Egyptian civil war underway? And the Obama response is “fore?”

August 14, 2013

It’s hard not to think that after this news:

Clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters across Egypt have left nearly 100 dead and hundreds injured Wednesday, the country’s health ministry said, while police in riot gear and armored vehicles bulldozed two protest camps in Cairo.

Hamdi Abdel Karim, an Egypt Health Ministry spokesman, told Reuters that 95 people were killed and 874 were injured in the violence.

Khaled el-Khateeb, an Egyptian Health Ministry official, earlier told the Associated Press that at least 28 people were killed in Cairo, 25 in Minya province south of the capital and one each in the cities of Alexandria, Assiut and Ban Suef. Sky News cameraman Mick Deane and Gulf News reporter Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz were among the dead.

The violence prompted Egypt’s Interim President, Adly Mansour, to declare a monthlong state of emergency, ordering the armed forces to support the police in efforts to restore law and order and protect state facilities.

The camps that were cleared Wednesday in Cairo had been the catalyst of protests since former President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by the Egypt’s military on July 3, with thousands calling for his reinstatement.

Don’t forget, millions called for his overthrow.

It’s almost reflexive to blame the Obama administration for this, but we’d do well to remember that, most of the time, a nation that find itself in trouble has itself to blame for most of it. In this case, an inability to grow enough food to feed itself and not enough money to buy what it needs to make up the difference; a worthless education system that produces useless, unemployable (except by the government) graduates; massive public corruption; and a society dominated by an intellectually and culturally sclerotic Islam all combine to produce the modern failing state of Egypt.

That isn’t to say Team Smart Power doesn’t deserve a share of the blame; their response to events in Egypt since before Mubarak’s fall has been clumsy, inconsistent, ignorant, and destructive of American and allied interests. I earlier quoted Water Mead politely eviscerating Obama’s Egyptian policy. In the New York Times, Foreign Affairs’ Jonathan Tepperman argues that this is another illustration of Obama playing both sides and coming up empty:

In just the last few weeks, the Russian government has used a show trial to silence a prominent activist, Egypt’s junta has massacred protesters, Turkey has cracked down on peaceful dissent, and the rulers of Cambodia and Zimbabwe have stolen elections — again.

In each case, the Obama administration has done little more than mutter objections under its breath. Such seeming indifference has infuriated human rights and democracy advocates, who are dismayed by the mismatch between the president’s occasional stirring speech and his everyday lack of action. . . .

By trying to play both sides, the Obama administration is winning over neither. It’s left with the worst of all worlds, and both Americans and the people of Egypt, Turkey, Cambodia, Zimbabwe (you can go down the list) are paying the price.

(The Times site seems to be down right now. The quote is taken from Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletter. You should subscribe.)

I’m not arguing that Obama could have prevented what appears to be happening in Egypt –state failure– but a more intelligent, realistic policy would have encouraged Mubarak to plan for an orderly transition to a successor and also have seen that the only beneficiary of the quickly-called elections would be the very well organized and very anti-democratic Muslim Brotherhood. And then, possibly, we could have avoided the quickening collapse of what had been one of the linchpins of our foreign policy in the region.

Maybe then the President wouldn’t have to be annoyed with having his golfing vacation to Martha’s Vineyard interrupted.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Politely eviscerating Obama’s Mideast “policies”

August 8, 2013
Your Obama foreign policy team

Your Obama foreign policy team

I get the impression Walter Russell Mead is the kind of guy who can tell you with a  sad smile how dumb you’ve been while serving you tea and cookies and giving you a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. And get you to agree.

That said, the next three paragraphs are the equivalent of Mead jumping up and down, smashing crockery, and screaming that Team Obama is a bunch of flaming idiots:

The Obama administration has made a fundamental strategic choice that hasn’t worked out well. Officials decided to support the Muslim Brotherhood in the hope of detoxifying US relations in the Middle East and promoting moderation among Islamists across the world. Between Prime Minister Erdogan’s surging authoritarianism in Turkey and the unmitigated Morsi disaster in Egypt, that policy is pretty much a smoking ruin these days, and a shell-shocked administration is stumbling back to the drawing board with, it appears, few ideas about what to try next.

Adding insult to injury, the Obama administration has conducted itself erratically enough to have lost everyone’s respect in the process. It hastily and indecorously ditched long time ally Mubarak and embraced the Muslim Brotherhood only to drop the Brothers when the going got tough. It’s hard to blame anyone in Egypt right now for thinking that the Americans are worthless friends whose assurances are hollow and who will abandon you the minute you get into trouble. At every point along the way, the administration made the choices it did out of good motives, but it would be difficult to design a line of policy more calculated to undermine American prestige and influence than the one we chose.

Rarely has an administration looked as inconsequential and trifling as the Obama administration did this week as it tried to square the circle. It isn’t using the c-word because it doesn’t want to offend the military, but it bleats ineffectually about human rights in hopes of retaining a few shreds of credibility among the supporters of the ousted President. The armed forces appear to be treating the United States with indifference; our support won’t help and our scolding won’t hurt.

Sadly, I don’t think anyone in the administration will learn the lesson or have the least clue how to turn things around, if they can be turned around.

Read the whole thing; Mead is a must-follow. He’s also much more charitable toward the architects of the Hundred Acre Wood foreign policy than I would ever be. (See also and also.)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Chutzpah. That’s the only word for it

July 3, 2013

When the Boy-Butcher of Damascus calls on the dictator of Egypt to “heed the will of the people” and step down:

The Syrian regime, which is seeking to crush a more than two-year revolt against its own rule, is urging Egypt’s president to step down in line with his people’s wishes.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi says the only way Egypt can overcome its crisis is if President Mohammed Morsi realizes that the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people reject his presence and want him out.

Al-Zoubi told reporters in Damascus Wednesday that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood is a “terrorist” organization and a “U.S. tool.”

This, of course, comes as a sweet bit of revenge for Morsi’s call for Assad to resign. “Two can play that hypocritical game,” and all that.

Still, with over 100,000 casualties so far in Syria’s civil war, millions of refugees, and strong evidence of the use of poison gas by the Assad regime, it takes an extra spoonful of shamelessness to be able to advise another government about how to save its country.


With friends like these: Was Egypt involved in the #Benghazi massacre?

June 2, 2013
US Consulate, Benghazi

“For Reasons of State”

The idea seems insane — Egypt participating in the assault on our consulate, when they desperately need outside help to keep their economy (barely) functioning? Sounds like the stuff of conspiracy theories, and Egyptian society thrives on such, but journalist Cynthia Farahat presents enough interesting facts to make one go “hmmmm:”

The terrorist attack in Benghazi is far more disturbing than previously thought. Although it has not been reported in the U.S. media, the possibility exists that the Egyptian government may have played an operational role in the attack. YouTube videos of the terrorist strike raise a serious problem that only an Arabic speaker would detect: some of the terrorists are speaking in the Egyptian dialect of the Arabic language.

Indeed, one of the videos shot with a cell phone of one of the attackers emerged around the time four Americans were killed. It shows a mob approaching the American compound under siege, clearly telling the terrorists in the dialect of Upper Egypt: “Mahadesh, mahadesh yermi, Dr. Morsi ba’atna” —which translates to: “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, Dr. Morsi sent us.”

The words “Mahadesh yermi” for “don’t shoot” are characteristically spoken in Egyptian Arabic, while Libyans from Benghazi would say, “Matermey” for “don’t shoot.”

“Dr. Morsi” refers, of course, to president Mohamed Morsi of Egypt. The name Morsi is Egyptian and does not exist in any other Arabic speaking country.

Farahat also draws an interesting connection to an event I had forgotten about: at a campaign rally a couple of days after the Benghazi massacre, Obama said Egypt is not an ally, an amazing statement of the deterioration in our relations, given the close cooperation between Egypt and the US over the prior 30 years.

Could it be that US intelligence had picked up on the same linguistic clues Farahat noticed and came to the same conclusion, and that Obama was sending a veiled message that “we know what you did?”

Later on, Farahat discusses a possible explanation for Egypt’s involvement (if they were) that makes the idea at least plausible for me: that Morsi needed to placate more radical Muslim Brotherhood factions and so sent some guys to Libya to establish his jihadi “street cred:”

According to the MB and Sunni doctrine, it’s only permissible for Islamist leaders to maintain a ten-year duration of hodna (Islamic truce) with an infidel nation. This raises the question of whether breaking the truce was the root of the Sep. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi. That attack against America was, according to Islamist doctrine, the only way the MB would be allowed to renew a truce. The MB also might have possibly needed to legitimize their Islamic rule among their jihadist followers through exercising jihad.

So, you see, if true, Morsi had to participate in the massacre of our people in order to keep the hotheads on his side happy.

Nothing personal, you know?

Except it was very “personal” for Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyone Woods.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Good news! First Lady, State Dept. to honor “woman of courage” who admires Hitler – Updated

March 7, 2013

My God, don’t these supposed geniuses know how to use Google?

Tomorrow, Friday, Secretary of State Kerry and Michelle Obama will pay tribute at the State Department to nine women, awarding them the “International Women of Courage Award” for standing up to repressive governments on behalf of women’s rights. Nice, right? On its own, it’s a good thing to do; the US should stand for political liberty worldwide. And we shouldn’t be surprised to find Arab Islamic women among the recipients, given the crappy treatment of women in societies based on Islam’s totalitarian, misogynistic sharia law.

But one of the recipients, Samira Ibrahim, is… er… “problematic.” Samuel Tadros at The Weekly Standard explains:

On Twitter, Ibrahim is quite blunt regarding her views. On July 18 of last year, after five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed a suicide bombing attack, Ibrahim jubilantly tweeted: “An explosion on a bus carrying Israelis in Burgas airport in Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Today is a very sweet day with a lot of very sweet news.”

Ibrahim frequently uses Twitter to air her anti-Semitic views. Last August 4, commenting on demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, she described the ruling Al Saud family as “dirtier than the Jews.” Seventeen days later she tweeted in reference to Adolf Hitler: “I have discovered with the passage of days, that no act contrary to morality, no crime against society, takes place, except with the Jews having a hand in it. Hitler.”

Ibrahim holds other repellent views as well. As a mob was attacking the United States embassy in Cairo on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, pulling down the American flag and raising the flag of Al Qaeda, Ibrahim wrote on twitter: “Today is the anniversary of 9/11. May every year come with America burning.” Possibly fearing the consequences of her tweet, she deleted it a couple of hours later, but not before a screen shot was saved by an Egyptian activist.

Because nothing says “America” like cheering on someone who hates Jews and approvingly quotes the guy who tried to wipe them out. Oh, and who hates our guts, too.

And, since anti-Semitism is rife in the Arab-Islamic world, this award is bound to be seen by many as our winking approval of Ms. Ibrahim’s views toward Jews.

Our administration’s “smart diplomacy” in action. smiley d'oh!

RELATED: More from Roger Kimball and Mark Steyn.

UPDATE: State, wiping a dozen eggs off its face, is “postponing” Ibrahim’s award. (h/t Patrick Poole)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Egyptian Government to Egyptians: “It’s your fault there’s not enough food.”

February 6, 2013

That’s the message from the government of President Mohammad Mursi when, faced with the reality that they cannot afford to buy enough food to feed everyone in a country with 40% unemployment, they tell Egyptians to shut up and eat less:

“Even Islamists have to eat,” I wrote under the headline “Food and Failed Arab States” in February 2011. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government takes a different view, the Washington Post reported yesterday. The trouble, the government says, is that Egyptians are eating too much. In a separate report, the government proposed to cut back its bread subsidy to three hand-sized loaves of pita bread per person per day, about 400 calories’ worth. A state that can’t feed its people is a failed state, and that’s why the Egyptian state is at the brink of collapse, as Egypt’s defense minister warned last week.

According to the Post report, the government is telling Egyptians (almost half of whom live on less than $2 a day) to eat less. You can’t make this sort of thing up. Egypt lost another $1.4 billion in foreign exchange reserves in January, and probably is flat broke after figuring in arrears to oil and food suppliers, and it imports half its food, so something had to give. In response, Egypt’s Islamist government is emulating North Korea’s approach to food shortages..”

Read the rest: Egypt is a mass famine just waiting to happen. Though the Islamist government owns the response to the crisis, the problem isn’t of their making; Egyptian governments have long subsidized the price of basic commodities, trying, as authoritarian regimes the world over have tried, to buy social peace by shielding consumers from the real prices of necessities like food and fuel. When the inevitable happens and the government can no longer afford to maintain those subsidies, thus leading to massive price increases, you get social disorder and, in Egypt’s case, a likely failing state.

Given Egypt’s love of conspiracy theories, don’t be surprised if the government plays the “blame the Jews” card and the people buy it.

Good thing Team Smart Power is carrying out on its promise to sell F-16s and Abrams tanks to a Jew-hating, Islamist government that just might want a nice distraction.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Irony alert: Eyes finally open, liberals hope for military coup in Egypt

January 30, 2013

From Andy McCarthy’s post at NRO’s “The Corner” blog on commentators rising calls for the Egyptian military to intervene as that country starts to fall apart:

Here’s the really interesting part: The [Egyptian] Left does not have the numbers needed to defeat the Islamists at the ballot box. That is why the latter have won election after election, usually by overwhelming numbers, thus putting Islamists firmly in charge of the government and ensuring passage of the sharia constitution. So what has finally happened: the Left-leaning press in the West is suddenly discovering that maybe popular elections do not equal democracy after all. Maybe there really is something to the notion that democracy is not merely a procedural means by which majorities achieve power; maybe democracy, as us Islamophobes have been contending all along, really is a culture that is committed to equality and respect for such minority rights as freedom of conscience and speech.

The liberal left’s obsession with procedure, seeing elections as synonymous with democracy, is a good portion of what lead to the folly of the Obama administration’s support for democratic-in-name-only “Arab Spring” revolutions in the Sunni Arab world. Instead we cut the legs out from under a friendly but authoritarian regime in Egypt, in the process doing untold damage to 30 years of American policy in the region, and we removed a cruel, crazy, but nevertheless harmless to us dictator in Libya, creating chaos in North Africa. (c.f., Mali)

But, at least, they’d have elections, so all would be good. Majority rule, and all that.

Except that the majority is turning out to be the very groups most hostile to the democracy we hold dear. smiley d'oh!

And now that their Wilsonian unicorn dreams have turned into nightmarish reality, they want a military coup.

Welcome to the waking world, kiddies.

PS: Longtime readers will recall that I supported the liberation of Iraq under George W. Bush, including the effort to help democratic, constitutional government to take root there. I still think it was worth trying –for reasons local to Iraq, I felt it was the one country in the Arab world in which this might work– but, thanks to the Obama administration’s precipitous and premature bug-out from Iraq, my opinion of that country’s democratic future has become much bleaker.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)