down:
"I urge the people to take to the streets this coming Friday to prove their will and give me, the army and police, a mandate to confront possible violence and terrorism."
The military promised to protect the protests. The Muslim Brotherhood swallowed
The Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters of Mr Morsi say they will go ahead with their own rallies on Friday, despite General Sisi's statement.
Senior Brotherhood figure Mohamed el-Beltagy said Gen Sisi was "calling for a civil war... to protect this military coup".
The Tamarod movement which coordinated the protest in June will take part in the protests Al-Sisi called for. The Salafi Nour Party, again playing smarter than the Brotherhood, called on all Egyptians not to protest on Friday.
The military, its associated commercial enterprises and the Tamarod wing have proven to be able to bring large numbers into the streets. So is the Muslim Brotherhood. It is likely that the two protests on Friday will meet and clashes are then sure to ensue. The military seems to planning for such clashes to then use them as an excuse to shut down the Brotherhood sit-ins and to delegitimize the organization.
The U.S. has now publicly delayed the delivery of four F-16 fighters to the Egyptian military. But that seems to be just for show. It did not call the coup a coup and still does not do so and that is endorsement enough for General Al-Sisi to proceed as he likes.
But can a violent crack down on the Brotherhood and the Jihadists really suppress them? They do have a somewhat justified grievances and have the means to go for a long violent insurgency. A violent insurgency is not what Egypt needs. But how can it now be avoided?
Posted by b on July 24, 2013 at 01:02 PM | Permalink
The egyptian army with Al-sisi in the front seems more desperate than ever. Now calling for demonstrations to support his military dictatorship! The military want to return to the time of Mubarak.
b nails it with this line:
"The military seems to planning for such clashes to then use them as an excuse to shut down the Brotherhood sit-ins and to delegitimize the organization. "
Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 24, 2013 1:58:51 PM | 1
A violent crackdown will decrease the power of the more pacifistic and increase the power of the more violent element within the Brotherhood. History under Mubarak shows that the Jihadists are not easy to defeat and cracking down on the Brotherhood will only increase the Jihadists recruitment base.
So the easy answer on how to avoid a civil war is to not perform a violent crackdown, but instead provide space within the political realm for the Brotherhood. In effect, snap elections and the military hands over power.
Fat chance of that happening, even though I think it would be in the military's long term interest. This government will also become unpopular as the food and fuel prices keeps making life hard for the ordinary egyptian. The unpopularity will undermine the ability to get people on the streets, and thus the governments legitimacy. Then what? Will they rule with an iron fist and simply send the tanks to Tahrir (assuming the tank commanders obeys orders this time) or step down for a civilian government after they have made themselves unpopular?
Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Jul 24, 2013 2:23:59 PM | 2
I would think that if Sisi can bring out massive numbers on the streets, he will survive. If not, then he has a problem. He has committed himself. He would have done better to remain uncommitted. I suppose that he felt that it was necessary, but he is throwing military rule in the ring.
Posted by: alexno | Jul 24, 2013 2:34:29 PM | 3
This call for Egyptians to come out on the streets is a sign of weakness. The military are unable to re-impose their ancient domination.
Posted by: alexno | Jul 24, 2013 2:42:34 PM | 4
4) Egypt has been there before. The Brotherhood will split on the issue of violence. That is all.
In a televised interview, he stated, "Attacks in Sinai would stop the second President Mohammed Morsi is reinstated."
This statement is the height of political stupidity except if it was meant for US/Israel.
Posted by: somebody | Jul 24, 2013 2:50:30 PM | 5
There are no pacifist in the MB. They have been a terror organization from the day they were created. The only difference is when they decide to use violence not if they will use violence.
Posted by: ThePaper | Jul 24, 2013 2:59:39 PM | 6
Possibly both sides are colluding in one of those CIA-styled false oppositions that masks a real crackdown on the Left. The Egyptian Left is far from negligible. I think there are more factory workers in Egypt than peasants (peasants are approx 30% of the population). But the cities are flooded with ex-peasant economic migrants, who are probably all MB supporters. Joel Beinin provides a good introduction to Egyptian labour politics, though he is perhaps naive regarding the help of the ILO in the attempt to form an independent trades unions federation (EFITU versus the govt and MB-dominated establishment trades unions federation, ETUF). This article by Beinin is pre-coup:
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 24, 2013 3:07:33 PM | 7
I think Al-Sisi has a classical problem of wanting to appease to many factions and to create/keep an image of "friendly military guided by democratic principles".
The problem with that is that having diverse more or less ready to use force factions Al-Sisis stance is perceived, in particular by those ready to use force, as weak - and actually is.
What should he do imo?
He should explain that egypt is currently weak(ened) and any non-state actions of violence or worse, terror will not be tolerated. At the same time he should invite, further and support any means of democratic discussion and process and in a way that shows again and again that he wants to support democratic processes leading to a new widely accepted government without, however, any desire to gain power for the military.
He should swiftly go for and either mute or terminate the leaders of any faction supporting, using or calling for violence. Rather than trying to look friendly he should actually talk publicly about his "anti-terror" actions.
There would of course be a hell of complaints and noise on the street; but then, it couldn't that much worse than it is right now. By showing again and again that the military a) supports and protects democracy and the egyptians b) does not itself strive for political power c) does not tolerate violence or terror by any party whosoever and will supress it by all means, Al-Sisi could prove himself and the military and guide Egypt to a new government and (relative) social peace.
Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 24, 2013 3:34:53 PM | 9
4) Egypt has been there before. The Brotherhood will split on the issue of violence. That is all.
Excuse me, but where before? The Military regime hasn't been in danger before. Here they are at risk. Here they want to push a line, that it is uncertain that the Egyptian people will accept. Could be that a military regime is acceptable down south in Assiut. Could be that Cairo opinions will play down south, but maybe not.
Egyptian opinion down south is quite conservative. If they have their way, Morsi will be restored. Cairo is become a monster, a majority but also unrepresentative of the rest of Egypt.
Posted by: alexno | Jul 24, 2013 3:39:57 PM | 10
The only thing to be sure of is violence.
There now seems to be so many parts moving, with every manner of provocateurs flying all sorts of false flags, that surely no event can be taken at face value.
Posted by: guest77 | Jul 24, 2013 3:47:06 PM | 11
Regarding Al-Sisi: Former ambassador Dan Kurtzner pointed out in a recent interview that the US needs Egyptian permission to transit the Red Sea to supply troops in Afghanistan & the Persian Gulf. This has foreclosed any possibility that Egypt's "transition to democracy" will be officially designated as a coup and military aid suspended.
Al-Sisi also has won the favor of the IDF, and is bankrolled by the Saudis. So he is confident that he has the upper hand in his dealings with the Obama administration.
Posted by: Harper Langston | Jul 24, 2013 6:18:28 PM | 13
@6 A weak argument. An organization isn't a terrorist organization merely because it uses violence to achieve its objectives.
If that were true then the US government
is a terrorist organization, since it is only a matter of when - not if - it decides to unleash the US armed forces on yet another country that won't do as it's told.
There has to be an intent to invoke terror in the civilian popln, and absent that intent then the organization is merely "violent", not "terrorist"
Posted by: Johnboy | Jul 24, 2013 8:38:16 PM | 14
Weapons coming from Libya seems to be a given. I wonder if any are making their way down from Syria through the Golan Heights and Israel into the Sinai. I bet the fighters in Sinai would love to have anti-tank weapons....
And what are Saudia Arabia and the Gulf emirates doing, who are they supporting in what could become an ugly civil war in Egypt....
Posted by: jawbone | Jul 24, 2013 10:18:51 PM | 15
At this point the Muslim Brotherhood deserve support. They have every right to protest, despite the ineptitude and treachery of the Morsi government.
As to the army: just who is in charge? The last that I heard there was a "transitional" government fully equipped with neo-liberal economists, Baradeis and friends of Israel. The army, it was claimed, had retired to the sidelines and was awaiting orders.
As to Rowan's claim that
"the ex-peasant economic migrants,... are probably all MB supporters." I doubt this, they are probably in the reserve army of labour, looking for work and barely keeping their heads above water.
If they cannot be rallied behind an anti neo-liberal programme and involved in revolution it is unlikely that this is because the tired old Brotherhood has a hold over them. More likely that the Nasserites and other socialist/nationalists are not getting their message out.
The streets are full of people looking for radical answers: they know what the army's answer is, more of Mubarakism, they know that the Brotherhood offers nothing very different. We will now see whether Tamarod is anything more than a front for Mubarak 2.0.
Posted by: bevin | Jul 24, 2013 10:30:57 PM | 16
The US has a reduced brigade-size force in the Sinai as part of Multinational Force of Observers, MFO, which is a force formed outside the UN Security Council. This force is known as Task Force Sinai.
The task force has a headquarters, a National Guard infantry battalion and support battalion and an active-duty aviation company and explosives ordnance disposal detachment. Here is its facebook page.
Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 24, 2013 11:00:59 PM | 17
DB @ 17: Interesting link, thanks. Nothing like a little piece of the empire in Egypt. Bet it's a good duty station, if Israel can stay out of the Sinai. Could heat up soon.
Posted by: ben | Jul 25, 2013 12:36:11 AM | 18
16, Look, when you are faced with a group whose programm aims at taking your liberties from you, does it make sense to fight for the political rights of that group or for the oppression of that group?
So whilst it does not make sense for Egyptians to support the army to take their rights away, it also makes no sense for Egyptians to fight for the Muslim Brotherhood to take their rights away just because the Muslim Brotherhood happens to be at the loosing end of the equation.
As a matter of fact the Muslim Brotherhood now serves as a reason for the army to take Egyptians political rights away. They have served and been used for splitting nationalist, unions and workers movements throughout the history of modern Egypt.
Democracy is only possible when its rules can be enforced (and when fights for economic power are regulated by it but not decided). To allow a group to take power whose aim is the oppression of dissidents, i.e. the end of democracy, is suicidal democracy. Just ask the Iranians.
It makes sense to fight for human rights for everybody, this does not include the right to be violent, to incite, to suppress etc.
People get killed in Egypt daily. Most people in any country would prefer the rule of the army to civil war. Actually, the army is the only institution to keep Egypt together.
Posted by: somebody | Jul 25, 2013 1:44:16 AM | 19
For Bevin to say "At this point the MB deserves support" seems to me to be an example of the sort of vague, indiscriminate, pseudo-leftist anti-imperialism that ends up supporting the most reactionary fascist regimes everywhere, providing they pay lip service to crude popular prejudice, making bloodcurdling statements about how much they hate USrael. In fact, they are USraeli pawns, and their main objective function is to crush the Left (often by accusing it of being Jewish-led, which historically was true, see below). The thing to focus on if you want to approach real leftism is not the false opposition provided by the Army vs Islamist scenario, but the question: where is the Egyptian Left underneath all this? And how successful will the US-controlled left-liberals be in coopting it? Will the Egyptian Left yet again make the stupid mistake of imagining that the MB has a 'left wing' which they can work with? This is why I drew attention to Joel Beinin's work on Egypt, complete with its own weakness, which is naivety regarding the left-liberals. Beinin is actually the only person to my knowledge who has made a serious study of the Egyptian Left, its origins, history and prospects. He has written several books about it. I have one of them, "Was The Red Flag Flying There?", which is about the origins of the Egyptian Left, and very interesting it is too. Characteristically, Beinin hints perhaps unintentionally that the great and enigmatic Jewish-Egyptian Leftist Henri Curiel may have been a zionist agent, but without ever addressing the question outright. The dynamics are very familiar: pre-1948 Egyptian Leftism was more or less led by Egyptian Jews, whose females walked around in short skirts, had indiscreet love affairs with hunky young Egyptian Arab males, and scandalised the Egyptian masses. Too much too soon, or deliberate provocation? One can certainly wonder.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 25, 2013 2:39:12 AM | 20
PS to Harper Langston (comments 12, 13): your second comment is much more sensible than your first, which is just a great slab of alarmism from DEBKAfile. DEBKA is a very useful resource if you know how to use it, but not otherwise. It is basically a nonstop psyop from Israeli Army Intelligence (AMAN). From time to time, DEBKA drops genuine military intelligence scoops, sometimes ones which correctly understood are quite damaging to Israeli planning, because they expose realities which the mainstream press were busy trying to conceal. I suppose DEBKA does this because it's an old rule in disinformation tactics that you have to mix in a few genuine nuggets to keep your audience sweet. But anyway, whoever is in power in Egypt, Israel will make a great show of terror, and the US will accordingly try to repress or deter whoever it is, at least with token gestures (such as withholding F-16s, as if there was the slightest chance that Egypt would ever attack Israel militarily). But the most important thing to understand is that, as usual wherever there is a geographical are that USrael want more control over, al-Qaeda villains will pop up and make statements. Here we see the villains in Gaza, preparing god knows what unless Egypt invades Gaza and saves the Israelis the trouble. And here we see the incalculably evil al-Qaeda fiends in the Sinai. All this is bullshit, of course. Morsi did his job, which was building up the Islamist bogeymen; now the Egyptian army can do its job, which is knocking them down again. It's a punch & judy show for the masses.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 25, 2013 3:05:51 AM | 21
#20 Let's face it: Workers movements are not based on ethnicity or religion.
Posted by: somebody | Jul 25, 2013 3:20:00 AM | 22
Pre-1948, there was a Jewish-Egyptian intelligentsia which had beautiful dreams: the region would become a federation of socialist statelets, and zionist Palestine would be one of them. It's a well-kept secret nowadays, but pre-1948 zionist Palestine actually was very substantially pro-Soviet. The Palmach was so pro-Soviet that it was organised on the Soviet Army model. It had political officers in every unit, which were known by the soviet term, "politruks". It was so pro-Soviet that in 1947, Mordechai Oren of Mapam (now Meretz) and Shmuel Mikunis of the Palestine (Jewish) Communist Party were able to persuade Stalin that if Jewish Palestine could win its war of independence against the surrounding, British-officered Arab colonial states, the Palmach would proceed to stage a coup, unseat Ben Gurion, and join the Soviet Bloc. This is why Stalin gave them such an enormous amount of weaponry, via Czechoslovakia. The Palmach didn't in reality intend or even contemplate a coup, and quietly submitted to Ben Gurion's decree dissolving it when he declared independence and joined the US Bloc. When he realised he had been tricked, Stalin was very cross, as I'm sure you can imagine. He captured Mordechai Oren during the Slansky purge and locked him up for a decade or so. Compared with that, the question of Henri Curiel seems minor. I have a lengthy article I wrote myself on my blog about the Soviet arms deal, including a list of all the arms received, apparently compiled from Ben Gurion's own notes:
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 25, 2013 3:54:53 AM | 23
Irrespective of how bad, exclusionary and authoritarian the Muslim Brotherhood were in power, the revolution that overthrew Mubarak couldn't have happened without them and it took place with very little support from the army, which sat on the sidelines waiting to see who was likely to come out on top before committing one way or the other.
The Egyptian army (like the army in Chile under Pinochet) is best seen, not as an armed force for the protection of the people, but as a complex and interconnected set of businesses run for the benefit of the higher ranks; it will do what the senior commanders believe is in their best commercial interests, hence the destroying of the Rafa tunnels at the behest of US and Israeli patrons.
Having spoken to some (educated, middle-class) Egyptians it seemed that there was no doubt the Muslim Brotherhood had made itself unacceptable to a wide section of Egyptian society, but translating that discontent as a signal that the MB should be overthrown by any means necessary was not the premise under which the original revolution took place, and in getting into bed with the army Tamarod in particular is playing a very dangerous game indeed. If the MB can be overthrown by the army because it proved itself unpopular, why is any other government safe?
The Egyptian people are quite right to believe that their revolution is not finished, but since they took it upon themselves as a collaboration of very different unarmed civilian groups to overthrow one authoritarian regime, it would have been better if the next one had been overthrown in a similar fashion rather than calling in the army, which will want its pound of flesh - its loyalties do not lie with the Egyptian people alone...
Posted by: Jon Cloke | Jul 25, 2013 8:16:11 AM | 24
The thing is, the US IS a Terrorist organization.
By your definition, a terrorist organization is one that invokes terror in a population to achieve objectives.
Not sure what the objectives are, but the point of drone strikes is mostly terror more than actual killing. And they are indeed terribly terrifying.
The MB does have an established history of terrorist acts like say, assassination (if that counts as a terrorist act), but I suppose just because an organization occasionally does terrorism it doesnt make it a terrorist organization. Eh, though this kind of discussion over words hardly matters.
Posted by: Massinissa | Jul 25, 2013 8:35:00 AM | 25
"The army will want its pound of flesh" Posted by: Jon Cloke | Jul 25, 2013 8:16:11 AM | 24
That's a very lurid metaphor. But I think it's misleading. You are suggesting that the so-called Tamarod "called in the Army" as if they had summoned up some sort of evil spirit which now demands a "pound of flesh" from them as payment. But the Army didn't force Morsi out as a favour to them or anybody else. It did it because it was convinced the MB was building up a Jihadi force in the Sinai which eventually would have been able to mount a serious armed rebellion in Egypt itself. That is what decided the Army to give him the push. For Egypt, the Jihadis are a real threat, even though in my opinion they are not a threat to Israel. It's ironic really. Israel confuses the issue by pretending the Jihadis are going to attack Israel, whereas the reality is that the one thing the Jihadis all agree on is that they won't do that, because it would upset their masters in the Gulf, who have a very serious secret deal with Israel about this. But they could impose a full-scale religious dictatorship on Egypt, something the MB could not have achieved within the 'democratic' framework. That's what the Army considers a real & present danger. So the Army see themselves as protecting the 'democratic' system from overthrow by Jihadis allied with the MB. You get it?
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 25, 2013 8:58:36 AM | 26
This is an impossible mess. These two colossuses of Egypt, though they represent only a small part of the population (in reality, they just the elites), seem intent on fighting it out using Egypt as their arena. The average Egyptian can do little but watch in horror.
Bevin is correct in that that no one can support the army leadership in its crackdown, but one thing seems clear to me having read a few of the calls for peace in Egypt: the MB obstinacy is giving the army this opening.
Of course the MB should not be shot like dogs in the street - especially as most (and especially the ones in the street) are simply poor Egyptians whose leaders are telling them they are in the right - but for the MB leadership continuing their protests claiming "legitimacy" to govern is laughable. They act as pretenders to rule a country that does not want them. That they are unable to face the fact that ALL of Egypt, including their former Islamist allies, came together to remove them proves that they're not acting in the interests of Egypt but only themselves. If they have any real love for Egypt and its people, the MB has to be able to accept their removal and rejoin the coalition against Army rule, and restart the entire revolutionary process. It is my opinion that the fact that the MB purposely failing to include any recall mechanism in the constitution (as they clearly didn't intend to loosen their grip on power under any circumstance) lead to this point.
It seems the Muslim Brothers will happily destroy the country if they cannot rule it. If the MB seems intent to restore their power (esp. using bombings and violence) then they invite this attack on them. So long as they claim legitimacy, they have no legitimacy. That much is clear, and they are proving it daily. The rest of Egypt - as they had to in the 2012 elections - are forced to chose between the two worst actors in Egypt. And of course this will not end, even with one side crushing the other. Whoever wins this battle will certainly face a new round of protests for democratic government - assuming there is a country remaining to be governed. The only thing for sure, is that many, many people will die and Egypt will go further down the dead end road it is on.
Of course this doesn't bother the US so long as the choice is between two pro-US groups. The United States will play both sides, using carrots and sticks to manage the interests of the Army, the MB, Israel, the Saudis, and Qatar. One would think the last thing the US would want is to see Egypt in flames, but is there any telling at this point? After all, destroying entire societies, millennia in the making, seems to be the US favorite tactic at this point.
Posted by: guest77 | Jul 25, 2013 9:09:13 AM | 27
@RB "But they could impose a full-scale religious dictatorship on Egypt, something the MB could not have achieved within the 'democratic' framework. That's what the Army considers a real & present danger. So the Army see themselves as protecting the 'democratic' system from overthrow by Jihadis allied with the MB."
I think this gives the army too much credit.
These clowns, like the MB, are ruling the country in the same fashion with different paymasters. "$5B from the Saudis, this will get us through a whole year!" but they don't look beyond that. Both sides are simply holding 80 million Egyptians hostage. They know the world will not let Egypt collapse, but so long as the factories, the fields, and the canal are generating enough profits to provide for their upper-class lives, they'll let the country and its people teeter on the brink of genuine disaster indefinitely.
All my opinions as an outsider, nothing more: The Tamarod were fools to so quickly accept Army rule, and they are bigger fools if they go out on the street to help the Army murder their fellows. The MB are insane to think that anyone is on their side. They are even more insane if they think, by using terrorism and violence, they'll be any more successful in Egypt than the FSA and al Qaeda have been in Syria.
There will be no winners. All of Egypt - the whole region in fact - will lose. The UN was so concerned about the refugee flow from Syria? Wait and see how many people are clawing their way out of Egypt when it becomes an unlivable hellhole.
Posted by: guest77 | Jul 25, 2013 9:28:16 AM | 28
There will be no winners. All of Egypt - the whole region in fact - will lose.
Including Saudi Arabia? Or did Prince Bandar bin Sultan engineer Egypt as he (probably) did the Qatar emir stepping down and the new orientation of the Syria National Coalition, all meant to down the MB in the ME. (It was all in my poem on another thread that nobody appreciated.)
Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25, 2013 11:11:21 AM | 29
You're right, they may think they have something. But consider this: The moves of the Salafi indicate, possibly, that they didn't expect the MB to carry on after getting the boot. Maybe the Saudis kept Egypt from being in the Qatari camp, but by no means have they succeeded moved it into theirs - especially if the whole country goes to pieces.
You poetically stated:
"Now Morsi and the B-hood are gone,
where they are is a mystery.
But they're no longer in Cairo,
Bandar made them history."
But the MB are not gone, though no doubt the Saudis would want them to be. The MB were funded by Qatar, but they are by no means their creation. The MB has the power to act still independently.
You tell me though, what can they get out of this broken Egypt? More jihadists for their wars? Or was it just about putting Qatar in their place?
If it is the latter, then you're right - the Saudis won. But if their aim was anything more than that, I think tomorrow we'll start to see how that turns out.
As for your poem... at least the wags kept their traps shut this time. A step in the right direction?
Posted by: guest77 | Jul 25, 2013 11:35:16 AM | 30
You tell me though, what can [Saudi Arabia] get out of this broken Egypt?
This, for starters.
Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25, 2013 11:52:11 AM | 31
I don't think the real Salafis have a programme of their own, as the MBs do. Nor do they have the organisation of the MBs. They were created as a counterfoil to the MBs, and their selling point is that they do not compromise the pure lifestyle of the Prophet's Companions to the extent that the MBs do, that the MBs have betrayed this holy task by being too lax -- which naturally is true, because the MBs always want to gain support from politicians and businessmen who are not religiously observant at all. I remember a story of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the MBs, being confronted by a very worldly businessman who demanded to know whether he really had to do ritual ablutions before every prayer, because he had a bath every morning and cleaned himself thoroughly for the day. Banna, tactfully, refrained from explaining to the businessman that ordinary material cleanness is not the point. This story is often quoted by Salafis to illustrate Banna's compromising attitude, and the corruption of real Islam that comes from associating with worldly men and depending upon them for favours. But precisely this attitude guarantees that real Salafis will never gain real political power, I think. They're too unworldly.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 25, 2013 12:09:15 PM | 32
Prince Bandar at work.
CSM, Jul 10
Friends again? Saudi Arabia, UAE jump in to aid Egypt
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait have pledged a total $12 billion to Egypt as it struggles to get back on its feet.
As the turmoil in Egypt continues after last week’s military ousting of President Mohamed Morsi, the interim government is getting a helping hand from the Gulf monarchies.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait have pledged a total of $12 billion in aid to Egypt so far. The funds will provide some relief for the Egyptian economy, which is in shambles after years of unrest and mismanagement.
Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25, 2013 12:15:46 PM | 33
How are the MB supposed to rule 80 Millions inhabitants Egypt if they cannot get to any agreement with the army?
The army is well-known for its nationalist and "moderate-Islamism" inclination, so how can that work out with irresponsible freaks who think they can call for djihad in stadiums and have Qardawi claim in a friday prone on state-owned Egyptian TV that the Egyptians should pray for their "brothers in Syria, Chechenia and Afghanistan" ?
Posted by: Mina | Jul 25, 2013 1:08:01 PM | 34
You're stating Gulf politics exclusively in sectarian terms which (as in Syria) is not correct because there are other more important factors (as in Syria) including political and financial power.
Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25, 2013 2:58:28 PM | 36
If civil war breaks out that could close the canal and that would be a problem for the oil producers and asian exporters.
once the egyptians lose control of the suez security arrangement it has with the west, egypt will become the next iraq.
Egypt is now in the space between the hammer and the anvil.
Days of darkness will bring 3 plagues ,a wave of water,a capstone revealed.
Posted by: mcohen | Jul 25, 2013 5:07:41 PM | 37
SUS = US
Posted by: guest77 | Jul 26, 2013 12:37:07 AM | 39
When the Egyptian army is being attacked on their own soil, how should they act? How would any country on earth respond to such acts?
Posted by: Hilmi Hakim | Jul 26, 2013 3:27:48 AM | 40
When the Egyptian army is being attacked on their own soil, how should they act? How would any country on earth respond to such acts?
Posted by: hans | Jul 26, 2013 7:53:58 AM | 41
Egypt formally accuses Morsi in 2011 jailbreak
AP, Jul 26 2013
CAIRO — Egyptian prosecutors accused Morsi on Friday of conspiring with Hamas and murder in his 2011 escape from prison that left 14 guards dead. The case against Morsi is rooted in the mass jailbreak of more than 30 MB leaders from a prison northwest of Cairo during the 2011 popular uprising that toppled Mubarak. There have been many reports in the Egyptian media that the MB collaborated with Hamas and Hezbollah to arrange the breakout. MB officials have said they were aided by local residents in breaking out of prison, not foreigners. However, a court in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia has heard testimonies from prison officials and intelligence officers strongly indicating that Morsi and his MB colleagues were freed when gunmen led by Hamas operatives stormed the Wadi el-Natroun prison. Hamas has consistently denied any involvement. On Friday a spokesman for Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, condemned Morsi’s detention order. “The Egyptian decision is an attempt to drag Hamas into the Egyptian conflict,” he said. “We call on the Arab League to bear its responsibility in facing the incitement against Hamas.” On Thursday, the spiritual leader of the MBs, Mohammed Badie, said ousting Morsi was a worse crime than if el-Sissi had destroyed the Kaaba.
Egyptian Court Accuses Morsi of Espionage
NYT, Jul 26 2013
CAIRO — Egyptian state media reported on Friday that Morsi had been formally charged with espionage. The charges stemmed from former President Mohamed Morsi’s escape from prison in 2011, allegedly with aid from the Palestinian group Hamas, state news media said.
Hamas shutters media bureaux in Gaza
AP, Jul 26 2013
Hamas officials in Gaza shuttered two Arab media bureaux on Thursday. Hamas Attorney General Ismail Jaber told AP Thursday that he closed the Gaza Strip bureaux of satellite channel al-Arabiya and the West Bank-based outlet Ma’an because they “spread fabricated rumors” that “harm the Palestinian national interest and resistance movements.” A Ma’an correspondent said Hamas was upset about its reports that Hamas militants were active in the Sinai Peninsula following the Army coup against Morsi. According to a report at Ma’an, Hamas security officers questioned the Gaza bureau chief Thursday over a report in the Bethlehem-based outlet that MB officials had sneaked into Gaza to plan an uprising against Cairo. The information was translated from a Hebrew media report (DEBKAfile, Jul 20 – RB), and Gaza officials denied the report. Ma’an’s editor in chief said he had lodged complaints with the prime minister’s office in Gaza as well as with former information minister Mustafa Barghouti and a number of journalists’ associations. Al-Arabiya had no comment. The media crackdown comes as Egypt’s new government has imposed the toughest border restrictions on Gaza in years.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 26, 2013 9:55:00 AM | 42
They’re sending a signal by accusing Morsi of conspiring with Hamas, but not with Hezbollah.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 26, 2013 10:00:32 AM | 43
Haha the military in Egypt put Mursi in court for his ties with Hamas!
But no, the coup didnt benefitted US nor Israel will the coup-lovers here claim, the MB are in reality zionists we will hear them say.
Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 26, 2013 10:09:59 AM | 44
So what went down here?
Let’s accept a citizen movement to remove Mubarak, which was allowed by the Army.
Imho, as I have said before, the Army basically controls the country.
They have the firepower, the control of the street; the old guard, or deep state, is Army and business interests intertwined; they control 40% of the economy (estimate). That is way over some imaginary ‘threshold’ for control. They run the place.
So maybe Mubarak was past his sell-date and something was bound to crack and they sat back waiting in the wings for events to unfold. That seems the most likely explanation?
They let that pass as well. Did he turn out to be not malleable enough? Took on too much power, with the rationale of having the vote? What did he do exactly if anything to put mustard up the old guard’s noses? A loose cannon, à la Lady Di? Or was he goaded into making his mistakes? (I saw that once in the workplace, devastating.)
Was it expected he could not manage this situation? Was that the plan from the start? A failed ‘revolution’ with the need to then take over control to prevent absolute mayhem, a-hem, maybe even civil war? What role was played by international pressure from certain quarters for Egypt to have a pro-rapacious-business, anti-islam, anti-democratic, tolerant of Isr, policy?
As for the ‘liberals’, secularists, ‘youth’, opponents to Morsi - clearly nothing can be expected from them. One can see them as naive and manipulated, and surely the main bulk were, are, sincere, that is the most charitable interpretation. Squint at Obama and Hollande plus their supporters and you see the same thing, Egypt is not behind the times here, it is right up to date.
The mainstream oppo to BAU (business as usual) came from the only grassroots, traditional, and culturally or supposedly ‘religious’ founded mainstream. Which survived because it emphasized traditional values, social conservatism, the acceptance of a higher mystical authority, was in the opposition / repressed, and maintained by a somewhat strong, locally implanted network. Done with, now. Stick a fork in it. The MB has lost it’s bid at controlling the economy / country, reaching despot status thru religion.
-- Many questions which are sincere, yet are not the pointed type to which one expects answers.
Posted by: Noirette | Jul 26, 2013 11:50:20 AM | 46
Egyptian military seems to have lost it completly, up to 140 protetesters dead, and up to 5000 injured during the night in Egypt.
Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 27, 2013 4:19:48 AM | 47
DEBKA (wherever they got this):
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled Cairo’s streets and squares Friday Jul 26. Tahrir Square was packed with crowds responding to Sisi’s call for a mandate to support the military fight on “terrorists.” Instead of directing their ire at the overthrown Muslim Brotherhood, the pro-military demonstrators shouted “Bye Bye America!” as huge placards waved over their heads depicting as a threesome Gen. El-Sisi, Vladimir Putin and Gemal Abdel Nasser.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 27, 2013 4:38:20 AM | 48
47) Which means they have a huge problem.
It is obvious street protests are based on economics. People just got nothing left to lose.
Mursi seems to have planned to solve the problem by sending volunteers to Syria. It is plausible the Egyptian army got frightened by the potential of a future battle hardened competitive Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood army.
As it is unlikely the Egyptian military has an economic solution they seem to have dream walked into civil war like street fights instead. They will try to contain the situation by curfews and war powers. I do not see them succeed. Too many people got nothing to lose.
Posted by: somebody | Jul 27, 2013 6:53:37 AM | 49
Posted by: Noirette | Jul 27, 2013 11:06:32 AM | 50
Egyptian military seems to have lost it completly, up to 140 protetesters dead, and up to 5000 injured during the night in Egypt.
It was a bit weird. From what I observed:
- The Mursi protests was at the usual place and the government warned it not to move out towards Tahrir where the anti-Mursi protests were.
- A large group of the Mursi folks did move out anyway but where blocked by police at the entrance of the (October 6?) bridge.
- The usual street fight ensued. Both side used stones, police used tear gas. Police had a few bird-shot guns but no, NO, military rifles were visible anywhere.
- The Mursi folks started to get shot at from above, likely from the roof of a nearby university building. Wounds were mostly to heads and breasts with some very obviously having come from above and were from military class ammunition.
- In no video could I detect a shooter.
- Protests and attempts to storm police blockade continued despite the dead.
- Only after some 100 were killed did the protest go back to its original place.
- the clash was with police, not the military
- the deadly shooting came from snipers on top of a building
- no one seems to know or say who these snipers were
Now of course each side will blame the other and the mess will continue.
Posted by: b | Jul 27, 2013 12:33:55 PM | 51
These rooftop shooters have got to be government, they cannot be any sort of mystery third force. The last time this happened was the day after the coup, so the possibility of mystery paramilitaries might have made some sense, but now the army has been in control for almost a month, rounding people up right and left (literally, I expect), and there is no way squads of third force shooters could set themselves up in a totally policed area and do this.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 27, 2013 1:15:49 PM | 53
51) If Egypt military (intelligence) had not covered all sniper positions around the sit-in by now they would be completely incompetent - they probably are but they will have covered the sniper positions nevertheless.
If Egypt's military has not covered goings on in the sit-in by helicopter ... see above - they were taking journalists around on those helicopters to see the pro army demonstrations ...
The army - El Sissi - has pledged to clear the sit-in "by legal means" ...
See this here on comparison with Tien an Men
Posted by: somebody | Jul 27, 2013 1:16:50 PM | 54
Sorry, the first rooftop shooters event, "the republican Guard shootings", was Jul 8, five days after the coup, not the day after. There's an interesting opinion column at al-Akhbar by Sarah el-Sirgany which quite flatly cites a Guardian study of the first rooftop shooters event, without any question at all, as being government troops. And al-Akhbar has no reason at all to be sympathetic to the MBs (though the Guardian has, since it is following the liberal imperialist line that everything the Arabs do is wrong).
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 28, 2013 12:09:00 AM | 55