Latest on Egypt and the Middle East
- U.S. Open to a Role for Islamists in New Egypt Government - Paul Richter and Peter Nicholas
The Obama administration said for the first time that it supports a role for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamist organization, in a reformed Egyptian government. The organization must reject violence and recognize democratic goals if the U.S. is to be comfortable with it taking part in the government, the White House said. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that a reformed government "has to include a whole host of important nonsecular actors that give Egypt a strong chance to continue to be [a] stable and reliable partner." The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest and best-organized Egyptian opposition group, advocates tearing up Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. (Los Angeles Time s)
See also Coptic Christians Worry about Future without Mubarak - Marc Champion (Wall Street Journal)
- Young Secularists Leading Egyptian Revolution Are Anti-Israel - Peter Clottey
Gamal Nkrumah, editor of the Al Ahram newspaper in Egypt, told VOA there are no indications that beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak will step down and cede power, despite popular demands by protesters that he do so. The protesters are calling for a million-person march in the capital, Cairo, on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Egyptian military said Monday it recognizes the "legitimate demands" of the Egyptian people and it vowed not to "use force" against the public.
"The people in charge of the people's revolution now taking Egypt by storm are young secularist people, who are not Islamists. I think what the West is afraid of is that, for the past three decades, P resident Mubarak and his governments have been the chief allies of the West in terms of keeping the peace with Israel," said Nkrumah. "What they are afraid of in the West, in Washington in particular, is that, if the people power revolution reaches its logical conclusion, what we will see is a government that is not necessarily Islamist....It is not just the Islamists that are anti-Israel; secularists, the left, socialists, youngsters who do not even identify themselves as political activists are anti-Israel." (VOA News)
- Britain: Iran Could Have Nuclear Weapons Next Year - James Kirkup
British Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the House of Commons Monday that the West should assume Iran will be nuclear-armed by 2012. Regarding Tehran's development of a working nuclear weapon, he said, "We should therefore be entirely clear that it is entirely possible that Iran may be on the 2012 end of that spectrum, and act in accordance with that warning." (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- IDF Secures Egypt Border - Yaniv Kubovich, Zohar Blumenkrantz and Roy Arad
Israeli forces have been beefed up along the Egyptian border out of concern that terrorists could exploit the situation to cross the border and perpetrate attacks inside Israel. In addition, military planners are concerned that masses of Sinai Bedouin might seek to flee Egypt for Israel, or tens of thousands of African asylum-seekers could flood across the border into Israel. (Ha'aretz)
See also Israel Agrees to Additional Egyptian Troops in Sinai
With street protests threatening the Egyptian regime, Israel allowed the Egyptian army to move two battalions - about 800 soldiers - into Sinai on Sunday. They were based in the Sharm el-Sheikh area on Sinai's southern tip. (AP-Ynet News)
- Former Mossad Head: U.S. Attitude toward Egypt Raises Questions for Israel - Herb Keinon
Former Mossad head Danny Yatom said in an Israel Radio interview that U.S. treatment of Egyptian President Mubarak sent a dangerous message to Washington's allies in the region - including Israel - that they could not rely on America. "The way Obama and Hillary Clinton abandoned Mubarak at once is very problematic, and I think hints to other allies - for instance Israel - that these things can happen under certain grave circumstances to us as well, and to others." "They should have supported him [Mubarak], but demand more reform," he said. "I think he would have responded." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Egypt: Please, Not ElBaradei - Claudia Rosett
It is not at all reassuring to see former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei emerging as a potential leader of the Egyptian opposition, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood. As head of the IAEA, ElBaradei often looked like a shill for Iran - repeatedly glossing over obvious signs of Iran's nuclear weapons program, obfuscating the realities, and delaying action. His tenure spanned Pakistan's breakout nuclear test, North Korea's nuclear buildup to its 2006 first nuclear test, and Iran's lively pursuit of the bomb. (Pajamas Media)
- Egypt's Future and the Chameleon Muslim Brotherhood - Steven Emerson
The Muslim Brotherhood has been content to lurk in the background throughout the weeklong uprising against Mubarak's government. It has supported the protests and helped organize local vigilante efforts against looting and vandalism. And it has endorsed ElBaradei's campaign, creating concern over how much power and influence the Brotherhood might enjoy under an emerging Egyptian government.
The Brotherhood's core fundamentalist attitude could benefit terrorist groups including Hizbullah and Hamas, a group created by the Brotherhood to carry out terrorist violence against Israel. In August, Brotherhood General Guide Mohammed Badie said: "The Zionists, the West and the lackey rulers conspired togeth er. If the Muslim Brotherhood had remained in the field, the Zionist Entity would not have stood nor its flag raised." In a March sermon, the group's leader said: "Throughout history an occupying usurper will only depart through resistance. The people will only obtain their freedom through Jihad. The history of freedom is not written in ink but in blood." (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
- Obama Must Back Egypt's Regime, or Face a Disaster like U.S. Did in Iran - Barry Rubin
Mubarak's government, based on the regime that has been running Egypt since July 23, 1952, is a dictatorship with a great deal of corruption and repression. But this Egyptian government has generally been a good ally of the U.S. Its loss of power to an anti-American government would be a tremendous defeat for the U.S. Moreover, a populist and radical nationalist - much less an Islamist - government could reignite the Arab-Israeli conflict and cost tens of thousands of lives. So the U.S. has a stake in the survival of the regime, if not so much of Mubarak personally, or the succession of his son, Gamal.
No matter what the U.S. says or does at this point, it is not going to reap the gratitude of millions of Egyptians as a liberator. For the new anti-regime leaders will blame America for its past support of Mubarak, opposition to Islamism, backing of Israel, cultural influence, and incidents of alleged imperialism. The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. (Christian Science Monitor)
- A Democratic Egypt or a State of Hate? - Richard Cohen
Under a different name (Hamas), the Muslim Brotherhood runs the Gaza Strip. Hamas' charter states unequivocally that it wants to eradicate Israel. Majority rule is a worthwhile idea. But so, too, are respect for minorities, freedom of religion, the equality of women and adherence to treaties, such as the one with Israel, the only democracy in the region.
Those Americans and others who cheer the mobs in the streets of Cairo, who clamor for more robust anti-Mubarak statements from the Obama administration, would be wise to let Washington proceed slowly. Hosni Mubarak is history. He has stayed too long, been too recalcitrant. Egypt and the entire Middle East are on the verge of convulsing. America needs to be on the rig ht side of human rights. But it also needs to be on the right side of history. This time, the two may not be the same. (Washington Post)
- The UN Should Heed Israel's Carefully Documented Report on the Gaza Flotilla - Because It's True - Editorial
The Israeli and Turkish governments have given the UN reports on their investigations of the Gaza flotilla episode. Israel's document was prepared by a commission headed by a retired supreme court justice and overseen by two respected and independent observers. Released for full evaluation, it was based on public and private testimony, as well as on videotape and audiotape evidence. It provides a complete explanation for the conclusion that Israel was entitled to enforce a naval blockade of Gaza and did so well within the bounds of international law.
The Mavi Marmara was owned by IHH, a Turkish humanitarian group with ties to Hamas and other radical Islami st organizations. On board were 561 passengers and, it turned out, not a single crate of humanitarian goods. Video shows IHH fighters attacking Israeli soldiers who had been ordered not to use deadly force unless necessary. IHH wanted a confrontation and got one. So the UN must conclude. (New York Daily News)
The Uprising in Egypt: An Initial Assessment - Shmuel Even (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
- While those close to the Egyptian regime enjoy a lavish lifestyle, the weaker classes stagger under the burden of the most basic subsistence and the middle class is disappearing. The price of basic foods is skyrocketing - in part because of the steep rise in food prices worldwide. This phenomenon is also a fundamental reason for the waves of protest in Tunisia, Yemen, and Algeria.
- The protests are popular in nature and do not seem to be directed by the Islamic opposition. The lack of a central organization responsible for the events makes it difficult for the regime to identify targets to suppress. At this point it seems that military forces are concerned with protecting government edifices rather than taking significant action to restore public order. The extensive presence of foreign media broadcasting directly from the scene makes it hard for the regime to act aggressively toward the protesters.
- Even if the regime succeeds in suppressing the uprising, it seems that Egypt will not be able to go back to what it was and that the Mubarak regime will end this year, one way or another.
- In any case, a weakened Egypt preoccupied with internal affairs portends poorly for the pragmatic camp supporting the political process and encourages the radical camp, intent on Israel's destruction.
- Still, the possibility that Egypt might pursue a new direction is no longer theoretical and Israel must consider the implications of the various possible scenarios.
- In-Depth Issues:
Muslim Brotherhood: "Prepare Egyptians for War with Israel" - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
A leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt told the Arabic-language Iranian news network Al-Alam on Monday that he would like to see the Egyptian people prepare for war against Israel, according to the Hebrew-language business newspaper Calcalist.
Muhammad Ghannem said the Suez Canal should be closed immediately, and that the flow of gas from Egypt to Israel should cease "in order to bring about the downfall of the Mubarak regime."
He added that "the people should be prepared for war against Israel," saying the world should understand that "the Egyptian people are prepared for anything to get rid of this regime."
Lessons from Egypt - Dan Ephron (Newsweek)
Most analysts and former officials believe whoever ends up ruling in Cairo - even the Muslim Brotherhood - will be reluctant to antagonize Israel or other Western countries.
"They will have to focus on internal matters for the first two or three years," says Giora Eiland, a retired general and Israel's former national security adviser.
"They will need American aid and foreign investment. If they take control, they're not going to rush into war."
Already, guns and rocket launchers flow from Egypt to Hamas under the border through a network of tunnels dug by Palestinians. Israelis worry that a government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood would allow the flow of more sophisticated weapons. "This wou ld make Hamas much stronger and more difficult to deal with," says Eiland.
Even if Egypt stabilizes, analysts believe the Israeli military will have to retrain and reequip itself for a range of new scenarios - and that means more defense spending.
Tourism Hit Hard by Egyptian Demonstrations - Melanie Lidman (Jerusalem Post)
The demonstrations' effect was most acutely felt in Nazlet e-Samman, the village located next to the Great Pyramids, which is totally dependent on tourism.
Since the Pyramids closed on Saturday amid fears of looting, the village's only source of income has dried up and it will take weeks or months for tourists to return in force.
The residents of Nazlet e-Samman were almost unanimous in their support for President Hosni Mubarak. They said the protesters were upper-class Cairenes who don't understand the importance of the stability that Mubarak brought to their lives.
See also Egypt's Economy Is Near Paralysis - Nicholas Kulish (New York Times)
Palestinians in Gaza Shell Israel with Rockets, Mortars - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a barrage of powerful Grad rockets and mortar shells at Israel on Monday.
One Grad rocket smashed into the town of Ofakim and a second rocket slammed into Netivot, not far from a building where a wedding was taking place.
Four people were treated for shock from the attack on Netivot and a vehicle was damaged.