Free Markets, Free People
And apparently, our current government, given their history, will really have no problem with it. Why do I say that? Because their love affair with the Muslim Brotherhood extends back quite some time. Despite all the warnings that the Brotherhood was radical and Islamist, this administration and Democrats have been making overtures for years.
Going back to April 2007, Democrats made special efforts to link up with the MB when visiting then-House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., met with Dr. Saad el-Katatni, the MB’s parliamentary leader, at former U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone’s home, at a time when then-Secretary Condoleezza Rice has publicly refused to meet with the Brotherhood.
Mr. Ricciardone, who I can call a friend, once told me that his friendship with another MB leader, Essam El- Erain, extended for close to 30 years. Perhaps that was the catalyst for this meeting and subsequent meetings that took place at his residency.
A stream of meetings as well as public and private contacts followed between current U.S. Ambassador Ann Paterson and members of the Brotherhood since her arrival to Egypt shortly after the revolution. The ambassador seemed to favor the Brotherhood and the hardliner Salafis over the rest of the secular players in Egypt.
In fact, she has turned down requests for meetings from heads of political parties and other secular politicians, myself included, who opposed the Brotherhood.
In addition to the ambassador, other U.S. officials such as Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Sen. John Kerry made the pilgrimage to the MB headquarters and made sure to meet with their leader, Khairat El-Shater, at times even publicly praising him, as did Mr. Kerry. Those visits were made during a time where no political group had emerged as a leader in post-revolution Egypt.
The result, of course, is a state much more inclined to hostility toward Israel and the United States. Additionally, with the signing of the new Constitution, the secular state is dead. It will relegate women and minorities to second-class status. Additionally, given the Brotherhood’s history, Egypt is likely to lend more support to Hamas and Hezbollah. It is also likely, given the fact that it controls a border area on Gaza, that weaponry into that area will flow unimpeded.
I wanted to bring John Kerry’s role in this to light, since it is likely he will be the next Secretary of State. Just as he provided propaganda fodder for the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war, he and other Democrats have provided “justification” for the Muslim Brotherhood’s move to establish Sharia law in Egypt.
The MBs used these high-level meetings to tell the Egyptian people that the U.S. was supporting them and did not object to their rule. Many of us reached out to U.S. officials at the State Department and complained that the U.S. policy regarding the MB was putting the secular forces in Egypt at a disadvantage because it seemed to be propping up the MB, but our concerns were dismissed.
We warned of the MB’s desire to impose Sharia law once in power and the grim effect it would have on the rights of the millions of Christians and moderate Muslims, including women and children, yet all of our warnings were dismissed. It seems that a policy decision was made to bring the MB to power in Egypt at all costs, and it happened.
As it turns out, the situation in Egypt, backed by Democrats and this administration, has made the country a less reliable US ally, has turned the cultural clock there back to the seventh century with the establishment of Sharia law, and has relegated a large portion of Egyptians to second-class status all the while becoming much more of a threat to the country of Israel.
If the purpose of foreign relations is to create situations that are favorable to the United States, this has been an epic failure.
Yes sir, that Arab Spring is really what we all wanted, isn’t it? So much so that the US and NATO helped this particular one along. In Libya:
While the elections for a 200-member National Congress is unlikely to grant a majority to any one faction, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies are confident they can join their counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt at the helm of leadership.
Negotiations between the Muslim Brotherhood and a secular-based political movement led by former interim prime minister Mahmoud Jibril have focused on forming a post-election government as soon as the result is known.
An adviser to Mr Jibril said the former prime minister was likely to take the post of figurehead president with Mustafa Abu Shagour, currently interim deputy prime minister of the Muslim Brotherhood, taking the prime minister’s slot as head of government.
The Muslim Brotherhood would dominate the ministries.
And what pan-Islamist faction is positioned in Syria along with its militant al Qaeda brothers to take the reigns there when the current government eventually falls?
Why the same Muslim Brotherhood now ascendant in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
All good, right?
Exactly what we expected and wanted, right?
Foreign policy success, right?
Caliphate? What Caliphate?
I just wanted to make that clear as we look at the Turkish jet shoot down and the fact that Turkey has invoked chapter 4 of the NATO treaty:
That is the provision that calls on NATO member countries to “consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened.” Turkey’s Islamist foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has announced that Turkey is calling for an emergency consultation of NATO members under Article 4 to consider a response to what it deems Syrian aggression.
Now the backstory, so you at least understand why this presents a possibility of NATO, and thus the US, being pulled into such an intervention (possibly willingly, I’ll get to that later). It comes from Andrew McCarty at PJ Media:
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a Sunni Islamic supremacist with longstanding ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Sunni supremacist organization. The Brotherhood is leading the mujahideen (called the “opposition” or the “rebels” by the mainstream media) that seeks to oust the Assad regime in Syria — dominated by the Alawites, a minority Shiite sect. Unsurprisingly, then, Turkey’s government has taken a very active role in abetting the Brotherhood’s operations against the Syrian regime, which have also been joined by al-Qaeda and other Sunni militants.
On Friday, a Turkish air force jet entered Syrian air space, and Assad regime forces shot it down. Turkey claims the jet “mistakenly” cruised over Syria, and that, by the time it was taken down, it was in international air space over the Mediterranean. One need carry no brief for Assad to conclude that, given the interventionist drum-beat for no-fly zones and direct military and logistical aid to the “opposition,” Syria rationally took the presence of a Turkish military aircraft in its air space as a provocation. Turkey insists it was not “spying” — that this was just an accident to which Syria overreacted. That would be a good argument if the regime were not under siege and if the Syrian and Turkish governments had not been exchanging hostile words (mostly, threats from Erdogan) for months. That, of course, is not the case.
Confused? Well don’t be. This is just another chapter in the eternal war between the Sunnis and Shiites and between the religious and secular. Turkey happens to be an Islamic Sunni enclave (some want you to believe the country is “secular” but it isn’t thanks to Erdogan) and Syria is ruled by a “secular” Shiite government which, by the way, is ideologically identical to Saddam’s Iraq. You know, the Syrian government headed by a man this US administration labeled as “a reformer” not so long ago? Well, it’s “under the bus” time for him.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia – that would be Wahhabist Saudi Arabia (Sunni) – have been arming the Syrian rebels along with who, oh yeah, the Muslim Brotherhood. And that has ended up seeing good old Al Qaeda show up on the rebel side, which apparently is fine with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Brotherhood.
The Obama administration, from its first days, has cozied up to the Muslim Brotherhood — both Brotherhood branches in the Middle East, and Brotherhood satellite organizations in the U.S., such as CAIR and the Islamic Society of North America. Obama has also been quietly supporting the Syrian mujahideen: coordinating with repressive Islamist governments in Turkey and Saudi Arabia to arm and train them, and reportedly dispatching the CIA to facilitate this effort. But it has thus far resisted calls for more overt participation — calls by pro-Brotherhood progressives in both parties for something along the lines of what Obama did in Libya, meaning: without congressional approval and toward the end of empowering virulently anti-Western Islamists.
There was no US interest in intervening in Libya but we did (we used R2P as the excuse and NATO as the tool). Syria, of course, would present orders of magnitudes more difficulty militarily. It is a much more sophisticated military power than was Libya.
The problem? Well while Obama may be reluctant to intervene alone, NATO might provide a perfect excuse/vehicle. And the benefits would be fairly obvious electorally. It would “change the subject” again. It would make him a “war time” president (yes, technically he is now, but A’stan isn’t “his” war so he doesn’t quite get the benefit public support for his continuation in office). And he could cite “treaty obligations” as a reason without having to go to Congress.
He also has the “good experience” of Libya as a sort of enticement to try the same thing again.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia make out rather well too. They get the crusaders to fight and die in their battle all so the Islamists can eventually take the prize. The US and NATO would end up fighting to help put Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood in charge in Syria.
Ironic? Uh, slightly.
Point: This is not a NATO or US fight. This is something that we should stay as far from as we can.
Politics, however, will be integral to any decision made at this point, at least in the US. Domestic electoral politics. What scares me is the possibility the Obama administration may conclude it is a good idea politically to use NATO to “change the subject” and make Obama a “war time President” hoping the advantages of that situation will make the difference in November. And it wouldn’t be a unilateral decision, but instead receive bi-partisan support as Sen. McCain and other GOP members have been outspoken in their desire to intervene.
Call me paranoid but I find nothing in my analysis that’s at all infeasible or improbable. In fact, having watched this administration at work, I consider it to be a completely possible scenario.
Gotta love it (he said sarcastically):
The Freedom and Justice Party, political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, says it does not endorse gender discrimination, although the Brotherhood argues women should not be allowed to rule the country.
The party is the dominant bloc in both houses of parliament after a sweeping victory in a multi-phase general election that began in November. Women hold just two percent of the seats in parliament.
Because, you know, not allowing women to rule the country isn’t “gender discrimination” as the Muslim Brotherhood sees it (they too are adept at redefining words apparently).
A women’s conference organized by the dominant Islamist bloc in the Egyptian parliament has called for a council for families to replace the existing National Council for Women, a state-owned daily reported on Friday.
The conference, held Thursday on International Women’s Day, also condemned the 1978 U.N. convention against gender discrimination saying it was “incompatible with the values of Islamic sharia” law, the Al-Ahram newspaper reported.
Remember, the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate organization, or so say our apologists in the West. And, as all can see, it is taking a very moderate position by making women 2nd class citizens in their own country again.
But *cough, cough* they don’t “endorse” gender discrimination. Got it?
I guess some people have to have a whack over the head with a clue bat before they begin to realize that Egypt is headed down an Islamist path with a military twist:
Gaza’s Hamas premier was in Egypt Monday on his first trip outside the blockaded territory since the Islamists overran it in 2007, saying his meeting with his Islamic ideological mentors threatens Israel.
Ismail Haniyeh discussed Mideast politics with the leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has emerged as the biggest winner in the first parliamentary elections in post-uprising Egypt, capturing nearly half of the seats so far.
Hamas is considered an offshoot of the Brotherhood.
Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie met Haniyeh at the group’s newly inaugurated headquarters in a Cairo suburb.
But, but … the Muslim Brotherhood is a “moderate” organization. Why? Uh, because they said so.
I don’t know about you but I’ve always believed that actions speak louder than words.
The Brotherhood center has always embraced issues of liberation, foremost the Palestinian issue," Badie said, according to Egypt’s state Middle East News Agency.
The Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s, but it supports Hamas in its "resistance" against Israel.
That’s how the “Brotherhood” can continue to claim it is a “moderate” organization while still remaining a radical terrorist organization … simply do the terrorism by proxy. Hamas is their terror organization and it is fully funded and supported by the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood. Oh, and by the way, don’t be surprised if you see a Hamas presence established in Egypt now. The “moderate” Brotherhood will need a means of plausible deniability when acts of terror are perpetrated on enemies of the Brotherhood in days to come. And of course Hamas will provide that means and, of course, the Brotherhood can then condemn its actions in public for the Western press even while giving it the next mission.
That way the can keep the façade of moderation alive among those gullible enough in the West to still believe that.
What, you ask? How many times did I say the most organized and ruthless would win in Egypt? Anyone?
Well, here’s the post-mortem for the Egyptian election I could have written a months ago:
The Islamists’ victory has been foreshadowed by preelection polls as well as by early unofficial reports about the elections’ outcome. But the official results showed just how thoroughly the young revolutionaries who plugged into social media to ignite a revolution that brought down President Hosni Mubarak in February had failed to excite voters. They won no more than 336,000 votes.
336,000 votes out of 9.7 million cast. 336,000!
Hampered by political naivete, egos and lack of funding, the young activists were overwhelmed at the polls by better organized Islamists. The multiphase elections, which end in January, have so far indicated that activists in the Continuing Revolution party have been unable to turn the passion they inspired last winter in Tahrir Square into political capital.
Emphasis mine. Organized and ruthless vs. naïve and clueless. Gee wonder who’s going to win. Of course they were no more naïve than those here who thought their triumph was pre-ordained.
"Young revolutionaries have struggled with political inexperience at some points and suffered from lack of funds and organization at others," said Emad Gad, a political analyst with Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. "This didn’t enable them to reach voters or carry out strong campaigns like those of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Egyptian Bloc."
Result? The better organized and more ruthless organizations – the Islamists — won.
And there are people who think they’re very plugged in who are absolutely shocked, shocked I tell you, that there’s an outcome other than that for which they hoped.
Faith is a wonderful thing except when it is confronted by reality and facts. And the realty of this particular situation should have been evident to any keen observer of the area (and of human nature) from the start.
Yet the moon pony and unicorn crowd remain shocked it didn’t turn out to be a triumph of secular democracy with the Twitter crowd installed in a new and enlightened Middle East democracy.
Ok not really, at least if you’re from this planet and have observed the Middle East for more than a day:
Islamists claimed a decisive victory on Wednesday as early election results put them on track to win a dominant majority in Egypt’s first Parliament since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the most significant step yet in the religious movement’s rise since the start of the Arab Spring.
The party formed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s mainstream Islamist group, appeared to have taken about 40 percent of the vote, as expected. But a big surprise was the strong showing of ultraconservative Islamists, called Salafis, many of whom see most popular entertainment as sinful and reject women’s participation in voting or public life.
Analysts in the state-run news media said early returns indicated that Salafi groups could take as much as a quarter of the vote, giving the two groups of Islamists combined control of nearly 65 percent of the parliamentary seats.
What does that mean?
The unexpected rise of a strong ultraconservative Islamist faction to the right of the Brotherhood is likely to shift Egypt’s cultural and political center of gravity to the right as well. Leaders of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will likely feel obliged to compete with the ultraconservatives for Islamist voters, and at the same time will not feel the same need to compromise with liberals to form a government.
“It means that, if the Brotherhood chooses, Parliament can be an Islamists affair — a debate between liberal Islamists, moderate Islamists and conservatives Islamists, and that is it,” Michael Wahid Hanna, an Egyptian-born researcher at the Century Foundation in Cairo, said this week.
Sorry, got to laugh at the use of “unexpected” in this case. Unexpected by whom? Oh yeah, those who thought “Arab Spring” would mean secular democracy would suddenly pop up in a place that had never seen it before. Yup, naturally Islamists, one of the best organized and most ruthless blocs in the region, were going to roll over and cede the field to secular types.
And what does this portend?
The Brotherhood has pledged to respect basic individual freedoms while using the influence of the state to nudge the culture in a more traditional direction. But the Salafis often talk openly of laws mandating a shift to Islamic banking, restricting the sale of alcohol, providing special curriculums for boys and girls in public schools, and censoring the content of the arts and entertainment.
Their leaders have sometimes proposed that a special council of religious scholars advise Parliament or the top courts on legislation’s compliance with Islamic law. Egyptian election laws required the Salafi parties to put at least one woman on their electoral roster for each district, but they put the women last on their lists to ensure they would not be elected, and some appear with pictures of flowers in place of their faces on campaign posters.
Sheik Hazem Shouman, an important Salafi leader, recently rushed into a public concert on the campus of Mansoura University to try to persuade the crowd to turn away from the “sinful” performance and go home. He defended his actions on a television talk show, saying he had felt like a doctor making an emergency intervention to save a patient dying of cancer.
Note his “intervention” was an attempt at persuasion. Now that’s not going to be necessary, is it? Persuasion will eventually turn to coercion – see “censoring the content of the arts and entertainment” above.
Back to the 12th century.
Let freedom ring.
Well apparently the Libyan revolution has bagged its bad guy:
Al Jazeera has acquired exclusive footage of the body of Muammar Gaddafi after he was killed in his hometown, Sirte.
Abdul Hakim Belhaj, an NTC military chief, said Gaddafi had died of his wounds after being captured near Sirte on Thursday.
The body of the former Libyan leader was taken to a location which is being kept secret for security reasons, an NTC official said.
"Gaddafi’s body is with our unit in a car and we are taking the body to a secret place for security reasons," Mohamed Abdel Kafi, an NTC official in the city of Misrata, told Reuters.
Earlier, Abdel Majid, another NTC official, said the toppled leader had been wounded in both legs.
A photograph taken on a mobile phone appeared to show Gaddafi heavily bloodied, but it was not possible to confirm the authenticity of the picture.
The news came shortly after the NTC captured Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown, after weeks of fighting.
"Thank God they have caught this person. In one hour, Sirte was liberated," a fighter in the town said.
Now comes the hard part – keeping the “revolution” out of the “Islamic extremist” ditch.
Cue the Muslim Brotherhood …
It is now fairly widely acknowledged that what was hoped for in Egypt after its “Arab spring” revolution began is increasingly unlikely to happen. Namely the emergence of a secular and democratic government which will bring stability, peace and prosperity to its nation. The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t unexpected to those who understood the dynamics of such revolutions. Nature abhors a vacuum. Power does as well. When the Mubarak regime fell, it created just such a power vacuum. And just as with nature, something was bound to fill that vacuum. In situations like the one in Egypt, that’s usually the most organized and ruthless group available. Unsurprisingly, that group was the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egypt, like a good number of other states in the area, appears to be headed down the long road to Islamic fundamentalism where Islam and sharia dominate the culture with the usual results.
As Libya goes through the final throes of ousting a dictator, one has to ask what the dominant group might be to fill the power vacuum created there. We know the Transnational National Council (TNC) is that supposed vehicle for taking power. But who are they?
Claire Lopez at Big Peace does a little research and gives us an idea. First, she starts by reading the proposed constitution put forward by the TNC and points to the reality that document promises :
Part of that reality is actually on full display with the online posting of Libya’s “Draft Constitutional Charter for the Transitional Stage. As the equally level-headed Dr. Andrew Bostom wrote in his 22 August 2011 posting, “the salient feature of Libya’s new draft constitution is Part 1, Article 1: Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).” [emphasis added]
For those still unsure of what is actually happening in Libya, that Article, which places Islamic law (shariah) at the very top of the constitution, means that principles Jeffersonian republicans consider foundational to a democratic system—such as equality, individual freedom, pluralism, tolerance, minority protections, consent of the governed, natural rights/natural law derived through exercise of human reason, independent (secular) judiciary, and a vibrant free press—even if mentioned later in the draft text, have no real validity. It is what comes first and is stated explicitly in the constitution that carries the real weight. In Libya’s case, that means Islamic law.
Among some that revelation will elicit the reply, “well we don’t know that. We don’t know that such a declaration will really have the effect that critics are claiming”. Of course, you have to deny the reality in the vast majority of states in the Middle East where Islam is the state religion and sharia the legal system to say such a thing.
Secondly, Libya is a country with no real experience with western democracy, philosophy or ideals. For at least 40 years, individual rights have been trampled. “Natural law” consisted of Gaddafi dictating and the people obeying. The organs of such a hoped for revolutionary change simply don’t exist in Libya. But what does exist is an organization of Islamists bent on taking power. What one has to realize is they believe what they are going to try to do is what is best for both the country and the people. And they have help:
Those taking over are no less a cause for concern: as Walid Phares points out in his insightful Fox News analysis of 23 August 2011, the Libyan TNC is a motley crew comprising “former diplomats, bureaucrats, and military officers from the old regime” as well as “politicians and leaders from movements and groups from the political left, Marxists, Socialists, Arab Nationalists, liberals and Islamists.” As in Egypt and elsewhere across the region, however, it is the proponents of shariah who are the best organized and most determined to impose their agenda in the post-revolutionary milieu. Their push for power in Libya already is underway, openly supported by Yousuf al-Qaradawi and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and will accelerate from positions within the TNC as its grip on the country is consolidated.
Emphasis mine and an argument I’ve been making prominently since Egypt. There is nothing at all to indicate that it will be any different in Libya. What most in the West, who have a different take on the involvement of religion in everyday life means, is that Islam is woven into the very fabric of the life of most adherents and is more than something they do once a week. It is going to be interesting to see how NATO and the US handle this, but when all is said and done, I expect to see another “Islamic Republic” in place, mostly hostile to the West and Israel and with its people again under the boot heel of another form of dictatorship – this time religious in nature.
Probably. I assume, to some (and they will know who they are) this will come as an “unexpected” turn of events:
Six months after young, liberal activists helped lead the popular movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the hard core of these protesters was forcibly dispersed by the troops. Some Egyptians lined the street to applaud the army. Others ganged up on the activists as they retreated from the square that has come to symbolize the Arab Spring.
Squeezed between an assertive military and the country’s resurgent Islamist movement, many Internet-savvy, pro-democracy activists are finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant in a post-revolutionary Egypt that is struggling to overcome an economic crisis and restore law and order.
"The liberal and leftist groups that were at the forefront of the revolution have lost touch with the Egyptian people," says Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. "These protesters have alienated much of Egypt. For some time they’ve been deceiving themselves by saying that the silent majority is on their side—but all evidence points to the contrary, and Monday’s events confirm that."
Rather predictable, at least among those who objectively observe how the world usually works. As I said early on, the most ruthless and best organized will win this little bout and it was obvious it was the army and the Muslim Brotherhood that shared those attributes. They also came to an early agreement/alliance between themselves. At that point, you knew the movement started by the “young, liberal activists” variously described as “Arab Spring” and the “Twitter Revolution” was doomed.
The backlash among rank-and-file Egyptians became evident on July 23, when a march by revolutionary activists heading to the defense ministry was assaulted by residents of Cairo’s Abassiya neighborhood. More than a hundred people were injured.
Egypt’s secular and liberal activists have been campaigning for postponing parliamentary elections, initially planned for as early as June, so that they could better organize themselves and compete against the more established Islamists.
Elections have been pushed to November, but the liberals and the secularists appear not to have taken advantage of the delay. Instead of organizing themselves into a coherent bloc, they have set up minuscule rival parties and feuded among themselves, say analysts and diplomats.
"There is a power game going on—and the liberals and the entire secular movement are the weaker element, while the Islamists and the army are strong," said Laila Soueif, a liberal activist and human-rights campaigner who teaches at Cairo University.
The secular and liberal activists let the revolution pass them by while they feuded and fought among themselves. Meanwhile the army and Brotherhood took advantage of the situation and are now poised to take control of the country – “democratically” of course. And they’re certainly not going to agree to a delay in elections to allow their rivals for power any chance of better organizing themselves.
I think it is probably pretty clear what the outcome of elections will be and who will end up being squeezed out. The secular and liberal activists have missed their moment. Meet the new boss – same as the old boss.