Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’


Video: Progressive Islam | Tom Trento | Florida Security Council

February 24, 2010

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Obama’s speech had factual ommissions

June 29, 2009

11 June 09


Obama‘s speech in Cairo good for U.S.-Muslim relations,” by a local director of the American Jewish Committee, did not represent this Jew’s appreciation for what was contained in this lengthy talk.

The AJC spokesperson selectively hunted through the speech in order to extract the portions that he quoted, heaping glowing praise on the president, stating, “President Obama spoke the truth with a clear, unwavering voice.” There were many truths in his speech, in addition to many historical and factual omissions.

The president spoke of the Palestinians having “endured the pain of dislocation,” that they wait in refugee camps “for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.” He spoke of their humiliation and displacement brought on by Israel’s founding. Does he mean that Israel is the culprit in this situation?

Is he not aware of neighboring Muslim nations keeping these people in squalor for decades, purposefully as anti-Israel public relations hostages? He received a rousing ovation at this comment from the Muslim audience. Perhaps from the AJC, as well.

Is this president not aware of the United Nations having created individual states, side by side, Jewish and Arab, in 1947?

Is he not aware that Egypt was one of many Muslim nations to have attacked Israel in 1948, 1967 and in 1973, with the goal of eradicating the Jewish state?

Is he not aware that these attacking countries called for Palestinian Arabs to flee the fledgling Jewish state in order to clear the way for the Arab victory that would enable them to return to their homes after all Jews had been slain?

Is our president not aware that Israel, in an act of good faith after the 1967 Six-Day War, initiated by Egypt, among other Muslim states, graciously returned the Sinai, together with its Israeli constructed and operating oil fields, to Egypt?

Why couldn’t President Obama tell the Egyptians a bit of real Palestinian-Egyptian history to complement his Israel-bashing about the pain and suffering of the Palestinians? A true teacher covers the entire realm of an era. However, Obama glossed over facts that would not have been too well accepted by his audience. That did not go over well with me.

Alan Bergstein is a resident of Boca Raton.


Iran’s New Target: Egypt

April 29, 2009

They’re all in bed together.  They wear different jackets for different work shifts.  Don

Iran’s New Target: Egypt

Cairo’s desire for Mideast peace threatens Tehran’s ambitions.

WSJ: 28 April 09

On April 8, Egypt announced it had uncovered a Hezbollah cell operating inside its borders. This startling pronouncement offers a rare insight into the way Iran and its proxies are manipulating Middle East politics.

According to Egyptian authorities, the cell was tasked with planning attacks against tourist sites in Sinai, conducting surveillance on strategic targets including the Suez Canal, and funneling arms and money to Hamas. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has admitted that the ringleader of the cell was indeed a member of his organization to provide “logistical support to help the Palestinian brothers in transporting ammunition and individuals.”

These latest actions by an emboldened Hezbollah have been spurred on by Iran, which is seeking to further its quest for power in the Arab Middle East. In the past six months, there have been irrefutable signs of Iran’s determined effort to sabotage Egypt’s attempts at regional stability. At Tehran’s instigation, Hamas rejected the renewal of the six-month, Egypt-brokered cease-fire last summer between it and Israel. This rejection led to the Gaza war in December. At the height of that war, Mr. Nasrallah called on the people of Egypt and its army to march on the city of Rafah to open the border to Gaza by force, a highly inflammatory appeal aimed at causing insurrection.

After the war ended, Egypt resumed its efforts to reach a long-term cease-fire. Iran pressured the Hamas leadership to resist. Cairo’s ongoing effort to build a Palestinian unity government, by bringing together Fatah and Hamas, has also been undermined by intense Iranian pressure on Hamas.

Tehran sees Egypt as its greatest rival in the region, and the most formidable Arab bulwark opposing its influence. It is in this context that Hezbollah actions in Egypt should be assessed. Acting as a front for Iranian objectives, Hezbollah is tasked with distracting Egypt from the diplomatic process that will hopefully lead one day to a two-state solution in the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Egypt’s persistent attempts to bring about peace in this arena and its encouragement of other Arab countries to follow its path with Israel threaten to deprive Iran of the single most potent regional issue that it can exploit to further its radical agenda. Thus Tehran seeks to undermine the prospects for this peace — and it, along with its clients, believe the way to do this is by undermining Egypt. Similarly, Egypt’s security interests in the Gulf, and its traditional role as a force for regional stability, present a clear obstacle to Iran’s wider regional ambitions.

For President Barack Obama and members of his administration watching from the sidelines, the implications should be clear. A final settlement of the Palestine-Israel conflict is indispensable if the U.S. wishes to check Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the U.S. administration will have to contend with a right-wing Israeli government that has yet to subscribe to the principle of a two-state solution in defiance of international consensus. It will also have to press Israel to halt its illegal settlement activity, which now more than ever endangers the fundamental basis for a solution.

The administration’s focus on the immediate issue of Iran’s nuclear program should not distract it from addressing Tehran’s overall posture towards the peace process or its support for terrorism. Iran’s challenge to the regional status quo is multifaceted, which is why Washington must adopt a comprehensive approach as it formulates its nascent engagement with Iran.

It is said that Mr. Obama is still weighing when and where to deliver a major speech to the Arab world. If he were to make such a speech in Cairo, it would give heart to millions in the region who want to see the peace process succeed. It would also send a firm message to Tehran that America stands with Egypt on the side of peace and stability.

Mr. Aly is director of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.


Defund Egypt

February 2, 2009

Defund Egypt If It Won’t Close Tunnels

BY JONATHAN SCHANZER |  1/27/2009 | I.B.D.

A half-dozen U.S. military officers and engineers recently toured Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Maan News Agency reported.

They reportedly are working to install high-tech sensing equipment to locate the smuggling tunnels that snake beneath the sands between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula. Maan notes that the group is already training Egyptian security personnel to use the equipment.

The need for this equipment is dire. Dozens of Gaza Strip smugglers went back to work last week, openly repairing the tunnels that supply the Hamas economy, as Israel withdrew its troops.

With their help and determination, Hamas will quickly replenish the rockets and launchers destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces in Operation Cast Lead.

Egypt says it will accept equipment or aid from any nation to help combat smuggling. But, with or without help, Egypt must begin to actively identify and destroy these tunnels. If it won’t, Washington should consider revoking Egypt’s $1.7 billion in foreign aid.

Israel has complained with increasing intensity that Egypt turns a blind eye to the tunnels. Cairo originally dismissed those allegations as “old and silly.”

However, as Israeli protests grew louder, the U.S. House and Senate agreed to a 2008 foreign aid bill that would withhold about $100 million of Egypt’s foreign aid unless Washington could certify that Egypt was doing its part to stop the smuggling.

Egypt, however, still failed to deliver. In late January 2008, the Hosni Mubarak regime stood by as Hamas destroyed parts of the wall separating Gaza from the Sinai.

Tens of thousands of Gazans streamed into Egypt, stocking up on food, supplies and weapons. According to Israeli security services chief Yuval Diskin, large quantities of long-range rockets, anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles and materiel for rocket production were brought into Gaza.

Predictably, the Israeli government was furious. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel stated in a BBC interview that it was “the responsibility of Egypt to ensure that the border operates properly, according to the signed agreements.”

Weapons Highway

However, it took Egypt 12 days to close the border. Once sealed, underground smuggling returned to previous levels.

One year later, despite regular diplomatic overtures from Jerusalem and Washington, the smuggling continues. The continued operation of these tunnels has wide-reaching consequences.

The tunnels are the lifeblood of the Gaza economy, enabling Hamas to circumvent international sanctions. Tunnels furnish the Hamas economy in the Gaza Strip with everything from cigarettes and car parts to erectile dysfunction pills and fresh cheese. Hamas also smuggles in Iranian cash to pay the salaries of its loyalists.

Additionally, Hamas collects revenue from the tunnels, which yield approximately $140 million per year. In some cases, Hamas charges the operators thousands of dollars to maintain them.

In short, without the tunnels, the Hamas economy would likely collapse. The power structure would quickly follow.

Notably, Egypt’s refusal to shut down the tunnels directly contributes to the bloody internecine conflict between Hamas and Fatah — the two dominant Palestinian factions. The more weaponry and goods Hamas smuggles into Gaza, the stronger it will get and the more prepared it will be to confront Fatah in another round of violence. This will only ensure future instability in the West Bank and Gaza.

Finally, and most obviously, the Sinai tunnels provide Hamas with the projectiles and ordnance that provoked Israel into the most recent conflict. This led to a re-inflammation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, not to mention needless bloodshed on both sides. The resumption of tunnel activity now ensures that a future round of conflict is just around the corner.

Until now, Israeli efforts to get Egypt to take stronger action against the tunneling had potentially dangerous consequences. Specifically, Israel feared jeopardizing its cold peace with Egypt, which had ensured a tense regional calm since 1978.

However, it is now clear that Egypt has failed to live up to its obligations. The need for additional U.S. personnel to bolster Cairo’s flaccid anti-smuggling efforts is proof of this.

As calls for change and accountability reverberate throughout Washington at a time when budgets are under increased scrutiny, the U.S. Congress should take a hard look at Egypt’s $1.7 billion in foreign aid.

More than $1.3 billion of that is military aid. Those funds must be used to better patrol the Gaza border. If they are not, U.S. foreign aid should be reconsidered.

Don’t you think that your tax dollars should stop paying Egypt $1700 Million Dollars to just laugh at America and Israel?

Schanzer, a former terrorism analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, is deputy director of the Jewish Policy Center and author of “Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine.”


The Muslim Wedge

January 5, 2009

The Muslim Wedge

From a very smart Barry Rubin piece at Pajamas Media:

In some ways, the most important — or at least second most important — thing to happen in the Middle East this week is that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah went too far, calling for the overthrow of Egypt’s government.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit responded, “They have actually declared war on Egypt.” And when he says “they” he means Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. The Saudis and Gulf Arabs are also drawing lines deeper than ever before. Publicly and loudly, they look at Gaza and see Arabs and Muslims, and criticize Israel. More softly in public and loudly in private they look at Gaza and see the Iranian axis.

This is the Middle East of 2008 and not of 1958, 1968, 1978, 1988, or 1998. The Palestinian issue has little effect on any other issue. The real conflict is Iran-Syria against Egypt-Saudi Arabia. Islamists are seeking to conquer the region from Arab nationalists. Radical groups are not interested in happy homelands but jihad and genocide.

And so the issue is not why Israel is attacking Hamas in Gaza now, but why Hamas in Gaza is attacking Israel now.

Does Israel have any greater advantage in its existential struggle than the endless feuding among Sunnis and Shias, Arabs and Persians, nationalists and Islamists. Rubin makes an excellent point about Hezbollah having dangerously overreached (I think Hamas did as well, though on a smaller scale, with its attack yesterday on Be’er Sheva) and about the effect this latest fighting seems to have had on the existing divisions in the Middle East, but in many ways, the Middle East of 2008 is not so different from the Middle East of 1948 or 1967 or 1973. As long as the Muslim world is divided against itself, even a dysfunctional Israeli political system will be able to outmaneuver its foes as it has done for the last 60 years. Read the rest of Rubin’s piece here.


Egypt’s Jew Haters Deserve Ostracism in the West

December 17, 2008

Egypt’s Jew Haters Deserve Ostracism in the West

More proof the prejudice has nothing to do with Israel.

Cairo, Egypt

“But we are Semites ourselves!” That is what an urbane Egyptian journalist will likely reply to the charge that the Egyptian media is rife with anti-Semitism. But there are few places where Jews are blamed for so many of the world’s ills, from carcinogenic pesticides to the war in Iraq.

More distressing is that much of the pointing is being done by Egypt’s self-described liberals — the pro-democratic and anti-Islamist crowd on which the country’s hopes for a more tolerant future supposedly rest.

The most recent episode began on Oct. 2, when the Anti-Defamation League issued a press release reportingSurge in Anti-Semitic Messages on Online Finance Sites.” An Egyptian journalist read about it in the Israeli daily “Maariv,” and here is how the new, “liberal” Egyptian weekly Al-Youm As-Sabi headlined its report the next day: “Jews are the principal suspect in the financial crisis.” The article ran alongside a photo of stock market readouts, captioned “why are cries against Jews growing louder in the U.S.?”

This was not the only instance in which Egypt’s “liberal” intelligentsia found ways to blame Jews for the financial crisis. On Oct. 11, Abbas at-Tarabili, the editor in chief of the Al-Wafd daily — the house organ of Egypt’s leading “liberal” political party of the same name — wrote a column purporting to show that Jews were merely manipulating the stock market as they had the price of gold in the late 1970s.

“The Jews played a filthy game,” he wrote. “It is true that the Western countries — the United States on top — have a lot to lose, but all pours into the pockets of Jewish businessmen who control the stock markets of the world.”

Two weeks later, Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt’s largest independent newspaper and widely regarded as the country’s only serious tribune for liberalism, ran a column baldly titled “The Jewish Conspiracy.” The columnist, Khairi Ramadan, who also co-hosts one of the country’s most successful talk shows, asked his readers not to ignore what is being said on the Internet “about a Jewish conspiracy in the end of Bush’s term, in preparation for controlling the next president.”

“The available information,” wrote Mr. Ramadan, shows that “the Jews withdrew 400 billion dollars from Lehman Brothers a couple of weeks before it collapsed,” adding that the collapse of the brokerage house was of a piece with the events of September 11, “when thousands of Jews did not go to the WTC.”

These examples are especially notable because they have nothing to do with Israel or Zionism. They expose the falsehood –– popular with prominent scholars like John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of last year’s best-selling book “The Israel Lobby” — that hatred of Jews is not one of the great motivating factors in the Arab world’s overall objections to Israel.

But these examples also raise a serious question about what passes for liberalism in the Arab world. Why bother listening to these voices on matters of economics — much less politics, democracy or human rights — if they also propagate hateful conspiracy theories?

There’s another question: Over the past eight years, the United States has invested huge resources in attempting to bring democracy to the Middle East. But it’s not clear whether that project will succeed as long as America’s natural allies in the region remain themselves so profoundly irrational and illiberal.

What can be done? Here’s a modest suggestion. The Egyptian state and the country’s newspapers go out of their way to make a leper of any author who expresses even remote sympathy with Israel. Perhaps Western institutions could adopt a similar practice, refusing to invite to their various functions any editors who allow their pages to become Jew-hatred platforms. The cold shoulder alone might get these lunch-eaters to change their tune.

Mr. Bargisi is a Cairo-based writer and a former Bartley Fellow at the Journal.

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