Wednesday, September 12, 2012
By Barry Rubin
Egypt tells us everything we need to know about the horror of Obama's Middle East policy. The latest development is that a group of several Salafist and Jihadist groups--including the local affiliate of al-Qaida--announced a demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy. This was explained as a protest against some obscure film made in America by a crackpot that criticizes Islam but has never actually been shown to an audience and probably never will be!
But note well that everyone--except the Western media--understands that holding such a demonstration on September 11 means supporting the September 11 attack. The Egyptian government knew the time of the demonstration and the participants--it was all publicly announced--yet Egyptian security forces did not protect the embassy. And so the demonstrators scaled the wall, entered the compound, tore up the American flag, and put up the historic revolutionary flag of Islam (the eighth century black, not the seventh century green one) in its stead. Why didn't Egyptian security forces stop them? It was a deliberate decision no doubt taken at the highest level.
Rather than expose the phony excuse for the demonstration and condemn the Egyptian government's behavior, the U.S. government groveled. It issued statements in English apologizing for the fact that someone had exercised his right of free speech within its country. The tweets it sent out in Arabic were even worse, pitiful pleas of the we-are-on-your-side-against-this-terrible-Islamophobia variety. And will Egypt's failure to protect the embassy--because it is on the side of America's enemies--have any effect on the Obama Administration's helping the Egyptian government get two German submarines (against Israel's efforts); take $1 billion off Egypt's debt; and have a nice meeting with the visiting Egyptian president (while refusing to meet Israel's prime minister, this supposedly super-pro-Israel president)? You know the answer.
This is a policy of institutionalized cowardice unprecedented in U.S. history.
Last week, the U.S. government asked its good buddy Egyptian President al-Mursi to inspect an Iranian ship suspected of carrying arms to Syria while it passed through the Suez Canal. Remember that to do so is arguably in Egypt’s own interest since Cairo is supporting the rebels while Tehran backs the regime. But it is also possible that the U.S. government blundered, or was badly timed, since international agreements dictate that Egypt is not supposed to inspect ships in the Canal itself. The Egyptian government despite three decades of massive U.S. aid, licensing to produce advanced American tanks and other equipment, strategic backing, and an invitation to Washington to meet Obama—refused to help out, since he possibly could have done it outside of the canal itself. Indeed, al-Mursi headed for Tehran to attend a “non-aligned” conference, albeit admittedly one with broad international support.
Did I mention that the al-Mursi government is about to retire 70 generals? Get it? Just as the Islamist government broke the Turkish army because Obama would not back America's old allies, now the Egyptian Islamist government is going to break Egypt's army. Who will replace these generals? Two types: opportunists and Islamists. [Here's a good analysis of the army situation.] And then the army will be completely transformed. And then the state Islamic institutions, And then the courts.
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Meanwhile the Western media and U.S. government will stand by and not comprehend a fundamental transformation unfolding before their eyes. Or will they comprehend it but think that it is a good thing? The first possibility is total incompetence and ideological blindness. The second possibility approaches the equivalent of criminal conduct in the destruction of U.S. interests, not to mention democracy, human rights, and the maintenance of peace.
Did I mention that the al-Mursi government is installing several Brotherhood leaders as provincial governors, members of the media council, and--yes, they do have a sense of humor--leaders of human rights' commissions? And now al-Mursi is controlling what is going to be in Egypt's new constitution, too.
Does this mean Egypt will ally with Iran? Only if Iran surrenders to radical Sunni Islamism ruling every Arab state. Since Tehran will never agree, in the end Egypt will fight Iran for influence tooth and nail. The two anti-American countries will kill the others’ surrogates. But it means al-Mursi feels no friendlier toward America than he does toward Iran. And Cairo will not lift a finger to help Washington against Tehran unless by doing so the Egyptian Brotherhood advances its own cause of putting more Sunni Islamists (anti-Americans, of course) into power.
And right now that means Syria. Indeed, al-Mursi offered Iran a deal: give us Syria and we'll help you escape isolation over the nuclear issue. Tehran will turn him down, no credit to U.S. policy. Al-Mursi is just asking too much.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most important single country, has been turned from an ally of America against the Iranian threat into, at best, a neutral between Washington and Tehran that will do nothing to help America.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most important single country, has been turned from an ally of America—albeit an imperfect one of course—in maintaining and trying to extend Arab-Israeli peace into a leading advocate of expanding the conflict and even going to war potentially.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most important single country, has been turned from an ally of America in fighting international terrorism into an ally of most international terrorist groups except those that occasionally target Egypt itself.
But here’s one for the 600 rabbis who front for Obama: The destruction of the Egyptian natural gas pipeline and deal, as a result of the instability and revolution that the U.S. government helped promote, has done as much economic damage as all the Arab and Islamic sabotage, boycotts and Western sanctions or disinvestments in Israel’s history.
Egypt alone is a catastrophe, even without mentioning another dozen examples.
How much longer is the obvious fact that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime is anti-democratic, anti-American and antisemitic going to be denied? But wait there’s more, lot’s more.
After meeting Egypt’s new president, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said, "I was convinced that President Mursi is his own man," adding that the new president is committed to democratic reforms and to representing all Egyptians.
Question: How does Panetta know this?
Answer: This is what Mursi told him.
Of course, by endorsing Mursi before he does anything, the U.S. government puts its seal of approval on the Muslim Brotherhood regime. Shouldn’t it have to do something to prove itself before Obama gives up all that leverage? What next? Perhaps Mursi will get the Nobel Peace Prize after a couple of months in office.
Note the phrase “his own man.” What does that mean? Why that Mursi won’t follow the Brotherhood’s orders. He will even stand up against it, presumably to be more moderate, right? There is no reason to believe that this is true.
Panetta added: "They agreed that they would cooperate in every way possible to ensure that extremists like al Qaeda are dealt with." Of course, they are more likely to cooperate against al-Qaeda, a group they don’t like. But will they cooperate against Egyptian Salafist terrorists, Hamas, and lots of other terrorists? Of course not.
Indeed, at the precise moment Panetta was meeting Mursi, the new president was releasing Islamist terrorists from Egyptian prisons. These include terrorists from Islamic Jihad which is part of the al-Qaeda coalition and one of the groups that organized the attack on the U.S. embassy! How do you square that one, Secretary Panetta?
And finally, Mursi pointed out to Panetta that his own son was born in California, when the future Egyptian president was studying there. His son, Mursi noted, could be the president of the United States one day.
I’ll let you, dear readers, pick up on that previous paragraph.
Of course, the Obama Administration can claim one success in Egypt: the regime pulled its forces out of eastern Sinai in accord with the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. The problem is that it has been reported in the Egyptian media—a good source though not confirmed—that the regime made a deal with the al-Qaida terrorists who attacked Israel. If they promised to stop fighting (for how long?) the Egyptian government would release all of their gunmen.
Meanwhile the most important (formerly) pro-Islamist moderate intellectual in the Arabic-speaking world has defected, an event of monumental importance being ignored in the West. The Egyptian sociologist Saad ed-Din Ibrahim hated the Mubarak regime so much that he joined with the Islamists as allies and insisted that they were really moderate.
Now here’s an interview he just gave, Click here to view this clip on MEMRI TV:
Interviewer: "You indicated that the Muslim Brotherhood are hijacking the country, not merely the top political posts. Is the Muslim Brotherhood indeed about to hijack the country?"
Ibrahim: "Well, this is how it seems to me, as well as to other observers, some of whom are more knowledgeable than me about the Brotherhood," long-time members, who have now helped him understand the Brotherhood’s “desire to hijack everything and to control everything." [I assume he is referring to relative moderates in the Brotherhood--and some of these individuals have also spoken publicly--who either quit the Brotherhood in disgust a few years ago or were expelled last year
I suggest Ibrahim and these people, not to mention the liberals packing their bags and the Christians piling up sandbags, know better than Panetta.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.