Thursday, May 11, 2006

Egypt again

Demonstrations have broken out in Egypt over what is loosely termed the issue of the judges, an issue over which the blogger Alaa was arrested. But clearly the issue is far broader. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has a short backgrounder on what it's all about.

A disciplinary tribunal in Cairo has been hearing a case against two Egyptian judges who criticised last year's elections as fraudulent. The judges, who have been accused of damaging the reputation of the judiciary, refused to appear at the hearing because judges supporting them were not allowed in. ... Three separate groups of activists, including a few hundred from the illegal Muslim Brotherhood, were attacked and dispersed by the police. Many demonstrators have been detained. Journalists were told to move on and some cameramen were beaten and had their equipment confiscated.

Sandmonkey is liveblogging demonstrations. Presumably MB is short for "Muslim Brotherhood".

Today's demonstration has about 2000 people so far, MB mixed with Kifaya and union members, and they were demonstrating in support of the judges today.For the first 20 minutes or so, the police just let them demonstrate peacefully. And then, all of a sudden, all hell broke loose.

The Riot Police, alongside thugs and plain-clothed police officers went and attacked the demonstrations with batons on Adly street, and then started arresting them. A group of protesters got trapped in front of the engineer's syndicate on Ramsis street, and the police is beating them up, dragging them on the street and arresting them. The Police also reportedly beat up another group of protesters from the pharmacists syndicate and also attacked some US journalists who were taking pictures and broke their cameras. Another group of MB that was demonstrating at the Al Fatah mosque is currently also getting beat up and in the process of getting arrested. This is bad!

The Big Pharaoh lays out the essential foreign policy dilemma for the US. Mubarak is no democrat but fears that the Muslim Brotherhood may benefit from his downfall have propped him up -- so far.

And where does the US stand? There are speculations that the Bush administration is taking a soft approach towards the Mubarak regime after the rise of Islamists during elections held in Egypt and else where. The state department has condemned what happened today yet we still have to see if the US government will act the same way it did last year. Yet judging from the tone of what the state deprtment said today, that might not be the case.

Directly criticizing Mubarak, he said the Egyptian president had not followed through on an election campaign promise last year to take freedom of expression into consideration while addressing a real threat of terrorism. "Egypt is a good friend, Egypt is a good ally," he concluded. "We have a lot of common issues that we are working on together, certainly in fighting terrorism, certainly in trying to bring peace to the Middle East." But "that said, when there are issues that arise… we are going to speak out very plainly about them," he said. "That's what friends do."

Sandmonkey has a bunch of pictures which provide a sense of being there. One sequence shows a demonstrator being collared by the police. Someone tries to bite a cop in the hand to free his companion. But teeth are no match for the security forces and the demonstrator winds up being kicked on the ground.




The Big Pharaoh wonders what is behind the hardening in government policy towards the demonstrators.

The Egyptian regime started to become a little bit more tolerant towards protests. I don't know what is driving them crazy this time.The protests I attended were relatively large yet we were allowed to assemble and march on the streets. What changed that? Is the government so scared of the pro-reform judges? Are they behaving this way to suppress any possible large demonstration on May 25 (last year on that day president Mubarak ammended the constitution to allow for multiple candidates elections)?


Blogger desert rat said...

Is the Brotherhood the instigator of the protests, or just fellow travelers.
Are they backing the judges 'cause the judges are anti Mubarak or because the judges are of the "Brotherhood"?

The first hopefully is the case, an enemy of my enemy is my friend, no?

Support of despots, whether in Eygpt or Pakistan will come back to bite US. The alternatives though are bleak, as free and fair elections in Iraq and Palistine have shown US.

To find a path to liberalism, that is the challenge of the ME. The model is not to be found in Iraq, yet, nor will it be, in time to influence the rest of the Region.

If the Israelis latest report about Iran is taken at face value.

There is no time for a "Long War" strategy, before events overtake US.

5/11/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

Expect nothing more from Egypt than one would expect from any dysfunctional nation. Except perhaps North Korea.

I'll start again. Expect nothing of dysfunctional nations, such as Egypt, or North Korea. Or perhaps Iran.

One more try...
Amongst those dysfunctional nations such as Egypt, North Korea, Iran and EUnuchstan only one has a potential future. Egypt.

I worry not about dischord in Egypt.

5/11/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Mubarak cannot survive by reforming in a democratic direction. He knows that. Carter started this nonsense with the Shah and we have Iran. Egypt could be as bad or worse. Egypt has no oil to speak of and democratic reforms will only worsen the financial conditions with no one benefiting except the Islamists. The premise of a democratic Islamic state is a belief based on the failure to recognize that democracy is a secular religion. It fills a vacuum that does not exist in Islam. We are stuck with the tyrants.

5/11/2006 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

not for long, me thinks.
We will be rid of or fighting in the defense of Muslim despots, soon enough.

To lose Eygpt to the Mohammedans would be bad, but Pakistan, at least 48 times worse.

Half stepping moderation, it only emboldens the Enemy.
Which some will say is the "Plan"
But before there is a "Plan", you've got to know your Enemy.

Just whom is that, in Iran, Pakistan, Somolia, Sudan, Palistine, Syria and Iraq.
To name just a few of the zones of conflict in the Mohammedan Wars.

Is Mr Mubarak a friend or a foe?
Does he recieve $2 Billion USD per year in aid or tribute?

If the cash flow were to stop, would it be a humanitarian catastrophe, a Human Rights abuse, like cutting aid to Palistine?

5/11/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

That the Warlords of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the ones that the Rangers of the infamous Blackhawk Down incident did battle with, are now reported to be US proxies.

Many Somalis accuse the US of backing the alliance of warlords, but it is a BBC report, so it may just be local perception or the reporters own projection, read it and decide.

5/11/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

So as in Iraq and now, perhaps Somolia, past Enemies become current allies.
This would have to make Mr Mubarak or at least his son, a bit uneasy.
How dependable is the US, as a friend?

President Diem, followed by the Shah shows two courses the US has followed previously.
The '91 Shia Rebellion, in Iraq, may weigh on the heir apparent's mind, as well.

5/11/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Cordell Hull, US Secretary of State under FDR referring to Dominican Republic dictator Trujillo famously said “He may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he is our son-of-a-bitch”. I am afraid that lesson has been lost on the new breeds of feminized US Secretaries of State. Another gift from the AMEX "generation as uniques as this".

5/11/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger HK Vol said...

Hamas winning the Palestinian elections was a good thing.

It will either show the Palestinians what a bankrupt philosophy they have or it will force Hamas to moderate their stands / policies. I suspect that allowing full democracy in Egypt would produce similar results. The short term is bad, but the medium/long term is actually quite positive.

5/11/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

How so hk vol?

We and the Iraelis stepped in and will be saving HAMAS from finacial meltdown. The populous will NOT see the reults of HAMAS's election in a negatives way, the song will remain more or less the same.
All the aid is fungible, all monies will aid in HAMAS's war with Israel and by extention US

If the US and Israel had stayed with last week's "Plan", I'd agree with you, but real events have over run Policy positions, once again.

5/11/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Desert Rat,

It is absurd to suggest that because the Republicans dominante the US government all of the US is repbulican. Similarily Hamas and Palestine are not one entity. It is possible, and it seems to be the goal of the Israelis, the US, and the Europeans, to extend aid to Palestinians that is explicitly not linked to Hamas.

5/11/2006 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The welfare of the Palistinian people is the responsibility of their Government, ash. Their Ruling Party is at War with Israel.

Why should the US help fund that War?

Any aid to the "People" is aid to their Government, as well. If we did not pay it, the responsibility would fall on HAMAS. The pressure would build for them, at least publicly, to change their policies.

They refuse to accomadate reality.

Why should the US subsidize their fantasy, thereby extending it's life?

5/11/2006 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

The question here is what and whom to support. Is it worth supporting a process that, in its first several iterations, is guaranteed to produce results that are facially detrimental to the United States?

Gerecht would say yes. He would argue that, as long as Islamist groups remain unknown governing quantities, they will also remain attractive and romanticized. So long as this remains the case, so long as populism in the Middle East has yet to experience disillusionment with Islamism, it will continue to be a powerful force of dissent and dissension. This restlessness will face toward the regime, but being unquieted by its inherent limitations within the society, it will redirect and resurge outwards, away from the interior dam of unsatisfaction.

Also inevitably, this redirected flow will be drawn towards the center of world gravity, using the path of least resistance, and it will therefore splash up against the banks of Israel and the Great Satan. (This is a fact of our existence: to the unrequited we are both the source and the destination for all things bad; to those without dividends we are the banker.)

To change this dynamic, we must allow the people to get what they want, and then allow them to get the consequences they deserve. This is not an outcome-specific proposition. If the people want 'x', give them 'x', but--and this is absolutely important--at all costs do not shield them from the consquences. Over time, they will either misstep fatally (one solution), or they will, as learning beings, move on and adapt (the second solution). Either way, our problem of restless overflow will have been solved, as the center of gravity for each polis re-localizes and re-settles.

That is the theory. It requires patience, it requires fortitude, and it requires a willingness to do what must be done if these people, once satiated, decide to behave unwisely.

I would say support the Muslim Brotherhood against Mubarak, let those who would gain power do so organically, and keep our hand close to the holster. It's time to bet their future on the adaptiveness of the species.

5/11/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Islam is dying because it is incompatible with modernity. The battle, and it will be bloody, will be fought in Islamic countries.

We are only seeing the start of it in the countries which have had elections.

Our strategy should be to keep the conflagration bottled up in the ME, and in the meantime keep the oil flowing.

Kinda what we're doing.


5/11/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

On a secondary note, why don't the Sauds pick up the difference?

With the price of crude hovering in the $70 bbl range and an extraction cost of under $5, the Sauds , operating a full production capacity, have more than enough "surplus" cash flow to cover the Palisitinians, at least 'til they "moderate".

5/11/2006 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Aristides said:
"I would say support the Muslim Brotherhood against Mubarak, let those who would gain power do so organically, and keep our hand close to the holster. It's time to bet their future on the adaptiveness of the species."

How about this radical thought? Mind our own business.

5/11/2006 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Then we should, aristide, cut his cash tomorrow?

Doing a repeat of Mr Carter and the Shah's slow dance of death?
Perhaps get a double dose of Iranian style fanatics, on the mouth of the Suez?
You figure what, 30 years 'til they "self-reform" like Iran?

Mr Mubarak and his son, they'll be moving to Panama or where?

5/11/2006 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Minding our own business has been falsified as a fruitful strategy.

5/11/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Then you too, would cut Mr Mubarak's funding?

Wouldn't that be the first step to
"minding our business"
or is the US's business really stability upon the vital trade routes of the World?

30 years of the Brotherhood ruling in Eygpt will not provide for that.

5/11/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

I would say supporting Mubarak would lead to the Shah dance of death. After all, supporting the autocracy of the Shah led to it first.

5/11/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Mubarak's fall is inevitable. If we don't get in front of the people on this, we will be confronted by them when they gain power.

5/11/2006 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Unfortunately, it will be a while until reform sets in. But the alternative is worse: it is your interminable Long War that is no war.

5/11/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger blert said...

I see that Ahmadi-Nejad has thrown down the gauntlet to GWB: calling him to Dawa.

h/t LGF

The fat’s really in the fire. War is riding a fast horse.

Rice & Co may actually too witless to realize that the missive was a muslim declaration of casus belli and a de facto declaration of war. The fighting is about to come out of the shadows.

Expect Iranian actions to be totally asymmetrical, certainly deniable at first.

The smart money is already pouring out of Iran. And that is what is bringing this situation to a head. The wheels are coming off of the despotic economy – brain drain cum cash drain. And what a gusher it is!

Ahmadi-Nejad is racing the clock.


Much of what is not said all revolves around the diplomacy of pre-war.

I rather expect that Mubarak is using secular protesters to draw out the brotherhood – acting as agent provocateurs.

It is essential for the islamists to feel repressed when Iran goes ballistic. Hence the crackdown.

Egypt rightly fears progressive, destabilizing anti-economy attacks from al Qaeda & the brotherhood.


China and Russia are in a spin. Only now, at the end, do they realize that they are going to have to deal with American hegemony in the Gulf as long as the mind can conceive.

“The Spice must flow.”

China’s strategic oil situation is so poor that a lapse in gulf oil would hurt. If long enough, such a blow could bring down the CCP. Great depressions can do that to a tyranny.

As for Russia, continued American military-political advances among the oil states – particularly Iran – would consolidate that hated presence all along the southern near-abroad. Let’s call it Ameristan.

Energy leverage with Europe would be gone. Muscling Ukraine would be impossible.

All other strategic issues are taking a back seat to this drama.

Iraq was farce – figure Iran to be tragic.

5/11/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Agreed, aristide, but we've been supporting Mr Mubarak for many years, now. It is not like we were deciding to "Start" supporting him.

The decision you support, therefore, would be for US to abandon Mr Mubarak and his Government.
They would not, though, go quietly into the night.

5/11/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Agreed, DR, and it is worth noting what consideration we received for this support: sustained peace between Egypt and Israel.

But there is no time like the present. It's time to take the training wheels off and let them learn to ride on their own.

5/11/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Both of them.

5/11/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...


No I would not cut the funding at all. The Democrats did that to the Vietnamese after Nixon successfully enacted Vietnamization. The Dems did it again to the Contras with the Boland Amendment. We have made our choice in Egypt and we cannot change it. Our interests are for stability. That was why we started supporting Egypt in the first place. Stability, not ideology. My comment about minding our own business applies. We are paying for stability because that is in our interest. We are not entitled to tell them how to run their country. We have enough trouble running our own. It is like running a hotel. we rent the room and what you do there is your own business.

5/11/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Would you resume aiding the Palistinians, I'd assume not, but thought I'd ask.

5/11/2006 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

No, they do not serve our interests at all. They never have.

5/11/2006 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Again, 2164th, stability has been tested, and it has been shown that this particular situation, called stability, is anything but.

5/11/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Not typical Bircher responses, fellows.

But then last month it was Mr Pat Buchannan we were accused of being clones of.

From Aristide, a pullback from "engagement" on both sides of the historical Arab/ Israel conflict and a more hands off approach to the Region.

2164 thinks we've made our bed, now we better at least enjoy the benefits of the lock on the door, while we wait.

I guess we'd have a better idea of what to do, maybe even come to consensus, if we knew who the Enemy really was.

5/11/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

a pullback from "engagement" on both sides of the historical Arab/ Israel conflict and a more hands off approach to the Region.

With one caveat. Iraq is one place where our hand must be felt. In that venture lies our hope of positive example.

Iran is the other place where our hand will be felt. In that potential venture lies the possibility of negative example.

Positive and negative side by side: a rubric to teach the region.

5/11/2006 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

a rubric to teach the region.

Don't use the word rubric. It is too much used by those seeking 'justice', 'peace' and 'social leftist' type things. Because the sky is blue, makes me cry....

Only when used with cube is rubric OK, as in these six things might explain....

5/11/2006 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Heh, good enough.

It will provide the region with much needed clarity.

And with that, I will stop taking up space.

5/11/2006 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Speaking of email wars, here is a one sent to me from the New Republic
"... Dear Reader,

A genocide is occurring in Darfur. There are more than 100,000 dead. And, despite recent peace accords, people in the refugee camps there are rioting, demanding greater protection from the United Nations. This week we devote nearly the entire issue of The New Republic to Darfur. We report on the Bush administration diplomatic policy, which abetted this catastrophe. For the first time in our magazine's history, we publish a photo essay, a powerful documenting of the horrors. And our editorial calls on the U.S. government to send troops to Darfur. By our own admission, we arrived at this subject shamefully late. But I intend for The New Republic to stay on top of this story. ..."

5/11/2006 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...


Part of the game in Palestine and the middle east is to retain some influence so that we might steer events toward an outcome we find desireable. Sure, we can lean on the Saudi's to pitch in and I believe Iran is actively trying to fund the Palis but we've been putting up roadblocks to prevent that outcome. Why? Tell me, do you really want to increase the influence of the Wahabi sect in Palestine? Do you think the Iranians will help influence things our way? Likely not.

Hamas made big strides in Palestine by being the face of humanitarian relief and education on the ground. To many in the territories Hamas was the source of medicine and food while the PA was just the fat corrupt cats sucking up the cash and living high on the

In any case the Palis are on a slow motion fall into a full humanitarian crisis. If they continue on this path do you think anger toward Israel and the West will fade, that they'll acquiese to the oppressors? The likely outcome is that many will die and many will suffer an the hatred will grow even deeper then it is now. We have an opportunity to present to good things (food and medicine) to these folks and if can be distributed outside of Hamas we have a chance at winning a few friends.

5/11/2006 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


Your 7:53 PM

The Palestinians have "never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity." More or less the words of Eban.

So long as kindly Dr. Rice and her "world community" reward Palestinian bad behavior, there will be Palestinian bad behavior. This concept of conditioning is observed in small children and untrained house pets.

The peace process has not and will not work so long as there is an absence of responsible adult supervision. The "Quartet plus one" does not provide the requisite stern parental role model. The Palestinians will not be placated; they will press unreasonable demands, just as the spoiled children they are and; consequently, they will miss an opportunity for growth.

Fortunately, with near completion of the wall, fewer innocent Israelis will die this year, despite the best efforts of Hamas and its friends on the Quartet and within Israel. Life is cruel to the hopelessly…

5/11/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/12/2006 04:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll all for anything or anybody which or who suppresses the Muslim Brotherhood...Read this interesting article.

They're not playing games and neither should we be. For all the talk of the failed policy of supporting regimes in the ME, look what we got when we abandoned the Shah. What will become of Egypt if the Muslim Brotherhood gains the upper hand?

Go ahead, stand back and let the Islamists consolidate power across the region. See how long the oil flows.

5/12/2006 04:16:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

allen wrote:

"This concept of conditioning is observed in small children and untrained house pets."

so allen, when you are 'conditioning' your child on how to cross the street do you instruct them to look both ways before crossing? Then as a car is approaching and they start to cross without looking both ways do you simply let them continue and learn a hard lesson? Sometimes it is in your interest to be less rigid in ones ideology.

5/12/2006 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


Your 9:07 AM - conditioning

When children are small, they must be trained through a process or reward and punishment. (Yes, I am very old fashioned.)

Happily, I have highly intelligent, successful adult children, who thoroughly enjoyed youth without the old man getting a call from the sheriff’s office to come with bail bond. I discovered early-on that my children took me as seriously as I took myself, i.e. when I said "enough" that is precisely what I meant and there was no appeal. If respect for adult authority is learned early, children will not present the unstructured scenario you envision.

One might reasonably assume after the passage of nearly six decades that the Palestinian people would have learned to behave equally as well had Dr. Rice's "world community" behaved with consistent firmness. Since Dr. Rice et al did not then, there is no time like the present.

However the Bush administration and the Quartet-plus-one try to finesse their cowardice, extortion remains extortion, protection money remains protection money, and the funding of terrorists remains the funding of terrorists, whether through the backdoor or front. In any case, as with all previous acts of self-abasement, it will fail. Dr. Rice is not a student of Sun Tzu.

5/12/2006 10:17:00 AM  

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