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13 February 2011


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Long period of instability? What is the Arab word for understatement?

The way it looks is, as if both the military and what ever the opposition(s) groups call themselves, are both not in a very good position to do anything to move stability forward anytime soon.

If the military is clueless, we know the opposition is fractured and clueless as well. The danger is having an outside influence capture the moment...

Buckle up boyz and curls...We got ourselves the making of a nasty train wreck.

FB Ali

What we saw in Egypt recently was a momentous, game-changing event. I do not think the genie released in those days can ever be put back in the bottle.

I doubt very much that the military wants to stay on in power; they won't be able to, even if they did!

I'm afraid I do not agree with the many doomsayers on the site.

Clifford Kiracofe

There is a timely two-part interview with Amr Moussa, former Foreign Minister and presently Sec Gen Arab League for some weeks more. Then "private citizen" and then.....President?

I met him in 2002, in Cairo at a small private meeting in which he spoke about the then tense situation involving the looming Iraq War.

An astute and capable man...and future President?

Part 1

Part 2


The military's power comes in part from the United States. Are they capable of acting entirely independently of the US?

If they are a client of the US, it suggests to me that what is happening in Egypt is being guided by Barack Obama, probably in person.

This is, of course, idle speculation, but when Obama spoke I thought I detected disgust. I doubt very, very much that in a speech that quoted Martin Luther King and invoked Ghandi his disgust was directed at the protesters.

Time will tell.

William R. Cumming

Tampering in internal affairs of a country with as complex a history and situation as modern Egypt looks very risky to me. Based on what you know what countries are likely to take the risk and tamper in the internal affairs of Egypt? After all the Germans sent LENIN into the Russian Revolution!


FB Ali,

I agree with you.


Yousuf al-Misry, about Suleiman, In an absolute manner, you say this man has gone from the theater. My question is this, how do you know? For a dumb American, like myself, this is the most logical question. There are an infinite number of options for this man. But you say, he is gone. Did he just change seats in the theater? But the other option but I would be consistent to your statement, would be that he was hanged by his neck until he was dead. I just don't leave it. I think he is very much alive, may have changed his seat and not in your sight. There is an answer to the question. But this dumb American does not have the answer.


General Ali,

Doomsayers? No doomsayer here. I for one just do not trust the situation at hand. Nor do I trust the players in motion on either side and that includes my concern on how our side handled and will continue to handle this situation.

As I see the Egyptian situation unfolding, one side has been in power since the start and will try to remain in power, no matter even if behind the scenes using proxies and the other side was and is still very fractured and not prepared for the reality of the revolutions outcome. This was no video game. There is a ramification. I do not think that our twitter friends have gotten that message yet...

I hope for the best for all Egyptians, but I am extremely cautious with a revolution that no one appeared prepared for ( that includes the US) on either the rebel side or the states side.

I also have a very uneasy feeling about the hidden agendas of the real players behind this so-called revolution or the strong potential to have it hijacked by those who wish to see US interest in the region dealt a fatal blow.

What ever happens in the Middle East at this time will greatly effect the United States both militarily and economically and especially at a time when the United States is in a terrible economic crisis.

The American public has just as much to lose here as the Egyptian public. Both need to be on-guard for only together can we all survive.

As it was once said, "this trip will make LSD feel like aspirin"....


There has been an interesting development from a very private country, Switzerland. They have frozen Mubarak's bank accounts. Now, we have Suleiman, are the Swiss banks going to do the same with him? I wonder how many other countries would follow this pattern?

Patrick Lang


I think what Yusuf is saying is that OS has been made into a non-person. We will see. pl


That Play was the first question during this Junta...rule by Military Council..Under Military Leadership and Control..

Now we will see the Real Mindset of the Military now that they have "Political" power..I wonder where thier Air Force Stands in all this..and is there any Division in The Ranks..?
won't take long to Find out..
Hope for the best..Expect the Worst.a and come up with what If...and Deep S..T scenarios..


@ WRC "What countries are likely to tamper in the internal affairs of Egypt?" The United States and Israel and I would be shocked if they aren't already at it.

Sidney O. Smith III

Brig. Ali

I hope you are right. In my opinion, odds are increasing that one of the upcoming showdowns in Egypt will be between those who want to continue to honor the treaty with Israel and those who do not. Seems that US aid to Egypt is predicated upon the former and the members of the Egyptian military junta benefit the most from the billions of dollars from the US, so they may have an incentive that others in Egypt do not. And if there is no treaty, then US aid will stop.

My gut tells me that Islam will not accept a treaty with Israel while ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians continue as well as threats to take the Dome of the Rock, among other things.

Looking long term, all historical developments in the ME suggest that that this Islamic view (if I am correct) prevails. It is just a question of at what cost.

My heart is with those who were on the streets. And, imo, American progressives have played a role in that many have reached out to Egyptians via the twitter and, as a result, many Egyptians know that not all Americans are like those guiding our current US foreign policy decisions.

But, imo, it is necessary to remain acutely aware that Egypt is now in that "extra legal" land, where the knock at night can become standard fare. US is drifting that way as well, step by incremental step. From that point on, no one knows...


Wow, what pessimism from this board of all boards! The jinn is out of the bottle and there is no going back.

Military takeover?
They have already, by announcing the dissolution of parliament, the suspension of the constitution and the replacement of the cabinet, responding to the demands of the protesters. But more importantly, what really led to the army acting on Friday was the simple fact that its NCO's and junior officers were starting to join the protests and were demanding that their leadership act; Live on television. Egypt has form for when junior officers decide to act.

Some say that the protesters were wrong to not accede to the time frame Mubarak and Suleiman proposed. I can only ask what you think those two would have done in those six months other than go after the leadership of the protest movement and ensure the next leader was as amiable to Israel as they were.

What results in Egypt may not be to the liking of the West but it will be to the liking of the Egyptians eventually; Like the man said, if the army looks like its trying to take over in a coup by default, many many more Egyptians now know the way to Tahrir Square than ever before, and they are no longer afraid of doing so.

Viva la revolution!

FB Ali

A similar type of scenario played out in Pakistan in 2008. The US forced President Musharraf to relinquish command of the army and hold elections. His appointed successor as army chief, Gen Kayani, ensured that the elections were scrupulously fair, resulting in a popularly elected coalition government taking office. This govt demanded that Musharraf quit his office; when he demurred, they threatened to impeach him. Gen Kayani refused to back Musharraf, thus forcing him to resign, though he was sent abroad with full honours.

The government had strong political support, and initially tried to trim the military’s wings and, with US assistance, exert greater control over it, but the military pushed back, and the government (and the US) backed off. Since then there has been a (sometimes uneasy) detente between the two, with each leaving the other alone. The military’s privileged position, including its commercial empire, has not been touched.

So, it has happened before in similar circumstances, and could well happen again.

Sidney O. Smith III

Brig. Ali

Quick redux. I can only rely on intuition, but I don't see democracy necessarily prevailing as much as I see Islam ultimately prevailing. The governmental forms are but secondary. Or worded differently, a government form will take whatever shape necessary as Islam prevails in the current historical context. Therein lies the danger by those who do not recognize the essence of Islam as shaping events unfolding in the ME.

As an example: when progressives look at the Egyptians, they marvel at the democratic tendencies, currently in play, and only give passing reference to the devoutness underlying Islam. Religion, by and large, is rejected by secular progressive, unless of course, it helps them make their case. You probably will see more and more of a nod by progressives to the religious aspects of Islam, but that will only be nod to make sure they are still regarded as progressive. But all you have to do is look at their initial response to th Egyptian uprising because it is now part of the historical record.

But as I have noted in my earlier comment, progressives have played a positive role.

Regardless, as for myself, I, instead, have looked at all those guys in Cairo kneeling on a prayer rug before a tank and am just astounded, saying to myself, "Wow. These people are seriously religious" and therefore connected, if you will, to a "Creator archetype" that manifests itself in the (seamless?) garment of Islam. No progressive, as far as I know, has remarked on the the strength and moral courage that the Egyptians apparently are gaining from Friday prayers before hitting the streets. It is almost as if they are assuming that these Muslim are reading Jefferson and listening to Jefferson Airplane while in the mosques. Instead of course, they are tuned in to Islam. Islam is the essence.

Finally, for what it is worth, I am drawing the following correlation: the the more corrupt the Egyptian junta, the greater the likelihood they will honor the treaty with Israel. The more that the Egyptian junta aligns with Islam (not democracy, necessarily) the greater the likelihood they will not honor the treaty with Israel. This is based upon the assumption that Islam, by and large, will not accept the actions of Likud Zionism currently in play. If that assumption is wrong, then the correlation is wrong.

Again, all of these thoughts are simply first impressions as I try to gain a greater understanding of the essence of Islam.


There a few things you should note in your observations. You are very much correct when you say that when they pray they are connected; Bit that is/was sort of the point of the message. But do not assume that those praying do so on a regular basis; Do not assume that those praying are of such religious fervor that they would want a theocratic govt. and finally try not to make any assumptions in making a connection between the influence of Islam on any future govt. and an "Islamist" govt. if you get my meaning. Religion and the religious does not necessarily equal a lack of democracy. As I said, the genie is out of this bottle and the people will not allow another autocratic regime for a long time - Be it a dictator, a general or a Sheik.

The Junta will not be making any decisions that will affect any future govt. esp. not one as explosive and costly as Egypts relationship with Israel. That will be left to the elections were the people will make that choice.


My Imression is..That Military Juntas..and Over throws are the End of the Line..and there can be Little resistance.or response after that from the people..it would be like a Mackeral frighting off a Shark..
The people in Egypt know better than to now Confront the Army..
at this level..it would become armed revolution..and resistance..and get ugly like Beruit..i dont see that happening..
I think Egypts army will Now Roll Along..doing what It wants to do..with little resistance..they even have CNN in their Camp right now..and the people are so happy..they wont wake up until they feel the Dogs Chewing on their Ankles...
I believe in Praying for Peace..and preparing for War..

FB Ali


Both of your posts were very interesting. I am touched by your sense of the deep resonance that Islam has for Muslims, whatever be their inclination ‒ devout, non-practising or even ‘secular’. It is the ground of their being, and they can no more break away from it than they can from the breath that fills their chests. Caught in the tangle of sectarian beliefs, practices and laws, outsiders often cannot see the brightly burning spirit that is the essence of Islam, that speaks of human pre-eminence and dignity, freedom, justice, love and compassion.

I am finishing off a piece, which I hope to post tonight or tomorrow, that may answer some of the questions you have raised about the forces in play in the revolution and its aftermath (and undoubtedly elsewhere).

As for the question of the Israel treaty, my opinion is that it will remain in force while the military is in charge, though the enforcement of the Gaza blockade is likely to slip somewhat. This is likely to continue for some time after the new civilian govt comes into office. Its longer-term future will depend on how things develop between Egypt, the US and Israel. However, if Israel takes any punitive action against the Palestinians, the days of the treaty will be numbered. I’m pretty sure Cast Lead 2 is off the table for good.

Richard K. Armstrong

This is a simple request from a simple man that should be simple for the authors on this blog who understand more than the common man the importance of the Middle East to the United States in the 21st Century.

Please explain to me why the recent events in Egypt are important to a family living in Kansas City, Missouri.


Col. Lang,

In your reply to me, it sounds like you were trying to interpret Yosuf's view of OS. You write, “OS has been made into a non-person.” I am aware of the meaning of the term,"non-person”. My concern is that we don't take it too far or “plausible deniability”. OS is still a responsible person. In earlier comment, from JimTicehurst, he wrote, “I believe in Praying for Peace..and preparing for War. This is my internal attitude. You also wisely wrote, “... We shall see.”

Sidney O. Smith III

Brig. Ali

Thank you for the response, and I look forward to your next essay.

You wrote: "It [Islam] is the ground of their being, and they can no more break away from it than they can from the breath that fills their chests."

When I read those words, my memory (long term, no doubt) recalled a poem from the West, Britain specifically, by Gerard Manley Hopkins titled "The Blessed Virgin compared to the Air we breath".

Of course, no one in the West reads Hopkins and I am surprised I even made the association.

But I simply am searching for metaphors that may help explain why so many on the streets of Cairo were kneeling on prayers rugs in front of tanks. "Islam compared to the Air we Breath" or something along those lines may offer a different perspective than some other analogies now used in the mainstream. Islam, perhaps, has an essence in the life of a Muslim that leads to an experience that is not the same as secular Westerners.


As an Army brat, I lived in Latin America throughout 60-80s military juntas of Panama, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. Some juntas are more democratic than others. But seemed to me that as long as much of entrenched general class remained, democratic cries were relatively dampened. When "revolutionary spirit" reaches futher into the ranks of Cols and such -- that is when more democratic progress is made. Still a hard slog though.

Patrick Lang


"OS is still a responsible person." Putting OS on trial for his "crimes" without also trying at least two US presidents, a half dozen present and former cabinet officers and other US people too numerous to list would be the equivalent of trying those Appalachian reservists for Abu Ghraib and letting everyone else off. Agreements for renditon pf prisoners were made at the very highest levels of the two governments.pl

Norbert M. Salamon

Richard K. Armstrong:

With due respect to the other knowledgable bloggers here, I am not capable to analyse military thinking, nor its effect on the future.

On the other hand, I have some thoughts on related issues:

there are three unquestionable truths in ME land:
1., Major source of oil/gas for the internqational market;
2., The Arab Street Hates the USA political class/their actions;
3., Petro dollar issue: as long as the fiat currency, the USD, presently strongly debased by endless printing, is acceptable for the purchase of Oil, the USA economy can slowly collapse.

Where major political changes occur in ME land, the odds favocing the continuation of USD as petro dollar is a diminishing prospect. Please note that the IMF [International Monetary Fund], a place where the USA has veto on measures, is lauder and lauder that the USD has to be replaced as the basis of international trade [a.k.a. RESERVE CURRNECY]. Please note that there was recurring comments that the Opec/ME land states were considering various measures regarding replacement of USD as petro dollar [mostly by reporting of Robert Fisk in the Independent UK paper].

As the USA has no possibility of achieving trade balance, without the fiat currency being acceptable for oil, the USA economy will implode [possibly unleashing World War III].

So the significance of the Tunisian and Egyption uproisings, revolutions, political changes [take your pick] if spread over ME land [noting that Egypt is the largest and very influential Sunni Moslem Nation] could cause an upheaval in OIL PRICING with most immediate and lasting NEGATIVE EFFECT ON THE USA's economy.

As an indication: Iran sells oil to Japan in Yens, to India in Euros, and China is possibly a type of barter, Chinese investment in Iran for oil supplies [similar to Chinese Venezuelan modus operandi] Please also note that Russia and China propose to trade in their own currencies, and the oil is/will not be priced in USD.

The USA has to import oil approx 13 million barrels a day, when the supplies from Mexico, Venezuela and Canada are all decreasing due to inability to increase production, on one hand, and growing internal demand on the other hand.

So upheavel in Egypt, if spread, will have immediate NEGATIVE effect on you in KANSAS CITY, Missouri.

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