Tag Archives: Egypt

A CONTINUING LOOK AT GAZA

BLOG 411 November 19, 2018

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EASTEach week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation,  ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

The optimism in last week’s blog abruptly exploded. I noted that neither Israel or Hamas wanted another war. Almost before the ink dried, Palestinian militants bombarded Israel with a barrage of rockets and Israeli warplanes hit the Gaza Strip with the most intense exchange of fire since the 2014 war.

What happened?

Actually, the report of hopes to avoid another full-scale conflict was not incorrect. Neither side wanted a return to that murderous situation, but an Israeli commando unit tried an undercover mission and was caught inside Gaza. Hamas militants opened fire resulting in the deaths of seven militants and an Israeli military officer as well as a Hamas commander. This struggle set off the fierce exchange upsetting the status quo. A Hamas television station in Gaza was destroyed. Israel reported 20 people in Gaza were wounded.

You could be wondering, “Why doesn’t Israel destroy Hamas?” They certainly have the capacity to do so. The answer is simple. There is no one in sight to provide a new government to oversee the Gaza Strip. Israel has always operated by the principle “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.” As a result, Hamas is tolerated even though they are an irritant.

As reported last week, Egypt continues to attempt to broker a peace deal and reduce tension. The United Nations now works through Egypt to stop the violence.  They issued a statement saying, “Rockets must STOP, restraint must be shown by all.”

President Mahmoud Abbas has been angered that the Palestinian Authority remains sidelined in these struggles and negotiations. They see Egypt ignoring any possible Hamas-Fatah reconciliation. Abbas claimed Egypt’s efforts are a “betrayal of the Palestinian people and its national aspirations.” The truth is that anyone who has followed the Palestinian situation knows the PLO is about as dependable as a 1920 Ford with a blow-out tire going down a freeway in 2018.

As of this date, the battle is over. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, middle east

AND  WHAT ABOUT EGYPT?

BLOG 405 October 8, 2018

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

Egypt hasn’t been in the headlines lately, but that doesn’t mean nothing is going on. Let’s take a second look.

I can never forget the morning I first drove into Cairo with the locals alongside my vehicle. Men rode fifty-year old bicycles next to women on burros. Traditional robes that looked like they had never been washed flapped over sandals worn to the core. A few more affluent appearing business men joined the parade next to a hollowed out wooden cart on rubber tire wheels driven by a bearded guy who must have been 90 years old.

Our parade going to work made a good analogy for contemporary Egypt.

The “Arab Spring” (meaning a new awakening) has become the “Arab Winter” (meaning a return to the past). The man leading the country in the midst of chaos is former general Abel Fattah el-Sissi. While it had been hoped Sissi would prove to be moderate, that has fundamentally not happened. The Egyptian Count just sentenced over 700 demonstrators to death for participation in s public brawl a couple of years ago.  Ousted President Mohamed Morsi remains in jail. The Muslim Brotherhood has been completely outlawed though it remains underground and ready to strike again. Sissi has proven to be a strong man who will not tolerate dissent.

How one views this situation depends on what is brought to the table. The West sees little democracy and views el-Sissi as a dictator. Egypt remains under suspicion. President Obama shut-off aid to the country following the arrest of the former president, but that only sent Sissi’s government looking to Russia and China.  

On the other hand, persons living in Egypt know the country’s instability demands an iron fist at the top. If the Muslim Brotherhood gained control again, the country would be under Muslim Sharia law much like Iran is. The country has too much instability to have a free-wheeling democracy. Police and army control is necessary for balance.

Egypt’s economy has not shown much progress and remains on the down side. On the other hand, Egypt and Israel have developed a good and positive working relationship that puts the Palestinians on the outside. Melania Trump’s just been there and got bad press for her outfit that looked like a business man or colonialist. Come on, folks, who cares what people wear these days.

The story is not over in Egypt. There is much that cannot be foreseen, meaning we will have to watch and see.

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Filed under Arabs, Egypt, middle east

MORSI SHOWS HIS STUFF

Please forgive my being dilatory in responding to blogs. Unfortunately, I caught a “bug” coming back from California. Nothing like a little virus to slow the train down. BUT now I’m back in gear and rolling once more. In the interim, we’ve had an interesting shift in power in the Middle East. President Mohamed Morsi has definitely become the new pharaoh of Egypt.

In past blogs, I put my money on the military to prevail. Bullets seemed to be stronger than boys with rocks. It now appears I misjudged. While it is hard to know why this shift occurred because the information is kept behind closed doors, probably the logic went something like this. The election was close, but everyone (with the exception of the Coptic Christians) is a Muslim and nothing is gained by having to fire on them. Morsi has turned out to be a guy who isn’t fooling around. Got to take him seriously. He may be the best choice Egypt gets. The generals decided to take him seriously. Moreover, the recent election seemed to suggest that the people wanted the generals out of politics. If that is correct, then the military had to back out or become a South American military junta. The result was Morsi now prevails. Of course, the current trend in the Middle East is toward the more radical wing of Islam. Probably, the answer was blowing in the wind.

President Morsi made a shrewd move in putting Washington on the defensive. Rather than allow Egyptians to take the blame for the embassy attack, he insisted Washington must show new respect for Muslim values and help build a Palestinian state. We are pouring billions into Egypt every year and he’s telling us to “give a little respect?” Afraid that’s the situation.

How do we decipher these actions? Because America is a pluralistic society, we have a hard time understanding theocratic cultures. As far as Morsi sees the world, there’s one way that is right and the rest of the planet is wrong. Morsi made it clear this week that Egypt intends to follow the principles of Islamic law. The president dismissed the idea that Egypt can be judged by any other standard than the ones Egyptians accept for themselves. He has said that neither a woman nor a Christian would be a suitable president of Egypt. In making these statements, Morse also made it clear that the new government will stand with the Palestinians … regardless.

America is now adjusting to the new reality with caution. President Obama described Egypt not as an ally. Avoiding using the word “enemy,” both Obama and Morsi recognized the world of Mubarak was gone.

Morsi had been a graduate student at the University of Southern California and knows America He had been troubled by the street violence in Los Angeles and dismayed by the looser sexual mores he found in America. Morsi didn’t approve of the “naked restaurants” with waitresses in skimpy costumes. Consequently, he is definitely not enthralled with the West.

Obviously, the current American election has made it clear that the USA stands resolutely with Israel. Israeli rhetoric aside, the Netanyahu government isn’t given any ground to the Palestinians. What does it mean?
Some tough days lay ahead.

Question: What adjustments must America make to have satisfactory relations with Egypt?

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Filed under Christians, middle east, Muslims, Violence, World

EGYPT: FIRING THE FIRST SHOT

EGYPT: FIRING THE FIRST SHOT

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi enters office.
His first act? Challenge the military.
Sorry. That’s not the way to kick-off the football game!
The new Egyptian President appears to be dead set on a confrontation with the military. Even thought the Supreme Court had ruled to the contrary, Morsi reconvened the parliament that had been dissolved by the generals. His actions were a direct confrontation with the military establishment which in fact rules the country. So, what is going on in Egypt?
The military has the tanks, guns, ammo, and equipment. The truth is that they control the country and aren’t about to relinquish that role. Morsi only won the election by the slightest margin, but knows that he has the complete backing of the more radical Moslem Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has the ability to fill the streets with protestors screaming and carrying signs. They can pack out Tahrir Square in the snap of a finger. Who do you think is going to win that confrontation? Not Morsi.
Possibly, Mohammed Morsi has chosen a confrontational road in hopes of forcing the military to back down and make way for the rise of an Islamic state. At first blush, it would appear Morsi envisons a state something like Iran. Islamic law rules and everyone is on their knees with their faces on the ground. Will that fly with the military? Obviously not.
There are a number of varieties of Islamic faith. What we hear most about these days is the more extreme right-wing variety. Leaders like Anwar Sadat were not of this stripe, and remained wary of such extreme expressions. Since the Iranian revolution, what has emerged in recent years in that country is an aggressive expression of belief like what the West experienced with Osama Ben Laden. Morsi seems to be heading in this direction of such a fundamentalist government. The recent close vote suggests that at least half of the country are not sympathetic with this confrontational expression of their Moslem faith. However, fundamentalist don’t have a history of paying attention to such factions. Because they believe they are absolutely right, they plow ahead regardless of the struggle and assume their ideas will prevail no matter how formidable the enemy. Some of history’s most tragic battles have resulted from this form of reasoning.
Is Mohammed Morsi going down this rocky road? Let’s hope not. Possibly, he is only trying a political ploy to draw the military out and see if adjustments can be made. On the other hand, with the Moslem Brotherhood’s record, he probably isn’t. If he prevails, get ready for another Iran to emerge. If he fails, the headlines will tell another sad story. Not a good scene no matter which way you throw the dice.

Question: Can the West trust Mohammed Morse? Your opinion.

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HOW’S EGYPT COMING ALONG?

The media has not said much about the “Arab Spring” lately. Could be that
summer’s coming and the world is waiting for hot news to explode from Iran. Whatever.

During the lull, we should take a look at Egypt and see what’s unfolding. All is not quiet on the Western front!

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political gains have provided a worrisome trend
that could be a factor in causing more instability in the Persian Gulf region. Unending demonstrations in Egypt remain a factor in creating unrest. Recently, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador and shut down their diplomatic mission because of protests over the detention of an Egyptian lawyer. The Saudi’s position was that the lawyer was arrested on suspicion of smuggling drugs. Street protestors in Egypt disagreed and started demonstrations that threatened Saudi staff member.

The incident doesn’t amount to much but demonstrates the unsettledness that still
has a major impact on Egyptian affairs. Moslems continue to dominate; Copic Christians remain frightened. A state of conflict between the emerging culture and what had existed under Mubarak continues. In the midst of this turmoil, Egyptians will have a national election on May 23.

How’s that in a country that has virtually never embraced democracy?

The Egyptian man-on-the-street isn’t sure what to think. Former government
officials have faced off against newcomers in a battle over who wasn’t Mubarak’s big
buddy. Until the upheaval, the ruler of the country sat in an exceptionally high place
overseeing the state and politics. Mubarak and Sadat before him were like pharaohs
embodying divine and earthly rule. A ruler’s health and wealth could not even be
examined in the press. One journalist who tried to approach Mubarak about his wealth ended up in jail for even speculating about it. Today the candidates take jabs at each other about every possible subject. The debate leaves people confused. Political respectability is going down the drain.

The citizens have never seen such attacks and don’t know how to respond.

The presidential race has turned into turmoil and confusion. As two of the prominent candidates debated, a simple question revealed the new landscape in Egypt. A moderator asked about the health condition and wealth of each man. Probably having a clue about what was coming, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh presented a copy of his medical records, revealing slight blood pressure and diabetes. Arm Moussa wasn’t as well prepared and claimed the entire issue was a smoke screen. And so the debate goes on with the audience mystified by such personal attacks and candor from their potential leader.

What will May 23 bring? A startled electorate certainly will not be electing
another pharaoh. Possibly the question of reopening the peace treaty with Israel will be somewhere in the mix. Egypt’s ruling military generals probably remain as concerned as any group in the country. The crisis from a year and a half ago may have eased some, but the revolution is far from over.

Keep your eye on Egypt. How the country votes may yet prove to be a
telling omen of what the Arab Spring now means.

Question : Do you think Egypt will come out of this chaos a stronger country?
Could we be entering another stage of confusion? Is there any light at the end of the
tunnel?

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