Tag Archives: Mohammed Morsi

SURVEYING THE REGION

            A quick sweep across the Middle East can give some information that will help us understand where the pieces are during this moment of relative quiet in the chess game of international diplomacy. A number of items are worth noting.

            Iran just reported they have found new Uranium deposits in the northern and southern coastal areas that may have tripled the amount reported in previous estimates. However, there has been no independent confirmation of these claims. Previously, western experts had thought their uranium mines were close to exhaustion of raw uranium. If they actually made these discoveries, Iran would be in a position to forge ahead in weapon building if that is their ultimate intent.

However, the timing of the announcement could indicate a desire to strengthen their negotiating position when they meet in Kazakhstan this week with the United States, Russia, China, Britain , France, and Germany. The West continues to believe that enrichment up to 20 percent demonstrates intent to build nuclear weaponry. Iran could only be positioning itself for a more signification status at the negotiating table.

Iran has also sounded a warning that it will stand behind the Assad government in Syria. However, conditions continue to deteriorate in that country. Lebanon has been pushed to the wall with overflowing refugees escaping into their country. As a result sectarian tensions continue to rise. In some areas fugitive rebels from Syria has clashed with Lebanese soldiers. Moreover refugees live amid mud and sewage in some area like the village of Mejdel Anja. The number of people fleeing Syria has strained Lebanonese provisions nearly to the breaking point.

Lebanon has always maintained a delicate balance between various ethnic groups. Many Lebanonese now worry that the influx of 400,000 Syrians can disrupt the mixture because most refugees are Sunnis. From l975 to 1990, Lebanon fought its own civil war over sectarian issues. No one wants to return to this status.

My son Dr. Robert Todd Wise taught at Balamand University in Tripoli when these eruptions began. Even at night, his family could hear shooting in the streets. This condition has not improved.

In Egypt, the turmoil also continues. This past week opposition leader Mohamed El-Baradei called for a boycott of the approaching parliamentary elections. Baradei will be remembered for the role he played in the United Nations nuclear control efforts and for being a Nobel laureate. Immediately critics within his own movement disagreed with him. This dispute demonstrated the fragility of the new opposition to the leadership of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Many feared that a no-show response would only strengthen the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A frequently heard sentiment across Egypt is that Morsi is acting like Mubarak and the country is going nowhere but backward. Mubarak held rigged elections and his party stayed in a dominating position in parliament.

While there has been somewhat of a lull in reporting chaos in the Middle East, it is only momentary. Watch these trends I have been discussing. They are a prelude to the next song to be sung. Hard to tell whether it will be a fugue, but probably it won’t be a symphony.

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Filed under Egypt, middle east, Muslims

CONTINUED UNREST IN EGYPT

            Cairo’s Qasr el-Nil Bridge came under fire this week. The path over the Nile to the major hotels turned into the scene of the death of a protestor while youth threw stones at the police. The make-shift battle raged day and night with the police firing tear gun. At the same time, demonstrators in nearby Tahir Square set fire to a police armored personnel carrier. A young man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask swore to return to the struggle endlessly until the “blood of our martyrs” had been revenged.

            The bottom line? The chaos in Egypt is far from over!

Shortly after the last American presidential election,  I released a blog suggesting that “the word” for this time in history was change. One of the reasons that the Republicans lost was because they had failed to grasp how sweeping changes had been. At this point, I fear we must add another word: confrontation. The relative political calm following the fierce election I believe is about to shift. Usually, these swings aren’t positive.

For example, Iran defiantly announced it would increase the pace of uranium enrichment. While no timetable was mentioned, it would probably take months to receive and install the centrifuges needed to complete the new rate of production. Such reports are not easy to decipher as they may be only a straw in the wind to test the response that they get. With the nomination of Chuck Hagel, a more dovish secretary of state, the Iranians may be pushing the envelope in hopes of getting away with a continued upgrade. What they may seriously miscalculate is the confrontation that Israel is more that willing to make. Confrontation is certainly blowing in the wind.

It is exactly this variety of conflict that is boiling in Egypt. No longer is the problem a strong disagreement of opinion. Rather, the blows are falling thick and fast.

The goal of the rebels is nothing less than the downfall of the new president Mohammed Morsi and the political control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Th current instabilities and the weight of the turmoil in Egypt could ultimately bring down the entire government system.

General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi released a strongly worded statement warning such a crisis of control is now erupting and he feared a collapse of the government. His first statement since the conflict began was aimed at pushing both sides toward a resolution of the clash between pro and anti-government forces. While not stated in the warning, one could well read between the lines and guess that the military might have to take control of the country once more.

The force of the el-Sissi statement fell heaviest on President Morsi because of his inability to halt conflict. However, the general’s statement indicated that the military would not stop protestors. To make matters worse, the government was forced to apologize after the police were caught in a televised beating of a protestor. Egypt’s prime minister, Hesham Qandil, not only apologized but recognized the perception that the government was losing all control.

The most painful issue is that the country’s future is in peril. Stay tuned. There’s surely much more to come.

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Filed under Egypt, Muslims, Violence

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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Filed under Faith, Forgivness