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30 January 2011

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Patrick Lang

Fred

I used to be very interested in this man when he was a big player in Tunisia. IMO he is the most dangerous of the Islamists and the most plausible. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

Eventually, it will dawn on the US foreign policy establishment that it cannot keep the lid on the Middle East any longer and frog march the local leader-vassals into bed with Israel.

The "street" (moderate middle class persons in this case) has just sent a message about economic conditions and so on. One would expect the next message, which is implicit, will relate to the US and its marcher state, Israel.

So what about the US and what about Israel?

1. Perhaps the pro-Israel lobby will get nervous about Obama: good guy, pro-Israel, but not a good manager of domestic and foreign policy. Thus Israel might become more threatened.

What to do?

Shift in 2012 to support a staunch pro-Israel Republican and use the Tea Party and Christian Zionists as leverage within the party to this end.

2. Israel, seeing that the US cannot keep "the Arabs" on a leash any more concludes that now is a good time for a game changer in the region: a war. War against Lebanon, war against Lebanon and Syria, war against Lebanon and Syria and Iran, maybe all three and a whack at Egypt, too.

The basic idea would be to set the region back about 25 years so as to strengthen Israel's position.

WILL

from the NYT on Ghanoushi

" Women enjoy widespread freedoms, Muslim headscarves are banned in public buildings and abortions, a deep taboo in most Muslim societies, are legal.

Ghanouchi said he seeks to reinforce women's rights set out by Tunisia's Westward-looking modern-day founder, Habib Bourguiba. In 1956, Tunisia abolished polygamy and gave women the right to divorce their husbands. Ghanouchi said his party still supports that historic turning point, along with freedom of religion.

"So why are (certain) women afraid of me?" Ghanouchi said. In a reference to Muslim headscarves, he also asked: "Why don't 'liberated' women defend the right of other women to wear what they want?"

Asked about his view on abortion, he dodged the question, saying the issue was complicated."

I ran for office in the 80's. I attempted to dodge the Abortion issue. I copied a formula from a friend. "we can all agree the money could be well better spent." I had no idea of the depth of feelings of the Right to Life people. Since then, they have only grown stronger!

walrus

AL Jazeera is reporting Mubarak has just made a speech in which he ordered his Prime Minister to fix the food and job problems forthwith.

My deduction is that he has no intention of leaving any time soon.

I would expect that the Army and Police are going to try to regain control Monday.

What has Obama and the Pentagon told the Egyptian Generals in private? I suspect SoS Clinton is out of the loop.

Mariam

Colonel, their laughter is an assessment from the ground- the choice is assessed as ludicrous.

Al-Ghannoushi may not necessary be dodging the question when asked about abortion. It is in fact a complex question for a Muslim scholar. One of the complexities is related to the Madhahb ( juristic school) one is following. Although al Ghannoushi as a Tunisian would be expected to be a follower of the Malki Madhahb which forbids abortion totally, he has studied Islamic Philosophy in Damascus where the dominant Madhab is the Hanafi one which allows abortion freely until the 4th month of pregnancy and afterwards according to indication.

http://caae.phil.cmu.edu/cavalier/Forum/abortion/background/islam1.html

My knowledge of Tunisia's political spectrum and its representatives of secular Muslims who have had a positive experience with secularism - leads me to be confident that despite his charisma, Al-Ghannoushi will not play the "islamist" role that people are fearing. The great majority of Tunisians are not willing to give up any rights that they have secured and identified with mainly under Bourguiba.

But we have all been surprised recently...

Patrick Lang

Mariam

IMO that is hopelessly optimistic. pl

optimax

From the Muslim Brotherhood's english website, an article on why Israel is still considered Egypt's enemy.

http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=27755

jr786

@Arun:

Freedom and social justice are dialectic. Some sort of synthesis is necessary for Western society to function. I doubt any American would instinctively privilege social justice over political freedom, but that is the essence of Islamic thinking on the matter.

I agree with what you say about pragmatic application of certain political principles (although Pragmatism as philosophy would be abhorrent to Muslims) but only suggest that the principal contradiction, as it were, will remain the need for social justice.

Clifford Kiracofe

Seems there is a new self-appointed group of Beltway "intellectuals" yakking (sp?) about Egypt.

1. This sort of Neoconnish coffee klatch styles itself somewhat grandiosely: "Egypt Working Group".

Savvy journalist Lauren Rozen, bless her, has the story:

"Only free and fair elections provide the prospect for a peaceful transfer of power to a government recognized as legitimate by the Egyptian people,” the Egypt working group called in a statement Saturday. Other members include co-chair and former U.S. official Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, former Bush NSC official Elliott Abrams, Human Rights Watch's Tom Malinowski, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Robert Satloff, and the Center for American Progress's Brian Katulis."
http://www.politico.com/blogs/laurarozen/0111/
Exofficials_urge_Obama_to_suspend_aid_to_Egypt.html?showall#

2. Then Rozen has this nugget: "They also said that some members of the administration were influenced by Israel’s concern at losing a reliable peace partner."


3. Israel-centric Neoconnish types in the group like Kagan and Abrams, not to mention Satloff, have their own agenda: Israel. They are supporting "democracy" and "elections" for Egypt. They want Mubarak out and US aid suspended.

So just how do we interpret this Neoconnish pro-Israel clique's angle?

A wide open election, of course, would bring the MB into the picture, unless what the Egypt Working Group means is an election without the MB or any other "anti-Israel" political party. It would also bring other parties, whatever they might be, which are "anti-Israel."

Because Egyptian public opinion is across the board "anti-Israel" any new "democratic" parties would logically reflect this.

This would not be "good for Israel" thus we will have to pay attention to what the working group means by elections.

On the other hand, the Neocons could calculate that such elections would destabilize Egypt and thus be good for Israel because the US would tighten relations with Israel and loosen relations with a "radical" Egypt.

A destabilized Egypt with "anti-Israel" overtones would also provide useful context should Israel be planning a larger regional war.

Clifford Kiracofe

"Egyptian judges and scholars from world’s prestigious Islamic seminary Al-Azhar joined mass protests, calling for an end to Mubarak’s 30-year rule."
http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article1141785.ece?homepage=true

And a million people in the streets this week? This time perhaps ones wearing galabias?

Seems like the sons and daughters of the Nile are awakened...

Sean Paul Kelley

Col. Lang, just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful line: "He is a dangerous, seductive man who reasons like a Cartesian and believes like Al-Ghazali." As someone who has traveled and read widely--not just from the pulp presses of DC think tanks, but form the primary sources themselves--in the Middle East I appreciate this line more than you can imagine.

Retired (once-Serving)Patriot

Listening to Kagan and Abrams is a fool's errand. When has either been right?

They get invites to kibbitz with senior policy makers and experts like COL Lang and Chas Freeman watch from the outside! Just when you think it is already bad enough, it gets worse! Who's next on the adviser parade? Ollie North? John Negroponte?

I fully expect a propaganda campaign in this country to link Iran and Egyptian demonstrators. And sadly, experts such as these, and their media lapdogs, will make many believe it is true!

RP

walrus

Col. Lang has once again proved to be right.

"The Obama administration has sent a retired senior US diplomat to Cairo to press top Egyptian officials for democratic reforms."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/02/01/3126861.htm?section=justin


Could President Obama do worse than perhaps call Col. Lang back to the Colours as well?

Patrick Lang

Walrus

I knew Frank Wisner well whe he was ambassador there. A better man for the job could not be found. As for me - astaghfurillah! pl

Fred

Walrus, Col. Lang has never left the colors, he only receives a smaller paycheck from the likes of us, who (perhaps) are only slightly slower to learn than those inside the beltway.

Retired (once-Serving)Patriot

Frank Wisner is "old school" and an interesting choice. An AIG and Enron guy since retiring from the government. there in Egypt not long after Mubarak survived (miraculously) Islambouli's assassination of Sadat. And at a time when Mubarak was dealing with other contenders to the throne.

Maybe he has a message for Garcia? One old friend to the other - "it's time to go."

At least idiots (well connected right wing idiots) like Abrams or the Kagans were not sent. That's a plus.

RP

Clifford Kiracofe

It will now be interesting to see how Washington scrambles to hold together its "Raj" in the Middle East to protect its key marcher state and "strategic ally", Israel.

Whether Mubarak stays on till September or departs sooner, attention will turn to the internal political situation which is "evolving" to say the least.

With the calls for "free and fair elections" one presumes a new set of parties and movements will emerge in addition to the traditional range of opposition parties and movements.

In addition to following the traditional and new opposition, it will be essential to follow the present regime's party the NDF, and its key inner circles.

" Mubarak's mistake is that he has increasingly given too much latitude to his son and his cabal, including people like Ahmed Ezz, Fathi Sorour, Safwat Sherif and Ali Eddin Helal...
Gamal and his inner NDP circle undermined one of Mubarak senior's rules of political engagement: limited oppression with safety valves is preferable to total control of society.

This is where Gamal committed a cardinal sin by ignoring his father's coaching. He, and the likes of Ahmed Ezz and Ali Eddin Helal, gamble their futures by excluding the Muslim Brotherhood and other political parties.

This cabal premeditatedly rigged the November 2010 parliamentary elections. It thought it was the route to securing NDP domination over further constitutional gerrymandering and facilitating with little or no opposition either a sixth term for Mubarak senior or his a first term for Mubarak junior.

That was an unpardonable blunder. The 420 seats, including independents who contested the country's most openly and arrogantly rigged-in-truth NDP candidates, gave the ruling party an unprecedented majority in the newly expanded 518-seat parliament.

Mubarak senior knew his limits and devised mechanisms and safety valves for political decompression. He allowed the Muslim Brotherhood a margin of existence, knowing it was an important channel and forum for containing anti-regime anger.

He allowed the press a degree of free expression that was completely absent in Ben Ali's Tunisia. NGOs even if partly harassed were active. Kefaya, Egypt's "Movement for Change", staged many demonstrations and sit-ins that communicated messages to Mubarak and his regime.

Gamal would have been like most dictators: one who is awful at politics. But he did not have the cunning to understand these subtleties.
"
http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/2011228022611887.html

At the White House seems like Shapiro and Samantha Power are playing signficant roles per the Egyptian situation...


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