Free Markets, Free People
I’ll just put this up here with minimal comment and let you folks provide the narrative:
Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives – for up to six hours after their death.
The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament.
It will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women’s rights of getting education and employment.
Yup, much better than before. A veritable leap into the 21st century, no? Definitely a secular and liberal triumph, right?
Oh … and out of curiosity, what if he waits till 7 hours after death, what happens?
One of the supposed areas in which President Obama has done well is in the area of foreign relations. And, of course, the press has dutifully helped create the myth of success.
But have foreign relations really been a success for him?
Don’t forget, this is the man who thinks he was responsible for “Arab Spring”. In both Egypt and Libya, radical islamists have begun to take charge. And this morning, a rocket launched from Egypt hit Israel.
Of course relations with our staunchest ally in the region – Israel – are terrible.
Then there is Russia. They way they’ve treated the US Ambassador to Russia is indicative of their belief that Obama is weak:
The Kremlin sees the Obama administration as weak and indecisive, making it a perfect, nonthreatening partner that can be bullied and provoked using the same tools Moscow routinely employs against opposition leaders and civil and human rights activists at home. This was the approach that the Kremlin used against the Estonian ambassador to protest the relocation of a monument to Soviet soldiers from downtown Tallinn. By Moscow’s reasoning, if such tactics are permissible when dealing with "weak" Estonia, why not use the same methods against a "weak" United States? Why should Putin and his cohorts show respect for the U.S. ambassador? On the contrary, it is better to put him in his place.
And they have used a “Kremlin-sponsored media campaign aimed at discrediting, pressuring, provoking and defaming him.”
Of course in the anarchy of world politics, weakness is something to be exploited, and Russia sees the opportunity to do exactly that.
You’d think, in the midst of all this failure, he could at least maintain good relationships with his allies. But Israel would beg to differ. And, surprisingly, so would Canada and Mexico. But you won’t read about it in the US press.
Obama’s neglect of our nearest neighbors and biggest trade partners has created deteriorating relations, a sign of a president who’s out of touch with reality. Problems are emerging that aren’t being reported.
Fortunately, the Canadian and Mexican press told the real story. Canada’s National Post quoted former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson as saying the North American Free Trade Agreement and the three-nation alliance it has fostered since 1994 have been so neglected they’re "on life support."
Energy has become a searing rift between the U.S. and Canada and threatens to leave the U.S. without its top energy supplier.
The Winnipeg Free Press reported that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned Obama the U.S. will have to pay market prices for its Canadian oil after Obama’s de facto veto of the Keystone XL pipeline. Canada is preparing to sell its oil to China.
Until now, NAFTA had shielded the U.S. from having to pay global prices for Canadian oil. That’s about to change.
I talked about that yesterday when I noted the ultimate cost of Obama’s fit of pique that led to him disapproving the Keystone XL pipeline.
And Mexico? Is it as bad as Canada?
Things were even worse, if you read the Mexican press accounts of the meeting.
Excelsior of Mexico City reported that President Felipe Calderon bitterly brought up Operation Fast and Furious, a U.S. government operation that permitted Mexican drug cartels to smuggle thousands of weapons into drug-war-torn Mexico. This blunder has wrought mayhem on Mexico and cost thousands of lives.
The mainstream U.S. press has kept those questions out of the official press conferences, while Obama has feigned ignorance to the Mexicans and hasn’t even apologized.
As usual, we’re poorly served by our media which somehow seems to have managed to miss all the points the Canadian and Mexican press have noted.
Yes, this president has a record he has to run on finally and it seems his foreign relations record isn’t, in reality, much better than his domestic one.
Of course it will be up to the GOP to point that out since obviously, the US press isn’t going too.
Bottom line for the Obama record?
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?
In Lybia, the expected – at least for those who paid attention and had a rudimentary understanding of modern Islam – is beginning to happen:
Throughout this country, Libyans are discovering that their hard fought battle to win freedoms is at risk. Puritanical Muslims known as Salafis are applying a rigid form of Islam in more and more communities. They have clamped down on the sale of alcohol and demolished the tombs of saints where many local people worship.
Throughout Libya, Gaddafi’s fall has emboldened Salafis, who were persecuted and imprisoned under the now deceased leader. They have increased their public presence, taken over mosques, and even hoisted the flag of al-Qaeda over the courthouse in Benghazi where the revolution began eleven months ago. In the capital of Tripoli, Salafis have destroyed more than six shrines. In one incident, dozens swarmed mausoleums belonging to two Muslim mystics and dug up their bodies so that worshippers could no longer visit their tombs. They also burned the relics around the shrines.
The Salafis are the same group that has done well in the Egyptian elections. Speaking of Egypt, Robert R. Reilly makes some important points about that country and Islam in general, taking apart a Matthew Kaminski article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Arab Democracy Is the Best Bet for a Muslim Reformation." He points out the problems associated with the “propensity to project Western conceptions and norms onto the Islamic world, where they are largely irrelevant.” It’s an interesting read.
"The appeal of political Islam… grows when religiosity is repressed." Islamism is a reaction to modernity, not to repression. It would grow regardless. With the shackles off in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, watch it grow even more. To think that it will diminish because it is not repressed is a dangerous fantasy. Thanks to the Arab Spring, it now has the opportunity to seize control, and most likely will do so. Democratic elections have simply revealed the strength of the view that "Islam is the answer."
And Reilly stomps on the notion that “democracy” will provide the necessary reformation of Islam. Instead, he points out, the Islamists are the reformation:
Kaminski calls for a Reformation in Islam, without seeming to realize that Islamism is that Reformation. Be careful of what you wish for. One reason that the Islamic world became calcified is that the "gates of ijtihad" were closed in the Middle Ages. This meant that the authority for making original interpretations of the Koran or the hadith had been withdrawn because the sharia had, by that time, covered every possible situation in human life with a specific ruling. The Islamists today have reclaimed the authority of individual interpretation in order to wipe out the Islamic jurisprudence that stands in their way, most particularly in their use of indiscriminate violence and terrorism.
As for the Muslim Brotherhood:
"Salafists… practice Osama bin Laden’s creed of Islam." No, bin Laden’s creed of Islam is not Salafist, but came directly from the Muslim Brotherhood and is infected with its ideology, which was partially obtained from Western totalitarianism. His teacher in Saudi Arabia was Mohammed al Banna, the brother of the founder of the Muslim brotherhood, Hassan al Banna. Salafism, on the other hand, is an ancient and integral part of Islam.
Reilly points out that “[w]ishful thinking can be dangerous when it distorts reality.” And that’s precisely what many in the West have done – engage in wishful thinking and project “Western conceptions and norms onto the Islamic world” where they simply don’t fit.
Engaging in an honest assessment grounded in at least an understanding of Islam and human nature should have disabused a rational person of such wishful thinking. The information was there, the history was there, and the conclusions weren’t that hard to reach if objectively put together.
Unfortunately our government apparently prefers to engage in wishful thinking along with many others in the West. The outcome in Libya and Egypt, given who was involved and how that has worked in other countries should have been obvious. But instead many in the West, such as Kaminski chose to believe in fictions like the Muslim Brotherhood’s declared “moderation” and their supposed belief in sharing power with secularists. Oh you may see that at least given lip service for a while, at least until they fully consolidate their power, but that’s not their plan.
These two “revolutions” made the Middle East a more dangerous and oppressive place. Our government chose to ignore the reality of the Muslim Brotherhood’s extremism for a more sanitized and moderate model (which it used to justify its support) and aided and abetted the Islamists in Libya – while pretending they didn’t really exist — through direct intervention in a conflict that was simply none of our business.
Now, unfortunately, we have to live with the results.
Somehow both of these will be spun into “foreign policy successes”, just watch.
Don’t worry, be happy – It will soon be a bright and happy day in that benighted land:
Relations between Egypt‘s military rulers and the United States threatened to hit a new low after Egyptian security forces launched unprecedented armed raids on a series of high profile human rights and pro-democracy organisations.
The raids included targeting the US-government funded National Democratic Institute – founded by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright – and the International Republican Institute, whose chairman is Republican senator John McCain. Both organisations are affiliated with the two major US political parties.
The orchestrated move by Egypt’s generals, apparently keen to play up to anti-US and nationalist feelings in the country, will be seen as highly provocative in Washington, which underwrites military aid to Egypt to the sum of $1.3bn (£843m) annually.
"We are deeply concerned," a State Department official told the Guardian.
Are we? So no more applauding the “revolution” in Egypt and what it has brought?
Or are we still breaking eggs so the omelet of freedom can be made?
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.
Well “Arab spring” is going swimmingly in Egypt. The second round of elections were just completed and guess who has taken even more control?
The Muslim Brotherhood party secured 39 percent of the vote, while the Salafi Al Nour party won 31 percent of the vote in the second stage of Egypt’s landmark post-Mubarak elections, according to unofficial results published on the website of Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper on Sunday.
The unofficial results for the second stage of elections for the lower house of the Egyptian parliament also showed that the secular, liberal Wafd party won 22 percent of the vote.
Islamist parties won some 70 percent of the total vote, a similar result to the first stage of elections, which took place on November 28.
Of course this wasn’t supposed to happen this way and apologists for it are left with trying to pretend that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “moderate” organization. It’s history tells a completely different story. The classic wolf in sheep’s clothing in this situation. With over 70% control, the Islamists will easily control any legislative body with very little need to compromise with the secular side of the house.
Meanwhile what had begun as peaceful protests in Tahrir Square have turned violent:
Egyptian security forces fought opponents of army rule in Cairo for a fourth day on Monday and the United States, worried by the violence, urged the generals to respect human rights.
Medical sources said the death toll had risen to 13 since Friday. Hundreds have been wounded and scores detained.
Police and soldiers using batons and teargas drove stone-throwing protesters out of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, hub of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February, overnight.
Hundreds had returned to the square by morning after security forces retreated behind barricades in streets leading to parliament, the cabinet office and the Interior Ministry.
The photos of the violence are shocking. But they give good evidence of the fact that any “spring like” feeling is gone from this revolution. It has, as expected, turned toward a military/Islamist takeover as expected and the Egyptian military is now showing its true colors as its powerbase is challenged. This link from the UK’s Daily Mail contains photos and a video that show the results. The photo I’ve included is just an example.
Perhaps now, instead of apologizing for the outcome, those who’ve tried to blind themselves to its reality will face it square on. Egypt is going to end up worse off than it was before Mubarak was deposed. That doesn’t mean Mubarak was someone to support, it is simply a statement of fact. Oppression is likely to be followed by even more oppression. And, as the picture above demonstrates, one of the greatest losers in this particular mess is likely to be women.
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.
This week, Bruce Michael, and Dale record talk about China, illegal immigration, and Egypt.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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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.