Iran Expert Faults Mursi for Egypt Protests; Says US `Fomenting Religious Wars` in Syria, Region
Thursday, July 4, 2013
A supporter of former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi performs prayers near Cairo University in Cairo July 4, 2013. The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was arrested by Egyptian security forces on Thursday in a crackdown against the Islamist movement after the army ousted the country`s first democratically elected president Mursi. At least 16 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in street clashes across Egypt since Mursi`s overthrow. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Interview with “expert” on Egypt affairs Hojjatollah Judaki by Abdollah Al-e Bughobeysh: “The Excessive Demands of the Muslim Brotherhood Have Brought Egypt to This Point”; date and place not given
(Question) Was the Egyptian revolution a failure? If yes, what is the reason?
(Answer) It could be described as a failure because the people who had demands did not achieve them. Their demands were on changing Mubarak`s regime. Mubarak left, but Mubarak`s system continues to be. They wanted their economic problems to be solved. But they multiplied. They had security before the revolution. Today they have insecurity.
(Question) Does this failure turn to Mursi personally and his mistakes? If someone other than Mursi was elected president would conditions have been better now?
(Answer) Initially it turns to Mursi personally. But since Mursi is the representative of a thought process and an organization with a long history known as the Muslim Brotherhood, this failure turns to them too because the Brotherhood members became fascinated with power and wanted to maintain it at any cost. As a result, they did not allow their rival forces to advance in line with them and ultimately these incidents took place. If any other person apart from Mursi had come to power and had adopted the same policy, he too would have been in the same position.
(Question) What do Mursi`s opponents want?
(Answer) Initially their requests were very limited. But today, since they did not receive a correct answer and they were suppressed as well, opposition increased. It included a larger number of people and increased the number of demands. The demands that are being made now is that Mursi step down, early elections be held, and the constitution be changed. Since Mursi regarded this constitution to have been approved, even if it received a small number of votes, he wants to apply it on 100 percent of the people. Naturally they oppose this.
(Question) What can end this unrest? Some are speaking about a second revolution.
(Answer) I regard it impossible for anyone to be seeking a second revolution because the first revolution created enough anguish such as poverty and insecurity. There was no insecurity but there was poverty and today these are much worse. As a result, they are not seeking a second revolution, but they will continue the unrest until they achieve either a minimum of their demands or a demand that they will regard as being a good compensation for what they are doing. And I think that this demand will be that Mursi step down.
(Question) Do you think that the recent attack on the Shiites in Egypt is a protraction of the Shia-Sunni conflicts, an impact of the Syrian developments, or one of the components of Egypt`s domestic developments?
(Answer) It is the continuation of the same crisis. It is the US line that wants to decrease its costs and regards the best way to do this to be fomenting religious wars. In such wars motives are strong and both sides what either martyrdom or victory.
Thus, the Westerners fan the flames of this issue. The West, China, and Russia want the war in Syria to continue. One of the reasons is that the current forces are Salafis and supporters of Al-Qa`eda and on this side there is Syria, the Hizballah, and Iran and if either of the two sides are killed, it will be to the West`s benefit and ultimately they can expand such wars.
(Description of Source: Tehran Hamshahri Online in Persian -- Website of daily owned by Tehran municipality; editorial line shifts to reflect views of mayor; currently conservative Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf who at times opposes President Ahmadinezhad; founded in 1991; www.hamshahrionline.ir)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.
See If You Can Follow America`s Schizophrenic Positions on Mohamed Morsy
By John Hudson
Thursday, July 4, 2013
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood punches an anti-Brotherhood protester at Tahrir Square, in Cairo 12 October 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
After a 10-month stint in power, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was ousted in a dramatic military coup on Wednesday. For the United States, Morsy and his ruling Muslim Brotherhood party represented a challenge diplomatically: Yes, he was democratically elected, a process the U.S. supports, but he also embraced increasingly authoritarian policies that put him at odds with Egypy`s liberal opposition. As such, the reel of official U.S. statements about Morsi varied greatly over the last several months from him being “a far cry from an autocrat” to someone the U.S. wouldn`t consider an “ally.” Here are some highs and lows:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on June 24, 2012: “We look forward to working together with President-elect Morsi and the government he forms, on the basis of mutual respect, to advance the many shared interests between Egypt and the United States.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 15, 2013. “Egyptians are in the midst of complex negotiations about the transition, from the composition of your Parliament to the writing of a new constitution to the powers of the president,” Clinton said. “I have come to Cairo to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and for your democratic transition.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on July 31, 2012: “I was convinced that Morsy is his own man, and he is the president of all of the Egyptian people and that he is truly committed to implementing democratic reforms here in Egypt.”
President Obama on Sept. 13, 2012. “You know, I don`t think that we would consider them an ally but we don`t consider them an enemy.”
Clinton on November 22, 2012. “I want to thank President Morsi for his personal leadership to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and end the violence.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Nov. 28, 2012: “President Morsi entered into discussions with the judiciary, with other stakeholders in Egypt. That`s a far cry from an autocrat just saying, `My way or the highway.`”
Carney on January 15, 2013. “President Morsi should make clear that he respects people of all faiths, and that this type of (anti-semitic) rhetoric is not acceptable or productive in a democratic Egypt.”
U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson on May 22, 2013: “It shouldn`t surprise us that the Muslim Brotherhood did well here given its grassroots structure and extremely pious population, as is the case with other countries in the region.”
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell on July 1: “He`s the democratically elected leader of Egypt ... We urge all parties to ensure that the democratic process and the building of Egypt`s democratic institutions can continue.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on July 3. “It`s important for President Morsy to listen to the Egyptian people and take steps to engage with all sides,” Psaki said, “Unfortunately ... He didn`t do that in his speech last night.”
Obama on July 3. “We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today`s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.”
(Description of Source: Amman Ammun News in English -- Amman Ammun News in English -- Popular privately owned Jordanian news website, providing independent coverage of domestic issues; URL: http://en.ammonnews.net/)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.
Muslims are rejecting autocracy in the name of Islam; Muslims reject autocracy in the name of Islam
July 05, 2013
Beirut -- “Authoritarianism in the name of Islam is dead,” one Egyptian activist messaged last Sunday, as millions gathered in the streets to denounce the rule of President Mohammad Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. What happened over the next few days combined elements of a popular uprising and a military coup. The mass protest against Mursi showed the strength of dissent. But the Egyptian army`s role in toppling Mursi Wednesday was a reminder that the danger of authoritarianism is still very much alive in the Middle East, whether it is under religious or nationalist guise.
The United States has so far been largely irrelevant to events in Egypt. I wish the Obama administration had been doing more to back moderates in the Middle East, overall, but in Egypt, the U.S. deliberately played the role of mediator rather than decider. The army wanted a public American “green light” for its coup, but it didn`t get one.
Perhaps the best thing that can be said now is that the Egyptian people are writing their own history. They may be making mistakes along the way, and I wish we weren`t seeing a general in uniform seizing the stage again. But for once, the Middle East conspiracy theorists who always see America as the controlling force in events seem to have been wrong. President Barack Obama has been a back-seat passenger.
The target of this week`s protests was Mursi, but the mass demonstrations recalled the giddy days of the February 2011 revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. The basic message was the same: We are citizens. We want dignity and human rights. We aren`t afraid of autocratic leaders or their thugs. That revolt led to military rule, too, but its spirit was one of idealism and democracy.
“It`s a second revolution,” Ahmad Said, a leader of Egypt`s National Salvation Front, told The Guardian newspaper as this week`s protests began. He was right. The danger is that, as in the French, Russian and Iranian revolutions, we are in a prolonged period of violence and instability that will end only with a new dictator.
What`s fascinating about the new popular challenge to religious parties in the Middle East is that it transcends sectarian lines. The protest against the Muslim Brotherhood in Sunni Egypt is matched by a similar renewal of dissent in Shiite Iran, where the 2009 Green Revolution was crushed by government repression.
The unlikely emblem of change in Iran is Hassan Rouhani, who was elected president last month. He`s part of the clerical establishment that has run Iran for the past three decades. So it`s premature to assume that Rouhani`s election signals any breakthrough in stalled negotiations over Iran`s nuclear program.
But Rouhani`s victory does tell us something about the Iranian public mood: Among the six candidates who ran in the June 14 election, Rouhani was the most critical of the status quo; he called for reforms and new ties with the West. The fact that he won 51 percent of the vote (with a 73 percent turnout) marked a break from the tutelage of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who appeared to favor National Security Adviser Saeed Jalili.
Protesters have also shaken the Islamic populism of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has been an “authoritarian rock star,” in the words William Dobson, the author of “The Dictator`s Learning Curve.” But even Erdogan triggered a backlash after years of squeezing the Turkish media, courts and military. “The shared experience of repression, combined with collective frustration at mounting top-down efforts to regulate public life ... brought citizens from different walks of life together” in Turkey, wrote Emiliano Alessandri, Nora Fisher Onar and Ozgur Unluhisarcikli on the Foreign Affairs website.
The political culture of the Middle East has been broken for so many decades that it won`t be fixed easily or soon. With Mursi`s election in 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood had a chance to govern Egypt effectively. It flunked the test, failing to fix the economy, provide security or reach out to the opposition. It was said that the Muslim Brotherhood`s political triumph was inevitable because it was the only powerful political force. Not anymore.
On America`s Independence Day, we celebrated the triumph of our democracy. But David McCullough reminds us in his book “1776” that in January of that revolutionary year, George Washington despaired that “few people know the predicament we are in.” It took America another 12 years to write and ratify a workable Constitution. In the Middle East, the convulsive democratic transition is just beginning.
David Ignatius is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR.
© 2013 THE DAILY STAR, BEIRUT, LEBANON.
Egypt`s instability link to Ottoman Empire fall
July 05, 2013
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi hold posters of him as they shout slogans at the Raba El-Adwyia mosque square in Cairo July 4, 2013. The head of Egypt`s Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, was sworn in as interim president on Thursday, a day after the army ousted Mursi as head of state. The full poster (R) reads, “People support a legitimate presidency”. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi
Egypt is on a knife edge following the ousting this week of democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Some of this turmoil can be traced back to the 19th century when Britain and France fought for control of the country as former ruler, the Ottoman Empire, crumbled.
Egypt seemed on the verge of chaos in 1882 with the collapse of its government, so British troops were sent to preserve order. They would stay until 1936. Prompting this action were strategic concerns, including that British trade needed Egypt`s Suez Canal to remain open.
In 1914 the country became a British protectorate. When the Ottomans sided with the Germans in World War I, Commonwealth forces were in Egypt protecting the canal.
After the war the British were pressured by the Egyptians, in particular the Wafd political party, to grant independence according to principles of national self-determination being espoused by statesmen such as US president Woodrow Wilson.
The British thought they could defuse some opposition by granting concessions so in 1922 Egypt was given nominal independence under King Fuad. British retained control of communications, foreign policy and other important government functions.
It was meant to be a constitutional monarchy but the king vied for power against the controlling Wafd and the British. At times the parliament was dissolved and the country ruled by decree.
Fuad died in 1936. His son Farouk succeeded him and the British signed a treaty with Egypt, which stipulated the withdrawal of British troops, except a force to protect the Suez Canal.
It stopped short of complete independence sparking a wave of protests by nationalists against the British and the Wafd party that had supported the treaty.
During World War II many Egyptians hoped for a British defeat. The British pressured the king to dismiss the anti-British prime minister Ali Mahir in 1944 but when the new PM Ahmad Mahir declared war on Germany in 1945 he was assassinated.
After the war nationalists and the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation wanting to return to religious guidance for politics and society, gained more support among the population. The Brotherhood org-anised protests and even arr-anged the 1948 assassination of PM Mahmud Fahmi al-Nuqrashi when he tried to break up the movement.
The leader of the Brotherhood was murdered shortly after, many believe at the behest of the government.
Wafd returned to power in 1950 headed by Mustafa al-Nahhas Pasha, who had been twice dismissed as PM in the 1920s and 30s. Al-Nahhas abrogated treaties and agreements with the British and the country erupted in waves of anti-British protests and even guerilla warfare against British troops in the Canal Zone.
Al-Nahhas was dismissed again in 1952 and the political situation dissolved into chaos, with four prime ministers in six months before a military coup, nominally headed by nationalist officer Mohammed Naguib.
In 1953 the king was deposed and Egypt declared a republic. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the real power behind the coup, emerged as prime minister and then president. He was subject to an assassination attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1954 giving him a pretext for the suppression of opposition parties.
Nasser implemented a police state and a climate of fear and suspicion. Movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood were forced underground.
When Nasser died in September 1970 his vice-president Anwar Sadat came to power. To legitimise his succession he was elected president in a plebiscite in October 1970. Sadat tried to reverse some of Nasser`s policies, relaxing some of the repression of Muslim organisations and freeing up the economy. But his economic reforms widened the gap between rich and poor and sparked food riots in 1977.
Sadat responded by rounding up dissenters. His peace agreements with Israel also lost him Arab political and financial support and angered muslim officers who assassinated him in 1981.
He was succeeded by his vice president Hosni Mubarak who tried to reverse some of Sadat`s repression, releasing political prisoners and even dismantling rule by the privileged few, but he was also toppled by popular protests in 2011.
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