« Bigfoot Story on TA | Main | Open Thread - 3 December, 2102 »

02 December 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Charles I

And all under the cover of Israel & Gaza, and a soupcon of Benghazi.

FB Ali

Most of the discussion in the Western media (and on blogs) of developments in Egypt has been about peripheral issues, and thus has missed the real underlying story. That has to do with the MB (not Mursi) seeking to establish itself as the ruling party (but not the sole one) in the country.

The MB is an organization that has survived for decades under a hostile government in Egypt. It is thus a seasoned, disciplined movement, unlike the usual concept of a political party. The media focus on a "power grab" by Mursi ignored the fact that he is an MB operative, and is thus working to further the party's aims, not his own. All his recent moves are in this behalf.

The MB's plan appears to be to have the constitution ratified, and then win the next elections, when held. This will legitimize their rule, and enable them to dismantle the old power structures. I do not think they want to establish a dictatorship of any kind, but they do believe (probably rightly) that they represent the majority of the people and are thus entitled to govern. They will give other parties and political movements room to function but not to obstruct their agenda.

As political Islamists their main goal is not to establish a Sharia state, but rather to make Egypt a powerful state that works to further 'political' Islam. They appear to recognize that attempts to impose too much sharia will hinder them in pursuing their principal aim; hence the largely symbolic adherence to sharia in the constitution, a pattern likely to be repeated in the laws they will make later.

The success of their current moves depends on the actions of the military. I believe that the military will do nothing, and will thus enable them to move forward. Mainly because the new top military leadership is sympathetic to their aims, and so is a large part of the rank-and-file -- and the top brass know that. (The MB has also been careful to give some carrots to the military in the new constitution).

The media here has been misled by the initial demonstrations against Mursi's moves. What is not recognized is that these were mainly in the larger cities whereas the MB's main strength lies elsewhere (in small towns and rural areas). When the MB chose to mobilize this base they showed that they could easily dwarf the urban protests in size.

It is, of course, unfortunate that there exists this divide. The urban educated youth possess the biggest potential for the future of the country, but by and large they don't adhere to the MB. The latter will have to find some way to bridge this gap (through economic development rather than ideological conversion) otherwise it will find itself becoming an increasingly repressive regime. That would undermine Egypt's future, as well as the MB's own goals.


Isn't this the same group of 'protesters' that attacked the US embassy less than 3 months ago?



There are two opposing groups of protesters. Which do you mean? pl


Sadly you are right Col. Lang. All the optimists about the democratic dawn are wrong.

Perhaps we should be concentrating on strengthening our own democracies rather than trying to export the concept.

Clifford Kiracofe

Sure and this will make no real difference in US foreign policy so long as the Islamists don't bother Israel. If they give the US still more assistance with regime change in Syria and elsewhere so much the better.

"Arabists" in official Washington have been replaced by "Israelists" over the years. If Mursi works with the Israelists in Washington to protect Israel, he would in effect a free hand in Egypt.

The more the region disintegrates from Islamist activity, the better position Israel is in to claim to be our "strategic partner" and "democratic" ally. This argument plays well in the US newsmedia and in Congress.


Colonel, with regards to your last sentence, I offer this quote from the last chapter of ” A Peace to End all Peace", David Fromkin, 1989

“In the rest of the world European political assumptions are so taken for grated that nobody thinks about them anymore; but at least one of those assumptions, the modern belief in secular civil government, is an alien creed in a region most of whose inhabitants, for more than a thousand years, have avowed faith in a Holy Law that governs all of life, including government and politics.”



A fine book. pl


Surely there is a continuum in "Islamists"- from the takfiri jihadists to the salafists to the democratic pious.


The current crowd of Mursi supporters outside the judiciary - are they the same who protested against on the anniversary of 9-11?


My feeling, based on some reflection too long to explain is that HISTORY is moving backwards. Here in the USA, there is a definite trend towards feudalism, the creation of a class exempt from social responsibility. In Europe the fragmentation of states fruit of the twentieth century is moving backwards. A European Union with financial and legal unity is advancing. I am not surprised that Muslims want to return to their roots. Aren't the Jews recreating the Israel of many years past?
I suppose that China political expansion might suggest to us that the Han and Tang and Ming and Ching dynasties are coming back, organically if not explicitly.
Even the Catholic church endeavors now to reevangelize.
It is amazing.


Colonel, the struggle between the 'secularists' and 'islamists' is a big challenge to the egyptian society - if it turns increasingly violent it will lead to a religious war which may last centuries and may fracture the society - somewhat similar to Northern Ireland. Kissinger said it many years ago that the Arabs will never unite (I am paraphrasing). Is there any chance for the islamists to become more tolerant to the others?

m. Hasan

Probably it is too early to provide this prediction. A majority of ordinary Egyptians are refusing what Morsi did and there is increasing recognition that the proposed constitution is a catastrophe for the future of civil rights in Egypt. We have to wait until Tuesday to see if the call for a wide scale strike will gain wider support particularly among the workers.It seems that the American ambassador in Cairo began to feel that the situation can threaten Morsi & the MB .Although she is keeping a low profile , according to this report in Arabic she is exploring the possibility of reaching a middle ground between Morsi & those representing the opposition http://www.elwatannews.com/news/details/88755#.ULuzpGT2yJE.twitter


m. hasan

Predictions are only worthwhile if they are made in advance of the event. I deal in probabilities nt wishful thinking. Mursi will not compromose and the country people will vote with him. Mursi has no reason to bargain with Obama so long as he does not offend Israel. The army has been bougt off. I would be pleased to be wrong. pl


I agree with MK Bhadrakumar: This is a power struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and the corrupt, reviled house that Mubarak built. "Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi has walked into the eye of a storm that has been brewing for some time, which pits the Muslim Brotherhood
against the rest on the domestic political arena." Like the colonel, I'm betting on Mursi, unless the intelligence services feel threatened.

As for US policy in Egypt: a case of "running with the hare and hunting with the hound?"

But receiving little news is the succession is Saudi Arabia: "this is not going to be an orderly succession since the ground rules are unclear and it is virgin territory, and if so, it is anybody’s guess what may happen if and when some three or four thousand
princes plunge into palace intrigues."

Since the media is predictably distracted by unimportant stuff, I'm counting on oil prices to announce the arrival of troubles in Saudi Arabia.


John H

"unless the intelligence services feel threatened." More movie stuff, they are powerless without the support of the army and the judiciary. US policy in Egypt is run by idealistic children who think revolutions, like elections solve problems. pl



"Is there any chance for the islamists to become more tolerant to the others?" Very little chance. It is in the essence of Islamism that all who do not agree with your view of god's law (including other Muslims) are anathema and enemies of god. pl



IMO the notion that history has a direction or trajectory is an illusion. pl



pretty much the same. pl



There is, but the more hostile groups along that continuum will make common cause against Western interests,the secularists and the Christians. pl


One Egyptian Constitution translated!


Babak Makkinejad

No, in my opinion.

Babak Makkinejad

The belief in normativeness of European historical experience since the dissolution of the Mediveal order on that unfortunate continet peremeates both European and non-European thinking. It dominates the discourse of non-European among themselves since they themselves were taught by Europeans.

For example, the European Englightenment thinkers posited the theory of 3 powers and the separation of those powers as the true marks of Just Power.

Can one state, with confidence, that this is the outmost that humans could possibly achieve?

I think not yet this formulation dominates all extant constitutions - even that of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On the other hand, let us say that European experience is normative. Then what happened to Fijians and Australian Aboriginies; one group wallowing in cannibalism until the Europeans showed up and smashed their culture and the other Dream-Walking for 60,000 years in savage squalor.


Nice, except who exactly is going to pay for all those "rights"? What a farce.

Clifford Kiracofe

Egypt's fellow Islamists at work in Africa:

" KANO, Nigeria — Ten Christians had their throats slit and militants killed two police officers during attacks on churches and border posts in a fresh wave of violence in northern Nigeria, officials reported Sunday.

The Islamist group Boko Haram was thought to be behind the slaughter of the Christians late on Saturday in the northern town of Chibok, local officials said.
Around 50 gunmen in cars and on motorcycles carried out attacks on three churches and border posts with neighbouring Cameroon, opening fire on police, residents said.

Among the security posts burned were offices for immigration, customs and the secret police and a quarantine building in the city of Gamboru Ngala, about 140 kilometres (80 miles) from the Boko Haram stronghold of Maiduguri.

Gunmen went into town "chanting 'Allahu Akbar' and burned down the divisional police station and three churches," said Hamidu Ahmad, a resident.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad