Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gaza’s Not the Key, Philadelphi Is



by Daniel Pipes



 
The Second Hamas–Israel War, of November 10 to 21, inspired a mighty debate over rights and wrongs, with each side appealing to the large undecided bloc (19 percent of Americans according to CNN/ORC, 38 percent according to Rasmussen). Is Israel a criminal state that has no right to exist, much less to deploy force? Or is it a modern liberal democracy with the rule of law that justifiably protects innocent civilians? Morality drives this debate.

To any sentient person, it is obvious that Israelis are 100 percent justified in protecting themselves from wanton attacks. A cartoon from the First Hamas–Israel War, of 2008 to 2009, symbolically showed a Palestinian terrorist shooting from behind a baby carriage at an Israeli soldier in front of a baby carriage.

The tougher question is how to prevent further Hamas–Israel wars. Some background: If Israelis are 100 percent justified in protecting themselves, their government also bears complete responsibility for creating this crisis. Specifically, it made two misguided unilateral withdrawals in 2005.

From Gaza: Ariel Sharon won reelection as prime minister in January 2003 in part by mocking a rival who called for the unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli residents and soldiers from Gaza; then, inexplicably, he adopted this same policy in November 2003 and put it into effect in August 2005. I dubbed this at that time “one of the worst errors ever made by a democracy.”

From the Philadelphi Corridor: Under pressure from the U.S., especially from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Sharon signed an agreement in September 2005, called “Agreed Arrangements,” that withdrew Israeli forces from the Philadelphi Corridor, a 14-kilometer-long and 100-meter-wide area between Gaza and Egypt. The hapless “European Union Border Assistance Mission at the Rafah Crossing Point” (EUBAM Rafah) took their place.
Trouble was, the Egyptian authorities had promised in their 1979 peace treaty with Israel (III:2) to prevent “acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, or violence” but in fact permitted massive smuggling of armaments to Gaza via tunnels. According to a former head of Israel’s Southern Command, Doron Almog, writing in early 2004, “smuggling has a strategic dimension” because it involves sufficient quantities of arms and materiel “to turn Gaza into launching pad for ever-deeper attacks against Israel proper.”
 Almog considered these policies “a dangerous gamble” by the Mubarak regime and a “profound strategic danger” that could “endanger the Israeli-Egyptian peace accord and threaten the stability of the whole region.” He attributed the lax Egyptian attitude to a mix of anti-Zionist views among officialdom and a readiness to vent the Egyptian public’s anti-Zionist sentiments.

Sharon arrogantly signed the “Agreed Arrangements,” contrary to the strong opposition of Israel’s security establishment. Of course, by removing this layer of Israeli protection, an “exponential increase” in the Gaza arsenal predictably followed, culminating in the Fajr-5 missiles that reached Tel Aviv this month.

To permit Israeli soldiers effectively to prevent armaments from reaching Gaza, David Eshel of Defense Update argued in 2009 for the IDF taking back the Philadelphi Corridor and increasing its size to “a fully sterile security line of about 1,000 meters,” even though this would mean having to relocate about 50,000 Gaza residents. Interestingly, the Palestinian Authority’s Ahmed Qurei privately endorsed similar steps in 2008.

Almog goes farther: Noting deep Iranian involvement in Gaza, he advocates making the Philadelphi Corridor into a no-man’s-land by widening it to about ten kilometers. Ideally, he writes me, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will build this anti-smuggling obstacle and the American military will have a continued role policing the border. Second best, Israelis do this alone. (The still-operational Gaza-Jericho Agreement of May 1994 establishes a “Military Installation Area” under Israel’s full control — in effect, the Philadelphi Corridor — that provides Jerusalem with the legal basis to take back this crucial border.)

In contrast, Michael Herzog, formerly a high-ranking official in Israel’s defense ministry, tells me it is too late for Israel to take back the Philadelphi Corridor, that international pressure on Egypt to stop the flow of arms to Gaza is the solution. Likewise, former Israeli ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold backs joint U.S.-Israel “arrangements” to keep out new weaponry.

I am skeptical about an effective American role, whether military or diplomatic; Israelis alone have the incentive to close down the arms transfers. Western governments should signal Hamas that they will encourage Jerusalem to respond to the next missile attack by retaking and enlarging the Philadelphi Corridor, thereby preventing further aggression, humanitarian tragedy, and political crises. 

Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2012 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Source: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/334073/gaza-s-not-key-philadelphi-daniel-pipes#

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Palestinians Still Embrace Spirit of 1947



by Jonathan S. Tobin


The vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status at the United Nations today is being conducted on the world body’s annual Day of Solidarity with Palestinians. That is, as PA head Mahmoud Abbas helpfully pointed out in his speech to the General Assembly, the anniversary of the 1947 UN vote to partition Palestine. Along with other anti-Israel speakers during this debate, he noted that the Palestinian people have suffered during the intervening decades and that it was an injustice that they had been denied a state. Yet he and others who spoke on his behalf failed to explain that failure to create a Palestinian Arab state alongside Israel at that time was not due to the intransigence of the Jews, West Bank settlements, or obstruction from the West. It was the Palestinians themselves as well as their allies throughout the Arab and Muslim world that absolutely refused to contemplate a plan that would have created an Arab state next to the new Jewish one.

This is not merely a piece of historical trivia that is irrelevant to the farce that was played out in New York in which a corrupt, undemocratic and discredited Fatah regime was honored as if it were a legitimate sovereign. It is, in fact, crucial to understanding what happened during the last 65 years. The main truth about this conflict has always been guided by one fact: neither the Palestinians nor their backers were willing then to acknowledge the rights of the Jews. It is only now after decades of intransigence that the Arabs say they want a state. But the common thread from 1947 to today’s debate is the willingness of much of the world to delegitimize Jewish rights and to bypass negotiations. Just as the Arabs refused to deal with the Jews then, Abbas, as well as the leaders of Hamas who control the independent Palestinian state in Gaza, won’t negotiate with Israel. Though many of the nations that voted in favor of today’s resolution claimed they were hoping to speed up a two-state solution to the conflict, what they did was to enable a continuation of that same spirit of Arab intransigence of 1947 that made war inevitable.


Of course, few in 1947 or even in the years after that would speak of the need for a Palestinian Arab state. Their goal then was much simpler: to deny the Jews a state no matter how tiny its area or constricted its borders might be. It was that goal that caused the Palestinians to fight their Jewish neighbors and to invite the intervention of five neighboring Arab states that invaded the territory of the former Mandate for Palestine on the day that Israel was born.

Nor was there much talk about what an injustice it was that there was no Palestinian state in the next 19 years when Egypt ruled Gaza and Jordan illegally occupied the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem. Then the only injustice mentioned was that there was a Jewish state in that area which we now refer to as “pre-1967 Israel.” Indeed, during that period pressure was put upon Israel to retreat from those borders to accommodate Arab claims and to accept the return of hundreds of thousands of Arab refugees to the country (a number that has now improbably grown to 5 million according to UN agencies) so as to swamp the new nation with no reference to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to flee Arab countries at that time. It was only after the Six-Day War that the clamor for a separate Palestinian state gained support in the Arab world, let alone the rest of the globe.

However, we are told now that the Palestinians repent their 1947 folly and only wish to exercise sovereignty in the lands Israel took from Egypt and Jordan in 1967. Leaving aside the fact that under international law, Jews have the same right to live in the West Bank and Jerusalem as Palestinians, Israel is asked to withdraw from these territories to allow the Arabs to rectify their mistake in rejecting a state.

But just like in 1947, the Palestinians won’t negotiate with the Israelis or compromise on points where both sides have competing rights. Nor are they willing to agree to respect the right of Jews to live in peace alongside them. Though Abbas paid lip service to a two-state solution today, the only rights he is interested in protecting are the rights of Palestinians to shoot rockets at Israelis.

For all of the talk about justice, the Palestinian nationalism of 2012 is remarkably similar in many ways to that of 1947. At that time, it had only been a few years since Palestinians openly sided with the Nazis in World War II. (As Caroline Glick notes, yesterday was the anniversary of the historic 1941 meeting in Berlin between Adolf Hitler and Palestinian leader Haj Amin el Husseini at which they shared their dreams for the annihilation of the Jews). The goal of the war to destroy Israel wasn’t to carve out room for yet another Arab state but to extinguish the Jewish presence in the land.

The same eliminationist spirit is to be found in the Hamas covenant as well as in the nonstop drumbeat of anti-Jewish incitement that can be found in the Palestinian media in Gaza as well as Abbas’s West Bank, Egypt and much of the rest of the Arab and Muslim world. Though Abbas makes the obligatory bow to the reality of Israel in his remarks to Western forums, the PA’s official media is as bad as that of the Islamists of Hamas when it comes to hate speech about Jews. That is echoed in the United Nations that chose the anniversary of partition not to celebrate the rights of Jews and Arabs but as the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinians. It, too, has bought into the myth of the “Nakba” in which Israel is viewed as the “disaster” which was imposed on the Middle East.

So long as Palestinian nationalism is based on the negation of Israel rather than a positive vision for themselves, peace is impossible. While the UN vote won’t change much of anything on the ground, there should be no mistake about the basic continuity between the Arab positions of 1947 and today.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/11/29/palestinians-still-embrace-spirit-of-1947-un-partition/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Bolton: Blame Obama for Palestinian State Status



by Greg McDonald

 
Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton blamed the Obama administration for failing to block the U.N.'s defacto recognition Thursday of a sovereign Palestinian state, saying the White House never took the issue "seriously."
 
"This is a reflection of an ongoing failure by the Obama administration to take this issue seriously," Bolton told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren Thursday night, adding that the president should have moved more forcefully in October, when the Palestinian Authority was made a member of the U.N. and its affiliated organizations.
 
"It never should have been. Palestine is not a state," Bolton said. "That's a fact. And when the U.N. engages in this kind of activity, it just shows a real lack of administration commitment to stop it from happening."
 
Bolton said the Obama administration could have taken a page from the playbook of former Secretary of State James Baker more than two decades ago when a similar effort to change the Palestinian Liberation Organization's observer status at the U.N. from an "entity" to a "non-member state," the same status held by the Vatican.
 
"We've been through this before. We did this 20 years ago and defeated the Palestinians," Bolton said. "And this is how we did it. Secretary of State Jim Baker issued a statement saying he would recommend to the president that the United States make no further contributions, voluntary or assessed, to any international organization which makes any change in the PLO's status as an observer organization.
 
"If the administration had simply done what Jim Baker did 20 years ago, this thing would have been deader than a doornail," Bolton added.
The former ambassador, now a Fox News contributor, said he sees plenty of trouble ahead as the United States, Israel and other nations react to the new Palestinian status.
 
Pointing to Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who has threatened to introduce legislation to cut off U.N. aid, Bolton suggested that other members of Congress could move as well to end funding for other U.N.-affiliated groups with which the Palestinians can now claim association.
 
He said Israel should also prepare seriously for a move by the Palestinians to take complaints about Israel to the international criminal court now that they have standing in the U.N.
 
He noted that it would be "a big mistake on their part" for Israel to downplay the problems that such a move could create.

Greg McDonald

Source: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/palestinian-state-bolton/2012/11/30/id/465974

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Abbas’ jihadist UN bid



by Ruthie Blum


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is one happy jihadist this week. Not only did he arrive in New York with the blessing of Hamas, but he was given a warm bath by most member states of the United Nations.

The guy who has been a has-been practically from the moment he came to power following the death of Yasser Arafat is suddenly being taken seriously.

As he approached the podium at the General Assembly on Thursday afternoon, he was applauded like an A-Lister at the Academy Awards. This welcome, coupled with his prior knowledge that a huge majority of the body was going to support his bid to upgrade the PA to non-member status, gave him a bit of bounce to his step and boom to his oratory.

So emboldened was “Abu Mazen” by the events leading up to the big day that he didn’t bother camouflaging his hate-speech for Western ears — a practice at which all Arab leaders perceived as “moderates” excel.

Even the Israeli press was shocked at the language and tone of the man who has come to be considered the only hope for a negotiated settlement of a “two-state solution.” The sole concern the liberal Israeli intelligentsia has had about Abbas is that he does not command enough power over the entire Palestinian entity. They argue that he must be strengthened, by Israel no less.

That Abbas is a terrorist in a tie does not factor into this argument. After all, now that Hamas rules Gaza, the PLO can be viewed as the more reasonable group with which to conduct talks.

Too bad Abbas doesn’t see it that way. And his speech at the General Assembly is just another piece of proof. Not that evidence of his true intentions is lacking, mind you. On the contrary, every word he utters in Arabic indicates that the only difference between him and his Hamas counterparts is in his willingness to play the American and European game, while working toward the aim of destroying the Jewish state, and weakening the rest of the West, in stages.

That Abbas chose Nov. 29 as the day for his General Assembly bid was no accident. This was the date, 65 years ago, when the same General Assembly voted “yes” to the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab. This was, in fact, the original “two-state solution.”

Then, as now, the Arabs rejected it. Then, as now, they waged war against Israel. 

This did not prevent Abbas from mentioning the anniversary in his speech, using it to — gasp! — blame Israel for the plight of the Arabs in its midst.

Most interesting was the way he began by talking about the recent war in Gaza, a place he has not been allowed to enter for fear he will be slaughtered by rivals in Hamas and Islamic Jihad. But never mind. Any excuse to talk about martyrdom is fine with him. 

“Palestine comes today to the United Nations General Assembly at a time when it is still … burying its beloved martyrs of children, women and men who have fallen victim to the latest Israeli aggression,” he said. “Still searching for remnants of life amid the ruins of homes destroyed by Israeli bombs on the Gaza Strip, wiping out entire families, their men, women and children murdered along with their dreams, their hopes, their future and their longing to live an ordinary life and to live in freedom and peace.” (No mention of Iranian missiles launched from Gaza at Israeli civilians.) 

“The Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip has confirmed once again the urgent and pressing need to end the Israeli occupation and for our people to gain their freedom and independence. This aggression also confirms the Israeli government’s adherence to the policy of occupation, brute force and war,” he said, conveniently omitting his own repeated assertions over the years that the entire state of Israel is “occupied territory.”

He went on: “… There was certainly no one in the world that required that tens of Palestinian children lose their lives … no need for thousands of deadly raids and tons of explosives for the world to be reminded that there is an occupation that must come to an end and that there are a people that must be liberated …”

And then he came out and admitted that the whole trouble goes back to the establishment of the state of Israel.

“The Palestinian people, who miraculously recovered from the ashes of Al-Nakba [“The Catastrophe”] of 1948, which was intended to extinguish their being and to expel them to uproot and erase their presence, which was rooted in the depths of their land and depths of history. In those dark days, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were torn from their homes and displaced within and outside of their homeland, thrown from their beautiful, embracing, prosperous country to refugee camps in one of the most dreadful campaigns of ethnic cleansing and dispossession in modern history … Our people always have strived not to lose their humanity, their highest, deeply held moral values and their innovative abilities for survival, steadfastness, creativity and hope, despite the horrors that befell them and continue to befall them today as a consequence of Al-Nakba and its horrors.”

To give an example of a consequence of the “catastrophe,” Abbas pointed to “the incessant flood of Israeli threats in response to our peaceful, political and diplomatic endeavor for Palestine to acquire non-member observer status in the United Nations … threats [that] were carried out in a barbaric and horrific manner just days ago in the Gaza Strip.”

To add chutzpah to lies, he claimed, “We have not heard one word from any Israeli official expressing any sincere concern to save the peace process. On the contrary, our people … continue to witness an unprecedented intensification of military assaults, the blockade, settlement activities and ethnic cleansing, particularly in occupied east Jerusalem, and mass arrests, attacks by settlers and other practices by which this Israeli occupation is becoming synonymous with an apartheid system of colonial occupation, which institutionalizes the plague of racism and entrenches hatred and incitement.” 

He attributed Israel’s ability to “perpetrate war crimes” to “its conviction that it is above the law and that it has immunity from accountability and consequences …”

Then, after stating that he was willing to have a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and for a resolution of the refugee issue (a euphemism for the “right of return”), he stressed, “The rope of patience is shortening and hope is withering. The innocent lives that have been taken by Israeli bombs … are a painful reminder to the world that this racist, colonial occupation is making the two-state solution and the prospect for realizing peace a very difficult choice, if not impossible.”

Abbas not only got a standing ovation; his bid was approved. The one true sentiment he expressed was one Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should finally acknowledge: A “two-state solution” is impossible with people bent on Israel’s destruction. 

Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the Arab Spring.”

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=2980

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Obama Administration's PR Campaign for Morsi and the MB



by IPT News


The elected head of a nation made threatening statements toward Israel. His organization called for jihad and celebrated a bus bombing in Tel Aviv.
The United States then hailed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi as a statesman and a moderate last week.

True, he did help bring about a cessation of Hamas rocket fire from Gaza. But in doing so, he wasn't trying to advance American objectives or the cause of peace.

Morsi knew avoiding a war in Gaza would help secure $1 billion in debt relief from the United States and an International Monetary Fund loan approaching $5 billion.

All of that makes the high praise Morsi received from the Obama administration unnecessary and counterproductive. And the administration's tepid response to Morsi's subsequent power grab – neutering his country's judiciary – fails to make clear whether there will be consequences if he maintains dictatorial power.

"Mr. Obama told aides he was impressed with the Egyptian leader's pragmatic confidence," The New York Times reported after the Gaza ceasefire Nov. 21. "He sensed an engineer's precision with surprisingly little ideology."

The president and his aides must not have been paying attention. Days earlier, Morsi stood in Cairo's al-Azhar mosque and offered unwavering support to Hamas and threatened Israel with violent retribution.



"Let everyone know that the size of Egypt and the capabilities of Egypt, and the people of Egypt have rage, and the leaders of Egypt are enraged at what is hitting Gaza," Morsi said. "The leaders of Egypt are enraged and are moving to prevent the aggression on the people of Palestine in Gaza."

"We in Egypt stand with Gaza," he said. "[W]e are with them in one trench, that he who hits them, hits us; that this blood which flows from their children, it, it is like the blood flowing from the bodies of our children and our sons, may this never happen."

During a Nov. 19 visit to Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Saad Katatni, chairman of Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party and speaker of Egypt's dissolved parliament, continued issuing violent threats of jihad against Israel, saying:

"We are with you in your jihad. We have come here to send a message from here to the Zionist entity, to the Zionist enemy. And we say to them, Egypt is no longer. Egypt is no longer after the revolution a strategic treasure for you. Egypt was and still is a strategic treasury for our brothers in Palestine; a strategic treasure for Gaza; a strategic treasure for all the oppressed."

The Obama administration has yet to criticize the pro-Hamas, pro-jihad rhetoric from Morsi, Katatni and their Brotherhood associates.

Throughout the conflict, the Muslim Brotherhood – where Morsi had been a senior member before seeking office earlier this year – issued a series of pro-Hamas statements and celebrations of attacks on Israel, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports.

During a protest organized by the Brotherhood and its political arm in Al-Qalyubi, preacher Muhammad Ragab called on Muslims "to raise the banner of jihad against the tyrannical, invading and wicked sons of apes and pigs [i.e., the Jews], and to unite against the enemies of Allah."

"The MB thanked Allah for the death of Israelis killed by rockets, and called for jihad against Israel," the MEMRI report says. "The official MB Facebook page reported joyously on the deaths of Israelis. On November 15, 2012, the official MB Facebook page celebrated the death of three Israeli civilians killed by a rocket that hit a house in Kiryat Malakhi: 'Allah akbar and praise to god, three Zionists were killed and five others were injured in a blast at a three-story building in Kiryat Malakhi from resistance rockets.'"

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland ducked the issue of violent rhetoric from Morsi and the Brotherhood when a reporter raised it in a Nov. 16 press briefing.

"Well, I'm obviously not, from this podium, going to characterize the Egyptian view, nor am I going to speak for them and characterize our private diplomatic conversations," Nuland said. "We all agree on the need to de-escalate this conflict, and the question is for everybody to use their influence that they have to try to get there."

The Muslim Brotherhood's hostile rhetoric against Israel continued on Nov. 22 after the cease-fire was reached. Supreme Guide Dr. Mohamed Badie—considered by Middle East intelligence sources to be the real power broker behind Morsi— issued a statement describing jihad against the Jewish state as "a personal obligation for all Muslims."

"The cause of Palestine is of considerable importance. It is not a cause of power, nor of Palestinians, nor of the Arabs, but is the basic cause of life of every Muslim," Badie said. "For the sake of its return, every Muslim must wage jihad, sacrifice; and expend his money for the sake of restoring it.

"Palestine and Jerusalem is a holy Muslim land, part of the faith of the Muslim ummah," Badie continued. "To forsake any part of it is to forsake the ummah's civilization and faith. This is a great sin."

The Muslim Brotherhood leader continued, saying that the Jews should not "establish a state for themselves" and should be content living as a minority in other nations.

"The enemy knows nothing but the language of force," Badie said. "Be aware of the game of grand deception with which they depict peace accords."

Morsi Grabs Dictatorial Powers

Cairo's streets filled with angry protesters after Morsi turned around and issued an edict making his decisions immune from judicial review just a day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised him as a peacemaker.

"I want to thank President Morsi for his personal leadership to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and end the violence. This is a critical moment for the region," Clinton said during a Nov. 21 joint press conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr. "Egypt's new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace."

Morsi's grab for dictatorial power trampled Egypt's judiciary and gave him unchecked rule over Egypt at least until a new constitution is drafted.

At least 40 people were wounded and a teenager was killed Sunday in the Nile Delta city of Damanhoor when a group of anti-Morsi protesters tried storming the Brotherhood's local offices, the Associated Press reported.

Washington's response has been tepid at best, calling for calm but never criticizing Morsi directly. White House Spokesman Jay Carney was asked directly Monday if the administration "condemned" Morsi's unprecedented power grab.

"We are concerned about it and have raised those concerns," Carney said.

During a press briefing also held Monday, the State Department's Nuland tread lightly. Clinton spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr that morning, Nuland said, taking "that opportunity to reiterate some of the points that you saw in our statement, that we want to see the constitutional process move forward in a way that does not overly concentrate power in one set of hands, that ensures that rule of law, checks and balances, protection of the rights of all groups in Egypt are upheld, et cetera."

She repeatedly referred back to a statement issued Friday calling for calm in Egypt as a result of Morsi's decree.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called on the United States to condemn these actions and demand they be reversed. "Stop. Stop. Renounce the statement, and the move that he just made. Allow the judiciary to function," McCain said. "If the judiciary is flawed in some way, then, that's an illness that can be cured over time. But, absolutely, to assume this kind of power is unacceptable to the United States of America and, then, we can outline what actions might be taken. But, first, condemn it."

Egypt's pro-democracy groups also have called on President Obama to condemn Morsi's decree, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

"I am waiting to see, I hope soon, a very strong statement of condemnation by the U.S., by Europe and by everybody who really cares about human dignity," said prominent opposition figure Mohamed Elbaradei.

The opposition forces have formed a National Salvation Front in response to Morsi's power grab in attempt to circumvent an impending Islamist takeover of the Egyptian government, referring to the move as a "coup" and Morsi as a "pharaoh."

"I'm against the constitution and the dictatorship of Mr. Morsi," anti-Morsi protester Horeya Naguib told the Associated Press Tuesday amid protests in Tahrir Square. "He is selling his own country and looks out for the interests of his group, not the people of Egypt."

Morsi's decree is his second attempt at consolidating power in five months, first ousting military leaders and invalidating a constitutional declaration that limited his control over Egypt's army.

Egyptian opposition politician Hamdeen Sabahy said that protests would continue until Morsi's decree was reversed, stating that Egypt "will not accept a new dictator because it brought down the old one."

Morsi's Long Support For Hamas

It is worth remembering that the administration has tried to cast the Muslim Brotherhood in a false light of moderation since the early days of the Arab Spring. In February 2011, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared before a House committee and described the group as "a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam."

That comment was widely derided and Clapper walked it back somewhat. But a series of Arabic translations from the Muslim Brotherhood's official website made by the Investigative Project on Terrorism shows that Morsi worked for years alongside Hamas, which began as a splinter group from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s.

As a leading Muslim Brotherhood member of Egypt's parliament, Morsi wrote a Sept. 23, 2003 letter to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh thanking God for his survival and declaring his solidarity with Hamas' goal of destroying Israel.

"We thank all of you for your courageous positions in support of our cause, the cause of Palestine – the first Qibla of the Muslims, and your continued support of your brothers on the land of encampment," Morsi wrote, according to Ikhwanonline.com. "We send through you greetings to all our faithful brothers throughout the world, and we assure you that we are we are pledged to God, and we promise you we will continue to the path of jihad and resistance until victory or martyrdom."

In April 2004, Morsi actually led efforts in the Egyptian parliament to scrap the peace treaty with Israel.

The Brotherhood's own website reported that "Dr. Morsi" proposed "a timetable for the disposal of the alleged peace agreement signed with the Zionist entity."

Later that year, Morsi invoked anti-Semitic themes found in the Qur'an and Shariah law, saying the Jews are "the most hostile of men to Muslims" and that "Zionists are traitors to every covenant."

In 2007, he said that he and the Muslim Brotherhood actively supported Palestinian jihadism to annihilate Israel through violent jihad: "[T]he Palestinian issue for the Brotherhood is pivotal and essential, and that the Brotherhood offered and still offers full support for the Palestinian resistance to liberate the Holy Land."

A month later, Morsi participated in a teleconference with Haniyeh, saying "resistance is the right and only way to liberate the land from the defilement of the Jews."

The list goes on and on. Morsi delivered a brief respite in the rocket fire from Gaza toward Israeli civilians. That's a good thing. But pretending this one act somehow transforms him into a statesman, or a reliable international mediator is not. It's reckless.

IPT News

Source: http://www.investigativeproject.org/3827/obama-administration-oversells-morsi

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Morsi’s Dictatorship and the Gaza Ceasefire



by Prof. Hillel Frisch


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has proven himself to be a dictator in the footsteps of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. He has consolidated his power by sacking the military leadership and by granting himself extensive powers over the judicial system. It is not coincidental that his most recent dictatorial decree (overriding the judiciary) was issued following his successful brokering of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Morsi seeks to further strengthen his control over Egypt while continuing to benefit from Western aid.

President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt has struck again. In August this year he surprised everyone by sacking Egypt’s venerable minister of defense and the heads of the army – the chief-of-staff and the heads of army, navy, and air force – and replacing them with generals of his own liking. He used the massacre of 15 border police by a jihadist group near the Egyptian-Gazan border as his excuse for the purge. The senior military command, which had until that point ruled Egypt with almost an iron hand, caved in without a whimper. To press home their defeat, Morsi did not even bother to invite the former minister of defense and the chief-of-staff to the traditional memorial events surrounding the “victory” of the October 1973 war, even though they were its most prominent living veterans.

The Decree Protecting the Revolution

On November 22, 2012, Morsi struck again in no less surprising fashion. Under the camouflage of an unimportant trip to a conference on economic development in Karachi, Pakistan, he issued a presidential decree (dubbed the “Revolution Protection Law”) that forbade the dissolution of the constitutional drafting committee from which most of the liberal, secular, and church representatives have withdrawn. He also assumed powers that allowed him to dismiss the unpopular general prosecutor and to retry Mubarak and his aides. These decisions, he announced, were not subject to judicial review.

The United States and its European allies, despite their democratic rhetoric, responded with feeble censure. They noted their “concern” over the decree but did not express outward opposition. Significantly, the decree came on the day after Morsi garnered international acclaim for his successful effort to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Connection to the Gaza Ceasefire


The timing raises the following question: What is the relationship between Morsi’s proclamation of powers, which his critics claim makes him a new Pharaoh, and the Gaza ceasefire? It sounds like a riddle but in fact the connection is compellingly logical.

President Morsi, long a senior and radical member of the Muslim Brotherhood before being elected to the presidency, committed himself through the Gaza ceasefire to something that former President Mubarak never sought, let alone achieve. Mubarak, depicted wrongly by the media as an ally of Israel’s, never pressured Hamas to stop the devastating trickle of rockets and mortars it had continuously fired on Israel’s south. Instead, Mubarak used Hamas to bleed Israel.

(Mubarak slightly altered his position after Hamas breached the Egyptian border in January 2008. The breach led to an inundation of hundreds of thousands of Gazans into northern Sinai, including dozens of jihadists and Hamas terrorists. The latter subsequently played important roles in the weakening of Egyptian control in the area).

Unlike Mubarak, Morsi has now obligated himself to stop all Hamas rocket fire towards Israel, essentially putting an end to Hamas’ muqawama (resistance) that distinguished the Hamas government from the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, whom Hamas accused of collaborating with Israel.

Morsi, however, is hardly the person to deliver this without a hefty price tag. The timing of the ceasefire and Morsi’s assumption of dictatorial powers over the judiciary more than suggests a connection with Gaza.

Essentially, Morsi is trying to force the United States and its European allies into a deal that runs something like this: “Render me what is Pharaoh’s in the land of Egypt, and I will deliver you stability on the Israeli front. You and your local allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the other Gulf states, can then focus on Syria and Iran.” In short, what Morsi is saying is “Give me my kingdom and I will give you and your allies primacy in the area.”

For Morsi, the test whether the United States, Europe, and the Gulf states accept the deal is as simple as this: Will the IMF loan Egypt $4.8 billion, along with five billion euros of aid, and additional funds from the Gulf money? Will these funds rescue an Egyptian economy beset by domestic turmoil that Morsi’s own moves begat? (After his decree, the value of shares on the Cairo stock market plunged by 10 percent).

Conclusion

United States foreign policy always has been plagued by the tension between Jeffersonian ideals of spreading democracy and a more hard-headed Hamiltonian realism. One can wager that the United States, despite democratic rhetoric, will come up with the aid that Morsi seeks. However painful the deal may be, the Iraqi experiment and many other examples suggest the primacy of America’s interests over high-minded principles. After all, this is exactly how Morsi resolved his own dilemma.

Prof. Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East
studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a senior research associate at the
Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.


Source: http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/docs/perspectives187.pdf

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Arab Atrocity Story Again, and Again, and Again



by Michael Widlanski




Arabic newspapers. Photo: Johl.

In the last two or three weeks, we have heard more stories from  Gaza about  Israel killing or hurting “innocent” Arabs or Western journalists. 



Hamas leader Ismail Haniyyeh took both the Egyptian prime minister and the Tunisian foreign minister to visit the dead body of a boy who was supposedly killed by  Israel so that the three leaders could symbolically dip their hands in the boy’s blood and condemn  Israel for murdering an innocent “martyr.”



Arabs from North Africa to the  Persian Gulf saw pictures of the child’s blood brandished on Arab TV and the front pages of Arab newspapers. Then it turned out the boy was killed when a Hamas rocket, launched at  Israel , misfired and landed on the boy’s house. Arab TV and Arab newspapers did not publish retractions.



That is because the Arab atrocity story is a best seller, but one should treat the Arab authors—the PLO, Hizballah, Hamas (and the journalists who often work with them or are used by them) —with great, great skepticism. When they cry “Israeli murder !!!” we should be careful not to get caught up in their narrative.

“Ya-da ya-da ya-da”—as  Jerry Seinfeld  used to say.

When you hear Arab accounts of  so-called Israeli “massacres” and “bestiality,” remember that the Arab foes of Israel have perfected a modern literary motif known as “the Arab atrocity story” which usually turns out to be a contrived work of fiction.

No, Jews are not perfect, and Israelis are not supermen. Israeli policy makers and soldiers are NOT  halo-wearing demi-gods, but almost every narrative of Israeli “massacres” from Lebanon in 1982, Jenin in 2002 and Gaza in 2012 turns out to be either greatly exaggerated or completely false.

Remember Yasser Arafat and his agent Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator,  claiming that Israel massacred thousands in Jenin. Arafat and Erekat said that Jenin was the Palestinian Stalingrad—at least 5,000 dead. Even the BBC—the British Broadcasting Corporation—bought the PLO claims.

Later, the BBC Governance Unit admitted  the BBC had effectively turned itself into an arm of PLO propaganda because 23 Israeli soldiers were killed along with 52 Palestinians, 46 of whom were young adult males, almost all armed terrorists.

Woops!!!!! It turns out that the Israeli  commandos carried cameras and recording equipment on them as they searched out the terrorists, and they literally filmed their own military mission.

It seems that Arafat and his crew had turned Jenin into a huge terror base, using some of the inhabitants as human shields. Israel rooted them out at great cost to Israeli soldiers, but almost without any civilian casualties. Even when the UN investigated,  the UN—hardly Israel’s protector—found that Israel was telling the truth.

Remember that every time you hear a PLO spokesman or spokeswoman—Saeb Erekat or Hanan Ashrawi—making claims about Israel massacring someone.

In 1982, the same PLO spread stories that Israel had demolished most of the houses in southern Lebanon, and, they claimed, 600,000 people were homeless. The only problem was that there were not even 600,000 people in southern Lebanon.

The cycle of fictionalized  violence recurs in Gaza, in Lebanon and the West Bank every time there is a clash between Israel and terrorists.

In 1996 and 2006, Hizballah charged that Israel committed massacres in Kafr Kana in Lebanon. Hizballah built its case by using bodies taken from morgues and other sites. Israel even apologized. It was only much later that analysts showed how Hizballah doctored “evidence,” and planted bodies of children and toys to create a massacre.

Western news agencies wittingly and unwittingly often serve as the publicity agents for these phony atrocity stories, often because the stories are planted by Arab stringers—part-time employees who also get salaries from terror groups.

For example, France 2 TV spread a story of Israel killing a young Arab boy—Muhammad Dura—in 2000, the boy “dying” in his father’s arms. The only problem with the film—shot by an Arab stringer—is that the un-broadcast out-takes showed that the boy shielded his eyes from the sun after he “died.”

Another example: when a Reuters news agency Arab stringer, Adnan Hajj,  digitally manipulated his photographs of Israeli air-strikes on Hizballah bases in Beirut in 2006. The pictures were a Reuters best-seller. Only much later and much more quietly did Reuters issue a quasi-retraction.

Meanwhile, you will not hear any stories from Reuters, the BBC, the New York Times, about what Hamas gun men and Islamic Jihad thugs do to their own people—summary executions, frequent extortion and widespread corruption.

You will also never hear how Hamas, Hizballah or Fatah gunmen threaten Western news organizations or suborn them with local Arab agents who disguise themselves as stringers.
Hamas, Hizballah  and the PLO have used Arab “stringers”—part-time reporters—to infiltrate foreign news organizations.

The stringers are usually working for the terror organization but act as “fixers” and “enablers” for Western reporters, bringing them interviews, escorting them to refugee camps,  bringing them in and out of dangerous areas like the offices of Yasser Arafat or Ismail Haniyyeh.

These “stringers”  are basically terrorist chaperons who also serve as informers on the Western journalists.

That was the system used in PLO-controlled Beirut in the 1970′s-80′s, in Saddam Hussein’s  Baghdad in 1990, in Hizballah-ruled southern Lebanon, and in Hamas-run Gaza today.
The boy, in whose blood the Tunisian and Egyptian foreign minister and prime minister dipped their hands symbolically, was actually killed by a Hamas rocket. Many Hamas rockets misfire, and many Hamas bombs explode prematurely.

Hamas rarely admits its  explosive errors. A few years ago, a Gaza family  was killed on a beach. It was an Israeli air-strike, they claimed.  Later it was shown to be a Hamas bomb that was left unattended.

Nevertheless, the standard operating procedure is blame Israel. That always sells. 

Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of  Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by  Threshold/Simon and Schuster. A former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers and The Jerusalem Post, he was  Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and teaches at Bar Ilan University.

Source: http://www.algemeiner.com/2012/11/29/the-arab-atrocity-story-again-and-again-and-again/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Palestine is Jewish



by Eli E. Hertz


51 member countries – the entire League of Nations [Today’s UN] – unanimously declared on July 24, 1922:

“Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

The 51 member countries of the League of Nations as of July 24, 1922:
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, British India, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Persia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of China, Romania, Siam, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Union of South Africa, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Palestine is Not a State, it is the Name of a Geographical Area.

In the course of time, the Latin name Philistia was further bastardized into Palistina or Palestine. Palestine was never a sovereign independent Arab state belonging to any people, nor did a Palestinian people distinct from other Arabs appear during 1,300 years of Muslim hegemony in Palestine under Arab and Ottoman rule. Historically, before the Arabs fabricated the concept of Palestinian peoplehood as an exclusively Arab phenomenon, no such group existed. This is substantiated in countless official British Mandate-vintage documents that speak of the Jews and the Arabs of Palestine – not Jews and Palestinians.
Eli E. Hertz

Source: www.mythsandfacts.org


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Ayman Zawahiri and Egypt: A Trip Through Time



by Raymond Ibrahim



Around 1985, current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri fled his homeland of Egypt, presumably never to return. From his early beginnings as a teenage leader of a small jihadi cell devoted to overthrowing Egyptian regimes (first Nasser's then Sadat's) until he merged forces with Osama bin Laden, expanding his objectives to include targeting the United States of America, Zawahiri never forgot his original objective: transforming Egypt into an Islamist state that upholds and enforces the totality of Sharia law, and that works towards the resurrection of a global caliphate.

This vision is on its way to being fulfilled. With Islamist political victories, culminating with a Muslim Brotherhood president, Muhammad Morsi, Egypt is taking the first major steps to becoming the sort of state Zawahiri wished to see. Zawahiri regularly congratulates Egypt's Islamists—most recently the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo—urging them to continue Islamizing the Middle East's most strategic nation.

He sent a lengthy communiqué during the Egyptian revolution in February 2011, for example, titled "Messages of Hope and Glad Tidings to our People in Egypt." In it, he reiterated themes widely popularized by al-Qaeda, including: secular regimes are the enemies of Islam; democracy is a sham; Sharia must be instituted; the U.S. and the "Zionist enemy" are the true source behind all of the Islamic world's ills.

Zawahiri continues to push these themes. Late last month, he sent messages criticizing Morsi, especially for not helping "the jihad to liberate Palestine;" called for the kidnapping of Westerners, especially Americans—which the U.S. embassy in Cairo took seriously enough to issue a warning to Americans; and further incited Egypt's Muslims to wage jihad against America because of the YouTube Muhammad movie.

In short, a symbiotic relationship exists between the country of Egypt and the Egyptian Zawahiri: the country helped shape the man, and the man is fixated on influencing the country, his homeland. Accordingly, an examination of Zawahiri's early years and experiences in Egypt—a case study of sorts—provides context for understanding Zawahiri, the undisputed leader of the world's most notorious Islamic terrorist organization and helps explain how Egypt got where it is today. The two phenomena go hand-in-hand.

In this report, we will explore several questions, including: What happened in Egypt to turn this once "shy" and "studious" schoolboy who abhorred physical sports as "inhumane" towards jihad? What happened to turn many Egyptians to jihad, or at least radical Islam? What is Zawahiri's relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis—Egypt's two dominant Islamist political players? Did the 9/11 strikes on America, orchestrated by Zawahiri and al-Qaeda, help or hinder the Islamists of Egypt?

Background

Little about Zawahiri's upbringing suggests that he would become the world's most notorious jihadi, partially responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocents in the September 11 attacks and elsewhere. People who knew him stress that Zawahiri came from a "prestigious" and "aristocratic" background (in Egypt, "aristocrats" have traditionally been among the most liberal and secular). His father Muhammad was a professor of pharmacology; his mother, Umayma, came from a politically active family. Ayman had four siblings; he (and his twin sister) were the eldest. Born in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on June 19, 1951, Zawahiri, as a BBC report puts it, "came from a respectable middle-class family of doctors and scholars. His grandfather, Rabia al-Zawahiri, was the grand imam of al-Azhar, the centre of Sunni Islamic learning in the Middle East, while one of his uncles was the first secretary-general of the Arab League."

According to the Islamist Montasser al-Zayyat, author of the Arabic book, Al Zawahiri: As I Knew Him (translated in English as The Road to Al Qaeda: the Story of Bin Laden's Right-Hand Man), Zawahiri was "an avid reader" who "loved literature and poetry." He "believed that sports, especially boxing and wrestling, were inhumane.... people thought he was very tender and softhearted…. nothing in his youthful good nature suggested that he was to become the second most wanted man in the world…. He has always been humble, never interested in seizing the limelight of the leadership."

Even so, he exhibited signs of a strong and determined character, as "there was nothing weak about the personality of the child Zawahiri. On the contrary, he did not like any opinion to be imposed on him. He was happy to discuss any issue that was difficult for him to understand until it was made clear, but he did not argue for the sake of argument. He always listened politely, without giving anyone the chance to control him."

For all his love of literature and poetry, which Islamists often portray as running counter to Muslim faith, Zawahiri exhibited a notable form of piety from youth. "Ayman al-Zawahiri was born into a religious Muslim family," al-Zayyat wrote. "Following the example of his family, he not only performed the prayers at the correct times, but he did so in the mosque…. He always made sure that he performed the morning prayers [at sunrise] with a group in the mosque, even during the coldest winters. He attended several classes of Koran interpretation, fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence] and Koran recitation at the mosque."

Otherwise, he appeared to lead a normal, privileged lifestyle. Like his family, he followed a prestigious career path. Zawahiri joined the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University, graduating in 1974 with the highest possible marks. He then earned a Master's degree in surgery from the same university in 1978. He went on to receive a PhD in surgery from a Pakistani university, during his stay in Peshawar, when he was aiding the mujahidin against the Soviets. People who know Zawahiri say that the only relationship he had with a woman was with his wife, Azza, whom he married in 1979, and who held a degree in philosophy. She and three of Zawahiri's six children were killed in an air strike on Afghanistan by U.S. forces in late 2001.

Death of a Martyr

The initial influence on Zawahiri's radicalization appears to have come from his uncle Mahfouz, an opponent to the secular regime and Islamist in his own right, who was arrested in a militant round up in 1945, following the assassination of Prime Minister Ahmed Mahfouz. In reference to this event, Zawahiri's uncle even boasted: "I myself was going to do what Ayman has done," according to Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.

Though Mahfouz was likely the first to introduce young Ayman to the political scene of radical Islam, no one appears to have had an impact on Zawahiri's development as much as Uncle Mahfouz's mentor and Arabic teacher, Sayyid Qutb—often referred to as the "godfather" of modern jihad. Qutb, then the Muslim Brotherhood's premiere theoretician of jihad, has arguably played the greatest role in articulating the Islamist/jihadi worldview in the modern era, so much so that Zawahiri and others regularly quote his voluminous writings in their own work.

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, "Three basic themes emerge from Qutb's writings. First, he claimed that the world was beset with barbarism, licentiousness, and unbelief (a condition he called jahiliyya, the religious term for the period of ignorance prior to the revelations given to the Prophet Mohammed). Qutb argued that humans can choose only between Islam and jahiliyya. Second, he warned that more people, including Muslims, were attracted to jahiliyya and its material comforts than to his view of Islam; jahiliyya could therefore triumph over Islam. Third, no middle ground exists in what Qutb conceived as a struggle between God and Satan. All Muslims—as he defined them—therefore must take up arms in this fight. Any Muslim who rejects his ideas is just one more nonbeliever worthy of destruction."

Qutb's primary target—and subsequently Zawahiri's—was the Egyptian regime, which he accused of being enforcers of jahiliyya, obstructing the totality of Sharia. Because Qutb was so effective at fomenting Islamist animosity for the regime, President Gamal Abdel Nasser had him imprisoned and eventually executed in 1966. That act that only succeeded in helping propagate Qutb's importance to the jihadi movement, which came to see him as a "martyr" (a shahid, the highest honor for a Muslim), turning his already popular writings into "eternal classics" for Islamists everywhere.

As Zayyat observes, "In Zawahiri's eyes, Sayyid Qutb's words struck young Muslims more deeply than those of his contemporaries because his words eventually led to his execution. Thus, those words provided the blueprint for his long and glorious lifetime, and eventually led to its end…. His teaching gave rise to the formation of the nucleus of the contemporary jihadi movements in Egypt."

It is no coincidence, then, that Zawahiri founded his first jihadi cell in 1966 – the year of Qutb's execution – when he was only 15-years-old. Embracing Qutb's teachings—that jihad is the only answer, that talk, diplomacy, and negotiations only serve the infidel enemy's purposes—his cell originally had a handful of members. Zawahiri eventually merged it with other small cells to form Egyptian Islamic Jihad, becoming one of its leaders. Zawahiri sought to recruit military officers and accumulate weapons, waiting for the right moment to launch a coup against the regime; or, in Zawahiri's own words as later recorded by an interrogator, "to establish an Islamic government …. a government that rules according to the Sharia of Allah Almighty."

Humiliation of Defeat

A year following the establishment of Zawahiri's cell, another event took place that further paved the way to jihad: the ignominious defeat of Egypt by Israel in the 1967 war. Until then, Arab nationalism, spearheaded by Nasser, was the dominant ideology, not just in Egypt, but the entire Arab world. What began with much euphoria and conviction—that the Arab world, unified under Arab nationalism and headed by Nasser would crush Israel, only to lose disastrously in a week—morphed into disillusionment and disaffection, especially among Egyptians. It was then that the slogan "Islam is the solution" spread like wildfire, winning over many to the cause.

At the time of the 1967 war, the future al-Qaeda leader was 16 years old. Like many young people at the time, he was somewhat traumatized by Egypt's defeat—a defeat which, 34 years later, he would gloat upon in his 2001 book Fursan Taht Rayat al-Nabbi, ("Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet"):

"The unfolding events impacted the course of the jihadi movements in Egypt, namely, the 1967 defeat and the ensuing symbolic collapse of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was portrayed to the public by his followers as the everlasting invincible symbol. The jihadi movements realized that wormwoods had eaten at this icon, and that it had become fragile. The 1967 defeat shook the earth under this idol until it fell on its face, causing a severe shock to its disciples, and frightening its subjects. The jihadi movements grew stronger and stronger as they realized that their avowed enemy was little more than a statue to be worshipped, constructed through propaganda, and through the oppression of unarmed innocents. The direct influence of the 1967 defeat was that a large number of people, especially youths, returned to their original identity: that of members of an Islamic civilization."

This theme—that the "enemies of Islam" – first the secular dictators, followed by the USSR and then the U.S., were "paper tigers" whose bark was worse than their bite—would come to permeate the writings of al-Qaeda and other jihadists. For instance, in March 2012, in response to President Obama's plans to cut Pentagon spending, Zawahiri said, "The biggest factor that forced America to reduce its defence budget is Allah's help to the mujahideen [or jihadis] to harm the evil empire of our time [the U.S.]," adding that American overtures to the Afghan Taliban for possible reconciliation was further evidence of U.S. defeat.

The 1973 war between Egypt and Israel appears to have had a lesser impact on Zawahiri, who by then had already confirmed his worldview. Moreover, it was during the 1970s that he was especially busy with "normal" life—earning two advanced university degrees (one in 1974, another in 1978), getting married, and starting a family. Even so, the subsequent peace treaty that the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed with Israel incensed many Islamists in Egypt, including Zawahiri, who saw it as a great betrayal to the Islamic Nation, or Umma, prompting jihadis to act now instead of later.

Accordingly, Sadat was targeted for assassination; the time had come for a military coup, which was Islamic Jihad's ultimate goal. But the plan was derailed when authorities learned of it in February, 1981. Sadat ordered the roundup of more than 1,500 Islamists, including many Islamic Jihad members (though he missed a cell in the military led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli, who succeeded in assassinating Sadat during a military parade later that same year).

Prison Torture

Zawahiri was among the thousands of Islamists rounded up after Sadat's assassination, leading to one of the most talked-of episodes of Zawahiri's life: his prison experience. He was interrogated and found guilty of possessing firearms, serving three years in prison. During that time, he was among many who were tortured in Egyptian prisons.

Much has been made of Zawahiri's prison-time torture. (It is curious to note that when Egyptian officials called to investigate the officers accused of torturing the Islamist inmates, Zawahiri did not file a case against the authorities, though many others did, and though he bothered to witness to the torture of other members.) Several writers, beginning with al-Zayyat, suggest that along with the dual-impact of the martyrdom of Qutb and the 1967 defeat, this event had an especially traumatic effect on Zawahiri's subsequent development and radicalization.

Still, one should not give this experience more due than it deserves. Zawahiri was an ardent jihadi well over a decade before he was imprisoned and tortured; the overly paradigmatic explanation of humiliation-as-precursor-to-violence so popular in Western thinking is unnecessary here.

On the other hand, in the vein of "that which does not kill you makes you stronger," it seems that Zawahiri's prison experience hardened him and made his already notorious stubbornness and determination that much more unshakeable. In short, if his prison experience did not initiate his jihadi inclinations, it likely exacerbated it.

Moreover, being "found out"—had an indirect impact on his radicalization. After he was released, and knowing that he was being watched by the authorities, he was compelled to quit his native Egypt, meeting other Arabic-speaking Islamists abroad. He met Osama bin Laden as early as 1986 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. That led him to relocate to the Afghan theater of jihad, where the final coalescing of his global jihad worldview culminated.

Shifting Strategy

During his time in Egypt, Zawahiri was a staunch proponent of jihad—believing that no real change or progress can be achieved without armed struggle. This never changed. However, his strategic goal of toppling the Egyptian regime grew more ambitious over time, especially after the Afghan war experience and partnership with bin Laden.

In Egypt, Zawahiri's goal was clear: overthrowing the regime and implementing an Islamic government. The enemy was internal, the secular Hosni Mubarak regime, that took over after Sadat's death. In Zawahiri's thinking, one could consider fighting the far or external enemy until he had beaten the near one. (This is the famous "near/far enemy" dichotomy Islamists have written much on.)

Accordingly, until the late 1990s Zawahiri rarely mentioned what are today the mainstays of Islamist discontent, such as the Arab/Israel conflict, or other matters outside Egypt's borders. In fact, in a 1995 article titled "The Way to Jerusalem Passes Through Cairo" published in Al-Mujahidin, Zawahiri even wrote that "Jerusalem will not be opened [conquered] until the battles in Egypt and Algeria have been won and until Cairo has been opened." This is not to say that Zawahiri did not always see Israel as the enemy. Rather, he deemed it pointless to fight it directly when one could have the entire might of Egypt's military by simply overthrowing the regime—precisely the situation today.

Then, in 1998, Zawahiri surprised many of Egypt's Islamists by forming the International Islamic Front for Jihad on the Jews and Crusaders, under bin Laden's leadership. It issued a fatwa calling on Muslims "to kill the Americans and their allies–civilians and military, an individual obligation incumbent upon every Muslim who can do it and in any country—this until the Aqsa Mosque [Jerusalem] and the Holy Mosque [Mecca] are liberated from their grip." Until then all of Zawahiri's associates believed that his primary focus was Egypt, overthrowing the regime—not the Arab-Israeli conflict and the United States.

Zawahiri's "Mistake"?

It is for all these reasons that many of Egypt's Islamists, beginning with the Muslim Brotherhood, saw al-Qaeda's 9/11 attacks, partially masterminded by Zawahiri, as a severe setback to their movement. The attacks awoke the U.S. and the West, setting off the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and also giving many Arab regimes – including Mubarak's – free reign to suppress all Islamists. Those regimes happily took advantage. As al-Zayyat, Zawahiri's biographer, wrote:

"The poorly conceived decision to launch the attacks of September 11created many victims of a war of which they did not choose to be a part…. Bin Laden and Zawahiri's behavior [9/11] was met with a lot of criticism from many Islamists in Egypt and abroad…. In the post-September 11 world, no countries can afford to be accused of harboring the enemies of the United States. No one ever imagined that a Western European country would extradite Islamists who live on its lands. Before that, Islamists had always thought that arriving in a European city and applying for political asylum was enough to acquire permanent resident status. After September 11, 2001, everything changed…. Even the Muslim Brotherhood was affected by the American campaign, which targeted everything Islamic."

In retrospect, the "mistake of 9/11" may have indirectly helped empower Islamists: by bringing unwanted Western attention to the Middle East, it also made popular the argument that democracy would solve all the ills of the Middle East. Many Western observers who previously had little knowledge of the Islamic world, were surprised to discover post 9/11 that dictatorial regimes ran the Muslim world. This led to the simplistic argument that Islamists were simply lashing out because they were suppressed. Failing to understand that these dictatorships were the only thing between full-blown Islamist regimes like Iran, many deemed democracy a panacea, beginning with U.S. President George W. Bush, who invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, partially to "spread" and in the name of democracy.

With the so-called "Arab spring" that began in 2011, the Obama administration has followed this logic more aggressively by throwing the U.S's longtime allies like Egypt's Mubarak, under the bus in the name of democracy—a democracy that has been dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, which, as has been mentioned, shares the same ultimate goals of Zawahiri and other jihadists. Recent events—including unprecedented attacks on U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya, ironically, the two nations the U.S. especially intervened in to pave the way for Islamist domination—only confirm this.

Zawahiri and the Muslim Brotherhood

While Zawahiri's early decades in Egypt are mostly remembered in the context of the above—prestigious and academic background, clandestine radicalization, jihad, prison, followed by fleeing the country—the al-Qaeda leader has a long history with other Islamists groups in Egypt, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the "Arab Spring" and ousting of longtime President Hosni Mubarak, it has been the Brotherhood who have, not only dominated Egyptian politics, but have a member, Muhammad Morsi, as Egypt's first elected president.

Zawahiri joined the Brotherhood when he was only 14, then abandoned it to form his own cell less than two years later after Qutb's execution. A proponent of the slogan "jihad alone," Zawahiri soon became critical of the Brotherhood's pragmatic strategies, and wrote an entire book in 1991 arguing against their nonviolent approach.

Titled Al Hissad Al Murr, or "The Bitter Harvest," Zawahiri argued that the Brotherhood "takes advantage of the Muslim youths' fervor by bringing them into the fold only to store them in a refrigerator. Then, they steer their onetime passionate, Islamic zeal for jihad to conferences and elections…. And not only have the Brothers been idle from fulfilling their duty of fighting to the death, but they have gone as far as to describe the infidel governments as legitimate, and have joined ranks with them in the ignorant style of governing, that is, democracies, elections, and parliaments."

It is perhaps ironic that, for all his scathing remarks against them, time has revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood's strategy of slowly infiltrating society from a grassroots approach has been more effective than Zawahiri's and al-Qaeda's jihadi terror. The Brotherhood's patience and perseverance, by playing the political game, formally disavowing violence and jihad—all of which earned the ire of Zawahiri and others—have turned it into a legitimate player. Yet this does not make the Brotherhood's goals any less troubling. For instance, according to a January 2012 Al Masry Al Youm report, Brotherhood leader Muhammad Badie stated that the group's grand goal is the return of a "rightly guided caliphate and finally mastership of the world"—precisely what Zawahiri and al-Qaeda seek to achieve. Half a year later, in July 2012, Safwat Hegazy, a popular preacher and Brotherhood member, boasted that the Brotherhood will be "masters of the world, one of these days."

Zawahiri and Egypt Today

In light of the Egyptian revolution that accomplished what Zawahiri had tried to accomplish for decades—overthrow the regime—what relevance does the al-Qaeda leader have for the Egyptian populace today? The best way to answer this question is in the context of Salafism—the popular Islamist movement in Egypt and elsewhere that is grounded in the teachings and patterns of early Islam, beginning with the days of Islam's Prophet Muhammad and under the first four "righteously guided" caliphs.

As a Salafist organization, al-Qaeda is very popular with Salafis. Its current leader, the Egyptian Zawahiri, is especially popular—a "hero" in every sense of the word—with Egyptian Salafis. Considering that the Salafis won some 25 percent of votes in recent elections, one may infer that at least a quarter or of Egypt's population looks favorably on Zawahiri. In fact, some important Salafis are on record saying they would like to see Zawahiri return to his native Egypt. Aboud al-Zomor, for instance, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader who was implicated for the assassination of Sadat, but who has now been released and is even a leading member of the new Egyptian parliament, has called for the return of Zawahiri to Egypt, "with his head held high and in safety."

Zawahiri's brother, Muhammad, is also an influential Islamist in Egypt, affiliated with the Salafis and Al Gamaa Al Islamiyya. He led a mass Islamist demonstration last spring with typical jihadi slogans. He also was among those threatening the U.S. embassy in Cairo to release the Blind Sheikh—the true reason behind the September attack, not a movie—or else be "burned down to the ground." When asked in a recent interview with CNN if he is in touch with his al-Qaeda leader brother, Muhammad only smiled and said "of course not."

Under Zawahiri's leadership, al-Qaeda has made inroads on Egyptian territory. For example, several recent attacks in Sinai—such as the attacks on the Egypt-Israel natural-gas pipeline—were in fact conducted by a new group pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda. Zawahiri publicly congratulated them for destroying the pipelines, and the organization itself has pledged its loyalty to Zawahiri. More recently, al-Qaeda in the Sinai has been blamed for attacking and evicting Christian minorities living there.

This highlights the fact that groups like the Brotherhood and the Salafis have the same goals—establishment of a government that upholds Sharia law—though they differ as to achieve this. Salafis like al-Qaeda tend to agree that jihad is the solution. Yet, given the Brotherhood's success using peaceful means—co-opting the language of democracy and running in elections—many Salafis are now "playing politics" even though many of them are also on record saying that, once in power, they will enforce Islamic law and abolish democracy.

It is not clear where Zawahiri stands regarding Egypt. Because of his deep roots there, Egypt undoubtedly holds a special place for Zawahiri. But as the leader of a global jihadi network, he cannot afford to appear biased to Egypt—hence why he addresses the politics of other nations, Pakistan for example, and themes like the Arab-Israeli conflict, with equal or more attention.

Likewise, there are different accounts regarding his personality traits and how they would comport with Egypt's current state. For example, whereas his biographer described young Zawahiri as averse to the limelight and open to others' opinions, most contemporary characterizations of Zawahiri suggest he is intractable and domineering—a product, perhaps, of some four decades of jihadi activities, as well as the aforementioned experiences. While the personality traits attributed to him in youth would certainly aid him in influencing Egyptian Islamist politics, those attributed to him now would not.

He has been away too long, and others have stepped in. Either way, to many Islamists around the world, Egypt in particular, Zawahiri is a hero—one of the few men to successfully strike the "great enemy," America. Such near legendary status will always see to it that Ayman Zawahiri—and the Salafi ideology al-Qaeda helped popularize—remain popular among Egypt's Islamists. 

Raymond Ibrahim, an expert on al-Qaeda and author of The Al Qaeda Reader, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Source: http://www.investigativeproject.org/3831/ayman-zawahiri-and-egypt-a-trip-through-time

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