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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, House of Saud, I/P Peace Farce, and Turkey

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Trita Parsi, in The National Interest…

Why the Saudis Are Panicking

As President Barack Obama must have noticed during his visit, there is a panicky tone to almost everything the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does these days, whether it’s campaigning for two years to win a coveted seat on the UN Security Council only to give it up immediately after the vote, or its public pronouncements of going it alone in the chaos of Syria, or its break with its fellow Arab state Qatar, or the closing of the Al Jazeera office in Riyadh, or the banning of the books of renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish. Or, of course, its opposition to diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program and the prospects of a US-Iranian thaw.

Riyadh’s opposition to the Iran nuclear talks has largely been understood in the context of the larger Saudi-Iranian and Sunni-Shia rivalry. Consequently, Saudi’s negative reaction was predictable, the argument goes. The Saudi royal house would undoubtedly not sit idly by as its regional rival negotiated its way out of harsh sanctions and into a potential US-Iranian rapprochement that could pave the way for an American tilt towards Tehran—all at the expense of Saudi interests. {…}

The new reality is that in spite of Riyadh’s massive arms purchase from the US, Washington will likely not come to its aid if the Arab spring reaches Saudi. This means that a critical avenue for Saudi Arabia to ensure regime survival is in jeopardy—at best—or, at worst, lost…

I liked how Trita cited an old DSW post on how the Sauds are willing to go it alone in Syria…!

Speaking of Syria, from the Council on Foreign Relations…

Syria Civil War Total Fatalities

Estimates released today by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) portray a different picture of the civil war in Syria than U.S. policymakers and media convey. SOHR’s estimated death toll reinforces the point made in an article published on ForeignPolicy.com in September 2013, when they last released updated data: most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command. Additionally, the involvement of various individuals and groups in the conflict has broadened greatly since SOHR’s September 2013 estimate.

Meanwhile, right next door…

Moving along to Egypt, the Coup regime is tightening the screws on the Muslim Brotherhood… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Israel, and Turkey

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

After a month-long hiatus, I felt it was high time that I should resume my mashups…!

Egypt is still a mess… At least 265 arrested in crackdown on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

So with Sisi arresting the MB… Enter the Muslim Sisterhood

Col. Lang provides some insights…

Many people want to say that you can’t suppress political movements successfully. When they say that, they are wrong. The MB is finished in Egypt for at least a generation. Their bold faced attempt to write a new constitution that would have made Egypt a sharia law state was their undoing. Everyone except the R2P ladies understood the full import of what the MB was trying to do and all the while smiling and smiling and smiling. Westernized Egyptians, women generally, the military itself, the Israelis, and everyone in Egypt who stood to be the ruled and not the ruling, in MB Egypt came to understand what their lives would be like if Mursi succeeded…

The problem is that the MB will not go quietly into the night…!

Moving along to Israel…

Seriously, as Bibi just became the longest serving PM, there never was a ‘Peace Plan’… Ben Gurion Foresaw Palestinian Expulsion in 1937

The ever-intrepid Max Blumenthal hammers the point home… ‘Time is running out’: The peace process and the fierce urgency of never

So finally…

PA Official Calls for ‘Smart Resistance’ Against Israel

Nabil Shaath predicts that peace talks will fail, says the PA should then resort to pursuing statehood through the UN.

Of course the Peace Talks will fail, Bibi, all but ensures it…!

Case in point… Israel’s new settlements will coincide with the release of Palestinian prisoners

It’s insane to see Bibi even bring up Pollard once again, and Kerry Offered Pollard Release to Israel

Moving along to the sordid Turkish affair…

From the WaPo… How Erdoğan has reshaped Turkish politics, and what it means for current corruption scandal

The fallout from the anti-corruption investigation in Turkey that began Dec. 17 continues to unfold rapidly. Much of the focus has rightly been on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As the head of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP, or Justice and Development Party) that has dominated Turkish politics for the past 11 years, Erdoğan’s role in Turkish policymaking has been all but unchallenged until now.

Leaders who see themselves as infallible and who have no institutional constraints on their ability to make policy don’t leave power willingly. This can include leaders elected democratically. They weaken political institutions in their campaign to fend off challengers and remain in office. So whether or not Erdoğan survives is less important for Turkey than the damage being done to Turkish institutions, which in turn poses a real challenge for American interests in the Middle East that depend heavily on a strong Turkey. {…}

Erdoğan set about adapting the institutions of Turkish politics. He amended the Constitution (a process that had begun under previous governments) and the legal system, and he shifted the balance in the national security decision-making process in favor of civilians over security officials. All of this was consistent with the process of democratization, and made the political system more democratic.

But there was a darker side to this process. While removing the army from politics, Erdoğan also undermined the ability of any actor or agency to dissent from his authority or to criticize it. Over the last few years, Erdoğan has seen himself as the embodiment of the Turkish state and Turkish identity. His comments during the Gezi Park protests alongside his scolding of Turks on their morals and demands about their personal behavior are part of this. Without any institutional constraints on his policy, some argue he has become as authoritarian as the army he has replaced.

This makes the current struggle over the corruption scandals so consequential. It is one part tug-of-war between the two main elements of Turkey’s Islamist-conservative movement, the AKP and the Gülenist movement (also known as Hizmet, or the Service), one part Erdoğan responding to what he sees as illegitimate criticism of his rule.

From FP…

Iran’s Turkish Gold Rush

At the center of Turkey’s corruption scandal is a “gas for gold” scheme that the Obama administration dragged its feet on stopping.

More analysis on the corruption clusterf*ck…

Make No Mistake About It: The Storm Has Hit in Turkey

To be sure… Turkey’s Erdoğan Will Probably Hang in There. The Economy May Not

In wrapping up, two worthy links…

A Long Ferment in the Middle East

And… All in play in the New Great Game

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou…!

by CTuttle

A Look at Elections in Egypt

3:05 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Today, the first post-Mubarak elections started in earnest with a huge turnout and very little violence reported at the polling stations…!

Here’s an excellent rundown on some of the major parties on the ballot for seats in the Parliament… Factbox: Political parties, groups in post-Mubarak Egypt…

The BBC has a great article on how the Egyptian electorate can discern between the individual parties… Egypt vote: The weird and wonderful party logos…

Even the Grey Lady had provided a great snapshot of today’s polling and how Egypt’s social media really stepped up…

Election Monitoring Crowd-Sourced in Egypt

Although some prominent Internet activists decided to boycott Monday’s elections in Egypt to protest continued military rule, many well-known bloggers spent the day working as self-appointed election monitors. Using the same social media tools that helped them to force Hosni Mubarak from office, the bloggers posted images of long lines at polling places and passed on reports of apparent violations of the electoral code…

…Ranya Khalifa, another blogger who voted in Heliopolis, reported on Twitter that it took her six hours to get to the front of the line.

Late Monday night, Yasmine El Rashidi, an author and blogger, reported that she was moved to see that there were still “a few thousand in line at the women’s voting station in Zamalek,” among them some very old people…

…The blogger also noted that one cafe in the area, Cilantro, had dispatched waiters to take orders from people waiting in the long line to vote.

Mr. Elshamy also argued that the apparently large turnout on Monday had vindicated his decision to take part in the elections, and “shows the bubble many boycotters are living in.”

Now, heading into today’s polling…

Egypt’s new PM says new parliament may change government

Any parliamentary majority that emerges from Egyptian legislative elections may move to install a new government, Egypt’s new prime minister-designate Kamal Ganzouri said on Sunday.

The comments appeared at odds with remarks by a member of the ruling military council who said on Saturday the new parliament, to be elected in a vote that begins on Monday, would not be able to dismiss the government or pick new ministers.

Ganzouri was appointed by the military council on Friday to head a government to replace the cabinet of Essam Sharaf, which resigned last week in the face of mass protests against army rule…

However, Tantawi said not so fast…

Tantawi defies Tahrir’s crowds on eve of election

…With voting today in the first round of landmark parliamentary elections, protesters in Cairo are calling for the ruling Military Council to step aside immediately in favour of an interim civilian government, setting up a political standoff which could yet derail the country’s emergence from decades of dictatorship.

Over the weekend, Mohamed el-Baradei, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and a presidential candidate, offered to relinquish his bid for Egypt’s top job in order to assume leadership of the interim council – a proposal backed by numerous political coalitions.

But Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the chief of the Military Council which took power in February after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, yesterday rejected calls to step down. Instead he warned of “extremely grave” consequences if the unrest in Cairo was allowed to continue, blaming “foreign hands” for being behind the clashes.

“Hosni Mubarak used to say the same things,” said Maha Maamoun, a member of the No to Military Trials activist group. “It’s a very confusing situation.”

Mr Tantawi’s warning came as tens of thousands of protesters again packed Tahrir Square yesterday in a final effort to topple Egypt’s generals. It was the ninth day of protests including nearly a week of violent nationwide unrest in which 41 civilians have died.

But Mr Tantawi appeared intent on isolating the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, saying the government would “not allow troublemakers to meddle in the elections”.

Now, Israel, or rather Bibi, is scared shit-less over the Muslim Brotherhood’s expected gains…

Arab Spring elections boost democracy, and Israeli fears
Egyptian parliamentary elections that begin Monday are expected to result in victory for an Islamic party – in this case, the one affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood

Oh noes…! Not Islamists and their Shari’a Law…! As long as it’s not the misogynist Wahhabi and/or Salafi form, they need to get a grip…!

God bless and God speed to the Egyptians…!