Sunday, August 18, 2013

Egypt squares off - Muslim Brotherhood calls for for rallies on Sunday August 18, 2013 as the Egyptian Generals consider banning the Brotherhood - can one ban political islam or any religion without genocide ?

( US vs Saudi rift fully exposed regarding Egypt  .... Turkey caught on the horns of the proverbial dilemma regarding both Egypt and Saudis as Turkey has gone against both of their wishes - especially regarding syria but also Egypt .)

The open backing by Saudi King Abdullah for the military crackdown in Egypt adds an entirely new dimension to the ongoing crisis.
RT was one of the few to report that the Egyptian military’s removal by force of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and his entire government was undertaken with the firm, secret backing of Saudi Arabia and several Gulf oil states, directly in defiance of Washington’s agenda. 
Now Saudi King Abdullah has confirmed this in an open declaration of support for Egypt’s military action against what the King called “terrorists.” It is the most open declaration to date that there is a huge and deepening rift between Washington and the Saudis of a scale perhaps unprecedented since the 1945 agreements between US President Roosevelt and then King Ibn Saud.
In his official August 16 statement, King Abdullah declared, “The people and government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stood and still stand today with our brothers in Egypt against terrorism, extremism and sedition, and against whoever is trying to interfere in Egypt's internal affairs…”  So much for Obama’s call for “dialogue” between the army and the Brotherhood.
The Saudi support for Army head and Defense Minister General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was immediately backed by Jordan and the Emirates. It came after several days of violent protests by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in several Egyptian cities, which resulted in hundreds of deaths in clashes between the military and Brotherhood backers demanding Morsi’s return. NATO governments, led by  Washington, have at the same time have tried to increase pressure on the provisional government to reinstate Morsi and the “democratically elected” government.
The US cancelled joint military exercises with Egypt and warned that the “traditional” military ties with the US were at risk should the military refuse to budge. Angela Merkel phoned French President Hollande on August 16 and both called for an EU “review” of relations with Egypt. What is clear in both EU and Washington reactions to date is that they are hard-pressed to do anything.
The EU is hardly eager to inflame Saudi leaders into another oil embargo, as was done in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War. Now the open backing by Saudi King Abdullah for the military crackdown creates an entirely new dimension to the crisis.  
Saudi's King Abdullah (AFP Photo/SPA)
Saudi's King Abdullah (AFP Photo/SPA)

Erdogan’s high-risk dilemma

Most notable in this unfolding power struggle which has taken on international dimensions is the fact that one of the lone Islamic voices to condemn the Egyptian July 3 military intervention is Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. His government threatened to suspend relations with Egypt over the crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
According to informed Turkish reports privately told to this writer, Erdogan’s AKP Islamist party, which is believed to be a sister of the Muslim Brotherhood, won the last election with the help of an alleged $10 billion Saudi “campaign contribution.”
Erdogan’s failure to act as Washington’s military proxy two years ago in the planned removal of Syria’s Bashar al Assad regime , which was to be replaced by a Muslim Brotherhood-run government, has caused him major internal problems, including massive protests and calls for his dismissal in recent months. His siding against clear Saudi wishes to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood threat across the Islamic world will isolate him from one of his largest if not the largest financial contributor.
With seething unrest across Turkey in protest over the latest sentencing of some 200 trade union leaders, retired Turkish generals and prominent journalists to exceedingly severe jail terms for allegations of “conspiracy” to engineer a coup against Erdogan-AKP rule, that Islamic “model” of Washington is rapidly becoming unstable.
Police men and residents throw stones in front of Azbkya police station during clashes with protesters who support ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi at Ramses Square in Cairo, August 16, 2013. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Police men and residents throw stones in front of Azbkya police station during clashes with protesters who support ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi at Ramses Square in Cairo, August 16, 2013. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

The war in Syria, which now is openly being waged by affiliates of al-Qaeda and with de facto US support, has been a major setback for Washington’s Muslim Brotherhood strategy of regime change across the Islamic world.  The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani –  the largest financial backer of the war against Syria’s Assad and sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood organization –  surprisingly relinquished his throne in favor of his more moderate son, Tamim.  The emir’s abdication was evidently done so as not to risk the wrath of his big Saudi neighbor, and has also served to further isolate Turkey in the region.
All things notwithstanding, it is clear at this point that the US has no intention of abandoning its backing for the Muslim Brotherhood; not in Egypt, not in Syria, and not across the Islamic “arc of crisis” spanning from Afghanistan to Morocco. The future of American Sole Superpower domination is irreversibly bound with the Greater Middle East Project as George W. Bush’s administration called the strategy in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq. What’s new for Washington planners is that the former compliant “vassal” states like Saudi Arabia or Egypt are refusing to follow Washington dictates and Washington evidently has yet to figure out a “Plan B” to such a situation.

There he is, Egypt's new pharaoh, Pinochet Sisi, in full regalia/glory. Subtitles are superfluous. This is General Abdel Fattel al-Sisi's Oscar moment. He's thanking his sponsors/producers. When he mentions "Saudi Arabia" the room goes wild. When he mentions [King] "Abdullah" the room goes wild.

What a performance. A biopic looms. He's already dreaming of Jack Nicholson doing him on screen. Note the self-congratulatory smirk, as he is so confident of having fooled legions of Arab "progressives" - from secular leftists to Nasserists - into believinghe's defending the interests of the perennially invoked "Egyptian people". 

Note the "Fight against terrorism" on the top left of the small screen. Here's Sisi as Dubya - in Mission Accomplished mode. Who cares that Egypt has been reduced to a totally (bloody) failed state? Who cares about competing gruesome headlines - "Sinai Militants Execute 25 Egypt Police" versus "Junta Suffocates 38 Detainees in Police Van"? He's winning the "war on terror" - as the new head of the snake, the snake that never got away.

Feel free to bask in the snake's glow. And as a climax to the show, the previous head of the snake could be freed in the next 24 hours. To the delight of the House of Saud, who loved him as one of their own, the snake charmers are about to release Hosni Mubarak. "Arab Spring?" - one can easily imagine the former head of the snake muttering. "Don't make me laugh." And he won't - at least in public. This "Arab Spring", this Google invention, never happened. You can all go home now - and stay there. The snake will protect you and defend the interests of the "Egyptian people". But remember; if you're against us, you're a terrorist. And we're coming to get you. 
We're deciding not to decide
The producers of the Egyptian epic are as delighted as their star. What a major box office success. Who cares that Poodleland - as in the European Union - will convene an "emergency" meeting this Wednesday to perhaps "suspend aid" to Glorious Sisi? Who cares that the US Congress is tentatively following the same path? [1]

Picture a split screen featuring roars of laughter at the producers lair in Riyadh. For the Obama administration this was - and remains - a coup that is not a coup, although it walked like a coup and talked like a coup. But categorical imperatives do not apply here. So congress is deciding they are not going to say if it's a coup or not. And the Obama administration is deciding to say nothing about what it may decide - only that is "reprograming" the whole thing.

Whatever non-decision is reached, the producers couldn't care less. The Saudi foreign minister, the eternal Saud al-Faisal, has already promised that the producers and other Gulf Cooperation Council associate producers - as in the United Arab Emirates - will happily match and perhaps even double whatever aid is lost by the glorious head of the snake Sisi.

The New York Times struggled hard to give the impression that Washington had any sway in influencing glorious Sisi - and the producers - against launching the coup that is not a coup. [2] That is eminently laughable (cut to the split screen in Riyadh). The only nugget in the report is that the House of Saud, the UAE and Israel frantically incited, supported and lobbied for the coup that is not a coup; Asia Times Online had already reported about it.

Ooops, Israel; glorious Sisi could not possibly thank this particular producer in his Oscar acceptance speech. How can you justify that to the Arab street - that we're the servants of the occupiers of Palestine? As for the Israelis, they couldn't care less; Sisi is "one of them"; they are always "in close contact"; and he would never do anything to cancel the Camp David accords. Sunny, I love you 

The Obama administration has subcontracted its Middle East policy to the House of Saud at its own peril. Whatever King "Return of the Living Dead" Abdullah says, goes. Actually, not; whatever Return of the Invisible Spy, the spectacular resurfaced Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush, does, holds. The beauty of the coup that is not a coup, and Sisi's acceptance speech, is that Bandar, eminent practitioner of dark arts, is not even mentioned.

And yet it was Bandar Bush who - in his recent four-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin - did not get what he wanted in Syria; but he did get what he wanted in Egypt. Chess player Putin clearly saw the opening; after all the Muslim Brotherhood is anathema to both the House of Saud and the Kremlin. And if there's no more US "aid" to Sisi's junta - as in we give you cash so you can buy more of our weapons - there's nothing preventing the Russian arms industry from filling the void.

None of this, of course, will make the Syrian tragedy go away; during Ramadan, it was Bandar Bush who organized the silent acquisition of at least US$50 million in weapons from Israel instantly shipped to the dizzying net of Salafi-jihadi-mercenary gangs supported by the House of Saud. And this after Bandar Bush successfully strong-armed the Obama administration to get rid of those Qatari upstarts - who were paying the Muslim Brotherhood's bills in Egypt - and let him take over the Syrian jihad.

Bandar is on a roll. He's now in charge of an extremely ambitious "total jihad", three-pronged strategy in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, manipulating the same old House of Saud iron horse of sectarian hatred, pitting Sunnis against "apostate" Shi'ites, with a heavy emphasis on ghastly car bombings in civilian areas, as in the recent bombing in the southern Beirut suburb of Zahiyeh.

But this is a long-term franchise with many sequels in store. For now, he tops the box office in Egypt. But there may be a spanner in the works. The Tamarod movement - who collected the 22 million signatures that led to the mass demonstrations that created the opening for the coup that is not a coup - is now demanding not only the cancellation of all US "aid" but of the Camp David accords as well. [3] 
Now that's another bomb - the heart of the matter as far as US/Israel are concerned. What if Tamarod manages to again get 22 million - or more - signatures - not unlikely considering the absolute majority of Egyptians abhor the "peace" with Israel? Will glorious Sisi muster the courage to displease his Israeli producers? Will Bandar give him a green light? Will the Obama administration install a no-fly zone over Cairo?

As the world fastens myriad seat belts ahead of looming storms, the news from the White House, is, well, soothing. There's a new member in the household, a puppy named Sunny. So picture the household singing at the dinner table, in unison; "Dark days are gone/ bright days are here/ my Sunny one shines so sincere". Cut to Sisi/Jack Nicholson in full regalia; "Heeeeeere's Johnny!"

1. Obama administration quietly suspends military aid to Egypt, mulls 'coup' - report, Russia Today, August 20, 2013.
2. How American Hopes for a Deal in Egypt Were Undercut, The New York Times, August 17, 2013.
3. Egypt's Rebel Campaign launches petition to cancel US aid, Israel peace treaty, Ahram Online, August 18, 2013. 

(   Egyptian security forces killed the bureau chief of a provincial office of state newspaper Al-Ahram yesterday after opening fire on a car they thought had tried to escape from a checkpoint enforcing a dusk-to-dawn curfew....... ) 

CAIRO, Aug 20 — Egyptian security forces killed the bureau chief of a provincial office of state newspaper Al-Ahram yesterday after opening fire on a car they thought had tried to escape from a checkpoint enforcing a dusk-to-dawn curfew, the army said in a statement.
Tamer Abdel Raouf, head of Al-Ahram’s bureau in Egypt’s Buhayra province, was shot dead while a journalist from another state newspaper, Al Gomhuriya, was injured. Journalists are exempt from the curfew.
The army said in a statement posted on Facebook that the car in which the two journalists were driving had raised suspicion by travelling at high speed during curfew hours without reacting to calls for it to stop or to warning gunshots fired in the air.
“No excessive gunfire was opened on the car in question nor any killing of those in it intended,” the statement said, calling on people to adhere to the curfew to facilitate the work of security services.
Egypt’s government ordered the curfew, set to last for the next month, after security forces last week broke up two protest camps demanding the return of deposed President Mohamed Mursi.


Two great commentaries from Asia times.....

Egypt faces insurgency
By Victor Kotsev

With over 800 people killed - according to the official figures - in just a few days and scenes of burning corpses on the streets, armed mobs torching churches and dozens of detainees dying in mysterious circumstances in jail, the specter of a low-intensity insurgency hangs over Egypt.

Meanwhile, an incredibly broad coalition of critics of democracy in the Middle East has taken the center-stage, serving as a cover for the lethal methods of the army but also raising fundamental questions about the costs of a direct path to democracy.

Despite the Muslim Brotherhood's pledged commitment to non-violence, the Islamists are becoming ever more radicalized by the crackdown and both sides have made a series of grave mistakesthat portend a vicious circle of chaos and violence. Besides the liberal use of firearms on both sides, their rhetoric is stiffening by the day, with the Brotherhood currently accusing the military of committing "a new Holocaust" [1] and the generals threatening to outlaw the organization once again (it was banned until the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011). 

Not so long ago, in fact, Egypt in fact experienced a protracted insurgency. Throughout the 1990s, Islamists staged a long series of bloody attacks on security forces and foreign tourists, as well as on government officials and Christian Copts. The past few days have produced a number of similar scenes, and many analysts - such as NBC's veteran correspondent Richard Engel - caution that once again "Egypt has all the ingredients for an insurgency". [2]

Some, such as US Senator John McCain in a recent interview, say that even a civil war may follow, along the lines of that Algeria experienced two decades ago, where some 100,000-200,000 people died. But as Engel and others argue, a lower-intensity violent insurgency is much more likely to take place under the current circumstances.

As the body count grows, both sides will find it more difficult to back off. Nor do they seem to have much will to do so. According to a recent New York Times report, Egypt's military leader, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has fallen under the influence of a hardline faction of the military, "[a]mong them ... Gen Mohammed al-Tohami, a mentor and father figure to General Sisi and now head of the intelligence service, and Gen Mahmoud Hegazy, the general's protege and chosen successor as head of military intelligence." [3] 

Some military analysts believe that the Egyptian military is keen to end the clashes quickly and is using deadly force because of this. [4]

But while the blame game about who is responsible for the ongoing bloodshed is only just beginning, the basic rationale of the military for attacking the protest camps last Wednesday was likely fairly simple and widespread among security establishments around the world.

Two months ago, during the Gezi park protests in Istanbul, a police source in a neighboring Balkan country attempted to explain to me the ferocity of his Turkish colleagues in the following way: any space outside the control of the state is considered a hotbed of anarchy that has the potential to generate further zones of lawlessness, a tumor of sorts in the body of the state.

The same logic, taken to an extreme, appears to guide the calculations of the Egyptian military and police authorities as they mercilessly shoot their way through any pockets of opposition that could actually or theoretically threaten their rule.

Max Weber, a founding father of the discipline of sociology who died almost 100 years ago, partially defined the state as an entity that has monopoly over the use of force within its borders. It was a definition brilliant in its simplicity but also dangerous if interpreted in a too simplistic way. Surprisingly or not, many men and women in uniform still think largely in terms of such states.

A nation, on the other hand, is usually understood as founded by a social contract, and many argue that the existence of a cohesive nation is a critical prerequisite for true democracy. "A sense of national belonging is the twin sister of democracy," wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed Charles Kupchan, an international affairs expert who teaches at Georgetown University. "Nationalism is the social glue that makes consensual politics work." But while the latter frame of reference is clearly preferable, a surprising number of voices have questioned the costs that Egypt - as well as many other Middle Eastern societies - would incur if it tried to go through the transition too quickly. Kupchan argues that "democracy in Egypt can wait". [5] 

A very similar argument was made seven years ago by none other than General Sisi, in a strategic research paper written while studying at the US Army War (click here for the full text).

"Simply changing the political systems from autocratic rule to democratic rule will not be enough to build a new democracy," wrote Sisi, who nevertheless expressed support for a kind of Muslim democracy in the Middle East. " ... Due to the change that will be required and the accompanying time requirements, one cannot expect the Middle Eastern countries to convert quickly to a democratic form of government."

But what is more striking, certainly to those of us used to the idea that democracy is the best guarantee for the preservation of diversity, is that besides Western observers and Egypt's military rulers, there is a colorful indigenous crowd that is skeptical about the prospects of a quick transition to democracy in Egypt and the Middle East. It includes Egyptian Copts and liberals, Israeli Jews and Saudi Arabian Wahhabis.

For many of them, it's a matter of survival. After a series of bloody clashes, the Copts had been fleeing Egypt en masse under the Muslim Brotherhood government. [6] Even the most committed justice and democracy advocates find it hard to justify the sacrifice of human life for the sake of these values. 

While the only true path to democracy is for people to keep demanding their rights and making the necessary sacrifices, it is sometimes hard to blame those who refuse to do so. As a man who described himself as a "gay Bahraini Jew" told me a few months ago, "I don't want to die so that we can have democracy in ten years." History shows that while revolutions frequently result in subsequent episodes of violence and threaten minorities, military dictatorships that promise to usher in a more gradual transition also have a fairly poor track record. With the violence escalating in Egypt, good options seem to be in very short supply. 

1. Things Fall Apart, Foreign Policy, August 17, 2013.
2. Analysis: Egypt has all the ingredients for an insurgency, NBC, August 8, 2013.
3. How American Hopes for a Deal in Egypt Were Undercut, New York Times, August 17, 2013.
4. Egypt's war of attrition, Ynet, August 18, 2013.
5. Democracy in Egypt Can Wait, New York Times, August 16, 2013.
6. Egypt's Coptic Christians fleeing country after Islamist takeover, Telegraph, January 13, 2013.

World learns to manage without the US
By Spengler

The giant sucking sound you here, I said on August 15 on CNBC's The Kudlow Report, is the implosion of America's influence in the Middle East. Vladimir Putin's August 17 offer ofRussian military assistance to the Egyptian army after US President Barack Obama cancelled joint exercises with the Egyptians denotes a post-Cold-War low point in America's standing. Along with Russia, Saudi Arabia and China are collaborating to contain the damage left by American blundering. They have being doing this quietly for more than a year.

The pipe-dream has popped of Egyptian democracy led by a Muslim Brotherhood weaned from its wicked past, but official Washington has not woken up. Egypt was on the verge of starvation when military pushed out Mohammed Morsi. Most ofthe Egyptian poor had been living on nothing but state-subsidized bread for months, and even bread supplies were at risk. The military brought in US$12 billion of aid from the Gulf States, enough to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. That's the reality. It's the one thing that Russia, Saudi Arabia and Israel agree about. 

America's whimsical attitude towards Egypt is not a blunder but rather a catastrophic institutional failure. President Obama has surrounded himself with a camarilla, with Susan Rice as National Security Advisor, flanked by Valerie Jarrett, the Iranian-born public housing millionaire. Compared to Obama's team, Zbigniew Brzezinski was an intellectual colossus at Jimmy Carter's NSC. These are amateurs, and it is anyone's guess what they will do from one day to the next.

By default, Republican policy is defined by Senator John McCain, whom the head of Egypt's ruling National Salvation Party dismissed as a "senile old man" after the senator's last visit to Cairo. McCain's belief in Egyptian democracy is echoed by a few high-profile Republican pundits, for example, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Robert Kagan, and Max Boot. Most of the Republican foreign policy community disagrees, by my informal poll. Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld blasted Obama for undermining the Egyptian military's ability to keep order, but his statement went unreported by major media. It doesn't matter what the Republican experts think. Few elected Republicans will challenge McCain, because the voters are sick of hearing about Egypt and don't trust Republicans after the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Neither party has an institutional capacity for intelligent deliberation about American interests. Among the veterans of the Reagan and Bush administrations, there are many who understand clearly what is afoot in the world, but the Republican Party is incapable of acting on their advice. That is why the institutional failure is so profound. Republican legislators live in terror of a primary challenge from isolationists like Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and will defer to the Quixotesque McCain.

Other regional and world powers will do their best to contain the mess.

Russia and Saudi Arabia might be the unlikeliest of partners, but they have a profound common interest in containing jihadist radicalism in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular. Both countries backed Egypt's military unequivocally. Russia Today reported August 7 that "Saudi Arabia has reportedly offered to buy arms worth up to $15 billion from Russia, and provided a raft of economic and political concessions to the Kremlin - all in a bid to weaken Moscow's endorsement of Syrian President Bashar Assad."

No such thing will happen, to be sure. But the Russians and Saudis probably will collaborate to prune the Syrian opposition of fanatics who threaten the Saudi regime as well as Russian security interests in the Caucasus. Chechnyan fighters - along with jihadists from around the world - are active in Syria, which has become a petrie dish for Islamic radicalism on par with Afghanistan during the 1970s. 
The Saudis, meanwhile, have installed Chinese missiles aimed at Iran. There are unverifiable reports that Saudi Arabia already has deployed nuclear weapons sourced from Pakistan. The veracity of the reports is of small relevance; if the Saudis do not have such weapons now, they will acquire them if and when Iran succeeds in building nuclear weapons. What seems clear is that Riyadh is relying not on Washington but on Beijing for the capacity to deliver nuclear weapons. China has a profound interest in Saudi security. It is the largest importer of Saudi oil. America might wean itself of dependence on imported oil some time during the next decade, but China will need the Persian Gulf for the indefinite future.

A Russian-Chinese-Saudi condominium of interests has been in preparation for more than a year. On July 30, 2012, I wrote (for the Gatestone Institute):

The fact is that the Muslim Brotherhood and its various offshoots represent a threat to everyone in the region:
The Saudi monarchy fears that the Brotherhood will overthrow it (not an idle threat, since the Brotherhood doesn't look like a bad choice for Saudis who aren't one of the few thousand beneficiaries of the royal family's largesse;
The Russians fear that Islamic radicalism will get out of control in the Caucasus and perhaps elsewhere as Russia evolves into a Muslim-majority country;
The Chinese fear the Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim people who comprise half the population of China's western Xinjiang province.

But the Obama administration (and establishment Republicans like John McCain) insist that America must support democratically elected Islamist governments. That is deeply misguided. The Muslim Brotherhood is about as democratic as the Nazi Party, which also won a plebiscite confirming Adolf Hitler as leader of Germany. Tribal countries with high illiteracy rates are not a benchmark for democratic decision-making ... As long as the United States declares its support for the humbug of Muslim democracy in Egypt and Syria, the rest of the world will treat us as hapless lunatics and go about the business of securing their own interests without us.
The Turks, to be sure, will complain about the fate of their friends in the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is little they can do. The Saudis finance most of their enormous current account deficit, and the Russians provide most of their energy.

Apart from the Egyptian events, American analysts have misread the world picture thoroughly.

On the American right, the consensus view for years held that Russia would implode economically and demographically. Russia's total fertility rate, though, has risen from a calamitously low point of less than 1.2 live births per female in 1990 to about1.7 in 2012, midway between Europe's 1.5 and America's 1.9. There is insufficient evidence to evaluate the trend, but it suggests that it is misguided to write Russia off for the time being. Not long ago, I heard the Russian chess champion and democracy advocate Gary Kasparov tell a Republican audience that Russia would go bankrupt if oil fell below $80 a barrel - an arithmetically nonsensical argument, but one the audience wanted to hear. Like it or not, Russia won't go away.

American analysts view Russia's problems with Muslims in the Caucasus with a degree of Schadenfreude. During the 1980s the Reagan administration supported jihadists in Afghanistan against the Russians because the Soviet Union was the greater evil. Today's Russia is no friend of the United States, to be sure, but Islamist terrorism is today's greater evil, and the United States would be well advised to follow the Saudi example and make common cause with Russia against Islamism.

In the case of China, the consensus has been that the Chinese economy would slow sharply this year, causing political problems. China's June trade data suggest quite the opposite: a surge in imports (including a 26% year-on-year increase in iron ore and a 20% increase in oil) indicate that China is still growing comfortably in excess of 7% a year. China's transition from an export model driven by cheap labor to a high-value-added manufacturing and service economy remains an enormous challenge, perhaps the biggest challenge in economic history, but there is no evidence to date that China is failing. Like it or not, China will continue to set the pace for world economic growth.

America, if it chose to exercise its power and cultivate its innate capabilities, still is capable of overshadowing the contenders. But it has not chosen to do so, and the reins have slipped out of Washington's hands. Americans will hear about important developments in the future if and when other countries choose to make them public. Readers should be warned that those of us with reasonably good track records won't do as well in the future.


36 Brotherhood detainees die near Cairo as Islamists attack prison convoy – state media

Published time: August 18, 2013 18:24
Edited time: August 18, 2013 19:59

Reuters / Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi
Reuters / Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi
Dozens of Muslim Brotherhood supporters died on Sunday as police escorting prisoners in trucks exchanged fire with Islamist attackers near Cairo, state media said. Conflicting reports stated that some or all of those killed suffocated from tear gas.
Thirty-six Islamist prisoners were killed in Egypt while being transferred to Abu Zaabal prison in northern Cairo, Egypt’s official MENA news agency said.

The statement did not provide a detailed picture of the incident, but indicated that some of the killed detainees were trying to escape the prison. 
According to the version given by the state media on and quoted by RT’s Bel Trew, a police truck transporting detainees was attacked by a group of armed men. During the incident, which was said to be taking place in a car park, a police officer was taken hostage. Officers responded by firing tear gas, and the people inside the prison truck subsequently suffocated to death. 
The detainees were held pending investigations into the Ramses Square clashes, the report added. 

State media story makes no sense- who kidnapped the soldier, why tear gas? How did the gas get in the truck? 

Question: if armed groups opened fire at a police truck, why did police use tear gas considering they are allowed to use live ammunition?

Wildly varying accounts of the events immediately emerged in the media and on Twitter. 
AFP cited official sources that said the men were teargassed after starting a prison mutiny, and that they were all Islamists. 
Reuters quoted the Interior Ministry statement as saying that a number of detainees tried to escape from a prison on the outskirts of Cairo and had taken a police officer hostage. An undisclosed number of people had died from inhaling tear gas rounds in subsequent clashes, the agency said, adding that the officer was freed but badly wounded.

Al Jazeera quoted a source who said that all 38 prisoners were actually shot after taking a police officer hostage. The media outlet also said the men were being transported to the Cairo prison, adding that they were all detained in the Al-Fath mosque siege

Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets of Egypt, despite reports that Sunday protests were called off. The army said it will not tolerate violence amid news that thousands of Morsi loyalists were allegedly arrested and facing terrorism charges.
Several marches of supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi kicked off on Sunday evening in Cairo districts, media reports stated. The number of people taking part was not immediately clear, but they were all said to be heading to the Constitutional Court. 
Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters could be also seen marching in Giza, located some 20 kilometers from Cairo. According to reports, the demonstrators are headed to the capital to join others. 
Conflicting reports said that the Brotherhood canceled its Sunday rallies, including the march to the the Constitutional Court, due to security concerns. Brotherhood officials, quoted by Al Jazeera, said they were calling off their planned protest marches due to “the presence of army snipers on buildings along the routes.”  
AFP also quoted spokeswoman for the Brotherhood-led Anti-Coup Coalition, Yasmine Adel, who said that only “several” Cairo marches were canceled, while the others are still taking place. 
The rally was planned as the first in a series of daily protests in response to this week’s violent crackdown on Brotherhood sit-ins, which resulted in more than 700 deaths. The Islamist group has dubbed the action the “The Putschists’ Departure week.”
Meanwhile, Egyptian Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday warned that the military would not tolerate further violence, and called on the Muslim Brotherhood to join the political process, according to a statement posted on the Army’s Facebook page. 

Sisi says won't accept "the destruction .. of the country, the terrorising of the people and sending a wrong image to the Western media"

Egypt's "Days Of Wrath" Aftermath In Photos

Tyler Durden's picture

Depending on one's sources, the death toll since the start of the "Days of Wrath" in Egypt is anywhere between 800 and several thousand. What is worse, the situation is spiraling out of control as the west, plagued by America's failed attempt at diplomatic non-intervention to preserve its "democratic transition" narrative, is paralyzed while the death toll mounts and the country is gripped by civil war in all but name. Below, via AP, is a rundown of key events that have taken place in Egypt over the past week.
  • Aug. 14 — Riot police backed by armored vehicles and bulldozers clear two sprawling encampments of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, sparking clashes that kill at least 638 people. The presidency declares a monthlong state of emergency across the nation as Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei resigns in protest over the assaults.
  • Aug. 15 — The Interior Ministry authorizes police to use deadly force against protesters targeting police and state institutions after Islamists torch government buildings, churches and police stations in retaliation against the crackdown on their encampments.
  • Aug. 16 — Heavy gunfire rings out throughout Cairo as tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters clash with armed vigilantes in the fiercest street battles to engulf the capital since the country's Arab Spring uprising. The clashes kill 173 people nationwide, including police officers.
  • Aug. 17 — Security forces raid a mosque in Egypt's capital where protesters supporting the nation's ousted president had been barricaded inside overnight. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm announces that the son of its spiritual leader Mohammed Badie had been killed in clashes the day before.
  • Aug. 18 —  After torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like "prisoners of war" before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob. In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt's ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority. The campaign of intimidation appears to be a warning to Christians outside Cairo to stand down from political activism.
The last week in photos:
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi wears a makeshift gas mask as others run away from shooting during clashes in front of Azbkya police station during clashes at Ramses Square in Cairo August 16, 2013 (Reuters, Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
An Egyptian security force kicks a supporter of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as they clear a sit-in camp set up near Cairo University in Cairo's Giza district, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Riot police backed by armored vehicles and bulldozers cleared two sprawling encampments of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, sparking clashes that killed at least 638 people. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal)
Egyptian security forces detain supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as they clear a sit-in camp set up near Cairo University in Cairo's Giza district, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Riot police backed by armored vehicles and bulldozers cleared two sprawling encampments of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, sparking clashes that killed at least 638 people. Source: AP
Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in camp set up by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Nasr City district, Cairo, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces detain supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as they clear a sit-in camp set up near Cairo University in Cairo's Giza district, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Riot police backed by armored vehicles and bulldozers cleared two sprawling encampments of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, sparking clashes that killed at least 638 people. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)
Egyptian security forces detain protesters as they clear a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Riot police backed by armored vehicles and bulldozers cleared two sprawling encampments of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, sparking clashes that killed at least 638 people. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)
Firefighter attempt to put out fires as Egyptian security forces clear a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Riot police backed by armored vehicles and bulldozers cleared two sprawling encampments of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, sparking clashes that killed at least 638 people. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)
A supporter of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi sits next to a woman lying down on the floor amid smoke as Egyptian security forces clear their sit-in camp set up near Cairo University in Cairo's Giza district, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Riot police backed by armored vehicles and bulldozers clear two sprawling encampments of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, sparking clashes that kill at least 638 people. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal)
A military helicopter flies over clouds of smoke after clashes between members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi at Azbkya police station during clashes at Ramses Square in Cairo, August 16, 2013. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
A supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi gestures during clashes with opponents outside Azbkya police station near Ramses Square in Cairo, August 16, 2013. (Reuters/Steve Crisp)
Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi take cover during a protest outside Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square, in Cairo August 16, 2013. (Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)
Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans during a protest outside Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square, in Cairo August 16, 2013. (Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)
Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi march during a protest outside Al-Fath mosque in Ramses square, Cairo August 16, 2013. (Reuters/Muhammad Hamed)
* * *
Elsewhere, Spiegel chief correspondent Matthias Gebauer tweeted moments ago that he was being held in a Nasr city police station without any accusation and without any information. He is hardly the first journalist to be detained by the Egyptian military.

still being held without any accusation in nasr city police station , no word on further proceedings, might be a night in costudy here

Egypt's Brotherhood calls for fresh rallies

Group says it will continue holding defiant protests, following end of tense standoff with police at Cairo mosque.

Last Modified: 18 Aug 2013 05:58

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Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has called for fresh demonstrations after police ended a tense standoff with protesters in a Cairo mosque.

A statement by the Anti-Coup Alliance said several marches would take place in the Egyptian capital on Sunday afternoon, continuing the daily campaign of protests in defiance of an intensifying crackdown.

Meanwhile, Egypt's cabinet is set to discuss the crisis in the country.

Security forces on Saturday dragged Muslim Brotherhood supporters of Mohamed Morsi, the deposed president, from the Fateh Mosque, passing through angry crowds who called them "terrorists" and tried to beat them.

Authorities later said about 250 protesters were being investigated for murder, attempted murder and so-called "terrorism".

The clashes came as the government said the death toll from violence natiowide had risen to more than 750 since Wednesday, when police cleared two camps of Morsi loyalists in Cairo.

Crisis meeting

In a related development, Adly Mansour, the interim president, has put forward a proposal to legally dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood.
Its members are also supporters of Morsi, whose overthrow on July 3 as president prompted the Cairo sit-ins.

Meanwhile, international criticism of the bloodshed has mounted, with Germany and Qatar jointly condemning the "brutal violence" and Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief, urging "maximum restraint" and "de-escalation" at what he termed a "dangerous moment" for Egypt.

The siege of the Fateh Mosque near Ramses Square began on Friday, with security forces surrounding the building where Muslim Brotherhood supporters were sheltering and trying to convince them to leave.

The pro-Morsi group had lined up the bodies of dozens of protesters who had been killed on Friday inside the mosque-turned-morgue.

By Saturday afternoon, the situation turned violent, with witness accounts at the scene saying armed men inside the mosque were trading fire with police outside.

Police eventually dragged people from inside the mosque, shooting in the air to hold back residents who tried to attack supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood with sticks and iron bars.

Both outside the mosque and in other parts of Cairo, residents targeted those suspected of being part of the Muslim Brotherhood, often for no more than wearing a beard or a veil.

The tense siege came at the end of Friday of Anger demonstrations called by Morsi's supporters that left at least 173 people dead across the country, including 95 in the capital and 25 in Alexandria.

Among those killed on Friday was a son of Mohamed Badie, Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry said it had arrested 1,004 Brotherhood "elements" during the unrest, and on Saturday security sources said the brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda chief, had been detained.

Has Military Suppression of Political Islam ever Worked?

Posted on 08/18/2013 by Juan Cole
The Egyptian military’s obvious determination to crush the Muslim Brotherhood involves serious human rights violations, apparent in the appalling scenes of the siege of members in a mosque on Saturday. A separate question, which any political pragmatist would ask, is, can it work?
If we look at long term attempts to limit political expressions of religion in modern history, it is a mixed bag. But mostly, no, it doesn’t work in the long run.
Saddam Hussein in Iraq attempted to suppress Shiite religous parties such as the Islamic Call (Da’wa) Party, the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq, and the Sadr II Bloc. He made membership in Da’wa a capital crime and executed thousands. He also suppressed the Sunni fundamentalists, which is why the Bush administrations charges that he hooked up with al-Qaeda were so funny. Now Iraq is ruled by the three Shiite parties (the prime minister is from Da’wa) and they are being contested by the Sunni fundamentalists. It is true that the US overthrew Saddam, but if eradication had been successful, these groups could not have come back so quickly and taken over.
Zine El Abidin Ben Ali attempted to uproot the Renaissance (al-Nahda) Party in Tunisia, and organizationally speaking largely succeeded. But the party came back to win the 2011 elections for the constituent assembly. Not wiped out.
The Baath Party in Syria tried to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood at Hama in 1982, and after. Political Islam now rules parts of northern Syria. It may lose out, but it is unlikely to go away.
Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi tied to repress political Islam in Iran. It came to power in 1979 and still rules.
The Soviet Union tried to destroy political Islam in Afghanistan and failed, despite igniting a war in which a million people died.
The Kemalist regime in Turkey tried to forcibly secularize the country for decades. The Islamically tinged Justice and development party came to power in 2002 and has ruled ever since.
Algeria’s generals did in the 1990s to The Islamic Salvation Front exactly what Gen al-Sisi plans to do to the Muslim Brotherhood. 150,000 or more died, and the generals largely prevailed. The Algerian state and society are still fragile.
It seems to me that the preponderance of the evidence suggests that religiously based political movements are almost impossible to eradicate by force. Families transmit religious commitments, to which political entrepreneurs in each generation can appeal.
Even the Soviet Union, with its official atheism campaigns, could only weaken but not destroy the power of the Orthodox and Muslim religious establishments. The Orthodox Church is now one of the pillars of the rule of President Vladimir Putin, and he had members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot sentenced to hard labor for desecrating a church with a protest performance, to make the hierarchy happy. Most ex-Soviet Muslims are not very religious, but in Chechnya, Daghestan and the Ferghana Valleya of Uzbekistan, Sunni radicalism has emerged.
Not to mention that the Egyptian government banned the Brotherhood in 1948, as a result of which it assassinated Prime Minister Mahmoud al-Nuqrashi; and in 1954-1970 because it tried to assassinate Col Gamal Abdel Nasser. Anwar El Sadat rehabilitated it because he wanted to offset the Nasserist Left, then Hosni Mubarak used it to deflect the Muslim extremists of al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya and the zegyptian Islamic Jihad. It always came back.
The only places where hard line repression of political Islam had short term success (Syria, Iraq, Algeria), very heavy losses of life were involved. And even that did not always work (Afghanistan)
So the Egyptian generals are likely trying something that can’t be done in the long term, and can only be accomplished in the short term by genocidal techniques.